(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Truth and Convenience        307

ness nor undue unction—yet it shall be perfectly plain to all
his parishioners who are worth considering that he is acting as
a mouthpiece and that his words are spoken dramatically. As
for the unimaginative, they are as children ; they cannot and
should not be taken into account. Men must live as they must
write or act—for a certain average standard which each must
guess at for himself as best he can ; those who are above this
standard he cannot reach; those, again, who are below it
must be so at their own risk.

Pilate did well when he would not stay for an answer to his
question, What is truth ? for there is no such thing apart
from the sayer and the sayee. **There is that irony in nature
which brings it to pass that if the sayer be a man with any
stuff in him, provided he tells no lies wittingly to himself and
is never unkindly, he may lie and lie and lie all the day long,
and he will no more be false to any man than the sun will
shine by night; his lies will become truths as they pass into the
hearer's soul. But if a man deceives himself and is unkind,
the truth is not in him, it turns to falsehood while yet in his
mouth, like the quails in the wilderness of Sinai. How this is
so or why, I know not, but that the Lord hath mercy on
whom He will have mercy and whom He willeth He hardeneth,
and that the bad man can do no right and the good no
wrong.**

A great French writer has said that the mainspring of our
existence does not lie in those veins and nerves and arteries
which have been described with so much care—these are but
its masks and mouthpieces through which it acts but behind
which it is for ever hidden ; so in like manner the faiths and
formulae of a Church may be as its bones and animal mechan-
ism, but they are not the life of the Church, which is something
rather that cannot be holden in words, and one should know
how to put them off, yet put them off gracefully, if they wish
to come too prominently forward. Do not let " An Earnest
Clergyman " take things too much au serieitx. He seems to be
fairly contented where he is ; let him take the word of one who
is old enough to be his father, that if he has a talent for con-
scientious scruples he will find plenty of scope for them in
other professions as well as in the Church. I, for aught he
knows, may be a doctor and I might tell my own story; or I
may be a barrister and have found it my duty to win a case