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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

The Life of the World to Come   361

for a moment, never—if they possess it as regards posthumous
respect and affection. The world may prove hollow but a
well-earned good fame in death will never do so. And all
men feel this whether they admit it to themselves or no.

Faith in this is easy enough. We are born with it. What
is less easy is to possess one's soul in peace and not be shaken
in faith and broken in spirit on seeing the way in which men
crowd themselves, or are crowded, into honourable remem-
brance when, if the truth concerning them were known, no pit
of oblivion should be deep enough for them. See, again, how
many who have richly earned esteem never get it either before
or after death. It is here that faith comes in. To see that
the infinite corruptions of this life penetrate into and infect
that which is to come, and yet to hold that even infamy
after death, with obscure and penurious life before it, is a
prize which will bring a man more peace at the last than all
the good things of this life put together and joined with an
immortality as lasting as Virgil's, provided the infamy and
failure of the one be unmerited, as also the success and immor-
tality of the other. Here is the test of faith—will you do
your duty with all your might at any cost of goods or reputa-
tion either in this world or beyond the grave ? If you will—
well, the chances are 100 to i that you will become a faddist,
a vegetarian and a teetotaller.

And suppose you escape this pit-fall too. Why should
you try to be so much better than your neighbours ? Who are
you to think you may be worthy of so much good fortune ? If
you do, you may be sure that you do not deserve it. ...

And so on ad infiniium. Let us eat and drink neither for-
getting nor remembering death unduly. The Lord hath mercy
on whom he will have mercy and the less we think about it
the better.

Starting again ad Infinitum

A man from the cradle to the grave is but the embryo of
a being that may be born into the world of the dead who still
live, or that may die so soon after entering it as to be prac-
tically still-born. The greater number of the seeds shed,
whether by plants or animals, never germinate and of those
that grow few reach maturity, so the greater number of those
that reach death are still-born as regards the truest life of