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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsLife And Habit - Appendix--Author's Addenda
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Life And Habit - Appendix--Author's Addenda Post by :azaus Category :Nonfictions Author :Samuel Butler Date :May 2012 Read :2464

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Life And Habit - Appendix--Author's Addenda

{2} But I may say in passing that though articulate speech and the power to maintain the upright position come much about the same time, yet the power of making gestures of more or less significance is prior to that of walking uprightly, and therefore to that of speech. Not only is gesticulation the earlier faculty in the individual, but it was so also in the history of our race. Our semi-simious ancestors could gesticulate long before they could talk articulately. It is significant of this that gesture is still found easier than speech even by adults, as may be observed on our river steamers, where the captain moves his hand but does not speak, a boy interpreting his gesture into language. To develop this here would complicate the argument; let us be content to note it and pass on.

{3} Nevertheless, the smallness of the effort touches upon the deepest mystery of organic life--the power to originate, to err, to sport, the power which differentiates the living organism from the machine, however complicated. The action and working of this power is found to be like the action of any other mental and, therefore, physical power (for all physical action of living beings is but the expression of a mental action), but I can throw no light upon its origin any more than upon the origin of life. This, too, must be noted and passed over.

{4} How different from the above uncertain sound is the full clear note of one who truly believes:-

"The Church of England is commonly called a Lutheran church, but whoever compares it with the Lutheran churches on the Continent will have reason to congratulate himself on its superiority. It is in fact a church sui generis, yielding in point of dignity, purity and decency of its doctrines, establishment and ceremonies, to no congregation of christians in the world; modelled to a certain and considerable extent, but not entirely, by our great and wise pious reformers on the doctrines of Luther, so far as they are in conformity with the sure and solid foundation on which it rests, and we trust for ever will rest--the authority of the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." ("Sketch of Modern and Ancient Geography," by Dr. Samuel Butler, of Shrewsbury. Ed. 1813.)

This is the language of faith, compelled by the exigencies of the occasion to be for a short time conscious of its own existence, but surely very little likely to become so to the extent of feeling the need of any assistance from reason. It is the language of one whose convictions are securely founded upon the current opinion of those among whom he has been born and bred; and of all merely post-natal faiths a faith so founded is the strongest. It is pleasing to see that the only alterations in the edition of 1838 consist in spelling Christians with a capital C and the omission of the epithet "wise" as applied to the reformers, an omission more probably suggested by a desire for euphony than by any nascent doubts concerning the applicability of the epithet itself.

{5} Or take, again, the constitution of the Church of England. The bishops are the spiritual queens, the clergy are the neuter workers. They differ widely in structure (for dress must be considered as a part of structure), in the delicacy of the food they eat and the kind of house they inhabit, and also in many of their instincts, from the bishops, who are their spiritual parents. Not only this, but there are two distinct kinds of neuter workers--priests and deacons; and of the former there are deans, archdeacons, prebends, canons, rural deans, vicars, rectors, curates, yet all spiritually sterile. In spite of this sterility, however, is there anyone who will maintain that the widely differing structures and instincts of these castes are not due to inherited spiritual habit? Still less will he be inclined to do so when he reflects that by such slight modification of treatment as consecration and endowment any one of them can be rendered spiritually fertile.


(THE END)
Samuel Butler's Book: Life and Habit

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