Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited

Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited

Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited

Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited

Excerpt

In the year when the Origin of Species came out, 1859, a sailing vessel took to New Zealand a young man named Samuel Butler. He was the son of a country clergyman and the grandson of a famous bishop: he was going to a distant and unsettled country because intellectual scruples about the efficacy of Infant Baptism kept him from being ordained, whilst the high-handed cantankerousness of Victorian parenthood had said No to Samuel's desire to become a painter. Theobald--or rather, the Rev. Thomas Butler--had put down his foot and, doubtless, had shaken his will in Samuel's face; and since the son could not conscientiously follow his father's profession, nor the father decently sanction his son's art, they had compromised on sheep-farming, as a likely occupation for one who showed signs of being himself something of a black sheep.

Young Samuel Butler had an inner sense of his own worth; and at the age of twenty-four, when he sailed away, very little to show for it. After the usual go of a classical and clerical education, he had achieved no remarkable opinions he could call his own except a belief in himself, and the notion that Aristophanes, the wise and sardonic, was greatly to be preferred over Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus . . .

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