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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

104         On the Making of Music,

remembered that no work is required to be more than right
as far as it goes; the greatest work cannot get beyond this
and the least comes strangely near the greatest if this can be
said of it.

The more I see of academicism the more I distrust it. If
I had approached painting as I have approached bookwriting
and music, that is to say by beginning at once to do what I
wanted, or as near as I could to what I could find out of this,
and taking pains not by way of solving academic difficulties,
in order to provide against practical ones, but by waiting till
a difficulty arose in practice and then tackling it, thus making
the arising of each difficulty be the occasion for learning what
had to be learnt about it—if I had approached painting in
this way I should have been all right. As it is I have been
all wrong, and it was South Kensington and Heatherley's
that set me wrong. I listened to the nonsense about how I
ought to study before beginning to paint, and about never
painting without nature, and the result was that I learned
to study but not to paint. Now I have got too much to do
and am too old to do what I might easily have done, and
should have done, if I had found out earlier what writing
Life and Habit was the chief thing to teach me.

So I painted study after study, as a priest reads his
breviary, and at the end of ten years knew no more what the
face of nature was like, unless I had it immediately before
me, than I did at the beginning. I am free to confess that in
respect of painting I am a failure. I have spent far more
time on painting than I have on anything else, and have
failed at it more than I have failed in any other respect
almost solely for the reasons given above. I tried very hard,
but I tried the wrong way.

Fortunately for me there are no academies for teaching
people how to write books, or I should have fallen into them
as I did into those for painting and, instead of writing, should
have spent my time and money in being told that I was
learning how to write. If I had one thing to say to students
before I died (I mean, if I had got to die, but might tell
students one thing first) I should say :—

ts Don't learn to do, but learn in doing. Let your falls not
be on a prepared ground, but let them be bona fide falls in
the rough and tumble of the world ; only, of course, let them