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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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94          On the Making of Music,

somewhat analogous  transformation  and contradiction  in

There was a time when language was as rare an accomplish-
ment as writing was in the days when it was first invented.
Probably talking was originally confined to a few scholars,
as writing was in the middle ages, and gradually became
general. Even now speech is still growing; poor folks cannot
understand the talk of educated people. Perhaps reading
and writing will indeed one day come by nature. Analogy
points in this direction, and though analogy is often mis-
leading, it is the least misleading thing we have.


Communications between God and man must always be
either above words or below them; for with words come in
translations, and all the interminable questions therewith


The mere fact that a thought or idea can be expressed
articulately in words involves that it is still open to question ;
and the mere fact that a difficulty can be definitely conceived
involves that it is open to solution.

We want words to do more than they can. We try to do
with them what comes to very much like trying to mend a
watch with a pickaxe or to paint a miniature with a mop;
we expect them to help us to grip and dissect that which
in ultimate essence is as ungrippable as shadow. Nevertheless
there they are; we have got to live with them, and the wise
course is to treat them as we do our neighbours, and make
the best and not the worst of them. But they are parvenu
people as compared with thought and action. What we should
read is not the words but the man whom we feel to be behind
the words.


Words impede and either kill, or are killed by, perfect
thought; but they are, as a scaffolding, useful, if not in-
dispensable, for the building up of imperfect thought and help-
ing to perfect it.