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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Elementary Morality               25

no doubt) it stands to reason that we ought to make the best
of both of them, and more particularly of the one with which
we are most immediately concerned. It is as immoral to be
too good as to be too anything else. The Christian morality
is just as immoral as any other. It is at once very moral
and very immoral. How often do we not see children ruined
through the virtues, real or supposed, of their parents ?
Truly he visiteth the virtues of the fathers upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation. The most that
can be said for virtue is that there is a considerable
balance in its favour, and that it is a good deal better to
be for it than against it; but it lets people in very badly
sometimes.

If you wish to understand virtue you must be sub-
vicious ; for the really virtuous man, who is fully under
grace, will be virtuous unconsciously and will know nothing
about it. Unless a man is out-and-out virtuous he is sub-
vicious.

Virtue is, as it were, the repose of sleep or death. Vice
is the awakening to the knowledge of good and evil—without
which there is no life worthy of the name. Sleep is, in a
way, a happier, more peaceful state than waking and, in
a way, death may be said to be better than life, but it is
in a very small way. We feel such talk to be blasphemy
against good life and, whatever we may say in death's favour,
so long as we do not blow our brains out we show that we do
not mean to be taken seriously. To know good, other than
as a heavy sleeper, we must know vice also. There cannot,
as Bacon said, be a " Hold fast that which is good " without
a " Prove all things " going before it. There is no knowledge
of good without a knowledge of evil also, and this is why
all nations have devils as well as gods, and regard them with
sneaking kindness. God without the devil is dead, being
alone.

Lucifer

We call him at once the Angel of Light and the Angel of
Darkness: is this because we instinctively feel that no one
can know much till he has sinned much—or because we feel
that extremes meet, or how ?