Samuel Butler's Canterbury Pieces By Samuel Butler

















































































































 - SAMUEL BUTLER'S CANTERBURY PIECES

by Samuel Butler

(From the 1914 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price)


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SAMUEL BUTLER'S CANTERBURY PIECES

By Samuel Butler

(From the 1914 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price)

Contents:

Darwin on the Origin of Species A Dialogue Barrel-Organs Letter: 21 Feb 1863 Letter: 14 Mar 1863 Letter: 18 Mar 1863 Letter: 11 Apr 1863 Letter: 22 June 1863 Darwin Among the Machines Lucubratio Ebria A note on "The Tempest" The English Cricketers

DARWIN ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES

Prefatory Note

As the following dialogue embodies the earliest fruits of Butler's study of the works of Charles Darwin, with whose name his own was destined in later years to be so closely connected, and thus possesses an interest apart from its intrinsic merit, a few words as to the circumstances in which it was published will not be out of place.

Butler arrived in New Zealand in October, 1859, and about the same time Charles Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES was published. Shortly afterwards the book came into Butler's hands. He seems to have read it carefully, and meditated upon it. The result of his meditations took the shape of the following dialogue, which was published on 20 December, 1862, in the PRESS which had been started in the town of Christ Church in May, 1861. The dialogue did not by any means pass unnoticed. On the 17th of January, 1863, a leading article (of course unsigned) appeared in the PRESS, under the title "Barrel- Organs," discussing Darwin's theories, and incidentally referring to Butler's dialogue. A reply to this article, signed A .M., appeared on the 21st of February, and the correspondence was continued until the 22nd of June, 1863. The dialogue itself, which was unearthed from the early files of the PRESS, mainly owing to the exertions of Mr. Henry Festing Jones, was reprinted, together with the correspondence that followed its publication, in the PRESS of June 8 and 15, 1912. Soon after the original appearance of Butler's dialogue a copy of it fell into the hands of Charles Darwin, possibly sent to him by a friend in New Zealand. Darwin was sufficiently struck by it to forward it to the editor of some magazine, which has not been identified, with the following letter:-

Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March 24 [1863].

(Private).

Mr. Darwin takes the liberty to send by this post to the Editor a New Zealand newspaper for the very improbable chance of the Editor having some spare space to reprint a Dialogue on Species. This Dialogue, written by some [sic] quite unknown to Mr. Darwin, is remarkable from its spirit and from giving so clear and accurate a view of Mr. D. [sic] theory. It is also remarkable from being published in a colony exactly 12 years old, in which it might have [sic] thought only material interests would have been regarded.

The autograph of this letter was purchased from Mr. Tregaskis by Mr. Festing Jones, and subsequently presented by him to the Museum at Christ Church. The letter cannot be dated with certainty, but since Butler's dialogue was published in December, 1862, and it is at least probable that the copy of the PRESS which contained it was sent to Darwin shortly after it appeared, we may conclude with tolerable certainty that the letter was written in March, 1863. Further light is thrown on the controversy by a correspondence which took place between Butler and Darwin in 1865, shortly after Butler's return to England. During that year Butler had published a pamphlet entitled THE EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AS GIVEN BY THE FOUR EVANGELISTS CRITICALLY EXAMINED, of which he afterwards incorporated the substance into THE FAIR HAVEN. Butler sent a copy of this pamphlet to Darwin, and in due course received the following reply:-

Down, Bromley, Kent. September 30 [1865].

My dear Sir, - I am much obliged to you for so kindly sending me your Evidences, etc. We have read it with much interest. It seems to me written with much force, vigour, and clearness; and the main argument to me is quite new. I particularly agree with all you say in your preface.

I do not know whether you intend to return to New Zealand, and, if you are inclined to write, I should much like to know what your future plans are.

My health has been so bad during the last five months that I have been confined to my bedroom. Had it been otherwise I would have asked you if you could have spared the time to have paid us a visit; but this at present is impossible, and I fear will be so for some time.

With my best thanks for your present,

I remain, My dear Sir, Yours very faithfully, Charles Darwin.

To this letter Butler replied as follows:-

15 Clifford's Inn, E.C. October 1st, 1865.

Dear Sir, - I knew you were ill and I never meant to give you the fatigue of writing to me. Please do not trouble yourself to do so again. As you kindly ask my plans I may say that, though I very probably may return to New Zealand in three or four years, I have no intention of doing so before that time. My study is art, and anything else I may indulge in is only by-play; it may cause you some little wonder that at my age I should have started as an art student, and I may perhaps be permitted to explain that this was always my wish for years, that I had begun six years ago, as soon as ever I found that I could not conscientiously take orders; my father so strongly disapproved of the idea that I gave it up and went out to New Zealand, stayed there for five years, worked like a common servant, though on a run of my own, and sold out little more than a year ago, thinking that prices were going to fall - which they have since done. Being then rather at a loss what to do and my capital being all locked up, I took the opportunity to return to my old plan, and have been studying for the last ten years unremittingly.

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