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OETA nafcitur non fit, is a sentence of as great truth as antiquity; it being most certain, that all the acquired learning imaginable is infufficient to compleat a poet, without a natural genius and propenlity to fo no ble and fublime an art. And we may without offence obferve, that many very learned men, who have been ambitious to be thought poets, have only rendered themselves obnoxious to that fatyrical infpiration, our author wittily inyokes:

Which made them, tho' it were in spight
Of nature and their stars, to write.

On the other fide, fome who have had very little human learning, but were endued with a large fhare of natural wit and parts, have become the moft celebrated* poets of the age they lived in. But, as these last are, Rare aves in terris; fo when the mufes have not difdained the affiftances of other arts and sciences, we are then bleffed with those lafting monuments of wit and learning, which may juftly claim a kind of eternity upon earth. And our author, had his modefty permitted him, might with HORACE have said,

*Shakespear, D'Avenant, &c.



Exegi monumentum ære perennius ;

Or with OVID,

Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignís, Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetuftas.

The author of this celebrated poem was of this laft compofition; for although he had not the happiness of an academical education, as fome affirm, it may be perceived, throughout his whole poem, that he had read much, and was very well accomplished in the most useful parts of human learn

inRAPIN (in his reflections) fpeaking of the ne

ceffary qualities belonging to a poet, tells us, he must have a genius extraordinary; great natural gifts; a wit juft, fruitful, piercing, folid and univerfal; an understanding clear and diftinct; an imagination neat and pleasant; an elevation of foul, that depends not only on art or study, but is purely the gift of heaven, which must be sustained by a lively fenfe and vivacity; judgment to confider wifely of things, and vivacity for the beautiful expreffion of them, &e.

Now, how justly this character is due to our 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 fo 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 acknowledge to be a fovereign judge of wit, was so great


an admirer of it, that he would often pleasantly quote it in his conversation: however, fince most men have a curiosity to have some account of such anonymous authors, whofe compofitions have been eminent for wit or learning; I have been defired to oblige them with fuch informations, as I could receive from those who had the happins to be acquainted with him, and alfo to rectify the mistakes of the Oxford antiquary, in his Athenæ Oxonien, fes, concerning him.

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AMUEL BUTLER, the author of this excellent poem, was born in the parish of Strenfham, in the county of Worcester, and baptized there the 13th of Feb. 1612. His father, who was of the fame name, was an honest country farmer, who had fome fmall eftate of his own, but rented a much greater of the Lord of the manor where he lived. However, perceiving in this fon an early inclination to learning, he made a fhift to have him educated in the free-fchool at Worcefter, under Mr. HENRY BRIGHT; where having paffed the ufual time, and being become an excellent fchool-scholar, he went for fome little time to Cambridge, but was never matriculated into that univerfity, his father's abilities not being fufficient to be at the charge of an academical education; fo that our author returned foon 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 fome years, in an eafy and no contemptible fervice. Here, by the indulgence of a kind mafter, he had fufficient leifure to apply himself to whatever learning his in


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