Studio: international art — 66.1915

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The Lay Figure

THE LAY FIGURE: ON THE

CHEERFUL SPIRIT.

“ Can any one suggest a sufficiently appro-
priate motto for this particular Christmas season ? ”
asked the Cynic. “ ‘ Peace on earth and goodwill
towards men’ does not seem to fit, anyhow, just at
present.”

“ ‘ Hope on, hope ever,’ would not be a bad
one,” suggested the Art Critic. “ It seems to me
that it would be very well timed and would express
the feeling of us all.”

“ Hope ! That is all very well! ” cried the Young
Painter. “ But one cannot live on hopes. I want
something more substantial.”

“ Now I should have thought that you had lived
on nothing else for some years past,” laughed the
Man with the Red Tie, “ The star of hope, they
say, never sets, and its beams must have been a
great comfort to you.”

“ I take no interest in stars except when they
appear on the frames of my pictures,” replied the
Young Painter ; “and that sort of star seems to be
completely eclipsed. I am afraid it will never
appear again.”

“ Then put a star on yourself, my boy,” said the
Cynic. “ Add yourself to the national collection,
as your pictures have, apparently, no chance of ever
getting there—you may yet be of some use to your
country.”

“I suppose it will have to come to that,” agreed
the Young Painter; “ it is no good to stay at home
and get more depressed every day.”

“Yes, change your tint; that is what you want,”
declared the Critic. “Try khaki as a contrast to
the blues. That will pick you up.”

“ Go and live the simple life out of doors,”
prompted the Man with the Red Tie. “Change
the stuffy atmosphere of your studio for the fresh
air of a tent. Look at the bright stars of heaven
instead of the glaring red stars in a picture gallery.
Turn yourself into a man—there will be hope for
you then.”

“ May I hint,” broke in the Gloomy Futurist,
“that we cannot all cure our depression by such
strenuous means? What am I to do? Age and
infirmities bar me from the treatment you prescribe
and the recruiting sergeant looks on me with
contempt. Is there no place for me ? Can you
find me a job ? ”

“ Oh, you are a hopeless case ! ” sneered the
Cynic. “ Art does not want you, and your country
can make no use of you. I can only suggest the
lethal chamber.”

“No, No ; you are too severe,” expostulated the
Critic. “Give our friend here a chance. Surely
there must be something he can do.”

“ I have seen pictures of his that made me
think he might be quite a success as a designer of
carpets or floor cloth,” agreed the Man with the
Red Tie. “In that direction he may yet rise to
the very top of his profession.”

“Well, why not?” asked the Critic. “In the
industrial arts there are opportunities for many
men who find the way to fame by picture-painting
too difficult. Why should they not take the more
hopeful road ? ”

“And are all my aspirations to end in floor
cloth?” sighed the Gloomy Futurist. “Is it my
fate to be trodden on for the rest of my life ? Is
the world to wipe its feet on me ? ”

“ That or the lethal chamber,” laughed the
Cynic. “ Cheer up, it is better to be a live ass
than a dead lion.”

“ And it is better to die fighting than to fade
out in the obscurity of one’s studio, neglected
and forgotten,” commented the Young Painter.
“ There is a good deal of sound and wholesome
common sense in that.”

“There speaks the cheerful spirit,” approved
the Critic. “That is the way to look at the
position. We can all fight in one way or another,
and we can all hope; and so long as we are
fighting and hoping we are keeping our spirits up,
and we are ready for anything that the future may
bring.”

“Yes, and if the future brings adversity we
shall be in better trim to overcome it, while if
success comes we shall be able to meet it half
way—that is the way we ought to take things,”
said the Man with the Red Tie. “ If we give up
now we are finished and done with and have
nothing to hope for.”

“ Still, it all amounts to this ; that at present we
have to live on hopes,” argued the Cynic.

“Does that matter?” asked the Critic. “We
must live on hopes if we are to make the best
of our lives. Remember that man never is but
always to be blessed—as Pope put it—and that
the cheerful mind has always before it the ex-
pectation of the blessing to come. It is this
expectation, indeed, that keeps us cheerful, and
that enables us to put up a strenuous fight against
the troubles of the present. If your Christmas
cannot be merry, make it a hopeful one instead;
you will find it comes in the long run to much the
same thing.”

The Lay Figure.

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