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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Cash and Credit               173

ness sufficiently agreeable to myself ? And would not the
poor old gentleman gladly change lots with me, if he could ?
I do not know; but I should be sorry to change lots with
him or with any one else, so I need not grumble. I said in
Luck or Cunning? that the only way (at least I think I
said so) in which a teacher can thoroughly imbue an un-
willing learner with his own opinions is for the teacher to eat
the pupil up and thus assimilate him—if he can, for it is
possible that the pupil may continue to disagree with the
teacher. And as a matter of fact, school-masters do live
upon their pupils, and I, as my grandfather's grandson,
continue to batten upon old pupil.

Art and Usefulness

Tedder, the Librarian of the Athenaeum, said to me when
I told him (I have only seen him twice) what poor success my
books had met with :

" Yes, but you have made the great mistake of being
useful."

This, for the moment, displeased me, for I know that I
have always tried to make my work useful and should not
care about doing it at all unless I believed it to subserve use
more or less directly. Yet when I look at those works which
we all hold to be the crowning glories of the world as, for
example, the Iliad, the Odyssey, Hamlet, the Messiah,
Rembrandt's portraits, or Holbein's, or Giovanni Bellini's,
the connection between them and use is, to say the least of
it, far from obvious. Music, indeed, can hardly be tortured
into being useful at all, unless to drown the cries of the
wounded in battle, or to enable people to talk more freely at
evening parties. The uses, again, of painting in its highest
forms are very doubtful—I mean in any material sense; in
its lower forms, when it becomes more diagrammatic, it is
materially useful. Literature may be useful from its lowest
forms to nearly its highest, but the highest cannot be put in
harness to any but spiritual uses ; and the fact remains that
the " Hallelujah Chorus," the speech of Hamlet to the players,
Bellini's "Doge" have their only uses in a spiritual world where-
to the word " uses " is as alien as bodily flesh is to a choir
of angels. As it is fatal to the highest art that it should have