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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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First Principles                311

it.   We can invent a trifle more than can be got at by mere
combination of remembered things.

When we are impressed by a few only, or perhaps only one
of a number of ideas which are bonded pleasantly together,
there is hope; when we see a good many there is expectation;
when we have had so many presented to us that we have ex-
pected confidently and the remaining ideas have not turned
up, there is disappointment. So the sailor says in the play:

" Here are my arms, here is my manly bosom, but where's
my Mary ? "


What tricks imagination plays ! Thus, if we expect a person
in the street we transform a dozen impossible people into him
while they are still too far off to be seen distinctly ; and when
we expect to hear a footstep on the stairsóas, we will say, the
postman'sówe hear footsteps in every sound. Imagination
will make us see a billiard ball as likely to travel farther than
it will travel, if we hope that it will do so. It will make us
think we feel a train begin to move as soon as the guard has
said " All right/' though the train has not yet begun to move ;
if another train alongside begins to move exactly at this
juncture, there is no man who will not be deceived. And we
omit as much as we insert. We often do not notice that a man
has grown a beard.


^ I read once of a man who was cured of a dangerous illness
by eating his doctor's prescription which he understood was
the medicine itself. So William Sefton Moorhouse [in New
Zealand] imagined he was being converted to Christianity by
reading Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, which he had got by
mistake for Butler's Analogy, on the recommendation of a
friend. But it puzzled him a good deal.

At Ivy Hatch, while we were getting our beer in the inner
parlour, there was a confused melee of voices in the bar, amid
which I distinguished a voice saying :

" Imagination will do any bloody thing almost."

I was writing Life and Habit at the time and was much