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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Handel and Music              123

is ipso facto a good inventor. Two men can invent after a
fashion to one who knows how to make the best use of what
has been done already.

Musical Criticism

I went to the Bach Choir concert and heard Mozart's
Requiem. I did not rise warmly to it. Then I heard an
extract from Parsifal which I disliked very much. If Bach
wriggles, Wagner writhes. Yet next morning in the Times
I saw this able, heartless failure, compact of gnosis as much
as any one pleases but without one spark of either true pathos
or true humour, called " the crowning achievement of
dramatic music." The writer continues: "To the unin-
telligent, music of this order does not appeal" ; which only
means " I am intelligent and you had better think as I tell
you." I am glad that such people should call Handel a
thieving plagiarist.

On Borrowing in Music

In books it is easy to make mention of the forgotten dead
to whom we are indebted, and to acknowledge an obligation
at the same time and place that we incur it. The more
original a writer is, the more pleasure will he take in calling
attention to the forgotten work of those who have gone before
him. The conventions of painting and music, on the other
hand, while they admit of borrowing no less freely than
literature does, do not admit of acknowledgement; it is
impossible to interrupt a piece of music, or paint some words
upon a picture to explain that the composer or painter
was at such and such a point indebted to such and such a
source for his inspiration, but it is not less impossible to avoid
occasionally borrowing, or rather taking, for there is no need
of euphemism, from earlier work. Where, then, is the line
to be drawn between lawful and unlawful adoption of what
has been done by others ? This question is such a nice one
that there are almost as many opinions upon it as there are
painters and musicians.

To leave painting on one side, if a musician wants some
forgotten passage in an earlier writer, is he, knowing where