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23 Works of Samuel Butler

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THE AUNT, THE NIECES, AND THE DOG {3} When a thing is old, broken, and useless we throw it on the dust-heap, but when it is sufficiently old, sufficiently broken, and sufficiently useless we give money for it, put it into a museum, and read papers over it which people come long distances to hear. […]

Walking the other day in Cheapside I saw some turtles in Mr. Sweeting’s window, and was tempted to stay and look at them. As I did so I was struck not more by the defences with which they were hedged about, than by the fatuousness of trying to hedge that in at all which, if […]

Quis Desiderio

Story type: Essay

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Like Mr. Wilkie Collins, I, too, have been asked to lay some of my literary experiences before the readers of the Universal Review. It occurred to me that the Review must be indeed universal before it could open its pages to one so obscure as myself; but, nothing daunted by the distinguished company among which […]

THE SANCTUARY OF MONTRIGONE {6} The only place in the Valsesia, except Varallo, where I at present suspect the presence of Tabachetti {7} is at Montrigone, a little-known sanctuary dedicated to St. Anne, about three-quarters of a mile south of Borgo-Sesia station. The situation is, of course, lovely, but the sanctuary does not offer any […]

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF LIFE {4} I have been asked to speak on the question how to make the best of life, but may as well confess at once that I know nothing about it. I cannot think that I have made the best of my own life, nor is it likely that […]

Art In The Valley Of Saas{11} Having been told by Mr. Fortescue, of the British Museum, that there were some chapels at Saas-Fee which bore analogy to those at Varallo, described in my book “Ex Voto,” {12} I went to Saas during this last summer, and venture now to lay my conclusions before the reader. […]

A MEDIEVAL GIRL SCHOOL {8} This last summer I revisited Oropa, near Biella, to see what connection I could find between the Oropa chapels and those at Varallo. I will take this opportunity of describing the chapels at Oropa, and more especially the remarkable fossil, or petrified girl school, commonly known as the Dimora, or […]

THOUGHT AND LANGUAGE {16} Three well-known writers, Professor Max Muller, Professor Mivart, and Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace have lately maintained that though the theory of descent with modification accounts for the development of all vegetable life, and of all animals lower than man, yet that man cannot–not at least in respect of the whole of […]

THE DEADLOCK IN DARWINISM {20}–PART I It will be readily admitted that of all living writers Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace is the one the peculiar turn of whose mind best fits him to write on the subject of natural selection, or the accumulation of fortunate but accidental variations through descent and the struggle for existence. […]

Our Tour

Story type: Essay

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This essay was published in the EAGLE, Vol. 1, No. 5. in the Easter Term, 1859. It describes a holiday trip made by Butler in June, 1857, in company with a friend whose name, which was Joseph Green, Butler Italianised as Giuseppe Verdi. I am permitted by Professor Bonney to quote a few words from […]

This essay is believed to be the first composition by Samuel Butler that appeared in print. It was published in the first number of the EAGLE, a magazine written and edited by members of St. John’s College, Cambridge, in the Lent Term, 1858, when Butler was in his fourth and last year of residence. [From […]

This piece and the ten that follow it date from Butler’s undergraduate days. They were preserved by the late Canon Joseph McCormick, who was Butler’s contemporary at Cambridge and knew him well. In a letter to THE TIMES, published 27 June, 1902, shortly after Butler’s death, Canon McCormick gave some interesting details of Butler’s Cambridge […]

It is the object of this society to promote parties and splits in general, and since of late we have perceived disunion among friends to be not nearly so ripe as in the Bible it is plainly commanded to be, we the members of this club have investigated the means of producing, fostering, and invigorating […]

And in it he placed the Fitzwilliam and King’s College Chapel and the lofty towered church of the Great Saint Mary, which looketh toward the Senate House, and King’s Parade and Trumpington Road and the Pitt Press and the divine opening of the Market Square and the beautiful flowing fountain which formerly Hobson laboured to […]


Story type: Essay

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But, my son, think not that it is necessary for thee to be excellent if thou wouldst be powerful. Observe how the lighter substance in nature riseth by its own levity and overtoppeth that which is the more grave. Even so, my son, mayest thou be light and worthless, and yet make a goodly show […]

Among the eminent persons deceased during the past week we have to notice Mr. Arthur Ward, the author of the very elegant treatise on the penny whistle. Mr. Ward was rather above the middle height, inclined to be stout, and had lost a considerable portion of his hair. Mr. Ward did not wear spectacles, as […]

We now come to the most eventful period in Mr. Bridges’ life: we mean the time when he was elected to the shoe-black scholarship, compared with which all his previous honours sank into insignificance. Mr. Bridges had long been desirous of becoming a candidate for this distinction, but, until the death of Mr. Leader, no […]

I see a warrior ‘neath a willow tree; His arms are folded, and his full fixed eye Is gazing on the sky. The evening breeze Blows on him from the sea, and a great storm Is rising. Not the storm nor evening breeze, Nor the dark sea, nor the sun’s parting beam Can move him; […]

The Two Deans

Story type: Poetry

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I Williams, I like thee, amiable divine! No milk-and-water character is thine. A lay more lovely should thy worth attend Than my poor muse, alas! hath power to lend. Shall I describe thee as thou late didst sit, The gater gated and the biter bit, When impious hands at the dead hour of night Forbade […]

The following article, which originally appeared in the CAMBRIDGE MAGAZINE, 1 March, 1913, is by Mr. A. T. Bartholomew, of the University Library, Cambridge, who has most kindly allowed me to include it in the present volume. Mr. Bartholomew’s discovery of Samuel Butler’s parody of the Simeonite tract throws a most interesting light upon a […]

This an adaptation of the following epigram, which appeared in Giuseppe Giusti’s RACCOLTA DI PROVERBI TOSCANI (Firenze, 1853) Con arte e con inganno si vive mezzo l’anno Con inganno e con arte si vive l’altra parte. In knavish art and gathering gear They spend the one half of the year; In gathering gear and knavish […]

I The Temperance commissioners In awful conclave sat, Their noses into this to poke To poke them into that – In awful conclave sat they, And swore a solemn oath, That snuff should make no Briton sneeze, That smokers all to smoke should cease, They swore to conquer both. II Forth went a great Teetotaller, […]

The Humour of Homer {59} Footnote{59}:A lecture delivered at the Working Men’s College,Great Ormond Street, 30th January, 1892. The first of the two great poems commonly ascribed to Homer is called the Iliad–a title which we may be sure was not given it by the author. It professes to treat of a quarrel between Agamemnon […]