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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Handel and Music               127

his own good ship wide of them ; as for his musical parentage,
he grew out of the early Italians and out of Purcell.

The more original a composer is the more certain is he to
have made himself a strong base of operations in the works
of earlier men, striking his roots deep into them, so that he,
as it were, gets inside them and lives in them, they in him,
and he in them ; then, this firm foothold having been obtained,
he sallies forth as opportunity directs, with the result that
his works will reflect at once the experiences of his own
musical life and of those musical progenitors to whom a loving
instinct has more particularly attached him. The fact
that his work is deeply imbued with their ideas and little
ways, is not due to his deliberately taking from them. He
makes their ways his own as children model themselves upon
those older persons who are kind to them. He loves them
because he feels they felt as he does, and looked on men and
things much as he looks upon them himself; he is an outgrowth
in the same direction as that in which they grew ; he is their
son, bound by every law of heredity to be no less them than
himself; the manner, therefore, which came most naturally
to them will be the one which comes also most naturally
to him as being their descendant. Nevertheless no matter
how strong a family likeness may be, (and it is sometimes, as
between Handel and his forerunners, startlingly close) two
men of different generations will never be so much alike that
the work of each will not have a character of its own—unless
indeed the one is masquerading as the other, which is not
tolerable except on rare occasions and on a very small scale.
No matter how like his father a man may be we can always
tell the two apart; but this once given, so that he has a clear
life of his own, then a strong family likeness to some one else
is no more to be regretted or concealed if it exists than to be
affected if it does not.

It is on these terms alone that attractive music can be
written, and it is a musician's business to write attractive
music. He is, as it were, tenant for life of the estate of and
trustee for that school to which he belongs. Normally, that
school will be the one which has obtained the firmest hold
upon his own countrymen. An Englishman cannot success-
fully write like a German or a Hungarian, nor is it desirable
that he should try. If, by way of variety, we want German