« PreviousContinue »
malles ४-14-30 22400
R E ADER.
OETA nascitur non fit, is e Sentence of
as great. Truth as Antiquity; it being most certain, that all the acquir'd Learning imaginable is infufficient to compleat a Poet, without a natua ral Genius and Propensity to fo noble and fublime on Art. And we may without offence observe, that many very learned Men, who have been ambitious to be thought Poets, have only render'd themselves obnoxious to that Satyrical Inspiration, our Author wittily invokes :
Which made them, tho' it were in fpight
On the other fide, fome who have had very little Human Learning, a but were endued with a large fhare of Natural Wit and Parts, have become the most celebrated Poets of the Age they liv'd in. But as these last are, Raræ Aves in Terris; fo when the Mufes have not disdain'd the asistances of other
Shakespear, D'Avenant, &c.
Arts and Sciences, we are then bless’d with those lasting Monuments of Wit and Learning, which may justly claim a kind of Eternity upon Earth. And our Author, had his modesty permitted bim, might with Horace have said,
Exegi Monumentum Ære perennius ;
Or with OVID,
Jamque 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 Composition ; for altho' he had not the happi. ness of an Academical Education, as some affirm, it
may be perceiv’d, throughout his whole Poem, that be had read much, and was very well ac
, complish'd in the most useful Parts of Human Learning
RAPIN (in his Reflections) Speaking of the necessary Qualities belonging to a Poet, tells us, He must have a Genius extraordinary ; great Natural Gifts; a Wit, juft, fruitful, piercing, folid and universal; an Understanding, clear and diftinet; an Imagination, neat and pleasant ; an Elevation of Soul, that depends not only on Art or Study, but is purely a Gift of Heaven, which muff be fustain’d by a lively Sense and Vivacity; Judg
ment to consider wisely of Things, and Vivacity for the beautiful Expreson of them, &c.
Now, how juftly this Character is due to our Author, I leave to the Impartial Reader, and those of nicer judgements, who had the happiness to be more intimately acquainted with him.
The Reputation of this incomparable Poem is so thoroughly establish'd in the World, that it would be fuperfluous, if not impertinent, to endeavour any Panegyric upon it.However, since most men have a curiosity to have some account of such Anonymous Authors, whose Compositions have been eminent for Wit or Learning ; I have been desired to oblige them with such Informations, as I could receive from those who had the happiness to be acquainted with him, and also to rectify the Mistakes of the Oxford Antiquary, in bis Athenæ Oxonienses, concerning him.
SAMUEL BUTLER, the Author of this
, excellent Poem, was born in the Parish of Strenham, in the County of Worcester, and baptized there the 13th of February 1612. His Father, who was of the fame 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 liv'd. However, perceiving in this Son an early Inclination to Learning, he made a shift to have him educated in the FreeSchool at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright; where having past 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 return'd soon into his native Country, and became Clerk to one Mr. Jefferys of Earls-Croom, an eminent Justice of the Peace for that County,