Samuel Butler.

A first year in Canterbury settlement, with other early essays online

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A First Year in Canterbury Settlement
With Other Early Essays

Complete List of Samuel Butler's Works

["The late SAMUEL BUTLER was, in his own department, the greatest English
writer of the latter half of the nineteenth century. ... It drives one almost to
despair of English literature when one sees so extraordinary a study of English
life as "The Way of All Flesh" making so little stir that when, some years
later I produce plays in which Butler's extraordinarily fresh, free, and future-
piercing suggestions have an obvious share, I am met with nothing but vague
cacklings about Ibsen and Nietzsche." GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, in Preface to
Major Barbara.]

Edited by R. A Streatfeild.
A First Year in Canterbury Settlement. A New re-set

Edition. With other early essays (several not previously issued).
The Humour of Homer. Butler's complete essays. With

a sketch of his life by Henry Festing Jones, and a photogravure

portrait of 1887. New Edition.
The Fair Haven. New Edition, re-set.
Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino.

With 85 illustrations by the author, H. F. Jones, and Charles

Gogin. New and enlarged Edition, with Butler's index added.
The "Way of All Flesh. A novel. Seventh Impression

of Second Edition. [Impression.

Erewhon, or Over the Range. Enlarged Edition. Eighth
Erewhon Revisited. Fifth Impression.
Life and Habit. An essay after a completer view of

Evolution. Revised and enlarged Edition.
Unconscious Memory. Revised and re-set Edition. With

Introduction by Professor Marcus Hartog.
Evolution Old and New. A comparison of the theories

of Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck, with that of Charles

Darwin. Revised and enlarged Edition.
God the Known and God the Unknown.
The Iliad. A new translation into English prose.

Edited by Henry Festing Jones.
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler. With a photogravure

portrait of 1898, Butler's Poems, a list of biographical dates,

and an index. Second Impression.

Original Editions, with new title pages.

Luck or Cunning, as the main means of Organic Modification? (1887.)
Ex Veto. An account of the Sacro Monte or New Jerusalem at

Varallo-Sesia. With numerous collotype illustrations. (1888.)
The Authoress of the Odyssey, who and what she was, when and

where she wrote. (1897.)

Shakespeare's Sonnets, with notes and original text. (1899.)
The Odyssey. A new translation into English prose. (1900.)

Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler. A step towards reconciliation.
A pamphlet by Henry Festing Jones, with several letters between
Darwin and Butler.

A First Year in
Canterbury Settlement

With Other Early Essays


Samuel Butler

Author of " Erewhon," " The Way of All Flesh," etc.

Edited by R. A. Streatfeild

London : A. C. Fifield



ANNEX stack




Introduction, by R. A. STREATFEILD . . vii


A First Year in Canterbury Settlement ... 3

Crossing the Rangitata . . . . . 143

Darwin on the Origin of Species . . . . 149

Darwin among the Machines ..... 179

Lucubratio Ebria . . . . . .186

A Note on " The Tempest " .... 195

The English Cricketers 198


On English Composition and Other Matters . . 205

Our Tour ........ 211

Translation from an Unpublished Work of Herodotus 234

The Shield of Achilles, with Variations . . ; 237

Prospectus of the Great Split Society . . . 239

Powers ........ 244

A Skit on Examinations 251

An Eminent Person ...... 255

Napoleon at St. Helena ..... 256

The Two Deans. I 258

The Two Deans. II ...... 259

The Battle of Alma Mater 261

On the Italian Priesthood ..... 265
Samuel Butler and the Simeonites, by A. T. Bartholo-
mew 266

By R. A. Streatfeild

C*INCE Butler's death in 1902 his fame has spread so
rapidly and the world of letters now takes so keen
an interest in the man and his writings that no apology
is necessary for the republication of even his least signifi-
cant 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 Butter'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 EVI-
EXAMINED. / have not reprinted this, because practically
the whole of it was incorporated into THE FAIR HAVEN.
long been out of print, and copies of the original edition


viii Introduction

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 : M / 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 any-
where they cut it out before printing it ; besides, I had
not yet shed my Cambridge skin and its trail is every-
where, 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 i a copy in
New Zealand ; in fact, last autumn I know Sir Walter
Buller gave that for a copy in England, so as a specula-
tion it is worth 2s. 6d. or 35. I stole a passage or two from
it for EREWHON, meaning to let it go and never be re-
printed 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 un-
known countries, that even literature can assume." The
circumstances which led to A FIRST YEAR being written

Introduction ix

have been fully described by Mr. Festing Jones in his
sketch of Butler's life prefixed to THE HUMOUR OF HOMER
(Fi field, London, 1913; Kennerley, New York], and I
will only briefly recapitulate them. Butler left England
f or New Zealand in September, 1859, remaining in the
colony until 1864. A FIRST YEAR was published in 1863
in Butler's name by his father ; who contributed a short
preface, stating that the book was compiled from his son's
journal and letters, with extracts from two papers con-
tributed to THE EAGLE, the magazine of St. John's
College, Cambridge. These two papers had appeared in
1861 in the form of three articles entitled " Our Emigrant "
and signed " Cellarius." By comparing these articles
with the book as published by Butler's father it is possible
to arrive at some conclusion as to the amount of editing
to which Butler's prose was submitted. Some passages in
the articles do not appear in the book at all ; others appear
unaltered ; others again have been slightly doctored, appa-
rently with the object of robbing them of a certain youthful
" cocksureness," which probably grated upon the paternal
nerves, but seems to me to create an atmosphere of an
engaging freshness which I miss in the edited version.
So much of the " Our Emigrant " articles is repeated in
A FIRST YEAR almost if not quite verbatim that it did
not seem worth while to reprint the articles in their en-
tirety. I have, however, included in this collection one
extract from the latter which was not incorporated into
A FIRST YEAR, though it describes at greater length an

x Introduction

incident referred to on p. 74. From this extract, which
I have called " Crossing the Rangitata," readers will be
able to see for themselves how fresh and spirited Butler's
original descriptions of his adventures were, and will
probably regret that he did not take the publication of
A FIRST YEAR into his own hands, instead of allowing
his father to have a hand in it.

With regard to the other pieces included in this volume
I have thought it best to prefix brief notes, when necessary,
to each in turn explaining the circumstances in which
they were written and, when it was possible, giving the
date of composition.

In preparing the book for publication I have been
materially helped by friends in both hemispheres. My
thanks are specially due to Miss Colborne-Veel, of Christ-
church, N.Z., for copying some of Butler's early con-
tributions to THE PRESS, and in particular for her
kindness in allowing me to make use of her notes on " The
English Cricketers " ; to Mr. A. T. Bartholomew for his
courtesy in allowing me to reprint his article on " Butler
and the Simeonites," which originally appeared in THE
CAMBRIDGE MAGAZINE of i March, 1913, and throws so
interesting a light upon a certain passage in THE WAY
OF ALL FLESH. The article is here reprinted by the kind
permission of the editor and proprietor of THE CAM-
BRIDGE MAGAZINE ; to Mr. J. F. Harris for his generous
assistance in tracing and copying several of Butler's early
contributions to THE EAGLE ; to Mr. W. H. Triggs, the

Introduction xi

editor O/THE PRESS, for allowing me to make use of much
interesting matter relating to Butler that has appeared in
the columns of that journal ; and lastly to Mr. Henry
Festing Jones, whose help and counsel have been as in-
valuable to me in preparing this volume for the Press as
they have been in past years in the case of the other books
by Butler that I have been privileged to edit.



A First Year in Canterbury Settlement


[By the Rev. Thomas Butler]

writer of the following pages, having resolved
1 on emigrating to New Zealand, took his passage
in the ill-fated ship Burmah, which never reached her
destination, and is believed to have perished with all
on board. His berth was chosen, and the passage-
money paid, when important alterations were made
in the arrangements of the vessel, in order to make
room for some stock which was being sent out to the
Canterbury Settlement.

The space left for the accommodation of the pas-
sengers being thus curtailed, and the comforts of the
voyage seeming likely to be much diminished, the
writer was most providentially induced to change his
ship, and, a few weeks later, secured a berth in
another vessel.

The work is compiled from the actual letters and
journal of a young emigrant, with extracts from two
papers contributed by him to the Eagle, a periodical
issued by some of the members of St. John's College,
Cambridge, at which the writer took his degree. This
variety in the sources from which the materials are
put together must be the apology for some defects
in their connection and coherence. It is hoped also
that the circumstances of bodily fatigue and actual

6 Preface to Canterbury Settlement

difficulty under which they were often written, will
excuse many faults of style.

For whatever of presumption may appear in giving
this little book to the public, the friends of the writer
alone are answerable. It was at their wish only that
he consented to its being printed. It is, however,
submitted to the reader, in the hope that the unbiassed
impressions of colonial life, as they fell freshly on a
young mind, may not be wholly devoid of interest.
Its value to his friends at home is not diminished by
the fact that the MS., having been sent out to New
Zealand for revision, was, on its return, lost in the
Colombo, and was fished up from the Indian Ocean
so nearly washed out as to have been with some
difficulty deciphered.

It should be further stated, for the encouragement
of those who think of following the example of the
author, and emigrating to the same settlement, that
his most recent letters indicate that he has no reason
to regret the step that he has taken, and that the results
of his undertaking have hitherto fully justified his

June 29, 1863


Of "A First Year in Canterbury Settlement "
Chapter I


Embarkation at Gravesend Arrest of Passenger Tilbury
Fort Deal Bay of Biscay Gale Becalmed off Teneriffe
Fire in the Galley Trade Winds Belt of Calms Death on
Board Shark Current S.E. Trade Winds Temperature
Birds Southern Cross Cyclone ..... 9

Chapter II

Life on Board Calm Boat Lowered Snares and Traps
Land Driven off Coast Enter Port Lyttelton Requisites
for a Sea Voyage Spirit of Adventure aroused . . 22

Chapter III

Aspect of Port Lyttelton Ascent of Hill behind it View
Christ Church Yankeeisms Return to Port Lyttelton and
Ship Phormium Tenax Visit to a Farm Moa Bones . 31

Chapter IV

Sheep on Terms, Schedule and Explanation Investment in
Sheep-run Risk of Disease, and Laws upon the Subject
Investment in laying down Land hi English Grass In Farm-
ing Journey to Oxford Journey to the Glaciers Remote
Settlers Literature in the Bush Blankets and Flies
Ascent of the Rakaia Camping out Glaciers Minerals
Parrots Unexplored Col Burning the Flats Return . 37

Chapter V

Ascent of the Waimakiriri Crossing the River Gorge
Ascent of the Rangitata View of M'Kenzie Plains
M'Kenzie Mount Cook Ascent of the Hurunui Col lead-
ing to West Coast ....... 59


8 Contents

Chapter VI


Hut Cadets Openings for Emigrants without Capital For
those who bring Money Drunkenness Introductions
The Rakaia Valley leading to the Rangitata Snow-grass
and Spaniard Solitude Rain and Flood Cat Irishman
Discomforts of Hut Gradual Improvement Value of
Cat 68

Chapter VII

Loading Dray Bullocks Want of Roads Banks Peninsula
Front and Back Ranges of Mountains River-beds
Origin of the Plains Terraces Tutu Fords Floods
Lost Bullocks Scarcity of Features on the Plains Terraces
Crossing the Ashburton Change of Weather Roofless
Hut Brandy-keg ....... 80

Chapter VIII

Taking up the Run Hut within the Boundary Land Regula-
tions Race to Christ Church Contest for Priority of Appli-
cation Successful issue Winds and their Effects Their
conflicting Currents Sheep crossing the River . .102

Chapter IX

Plants of Canterbury Turnip Tutu Ferns Ti Palm
Birds Paradise Duck Tern Quail Woodhen
Robin Linnet Pigeon Moa New Parroquet
Quadrupeds Eels Insects Weta Lizards . . .115

Chapter X

Choice of a Run Boundaries Maoris Wages Servants
Drunkenness Cooking Wethers Choice of Home-
stead Watchfulness required Burning the Country
Yards for Sheep Ewes and Lambs Lambing Season
Wool Sheds Sheep Washing Putting up a Hut Gardens
Farewell . .... 126

A First Year in Canterbury Settlement

Chapter I

Embarkation at Gravesend Arrest of Passenger Tilbury Fort
Deal Bay of Biscay Gale Becalmed off Teneriffe Fire in the
Galley Trade Winds Belt of Calms Death on Board Shark
Current S.E. Trade Winds Temperature Birds Southern
Cross Cyclone .

IT is a windy, rainy day cold withal ; a little boat
is putting off from the pier at Gravesend, and
making for a ship that is lying moored in the middle
of the river ; therein are some half-dozen passengers
and a lot of heterogeneous-looking luggage ; among
the passengers, and the owner of some of the most
heterogeneous of the heterogeneous luggage, is myself.
The ship is an emigrant ship, and I am one of the

On having clambered over the ship's side and found
myself on deck, I was somewhat taken aback with the
apparently inextricable confusion of everything on
board ; the slush upon the decks, the crying, the kiss-
ing, the mustering of the passengers, the stowing away
of baggage still left upon the decks, the rain and the
gloomy sky created a kind of half-amusing, half-dis-
tressing bewilderment, which I could plainly see to be
participated in by most of the other landsmen on board.


io Canterbury Settlement

Honest country agriculturists and their wives were
looking as though they wondered what it would end in ;
some were sitting on their boxes and making a show
of reading tracts which were being presented to them
by a serious-looking gentleman in a white tie ; but all
day long they had perused the first page only, at least
I saw none turn over the second.

And so the afternoon wore on, wet, cold, and com-
fortless no dinner served on account of the general
confusion. The emigration commissioner was taking a
final survey of the ship and shaking hands with this,
that, and the other of the passengers. Fresh arrivals
kept continually creating a little additional excitement
these were saloon passengers, who alone were per-
mitted to join the ship at Gravesend. By and by a
couple of policemen made their appearance and arrested
one of the party, a London cabman, for debt. He had
a large family, and a subscription was soon started to
pay the sum he owed. Subsequently, a much larger
subscription would have been made in order to have
him taken away by anybody or anything.

Little by little the confusion subsided. The emi-
gration commissioner left ; at six we were at last
allowed some"; victuals. Unpacking my books and
arranging them in my cabin filled up the remainder of
the evening, save the time devoted to a couple of medi-
tative pipes. The emigrants went to bed, and when, at
about ten o'clock, I went up for a little time upon the
poop, I heard no sound save the clanging of the clocks
from the various churches of Gravesend, the pattering
of rain upon the decks, and the rushing of the river as
it gurgled against the ship's side.

Early next morning the cocks began to crow vocifer-

Gravesend Tilbury Fort 1 1

ously. We had about sixty couple of the oldest
inhabitants of the hen-roost on board, which were
intended for the consumption of the saloon passengers
a destiny which they have since fulfilled : young
fowls die on shipboard, only old ones standing the
weather about the line. Besides this, the pigs began
grunting and the sheep gave vent to an occasional
feeble bleat, the only expression of surprise or discon-
tent which I heard them utter during the remainder of
their existence, for now, alas ! they are no more. I
remember dreaming I was in a farmyard, and woke as
soon as it was light. Rising immediately, I went on
deck and found the morning calm and sulky no rain,
but everything very wet and very grey. There was
Tilbury Fort, so different from Stanfield's dashing
picture. There was Gravesend, which but a year
before I had passed on my way to Antwerp with so
little notion that I should ever leave it thus. Musing
in this way, and taking a last look at the green fields
of old England, soaking with rain, and comfortless
though they then looked, I soon became aware that
we had weighed anchor, and that a small steam-tug
which had been getting her steam up for some little
time had already begun to subtract a mite of the
distance between ourselves and New Zealand. And
so, early in the morning of Saturday, October I, 1859,
we started on our voyage.

The river widened out hour by hour. Soon our little
steam-tug left us. A fair wind sprung up, and at two
o'clock, or thereabouts, we found ourselves off Rams-
gate. Here we anchored and waited till the tide,
early next morning. This took us to Deal, off which
we again remained a whole day. On Monday morning

12 Canterbury Settlement

we weighed anchor, and since then we have had it on
the forecastle, and trust we may have no further occa-
sion for it until we arrive at New Zealand.

I will not waste time and space by describing the
horrible sea-sickness of most of the passengers, a
misery which I did not myself experience, nor yet will
I prolong the narrative of our voyage down the Channel
it was short and eventless. The captain says there
is more danger between Gravesend and the Start Point
(where we lost sight of land) than all the way between
there and New Zealand. Fogs are so frequent and
collisions occur so often. Our own passage was free
from adventure. In the Bay of Biscay the water
assumed a blue hue of almost incredible depth ; there,
moreover, we had our first touch of a gale not that it
deserved to be called a gale in comparison with what
we have since experienced, still we learnt what double-
reefs meant. After this the wind fell very light, and
continued so for a few days. On referring to my diary,
I perceive that on the loth of October we had only
got as far south as the forty-first parallel of latitude,
and late on that night a heavy squall coming up from
the S.W. brought a foul wind with it. It soon freshened,
and by two o'clock in the morning the noise of the flap-
ping sails, as the men were reefing them, and of the wind
roaring through the rigging, was deafening. All next
day we lay hove to under a close-reefed main-topsail,
which, being interpreted, means that the only sail set
was the main-topsail, and that that was close reefed ;
moreover, that the ship was laid at right angles to the
wind and the yards braced sharp up. Thus a ship drifts
very slowly, and remains steadier than she would other-
wise ; she ships few or no seas, and, though she rolls a

Gale 1 3

good deal, is much more easy and safe than when run-
ning at all near the wind. Next day we drifted due
north, and on the third day, the fury of the gale having
somewhat moderated, we resumed not our course, but
a course only four points off it. The next several days
we were baffled by foul winds, jammed down on the
coast of Portugal ; and then we had another gale from
the south, not such a one as the last, but still enough to
drive us many miles out of our course ; and then it fell
calm, which was almost worse, for when the wind fell
the sea rose, and we were tossed about in such a manner
as would have forbidden even Morpheus himself to sleep.
And so we crawled on till, on the morning of the 24th
of October, by which time, if we had had anything like
luck, we should have been close on the line, we found
ourselves about thirty miles from the Peak of Teneriffe,
becalmed. This was a long way out of our course,
which lay three or four degrees to the westward at the
very least ; but the sight of the Peak was a great treat,
almost compensating for past misfortunes. The Island
of Teneriffe lies in latitude 28, longitude 16. It is
about sixty miles long ; towards the southern extremity
the Peak towers upwards to a height of 12,300 feet,
far above the other land of the island, though that too
is very elevated and rugged. Our telescopes revealed
serrated gullies upon the mountain sides, and showed
us the fastnesses of the island in a manner that made
us long to explore them. We deceived ourselves with
the hope that some speculative fisherman might come
out to us with oranges and grapes for sale. He would
have realised a handsome sum if he had, but unfor-
tunately none was aware of the advantages offered, and
so we looked and longed in vain. The other islands

14 Canterbury Settlement

were Palma, Gomera, and Ferro, all of them lofty,
especially Palma all of them beautiful. On the sea-
board of Palma we could detect houses innumerable ; it
seemed to be very thickly inhabited and carefully
cultivated. The calm continuing three days, we took
stock of the islands pretty minutely, clear as they
were, and rarely obscured even by a passing cloud ; the
weather was blazing hot, but beneath the awning it was
very delicious ; a calm, however, is a monotonous thing
even when an island like Teneriffe is in view, and we
soon tired both of it and of the gambols of the blackfish
(a species of whale), and the operations on board an
American vessel hard by.

On the evening of the third day a light air sprung
up, and we watched the islands gradually retire into the
distance. Next morning they were faint and shrunken,
and by midday they were gone. The wind was the
commencement of the north-east trades. On the next
day (Thursday, October 27, lat. 27 40') the cook was
boiling some fat in a large saucepan, when the bottom
burnt through and the fat fell out over the fire, got
lighted, and then ran about the whole galley, blazing
and flaming as though it would set the place on fire,
whereat an alarm of fire was raised, the effect of which
was electrical : there was no real danger about the
affair, for a fire is easily extinguishable on a ship when

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Online LibrarySamuel ButlerA first year in Canterbury settlement, with other early essays → online text (page 1 of 18)