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FOREIGN LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.
JANUARY, 18 5 6.
From the North British Review.
an old author such as Butler recedes into the past, and the more the miscellany of things interposed between him and us is increased by the advance of time, the less of him remains vital, and the more nearly is he reduced to his true and permanent essence. And hence-not alone for the sake of the young fellows in question-may it be worth while to devote a few pages to what otherwise might be thought a somewhat fusty subject. If Dryden, Addison, Swift, and Foote, are deemed worthy of resuscitation, even in the midst of a war with Russia, and a hundred other grave contemporary matters, who will have the heart to object to an hour's gossip by the way about old Samuel Butler?
Öne peculiarity about Butler, as one of our British authors, is that he was fifty years of age before he was so much as heard of by his contemporaries. He was born in 1612, and it was not till the end of 1662 that the first part of Hudibras was given to the world. This is the more remarkable when we remember through what a busy age of literary production Butler thus contrived to remain silent.
The Poetical Works of Samuel Butler. Life, Critical Dissertation, and Explanatory Notes, by the Rev. GEORGE GILFILLAN. 2 vols. burgh, James Nichol. 1854.
The Poetical Works of Samuel Buller. Edited, with Memoir and Notes, by ROBERT BELL. 8vo. Lon-fore the outbreak of the Civil Wars-years
He had twenty-eight clear years of life be
don, John W. Parker & Son. 1855.
VOL. XXXVII.-NO. I.
THROUGH either of these editions of Butler's Poetical Works the new generation of book-buyers and readers have a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with a writer who, though two hundred years have elapsed since he lived, is still, in some respects, unique in our literature. The age is past, indeed, in which any one would be likely to take Butler's poems, as some rough country gentlemen, of last century, is said to have done, as his sole literary companion and general cabinet of wisdom; and most readers who have reached their climacteric have already a copy of Butler on their shelves, and have pretty well made up their minds as to what the man was, and as to the amount of service for any good purpose that is still to be got out of him. Young fellows, however, who have to complete their education, cannot do so without at least dipping into Hudibras; and, besides, the farther