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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Lord, What is Man ?             21

Joining and Disjoining

These are the essence of change.

One of the earliest notes I made, when I began to make
notes at all, I found not long ago in an old book, since
destroyed, which I had in New Zealand. It was to the effect
that all things are either of the nature of a piece of string or
a knife. That is, they are either for bringing and keeping
things together, or for sending and keeping them apart.
Nevertheless each kind contains a little of its opposite and
some, as the railway train and the hedge, combine many
examples of both. Thus the train, on the whole, is used for
bringing things together, but it is also used for sending them
apart, and its divisions into classes are alike for separating
and keeping together. The hedge is also both for joining
things (as a flock of sheep) and for disjoining (as for keeping
the sheep from getting into corn). These are the more im-
mediate ends. The ulterior ends, both of train and hedge,
so far as we are concerned, and so far as anything can have
an end, are the bringing or helping to bring meat or dairy
produce into contact with man's inside, or wool on to his
back, or that he may go in comfort somewhere to converse
with people and join his soul on to theirs, or please himself
by getting something to come within the range of his senses
or imagination.

A piece of string is a thing that, in the main, makes for
togetheriness ; whereas a knife is, in the main, a thing that
makes for splitty-uppiness ; still, there is an odour of to-
getheriness hanging about a knife also, for it tends to bring
potatoes into a man's stomach.

In high philosophy one should never look at a knife with-
out considering it also as a piece of string, nor at a piece of
string without considering it also as a knife.

Cotton Factories

Surely the work done by the body is, in one way, more
its true life than its limbs and organisation are. Which
is the more true life of a great cotton factory—the bales
of goods which it turns out for the world's wearing or the