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We had been talking about the masters who had achieved but a single masterpiece— the artists and poets who but once in their lives had known the divine afflatus and touched the high level of perfection. Our host had been showing us a charming little cabinet picture by a painter whose name we had never heard, and who, after this single spasmodic bid for fame, had apparently relapsed into obscurity and mediocrity. There was some discussion as to the frequency of this phenomenon; during which, I observed, H— - sat silent, finishing his cigar with a meditative air, and looking at the picture which was being handed round the table. “I don’t know how common a case it is, ” he said at last, “but I have seen it. I have known a poor fellow who painted his one masterpiece, and”— he added with a smile— “he didn’t even paint that. He made his bid for fame and missed it. ” We all knew H— - for a clever man who had seen much of men and manners, and had a great stock of reminiscences. Some one immediately questioned him further, and while I was engrossed with the raptures of my neighbour over the little picture, he was induced to tell his tale

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