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

The FIRST part of Hudibras is the most perfect; that was the rich fruit of matured meditation, of wit, of learning, and of leisure. A mind of the most original powers had been perpetually acted on by some of the most extraordinary events and persons of political and religious history. Butler had lived amidst scenes which might have excited indignation and grief; but his strong contempt of the actors could only supply ludicrous images and caustic raillery. Yet once, when villany was at its zenith, his solemn tones were raised to reach it.[9]

The SECOND part was precipitated in the following year. An interval of fourteen years was allowed to elapse before the THIRD and last part was given to the world; but then everything had changed! the poet, the subject, and the patron! The old theme of the sectarists had lost its freshness, and the cavaliers, with their royal libertine, had become as obnoxious to public decency as the Tartuffes. Butler appears to have turned aside, and to have given an adverse direction to his satirical arrows. The slavery and dotage of Hudibras to the widow revealed the voluptuous epicurean, who slept on his throne, dissolved in the arms of his mistresses. “The enchanted bower,” and “The amorous suit,” of Hudibras reflected the new manners of this wretched court; and that Butler had become the satirist of the party whose cause he had formerly so honestly espoused, is confirmed by his “Remains,” where, among other nervous satires, is one, “On the licentious age of Charles the Second, contrasted with the puritanical one that preceded it.” This then is the greater glory of Butler, that his high and indignant spirit equally satirised the hypocrites of Cromwell and the libertines of Charles.

[Footnote 1:
Edinburgh Review, No. 67-159, on Jacobite Relics. ]

[Footnote 2:
In a pamphlet entitled “Mercurius Menippeus; the Loyal Satyrist, or Hudibras in Prose,” published in 1682, and said to be “written by an unknown hand in the time of the late Rebellion, but never till now published,” is the following curious notice of Sir Samuel, which certainly seems to point him out as the prototype of Hudibras;

Whose back, or rather burthen, show’d
As if it stoop’d with its own load.

The author is speaking of Cromwell, and says, “I wonder how Sir Samuel Luke and he should clash, for they are both cubs of the same ugly litter. This Urchin is as ill carved as that Goblin painted. The grandam bear sure had blistered her tongue, and so left him unlicked. He looks like a snail with his house upon his back, or the Spirit of the Militia with a natural snapsack, and may serve both for tinker and budget too. Nature intended him to play at bowls, and therefore clapt a bias upon him. One would think a mole had crept into his carcass before ’tis laid in the churchyard, and rooted in it. He looks like the visible tie of AEneas bolstering up his father, or some beggarwoman endorsed with her whole litter, and with a child behind.”

[Footnote 3:
Bavius and Maevius were Dr. Martyn, the well-known author of tha dissertation on the AEneid of Virgil, and Dr. Russel, another learned physician, as his publications attest. It does great credit to their taste, that they were the hebdomadal defenders of Pope from the attacks of the heroes of the Dunciad. ]

[Footnote 4:
There is great reason to doubt the authenticity of this information concerning a Devonshire tutelar saint. Mr. Charles Butler has kindly communicated the researches of a Catholic clergyman, residing at Exeter, who having examined the voluminous registers of the See of Exeter, and numerous MSS. and records of the diocese, cannot trace that any such saint was particularly honoured in the county. It is lamentable that ingenious writers should invent fictions for authorities; but with the hope that the present authors have not done this, I have preserved this apocryphal tradition. ]

[Footnote 5:
He was buried outside the church in the angle at the north-west corner, where the wall originally stood which bounded the churchyard. ]

[Footnote 6:
A monument was put up in the church in 1786 by a subscription among the parishioners. It exhibits a bust of Butler and a rhyming inscription in very bad taste. ]

[Footnote 7:
See Quarterly Review, vol. viii. p. 111, where I found this quotation justly reprobated. ]

[Footnote 8:
This work, published in 1795, is curious for the materials the writer’s reading has collected. ]

[Footnote 9:
The case of King Charles the First truly stated against John Cook, Master of Gray’s Inn, in Butler’s “Remains.” ]