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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

too        On the Making of Music,


Talking with Gogin last night, I said that in writing it
took more time and trouble to get a thing short than long.
He said it was the same in painting. It was harder not to
paint a detail than to paint it, easier to put in all that one
can see than to judge what may go without saying, omit it
and range the irreducible minima in due order of precedence.
Hence we all lean towards prolixity.

The difficulty lies in the nice appreciation of relative
importances and in the giving each detail neither more nor
less than its due. This is the difference between Gerard Dow
and Metsu. Gerard Dow gives all he can, but unreflectingly ;
hence it does not reflect the subject effectively into the
spectator. We see it, but it does not come home to us. Metsu
on the other hand omits all he can, but omits intelligently,
and his reflection excites responsive enthusiasm in ourselves.
We are continually trying to see as much as we can, and to
put it down. More wisely we should consider how much we
can avoid seeing and dispense with.

So it is also in music. Cherubini says the number of
things that can be done in fugue with a very simple subject
is endless, but that the trouble lies in knowing which to
choose from all these infinite possibilities.

As regards painting, any one can paint anything in the
minute manner with a little practice, but it takes an exceed-
ingly able man to paint so much as an egg broadly and simply.
Bearing in mind the shortness of life and the complexity of
affairs, it stands to reason that we owe most to him who
packs our trunks for us, so to speak, most intelligently,
neither omitting what we are likely to want, nor including
what we can dispense with, and who, at the same time,
arranges things so that they will travel most safely and be
got at most conveniently. So we speak of composition and
arrangement in all arts.

Making Notes

My notes always grow longer if I shorten them. I mean
the process of compression makes them more pregnant and