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Shakespear, D'Ave

nant, &c.

On the other fide, fome who have had very little Human Learning, but were endued with a large share of Natural Wit and Parts, have become the moft Celebrated Poets of the Age they lived in. But as thefe laft are Rara Aves in terris, fo when the Mufes have not disdained the Afistances of other Arts and Sciences, we are then blefs'd with thofe lasting Monuments of Wit and Learning, which may justly claim a kind of Eternity upon Earth. And our Author, had his Modesty permitted him, might with Horace, have faid,

Exegi Monumentum Ære perennius;

Or with Qvid,

Jamque opus Exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,

Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere Vetuftas.


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The Author of this Celebrated Poem, was of this laft Compofition; for altho' be bad not the Happiness of an Academical Education, as fome affirm, it may be per ceiv'd, throughout his whole Poem, that he had read much, and was very well accomplished in the most useful Parts of Human Learning.

Rapin (in his Reflections) Speaking of the neceffary Qualities belonging to a Poet; tells us, he must have a Genius extraordinary, great Natural Gifts; a Wit, just, fruitful, piercing, solid and univerfal; an Understanding, clean and dif tinet; an Imagination, neat and pleafant; an Elevation of Soul, that depends not only on Art or Study, but is purely a Gift of Heaven, which must be fuftain'd by a lively Senfe and Vivacity; Fudgment to confi der wifely of Things, and Vivacity for the Beautiful Expreffion of them, &c.

Now, how juftly this Character is due to our Author, I leave to the Impartial Reader, and thofe of nicer Judgments, who A 3


had the Happiness to be more intimately acquainted with him.

The Reputation of this Incomparable Poem, is fo throughly eftablifh'd in the World, that it would be fuperfluous, if not impertinent, to endeavour any Panegyrick upon it. King Charles II. whom the judicious Part of Mankind will readily acknowledge to be a Sovereign Fudge of Wit, was fo great an Admirer of it, that he would often pleasantly quote it in his Converfation: However, fince moft Men have a Curiofity to have fome Account of fuch Anonymous Authors, whofe Compofitions have been Eminent for Wit or Learning; I have been defir'd to oblige them with fuch Informations, as Icould receive from those who had the Happiness to be acquainted with him, and alfo to rectifie the Miftakes of the Oxford Antiquary, in bis Athenæ Oxonienfes, concerning him.





Amuel Butler, the Author of this Excellent Poem, was Born in the Parish of Strenfham in the County of Worcester, and Baptiz'd there the 13th of Feb. 1612. His Father, who was of the fame Name, was an honeft Country Farmer, who bad fome Small Eftate of his own, but Rented a much greater of the Lord of the Mannor where he lived. However, perceiving in this Son of his an early inclination to Learning, he made a shift to have him educated in Free-School at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright, where having past the ufual Time, and being become an excellent School-Scholar, he went for fome little time to Cambrige, but was never matriculated into that University; his Father's Abilities not being fufficient to be at the Charge of an Academical Education, fo that our Author returned foon A 4

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into his Native Country, and became Clerk to one Mr. Jefferys of Earls-Croom, an Eminent Fuftice of the Peace for that County, with whom be liv'd fome years in an eafie and no contemptible Service. Here, by the Indulgence of a kind Mafter, he had fufficient leifure to apply himself to whatsoever Learning his Inclinations led him to, which were chiefly Hiftory and Poetry, to which for his Diversion, he join'd Mufick and Painting; and I have feen fome PiEtures, faid to be of his Drawing, which remain'd in that Family, which I mention not for the Excellency of them, but to Satisfie the Reader of his early Inclinations to that Noble Art, for which also he was afterwards entirely belved by Mr.Samuel Cooper, one of the most Eminent Painters of his Time.

He was after this recommended to that great Encourager of Learning Elizabeth Countess of Kent, where he had not only the opportunity to confult all manner of Learned Books, but to converfe alfo with that living Library of Learning, the Grea Mr. Selden.


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