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On The Hero Of Hudibras; Butler Vindicated
by [?]

That great Original, the author of HUDIBRAS, has been recently censured for exposing to ridicule the Sir Samuel Luke, under whose roof he dwelt, in the grotesque character of his hero. The knowledge of the critic in our literary history is not curious; he appears to have advanced no further than to have taken up the first opinion he found; but this served for an attempt to blacken the moral character of BUTLER! “Having lived,” says our critic, “in the family of Sir Samuel Luke, one of Cromwell’s captains, at the very time he planned the Hudibras, of which he was pleased to make his kind and hospitable patron the hero. We defy the history of Whiggism to match this anecdote,”[1] as if it could not be matched! Whigs and Tories are as like as two eggs when they are wits and satirists; their friends too often become their victims! If Sir Samuel resembled that renowned personification, the ridicule was legitimate and unavoidable when the poet had espoused his cause, and espoused it too from the purest motive–a detestation of political and fanatical hypocrisy.[2] Comic satirists, whatever they may allege to the contrary, will always draw largely and most truly from their own circle. After all, it does not appear that Sir Samuel sat for Sir Hudibras; although from the hiatus still in the poem, at the end of Part I., Canto I., his name would accommodate both the metre and the rhyme. But who, said Warburton, ever compared a person to himself? Butler might aim a sly stroke at Sir Samuel by hinting to him how well he resembled Hudibras, but with a remarkable forbearance he has left posterity to settle the affair, which is certainly not worth their while. But Warburton tells, that a friend of Butler’s had declared the person was a Devonshire man–one Sir Harry Rosewell, of Ford Abbey, in that county. There is a curious life of our learned wit, in the great General Dictionary; the writer, probably Dr. Birch, made the most authentic researches, from the contemporaries of Butler or their descendants; and from Charles Longueville, the son of Butler’s great friend, he obtained much of the little we possess. The writer of this Life believes that Sir Samuel was the hero of Butler, and rests his evidence on the hiatus we have noticed; but with the candour which becomes the literary historian, he has added the following marginal note: “Whilst this sheet was at press, I was assured by Mr. Longueville, that Sir Samuel Luke is not the person ridiculed under the name of HUDIBRAS.”

It would be curious, after all, should the prototype of Hudibras turn out to be one of the heroes of “the Rolliad;” a circumstance which, had it been known to the copartnership of that comic epic, would have furnished a fine episode and a memorable hero to their line of descent. “When BUTLER wrote his Hudibras, one Coll. Rolle, a Devonshire man, lodged with him, and was exactly like his description of the Knight; whence it is highly probable, that it was this gentleman, and not Sir Samuel Luke, whose person he had in his eye. The reason that he gave for calling his poem Hudibras was, because the name of the old tutelar saint of Devonshire was Hugh de Bras.” I find this in the Grubstreet Journal, January, 1731, a periodical paper conducted by two eminent literary physicians, under the appropriate names of Bavius and Maevius,[3] and which for some time enlivened the town with the excellent design of ridiculing silly authors and stupid critics.

It is unquestionably proved, by the confession of several friends of Butler, that the prototype of Sir Hudibras was a Devonshire man; and if Sir Hugh de Bras be the old patron saint of Devonshire, (which however I cannot find in Prince’s or in Fuller’s Worthies,)[4] this discovers the suggestion which led Butler to the name of his hero; burlesquing the new saint by pairing him with the chivalrous saint of the county; hence, like the Knight of old, did