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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

to Alps and Sanctuaries

history of the development of a race or species, the evolution
is admittedly for the most part exceedingly gradual, by means
of many generations, as it were, of episodes that are kindred
to and yet not identical with the subject.

And when we come to think of it, we find in the evolution
of bodily form (which along with modification involves per-
sistence of type) the explanation why persistence of type in
subjects chosen for treatment in works of art should be so
universal. It is because we are so averse to great changes
and at the same time so averse to no change at all, that we
have a bodily form, in the main, persistent and yet, at the
same time, capable of modifications. Without a strong aver-
sion to change its habits and, with its habits, the pabulum of
its mind, there would be no fixity of type in any species and,
indeed, there would be no life at all, as we are accustomed to
think of life, for organs would disappear before they could be
developed, and to try to build life on such a shifting foundation
would be as hopeless as it would be to try and build a material
building on an actual quicksand. Hence the habits, cries,
abodes, food, hopes and fears of each species (and what are
these but the realities of which human arts are as the shadow?)
tell the same old tales in the same old ways from generation to
generation, and it is only because they do so that they appear
to us as species at all.

Returning now to the Etruscan cinerary urns—I have no
doubt that, perhaps three or four thousand years hence, a
collection of the tombstones from some of our suburban ceme-
teries will be thought exceedingly interesting, but I confess
to having found the urns in the Museum at Volterra a little
monotonous and, after looking at about three urns, I hurried
over the remaining 397 as fast as I could. [1889.]

The Quick and the Dead

The walls of the houses [in an Italian village] are built of
brick and the roofs are covered with stone. They call the
stone " vivo." It is as though they thought bricks were like
veal or mutton and stones like bits out of the living calf or
sheep.*

* Cf. Wamba's explanation of the Saxon swine being converted
into Norman pork on their death. Ivanhoe, Chap. I.