A First Year In Canterbury Settlement By Samuel Butler


















































































































 - A FIRST YEAR IN CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT

by Samuel Butler

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


INTRODUCTION - Page 1
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A FIRST YEAR IN CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT

By Samuel Butler

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

INTRODUCTION By R. A. Streatfeild

Since Butler's death in 1902 his fame has spread so rapidly and the world of letters now takes so keen in interest in the man and his writings that no apology is necessary for the republication of even his least significant works. I had long desired to bring out a new edition of his earliest book A FIRST YEAR IN CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT, together with the other pieces that he wrote during his residence in New Zealand, and, that wish being now realised, I have added a supplementary group of pieces written during his undergraduate days at Cambridge, so that the present volume forms a tolerably complete record of Butler's literary activity up to the days of EREWHON, the only omission of any importance being that of his pamphlet, published anonymously in 1865, THE EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AS CONTAINED IN THE FOUR EVANGELISTS CRITICALLY EXAMINED. I have not reprinted this, because practically the whole of it was incorporated into THE FAIR HAVEN.

A FIRST YEAR IN CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT has long been out of print, and copies of the original edition are difficult to procure. Butler professed to think poorly of it. Writing in 1889 to his friend Alfred Marks, who had picked up a second-hand copy and felt some doubt as to its authorship, he said: "I am afraid the little book you have referred to was written by me. My people edited my letters home. I did not write freely to them, of course, because they were my people. If I was at all freer anywhere they cut it out before printing it; besides, I had not yet shed my Cambridge skin and its trail is everywhere, I am afraid, perceptible. I have never read the book myself. I dipped into a few pages when they sent it to me in New Zealand, but saw 'prig' written upon them so plainly that I read no more and never have and never mean to. I am told the book sells for 1 pound a copy in New Zealand; in fact, last autumn I know Sir Walter Buller gave that for a copy in England, so as a speculation it is worth 2s. 6d. or 3s. I stole a passage or two from it for EREWHON, meaning to let it go and never be reprinted during my lifetime."

This must be taken with a grain of salt. It was Butler's habit sometimes to entertain his friends and himself by speaking of his own works with studied disrespect, as when, with reference to his own DARWIN AND THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, which also is reprinted in this volume, he described philosophical dialogues as "the most offensive form, except poetry and books of travel into supposed unknown countries, that even literature can assume." The circumstances which led to A FIRST YEAR being written have been fully described by Mr. Festing Jones in his sketch of Butler's life prefixed to THE HUMOUR OF HOMER (Fifield, London, 1913, Kennerley, New York), and I will only briefly recapitulate them.

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