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Cambridge Pieces by Samuel Butler
page 3 of 65 (04%)
times attached to weeping."

I incline to believe that as irons support the rickety child, whilst
they impede the healthy one, so rules, for the most part, are but
useful to the weaker among us. Our greatest masters in language,
whether prose or verse, in painting, music, architecture, or the
like, have been those who preceded the rule and whose excellence
gave rise thereto; men who preceded, I should rather say, not the
rule, but the discovery of the rule, men whose intuitive perception
led them to the right practice. We cannot imagine Homer to have
studied rules, and the infant genius of those giants of their art,
Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven, who composed at the ages of seven,
five, and ten, must certainly have been unfettered by them: to the
less brilliantly endowed, however, they have a use as being
compendious safeguards against error. Let me then lay down as the
best of all rules for writing, "forgetfulness of self, and
carefulness of the matter in hand." No simile is out of place that
illustrates the subject; in fact a simile as showing the symmetry of
this world's arrangement, is always, if a fair one, interesting;
every simile is amiss that leads the mind from the contemplation of
its object to the contemplation of its author. This will apply
equally to the heaping up of unnecessary illustrations: it is as
great a fault to supply the reader with too many as with too few;
having given him at most two, it is better to let him read slowly
and think out the rest for himself than to surfeit him with an
abundance of explanation. Hood says well,

And thus upon the public mind intrude it;
As if I thought, like Otaheitan cooks,
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