Samuel Butler Author of Erewhon,(1835-1902): A Memoir - Vol. 2

By Henry Festing Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
1888-PART II. 1889 NARCISSUS, THE UNIVERSAL REVIEW, AND PREPARING FOR THE LIFE OF DR. BUTLER

IN June 1888 we published Narcissus, the words written and the music composed by Samuel Butler and Henry Festing Jones. Although we were trying to imitate Handel we did not dare to call our work an Oratorio, still less did we dare to call it an Oratorio Buffo, which is what it really is, so we called it a Dramatic Cantata, meaning by dramatic no more than that the singers are named, as in Saul. This is the Argument:

Part I. Narcissus, a simple shepherd, and Amaryllis, a prudent shepherdess, with companions who form the chorus, have abandoned pastoral pursuits and embarked on a course of speculation upon the Stock Exchange. This results in the loss of the hundred pounds upon which Narcissus and Amaryllis had intended to marry. Their engagement is broken off and the condolences of the chorus end Part I.

Part II. In the interval between the parts the aunt and godmother of Narcissus has died at an advanced age and is discovered to have been worth one hundred thousand pounds, all of which she has bequeathed to her nephew and godson. This removes the obstacle to his union with Amaryllis; but the question arises as to what securities the money is to be invested in. At first he is inclined to resume his speculations and to buy Egyptian bonds, American railways, mines, etc.; but, yielding to the advice of Amaryllis, he resolves to place the whole of it in the Three per cent Consolidated Bank Annuities, to marry at once, and to live comfortably upon the income. With the congratulations and approbation of the chorus the work is brought to a conclusion.

There was a good deal of discussion going on at the

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