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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Fore-knowledge of Death

No one thinks he will escape death, so there is no disappoint-
ment and, as long as we know neither the when nor the how,
the mere fact that we shall one day have to go does not much
affect us; we do not care, even though we know vaguely that
we have not long to live. The serious trouble begins when
death becomes definite in time and shape. It is in precise
fore-knowledge, rather than in sin, that the sting of death is
to be found ; and such fore-knowledge is generally withheld ;
though, strangely enough, many would have it if they could.

Continued Identity

I do not doubt that a person who will grow out of me as
I now am, but of whom I know nothing now and in whom
therefore I can take none but the vaguest interest, will one
day undergo so sudden and complete a change that his friends
must notice it and call him dead ; but as I have no definite
ideas concerning this person, not knowing whether he will be a
man of 59 or 79 or any age between these two, so this person
will, I am sure, have forgotten the very existence of me as I
am at this present moment. If it is said that no matter how
wide a difference of condition may exist between myself now
ancLmyself at the moment of death, or how complete the
forgetfulness of connection on either side may be, yet the
fact of the one's having grown out of the other by an infinite
series of gradations makes the second personally identical
with the first, then I say that the difference between the corpse
and the till recently living body is not great enough, either
in respect of material change or of want of memory concerning
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