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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Death                       357

cannot have tabula rasce and tabula scriptce at the same time.
We cannot be at once dead enough to be reasonably registered
as such, and alive enough to be able to tell people all about it.


There will come a supreme moment in which there will
be care neither for ourselves nor for others, but a complete
abandon, a sans souci of unspeakable indifference, and this
moment will never be taken from us ; time cannot rob us of it
but, as far as we are concerned, it will last for ever and ever
without flying. So that, even for the most wretched and
most guilty, there is a heaven at last where neither moth nor
rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor
steal. To himself every one is an immortal: he may know
that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is


If life is an illusion, then so is death—the greatest of all
illusions. If life must not be taken too seriously—then so
neither must death.


The dead are often just as living to us as the living are,
only we cannot get them to believe it. They can come to us,
but till we die we cannot go to them. To be dead is to be
unable to understand that one is alive.


Death is the dissolving of a partnership, the partners to
which survive and go elsewhere. It is the corruption or
- breaking up of that society which we have called Ourself. The
corporation is at an end, both its soul and its body cease as
a whole, but the immortal constituents do not cease and never
will. The souls of some men transmigrate in great part into
their children, but there is a large alloy in respect both of
body and mind through sexual generation ; the souls of other
men migrate into books, pictures, music, or what not; and
every one's mind migrates somewhere, whether remembered
and admired or the reverse. The living souls of Handel,
Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Giovanni Bellini and the other great