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18. CHAPTER XVIII - "THE VICAR OF BULLHAMPTON"--"SIR HARRY HOTSPUR"--"AN EDITOR'S TALES"--"CAESAR" (continued)
My disgust at this proposition was, I think, chiefly due to Victor Hugo's latter novels, which I regard as pretentious and untrue to nature. To this perhaps was added some feeling of indignation that I should be asked to give way to a Frenchman. The Frenchman had broken his engagement. He had failed to have his work finished by the stipulated time. From week to week and from month to month he had put off the fulfilment of his duty. And because of these laches on his part,--on the part of this sententious French Radical,--I was to be thrown over! Virtue sometimes finds it difficult to console herself even with the double comfort. I would not come out in the Gentleman's Magazine, and as the Grinning Man could not be got out of the way, by novel was published in separate numbers.
The same thing has occurred to me more than once since. "You no doubt are regular," a publisher has said to me, "but Mr. ---- is irregular. He has thrown me out, and I cannot be ready for you till three months after the time named." In these emergencies I have given perhaps half what was wanted, and have refused to give the other half. I have endeavoured to fight my own battle fairly, and at the same time not to make myself unnecessarily obstinate. But the circumstances have impressed on my mind the great need there is that men engaged in literature should feel themselves to be bound to their industry as men know that they are bound in other callings. There does exist, I fear, a feeling that authors, because they are authors, are relieved from the necessity of paying attention to everyday rules. A writer, if he be making œ800 a year, does not think himself bound to live modestly on œ600, and put by the remainder for his wife and children. He does not understand that he should sit down at his desk at a certain hour. He imagines that publishers and booksellers should keep all their engagements with him to the letter;--but that he, as a brain-worker, and conscious of the subtle nature of the brain, should be able to exempt himself from bonds when it suits him. He has his own theory about inspiration which will not always come,--especially will not come if wine-cups overnight have been too deep. All this has ever been odious to me, as being unmanly. A man may be frail in health, and therefore unable to do as he has contracted in whatever grade of life. He who has been blessed with physical strength to work day by day, year by year--as has been my case--should pardon deficiencies caused by sickness or infirmity. I may in this respect have been a little hard on others,--and, if so, I here record my repentance. But I think that no allowance should be given to claims for exemption from punctuality, made if not absolutely on the score still with the conviction of intellectual superiority.
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