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

Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a Colonelling!

This origin of the name is more appropriate to the character of the work than deriving it from the Sir Hudibras of Spenser, with whom there exists no similitude.

It is as honourable as it is extraordinary, that such was the celebrity of Hudibras, that the workman’s name was often confounded with the work itself; the poet was once better known under the name of HUDIBRAS than of BUTLER. Old Southern calls him “Hudibras Butler;” and if any one would read the most copious life we have of this great poet in the great General Dictionary, he must look for a name he is not accustomed to find among English authors –that of Hudibras! One fact is remarkable: that, like Cervantes, and unlike Rabelais and Sterne, Butler in his great work has not sent down to posterity a single passage of indecent ribaldry, though it was written amidst a court which would have got such by heart, and in an age in which such trash was certain of popularity.

We know little more of Butler than we do of Shakspeare and of Spenser! Longueville, the devoted friend of our poet, has unfortunately left no reminiscences of the departed genius whom he so intimately knew, and who bequeathed to Longueville the only legacy a neglected poet could leave–all his manuscripts; and to his care, though not to his spirit, we are indebted for Butler’s “Remains.” His friend attempted to bury him with the public honours he deserved, among the tombs of his brother-bards in Westminster Abbey; but he was compelled to consign the bard to an obscure burial-place in Paul’s, Covent Garden.[5] Many years after, when Alderman Barber raised an inscription to the memory of Butler in Westminster Abbey, others were desirous of placing one over the poet’s humble gravestone. This probably excited some competition: and the following fine one, attributed to Dennis, has perhaps never been published. If it be Dennis’s, it must have been composed in one of his most lucid moments.

Near this place lies interred
The body of Mr. Samuel Butler,
Author of Hudibras.
He was a whole species of Poets in one!
Admirable in a Manner
In which no one else has been tolerable;
A Manner which began and ended in Him;
In which he knew no Guide,
And has found no Followers.[6]

To this too brief article I add a proof that that fanaticism which is branded by our immortal Butler can survive the castigation. Folly is sometimes immortal, as nonsense is sometimes irrefutable. Ancient follies revive, and men repeat the same unintelligible jargon: just as contagion keeps up the plague in Turkey by lying hid in some obscure corner, till it breaks out afresh. Recently we have seen a notable instance where one of the school to which we are alluding declares of Shakspeare that “it would have been happy if he had never been born, for that thousands will look back with incessant anguish on the guilty delight which the plays of Shakspeare ministered to them.”[7] Such is the anathema of Shakspeare! We have another of Butler, in “An Historic Defence of Experimental Religion;” in which the author contends, that the best men have experienced the agency of the Holy Spirit in an immediate illumination from heaven. He furnishes his historic proofs by a list from Abel to Lady Huntingdon! The author of Hudibras is denounced, “One Samuel Butler, a celebrated buffoon in the abandoned reign of Charles the Second, wrote a mock-heroic poem, in which he undertook to burlesque the pious puritan. He ridicules all the gracious promises by comparing the divine illumination to an ignis fatuus, and dark lantern of the spirit.”[8] Such are the writers whose ascetic spirit is still descending among us from the monkery of the deserts, adding poignancy to the very ridicule they would annihilate. The satire which we deemed obsolete, we find still applicable to contemporaries!