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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From a Letter to Ferdinand Hiller
By Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847)
 
Translation of Grace Wallace

LEIPZIG, January 24th, 1836.    
NOTHING is more repugnant to me than casting blame on the nature or genius of any one: it only renders him irritable and bewildered, and does no good. No man can add one inch to his stature; in such a case all striving and toiling is vain: therefore it is best to be silent. Providence is answerable for this defect in his nature. But if it be the case, as it is with this work of yours, that precisely those very themes, and all that requires talent or genius (call it as you will), are excellent and beautiful and touching, but the development not so good,—then I think silence should not be observed; then I think blame can never be unwise: for this is the point where great progress can be made by the composer himself in his works; and as I believe that a man with fine capabilities has the absolute duty imposed on him of becoming something really superior, so I think that blame must be attributed to him if he does not develop himself according to the means with which he is endowed. And I maintain that it is the same with a musical composition. Do not tell me that it is so, and therefore it must remain so. I know well that no musician can alter the thoughts and talents which Heaven has bestowed on him; but I also know that when Providence grants him superior ones, he must also develop them properly.
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