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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

The Life of the World to Come   377

The Life and letters of Dr. Butler for which, however, I had
special facilities.

16.  In Narcissus and  Ulysses I made an attempt,  the
failure of which has yet to be shown, to return to the principles
of Handel and take them up where he left of.

17.  The   elucidation   of  Shakespeare's  Sonnets.     [Shake-
speare's Sonnets Reconsidered.]

I say nothing here about my novel [The Way of All Flesh]
because it cannot be published till after my death ; nor about
my translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Nevertheless
these three books also were a kind of picking up of sovereigns,
for the novel contains records of things I saw happening
rather than imaginary incidents, and the principles on which
the translations are made were obvious to any one willing to
take and use them.

The foregoing is the list of my "mares'-nests," and it is, I
presume, this list which made Mr. Arthur Platt call me the
Galileo of Mares'-Nests in his diatribe on my Odyssey theory
in the Classical Review. I am not going to argue here that
they are all, as I do not doubt, sound ; what I want to say is
that they are every one of them things that lay on the surface
and open to any one else just as much as to me. Not one of
them required any profundity of thought or extensive re-
search ; they only required that he who approached the
various subjects with which they have to do should keep his
eyes open and try to put himself in the position of the various
people whom they involve. Above all, it was necessary to
approach them without any preconceived theory and to be
ready to throw over any conclusion the moment the evidence
pointed against it. The reason why I have discarded so few
theories that I have put forward—and at this moment I
cannot recollect one from which there has been any serious
attempt to dislodge me—is because I never allowed myself to
form a theory at all till I found myself driven on to it whether
I would or no. As long as it was possible to resist I resisted,
and only yielded when I could not think that an intelligent
jury under capable guidance would go with me if I resisted
longer. I never went in search of any one of my theories ;
I never knew what it was going to be till I had found it;
they came and found me, not I them. Such being my own
experience, I begin to be pretty certain that other people