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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

50           The Germs of Brewhon

quo. Her body never becomes machinate, whereas this new
phase of organism, which has been introduced with man
into the mundane economy, has made him a very quicksand
for the foundation of an unchanging civilisation; certain
fundamental principles will always remain, but every century
the change in man's physical status, as compared with the
elements around him, is greater and greater; he is a shifting
basis on which no equilibrium of habit and civilisation can
be established; were it not for this constant change in our
physical powers, which our mechanical limbs have brought
about, man would have long since apparently attained his
limit of possibility ; he would be a creature of as much fixity
as the ants and bees—he would still have advanced, but no
faster than other animals advance.

If there were a race of men without any mechanical ap-
pliances we should see this clearly. There are none, nor
have there been, so far as we can tell, for millions and millions
of years. The lowest Australian savage carries weapons for
the fight or the chase, and has his cooking and drinking
utensils at home; a race without these things would be
completely ferae naturae and not men at all. We are unable
to point to any example of a race absolutely devoid of extra-
corporaneous limbs, but we can see among the Chinese
that with the failure to invent new limbs, a civilisation
becomes as much fixed as that of the ants ; and among savage
tribes we observe that few implements involve a state of
things scarcely human at all. Such tribes only advance
fari passu with the creatures upon which they feed.

It is a mistake, then, to take the view adopted by a previous
correspondent of this paper; to consider the machines as
identities, to animalise them, and to anticipate their final
triumph over mankind. They are to be regarded as the mode,
of development by which human organism is most especially
advancing, and every fresh invention is to be considered as
an additional member of the resources of the human body.
Herein lies the fundamental difference between man and his
inferiors. As regards his flesh and blood, his senses, appetites,
and affections, the difference is one of degree rather than of
kind, but in the deliberate invention of such unity of limbs
as is exemplified by the railway train—that seven-leagued foot
which five hundred may own at once—he stands quite alone.