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Tell her that's young,
and shuns to have her graces spy'd,
in deserts, where no men abide,
of beauty from the light retir'd;
suffer herself to be desir'd,
and not blush so to be admir'd.
Then die! that she
the common fate of all things rare
how small a part of time they share
the celebrated author of Hudibras, was born at Strensham in Worcestershire, and baptized Feb. 13, 1612; some say he was born in 1600. His father was a respectable farmer, who had his son educated at Worcester. He was afterwards 6 or 7 years at Cambridge, but was never matriculated. He returned to his native country, and became clerk to Mr. Jefferys, of Earl's-croom, a justice of the peace. This employment left him a considerable portion of leisure, which he devoted to the studies of history and poetry, as well as to music and painting. He was afterwards admitted into the family of that patroniser of learning, Elizabeth, Countess of Kent, where he became acquainted with the great Seldon, to whom he acted occasionally as emanuensis. He next lived with Sir Samuel Luke, a general under Cromwell. It was here that he began to write Hudibras, in which character he intended to ridicule the knight. The poem itself supplies the key, for Hudibras says, p. 1, can. 1, ver. 904. "Tis sung there is a valiant mamaluke
in foreign land ycleped
to whom we oft have been compared,
In Butler's Posthumous Works there is a ball
Sir Samuel by name;
who by his feats in civil broils
obtained a mighty fame.
Nor was he much less wise than stout.
and to support the sects.
This worthy knight was one that swore,
till this ungodly nation was
from kings and bishops clear'd.
till they were both no more.
After the restoration, Butler became secretary to Richard Earl of Carberry, Lord President of Wales, who appointed him steward of Ludlow Castle, when the court was revived there. About this time he married a Mrs. Herbert, a gentlewoman of good family, but her property was lost by her money being lent on bad security. In 1663, Butler appeared in a new character by the publication of the first part of his Hudibras, in 3 cantos. This production became soon known through the influence of that Mæcenas of litrature, Charles Lord Buckhurst, earl of Dorset and Middlesex, and the king and the entire royal party received it with enthusiastic applause. The next year the second part was published, and a third in 1678. He had promises of a good place from lord Clarendon, high chancellor of England, but they were never accomplished. It was highly reproachful to
the court, that Butler's loyalty and wit did not procure him some alleviation from obscurity and want. Like Cervantes he was universally admired, and like him suffered to languish in indigence. Charles 2, indeed once ordered him £300, which seems to be the only court favour he ever received. He did not, however, take a single shilling of it himself, but requested his friends Mr. Longueville to convert the whole gratuity to the payment of some debts. This neglect appears the more strange as the king was excessively fond of the poem. Butler was not insensible to his situation, for in his "Hudibras at Court" he says.
"Now you must know, Sir Hudibras
This prince, whose ready wit and parts
that he should meet with no regard,
But this good king, it seems, was told
if e'er you hope to gain your ends,
to leave his friends to starve and die,
The integrity of Butler's life the acuteness of his wit, and easiness of his conversation rendered his company highly acceptable; yet he was very delicate, as well as sparing in the choice of his acquaintance. Tho' he had done more, by the sarcastic powers of! his muse, is exposing the fanatical supporters of republicanism, than all who shared the smiles of Charles, he was discouraged from writing more for the amusement of the public, and the poem remained unfinished. After having lived to a good old age, (Anthony Wood says 78, Mr. Longueville says 80,) he died the 25th of Septemper 1680, and was buried in Covent garden Church-yard, at the expense of his friend Mr. Longueville of the Temple, who had in vain solicited a subscription for his interment in Westminster-abbey. Sixty years afterwards, the memory of the poet was rescued from sepulchral oblivion by a monument erected in that sacred pile by mr. Barber, a printer, and alderman of London.
Samuelis Butleri qui Strenshamiæ in agro Vigorniensi
Vir doctus imprimis, acer, integer;
operibus ingenii, non item præmiis felix; Satyrici apud
qui simulatæ religioni; larvam detraxit, et perduellium
scriptorum in suo genere primus et postremus.
deesset etiam mortuo tumulus,
hoc tandum posito marmore, curavit Joannes Barber Civis Londinensis. 1721.
Soon after the erection of this monument, Mr. Samuel Wesley wrote the following Epigram.