Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

22             Lord, What is Man ?

machinery whereby its ends are achieved ? The manufacture
is only possible by reason of the machinery ; it is produced
by this. The machinery only exists in virtue of its being
capable of producing the manufacture; it is produced for
this. The machinery represents the work done by the factory
that turned it out.

Somehow or other when we think of a factory we think
rather of the fabric and mechanism than of the work, and so
we think of a man's life and living body as constituting
himself rather than of the work that the life and living body
turn out. The instinct being as strong as it is, I suppose
it sound, but it seems as though the life should be held to be
quite as much in the work itself as in the tools that produce
it—and perhaps more.

Our Trivial Bodies


Though we think so much of our body, it is in reality
a small part of us. Before birth we get together our tools,
in life we use them, and thus fashion our true life which
consists not in our tools and tool-box but in the wrork we
have done with our tools. It is Handel's work, not the body
with which he did the work, that pulls us half over London.
There is not an action of a muscle in a horse's leg upon a
winter's night as it drags a carriage to the Albert Hall
but is in connection with, and part outcome of, the force
generated when Handel sat in his room at Gopsall and wrote
the Messiah. Think of all the forces which that force has
controlled, and think, also, how small was the amount of
molecular disturbance from which it proceeded. It is as
though we saw a conflagration which a spark had kindled.
This is the true Handel, who is a more living power among
us one hundred and twenty-two years after his death than
during the time he was amongst us in the body.


The whole life of some people is a kind of partial death—
a long,. lingering death-bed, so to speak, of stagnation and
nonentity on which death is but the seal, or solemn signing,
as the abnegation of all further act and deed on the part