Sunday, February 15, 2009

Samuel Butler and Alfred Cathie




I enjoy a book with a nice visible history attached to it. I was, therefore, really happy to add to my collection the other day this two volume first edition of Henry Festing Jones's Memoir of Samuel Butler. It's not the most preposessing book in its own right but it has, on the inside of the front cover, the ownership signature of William Thomas, editor of The Listener and laid in is a letter from Butler’s devoted clerk and manservant Alfred E Cathie.

October 21st 1935:

“Dear Mr Thomas. Thank you for the letter and book duly received this morning. Please accept my best thanks for the book which I know I shall enjoy the reading of it later on. In answer to your query. “Mr Butler never cared two straws about trying to unite people by his books, he never tried to do so, he only wanted his readers and friends to try and see things in the same light as himself. I am sure a good many of them did, but did not like to say so personally, which left Butler rather in the dark. It seems now that he was 90 per cent right in all his ideas and theories. Butler was not a man to worry himself about other people’s opinions, as his own convictions were very strong inwardly.” I am glad you think of him, as I do. Believe me…”

Cathie was, along with the author of the book, one of the two people with Butler at his death.

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