Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

Mind and Matter               89

cells as they work their way nearer and nearer to our skins
and then get rubbed off and go away. It is as though we sent
people to live nearer and nearer the churchyard the older they
grew. As for the skin that is shed, in the first place it has had
its turn, in the second it starts anew under fresh auspices, for
it can at no time cease to be part of the universe, it must
always live in one way or another.

Croesus and His Kitchen-Maid

I want people to see either their cells as less parts of them-
selves than they do, or their servants as more.

Croesus's kitchen-maid is part of him, bone of his bone and
flesh of his flesh, for she eats what comes from his table and,
being fed of one flesh, are they not brother and sister to one
another in virtue of community of nutriment which is but
a thinly veiled travesty of descent ? When she eats peas
with her knife, he does so too ; there is not a bit of bread and
butter she puts into her mouth, nor a lump of sugar she drops
into her tea, but he knoweth it altogether, though he knows
nothing whatever about it. She is en-Croesused and he en-
scullery-maided so long as she remains linked to him by the
golden chain which passes from his pocket to hers, and which
is greatest of all unifiers.

True, neither party is aware of the connection at all as long
as things go smoothly. Croesus no more knows the name of,
or feels the existence of, his kitchen-maid than a peasant in
health knows about his liver ; nevertheless.lie is awakened to
a dim sense of an undefined something when he pays his grocer
or his baker. She is more definitely aware of him than he of
her, but it is by way of an overshadowing presence rather than
a clear and intelligent comprehension. And though Croesus
does not eat his kitchen-maid's meals otherwise than vicari-
ously, still to eat vicariously is to eat: the meals so eaten by
his kitchen-maid nourish the better ordering of the dinne^-
which nourishes and engenders the better ordering of Croesus
himself. He is fed therefore by the feeding of his kitchen-

And so with sleep. When she goes to bed he, in part, does
so too. When she gets up and lays the fire in the back-
kitchen he, in part, does so. He lays it through her and in