Nonfiction > Christopher Morley, ed. > Modern Essays > 18. Samuel Butler: Diogenes of the Victorians
Christopher Morley, ed. (1890–1957).  Modern Essays. 1921.
18. Samuel Butler: Diogenes of the Victorians
By Stuart P. Sherman
        Professor Sherman’s cold compress, applied to the Butler cult, caused much suffering in some regions, where it was said to be more than a cooling bandage—in fact, a wet blanket. In the general rough-and-tumble among critical standards during recent years, Mr. Sherman is one of those who have dealt some swinging blows in favor of the Victorians and the literary Old Guard—which was often square but rarely hollow.
  Stuart Pratt Sherman, born in Iowa in 1881, graduated from Williams in 1903, has been since 1911 professor of English at the University of Illinois. His own account of his adventures, written without intended publication, is worth consideration. He says:
  “My life hasn’t been quite as dryly ‘academic,’ nor as simply ‘middle-Western,’ as the record indicates. For example: I lived in Los Angeles from my 5th to my 13th year, and then went on a seven months’ adventure in gold mining in the Black Cañon of Arizona, where I had some experience with drouth in the desert, etc. That is not ‘literary.’
  “Recently , I’ve been thinking I might write a little paper about some college friends at Williams. I was in college with Harry James Smith (author of Mrs. Bumpstead Lee), Max Eastman, and ‘Go-to-Hell’ Whittlesey. As editor of the Williams Monthly I have accepted and rejected manuscripts of both the two latter, and have reminiscences of their literary youth.
  “Then I spent a summer in the Post and Nation in 1908, which is a pleasant chapter to remember; another summer teaching at Columbia; this past summer teachings at the University of California. My favorite recreations are climbing little mountains, chopping wood, and canoeing on Lake Michigan.
  “This summer I have been picking out a place to die in—or rather looking over the sites offered in California. I lean towards the high Sierras, up above the Yosemite Valley.
  “My ambition in life is to retire—perhaps at the age of seventy—and write only for amusement. When I can abandon the task of improving my contemporaries, I hope to become a popular author.”
  Professor Sherman, you will note, is almost an exact contemporary of H. L. Mencken, with whom he has crossed swords in more than one spirited encounter; and Sherman is likely to give as good as he takes in such scuffles, or even rather better. It is high time that his critical sagacity and powerful reasoning were better known in the market-place.

UNTIL I met the Butlerians I used to think that the religious spirit in our times was very precious, there was so little of it. I thought one should hold one’s breath before it as a before the flicker of one’s last match on a cold night in the woods. “What if it should go out?” I said; but my apprehension was groundless. It can never go out. The religious spirit is indestructible and constant in quantity like the sum of universal energy in which matches and suns are alike but momentary sparkles and phases. This great truth I learned of the Butlerians: Though the forms and objects of religious belief wax old as a garment and are changed, faith, which is, after all, the precious thing, endures forever. Destroy a man’s faith in God and he will worship humanity; destroy his faith in humanity and he will worship science; destroy his faith in science and he will worship himself; destroy his faith in himself and he will worship Samuel Butler.
  What makes the Butlerian cult so impressive is, of course, that Butler, poor dear, as the English say, was the least worshipful of men. He was not even—till his posthumous disciples made him so—a person of any particular importance. One writing a private memorandum of his death might have produced something like this: Samuel Butler was an unsociable, burry, crotchety, obstinate old bachelor, a dilettante in art and science, an unsuccessful author, a witty cynic of inquisitive temper and, comprehensively speaking, the unregarded Diogenes of the Victorians. Son of a clergyman and grandson of a bishop, born in 1835, educated at Cambridge, he began to prepare for ordination. But, as we are told, because of scruples regarding infant baptism he abandoned the prospect of holy orders and in 1859 sailed for New Zealand, where with capital supplied by his father he engaged in sheepfarming for five years. In 1864, returning to England with £8,000, he established himself for life at Clifford’s Inn, London. He devoted some years to painting, adored Handel and dabbled in music, made occasional trips to Sicily and Italy, and wrote a dozen books, which generally fell dead from the press, on religion, literature, art and scientific theory. “Erewhon,” however, a Utopian romance published in 1872, had by 1899 sold between three and four thousand copies. Butler made few friends and apparently never married. He died in 1902. His last words were: “Have you brought the cheque book, Alfred?” His body was cremated and the ashes were buried in a garden by his biographer and his man-servant, with nothing to mark the spot.   2
  Butler’s indifference to the disposal of his earthly part betokens no contempt for fame. Denied Contemporary renown, he had firmly set his heart on immortality, and quietly, persistently, cannily provided for it. If he could not go down to posterity by the suffrage of his countrymen, he would go down by the shrewd use of his cheque book; he would buy his way in. He bought the publication of most of the books produced in his lifetime. He diligently prepared manuscripts for posthumous publication and accumulated and arranged great masses of materials for a biographer. He insured an interest in his literary remains by bequeathing them and all his copyrights to his literary executor, R.A. Streatfield. He purchased an interest in a biographer by persuading Henry Festing Jones, a feckless lawyer of Butlerian proclivities, to abandon the law and become his musical and literary companion. In return for these services Mr. Jones received between 1887 and 1900 an allowance of £200 a year, and at Butler’s death a bequest of £500, the musical copyrights and the manifest responsibility and privilege of assisting Streatfeild with the propagation of Butler’s fame, together with their own, in the next generation.   3
  These good and faithful servants performed their duties with exemplary zeal and astuteness. In 1903, the year following the Master’s death, Streatfeild published “The Way of All Flesh,” a book packed with satirical wit, the first since “Erewhon” which was capable of walking off on its own legs and exciting general curiosity about its author—curiosity intensified by the announcement that the novel had been written between 1871 and 1884. In the wake of this sensation there began the systematic annual relaunching of old works, with fresh introductions and memoirs and a piecemeal feeding out of other literary remains, culminating in 1917 with the publication of “The Note-Books,” a skilful collection and condensation of the whole of Butler’s intellectual life. Meanwhile, in 1908, the Erewhon dinner had been instituted. In spite of mild deprecation, this feast, with its two toasts to his Majesty and to the memory of Samuel Butler, assumed from the outset the aspect of a solemn sacrament of believers. Among these was conspicuous on the second occasion Mr. George Bernard Shaw, not quite certain, perhaps, whether he had come to give or to receive honor, whether he was himself to be regarded as the beloved disciple or rather as the one for whom Butler, preaching in the Victorian wilderness, had prepared the way with “free and future-piercing suggestions.”   4
  By 1914 Streatfeild was able to declare that no fragment of Butler’s was too insignificant to publish. In 1915 and 1916 appeared extensive critical studies by Gilbert Cannan and John F. Harris. In 1919 at last arrives Henry Festing Jones with the authoritative memoir in two enormous volumes with portraits, documents sumptuous index, elaborate bibliography and a pious accounting to the public for the original manuscripts, which have been deposited like sacred relics at St. John’s College, the Bodleian, the British Museum, the Library of Congress and at various shrines in Italy and Sicily. Here are materials for a fresh consideration of the man in relation to his work.   5
  The unconverted will say that such a monument to such a man is absurdly disproportionate. But Butler is now more than a man. He is a spiritual ancestor, leader of a movement, moulder of young minds, founder of a faith. His monument if designed not merely to preserve his memory but to mark as well the present importance of the Butlerian sect. The memoir appears to have been written primarily for them. The faithful will no doubt find it delicious; and I, though an outsider, got through it without fatigue and with a kind of perverse pleasure in its perversity.   6
  It is very instructive, but it by no means simplifies its puzzling and complex subject. Mr. Jones is not of the biographers who look into the heart of a man, reduce him to a formula and recreate him in accordance with it. He works from the outside, inward, and gradually achieves life and reality by an immense accumulation of objective detail, without ever plucking out, or even plucking at, the heart of the mystery. What was he man’s “master passion” and his master faculty? Butler himself did not know; consequently he could not always distinguish his wisdom from his folly. He was an ironist entangled in his own net and an egotist bitten with self-distrust, concealing his wounds in self-assertion and his hesitancies in an external aggressiveness. Mr. Jones pierces the shell here and there, but never removes it. Considering his opportunities, he is sparing in composed studies of his subject based on his own direct observation; and, with all his ingenuousness and his shocking but illuminating indiscretions, he is frequently silent as a tomb where he must certainly possess information for which every reader will inquire, particularly those readers who do not, like the Butlerians, accept Samuel Butler as the happy reincarnation of moderation, common sense and fearless honesty.   7
  The whole case of the Georgians against the Victorians might be fought out over his life and works; and indeed there has already been many a skirmish in that quarter. For, of course, neither Streatfeild nor Mr. Jones is ultimately responsible for his revival. Ultimately Butler’s vogue is due to the fact that he is a friend of the Georgian revolution against idealism in the very citadel of the enemy; the extraordinary acclaim with which he is now received is his reward for having long ago prepared to betray the Victorians into the hands of a ruthless posterity. He was a traitor to his own times, and therefore it follows that he was a man profoundly disillusioned. The question which we may all reasonably raise with regard to a traitor whom we have received within our lines is whether he will make us a good citizen. We should like to know pretty thoroughly how he fell out with his countrymen—whether through defects in his own temper and character or through a clear-eyed and righteous indignation with the incorrigible viciousness of their manners and institutions. We should like to know what vision of reformation succeeded his disillusion. Hitherto the Georgians have been more eloquent in their disillusions than in their visions, and have inclined to welcome Butler as a dissolving agent without much inspecting his solution.   8
  The Butlerians admire Butler for his withering attack on family life, notably in “The Way of All Flesh”; and many a studious literary man with a talkative wife and eight romping children would, of course, admit an occasional flash of romantic envy for Butler’s bachelor apartments. Mr. Jones tells us that Theobald and Christina Pontifex, whose nakedness Butler uncovers were drawn without exaggeration from his own father and mother. His work on them is a masterpiece of pitiless satire. Butler appears to have hated his father, despised his mother and loathed his sisters in all truth and sincerity. He nursed his vindictive and contemptuous feelings towards them all through his life; he studied these feelings, made notes on them, jested out of them, lived in them, reduced them to a philosophy of domestic antipathy.   9
  He was far more learned than any other English author in the psychology of impiety. When he heard some one say, “Two are better than one,” he exclaimed, “Yes but the man who said that did not know my sister.” When he was forty-eight years old he wrote to a friend that his father was in poor health and not likely to recover;“but may hang on for months or go off with the N. E. winds which we are sure to have later on.” In the same letter he writes that he is going to strike out forty weak pages in “Erewhon” and stick in forty stronger ones on the “trial of a middle-aged man ‘for not having lost his father at a suitable age.”’ His father’s one unpardonable offense was not dying early and so enlarging his son’s income. If this had been a jest, it would have been a little coarse for a deathbed. But Mr. Jones, who appears to think it very amusing, proves clearly enough that it was not a jest, but an obsession, and a horrid obsession it was. Now a man who attacks the family because his father does not die as promptly as could be desired is not likely to propose a happy substitute: his mood is not reconstructive, funny though it may be in two old boys of fifty, like Butler and Jones, living along like spoiled children on allowances, Butler from his father, Jones from his mother.  10
  The Butlerians admire Butler for his brilliant attack on “romantic” relations between the sexes. Before the advent of Shaw he poured poison on the roots of that imaginative love in which all normal men and maidens walk at least once in a lifetime as in a rosy cloud shot through with golden lights.  11
  His portraits show a man of vigorous physique, capable of passion, a face distinctly virile, rather harshly bearded, with broad masculine eyebrows. Was he ever in love? If not, why was he not? Elementary questions which his biographer after a thousand pages leaves unanswered. Mr. Jones asserts that both Overton and Ernest in “The Way of All Flesh” are in the main accurately autobiographical, and he furnishes much evidence for the point. He remarks a divergence in this fact, that Butler, unlike his hero, was never in prison. Did Butler, like his hero, have children and farm them out? The point is of some interest in the case of a man who is helping us to destroy the conventional family.  12
  Mr. Jones leaves quite in the dark his relations with such women as the late Queen Victoria would not have approved, relations which J. B. Yeats has, however, publicly discussed. Mr. Jones is ordinarily cynical enough, candid enough, as we shall see. He takes pains to tell us that his own grandfather was never married. He does not hesitate to acknowledge abundance of moral ugliness in his subject. Why this access of Victorian reticence at a point where plain-speaking is the order of the day and the special pride of contemporary Erewhonians? Why did a young man of Butler’s tastes leave the church and go into exile in New Zealand for five years? Could a more resolute biographer perhaps find a more “realistic” explanation than difficulties over infant baptism? Mr. Shaw told his publisher that Butler was “a shy old bird.” In some respects he was also a sly old bird.  13
  Among the “future-piercing suggestions” extolled by Mr. Shaw we may be sure that the author of “Man and Superman” was pleased to acknowledge Butler’s prediscovery that woman is the pursuer. This idea we may now trace quite definitely to his relations with Miss Savage, a witty, sensible, presumably virtuous woman of about his own age, living in a club in London, who urged him to write fiction, read all his manuscripts, knitted him socks, reviewed his books in women’s magazines and corresponded with him for years till she died, without his knowledge, in hospital from cancer. Her letters are Mr. Jones’ mainstay in his first volume and she is, except Butler himself, altogether his most interesting personality. Mr Jones says that being unable to find any one who could authorize him to use her letters, he publishes them on his own responsibility. But he adds, “I cannot imagine that any relation of hers who may read her letters will experience any feelings other than pride and delight.” This lady, he tells us, was the original of Alethea Pontifex. But he marks a difference. Alethea was handsome. Miss Savage, he says, was short, fat, had hip disease, and “that kind of dowdiness which I used to associate with ladies who had been at school with my mother.” Butler became persuaded that Miss Savage loved him; this bored him; and the correspondence would lapse till he felt the need of her cheery friendship again. On one occasion she wrote to him, “I wish that you did not know wrong from right.” Mr. Jones believes that she was alluding to his scrupulousness in matters of business. Butler himself construed the words as an overture to which he was indisposed to respond. The debate on this point and the pretty uncertainty in which it is left can surely arouse in Miss Savage’s relations no other feelings than “pride and delight.”  14
  This brings us to the Butlerian substitute for the chivalry which used to be practised by those who bore what the Victorians called “the grand old name of gentleman.” In his later years, after the death of Miss Savage, in periods of loneliness, depression and ill-health, Butler made notes on his correspondence reproaching himself for his ill-treatment of her. “He also,” says his biographer, “tried to express his remorse” in two sonnets from which I extract some lines:
        She was too kind, wooed too persistently,
Wrote moving letters to me day by day;
Hard though I tried to love I tried in vain,
For she was plain and lame and fat and short,
Forty and overkind.
’Tis said that if a woman woo, no man
  Should leave her till she have prevailed; and, true,
A man will yield for pity if he can,
  But if the flesh rebel what can he do?
    I could not; hence I grieve my whole life long
    The wrong I did in that I did no wrong.
  In these Butlerian times one who should speak of “good taste” would incur the risk of being called a prig. Good taste is no longer “in.” Yet even now, in the face of these sonnets, may not one exclaim, Heaven preserve us from the remorseful moments of a Butlerian Adonis of fifty!  16
  The descendants of eminent Victorians may well be thankful that their fathers had no intimate relations with Butler. There is a familiar story of Whistler, that when some one praised his latest portrait as equal to Velasquez, he snapped back, “Yes, but why lug in Velasquez?” Butler, with similar aversion for rivals, but without Whistler’s extempore wit, slowly excogitated his killing sallies and entered them in his note-books or sent them in a letter to Miss Savage, preserving a copy for the delectation of the next age: “I do not see how I can well call Mr. Darwin the Pecksniff of Science, though this is exactly what he is; but I think I may call Lord Bacon the Pecksniff of his age and the, a little later, say that Mr. Darwin is the Bacon of the Victorian Era.” To this he adds another note reminding himself to call “Tennyson the Darwin of Poetry, and Darwin the Tennyson of Science.” I can recall but one work of a contemporary mentioned favorably in the biography; perhaps there are two. The staple of his comment runs about as follows: “Middlemarch” is a “longwinded piece of studied brag”; of “John Inglesant,” “I seldom was more displeased with any book”; of “Aurora Leigh,” “I dislike it very much, but I liked it better than Mrs. Browning, or Mr., either”; of Rossetti, “I dislike his face and his manner and his work, and I hate his poetry and his friends”; of George Meredith, “No wonder if his work repels me that mine should repel him”; “all I remember is that I disliked and distrusted Morley”; of Gladstone, “Who was it said that he was ‘a good man in the very worst sense of the words’?” The homicidal spirit here exhibited may be fairly related to his anxiety for the death of his father.  17
  It was on the whole characteristic of Victorian free-thinkers to attack Christianity with reverence and discrimination in an attempt to preserve its substance while removing obstacles to the acceptance of its substance. Butler was Voltairean. When he did not attack mischievously like a gamin, he attacked vindictively like an Italian laborer whose sweetheart has been false to him. I have seen it stated that he was a broad churchman and a communicant; and Mr. Jones produces a letter from a clergyman testifying to his “saintliness.” But this must be some of Mr. Jones’s fun. From Gibbon, read on the voyage to New Zealand, Butler imbibed, he says, in a letter of 1861, “a calm and philosophic spirit of impartial and critical investigation.” In 1862 he writes: “For the present I renounce Christianity altogether. You say people must have something to believe in. I can only say that I have not found my digestion impeded since I left off believing in what does not appear to be supported by sufficient evidence.” When in 1865 he printed his “Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” the manner of his attack was impish; and so was the gleeful exchange of notes between him and Miss Savage over the way the orthodox swallowed the bait. In his notebook he wrote: “Mead is the lowest of the intoxicants, just as Church is the lowest of the dissipations, and carraway seed the lowest of the condiments.” He went to church once in 1883 to please a friend and was asked whether it had not bored him as inconsistent with his principles. “I said that, having given up Christianity, I was not going to be hampered by its principles. It was the substance of Christianity, and not its accessories of external worship, that I had objected to … so I went to church out of pure cussedness.” Finally, in a note of 1889: “There will be no comfortable and safe development of our social arrangements—I mean we shall not get infanticide, and the permission of suicide, nor cheap and easy divorce—till Jesus Christ’s ghost has been laid; and the best way to lay it is to be a moderate churchman.”  18
  Robert Burns was a free-thinker, but he wrote the “Cotter’s Saturday Night”; Renan was a free-thinker, but he buried his God in purple; Matthew Arnold was a free-thinker, but he gave new life to the religious poetry of the Bible; Henry Adams believed only in mathematical physics, but he wrote of Mont St. Michel and Chartres with chivalrous and almost Catholic tenderness for the Virgin: for in all these diverse men there was reverence for what men have adored as their highest. There was respect for a tomb, even for the tomb of a God. Butler, having transferred his faith to the Bank of England, diverted himself like a street Arab with a slingshot by peppering the church windows. He established manners for the contemporary Butlerian who, coming down to breakfast on Christmas morning, exclaims with a pleased smile,“Well, this is the birthday of the hook-nosed Nazarene!”  19
  Butler’s moral note is rather attractive to young and middle-aged persons: “We have all sinned and come short of the glory of making ourselves as comfortable as we easily might have done.” His ethics is founded realistically on physiology and economics; for “goodness is naught unless it tends towards old age and sufficiency of means.” Pleasure, dressed like a quiet man of the world, is the best teacher: “The devil, when he dresses himself in angels’ clothes, can only be detected by experts of exceptional skill, and so often does he adopt this disguise that it is hardly safe to be seen talking to an angel at all, and prudent people will follow after pleasure as a more homely but more respectable and on the whole more trustworthy guide.” There we have something of the tone of our genial Franklin; but Butler is a Franklin without a single impulse of Franklin’s wide benevolence and practical beneficence, a Franklin shorn of the spirit of his greatness, namely, his immensely intelligent social consciousness.  20
  Having disposed of Christianity, orthodox and otherwise, and having reduced the morality of “enlightened selfishness” to its lowest terms, Butler turned in the same spirit to the destruction of orthodox Victorian science. We are less concerned for the moment with his substance than with his character and manner as scientific controversialist. “It I cannot,” he wrote, “and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific bigwigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them.” Though such professional training as he had was for the church and for painting, he seems never to have doubted that his mother wit was sufficient equipment, supplemented by reading in the British Museum, for the overthrow of men like Darwin, Wallace and Huxley, who from boyhood had given their lives to collecting, studying and experimenting with scientific data. “I am quite ready to admit,” he records, “that I am in a conspiracy of one against men of science in general.” Having felt himself covertly slighted in a book for which Darwin was responsible, he vindictively assailed, not merely the work, but also the character of Darwin and his friends, who, naturally inferring that he was an unscrupulous “bounder” seeking notoriety, generally ignored him.  21
  His first “contribution” to evolutionary theory had been a humorous skit, written in New Zealand, on the evolution of machines, suggested by “The Origin of Species,” and later included in “Erewhon.” To Support this whimsy he found it useful to revive the abandoned “argument from design”; and mother wit, still working whimsically, leaped to the conception that the organs of our bodies are machines. Thereupon he commenced serious scientific speculator, and produced “Life and Habit,” 1878; “Evolution Old and New,” 1879; “Unconscious Memory,” 1880; and “Luck or Cunning,” 1886. The germ of all his speculations, contained in his first volume, is the notion of “the oneness of personality existing between parents and offspring up to the time that the offspring leaves the parent’s body”; thence develops his theory that the offspring “unconsciously” remembers what happened to the parents; and thence his theory that a vitalistic purposeful cunning, as opposed to the Darwinian chance, is the significant factor in evolution. His theory has something in common with current philosophical speculation, and it is in part, as I understand, a kind of adumbration, a shrewd guess, at the present attitude of cytologists. It has thus entitled Butler to half a dozen footnotes in a centenary volume on Darwin; but it hardly justifies his transference of Darwin’s laurels to Buffon, Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin and himself; nor does it justify his reiterated contention that Darwin was a plagiarist, a fraud, a Pecksniff and a liar. He swelled the ephemeral body of scientific speculation; but his contribution to the verified body of science was negligible, and the injuries that he inflicted upon the scientific spirit were considerable.  22
  For their symptomatic value, we must glance at Butler’s sallies into some other fields. He held as an educational principle that it is hardly worth while to study any subject till one is ready to use it. When in his fifties he wished to write music, he took up for the first time the study of counterpoint. Mr. Garnett having inquired what subject Butler and Jones would take up when they had finished “Narcissus,” Butler said that they “might write an oratorio on some sacred subject”; and when Garnett asked whether they had anything in particular in mind, he replied that they were thinking of “The Woman Taken in Adultery.” In the same decade he cheerfully applied for the Slade professorship of art at Cambridge; and he took credit for the rediscovery of a lost school of sculpture.  23
  At the age of fifty-five he brushed up his Greek, which he “had not wholly forgotten,” and read the “Odyssey” for the purposes of his oratorio, “Ulysses.” When he got to Circe it suddenly flashed upon him that he was reading the work of a young woman! Thereupon he produced his book, “The Authoress of the Odyssey,” with portrait of the authoress, Nausicaa, identification of her birthplace in Sicily, which pleased the Sicilians, and an account of the way in which she wrote her poem. It was the most startling literary discovery since Delia Bacon burst into the silent sea on which Colonel Fabyan of the biliteral cypher is the latest navigator. That the classical scholars laughed at or ignored him did not shake his belief that the work was as important as anything he had done. “Perhaps it was,” he would have remarked, if any one else had written it. “I am a prose man,” he wrote to Robert Bridges, “and, except Homer and Shakespeare”—he should have added Nausicaa—“I have read absolutely nothing of English poetry and very little of English prose.” His inacquaintance with English poetry, however, did not embarrass him, when two years after bringing out his Sicilian authoress, he cleared up the mysteries of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Nor did it prevent his dismissing the skeptical Dr. Furnivall, after a discussion at an A. B. C. shop, as a poor old incompetent. “Nothing,” said Alethea Pontifex, speaking for her creator, “is well done nor worth doing unless, take it all round, it has come pretty easily.” The poor old doctor, like the Greek scholars and the professional men of science, had blunted his wits by too much research.  24
  Butler maintained that every man’s work is a portrait of himself, and in his own case the features stand out ruggedly enough. Why should any one see in this infatuated pursuer of paradox a reincarnation of the pagan wisdom? In his small personal affairs he shows a certain old-maidish tidiness and the prudence of an experienced old bachelor, who manages his little pleasures without scandal. But in his intellectual life what vestige do we find of the Greek or even of the Roman sobriety, poise and decorum? In one respect Butler was conservative: he respected the established political and economic order. But he respected it only because it enabled him, without bestirring himself about his bread and butter, to sit quietly in his rooms at Clifford’s Inn and invent attacks on every other form of orthodoxy. With a desire to be conspicuous only surpassed by his desire to be original he worked out the central Butlerian principle; videlicet: The fact that all the best qualified judges agree that a thing is true and valuable establishes an overwhelming presumption that it is valueless and false. With his feet firmly planted on this grand radical maxim he employed his lively wit with lawyer-like ingenuity to make out a case against family life, of which he was incapable; against imaginative love, of which he was ignorant; against chivalry, otherwise the conventions of gentlemen, which he had but imperfectly learned; against Victorian men of letters, whom, by his own account, he had never read; against altruistic morality and the substance of Christianity, which were repugnant to his selfishness and other vices; against Victorian men of science, whose researches he had never imitated; and against Elizabethan and classical scholarship, which he took up in an odd moment as one plays a game of solitaire before going to bed. To his disciples he could not bequeath his cleverness; but he left them his recipe for originality, his manners and his assurance, which has been gathering compound interest ever since. In the original manuscript of “Alps and Sanctuaries” he consigned “Raffael, along with Socrates, Virgil [the last two displaced later by Plato and Dante], Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Goethe, Beethoven, and another, to limbo as the Seven Humbugs of Christiandom.” Who was the unnamed seventh?  25


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