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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

on Painting                  151

and so on, all of it rubbish, but still not wholly unpleasant
rubbish so long as it is not dwelt upon.

Bearing in mind the natural tendency to accept anything
which gives us a peep as it were into a golden age, real or
imaginary, bearing in mind also the way in which this par-
ticular picture has been written up by critics, and the prestige
of Raffaelle's name, the wonder is not that so many let
themselves be taken in and carried away with it but that
there should not be a greater gathering before it than there
generally is.

Buying a Rembrandt

As an example of the evenness of the balance of advantages
between the principles of staying still and taking what comes,
and going about to look for things,* I might mention my small
Rembrandt, " The Robing of Joseph before Pharaoh." I have
wanted a Rembrandt all my life, and I have wanted not to
give more than a few shillings for it. I might have travelled
all Europe over for no one can say how many years, looking
for a good, well-preserved, forty-shilling Rembrandt (and
this was what I wanted), but on two occasions of my life
cheap Rembrandts have run right up against me. The first
was a head cut out of a ruined picture that had only in part
escaped destruction when Belvoir Castle was burned down
at the beginning of this century. I did not see the head but
have little doubt it was genuine. It was offered me for a
pound; I was not equal to the occasion and did not at once
go to see it as I ought, and when I attended to it some months
later the thing had gone. My only excuse must be that I
was very young.

I never got another chance till a few weeks ago when I
saw what I took, and take, to be an early, but very interesting,
work by Rembrandt in the window of a pawnbroker opposite
St. Clement Danes Church in the Strand. I very nearly let
this slip too. I saw it and was very much struck with it,
but, knowing that I am a little apt to be too sanguine, dis-

* Cf. the passage in Alps and, Sanctuaries, Chapter XIII, be-
ginning " The question whether it is better to abide quiet and take
advantages of opportunities that come or to go further afield in search
of them is one of the oldest which living beings have had to deal
with. . . . The schism still lasts and has resulted in two great sectsó
animals and plants/*