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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

of a Homo Unius Libri         159

writer than I am is squashed through want of money ?
Whatever I do I must not die poor; these examples of ill-
requited labour are immoral, they discourage the effort
of those who could and would do good things if they did
not know that it would ruin themselves and their families;
moreover, they set people on to pamper a dozen fools for
each neglected man of merit, out of compunction. Genius,
they say, always wears an invisible cloak; these men wear
invisible cloaks—therefore they are geniuses ; and it flatters
them to think that they can see more than their neighbours.
The neglect of one such man as the author of Hudibras
is compensated for by the petting of a dozen others who
would be the first to jump upon the author of Hudibras
if he were to come back to life.

Heaven forbid that I should compare myself to the author
of Hudibras, but still, if my books succeed after my death—
which they may or may not, I know nothing about it—any
way, if they do succeed, let it be understood that they failed
during my life for a few very obvious reasons of which I
was quite aware, for the effect of which I was prepared before
I wrote my books, and which on consideration I found in-
sufficient to deter me. I attacked people who were at once
unscrupulous and powerful, and I made no alliances. I did
this because I did not want to be bored and have my time
wasted and my pleasures curtailed. I had money enough
to live on, and preferred addressing myself to posterity
rather than to any except a very few of my own contem-
poraries. Those few I have always kept wTell in mind. I
think of them continually when in doubt about any passage,
but beyond those few I will not go. Posterity will give a
man a fair hearing; his own times will not do so if he is
attacking vested interests, and I have attacked two powerful
sets of vested interests at once. [The Church and Science.]
What is the good of addressing people who will not listen ?
I have addressed the next generation and have therefore
said many things which want time before they become
palatable. Any man who wishes his work to stand will
sacrifice a good deal of his immediate audience for the sake
of being attractive to a much larger number of people later
on. He cannot gain this later audience unless he has been fear-
less and thorough-going, and if he is this he is sure to have to