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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Unprofessional Sermons         207

in the newspapers. Fancy Miss Cato reviewing Horace!
They had no Frances Power Cobbes, no ... s, no ... s; yet they
seem to have got along quite nicely without these powerful
moral engines. The comeliest and most enjoyable races
that we know of were the ancient Greeks, the Italians and
the South Sea Islanders, and they have none of them been
purists.

Italians and Englishmen

Italians, and perhaps Frenchmen, consider first whether
they like or want to do a thing and then whether, on the
whole, it will do them any harm. Englishmen, and perhaps
Germans, consider first whether they ought to like a thing
and often never reach the questions whether they do like
it and whether it will hurt. There is much to be said for
both systems, but I suppose it is best to combine them as far
as possible.

On Knowing what Gives us Pleasure

i

One can bring no greater reproach against a man than to
say that he does not set sufficient value upon pleasure,
and there is no greater sign of a fool than the thinking that
he can tell at once and easily what it is that pleases him.
. To know this is not easy, and how to extend our knowledge
of it is the highest and the most neglected of all arts and
branches of education. Indeed, if we could solve the diffi-
culty of knowing what gives us pleasure, if we could find
its springs, its inception and earliest modus opemndi, we
should have discovered the secret of life and development, for
the same difficulty has attended the development of every
sense from touch onwards, and no new sense was ever de-
veloped without pains. A man had better stick to known
and proved pleasures, but, if he will venture in quest of new
ones, he should not do so with a light heart.

One reason why we find it so hard to know our own likings
is because we are so little accustomed to try; we have our
likings found for us in respect of by far the greater number
of the matters that concern us; thus we have grown all our
limbs on the strength of the likings of our ancestors and adopt
these without question.