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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Cash and Credit               181

is a match for a hundred reviewers. He, I grant, knows
nothing of either literature or science who does not know
that a mot d'ordre given by a few wire-pullers can, for a time,
make or mar any man's success. People neither know what
it is they like nor do they want to find out, all they care
about is the being supposed to derive their likings from the
best West-end magazines, so they look to the shop with
the largest plate-glass windows and take what the shop-
man gives them. But no amount of plate-glass can carry
off more than a certain amount of false pretences, and there
is no mot d'ordre that can keep a man permanently down if
he is as intent on winning lasting good name as I have been.
If I had played for immediate popularity I think I could
have won it. Having played for lasting credit I doubt not
that it will in the end be given me. A man should not be
held to be ill-used for not getting what he has not played
for. I am not saying that it is better or more honourable
to play for lasting than for immediate success. I know which
I myself find pleasanter, but that has nothing to do with it.

It is a nice question whether the light or the heavy armed
soldier of literature and art is the more useful. I joined
the plodders and have aimed at permanent good name rather
than brilliancy. I have no doubt I did this because instinct
told me (for I never thought about it) that this would be
the easier and less thorny path. I have more of perseverance
than of those, perhaps, even more valuable gifts—facility
and readiness of resource. I hate being hurried. Moreover
I am too fond of independence to get on with the leaders
of literature and science. Independence is essential" for
permanent but fatal to immediate success. Besides, luck
enters much more into ephemeral than into permanent
success and I have always distrusted luck. Those who
play a waiting game have matters more in their own hands,
time gives them double chances ; whereas if success does
not come at once to the ephemerid he misses it altogether.

I know that the ordinary reviewer who either snarls at
my work or misrepresents it or ignores it or, again, who pats
it sub-contemptuously on the back is as honourably and
usefully employed as.I am. In the kingdom of literature
(as I have just been saying in the Universal Review about
Science) there are many mansions and what is intolerable