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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Unprofessional Sermons


and bearable but even pleasant ? What is it that so oils
the machinery of our thoughts that things which would
otherwise cause intolerable friction and heat produce no

Surely it is the principle that a very overwhelming
majority rides rough-shod with impunity over a very small
minority; that a drop of brandy in a gallon of water is
practically no brandy ; that a dozen maniacs among a
hundred thousand people produce no unsettling effect upon
our minds ; that a well-written i will go as an i even though
the dot be omitted—it seems to me that it is this principle,
which is embodied in dc minimis non cur at lex, that makes it
possible that there should be major a and a lex to care about
them. This is saying in another form that association does
not stick to the letter of its bond.


Saints are always grumbling because the world will not
take them at their own estimate ; so they cry out upon this
place and upon that, saying it does not know the things be-
longing to its peace and that it will be too late soon and that
people will be very sorry then that they did not make more
of the grumbler, whoever he may be, inasmuch as he will
make it hot for them and pay them out generally.

All this means : " Put me in a better social and financial
position than I now occupy ; give me more of the good
things of this life, if not actual money yet authority (which
is better loved by most men than even money itself), to
reward me because I am to have such an extraordinary good
fortune and high position in the world which is to come/'

When their contemporaries do not see this and tell them
that they cannot expect to have it both ways, they lose their
tempers, shake the dust from their feet and go sulking off
into the wilderness.

This is as regards themselves; to their followers they
say : " You must not expect to be able to make the best of
both worlds. The thing is absurd ; it cannot be done. You
must choose which you prefer, go in for it and leave the other,
for you cannot have both/1

When a saint complains that people do not know the