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´╗┐Title: Samuel Butler: a sketch
Author: Jones, Henry Festing, 1851-1928
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Samuel Butler: a sketch" ***

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Transcribed from the 1921 Jonathan Cape edition by David Price, email

A Sketch, by Henry Festing Jones

Author of _Samuel Butler_: _A Memoir_

Jonathan Cape
Eleven Gower Street London

_First published in_ "_The Humour of Homer & Other Essays_" _by Samuel
Butler_ 1913.  _Reissued by Jonathan Cape_ 1921

Samuel Butler: A Sketch

Samuel Butler was born on the 4th December, 1835, at the Rectory, Langar,
near Bingham, in Nottinghamshire.  His father was the Rev. Thomas Butler,
then Rector of Langar, afterwards one of the canons of Lincoln Cathedral,
and his mother was Fanny Worsley, daughter of John Philip Worsley of
Arno's Vale, Bristol, sugar-refiner.  His grandfather was Dr. Samuel
Butler, the famous headmaster of Shrewsbury School, afterwards Bishop of
Lichfield.  The Butlers are not related either to the author of
_Hudibras_, or to the author of the _Analogy_, or to the present Master
of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Butler's father, after being at school at Shrewsbury under Dr. Butler,
went up to St. John's College, Cambridge; he took his degree in 1829,
being seventh classic and twentieth senior optime; he was ordained and
returned to Shrewsbury, where he was for some time assistant master at
the school under Dr. Butler.  He married in 1832 and left Shrewsbury for
Langar.  He was a learned botanist, and made a collection of dried plants
which he gave to the Town Museum of Shrewsbury.

Butler's childhood and early life were spent at Langar among the
surroundings of an English country rectory, and his education was begun
by his father.  In 1843, when he was only eight years old, the first
great event in his life occurred; the family, consisting of his father
and mother, his two sisters, his brother and himself, went to Italy.  The
South-Eastern Railway stopped at Ashford, whence they travelled to Dover
in their own carriage; the carnage was put on board the steamboat, they
crossed the Channel, and proceeded to Cologne, up the Rhine to Basle and
on through Switzerland into Italy, through Parma, where Napoleon's widow
was still reigning, Modena, Bologna, Florence, and so to Rome.  They had
to drive where there was no railway, and there was then none in all Italy
except between Naples and Castellamare.  They seemed to pass a fresh
custom-house every day, but, by tipping the searchers, generally got
through without inconvenience.  The bread was sour and the Italian butter
rank and cheesy--often uneatable.  Beggars ran after the carriage all day
long, and when they got nothing jeered at the travellers and called them
heretics.  They spent half the winter in Rome, and the children were
taken up to the top of St. Peter's as a treat to celebrate their father's
birthday.  In the Sistine Chapel they saw the cardinals kiss the toe of
Pope Gregory XVI., and in the Corso, in broad daylight, they saw a monk
come rolling down a staircase like a sack of potatoes, bundled into the
street by a man and his wife.  The second half of the winter was spent in
Naples.  This early introduction to the land which he always thought of
and often referred to as his second country made an ineffaceable
impression upon him.

In January, 1846, he went to school at Allesley, near Coventry, under the
Rev. E. Gibson.  He seldom referred to his life there, though sometimes
he would say something that showed he had not forgotten all about it.  For
instance, in 1900, Mr. Sydney C. Cockerell, now the Director of the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, showed him a medieval missal, laboriously
illuminated.  He found that it fatigued him to look at it, and said that
such books ought never to be made.  Cockerell replied that such books
relieved the tedium of divine service, on which Butler made a note ending

   Give me rather a robin or a peripatetic cat like the one whose loss
   the parishioners of St. Clement Danes are still deploring.  When I was
   at school at Allesley the boy who knelt opposite me at morning
   prayers, with his face not more than a yard away from mine, used to
   blow pretty little bubbles with his saliva which he would send sailing
   off the tip of his tongue like miniature soap bubbles; they very soon
   broke, but they had a career of a foot or two.  I never saw anyone
   else able to get saliva bubbles right away from him and, though I have
   endeavoured for some fifty years and more to acquire the art, I never
   yet could start the bubble off my tongue without its bursting.  Now
   things like this really do relieve the tedium of church, but no missal
   that I have ever seen will do anything except increase it.

In 1848 he left Allesley and went to Shrewsbury under the Rev. B. H.
Kennedy.  Many of the recollections of his school life at Shrewsbury are
reproduced for the school life of Ernest Pontifex at Roughborough in _The
Way of All Flesh_, Dr. Skinner being Dr. Kennedy.

During these years he first heard the music of Handel; it went straight
to his heart and satisfied a longing which the music of other composers
had only awakened and intensified.  He became as one of the listening
brethren who stood around "when Jubal struck the chorded shell" in the
_Song for Saint Cecilia's Day_:

   Less than a god, they thought, there could not dwell
   Within the hollow of that shell
   That spoke so sweetly and so well.

This was the second great event in his life, and henceforward Italy and
Handel were always present at the bottom of his mind as a kind of double
pedal to every thought, word, and deed.  Almost the last thing he ever
asked me to do for him, within a few days of his death, was to bring
_Solomon_ that he might refresh his memory as to the harmonies of "With
thee th' unsheltered moor I'd trace."  He often tried to like the music
of Bach and Beethoven, but found himself compelled to give them up--they
bored him too much.  Nor was he more successful with the other great
composers; Haydn, for instance, was a sort of Horace, an agreeable,
facile man of the world, while Mozart, who must have loved Handel, for he
wrote additional accompaniments to the _Messiah_, failed to move him.  It
was not that he disputed the greatness of these composers, but he was out
of sympathy with them, and never could forgive the last two for having
led music astray from the Handel tradition, and paved the road from Bach
to Beethoven.  Everything connected with Handel interested him.  He
remembered old Mr. Brooke, Rector of Gamston, North Notts, who had been
present at the Handel Commemoration in 1784, and his great-aunt, Miss
Susannah Apthorp, of Cambridge, had known a lady who had sat upon
Handel's knee.  He often regretted that these were his only links with
"the greatest of all composers."

Besides his love for Handel he had a strong liking for drawing, and,
during the winter of 1853-4, his family again took him to Italy, where,
being now eighteen, he looked on the works of the old masters with

In October, 1854, he went into residence at St. John's College,
Cambridge.  He showed no aptitude for any particular branch of academic
study, nevertheless he impressed his friends as being likely to make his
mark.  Just as he used reminiscences of his own schooldays at Shrewsbury
for Ernest's life at Roughborough, so he used reminiscences of his own
Cambridge days for those of Ernest.  When the Simeonites, in _The Way of
All Flesh_, "distributed tracts, dropping them at night in good men's
letter boxes while they slept, their tracts got burnt or met with even
worse contumely."  Ernest Pontifex went so far as to parody one of these
tracts and to get a copy of the parody "dropped into each of the
Simeonites' boxes." Ernest did this in the novel because Butler had done
it in real life.  Mr. A. T. Bartholomew, of the University Library, has
found, among the Cambridge papers of the late J. Willis Clark's
collection, three printed pieces belonging to the year 1855 bearing on
the subject.  He speaks of them in an article headed "Samuel Butler and
the Simeonites," and signed A. T. B. in the _Cambridge Magazine_, 1st
March, 1913; the first is "a genuine Simeonite tract; the other two are
parodies.  All three are anonymous.  At the top of the second parody is
written 'By S. Butler, March 31.'"  The article gives extracts from the
genuine tract and the whole of Butler's parody.

Besides parodying Simeonite tracts, Butler wrote various other papers
during his undergraduate days, some of which, preserved by one of his
contemporaries, who remained a lifelong friend, the Rev. Canon Joseph
M'Cormick, now Rector of St. James's, Piccadilly, are reproduced in _The
Note-Books of Samuel Butler_ (1912).

He also steered the Lady Margaret first boat, and Canon M'Cormick told me
of a mishap that occurred on the last night of the races in 1857.  Lady
Margaret had been head of the river since 1854, Canon M'Cormick was
rowing 5, Philip Pennant Pearson (afterwards P. Pennant) was 7, Canon
Kynaston, of Durham (whose name formerly was Snow), was stroke, and
Butler was cox.  When the cox let go of the bung at starting, the rope
caught in his rudder lines, and Lady Margaret was nearly bumped by Second
Trinity.  They escaped, however, and their pursuers were so much
exhausted by their efforts to catch them that they were themselves bumped
by First Trinity at the next corner.  Butler wrote home about it:

   11 March, 1857.  Dear Mamma: My foreboding about steering was on the
   last day nearly verified by an accident which was more deplorable than
   culpable the effects of which would have been ruinous had not the
   presence of mind of No. 7 in the boat rescued us from the very jaws of
   defeat.  The scene is one which never can fade from my remembrance and
   will be connected always with the gentlemanly conduct of the crew in
   neither using opprobrious language nor gesture towards your
   unfortunate son but treating him with the most graceful forbearance;
   for in most cases when an accident happens which in itself is but
   slight, but is visited with serious consequences, most people get
   carried away with the impression created by the last so as to entirely
   forget the accidental nature of the cause and if we had been quite
   bumped I should have been ruined, as it is I get praise for coolness
   and good steering as much as and more than blame for my accident and
   the crew are so delighted at having rowed a race such as never was
   seen before that they are satisfied completely.  All the spectators
   saw the race and were delighted; another inch and I should never have
   held up my head again.  One thing is safe, it will never happen again.

The _Eagle_, "a magazine supported by members of St. John's College,"
issued its first number in the Lent term of 1858; it contains an article
by Butler "On English Composition and Other Matters," signed "Cellarius":

   Most readers will have anticipated me in admitting that a man should
   be clear of his meaning before he endeavours to give it any kind of
   utterance, and that, having made up his mind what to say, the less
   thought he takes how to say it, more than briefly, pointedly and
   plainly, the better.

From this it appears that, when only just over twenty-two, Butler had
already discovered and adopted those principles of writing from which he
never departed.

In the fifth number of the _Eagle_ is an article, "Our Tour," also signed
"Cellarius"; it is an account of a tour made in June, 1857, with a friend
whose name he Italianized into Giuseppe Verdi, through France into North
Italy, and was written, so he says, to show how they got so much into
three weeks and spent only 25 pounds; they did not, however, spend quite
so much, for the article goes on, after bringing them back to England,
"Next day came safely home to dear old St. John's, cash in hand 7d." {1}

Butler worked hard with Shilleto, an old pupil of his grandfather, and
was bracketed 12th in the Classical Tripos of 1858.  Canon M'Cormick told
me that he would no doubt have been higher but for the fact that he at
first intended to go out in mathematics; it was only during the last year
of his time that he returned to the classics, and his being so high as he
was spoke well for the classical education of Shrewsbury.

It had always been an understood thing that he was to follow in the
footsteps of his father and grandfather and become a clergyman;
accordingly, after taking his degree, he went to London and began to
prepare for ordination, living and working among the poor as lay
assistant under the Rev. Philip Perring, Curate of St. James's,
Piccadilly, an old pupil of Dr. Butler at Shrewsbury. {2}  Placed among
such surroundings, he felt bound to think out for himself many
theological questions which at this time were first presented to him,
and, the conclusion being forced upon him that he could not believe in
the efficacy of infant baptism, he declined to be ordained.

It was now his desire to become an artist; this, however, did not meet
with the approval of his family, and he returned to Cambridge to try for
pupils and, if possible, to get a fellowship.  He liked being at
Cambridge, but there were few pupils and, as there seemed to be little
chance of a fellowship, his father wished him to come down and adopt some
profession.  A long correspondence took place in the course of which many
alternatives were considered.  There are letters about his becoming a
farmer in England, a tutor, a homoepathic doctor, an artist, or a
publisher, and the possibilities of the army, the bar, and diplomacy.
Finally it was decided that he should emigrate to New Zealand.  His
passage was paid, and he was to sail in the _Burmah_, but a cousin of his
received information about this vessel which caused him, much against his
will, to get back his passage money and take a berth in the _Roman
Emperor_, which sailed from Gravesend on one of the last days of
September, 1859.  On that night, for the first time in his life, he did
not say his prayers.  "I suppose the sense of change was so great that it
shook them quietly off.  I was not then a sceptic; I had got as far as
disbelief in infant baptism, but no further.  I felt no compunction of
conscience, however, about leaving off my morning and evening
prayers--simply I could no longer say them."

The _Roman Emperor_, after a voyage every incident of which interested
him deeply, arrived outside Port Lyttelton.  The captain shouted to the
pilot who came to take them in:

"Has the _Robert Small_ arrived?"

"No," replied the pilot, "nor yet the _Burmah_."

And Butler, writing home to his people, adds the comment: "You may
imagine what I felt."

The _Burmah_ was never heard of again.

He spent some time looking round, considering what to do and how to
employ the money with which his father was ready to supply him, and
determined upon sheep-farming.  He made several excursions looking for
country, and ultimately took up a run which is still called Mesopotamia,
the name he gave it because it is situated among the head-waters of the

It was necessary to have a horse, and he bought one for 55 pounds, which
was not considered dear.  He wrote home that the horse's name was
"Doctor": "I hope he is a Homoeopathist."  From this, and from the fact
that he had already contemplated becoming a homoeopathic doctor himself,
I conclude that he had made the acquaintance of Dr. Robert Ellis Dudgeon,
the eminent homoeopathist, while he was doing parish work in London.
After his return to England Dr. Dudgeon was his medical adviser, and
remained one of his most intimate friends until the end of his life.
Doctor, the horse, is introduced into _Erewhon Revisited_; the shepherd
in Chapter XXVI tells John Hicks that Doctor "would pick fords better
than that gentleman could, I know, and if the gentleman fell off him he
would just stay stock still."

Butler carried on his run for about four and a half years, and the open-
air life agreed with him; he ascribed to this the good health he
afterwards enjoyed.  The following, taken from a notebook he kept in the
colony and destroyed, gives a glimpse of one side of his life there; he
preserved the note because it recalled New Zealand so vividly.

   April, 1861.  It is Sunday.  We rose later than usual.  There are five
   of us sleeping in the hut.  I sleep in a bunk on one side of the fire;
   Mr. Haast, {3} a German who is making a geological survey of the
   province, sleeps upon the opposite one; my bullock-driver and
   hut-keeper have two bunks at the far end of the hut, along the wall,
   while my shepherd lies in the loft among the tea and sugar and flour.
   It was a fine morning, and we turned out about seven o'clock.

   The usual mutton and bread for breakfast with a pudding made of flour
   and water baked in the camp oven after a joint of meat--Yorkshire
   pudding, but without eggs.  While we were at breakfast a robin perched
   on the table and sat there a good while pecking at the sugar.  We went
   on breakfasting with little heed to the robin, and the robin went on
   pecking with little heed to us.  After breakfast Pey, my
   bullock-driver, went to fetch the horses up from a spot about two
   miles down the river, where they often run; we wanted to go

   I go into the garden and gather a few peascods for seed till the
   horses should come up.  Then Cook, the shepherd, says that a fire has
   sprung up on the other side of the river.  Who could have lit it?
   Probably someone who had intended coming to my place on the preceding
   evening and has missed his way, for there is no track of any sort
   between here and Phillips's.  In a quarter of an hour he lit another
   fire lower down, and by that time, the horses having come up, Haast
   and myself--remembering how Dr. Sinclair had just been drowned so near
   the same spot--think it safer to ride over to him and put him across
   the river.  The river was very low and so clear that we could see
   every stone.  On getting to the river-bed we lit a fire and did the
   same on leaving it; our tracks would guide anyone over the intervening

Besides his occupation with the sheep, he found time to play the piano,
to read and to write.  In the library of St. John's College, Cambridge,
are two copies of the Greek Testament, very fully annotated by him at the
University and in the colony.  He also read the _Origin of Species_,
which, as everyone knows, was published in 1859.  He became "one of Mr.
Darwin's many enthusiastic admirers, and wrote a philosophic dialogue
(the most offensive form, except poetry and books of travel into supposed
unknown countries, that even literature can assume) upon the _Origin of
Species_" (_Unconscious Memory_, close of Chapter I).  This dialogue,
unsigned, was printed in the _Press_, Canterbury, New Zealand, on 20th
December, 1862.  A copy of the paper was sent to Charles Darwin, who
forwarded it to a, presumably, English editor with a letter, now in the
Canterbury Museum, New Zealand, speaking of the dialogue as "remarkable
from its spirit and from giving so clear and accurate an account of Mr.
D's theory."  It is possible that Butler himself sent the newspaper
containing his dialogue to Mr. Darwin; if so he did not disclose his
name, for Darwin says in his letter that he does not know who the author
was.  Butler was closely connected with the _Press_, which was founded by
James Edward FitzGerald, the first Superintendent of the Province, in
May, 1861; he frequently contributed to its pages, and once, during
FitzGerald's absence, had charge of it for a short time, though he was
never its actual editor.  The _Press_ reprinted the dialogue and the
correspondence which followed its original appearance on 8th June, 1912.

On 13th June, 1863, the _Press_ printed a letter by Butler signed
"Cellarius" and headed "Darwin among the Machines," reprinted in _The
Note-Books of Samuel Butler_ (1912).  The letter begins:

"Sir: There are few things of which the present generation is more justly
proud than of the wonderful improvements which are daily taking place in
all sorts of mechanical appliances"; and goes on to say that, as the
vegetable kingdom was developed from the mineral, and as the animal
kingdom supervened upon the vegetable, "so now, in the last few ages, an
entirely new kingdom has sprung up of which we as yet have only seen what
will one day be considered the antediluvian types of the race."  He then
speaks of the minute members which compose the beautiful and intelligent
little animal which we call the watch, and of how it has gradually been
evolved from the clumsy brass clocks of the thirteenth century.  Then
comes the question: Who will be man's successor?  To which the answer is:
We are ourselves creating our own successors.  Man will become to the
machine what the horse and the dog are to man; the conclusion being that
machines are, or are becoming, animate.

In 1863 Butler's family published in his name _A First Year in Canterbury
Settlement_, which, as the preface states, was compiled from his letters
home, his journal and extracts from two papers contributed to the
_Eagle_.  These two papers had appeared in the _Eagle_ as three articles
entitled "Our Emigrant" and signed "Cellarius."  The proof-sheets of the
book went out to New Zealand for correction and were sent back in the
Colombo, which was as unfortunate as the _Burmah_, for she was wrecked.
The proofs, however, were fished up, though so nearly washed out as to be
almost undecipherable.  Butler would have been just as well pleased if
they had remained at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, for he never liked
the book and always spoke of it as being full of youthful priggishness;
but I think he was a little hard upon it.  Years afterwards, in one of
his later books, after quoting two passages from Mr. Grant Allen and
pointing out why he considered the second to be a recantation of the
first, he wrote: "When Mr. Allen does make stepping-stones of his dead
selves he jumps upon them to some tune."  And he was perhaps a little
inclined to treat his own dead self too much in the same spirit.

Butler did very well with the sheep, sold out in 1864, and returned via
Callao to England.  He travelled with three friends whose acquaintance he
had made in the colony; one was Charles Paine Pauli, to whom he dedicated
_Life and Habit_.  He arrived in August, 1864, in London, where he took
chambers consisting of a sitting-room, a bedroom, a painting-room and a
pantry, at 15, Clifford's Inn, second floor (north).  The net financial
result of the sheep-farming and the selling out was that he practically
doubled his capital, that is to say he had about 8,000 pounds.  This he
left in New Zealand, invested on mortgage at 10 per cent., the then
current rate in the colony; it produced more than enough for him to live
upon in the very simple way that suited him best, and life in the Inns of
Court resembles life at Cambridge in that it reduces the cares of
housekeeping to a minimum; it suited him so well that he never changed
his rooms, remaining there thirty-eight years till his death.

He was now his own master and able at last to turn to painting.  He
studied at the art school in Streatham Street, Bloomsbury, which had
formerly been managed by Henry Sass, but, in Butler's time, was being
carried on by Francis Stephen Cary, son of the Rev. Henry Francis Cary,
who had been a school-fellow of Dr. Butler at Rugby, and is well known as
the translator of Dante and the friend of Charles Lamb.  Among his fellow-
students was Mr. H. R. Robertson, who told me that the young artists got
hold of the legend, which is in some of the books about Lamb, that when
Francis Stephen Cary was a boy and there was a talk at his father's house
as to what profession he should take up, Lamb, who was present, said:

"I should make him an apo-po-pothe-Cary."

They used to repeat this story freely among themselves, being, no doubt,
amused by the Lamb-like pun, but also enjoying the malicious pleasure of
hinting that it might have been as well for their art education if the
advice of the gentle humorist had been followed.  Anyone who wants to
know what kind of an artist F. S. Cary was can see his picture of Charles
and Mary Lamb in the National Portrait Gallery.

In 1865 Butler sent from London to New Zealand an article entitled
"Lucubratio Ebria," which was published in the _Press_ of 29th July,
1865.  It treated machines from a point of view different from that
adopted in "Darwin among the Machines," and was one of the steps that led
to _Erewhon_ and ultimately to _Life and Habit_.  The article is
reproduced in _The Note-Books of Samuel Butler_ (1912).

Butler also studied art at South Kensington, but by 1867 he had begun to
go to Heatherley's School of Art in Newman Street, where he continued
going for many years.  He made a number of friends at Heatherley's, and
among them Miss Eliza Mary Anne Savage.  There also he first met Charles
Gogin, who, in 1896, painted the portrait of Butler which is now in the
National Portrait Gallery.  He described himself as an artist in the Post
Office Directory, and between 1868 and 1876 exhibited at the Royal
Academy about a dozen pictures, of which the most important was "Mr.
Heatherley's Holiday," hung on the line in 1874.  He left it by his will
to his college friend Jason Smith, whose representatives, after his
death, in 1910, gave it to the nation, and it is now in the National
Gallery of British Art.  Mr. Heatherley never went away for a holiday; he
once had to go out of town on business and did not return till the next
day; one of the students asked him how he had got on, saying no doubt he
had enjoyed the change and that he must have found it refreshing to sleep
for once out of London.

"No," said Heatherley, "I did not like it.  Country air has no body."

The consequence was that, whenever there was a holiday and the school was
shut, Heatherley employed the time in mending the skeleton; Butler's
picture represents him so engaged in a corner of the studio.  In this way
he got his model for nothing.  Sometimes he hung up a looking-glass near
one of his windows and painted his own portrait.  Many of these he
painted out, but after his death we found a little store of them in his
rooms, some of the early ones very curious.  Of the best of them one is
now at Canterbury, New Zealand, one at St. John's College, Cambridge, and
one at the Schools, Shrewsbury.

This is Butler's own account of himself, taken from a letter to Sir
Julius von Haast; although written in 1865 it is true of his mode of life
for many years:

   I have been taking lessons in painting ever since I arrived.  I was
   always very fond of it and mean to stick to it; it suits me and I am
   not without hopes that I shall do well at it.  I live almost the life
   of a recluse, seeing very few people and going nowhere that I can
   help--I mean in the way of parties and so forth; if my friends had
   their way they would fritter away my time without any remorse; but I
   made a regular stand against it from the beginning and so, having my
   time pretty much in my own hands, work hard; I find, as I am sure you
   must find, that it is next to impossible to combine what is commonly
   called society and work.

But the time saved from society was not all devoted to painting.  He
modified his letter to the _Press_ about "Darwin among the Machines" and,
so modified, it appeared in 1865 as "The Mechanical Creation" in the
_Reasoner_, a paper then published in London by Mr. G. J. Holyoake.  And
his mind returned to the considerations which had determined him to
decline to be ordained.  In 1865 he printed anonymously a pamphlet which
he had begun in New Zealand, the result of his study of the Greek
Testament, entitled _The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as
given by the Four Evangelists critically examined_.  After weighing this
evidence and comparing one account with another, he came to the
conclusion that Jesus Christ did not die upon the cross.  It is
improbable that a man officially executed should escape death, but the
alternative, that a man actually dead should return to life, seemed to
Butler more improbable still and unsupported by such evidence as he found
in the gospels.  From this evidence he concluded that Christ swooned and
recovered consciousness after his body had passed into the keeping of
Joseph of Arimathaea.  He did not suppose fraud on the part of the first
preachers of Christianity; they sincerely believed that Christ died and
rose again.  Joseph and Nicodemus probably knew the truth but kept
silence.  The idea of what might follow from belief in one single
supposed miracle was never hereafter absent from Butler's mind.

In 1869, having been working too hard, he went abroad for a long change.
On his way back, at the Albergo La Luna, in Venice, he met an elderly
Russian lady in whose company he spent most of his time there.  She was
no doubt impressed by his versatility and charmed, as everyone always
was, by his conversation and original views on the many subjects that
interested him.  We may be sure he told her all about himself and what he
had done and was intending to do.  At the end of his stay, when he was
taking leave of her, she said:

"Et maintenant, Monsieur, vous allez creer," meaning, as he understood
her, that he had been looking long enough at the work of others and
should now do something of his own.

This sank into him and pained him.  He was nearly thirty-five, and
hitherto all had been admiration, vague aspiration and despair; he had
produced in painting nothing but a few sketches and studies, and in
literature only a few ephemeral articles, a collection of youthful
letters and a pamphlet on the Resurrection; moreover, to none of his work
had anyone paid the slightest attention.  This was a poor return for all
the money which had been spent upon his education, as Theobald would have
said in _The Way of All Flesh_.  He returned home dejected, but resolved
that things should be different in the future.  While in this frame of
mind he received a visit from one of his New Zealand friends, the late
Sir F. Napier Broome, afterwards Governor of Western Australia, who
incidentally suggested his rewriting his New Zealand articles.  The idea
pleased him; it might not be creating, but at least it would be doing
something.  So he set to work on Sundays and in the evenings, as
relaxation from his profession of painting, and, taking his New Zealand
article, "Darwin among the Machines," and another, "The World of the
Unborn," as a starting-point and helping himself with a few sentences
from _A First Year in Canterbury Settlement_, he gradually formed
_Erewhon_.  He sent the MS. bit by bit, as it was written, to Miss Savage
for her criticism and approval.  He had the usual difficulty about
finding a publisher.  Chapman and Hall refused the book on the advice of
George Meredith, who was then their reader, and in the end he published
it at his own expense through Messrs. Trubner.

Mr. Sydney C. Cockerell told me that in 1912 Mr. Bertram Dobell, second-
hand bookseller of Charing Cross Road, offered a copy of _Erewhon_ for 1
pounds 10s.; it was thus described in his catalogue: "Unique copy with
the following note in the author's handwriting on the half-title: 'To
Miss E. M. A. Savage this first copy of _Erewhon_ with the author's best
thanks for many invaluable suggestions and corrections.'"  When Mr.
Cockerell inquired for the book it was sold.  After Miss Savage's death
in 1885 all Butler's letters to her were returned to him, including the
letter he wrote when he sent her this copy of _Erewhon_.  He gave her the
first copy issued of all his books that were published in her lifetime,
and, no doubt, wrote an inscription in each.  If the present possessors
of any of them should happen to read this sketch I hope they will
communicate with me, as I should like to see these books.  I should also
like to see some numbers of the _Drawing-Room Gazette_, which about this
time belonged to or was edited by a Mrs. Briggs.  Miss Savage wrote a
review of _Erewhon_, which appeared in the number for 8th June, 1872, and
Butler quoted a sentence from her review among the press notices in the
second edition.  She persuaded him to write for Mrs. Briggs notices of
concerts at which Handel's music was performed.  In 1901 he made a note
on one of his letters that he was thankful there were no copies of the
_Drawing-Room Gazette_ in the British Museum, meaning that he did not
want people to read his musical criticisms; nevertheless, I hope some day
to come across back numbers containing his articles.

The opening of _Erewhon_ is based upon Butler's colonial experiences;
some of the descriptions remind one of passages in _A First Year in
Canterbury Settlement_, where he speaks of the excursions he made with
Doctor when looking for sheep-country.  The walk over the range as far as
the statues is taken from the Upper Rangitata district, with some
alterations; but the walk down from the statues into Erewhon is
reminiscent of the Leventina Valley in the Canton Ticino.  The great
chords, which are like the music moaned by the statues are from the
prelude to the first of Handel's _Trois Lecons_; he used to say:

"One feels them in the diaphragm--they are, as it were, the groaning and
labouring of all creation travailing together until now."

There is a place in New Zealand named Erewhon, after the book; it is
marked on the large maps, a township about fifty miles west of Napier in
the Hawke Bay Province (North Island).  I am told that people in New
Zealand sometimes call their houses Erewhon and occasionally spell the
word Erehwon which Butler did not intend; he treated wh as a single
letter, as one would treat th.  Among other traces of Erewhon now
existing in real life are Butler's Stones on the Hokitika Pass, so called
because of a legend that they were in his mind when he described the

The book was translated into Dutch in 1873 and into German in 1897.

Butler wrote to Charles Darwin to explain what he meant by the "Book of
the Machines": "I am sincerely sorry that some of the critics should have
thought I was laughing at your theory, a thing which I never meant to do
and should be shocked at having done."  Soon after this Butler was
invited to Down and paid two visits to Mr. Darwin there; he thus became
acquainted with all the family and for some years was on intimate terms
with Mr. (now Sir) Francis Darwin.

It is easy to see by the light of subsequent events that we should
probably have had something not unlike _Erewhon_ sooner or later, even
without the Russian lady and Sir F. N. Broome, to whose promptings, owing
to a certain diffidence which never left him, he was perhaps inclined to
attribute too much importance.  But he would not have agreed with this
view at the time; he looked upon himself as a painter and upon _Erewhon_
as an interruption.  It had come, like one of those creatures from the
Land of the Unborn, pestering him and refusing to leave him at peace
until he consented to give it bodily shape.  It was only a little one,
and he saw no likelihood of its having any successors.  So he satisfied
its demands and then, supposing that he had written himself out, looked
forward to a future in which nothing should interfere with the painting.
Nevertheless, when another of the unborn came teasing him he yielded to
its importunities and allowed himself to become the author of _The Fair
Haven_, which is his pamphlet on the Resurrection, enlarged and preceded
by a realistic memoir of the pseudonymous author, John Pickard Owen.  In
the library of St. John's College, Cambridge, are two copies of the
pamphlet with pages cut out; he used these pages in forming the MS. of
_The Fair Haven_.  To have published this book as by the author of
_Erewhon_ would have been to give away the irony and satire.  And he had
another reason for not disclosing his name; he remembered that as soon as
curiosity about the authorship of _Erewhon_ was satisfied, the weekly
sales fell from fifty down to only two or three.  But, as he always
talked openly of whatever was in his mind, he soon let out the secret of
the authorship of _The Fair Haven_, and it became advisable to put his
name to a second edition.

One result of his submitting the MS. of _Erewhon_ to Miss Savage was that
she thought he ought to write a novel, and urged him to do so.  I have no
doubt that he wrote the memoir of John Pickard Owen with the idea of
quieting Miss Savage and also as an experiment to ascertain whether he
was likely to succeed with a novel.  The result seems to have satisfied
him, for, not long after _The Fair Haven_, he began _The Way of All
Flesh_, sending the MS. to Miss Savage, as he did everything he wrote,
for her approval and putting her into the book as Ernest's Aunt Alethea.
He continued writing it in the intervals of other work until her death in
February, 1885, after which he did not touch it.  It was published in
1903 by Mr. R. A. Streatfeild, his literary executor.

Soon after _The Fair Haven_ Butler began to be aware that his letter in
the _Press_, "Darwin among the Machines," was descending with further
modifications and developing in his mind into a theory about evolution
which took shape as _Life and Habit_; but the writing of this very
remarkable and suggestive book was delayed and the painting interrupted
by absence from England on business in Canada.  He had been persuaded by
a college friend, a member of one of the great banking families, to call
in his colonial mortgages and to put the money into several new
companies.  He was going to make thirty or forty per cent, instead of
only ten.  One of these companies was a Canadian undertaking, of which he
became a director; it was necessary for someone to go to headquarters and
investigate its affairs; he went, and was much occupied by the business
for two or three years.  By the beginning of 1876 he had returned finally
to London, but most of his money was lost and his financial position for
the next ten years caused him very serious anxiety.  His personal
expenditure was already so low that it was hardly possible to reduce it,
and he set to work at his profession more industriously than ever, hoping
to paint something that he could sell, his spare time being occupied with
_Life and Habit_, which was the subject that really interested him more
deeply than any other.

Following his letter in the _Press_, wherein he had seen machines as in
process of becoming animate, he went on to regard them as living organs
and limbs which we had made outside ourselves.  What would follow if we
reversed this and regarded our limbs and organs as machines which we had
manufactured as parts of our bodies?  In the first place, how did we come
to make them without knowing anything about it?  But then, how comes
anybody to do anything unconsciously?  The answer usually would be: By
habit.  But can a man be said to do a thing by habit when he has never
done it before?  His ancestors have done it, but not he.  Can the habit
have been acquired by them for his benefit?  Not unless he and his
ancestors are the same person.  Perhaps, then, they are the same person.

In February, 1876, partly to clear his mind and partly to tell someone,
he wrote down his thoughts in a letter to his namesake, Thomas William
Gale Butler, a fellow art-student who was then in New Zealand; so much of
the letter as concerns the growth of his theory is given in _The Note-
Books of Samuel Butler_ (1912).

In September, 1877, when _Life and Habit_ was on the eve of publication,
Mr. Francis Darwin came to lunch with him in Clifford's Inn and, in
course of conversation, told him that Professor Ray Lankester had written
something in _Nature_ about a lecture by Dr. Ewald Hering of Prague,
delivered so long ago as 1870, "On Memory as a Universal Function of
Organized Matter."  This rather alarmed Butler, but he deferred looking
up the reference until after December, 1877, when his book was out, and
then, to his relief, he found that Hering's theory was very similar to
his own, so that, instead of having something sprung upon him which would
have caused him to want to alter his book, he was supported.  He at once
wrote to the _Athenaeum_, calling attention to Hering's lecture, and then
pursued his studies in evolution.

_Life and Habit_ was followed in 1879 by _Evolution Old and New_, wherein
he compared the teleological or purposive view of evolution taken by
Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck with the view taken by Charles
Darwin, and came to the conclusion that the old was better.  But while
agreeing with the earlier writers in thinking that the variations whose
accumulation results in species were originally due to intelligence, he
could not take the view that the intelligence resided in an external
personal God.  He had done with all that when he gave up the Resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead.  He proposed to place the intelligence
inside the creature ("The Deadlock in Darwinism," _post_).

In 1880 he continued the subject by publishing _Unconscious Memory_.
Chapter IV of this book is concerned with a personal quarrel between
himself and Charles Darwin which arose out of the publication by Charles
Darwin of Dr. Krause's _Life of Erasmus Darwin_.  We need not enter into
particulars here, the matter is fully dealt with in a pamphlet, _Charles
Darwin and Samuel Butler_: _A Step towards Reconciliation_, which I wrote
in 1911, the result of a correspondence between Mr. Francis Darwin and
myself.  Before this correspondence took place Mr. Francis Darwin had
made several public allusions to _Life and Habit_; and in September,
1908, in his inaugural address to the British Association at Dublin, he
did Butler the posthumous honour of quoting from his translation of
Hering's lecture "On Memory," which is in _Unconscious Memory_, and of
mentioning Butler as having enunciated the theory contained in _Life and

In 1886 Butler published his last book on evolution, _Luck or Cunning as
the Main Means of Organic Modification_?  His other contributions to the
subject are some essays, written for the _Examiner_ in 1879, "God the
Known and God the Unknown," which were republished by Mr. Fifield in
1909, and the articles "The Deadlock in Darwinism" which appeared in the
_Universal Review_ in 1890 and some further notes on evolution will be
found in _The Note-Books of Samuel Butler_ (1912).

It was while he was writing _Life and Habit_ that I first met him.  For
several years he had been in the habit of spending six or eight weeks of
the summer in Italy and the Canton Ticino, generally making Faido his
headquarters.  Many a page of his books was written while resting by the
fountain of some subalpine village or waiting in the shade of the
chestnuts till the light came so that he could continue a sketch.  Every
year he returned home by a different route, and thus gradually became
acquainted with every part of the Canton and North Italy.  There is
scarcely a town or village, a point of view, a building, statue or
picture in all this country with which he was not familiar.  In 1878 he
happened to be on the Sacro Monte above Varese at the time I took my
holiday; there I joined him, and nearly every year afterwards we were in
Italy together.

He was always a delightful companion, and perhaps at his gayest on these
occasions.  "A man's holiday," he would say, "is his garden," and he set
out to enjoy himself and to make everyone about him enjoy themselves too.
I told him the old schoolboy muddle about Sir Walter Raleigh introducing
tobacco and saying: "We shall this day light up such a fire in England as
I trust shall never be put out."  He had not heard it before and, though
amused, appeared preoccupied, and perhaps a little jealous, during the
rest of the evening.  Next morning, while he was pouring out his coffee,
his eyes twinkled and he said, with assumed carelessness:

"By the by, do you remember?--wasn't it Columbus who bashed the egg down
on the table and said 'Eppur non si muove'?"

He was welcome wherever he went, full of fun and ready to play while
doing the honours of the country.  Many of the peasants were old friends,
and every day we were sure to meet someone who remembered him.  Perhaps
it would be an old woman labouring along under a burden; she would smile
and stop, take his hand and tell him how happy she was to meet him again
and repeat her thanks for the empty wine bottle he had given her after an
out-of-door luncheon in her neighbourhood four or five years before.
There was another who had rowed him many times across the Lago di Orta
and had never been in a train but once in her life, when she went to
Novara to her son's wedding.  He always remembered all about these people
and asked how the potatoes were doing this year and whether the
grandchildren were growing up into fine boys and girls, and he never
forgot to inquire after the son who had gone to be a waiter in New York.
At Civiasco there is a restaurant which used to be kept by a jolly old
lady, known for miles round as La Martina; we always lunched with her on
our way over the Colma to and from Varallo-Sesia.  On one occasion we
were accompanied by two English ladies and, one being a teetotaller,
Butler maliciously instructed La Martina to make the _sabbaglione_ so
that it should be _forte_ and _abbondante_, and to say that the Marsala,
with which it was more than flavoured, was nothing but vinegar.  La
Martina never forgot that when she looked in to see how things were
going, he was pretending to lick the dish clean.  These journeys provided
the material for a book which he thought of calling "Verdi Prati," after
one of Handel's most beautiful songs; but he changed his mind, and it
appeared at the end of 1881 as _Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the
Canton Ticino_ with more than eighty illustrations, nearly all by Butler.
Charles Gogin made an etching for the frontispiece, drew some of the
pictures, and put figures into others; half a dozen are mine.  They were
all redrawn in ink from sketches made on the spot, in oil, water-colour,
and pencil.  There were also many illustrations of another kind--extracts
from Handel's music, each chosen because Butler thought it suitable to
the spirit of the scene he wished to bring before the reader.  The
introduction concludes with these words: "I have chosen Italy as my
second country, and would dedicate this book to her as a thank-offering
for the happiness she has afforded me."

In the spring of 1883 he began to compose music, and in 1885 we published
together an album of minuets, gavottes, and fugues.  This led to our
writing _Narcissus_, which is an Oratorio Buffo in the Handelian
manner--that is as nearly so as we could make it.  It is a mistake to
suppose that all Handel's oratorios are upon sacred subjects; some of
them are secular.  And not only so, but, whatever the subject, Handel was
never at a loss in treating anything that came into his words by way of
allusion or illustration.  As Butler puts it in one of his sonnets:

   He who gave eyes to ears and showed in sound
   All thoughts and things in earth or heaven above--
   From fire and hailstones running along the ground
   To Galatea grieving for her love--
   He who could show to all unseeing eyes
   Glad shepherds watching o'er their flocks by night,
   Or Iphis angel-wafted to the skies,
   Or Jordan standing as an heap upright--

And so on.  But there is one subject which Handel never treated--I mean
the Money Market.  Perhaps he avoided it intentionally; he was twice
bankrupt, and Mr. R. A. Streatfeild tells me that the British Museum
possesses a MS. letter from him giving instructions as to the payment of
the dividends on 500 pounds South Sea Stock.  Let us hope he sold out
before the bubble burst; if so, he was more fortunate than Butler, who
was at this time of his life in great anxiety about his own financial
affairs.  It seemed a pity that Dr. Morell had never offered Handel some
such words as these:

   The steadfast funds maintain their wonted state
   While all the other markets fluctuate.

Butler wondered whether Handel would have sent the steadfast funds up
above par and maintained them on an inverted pedal with all the other
markets fluctuating iniquitously round them like the sheep that turn
every one to his own way in the _Messiah_.  He thought something of the
kind ought to have been done, and in the absence of Handel and Dr. Morell
we determined to write an oratorio that should attempt to supply the
want.  In order to make our libretto as plausible as possible, we adopted
the dictum of Monsieur Jourdain's Maitre a danser: "Lorsqu'on a des
personnes a faire parler en musique, il faut bien que, pour la
vraisemblance, on donne dans la bergerie."  Narcissus is accordingly a
shepherd in love with Amaryllis; they come to London with other shepherds
and lose their money in imprudent speculations on the Stock Exchange.  In
the second part the aunt and godmother of Narcissus, having died at an
advanced age worth one hundred thousand pounds, all of which she has
bequeathed to her nephew and godson, the obstacle to his union with
Amaryllis is removed.  The money is invested in consols and all ends

In December, 1886, Butler's father died, and his financial difficulties
ceased.  He engaged Alfred Emery Cathie as clerk, but made no other
change, except that he bought a pair of new hair brushes and a larger
wash-hand basin.  Any change in his mode of life was an event.  When in
London he got up at 6.30 in the summer and 7.30 in the winter, went into
his sitting-room, lighted the fire, put the kettle on and returned to
bed.  In half an hour he got up again, fetched the kettle of hot water,
emptied it into the cold water that was already in his bath, refilled the
kettle and put it back on the fire.  After dressing, he came into his
sitting-room, made tea and cooked, in his Dutch oven, something he had
bought the day before.  His laundress was an elderly woman, and he could
not trouble her to come to his rooms so early in the morning; on the
other hand, he could not stay in bed until he thought it right for her to
go out; so it ended in his doing a great deal for himself.  He then got
his breakfast and read the Times.  At 9.30 Alfred came, with whom he
discussed anything requiring attention, and soon afterwards his laundress
arrived.  Then he started to walk to the British Museum, where he arrived
about 10.30, every alternate morning calling at the butcher's in Fetter
Lane to order his meat.  In the Reading Room at the Museum he sat at
Block B ("B for Butler") and spent an hour "posting his notes"--that is
reconsidering, rewriting, amplifying, shortening, and indexing the
contents of the little note-book he always carried in his pocket.  After
the notes he went on till 1.30 with whatever book he happened to be

On three days of the week he dined in a restaurant on his way home, and
on the other days he dined in his chambers where his laundress had cooked
his dinner.  At two o'clock Alfred returned (having been home to dinner
with his wife and children) and got tea ready for him.  He then wrote
letters and attended to his accounts till 3.45, when he smoked his first
cigarette.  He used to smoke a great deal, but, believing it to be bad
for him, took to cigarettes instead of pipes, and gradually smoked less
and less, making it a rule not to begin till some particular hour, and
pushing this hour later and later in the day, till it settled itself at
3.45.  There was no water laid on in his rooms, and every day he fetched
one can full from the tap in the court, Alfred fetching the rest.  When
anyone expostulated with him about cooking his own breakfast and fetching
his own water, he replied that it was good for him to have a change of
occupation.  This was partly the fact, but the real reason, which he
could not tell everyone, was that he shrank from inconveniencing anybody;
he always paid more than was necessary when anything was done for him,
and was not happy then unless he did some of the work himself.

At 5.30 he got his evening meal, he called it his tea, and it was little
more than a facsimile of breakfast.  Alfred left in time to post the
letters before six.  Butler then wrote music till about 8, when he came
to see me in Staple Inn, returning to Clifford's Inn by about 10.  After
a light supper, latterly not more than a piece of toast and a glass of
milk, he played one game of his own particular kind of Patience, prepared
his breakfast things and fire ready for the next morning, smoked his
seventh and last cigarette, and went to bed at eleven o'clock.

He was fond of the theatre, but avoided serious pieces.  He preferred to
take his Shakespeare from the book, finding that the spirit of the plays
rather evaporated under modern theatrical treatment.  In one of his books
he brightens up the old illustration of _Hamlet_ without the Prince of
Denmark by putting it thus: "If the character of Hamlet be entirely
omitted, the play must suffer, even though Henry Irving himself be cast
for the title-role."  Anyone going to the theatre in this spirit would be
likely to be less disappointed by performances that were comic or even
frankly farcical.  Latterly, when he grew slightly deaf, listening to any
kind of piece became too much of an effort; nevertheless, he continued to
the last the habit of going to one pantomime every winter.

There were about twenty houses where he visited, but he seldom accepted
an invitation to dinner--it upset the regularity of his life; besides, he
belonged to no club and had no means of returning hospitality.  When two
colonial friends called unexpectedly about noon one day, soon after he
settled in London, he went to the nearest cook-shop in Fetter Lane and
returned carrying a dish of hot roast pork and greens.  This was all very
well once in a way, but not the sort of thing to be repeated

On Thursdays, instead of going to the Museum, he often took a day off,
going into the country sketching or walking, and on Sundays, whatever the
weather, he nearly always went into the country walking; his map of the
district for thirty miles round London is covered all over with red lines
showing where he had been.  He sometimes went out of town from Saturday
to Monday, and for over twenty years spent Christmas at Boulogne-sur-Mer.

There is a Sacro Monte at Varallo-Sesia with many chapels, each
containing life-sized statues and frescoes illustrating the life of
Christ.  Butler had visited this sanctuary repeatedly, and was a great
favourite with the townspeople, who knew that he was studying the statues
and frescoes in the chapels, and who remembered that in the preface to
_Alps and Sanctuaries_ he had declared his intention of writing about
them.  In August, 1887, the Varallesi brought matters to a head by giving
him a civic dinner on the Mountain.  Everyone was present, there were
several speeches and, when we were coming down the slippery mountain path
after it was all over, he said to me:

"You know, there's nothing for it now but to write that book about the
Sacro Monte at once.  It must be the next thing I do."

Accordingly, on returning home, he took up photography and, immediately
after Christmas, went back to Varallo to photograph the statues and
collect material.  Much research was necessary and many visits to out-of-
the-way sanctuaries which might have contained work by the sculptor
Tabachetti, whom he was rescuing from oblivion and identifying with the
Flemish Jean de Wespin.  One of these visits, made after his book was
published, forms the subject of "The Sanctuary of Montrigone."  _Ex
Voto_, the book about Varallo, appeared in 1888, and an Italian
translation by Cavaliere Angelo Rizzetti was published at Novara in 1894.

"Quis Desiderio . . . ?"  (_The Humour of Homer and Other Essays_) was
developed in 1888 from something in a letter from Miss Savage nearly ten
years earlier.  On the 15th of December, 1878, in acknowledging this
letter, Butler wrote:

   I am sure that any tree or flower nursed by Miss Cobbe would be the
   _very_ first to fade away and that her gazelles would die long before
   they ever came to know her _well_.  The sight of the brass buttons on
   her pea-jacket would settle them out of hand.

There was an enclosure in Miss Savage's letter, but it is unfortunately
lost; I suppose it must have been a newspaper cutting with an allusion to
Moore's poem and perhaps a portrait of Miss Frances Power
Cobbe--pea-jacket, brass buttons, and all.

On the 10th November, 1879, Miss Savage, having been ill, wrote to

   I have been dipping into the books of Moses, being sometimes at a loss
   for something to read while shut up in my apartment.  You know that I
   have never read the Bible much, consequently there is generally
   something of a novelty that I hit on.  As you do know your Bible well,
   perhaps you can tell me what became of Aaron.  The account given of
   his end in Numbers xx. is extremely ambiguous and unsatisfactory.
   Evidently he did not come by his death fairly, but whether he was
   murdered secretly for the furtherance of some private ends, or
   publicly in a State sacrifice, I can't make out.  I myself rather
   incline to the former opinion, but I should like to know what the
   experts say about it.  A very nice, exciting little tale might be made
   out of it in the style of the police stories in _All the rear Round_
   called "The Mystery of Mount Hor or What became of Aaron?"  Don't
   forget to write to me.

Butler's people had been suggesting that he should try to earn money by
writing in magazines, and Miss Savage was falling in with the idea and
offering a practical suggestion.  I do not find that he had anything to
tell her about the death of Aaron.  On 23rd March, 1880, she wrote:

   Dear Mr. Butler: Read the subjoined poem of Wordsworth and let me know
   what you understand its meaning to be.  Of course I have my opinion,
   which I think of communicating to the Wordsworth Society.  You can
   belong to that Society for the small sum of 2/6 per annum.  I think of
   joining because it is cheap.

"The subjoined poem" was the one beginning: "She dwelt among the
untrodden ways," and Butler made this note on the letter:

To the foregoing letter I answered that I concluded Miss Savage meant to
imply that Wordsworth had murdered Lucy in order to escape a prosecution
for breach of promise.

   _Miss Savage to Butler_.

   2nd April, 1880: My dear Mr. Butler: I don't think you see all that I
   do in the poem, and I am afraid that the suggestion of a DARK SECRET
   in the poet's life is not so very obvious after all.  I was hoping you
   would propose to devote yourself for a few months to reading the
   _Excursion_, his letters, &c., with a view to following up the clue,
   and I am disappointed though, to say the truth, the idea of a _crime_
   had not flashed upon me when I wrote to you.  How well the works of
   _great_ men repay attention and study!  But you, who know your Bible
   so well, how was it that you did not detect the plagiarism in the last
   verse?  Just refer to the account of the disappearance of Aaron (I
   have not a Bible at hand, we want one sadly in the club) but I am sure
   that the words are identical [I cannot see what Miss Savage meant.
   1901. S. B.]  _Cassell's Magazine_ have offered a prize for setting
   the poem to music, and I fell to thinking how it could be treated
   musically, and so came to a right comprehension of it.

Although Butler, when editing Miss Savage's letters in 1901, could not
see the resemblance between Wordsworth's poem and Numbers xx., he at once
saw a strong likeness between Lucy and Moore's heroine whom he had been
keeping in an accessible pigeon-hole of his memory ever since his letter
about Miss Frances Power Cobbe.  He now sent Lucy to keep her company and
often spoke of the pair of them as probably the two most disagreeable
young women in English literature--an opinion which he must have
expressed to Miss Savage and with which I have no doubt she agreed.

In the spring of 1888, on his return from photographing the statues at
Varallo, he found, to his disgust, that the authorities of the British
Museum had removed Frost's _Lives of Eminent Christians_ from its
accustomed shelf in the Reading Room.  Soon afterwards Harry Quilter
asked him to write for the _Universal Review_ and he responded with "Quis
Desiderio . . . ?"  In this essay he compares himself to Wordsworth and
dwells on the points of resemblance between Lucy and the book of whose
assistance he had now been deprived in a passage which echoes the opening
of Chapter V of _Ex Voto_, where he points out the resemblances between
Varallo and Jerusalem.

Early in 1888 the leading members of the Shrewsbury Archaeological
Society asked Butler to write a memoir of his grandfather and of his
father for their Quarterly Journal.  This he undertook to do when he
should have finished _Ex Voto_.  In December, 1888, his sisters, with the
idea of helping him to write the memoir, gave him his grandfather's
correspondence, which extended from 1790 to 1839.  On looking over these
very voluminous papers he became penetrated with an almost Chinese
reverence for his ancestor and, after getting the Archaeological Society
to absolve him from his promise to write the memoir, set about a full
life of Dr. Butler, which was not published till 1896.  The delay was
caused partly by the immense quantity of documents he had to sift and
digest, the number of people he had to consult, and the many letters he
had to write, and partly by something that arose out of _Narcissus_,
which we published in June, 1888.

Butler was not satisfied with having written only half of this work; he
wanted it to have a successor, so that by adding his two halves together,
he could say he had written a whole Handelian oratorio.  While staying
with his sisters at Shrewsbury with this idea in his mind, he casually
took up a book by Alfred Ainger about Charles Lamb and therein stumbled
upon something about the _Odyssey_.  It was years since he had looked at
the poem, but, from what he remembered, he thought it might provide a
suitable subject for musical treatment.  He did not, however, want to put
Dr. Butler aside, so I undertook to investigate.  It is stated on the
title-page of both _Narcissus_ and _Ulysses_ that the words were written
and the music composed by both of us.  As to the music, each piece bears
the initials of the one who actually composed it.  As to the words, it
was necessary first to settle some general scheme and this, in the case
of _Narcissus_, grew in the course of conversation.  The scheme of
_Ulysses_ was constructed in a more formal way and Butler had perhaps
rather less to do with it.  We were bound by the _Odyssey_, which is, of
course, too long to be treated fully, and I selected incidents that
attracted me and settled the order of the songs and choruses.  For this
purpose, as I out-Shakespeare Shakespeare in the smallness of my Greek, I
used _The Adventures of Ulysses_ by Charles Lamb, which we should have
known nothing about but for Ainger's book.  Butler acquiesced in my
proposals, but, when it came to the words themselves, he wrote
practically all the libretto, as he had done in the case of _Narcissus_;
I did no more than suggest a few phrases and a few lines here and there.

We had sent _Narcissus_ for review to the papers, and, as a consequence,
about this time, made the acquaintance of Mr. J. A. Fuller Maitland, then
musical critic of the _Times_; he introduced us to that learned musician
William Smith Rockstro, under whom we studied medieval counterpoint while
composing _Ulysses_.  We had already made some progress with it when it
occurred to Butler that it would not take long and might, perhaps, be
safer if he were to look at the original poem, just to make sure that
Lamb had not misled me.  Not having forgotten all his Greek, he bought a
copy of the _Odyssey_ and was so fascinated by it that he could not put
it down.  When he came to the Phoeacian episode of Ulysses at Scheria he
felt he must be reading the description of a real place and that
something in the personality of the author was eluding him.  For months
he was puzzled, and, to help in clearing up the mystery, set about
translating the poem.  In August, 1891, he had preceded me to Chiavenna,
and on a letter I wrote him, telling him when to expect me, he made this

   It was during the few days that I was at Chiavenna (at the Hotel
   Grotta Crimee) that I hit upon the feminine authorship of the
   _Odyssey_.  I did not find out its having been written at Trapani till
   January, 1892.

He suspected that the authoress in describing both Scheria and Ithaca was
drawing from her native country and searched on the Admiralty charts for
the features enumerated in the poem; this led him to the conclusion that
the country could only be Trapani, Mount Eryx, and the AEgadean Islands.
As soon as he could after this discovery he went to Sicily to study the
locality and found it in all respects suitable for his theory; indeed, it
was astonishing how things kept turning up to support his view.  It is
all in his book _The Authoress of the Odyssey_, published in 1897 and
dedicated to his friend Cavaliere Biagio Ingroja of Calatafimi.

His first visit to Sicily was in 1892, in August--a hot time of the year,
but it was his custom to go abroad in the autumn.  He returned to Sicily
every year (except one), but latterly went in the spring.  He made many
friends all over the island, and after his death the people of Calatafimi
called a street by his name, the Via Samuel Butler, "thus," as Ingroja
wrote when he announced the event to me, "honouring a great man's memory,
handing down his name to posterity, and doing homage to the friendly
English nation."  Besides showing that the _Odyssey_ was written by a
woman in Sicily and translating the poem into English prose, he also
translated the _Iliad_, and, in March, 1895, went to Greece and the Troad
to see the country therein described, where he found nothing to cause him
to disagree with the received theories.

It has been said of him in a general way that the fact of an opinion
being commonly held was enough to make him profess the opposite.  It was
enough to make him examine the opinion for himself, when it affected any
of the many subjects which interested him, and if, after giving it his
best attention, he found it did not hold water, then no weight of
authority could make him say that it did.  This matter of the geography
of the _Iliad_ is only one among many commonly received opinions which he
examined for himself and found no reason to dispute; on these he
considered it unnecessary to write.

It is characteristic of his passion for doing things thoroughly that he
learnt nearly the whole of the _Odyssey_ and the _Iliad_ by heart.  He
had a Pickering copy of each poem, which he carried in his pocket and
referred to in railway trains, both in England and Italy, when saying the
poems over to himself.  These two little books are now in the library of
St. John's College, Cambridge.  He was, however, disappointed to find
that he could not retain more than a book or two at a time and that, on
learning more, he forgot what he had learnt first; but he was about sixty
at the time.  Shakespeare's Sonnets, on which he published a book in
1899, gave him less trouble in this respect; he knew them all by heart,
and also their order, and one consequence of this was that he wrote some
sonnets in the Shakespearian form.  He found this intimate knowledge of
the poet's work more useful for his purpose than reading commentaries by
those who are less familiar with it.  "A commentary on a poem," he would
say, "may be useful as material on which to form an estimate of the
commentator, but the poem itself is the most important document you can
consult, and it is impossible to know it too intimately if you want to
form an opinion about it and its author."

It was always the author, the work of God, that interested him more than
the book--the work of man; the painter more than the picture; the
composer more than the music.  "If a writer, a painter, or a musician
makes me feel that he held those things to be lovable which I myself hold
to be lovable I am satisfied; art is only interesting in so far as it
reveals the personality of the artist."  Handel was, of course, "the
greatest of all musicians."  Among the painters he chiefly loved Giovanni
Bellini, Carpaccio, Gaudenzio Ferrari, Rembrandt, Holbein, Velasquez, and
De Hooghe; in poetry Shakespeare, Homer, and the Authoress of the
_Odyssey_; and in architecture the man, whoever he was, who designed the
Temple of Neptune at Paestum.  Life being short, he did not see why he
should waste any of it in the company of inferior people when he had
these.  And he treated those he met in daily life in the same spirit: it
was what he found them to be that attracted or repelled him; what others
thought about them was of little or no consequence.

And now, at the end of his life, his thoughts reverted to the two
subjects which had occupied him more than thirty years previously--namely,
_Erewhon_ and the evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ.  The idea of what might follow from belief in one single supposed
miracle had been slumbering during all those years and at last rose again
in the form of a sequel to _Erewhon_.  In _Erewhon Revisited_ Mr. Higgs
returns to find that the Erewhonians now believe in him as a god in
consequence of the supposed miracle of his going up in a balloon to
induce his heavenly father to send the rain.  Mr. Higgs and the reader
know that there was no miracle in the case, but Butler wanted to show
that whether it was a miracle or not did not signify provided that the
people believed it be one.  And so Mr. Higgs is present in the temple
which is being dedicated to him and his worship.

The existence of his son George was an afterthought and gave occasion for
the second leading idea of the book--the story of a father trying to win
the love of a hitherto unknown son by risking his life in order to show
himself worthy of it--and succeeding.

Butler's health had already begun to fail, and when he started for Sicily
on Good Friday, 1902, it was for the last time: he knew he was unfit to
travel, but was determined to go, and was looking forward to meeting Mr.
and Mrs. J. A. Fuller Maitland, whom he was to accompany over the
Odyssean scenes at Trapani and Mount Eryx.  But he did not get beyond
Palermo; there he was so much worse that he could not leave his room.  In
a few weeks he was well enough to be removed to Naples, and Alfred went
out and brought him home to London.  He was taken to a nursing home in
St. John's Wood where he lay for a month, attended by his old friend Dr.
Dudgeon, and where he died on the 18th June, 1902.

There was a great deal he still wanted to do.  He had intended to revise
_The Way of All Flesh_, to write a book about Tabachetti, and to publish
a new edition of _Ex Voto_ with the mistakes corrected.  Also he wished
to reconsider the articles reprinted in _The Humour of Homer_, and was
looking forward to painting more sketches and composing more music.  While
lying ill and very feeble within a few days of the end, and not knowing
whether it was to be the end or not, he said to me:

"I am much better to-day.  I don't feel at all as though I were going to
die.  Of course, it will be all wrong if I do get well, for there is my
literary position to be considered.  First I write _Erewhon_--that is my
opening subject; then, after modulating freely through all my other books
and the music and so on, I return gracefully to my original key and write
_Erewhon Revisited_.  Obviously, now is the proper moment to come to a
full close, make my bow and retire; but I believe I am getting well,
after all.  It's very inartistic, but I cannot help it."

Some of his readers complain that they often do not know whether he is
serious or jesting.  He wrote of Lord Beaconsfield: "Earnestness was his
greatest danger, but if he did not quite overcome it (as indeed who can?
it is the last enemy that shall be subdued), he managed to veil it with a
fair amount of success."  To veil his own earnestness he turned most
naturally to humour, employing it in a spirit of reverence, as all the
great humorists have done, to express his deepest and most serious
convictions.  He was aware that he ran the risk of being misunderstood by
some, but he also knew that it is useless to try to please all, and, like
Mozart, he wrote to please himself and a few intimate friends.

I cannot speak at length of his kindness, consideration, and sympathy;
nor of his generosity, the extent of which was very great and can never
be known--it was sometimes exercised in unexpected ways, as when he gave
my laundress a shilling because it was "such a beastly foggy morning";
nor of his slightly archaic courtliness--unless among people he knew well
he usually left the room backwards, bowing to the company; nor of his
punctiliousness, industry, and painstaking attention to detail--he kept
accurate accounts not only of all his property by double entry but also
of his daily expenditure, which he balanced to a halfpenny every evening,
and his handwriting, always beautiful and legible, was more so at sixty-
six than at twenty-six; nor of his patience and cheerfulness during years
of anxiety when he had few to sympathize with him; nor of the strange
mixture of simplicity and shrewdness that caused one who knew him well to
say: "Il sait tout; il ne sait rien; il est poete."

Epitaphs always fascinated him, and formerly he used to say he should
like to be buried at Langar and to have on his tombstone the subject of
the last of Handel's _Six Great Fugues_.  He called this "The Old Man
Fugue," and said it was like an epitaph composed for himself by one who
was very old and tired and sorry for things; and he made young Ernest
Pontifex in _The Way of All Flesh_ offer it to Edward Overton as an
epitaph for his Aunt Alethea.  Butler, however, left off wanting any
tombstone long before he died.  In accordance with his wish his body was
cremated, and a week later Alfred and I returned to Woking and buried his
ashes under the shrubs in the garden of the crematorium, with nothing to
mark the spot.


{1}  I am indebted to one of Butler's contemporaries at Cambridge, the
Rev. Dr. T. G. Bonney, F.R.S., and also to Mr. John F. Harris, both of
St. John's College, for help in finding and dating Butler's youthful
contributions to the _Eagle_.

{2}  This gentleman, on the death of his father in 1866, became the Rev.
Sir Philip Perring, Bart.

{3}  The late Sir Julius von Haast, K.C.M.G., appointed Provincial
Geologist in 1860, was ennobled by the Austrian Government and knighted
by the British.  He died in 1887.

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