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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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164                   The Position

cesses appear to resemble one another much as rain drops
resemble one another. There is essential agreement in
spite of essential difference. So that here, as everywhere
else, we no sooner scratch the soil than we come upon
the granite of contradiction in terms and can scratch no

As for ourselves, we are passing through an inductive,
technical, speculative period and have gone such lengths in
this direction that a-reaction, during which we shall pass to
the other extreme, may be confidently predicted.

The Art of Propagating Opinion

He who would propagate an opinion must begin by making
sure of his ground and holding it firmly. There is as little
use in trying to breed from weak opinion as from other weak
stock, animal or vegetable.

The more securely a man holds an opinion, the more
temperate he can afford to be, and the more temperate he is,
the more weight he will carry with those who are in the long
run weightiest. Ideas and opinions, like living organisms,
have a normal rate of growth which cannot be either checked
or forced beyond a certain point. They can be held in check
more safely than they can be hurried. They can also be
killed; and one of the surest ways to kill them is to try to
hurry them.

The more unpopular an opinion is, the more necessary is
it that the holder should be somewhat punctilious in his
observance of conventionalities generally, and that, if
possible, he should get the reputation of being well-to-do in
the world.

Arguments are not so good as assertion. Arguments are
like fire-arms which a man may keep at home but should not
carry about with him. Indirect assertion, leaving the hearer
to point the inference, is, as a rule, to be preferred. The
one great argument with most people is that another should
think this or that. The reasons of the belief are details and,
in nine cases out of ten, best omitted as confusing and
weakening the general impression.

Many, if not most, good ideas die young—mainly from
neglect on the part of the parents, but sometimes from over-