Ynhâld fan ’e Samuel Butler-side

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The Note-Books of Samuel Butler

Then, after years of looking and searching and inquiring, I happen to find The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, because someone somewhere decided to put them upon the Internet.

Butler’s notes turn out to be a bit disappointing at first sight. Small wonder, because my expectations were high. Anyway, Butler maybe said so himself:

” The moment a thing is written, or even can be written, and reasoned about, it has changed its nature by becoming tangible, and hence finite, and hence it will have an end in disintegration. It has entered into death. And yet till it can be thought about and realised more or less definitely it has not entered into life. Both life and death are necessary factors of each other. But our profoundest and most important convictions are unspeakable.

So it is with unwritten and indefinable codes of honour, conventions, art-rules – things that can be felt but not explained – these are the most important, and the less we try to understand them, or even to think about them, the better. “

Public Opinion

The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.

Samuel Butler, The Note-books

My Thoughts

They are like persons met upon a journey; I think them very agreeable at first but soon find, as a rule, that I am tired of them.

Samuel Butler, The Note-books


There are two classes, those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing.

Samuel Butler, The Note-books


A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.

Definitions are a kind of scratching and generally leave a sore place more sore than it was before.

Samuel Butler, The Note-books


We are not won by argument, which is like reading and writing and disappears when there is need of such vanity, or like colour that vanishes with too much lightor shade, or like sound that becomes silence in the extremes. Argument is useless when there is either no conviction at all or a very strong conviction. It is a means of conviction and as such belongs to the means of conviction, not to the extremes. We are not won by arguments that we can analyse, but by tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself.

Samuel Butler, The Note-books