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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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First Principle

absolute, eternal, unchangeable nothing that we mean when
we say ex nihilo nihil fit.

The alternative is that something should not have come out
of nothing, and this is saying that something has always
existed. But the eternal increateness of matter seems as
troublesome to conceive as its having been created out of
nothing. I say " seems/' for I am not sure how far it really is
so. We never saw something come out of nothing, that is to
say, we never saw a beginning of anything except as the be-
ginning of a new phase of something pre-existent. We ought
therefore to find the notion of eternal being familiar, it ought
to be the only conception of matter which we are able to form :
nevertheless, we are so carried away by being accustomed to
see phases have their beginnings and endings that we forget
that the matter, of which we see the phase begin and end, did
not begin or end with the phase.

Eternal matter permeated by eternal mind, matter and
mind being functions of one another, is the least uncomfortable
way of looking at the universe ; but as it is beyond our com-
prehension, and cannot therefore be comfortable, sensible
persons will not look at the universe at all except in such
details as may concern them.

Contradiction in Terms

We pay higher and higher in proportion to the service
rendered till we get to the highest services, such as becoming
a Member of Parliament, and this must not be paid at all. If
a man would go yet higher and found a new and permanent
system, or create some new idea or work of art which remains
to give delight to ages  he must not only not be paid, but he
will have to pay very heavily out of his own pocket into the

Again, we are to get all men to speak well of us if we can ;
yet we are to be cursed if all men speak well of us.

So when the universe has gathered itself into a single ball
(which I don't for a moment believe it ever will, but I don't
care) it will no sooner have done so, than the bubble will
burst and it will go back to its gases again.

Contradiction in terms is so omnipresent that we treat it
as we treat death, or free-will, or fate, or air, or God, or the