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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

320                 First Principles

this element of free-will, which comes from the unseen king-
dom within which the writs of our thoughts run not, must be
carried down to the most tenuous atoms whose action is
supposed most purely chemical and mechanical; it can
never be held as absolutely eliminated, for if it be so held,
there is no getting it back again, and that it exists, even in
the lowest forms of life, cannot be disputed. Its existence is
one of the proofs of the existence of an unseen world, and a
means whereby we know the little that we do know of that

Necessity otherwise Luck

It is all very well to insist upon the free-will or cunning
side of living action, more especially now when it has been
so persistently ignored, but though the fortunes of birth and
surroundings have all been built up by cunning, yet it is by
ancestral, vicarious cunning, and this, to each individual,
comes to much the same as luck pure and simple; in fact,
luck is seldom seriously intended to mean a total denial of
cunning, but is for the most part only an expression whereby
we summarise and express our sense of a cunning too complex
and impalpable for conscious following and apprehension.

When we consider how little we have to do with our parent-
age, country and education, or even with our genus and
species, how vitally these things affect us both in life and
death, and how, practically, the cunning in connection with
them is so spent as to be no cunning at all, it is plain that the
drifts, currents, and storms of what is virtually luck will be
often more than the little helm of cunning can control. And
so with death. Nothing can affect us less, but at the same
time nothing can affect us more ; and how little can cunning
do against it ? At the best it can only defer it. Cunning is
nine-tenths luck, and luck is nine-tenths cunning; but the
fact that nine-tenths of cunning is luck leaves still a tenth
part unaccounted for.


^ Our choice is apparently most free, and we are least ob-
viously driven to determine our course, in those cases where
the future is most obscure, that is, when the balance of ad-
vantage appears most doubtful.