페이지 이미지
PDF

had taken Sir Samuel for his hero.* If the poem had been conducted to its conclusion, the termination of the knight's career would have determined all doubts on the subject; for there is reason to believe that, although Sir Samuel was one of the most zealous supporters of the Parliament throughout the wars, as he is portrayed in the satire, he seceded from his party in the end. Like Hudibras he was distinguished by the persevering activity with which, in his capacity of justice of the peace, he put down the amusements of the people; and he displayed the most unwarrantable violence towards the king's friends and supporters, of which one memorable instance is recorded in February 1642, when he fell upon the Duke of Vendome, at Uxbridge, on his return from visiting the King at Oxford, and forcibly plundered him, although the Duke's personal safety had been guaranteed to him by a pass from the Close Committee. Yet, notwithstanding the lengths to which he was willing enough to carry these marauding hostilities, we find his name and that of his father, Sir Oliver Luke, in the list of Secluded Members, who were either turned out of the house, or voluntarily withdrew from it, on the occasion of the King's trial; from which it must be supposed either that he disapproved of that proceeding, or that his adhesion in the last extremity was distrusted by the Parliament. If Butler had brought Hudibras to a conclusion, keeping the career of Sir Samuel Luke in view, this finish to the knight's zealotry

* In the poem of Dunstable Downs, Sir Samuel Luke is expressly called Sir Hudibras; and in the ballad of The Cobbler and Vicar of Bray, the object of the satire is curiously identified by representing Sir Samuel in the character of Hudibras, in the same way as Hudibras is supposed to represent Sir Samuel. These pieces are amongst the Posthumous Works which Mr. Thyer has shown to have been falsely ascribed to Butler ; a circumstance which diminishes their literary interest, but does not deprive them of their value as contemporary evidence

+ Mercurius Rusticus, No. 8. The Mercuries were the newspapers of the Cavalier party, as the Diurnals were of the Parliament, and both were hawked and cried about the streets, with the latest intelligence from the provinces, during the progress of the Civil Wars.

would have enabled him to round off the satire exultingly with the palinode of his hero.

Other claims to the honour of being the original of Hudibras have been set up; they rest, however, on such slender testimony as to be scarcely entitled to notice. Dr. Grey says that he was informed by a friend, who derived his information from a bencher of Gray's Inn, who had it from an acquaintaince of Butler's, that the person intended was Sir Henry Rosewell, of Ford Abbey, in Devonshire; and it is elsewhere asserted, upon still more indefinite authority, that it was Colonel Rolls. Dr. Nash rejects altogether the notion that Butler contemplated so narrow a design as that of a personal portrait, and thinks that Hudibras, in the language of Dryden, was ' knight of the shire, and represents them all, that is, the whole body of the Presbyterians, as Ralpho does that of the Independents. This is no doubt true; but it has never been supposed that in selecting a particular specimen of the class Butler limited the range of his satire to the peculiarities of an individual. On the contrary, by drawing upon an actual example, he obtained greater firmness and fidelity in the delineation of traits more or less common to the entire party.

Butler was, probably, employed in the capacity of clerk, by Sir Samuel Luke, as he had before been employed by Mr. Jeffries. From this time we hear nothing more of him till the Restoration. 'At length,' observes Dr. Johnson, 'the King returned, and the time came in which loyalty hoped for its reward; Butler, however, was only made secretary to the Earl of Carbery.' This intimation of the ingratitude of the Court comes a little too soon. It should be remembered that Butler had not yet done anything which entitled him to look for rewards, and could not, therefore, reasonably complain of neglect. Indeed so far as we know anything of his history, appearances were against his claims to the favours of the Court, his last employment being in the service of a notorious Puritan; but his loyalty, nevertheless, had been nursed in adversity, and there must have been some powerful

I. BUTLER.

friends who were cognizant of his zeal and abilities, since he had interest enough to procure the appointment of secretary to Lord Carbery, almost immediately after the King's return.

This appointment was not so insignificant as might be supposed from the slighting allusion made to it by Dr. Johnson. The Earl of Carbery held the high office of Lord President of the Principality of Wales, and it was in reference to that office, and not in a private capacity, that Butler was nominated secretary; in addition to which, upon the revival of the Court of Marches,* Lord Carbery conferred upon him the situation of Steward of Ludlow Castle. Here, according to a local tradition, in a little room in the outer entrance gateway leading from the town, he is said to have written Hudibras ; but this statement must be understood as applying only to the revision and preparation of the poem for the press.

Butler's tenure of his stewardship cannot be positively determined, and the causes of his retirement from it are unknown. He certainly held the office in 1661, and it would appear from a document connected with the expenditure at Ludlow Castle that he ceased to perform the duties in January, 1662, when a successor was appointed. This

* The Court of Marches was restored after the restoration of royalty, but it had lost most of its importance. A series of nominal vice-presidents, the Earl of Carbery, the Marquis of Worcester, Prince Rupert, and the Earl of Macclesfield, presided successively during the reigns of Charles II. and James II.'-WRIGHT'S History of Ludlow Castle. The whole court, president, council, and all, were swept away by an act of Parliament in 1689, as being intolerable and unconstitutional.

† The early editions announce in the title-page that the work was • written in the time of the late wars.'

The document referred to is Lord Carbery's Account of the Ex. penses incurred in the renovation of Ludlow Castle, from which the following extracts were published in Notes and Queries, vol. v. p. 5:For sundry supplyes of furniture paid for by Mr. Samuell Butler,

late Steward, from January, 1661, to January, 1662, ixli. ijs. vd., and more by him paid to sundry Brasiers, Pewterers, and Coopers,

vili vijs, iijd. In both . . . . . . . . . . xyli ixs.viiju. For sundry other supplyes of furniture paid for by Mr. Edward

statement is irreconcileable with a fact mentioned by Mr. Thyer, who says that he found amongst Butler's papers a protection against arrests addressed to him as steward, signed by Lord Carbery, and dated on the last day of September, 1667.* We must, therefore, suppose either that this protection was an act of grace and private favour, extended to him in consideration of his necessities, or that he still continued to possess some nominal interest in the office, and that the person who succeeded him was appointed only to act as his deputy.

About this period Butler married a Mrs. Herbert, a lady reputed to be of good family, and possessed of some property. We learn from Aubrey that she was a widow, and had been married to a Mr. Morgan, and that Butler lived upon her jointure. These statements are contradicted by a writer already quoted, who says that the lady was never married, and that although she once had a competent fortune, the greater part of it was lost by being put out on bad securities. The latter account is the more probable of the two, for Butler's first complaints of neglect and poverty appear to be coincident with his marriage, and we find no subsequent improvement in his circumstances to the end of his life.

The First Part of Hudibras, containing three cantos, was

Lloyd, the succeeding Steward, from January, 1662, to January, : :

. . . . . . . clxli xi ijs. xd. For several Bottles, Corkes, and Glasses, bought by Mr. Butler, late

Steward, from January, 1661, to January, 1662, vjli. xiijs. jd., and for two Saddles and furniture for the Caterer and Slaughter

man, xxvjs. viijd. In both . . . . . . . . vijli, xixs. ixd. * Genuine Remains, i. 411. Mr. Thyer refers to this protection in a note affixed to the Beneficial Reflections upon Milford-Haven, adding that he thinks it likely that Butler drew up those reflections during his residence in that part of the kingdom. It is upon this protection, probably, Dr. Nash founds his statement that Butler was appointed Steward of Ludlow Castle' about 1667.

'He married a good jointuresse, the relict of — Morgan, by which means he lives comfortably.'--Letters 01 Eminent Men, iii. 262. The letters, in one of which this passage occurs, are dedicated to Wood on the 15th June, 1680—the year in which Butler died in desertion and poverty!

# Life, 1710.

published in 1663.* The imprimatur for printing it, signed by Sir John Berkenhead, is dated 11th November, 1662. The poem is said to have been introduced to the notice of the Court by Lord Dorset, who was so much struck by its extraordinary merit that he desired to be introduced to the author. • His lordship,' according to this curious anecdote, “having a great desire to spend an evening as a private gentleman with the author of Hudibras, prevailed with Mr. Fleetwood Shepherd to introduce him into his company at a tavern which they used, in the character only of a common friend ; this being done, Mr. Butler, while the first bottle was drinking, appeared very flat and heavy; at the second bottle brisk and lively, full of wit and learning, and a most agreeable companion; but before the third bottle was finished, he sunk again into such deep stupidity and dulness, that hardly any. body would have believed him to be the author of a book which abounded with so much wit, learning, and pleasantry. Next morning Mr. Shepherd asked his lordship's opinion of Butler, who answered, 'He is like a nine-pin, little at both ends, but great in the middle.'t

The reception of Hudibras at Court is, probably, without a parallel in the history of books. The king was so enchanted with it that he carried it about in his pocket, and perpetually garnished his conversation with specimens of its witty passages, which, thus stamped by royal approbation, passed rapidly into general currency. Nor was his Majesty content with merely quoting Butler; in an access of enthusiasm he sent for him, that he might gratify his curiosity by the sight of a poet who had contributed so largely to his amusement. The Lord Chancellor Hyde showered promises of patronage upon him, and hung up his portrait in his library. I Every

* This was the date on the title-page. The book was really published in 1662. Pepys bought it in December, 1662. + General Historical Dictionary. 1734-41.

He printed a witty poem called Hudibras, which took extremely, so that the King and Lord Chancellor Hyde would have him sent for. (The Lord Chancellor hath his picture in his library over the chimney.) They both promised him great matters, but to this day he has got no

« 이전계속 »