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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Elementary Morality             27

Intellectual Self-Indulgence

Intellectual over-indulgence is the most gratuitous and
disgraceful form which excess can take, nor is there any the
consequences of which are more disastrous.

Dodging Fatigue

When fatigued, I find it rests me to write veiy slowly
with attention to the formation of each letter. I am often
thus able to go on when I could not otherwise do so.

Vice and Virtue

Virtue is something which it would be impossible to over-
rate if it had not been over-rated. The world can ill spare
any vice which has obtained long and largely among civilised
people. Such a vice must have some good along with its
deformities. The question " How, if every one were to do
so and so ? " may be met with another " How, if no one were
to do it ? " We are a body corporate as well as a collection
of individuals.

As a matter of private policy I doubt whether the
moderately vicious are more unhappy than the moderately
virtuous; " Very vicious " is certainly less happy than " Toler-
ably virtuous/' but this is about all What pass muster as
the extremes of virtue probably make people quite as unhappy
as extremes of vice do.

The truest virtue has ever inclined toward excess rather
than asceticism ; that she should do this is reasonable as
well as observable, for virtue should be as nice a calculator
of chances as other people and will make due allowance for
the chance of not being found out. Virtue knows that it is
impossible to get on without compromise, and tunes herself,
as it were, a trifle sharp to allow for an inevitable fall in
playing. So the Psalmist says, " If thou, Lord, wilt be ex-
treme to mark what is done amiss: 0 Lord who may abide
it ? " and by this he admits that the highest conceivable
form of virtue still leaves room for some compromise with