612: His Ladder.

No author need ever regret being superseded by the host of imitators who build on his foundations and mount by his ladder. And books which put forth no pretentious claims to be either exhaustive or absolutely original, do not therefore deserve the scorn which some lordly and beardless reviewer may choose to void upon them. They may be thrice blessed if they help to give currency to the coin of truth. All originality is relative. If it is going too far to say, with the thief in “Abou Mazar,”

“One poet is another’s plagiary,

And he a third’s, till they all end in Homer,”

yet there are but few authors who might not use the modest language of Charles Nodier: “Presque tout ce que j’ai à dire a été dit ailleurs, a été dit autrement, a été dit mieux.” Only one or two in a generation are really original; and those who are the medium of communicating to thousands the truths which would otherwise be beyond their reach, are rendering a substantial service to mankind, and a service which will receive its due reward of honest gratitude. Let them do their work as well as they can, and it will be sure to bear good fruit, whether they are censured or praised. Let them follow respecting it the advice which Schiller gave long ago: “Werfe es schweigend in die unendliche Zeit.”

(F.W. Farrar, “Literary Criticism,The Forum, Vol. IX, 1890, p. 291).

612: His Ladder.

610: Few Know It.

Pedagogues charged with the instruction of children, always forget that to apprehend is not to comprehend. How many professors know Latin? Many have learned it, few know it. I shall never forget the famous: Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit… It was always cited to us as an example of onomatopœia, and my teacher had persuaded me that one might mistake it for the gallop of a horse.

One day, wishing to frighten my little sister, who had a great fear of horses, I came up behind her and cried, “Quadrupedante putrem” and so forth. Well, the little thing wasn’t frightened.

(Alphonse Daudet, “Notes on Life.” In: The Novels, Romances, and Memoirs of Alphonse Daudet, Vol. 14. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1904, p. 181).

610: Few Know It.

607: Barren Zeal.

Man is a transitory being, and his designs must partake of the imperfections of their author. To confer duration is not always in our power. We must snatch the present moment, and employ it well, without too much solicitude for the future, and content ourselves with reflecting that our part is performed. He that waits for an opportunity to do much at once, may breathe out his life in idle wishes, and regret, in the last hour, his useless intentions, and barren zeal.

(Samuel Johnson, Select Essays, Vol. 2. London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1889, p. 147).

607: Barren Zeal.