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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Cash and Credit                175

and keeping them therein so long as the genius remains.
People who are credited with genius have, indeed, been
sometimes very painstaking, but they would often show
more signs of genius if they had taken less. " You have
taken too much trouble with your opera/' said Handel to
Gluck. It is not likely that the " Hailstone Chorus " or Mrs.
Quickly cost their creators much pains, indeed, we commonly
feel the ease with which a difficult feat has been performed
to be a more distinctive mark of genius than the fact that the
performer took great pains before he could achieve it. Pains
can serve genius, or even mar it, but they cannot make it.

We can rarely, however, say what pains have or have not
been taken in any particular case, for, over and above the
spent pains of a man's early efforts, the force of which may
carry him far beyond all trace of themselves, there are the
still more remote and invisible ancestral pains, repeated
we know not how often or in what fortunate correlation
with pains taken in some other and unseen direction. This
points to the conclusion that, though it is wrong to suppose
the essence of genius to lie in a capacity for taking pains,
it is right to hold that it must have been rooted in pains
and that it cannot have grown up without them.

Genius, again, might, perhaps almost as well, be defined
as a supreme capacity for saving other people from having
to take pains, if the highest flights of genius did not seem
to know nothing about pains one way or the other. What
trouble can Hamlet or the Iliad save to any one ? Genius
can, and does, save it sometimes ; the genius of Newton may
have saved a good deal of trouble one way or another, but it
has probably engendered as much new as it has saved old.

This, however, is all a matter of chance, for genius never
seems to care whether it makes the burden or bears it. The
only certain thing is that there will be a burden, for the
Holy Ghost has ever tended towards a breach of the peace,
and the New Jerusalem, when it comes, will probably be
found so far to resemble the old as to stone its prophets
freely. The world thy world is a jealous world, and thou
shalt have none other worlds but it. Genius points to change,
and change is a hankering after another world, so the old
world suspects it. Genius disturbs order, it unsettles mores
hence it is immoral. On a small scale it is intolerable,