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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Rebelliousness                  343

«

it might look singular and kept ours on. My friend Mr.
Phillips, the tailor, was in one carriage, I did not see him,
but he saw me and afterwards told me he had pointed me
out to a clergyman who was in the carriage with him.

" Oh," said the clergyman, " then that's the man who
says England owes all her greatness to intoxication."

This is rather a free translation of what I did say; but
it only shows how impossible it is to please those who do not
wish to be pleased. Tennyson may talk about the slow sad
hours that bring us all things ill and all good things from
evil, because this is vague and indefinite; but I may not say
that, in spite of the terrible consequences of drunkenness,
man's intellectual development would not have reached its
present stage without the stimulus of alcohol—which I believe
to be both perfectly true and pretty generally admitted—
because this is definite. I do not think I said more than this
and am sure that no one can detest drunkenness more than I
do.* It seems to me it will be wiser in me not to try to make
headway at Shrewsbury.

Hell-Fire

If Vesuvius does not frighten those who live under it, is it
likely that Hell-fire should frighten any reasonable person ?

I met a traveller who had returned from Hades where he
had conversed with Tantalus and with others of the shades.
They all agreed that for the first six, or perhaps twelve,
months they disliked their punishment very much; but
after that, it was like shelling peas on a hot afternoon in
July. They began by discovering (no doubt long after the
fact had been apparent enough to every one else) that they
had not been noticing what they were doing so much as
usual, and that they had been even thinking of something
else. From this moment, the automatic stage of action
having set in, the progress towards always thinking of some-
thing else was rapid and they soon forgot that they were
undergoing any punishment.

* " No one can hate drunkenness more than I do, but I am con-
fident the human intellect owes its superiority over that of the lower
animals in great measure to the stimulus which alcohol has given to
imagination—imagination being little else than another name for
illusion " (Alps and Sanctuaries, Chapter III).