Samuel Butler.

The life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler, head-master of Shrewsbury school 1798-1836 online

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THE

LIFE AND LETTERS
or

DR. SAMUEL BUTLER.

VOL. 1.



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THE

LIFE AND LETTERS OF

DR. SAMUEL BUTLER,

HEAD-MASTER OF SHREWSBURY SCHOOL 1798— 1836,
AND AFTERWARDS BISHOP OF LICHFIELD

IN SO FAR AS THEY ILLUSTRATE

THE SCHOLASTIC, RELIGIOUS, AND SOCIAL
LIFE OF ENGLAND, 1790— 1840.



BY HIS GRANDSON,

SAMUEL BUTLER,
» •

AUTHOR or "EREWHOK," "THE TRAPANESE ORIGIN OP THE ODYSSEY," ETC.



VOL. I.

JAN. 30, 1774— MARCH I, 1 83 1.



» . • '^» > *



LONDON :

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET,
1896.



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Printed by Hazell, Watson, ft Vincy, Ld., London and Aylesbury.



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PREFACE.



THE following work was begun in 1889, and was
completed in its original form by the summer of
1894. I was then so generally advised that it was too
long that in the summer and autumn of 1895 ^ reduced
it by about a third, and left it with Mr. Murray in
November 1895.

The length of time during which the work has been
in process must be accounted for firstly by the great
bulk of the correspondence that came into my hands,
and the difficulty of finding the due dates of many
undated letters. Moreover I was deflected from it by
the pressure put upon me to write my book Ex Voto^
on the Sacro Monte of Varallo, and by some researches
into the topography and authorship of the Odyssey^ the
fascination of which I found it impossible to resist. To
these delightful studies — hardly, however, to myself more
delightful than those which I am now leaving — I hope
immediately to return.

When my sisters, Mrs. G. L. Bridges and Miss Butler,
presented me with almost all Dr. Butler's papers, I did
not at first realise the importance of keeping the collection
as far as possible together, and gave away some few to

V

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vi PREFACE,

friends as autographs. Some of the drafts, again , I found
so much cancelled and rewritten that I thought it better
to copy the final state of the draft and destroy the
original. I also destroyed, with the approval of the
authorities of the British Museum (but never without
this), any letters the preservation of which might cause
pain without serving any useful purpose, or again, which
were deemed not worth the acceptance of the Museum.
The rest I gave to the British Museum, and left those
in charge of the National Collection to decide what
letters should be made accessible to the public, and
what should be, at any rate for the present, kept
back.

I may say here, therefore, that all letters or documents
given in my book are in the British Museum, unless it
is stated otherwise at the head of the letter. It may
save readers the trouble of hunting in the index if I
give the numbers of the volumes for which they should
write if they desire to see the original of any given
letter, or to search for any letters they may hope to
find. The volumes are numbered as follows : —

Additional
Vol. MSS.

I., 1764— 1813 34583

II., 1814—1819 34584

III., 1820 — March 1825 .... 34585

IV., April 1825 — end of 1827 . 34586

v., 1828— 1830 34587

VI., 1831— 1833 34588

VII., 1834— 1835 34589

VIII., 1836 34590

IX., 1837— June 30th, 1838 . . . 34591



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PREFACE, vii

Additional
Vol. MSS.

X., July 1838 — December i6th, 1839, In-
scriptions, Verses in Latin, Greek, and

English 34592

XL, Two Letter-books, 1818— 1828 . . 34593
XIL, A third Letter-book, and Dr. Butler's

Episcopal Letters .... 34594

XIIL, Dr. Butler's Exercises when at Rugby . 34595

XIV., Review of Porson's-4</«;^rjflritf, etc., 1817 34596

XV., A Commonplace Book, dated t8i6 . 34597

XVL, Journals of Foreign Tours • 34598

N.B.— In every case "Additional MSS." must be on the ticket.

Very few letters reached me from other sources than
the one I have indicated above. I should, however,
thank Bishop Barry (as representing the family of the
Rev. T. S. Hughes), the Rev. Walter Scott, son of the
late Dean of Rochester, the Rev. J. Irvine of Colchester,
and J. Willis Clark, Esq., for the loan of letters, some of
which will follow in due order of date.

The reader is requested to bear in mind that this work
is intended to show the scholarship and the philology of
the time, so far as they have come before me in Dr.
Butler's papers. I am aware that much of the philology
will be held to be of no present interest; its interest,
however, as showing the state of this science at the
beginning of the century, seems, at any rate to myself,
considerable. As regards letters connected neither with
scholarship nor education, I have selected them almost
exclusively on the ground of their livingness and the
interest attaching to the personality of the writer. If
the personality has attracted me, as in the case of Dr.



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viii PREFACE,

James, Mr. Tillbrook, Baron Merian, and half a score
of men and women whose names are now utterly
unknown, I have given letters, though they contained
little or nothing about either scholarship or education.

I have to express my thanks to Professor J. E. B.
Mayor for much assistance given me in the course of
my work. The account of Dr. Butler given in the
second volume of his invaluable edition of Baker's
History of St. JohtCs is so full as regards quotations
from Dr. Butler's works, that I have been left free to
pass these over much more briefly than I should other-
wise have done, and to devote my space principally to
MS. documents, the existence of which was probably
as unknown to Professor Mayor as it was to myself
until they fell into my hands. I have also to thank
Mr. Prebendary Moss, the present Head-Master of
Shrewsbury School, for the warm interest he has shown
in the work and its progress, though I should perhaps
state that he has only actually seen a small part of it

I would also express my sense of deep obligation to
Mr. John Murray, who has read the sheets with great
care, and called my attention to many slips, omissions,
and inadvertencies, besides supplying me with informa-
tion which I could not otherwise have obtained.

As regards the accentuation of Greek words, I believe
I may say that when the reader finds the accents omitted
or wrong, if he will be good enough to turn to the original
MS., he will find that I have followed it faithfully. At
first I found it irresistible occasionally to add an accent,
or to correct one ; but before long I was advised that



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PREFACE. ix

it would be a sounder course in a work that aims at
being historical to let the accents, for better or worse,
stand as I found them. I could not bring myself,
however, to take out those I had put in, or to vitiate
the few that I had corrected ; Dr. Butler in his drafts
has generally omitted them, but when he gives them he
always does so correctly.

Lastly, I would caution the reader against confusing the
three Dr. Butlers who have all been eminent as school-
masters. They are : —

1. Dr. Samuel Butler, Head-Master of Shrewsbury,

1798 — 1836.

2. Dr. George Butler, Head-Master of Harrow, 1805 —

1829.

3. Dr. H, Montagu Butler, Head-Master of Harrow,

Christmas 1859 — 1885, and present Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge.

The two Dr. Butlers of Harrow were father and son,
but there was no relationship between them and Dr.
Samuel Butler.

SAMUEL BUTLER.
February 25M, 1896.

P.S. — Since writing the foregoing I have heard with
very great regret of the death of my cousin Archdeacon
Lloyd, more than once referred to in the following pages
as though he were still living.

March yd, 1896.



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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.



INTRODUCTION [l]

CHAPTER I.
FAMILY HISTORY I

CHAPTER II.

SCHOOL AND COLLEGE 8

Captain Don.— School Life at Rugby. — ^Career at St. John's
College, Cambridge.— Letters from Dr. James, December loth,
I793» September 7th, 1794. — Engagement to Miss Harriet
Apthorp. — Letters from Dr. James, December 27th, 1796,
January 23rd, 1797.— Letter from S. T. Coleridge. — First
Published Work. — Mr. Butler commissioned by the University
to edit iEschylus.

CHAPTER in.

THE RUGBY CURRICULUM 24

Installation at Shrewsbury. — Dr. James's Letters of Advice
detailing the Rugby System under his Head-Mastership.

CHAPTER IV.
FIRST YEARS AT SHREWSBURY . . . . 40

Appointment of Mr. Jeudwine as Second Master. — The
Relations between him and Mr. Butler. — Hostile Reception at
Shrewsbury. — Candidature for the Head- Mastership of Rugby.

CHAPTER V.

HUGHES, PORSON, BLOMFIELD 52

Thomas Smart Hughes.— Death of Porson. — Publication of First
Volume of iEschylus. — Blomfield's Reviews in the Edinburgh
Review, — Quarrel between Butler and Blomfield. — Character of
Porson.— BuUer's Letter to the Rev. C. J. Blomfield, B.A.



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xii CONTENTS,



CHAPTER VI.

PACE

INSTALLATION SERMON — LUCIEN BUONAPARTE . 63

The Doctor's Degree. —Correspondence, December i6th, 1810 —
February 4th, 181 1. — The Installation Sermon. — Correspondence,
August 17th, 181 1 — December 5th, 181 1. — Translation of Prince
Lucien Buonaparte's Charlemagne. — Correspondence, February
i8th, 1812— December 28th, 181 2.— Notes taken after a Visit to
Prince Lucien Buonaparte. — Difficulties about the School Chapel.

CHAPTER VII.

GEOGRAPHY— OWEN PARFITT 84

The Geography. — Correspondence, January 29th, 18 13 — October
20th, 18 13. — The Mystery of Owen Parfitt. — ^Correspondence, June
1 8th, 1 8 14 — October 20th, 18 14.

CHAPTER VIII.

CORRESPONDENCE, JANUARY 29TH, 1815— MAY

28TH, 1816 103

CHAPTER IX.

WATERLOO, 1 8 16— BARON MERIAN . . 1 16

Extracts from Diary, with a Visit to the Field of Waterloo, July
1816. — Correspondence, November 2nd, 1816— June 30th, 1817.

CHAPTER X.
THE FORTUNATE YOUTH— HUGHES'S INSCRIPTIONS 1 33

The Fortunate Youth.— Correspondence on this Subject, October
29th, 18 1 7 — December 24th, 181 7. — Correspondence, October
31st, 18 1 7 — ^June 9th, 18 1 8, with Review of Porson's Adversaria.
— Paper on some Greek Inscriptions that appear in Hughes's
Travels in Sicily^ etc.

CHAPTER XL
EPIDEMIC OF TURBULENCE 156

Disturbances within the School. — Dr. Butler's two Circulars to
Parents. — Correspondence, November 30th, 18 18 — May 17th,
1819.



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CONTENTS, xiil



CHAPTER XII.

PAGE

FIRST VISIT TO ITALY l66

Tour in Switzerland and North Italy. — Correspondence, August
5th, 1819— July loth, 182a



CHAPTER XIIL

THE LETTERS TO HENRY BROUGHAM, ESQ., M.P. . 1 94

Correspondence, September 20th, 1820 — December 1 6th, 182a
—Appointment to the Archdeaconry of Derby. — Correspondence,
January ist, 1821— December 3rd, 1821.

CHAPTER XIV.

UNIVERSITY REFORM 2IO

Two Pamphlets signed " Eubulus," — Correspondence, January
30th, 1822— June i6th, 1822.

CHAPTER XV.
VISIT TO ROME 226

Third Foreign Tour. — Correspondence, August 12th, 1822 —
November 30th, 1822.— Praxis on the Latin Prepositions.

CHAPTER XVI.
AN ARDUOUS UNDERTAKING 245

The School Lawsuit. —Correspondence, January 4th, i823^uly
3rd, 1823. — Kennedy takes the Porson Prize whilst still at School
— His Remarks upon the Shrewsbury System. — Correspondence,
August 17th, 1823— April 19th, 1824.

CHAPTER XVII.

CORRESPONDENCE, MAY I3TH, 1 824— DECEMBER

1824 26s



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xiv CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XVIII.

PAGE

CORRESPONDENCE— CHARGE — LAWSUIT . 275

Correspondence, February i8th, 1825— April i8th, 1825.—
Extract from a Charge delivered June 22nd and 23rd, 1825, at
Derby and Chesterfield. — Correspondence and Progress of the
School Lawsuit, August 28th, 1825— December 15th,- 1825.



CHAPTER XIX.

CORRESPONDENCE— CHARGE— CORRESPONDENCE . 293

Correspondence, December (?), 1825— June i$th, 1826. — Extracts
from a Charge on the Education of the Poorer Classes delivered at
Derby and Chesterfield, June 15th and i6th, 1826. — Correspond-
ence, June i6th and 17th, 1826.— Vote of Thanks from the
Trustees, October 1826.

CHAPTER XX.
THE CLERICAL SOCIETY 3IS

Correspondence, September 13th, 1826 — February 15th, 1827.
— Conclusion of the School Lawsuit. — Correspondence, April or
May, 1827— December 14th, 1827.

CHAPTER XXI.

CORRESPONDENCE — THE " BEEF ROW " — FOURTH

FOREIGN TOUR 34O

Correspondence, January 3rd, 1828 — March 30th, 1829.— The
" Beef Row." — Correspondence, April 13th, 1829— May 25th,
1829. — Fourth Foreign Tour. — Charge delivered June i8th, 19th,
1829, and Correspondence, July ist, 1829— December i6th, 1829.

CHAPTER XXII.

CORRESPONDENCE, JANUARY 2STH, 183O— MARCH

1ST, 183 1 367



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOL. I.

Portrait op Dr. Butler FronHspUd

Dr. Butler's Handwriting at the Age of Fourteen . To face p. 12
Portrait of Mrs. Butler v n I49



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INTRODUCTION.



SOME few years ago I was asked to write a memoir of
my grandfather, Dr. Butler of Shrewsbury, for the
Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural
History Society, of which Dr. Butler was the first president ;
and shortly afterwards I was placed in possession of the
very voluminous correspondence which Dr. Butler had left
behind him. On going through this I found so much that
threw light upon public school education at the end of the
last and in the earlier years of the present century, that I
abandoned my original design for the work I now venture
to lay before the public.

Having been led to inquire into the facts of Dr. Butler's
life, I turned to Professor J. E. B. Mayor's well-known
edition of Baker's History of St. Jokn*s* in which the fullest
account of Dr. Butler heretofore published is to be found,
and was arrested by the following paragraph ascribed by
Professor Mayor to Dr. Robert Scott, formerly Master of
Balliol, and afterwards Dean of Rochester : —

" Bishop Butler has gone to his rest, after such severe and pro-
tracted suffering as would have paralysed a less energetic mind.
He has gone full of labours and honours though not of years.
And yet it is to be feared that he has gone with much of his merit
unappreciated. If, however, it be reasonable to suppose that the
education of the higher classes, and especially of the clergy, is at
least as important as that of the poor, and if the silent but most
practical reformation which has been at work in our public schools



* Cambridge, 1869.



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2] INTRODUCTION,



for many years ever attracts the notice it deserves, then the time
will come when men will take an interest in tracing the steps of
the improvement ; and they will hardly fail to give honour due to
that scholar who first set the example in remodelling our public
education, and gave a stimulus which is now acting on almost all
the public schools in the country/* {Quarterly Review^ September
1842.)

I had not known that Dr. Butler's influence was so wide
or so important, and, on going through the letters addressed
to him, was a good deal surprised at finding how com-
pletely the facts bore out what Dr. Scott had written. Dr.
Monk, Bishop of Gloucester, for example, on hearing of
Dr. Butler's intended resignation, wrote : —

"There is nothing in scholastic history which can be fairly
compared with your career except that of Busby, and he did not,
like you, find a school with only a single scholar. I am sorry that
it has never happened to me to have an opportunity of expressing
publicly how much in my opinion the cause of good education
owes to you." (December 12th, 1835.)

It is possible that many a head -master since Dr. Butler's
time has wished that he too could have " found his school
with only a single scholar."

Mr. Drury of Harrow wrote : —

" In common with all who have the slightest love for, or pre-
tence to, literature, your secession fi^om Shrewsbury is the cause
of my regret The advance of learning among the young has
decidedly, at all English schools of any note, generally taken its
impulse from you, and where it has not, as at Westminster, the de-
cadence has been doleful. Whatever Eton and Harrow may be, I
can safely say they would not have reached even any moderate
excellence if you had not been the agitator.'* (December 29th,

1835.)

Dr. Longley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and
at that time just resigning the head-mastership of Harrow
on his appointment to the See of Ripon, wrote : —

" We may mutually felicitate each other on approaching relief
from our arduous duties ^ but I will not presume to compare my



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INTRODUCTION, [3



own feelings on the occasion with those of one whose long and
most honourable career has been distinguished by a degree of
splendour and success unrivalled in the history of public schools."
(March 14th, 1836.)

Dr. Longley, on his appointment to Harrow, had come
to Shrewsbury in company with Mr. Drury, and had
attended a lesson to hear Dr. Butler's manner with the
boys. Dr. Butler alluded casually to this circumstance
in a first draft of the letter to the Master and Fellows of
St. John's announcing his intended resignation, but he put
his pen through the passage, and in the second draft of the
same letter there is no reference to an incident pleasing in
itself, and honourable both to Dr. Longley and Dr. Butler.

That Dr. Butler did sometimes let distinguished aliens
attend his lessons appears from the letter to the Master and
Fellows of St John's just referred to, but he is careful to
explain that he never permitted this except in the case of
first-rate scholars.

Dr. Parr, indeed, if I may rely upon an excellent article
that appeared in Blackwood for April 1866, was allowed
not only to assist in rehearsing the boy's speeches, but,
horresco referens^ to smoke his pipe while doing so. The
writer does not say where he found this story, but his work
is so well done, and the story is so intrinsically probable,
that I accept it as far as the fact of Dr. Parr's smoking is
concerned ; whether, however, it was Dr. Butler who
invited Dr. Parr to come and to smoke, or whether it
was Dr. Parr who would come and would smoke, is a point
which I would not presume to decide. According, indeed,
to the writer in Blackwood^ it was not at a rehearsal of the
speeches, but at the speeches themselves, that Dr. Parr
smoked, and this is hardly possible. The words of the
article run : —

" On more than one speech-day, Dr. Parr, for whom Dr. Butler
VOL. I. b

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4] INTRODUCTION



had an intense respect, was present, sitting in the seat of honour
next the Doctor, with his pipe in his mouth and his spittoon
before him — ^an arrangement which, together with his buzz-wig
(probably the last surviving specimen), attracted considerable
attention from the boys. He was good enough to signify a
gracious approval of some of the speakers by the quiet tapping
of two fore-fingers of one hand on the palm of the other — an
amount of applause which, as Butler assured the young per-
formers, meant a great deal from so great a man."

Returning to the letters of Bishop Monk, Mr. Drury, and
Dr. Longley, even after making allowance for the par-
tiality of personal friendship, there is more in the extracts
quoted than can be explained as mere politeness. In spite,
however, of the unbounded respect with which Dr. Butler's
character has inspired me, I should not have gone beyond
my original intention but for the consideration mentioned
by Dr. Scott — I mean the importance and interest of tracing
the path of public school development during a time that
has been left, comparatively speaking, unchronicled. I
found so many letters that threw light upon the public
school life of the half-century between the years 1790 and
1835, that I resolved to bring together as much of Dr.
Butler's correspondence as might be useful to a future
and more exhaustive historian of the religious, scholastic,
and social life of England between the years 1790 and
1840.

As regards the extract above given from Mr. Drury's
letter, not knowing what reforms could be intended 1
consulted the late Professor Kennedy, and Dr. Welldon,
formerly of Tunbridge, then, as I believed, the last sur-
vivors of those who had been masters under Dr. Butler.
They told me Mr. Drury was referring to the introduction
of half-yearly examinations into public schools, and to the
moving of the boys in the sixth form according to the
results of their examination. I have since seen the follow-
ing extract from a letter by Dr. Kennedy, of which I was



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INTRODUCTION, [5



unaware till the Rev. George Sandford kindly called my
attention to it : —

"Dr. Butler was, of course, an excellent scholar, and no
ordinary teacher j but his crowning merit was the establishment
of an emulative system, in which talent and industry always
gained their just recognition in good examinations. This it was
that made his school so successful and so great." (April 30th, 1887.



Online LibrarySamuel ButlerThe life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler, head-master of Shrewsbury school 1798-1836 → online text (page 1 of 40)