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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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102         On the Making of Music,

still may make things easier for the reader by giving him
more time to master the thought while his eye is running
over the verbiage. So, a little water may prevent a strong
drink from burning throat and stomach. A style that is too
terse is as fatiguing as one that is too diffuse. But when a
passage is written a little long, with consciousness and com-
punction but still deliberately, as what will probably be
most easy for the reader, it can hardly be called diffuse.

Difficulties in Art, Literature and Music

The difficult and the unintelligible are only conceivable at
all in virtue of their catching on to something less difficult
and less unintelligible and, through this, to things easily
done and understood. It is at these joints in their armour
that difficulties should be attacked.

Never tackle a serious difficulty as long as something
which must be done, and about which you see your way
fairly well, remains undone; the settling of this is sure to
throw light upon the way in which the serious difficulty is to
be resolved. It is doing the What-you-can that will best help
you to do the What-you-cannot.

Arrears of small things to be attended to, if allowed to
accumulate, worry and depress like unpaid debts. The main
work should always stand aside for these, not these for the
main work, as large debts should stand aside for small ones,
or truth for common charity and good feeling. If we attend
continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we
shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we
cannot do.

Knowledge is Power

Yes, but it must be practical knowledge. There is nothing
less powerful than knowledge unattached, and incapable of
application. That is why what little knowledge I have has
done myself personally so much harm. I do not know much,
but if I knew a good deal less than that little I should be far
more powerful. The rule should be never to learn a thing
till one is pretty sure one wants it, or that one will want it
before long so badly as not to be able to get on without it.
This is what sensible people do about money, and there is no