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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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316                 First Principles

Those who say there is a God are wrong unless they mean at
the same time that there is no God, and vice versa. The
difference is the same as that between plus nothing and
minus nothing, and it is hard to say which we ought to
admire and thank most—the first theist or the first atheist.
Nevertheless, for many reasons, the plus nothing is to be


To be poor is to be contemptible, to be very poor is worse
still, and so on; but to be actually at the point of death
through poverty is to be sublime. So " when weakness is
utter, honour ceaseth." [The Righteous Man, p. 390, post.]


The meeting of extremes is never clearer than in the case
of moral and intellectual strength and weakness. We may
say with Hesiod " How much the half is greater than the
whole! " or with S. Paul " My strength is made perfect in
weakness " ; they come to much the same thing. We all
know strength so strong as to be weaker than weakness and
weakness so great as to be stronger than strength.


The Queen travels as the Countess of Balmoral and would
probably be very glad, if she could, to travel as plain Mrs.
Smith. There is a good deal of the Queen lurking in every
Mrs. Smith and, conversely, a good deal of Mrs. Smith lurk-
ing in every queen.

Free-Will and Necessity

As I am tidying up, and the following beginning of a paper
on the above subject has been littering about my table since
December 1889, which is the date on the top of page i, I will
shoot it on to this dust-heap and bury it out of my sight.
It runs :

The difficulty has arisen from our forgetting that contra-
diction in terms lies at the foundation of all our thoughts
as a condition and sine qua non of our being able to think at
all. We imagine that we must either have all free-will and
no necessity, or all necessity and no free-will, and, it being