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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

vi                          Preface

variety of thoughts, reflections, conversations, incidents. Then
are entries about his early life at Langar, Handel, school days at
Shrewsbury, Cambridge, Christianity, literature, New Zealand,
sheep-farming, philosophy, painting, money, evolution, morality,
Italy, speculation, photography, music, natural history, arche-
ology, botany, religion, book-keeping, psychology, metaphysics,
the Iliad, the Odyssey, Sicily, architecture, ethics, the Sonnets
of Shakespeare. I thought of publishing the books just as they
stand, but too many of the entries are of no general interest and
too many are of a kind that must wait if they are ever to be pub-
lished. In addition to these objections the confusion is very
great. One would look in the earlier volumes for entries about
New Zealand and evolution and in the later' ones for entries
about the Odyssey and the Sonnets, but there is no attempt
at arrangement and anywhere one may come upon something
about Handel, or a philosophical reflection, between a note giving
the name of the best hotel in an Italian town and another about
Harry Nicholls and Herbert Campbell as the Babes in the Wood
in the pantomime at the Grecian Theatre. This confusion
has a charm, but it is a charm that would not, I fear, survive
in 'print and, personally, I find that it makes the books distract-
ing for continuous reading. Moreover they were not intended
to be published as they stand ('Preface to Vol. II," p, 215
post), they were intended for his own private use as a quarry
from which to take material for his writing, and it is remarkable
that in practice he scarcely ever iiscd them in this way (" These
Notes," p. 261 post). When he had written and re-written a
note and spoken it and repeated it in conversation, it became
so much a part of him that, if he wanted to introduce it in a book,
it was less trouble to re-state it again from memory than to search
through his "precious indexes" for it and copy it (" Gadshill
and Trapani," p. 194, "At Piora" p. 272 post]. But he could
not have re-stated a note from memory if he had not learnt it
by writing it, so that it may be said that he did use the notes
for his books, though not precisely in the way he originally
intended. And the constant re-writing and re-considering were
useful also by forcing him to settle exactly what he thought and
to state it as clearly and tersely as possible. In this way the
making of the notes must have had an influence on the formation
of his style—though here again he had no such idea in his mind
when writing them (" Style," pp. 186-7 P°$£)