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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Truth and Convenience        301


I seem to see lies crowding and crushing at a narrow gate
and working their way in along with truths into the domain
of history.

Nature's Double Falsehood

That one great lie she told about the earth being flat when
she knew it was round all the time ! And again how she stuck
to it that the sun went round us when it was we who were
going round the sun ! This double falsehood has irretrievably
ruined my confidence in her. There is no lie which she will
not tell and stick to like a Gladstonian. How plausibly she
told her tale, and how many ages was it before she was so
much as suspected ! And then when things did begin to look
bad for her, how she brazened it out, and what a desperate
business it was to bring her shifts and prevarications to book 1



We wonder at its being as hard often to discover con-
venience as it is to discover truth. But surely convenience is


The use of truth is like the use of words; both truth and
words depend greatly upon custom.


We do with truth much as we do with God. We create it
according to our own requirements and then say that it has
created us, or requires that we shall do or think so and soŚ
whatever we find convenient.


- " What is Truth ? " is often asked, as though it were harder
to say what truth is than what anything else is. But what is
Justice ? What is anything ? An eternal contradiction in
terms meets us at the end of every enquiry. We are not re-
quired to know what truth is, but to speak the truth, and so
with justice.