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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

and of Life and Habit          55

Then comes Descent with Modification. Similarity tem-
pered with dissimilarity, and dissimilarity tempered with
similarity—a contradiction in terms, like almost everything
else that is true or useful or indeed intelligible at all. In
each case of what we call descent, it is still the first repro-
ducing creature identically the same—doing what it has done
before—only with such modifications as the struggle for
existence and natural selection have induced. No matter
how highly it has been developed, it can never be other than
the primordial cell and must always begin as the primordial
cell and repeat its last performance most nearly, but also,
more or less, all its previous performances.

A begets A' which is A with the additional experience of
a dash. A' begets A" which is A with the additional ex-
periences of A' and A"; and so on to A11, but you can never
eliminate the A.

8. Let An stand for a man. He begins as the primordial
cell—being verily nothing but the primordial cell which goes
on splitting itself up for ever, but gaining continually in
experience. Put him in the same position as he was in before
and he will do as he did before. First he will do his tadpoles
by rote, so to speak, on his head, from long practice; then he
does his fish trick; then he grows arms and legs, all uncon-
sciously from the inveteracy of the habit, till he comes to
doing his man, and this lesson he has not yet learnt so thor-
oughly. Some part of it, as the breathing and oxidisation
business, he is well up to, inasmuch as they form part of
previous roles, but the teeth and hair, the upright position,
the power of speech, though all tolerably familiar, give him
more trouble—for he is very stupid—a regular dunce in fact.
Then comes his newer and more complex environment, and
this puzzles him—arrests his attention—whereon conscious-
ness springs into existence, as a spark from a horse's hoof.

To be continued—I see it will have to be more than 30 pp.
It is still foggy in parts, but I must clear it a little. It will
go on to show that we are all one animal and that death
(which was at first voluntary, and has only come to be, dis-
liked because those who did not dislike it committed suicide
too easily) and reproduction are only phases of the ordinary
waste and repair which goes on in our bodies daily.

Always very truly yours,           S. BUTLER.