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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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things belonging to their peace, what he really means is that
they do not sufficiently care about the things belonging to
his own peace.



Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days: that
I may be certified how long I have to live (Ps. xxxbt. 5).

Of all prayers this is the insanest. That the one who
uttered it should have made and retained a reputation is a
strong argument in favour of his having been surrounded
with courtiers. " Lord, let me not know mine end " would
be better, only it would be praying for what God has already
granted us. " Lord, let me know A.B.'s end " would be bad
enough. Even though A.B. were Mr. Gladstone—we might
hear he was not to die yet. " Lord, stop A.B. from knowing
my end " would be reasonable, if there were any use in pray-
ing that A.B. might not be able to do what he never can do.
Or can the prayer refer to the other end of life ? " Lord, let
me know my beginning." This again would not be always

The prayer is a silly piece of petulance and it would have
served the maker of it right to have had it granted. " A
painful and lingering disease followed by death " or " Ninety,
a burden to yourself and every one else "—there is not so
much to pick and choose between them. Surely, " I thank
thee, 0 Lord, that thou hast hidden mine end from me "
would be better. The sting of death is in foreknowledge of
the when and the how.

If again he had prayed that he might be able to make his
psalms a little more lively, and be saved from becoming the
bore which he has been to so many generations of sick persons
and young children—or that he might find a publisher for
them with greater facility—but there is no end to it. The
prayer he did pray was about the worst he could have prayed
and the psalmist, being the psalmist, naturally prayed it—
unless I have misquoted him.

Prayers are to men as dolls are to children.   They are not
without use and comfort, but it is not easy to take them very