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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

124              Handel and Music

this sleeping' beauty lies, to let it sleep on unknown and
unenjoyed, or shall he not rather wake it and take it—as
likely enough the earlier master did before him—with, or
without modification ? It may be said this should be done
by republishing the original work with its composer's name,
giving him his due laurels. So it should, if the work will
bear it; but more commonly times will have so changed
that it will not. A composer may want a bar, or bar and a
half, out of, say, a dozen pages—he may not want even this
much without more or less modification—is he to be told
that he must republish the ten or dozen original pages within
which the passage he wants lies buried, as the only righteous
way of giving it new life ? No one should be allowed such
dog-in-the-manger-like ownership in beauty that because it
has once been revealed to him therefore none for ever after
shall enjoy it unless he be their cicerone. If this rule were
sanctioned, he who first produced anything beautiful would
sign its death warrant for an earlier or later date, or at best
would tether that which should forthwith begin putting
girdles round the world.

Beauty lives not for the self-glorification of the priests
of any art, but for the enjoyment of priests and laity alike.
He is the best art-priest who brings most beauty most home
to the hearts of most men. If any one tells an artist that
part of what he has brought home is not his but another's,
" Yea, let him take all," should be his answer. He should
know no self in the matter. He is a fisher of men's hearts
from love of winning them, and baits his hook with what will
best take them without much heed where he gets it from.
He can gain nothing by offering people what they know or
ought to know already, he will not therefore take from the
living or lately dead ; for the same reason he will instinctively
avoid anything with which his hearers will be familiar,
except as recognised common form, but beyond these limits
he should take freely even as he hopes to be one day taken
from.

True, there is a hidden mocking spirit in things which
ensures that he alone can take well who can also make well,
but it is no less true that he alone makes well who takes well.
A man must command all the resources of his art, and of
these none is greater than knowledge of what has been done