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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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of a Homo Unius Libri          161

garnered by those who have gone before us. What money
have we paid not for Handel and Shakespeare only but for
our eyes and ears ?

And so with regard to our contemporaries. ' A man is
sometimes tempted to exclaim that he does not fare well
at the hands of his own generation; that, although he may
play pretty assiduously, he is received with more hisses
than applause; that the public is hard to please, slow to
praise, and bent on driving as hard a bargain as it can.
This, however, is only what he should expect. No sensible
man will suppose himself to be of so much importance that
his contemporaries should be at much pains to get at the
truth concerning him. As for my own position, if I say the
things I want to say without troubling myself about the
•public, why should I grumble at the public for not troubling
about me ? Besides, not being paid myself, I can in better
conscience use the works of others, as I daily do, without
paying for them and without being at the trouble of praising
or thanking them more than I have a mind to. And, after
all, how can I say I am not paid ? In addition to all that
I inherit from past generations I receive from my own every-
thing that makes life worth living—London, with its infinite
sources of pleasure and amusement, good theatres, concerts,
picture galleries, the British Museum Reading-Room, news-
papers, a comfortable dwelling, railways and, above all,
the society of the friends I value.

Charles Darwin on what Sells a Book

I remember when I was at Down we were talking of what
it is that sells a book. Mr. Darwin said he did not believe it
was reviews or advertisements, but simply " being talked
about" that sold a book.

I believe he is quite right here, but surely a good flaming
review helps to get a book talked about. I have often in-
quired at my publishers' after a review and I never found one
that made any perceptible increase or decrease of sale, and
the same with advertisements. I think, however, that the
review of Erewhon in the Spectator did sell a few copies of
Erewhon, but then it was such a very strong one and the
anonymousness of the book stimulated curiosity. A percep-