Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

krwicy w Bings, and Co. Ciane-Court, Fleet Street




AMUEL BUTLER, the Author of this excel

lent Poem, was born in the parish of Strensham, in the county of Worcester, and baptized there the 13th of Feb. 1612. His father, who was of the same name, was an honest country farmer, who had some small estate of his own, but rented a much greater of the Lord of the Manor where he lived. However, perceiving in this son an early inclination to learning, he made a shift to have him educated in the free-school at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright; where having passed the usual time, and being become an excellent school-scholar, he went for some little time to Cambridge, but was never matriculated into that University, his father's abilities not being sufficient to be at the charge of an academical education; so that our Author returned soon into his na. tive county, and became clerk to one Mr. Jefferys, of Earl's-Croom, an eminent Justice of the Peace for that County, with whom he lived some years, in an easy and no contemptible service. Here by the indulgence of a kind master, he had sufficient leisure to apply himself to whatever learning his inclinations led him, which were chiefly history and poetry; to which, for his diversion, he joined music and painting; and I have seen some pictures, said to be of his drawing, which remained in that family; which I mention not for the excellency of them, but to satisfy the reader of his early inclinations to that noble art; for which also he was afterwards entirely

[ocr errors]

beloved by Mr. Samuel Cooper, one of the mos! eminent painters of his time.

He was after this recommended to that great ensourager of learning, Elizabeth Countess of Kent, where he had not only the opportunity to consult all manner of learned books, but to converse also with that living library of learning, the great Mr Selden.

Our Author lived some time also with Sir Samuel Luke, who was of an ancient family in Bedfordshire; but, to his disbonour, an eminent concmander ander the usurper Oliver Cromwell : and then it was, as I am informed, he composed this loyal Poem. For, though fate, more than choice, seems to have placed him in the service of a Knight so notorious, both in his person and politics, yet, by the role of covtraries, one may observe throughout his whole Poem, that he was most orthodox, both in his religion and loyalty. And I am the more induced to believe lie wrote it about that time, because he had then the opportunity to converse with those living characters of rebellion, nonsense, and hypocrisy, which he so livelily and pathetically exposes throughout the whole work.

After the restoration of King Charles II. those who were at the helm, minding money more than merit, our Author found that verse in Juvenal to be exactly verified in himself:


Haud facile emergunt, quorum virtutibus obstat
Res angusta domi:

And being endued with that innate modesty, which rarely finds promotion in princes' courts. He became Secretary to Richard Earl of Carbury, Lord President of the Principality of Wales, who made him Steward of Ludlow-Castle, wlien the Court there was revived. About this time he married onc Mrs. Herbert, a gentlewoman of a very good family, but

POETA nascitur non fit, is a sentence of as

great truth as antiquity ; it being most certain, that all the acquired learning imaginaile is insufficient to compleat a poet, without a natural enius and propensity to so noble and sublime an art. Anil zee may, without offence, observe, that

many very learneil men, who have been ambitious to be thought poets, have only rendered themselves obnorious to that satyrical inspiration sur Author witiily invokes :

Which made them, though it were in spight

Of nature and their stars, to write.
On the one side, some who have had


little human learning, but were endued wiih a large share of natural wit and parts, hare become the most celebrated * poets of the age they lived in. But, as these last are, Raræ aves in terris," so, when the muses have not disdained the assistances of other arts aud sciences, we are then blessed with those lasting monuments of wit and learning, which may justly claim a kind of eternity npon earth. And our author, had his modesty permitted him, might, with Horace, have said,

Exegi monumentum ære perennius : Or, with Ovid,

Jainque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,

Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas. The Author of this celebrated Poem was of this last coinposition : for although he had not the happiness of an academical eclucation, as some

[ocr errors]

* Shakespear, D'Avenant, &in

« PreviousContinue »