steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Butler Records - Part 5b (another word about George William)

A while ago I wrote a little about my great-great-uncle George William Butler (1838-1913), who hated fiction and Popery with equal vehemence. Since then I've been pointed to a chapter in Llewelyn Powys's Skin for Skin (1925), in which Powys gives an account of an evening at GWB's rectory at Broadmayne, Dorset, one Christmas Eve around 1909 [ETA actually 1911], and describes him as a Calvinist bigot whose mind (with those of his daughters) had been turned by studying the Bible overzealously. Apparently one of the daughters was indeed committed to an asylum in the end, shouting "Hurrah! Hurrah! Three cheers for the Holy Trinity," which tends to corroborate Powys's account. But that was in after-times.

As you might imagine, I'd begun to form a mental picture of GWB as a humourless fanatic, and perhaps a domestic tyrant to boot. But then I was sent this (undated) poem. It's not very well written. That's unsurprising: his generation of Butlers was given to "improving" verses and parables, and mediocrity is one of their defining features. I expected this to be on the same lines, and there are some obvious directions in which it might have gone to fulfil the requirements of the genre, most of which can be summed up in the moral "Put not thy trust in rabbits, but lay up hutches in heaven." In fact, however, it takes quite an unexpected turn...

Freda's Rabbit
Tags: family history
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