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then blesed with those lasting monuments of wit and learning, which may juftly claim a kind of eternity upon earth. And our author, had his modesty permitted him, might, with HORACE,
Exegi monumentum aere perennius ;
Or, with Ovid,
Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,
The author of this celebrated poem was of this last composition ; for, although he had not the happiness of an academical education, as forne affirm, it may be perceived, throughout his whole poem, that he had read much, and was very well plished in the most useful parts of human learning
Rarin, in his refections, speaking of the neceļJary qualities belonging to a poet, tells us, he 7111st have a genius extraordinary ; great natural gifts ; a wit, juft, fruitful, piercing, folid, and universal; an understanding, clear and distinct; an imagination, neat and pleasant; an elevation of soul, that depends not only on art or study, but is purely a gift of heaven, which must be sustained by a lively sense and vivacity; judgment to consider wisely of things, and vivacity for the beautiful expression of them, etc.
Now how justly this character is due to cur author, I leave to the impartial reader, and those
of nicer judgments, who had the happiness to be more intimately acquainted with him.
The reputation of this incomparable poem is so thoroughly established in the world, that it would be fuperfluous, if not impertinent, to endeavour any panegyric upon it. King Charles II. whom the judicious part of mankind will readily acknowlege to be a sovereign judge of wit, was so great an admirer of it, that he would often pleasantly quote it in his conversation : however, since most men have a curiosity to have
some account of such anonymous authors, whose compositions have been eminent for wit or learning ; I have been desired to oblige them with such informations, as I could receive from those who had the happiness to be acquainted with him, and also to rectify the mistakes of the Oxford antiquary, in his Athenae Oxoni. enfes, concerning him.
Τ Η Ε
AUTHOR's L I F E.
AMUEL BUTLER, the author of this excellent poem, was born in the parish of
Strensham, in the county of Worcester, and baptized there the 13th of February 1612. His father, who was of the same name, was an honest country farmer, who had some small estate of his own, but rented a much greater of the lord of the manor where he lived. However, perceiving in this son an early inclination to learning, he made a shift to have him educated in the free-school at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright;, where, having past the usual time, and being become an excellent school-scholar, he went for some little time to Cambridge, but was never matriculated into that university, his father's abilities not being sufficient to be at the charge of an academical education ; so that our author returned soon into his native country, and became clerk to one Mr. Jefferys of Earls-Croom, an eminent justice of the peace for that county, with whom he lived some years, in an easy and no contemptible service. Here, by the indulgence of a kind master, he had sufficient leisure to apply himself to whatever learning his inclinations led him, which were chiefly history and poetry; to which, for his diversion he joined music and painting; and I have seen some pictures, said to be of his drawing, which remained in that
family; which I mention, not for the excellency of them, but to satisfy the reader of his early inclinations to that noble art; for which also he was afterwards entirely beloved by Mr. Samuel Cooper, one of the niost eminent painters of his time.
He was, after this, recommended to that great encourager of learning, Elizabeth countess of Kent, where he had not only the opportunity to consult all manner of learned books, but to converse also with that living library of learning, the great Mr. Selden.
Our author lived some time also with Sir Samuel Luke, who was of an ancient family in Bedfordihire; but, to his dishonour, an eminent commander under the usurper Oliver Cromwell ; and then it was, as I am informed, he composed this loyal poem.
For though fate, more than choice, seems to have placed him in the service of a knight so notorious, both in his person and politics, yet, by the rule of contraries, one may observe throughout his whole poem, that he was most orthodox, both in his religion and loyalty. And I am the more induced to believe he wrote it about that time, because he had then the opportunity to converse with those living characters of rebellion, nonsense, and hypocrisy, which he so lively and pathetically exposes throughout the whole work.
After the restoration of king Charles II. those who were at the helin, minding money more than merit, our author found those verses of Juvenal to be exactly verified in himself :