He tried editor after editor with article after article. Sometimes an editor listened to him and told him to leave his articles; he almost invariably, however, had them returned to him in the end with a polite note saying that they were not suited for the particular paper to which he had sent them. And yet many of these very articles appeared in his later works, and no one complained of them, not at least on the score of bad literary workmanship. “I see,” he said to me one day, “that demand is very imperious, and supply must be very suppliant.”
Once, indeed, the editor of an important monthly magazine accepted an article from him, and he thought he had now got a footing in the literary world. The article was to appear in the next issue but one, and he was to receive proof from the printers in about ten days or a fortnight; but week after week passed and there was no proof; month after month went by and there was still no room for Ernest’s article; at length after about six months the editor one morning told him that he had filled every number of his review for the next ten months, but that his article should definitely appear. On this he insisted on having his MS. returned to him.
Sometimes his articles were actually published, and he found the editor had edited them according to his own fancy, putting in jokes which he thought were funny, or cutting out the very passage which Ernest had considered the point of the whole thing, and then, though the articles appeared, when it came to paying for them it was another matter, and he never saw his money. “Editors,” he said to me one day about this time, “are like the people who bought and sold in the book of Revelation; there is not one but has the mark of the beast upon him.”
At last after months of disappointment and many a tedious hour wasted in dingy anterooms (and of all anterooms those of editors appear to me to be the dreariest), he got a bona fide offer of employment from one of the first class weekly papers through an introduction I was able to get for him from one who had powerful influence with the paper in question. The editor sent him a dozen long books upon varied and difficult subjects, and told him to review them in a single article within a week. In one book there was an editorial note to the effect that the writer was to be condemned. Ernest particularly admired the book he was desired to condemn, and feeling how hopeless it was for him to do anything like justice to the books submitted to him, returned them to the editor.
At last one paper did actually take a dozen or so of articles from him, and gave him cash down a couple of guineas apiece for them, but having done this it expired within a fortnight after the last of Ernest’s articles had appeared. It certainly looked very much as if the other editors knew their business in declining to have anything to do with my unlucky godson.