(From the 1914 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price)
Darwin on the Origin of Species
Letter: 21 Feb 1863
Letter: 14 Mar 1863
Letter: 18 Mar 1863
Letter: 11 Apr 1863
Letter: 22 June 1863
Darwin Among the Machines
A note on "The Tempest"
The English Cricketers
DARWIN ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
As the following dialogue embodies the earliest fruits of Butler's
study of the works of Charles Darwin, with whose name his own was
destined in later years to be so closely connected, and thus
possesses an interest apart from its intrinsic merit, a few words as
to the circumstances in which it was published will not be out of
Butler arrived in New Zealand in October, 1859, and about the same
time Charles Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES was published. Shortly
afterwards the book came into Butler's hands. He seems to have read
it carefully, and meditated upon it. The result of his meditations
took the shape of the following dialogue, which was published on 20
December, 1862, in the PRESS which had been started in the town of
Christ Church in May, 1861. The dialogue did not by any means pass
unnoticed. On the 17th of January, 1863, a leading article (of
course unsigned) appeared in the PRESS, under the title "Barrel-
Organs," discussing Darwin's theories, and incidentally referring to
Butler's dialogue. A reply to this article, signed A .M., appeared
on the 21st of February, and the correspondence was continued until
the 22nd of June, 1863. The dialogue itself, which was unearthed
from the early files of the PRESS, mainly owing to the exertions of
Mr. Henry Festing Jones, was reprinted, together with the
correspondence that followed its publication, in the PRESS of June 8
and 15, 1912. Soon after the original appearance of Butler's
dialogue a copy of it fell into the hands of Charles Darwin, possibly
sent to him by a friend in New Zealand. Darwin was sufficiently
struck by it to forward it to the editor of some magazine, which has
not been identified, with the following letter:-
Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E.
March 24 .
Mr. Darwin takes the liberty to send by this post to the Editor a New
Zealand newspaper for the very improbable chance of the Editor having
some spare space to reprint a Dialogue on Species. This Dialogue,
written by some [sic] quite unknown to Mr. Darwin, is remarkable from
its spirit and from giving so clear and accurate a view of Mr. D.
[sic] theory. It is also remarkable from being published in a colony
exactly 12 years old, in which it might have [sic] thought only
material interests would have been regarded.
The autograph of this letter was purchased from Mr. Tregaskis by Mr.
Festing Jones, and subsequently presented by him to the Museum at
Christ Church. The letter cannot be dated with certainty, but since
Butler's dialogue was published in December, 1862, and it is at least
probable that the copy of the PRESS which contained it was sent to
Darwin shortly after it appeared, we may conclude with tolerable
certainty that the letter was written in March, 1863. Further light
is thrown on the controversy by a correspondence which took place
between Butler and Darwin in 1865, shortly after Butler's return to
England. During that year Butler had published a pamphlet entitled
THE EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AS GIVEN BY THE
FOUR EVANGELISTS CRITICALLY EXAMINED, of which he afterwards
incorporated the substance into THE FAIR HAVEN. Butler sent a copy
of this pamphlet to Darwin, and in due course received the following
Down, Bromley, Kent.
September 30 .
My dear Sir, - I am much obliged to you for so kindly sending me your
Evidences, etc. We have read it with much interest. It seems to me
written with much force, vigour, and clearness; and the main argument
to me is quite new. I particularly agree with all you say in your
I do not know whether you intend to return to New Zealand, and, if
you are inclined to write, I should much like to know what your
future plans are.
My health has been so bad during the last five months that I have
been confined to my bedroom. Had it been otherwise I would have
asked you if you could have spared the time to have paid us a visit;
but this at present is impossible, and I fear will be so for some
With my best thanks for your present,
My dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully,
To this letter Butler replied as follows:-
15 Clifford's Inn, E.C.
October 1st, 1865.
Dear Sir, - I knew you were ill and I never meant to give you the
fatigue of writing to me. Please do not trouble yourself to do so
again. As you kindly ask my plans I may say that, though I very
probably may return to New Zealand in three or four years, I have no
intention of doing so before that time. My study is art, and
anything else I may indulge in is only by-play; it may cause you some
little wonder that at my age I should have started as an art student,
and I may perhaps be permitted to explain that this was always my
wish for years, that I had begun six years ago, as soon as ever I
found that I could not conscientiously take orders; my father so
strongly disapproved of the idea that I gave it up and went out to
New Zealand, stayed there for five years, worked like a common
servant, though on a run of my own, and sold out little more than a
year ago, thinking that prices were going to fall - which they have
since done. Being then rather at a loss what to do and my capital
being all locked up, I took the opportunity to return to my old plan,
and have been studying for the last ten years unremittingly.