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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Memory and Design            65

the frame, and found his old friend the hole. A nut had been
supplied and he could no longer get his finger into it. He
rang the bell and when the servant came asked for a bed-key.
All this time he was rapidly acquiring the reputation of
being a lunatic throughout the whole house, but the key was
brought, and by the help of it he got the nut off. When he
had done so, there, sure enough, by dint of picking with his
pocket-knife, he found the missing five-pound note.

See how the return of a given present brings back the
presents that have been associated with it.

Unconscious Association

One morning I was whistling to myself the air " In Sweetest
Harmony " from Saul. Jones heard me and said :

" Do you know why you are whistling that ? "

I said I did not.

Then he said : " Did you not hear me, two minutes ago,
whistling ' Eagles were not so Swift' ? "

I had not noticed his doing so, and it was so long since
I 'had played that chorus myself that I doubt whether I
should have consciously recognised it. That I did recognise it
unconsciously is tolerably clear from my having gone on with
" In Sweetest Harmony," which is the air that follows it.


If you say " Hallelujah " to a cat, it will excite no fixed
set of fibres in connection with any other set and the cat
will exhibit none of the phenomena of consciousness. But
if you say " Me-e-at," the cat will be there in a moment,
for the due connection between the sets of fibres has been


The reason why words recall ideas is that the word has
been artificially introduced among the associated ideas, and
the presence of one idea recalls the others.