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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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356                         Death

both for end and endlessness of both good and ill, but as
torture they are the merest mockery when compared with the
fruitless chase to which poor Death has been condemned for
ever and ever. Does it not seem as though he too must have
committed some crime for which his sentence is to be for ever
grasping after that which becomes non-existent the moment
he grasps it ? But then I suppose it would be with him as
with the rest of the tortured, he must either die himself,
which he has not done, or become used to it and enjoy the
frightening as much as the killing. Any pain through which a
man can live at all becomes unfelt as soon as it becomes habi-
tual. Pain consists not in that which is now endured but in
the strong memory of something better that is still recent.
And so, happiness lies in the memory of a recent worse and
the expectation of a better that is to come soon.

Ignorance of Death


The fear of death is instinctive because in so many past
generations we have feared it. But how did we come to know
what death is so that we should fear it ? The answer is
that we do not know what death is and that this is why we
fear it.


If a man know not life which he hath seen how shall he
know death which he hath not seen ?


If a man has sent his teeth and his hair and perhaps two
or three limbs to the grave before him, the presumption
should be that, as he knows nothing further of these when
they have once left him, so will he know nothing of the rest
of him when it too is dead. The whole may surely be argued
from the parts.


To write about death is to write about that of which we
have had little practical experience. We can write about con-
scious life, but we have no consciousness of the deaths we
daily die. Besides, we cannot eat our cake and have it. We