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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Preface

cases in which the language had to be varied and others in which
a few words had to be added to bridge over a gap ; as a rule,
however, the necessary words were lying ready in some other
note. I also reconsidered the titles and provided titles for many
notes which had none. In making these verbal alterations I
bore in mind Butler's own views on the subject which I found in
a note about editing letters :

" Granted that an editor, like a translatory should keep as
religiously close to the original text as he reasonably can, and,
in every alteration, should consider what the writer would have
wished and done if he or she could have been consulted, yet,
subject to these limitations, he should be free to alter according
to his discretion or indiscretion."

My " discretion or indiscretion " was less seriously strained
in making textual changes than in determining how many, and
what, groups to have and which notes, in what order, to include
in each group. Here is a note Butler made about classification :

" Fighting about words is like fighting about accounts, and all
classification is like accounts. Sometimes it is easy to see which
way the balance of convenience lies, sometimes it is very hard to
know whether an item should be carried to one account or to
another.3'

Except in the group headed " Higgledy-Piggledy," I have
endeavoured to post each note to a suitable account, but some
of Butler's leading ideas, expressed in different forms, will
be found posted to more than one account, and this kind of
repetiiion is in accordance with his habit in conversation.* It
would probably be correct to say that I have heard him speak the
substance of every note many times in different contexts. In
seeking for the most characteristic context, I have shifted and
shifted the notes and considered and re-considered them under
different aspects, taking hints from the delicate chameleon
changes of significance that came over them as they harmonised
or discorded with their new surroundings. Presently I caught
myself restoring notes to positions they had previously occupied
instead of finding new places for them, and the increasing
frequency with which difficulties were solved by these restora-
tions at last forced me to the conclusion, which I accepted only
with very great regret, that my labours were at an end.

I do not expect every one to approve of the result. If I had
been trying to please every one, I should have made only a very