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as we have done, that he did not leave Earl's immediately antecedent to the King's recall. Croombe for Wrest till about the year 1639; When the King had returned, it would be in which year, as Mr. Bell himself informs us, I natural, amid the general change of system, Selden, by the death of the Earl of Kent, for Presbyterian knights and county magisbecame permanently domesticated in the trates to sink into comparative idleness and household of the Countess at Wrest, and obscurity, and for their secretaries, especially that on a more intimate footing than when if of Royalist connections, to look about for the Earl had been alive. The fact that But- other situations. ler is always represented by his biographers Such is the meagre outline, with which as having entered the service of the Countess we must be content, of the first forty-eight of Kent, seems to confirm this; and in other years of Butler's life. It is possible, indeed, respects it accords with the facts. If Butler that farther research might disclose addidid enter this service in 1639, when he was tional facts, or at least verify or disprove the in his twenty-eighth year, he may have conjectures we have ventured to make as to remained in it till 1651, in which year the the dates of such facts as are known. Countess died, leaving Selden her executor Meanwhile, what concerns us is to ascertain, and part-heir ; and still there would be if possible, at what point in the life, as thus ample time left for a third and different ser- laid out, Butler first felt his vocation to litervice which Butler is said to have discharged ature, and first secretly practised the talent before the Restoration - namely, that of which was afterwards to make him famous. secretary or general man of business to Sir Now, if our chronology is correct, we have Samuel Luke of Cople Hoo, in the same little hesitation in saying that it was somecounty of Bedfordshire. Sir Samuel was one where in what we have represented as the of the leading Presbyterians of the county, middle portion of his adult life prior to the and a Justice of Peace. He had been a Restoration -- that is, during his service with Colonel in the Parliamentary army during the Countess of Kent at Wrest, in Bedfordthe Civil Wars, and Member in the Long shire, from 1639 to 1651. Parliament for Bedfordshire ; and, though we found this opinion on the evidence with others of the Presbyterian leaders, he afforded by what remains of his writings, in had shrunk back from the extreme proceed- addition to Hudibras. Of all these writings ings of the Parliament about the time of the – whether those included in the “ Genuine King's death, and had, in consequence, been Remains," publisbed from the actual manuone of those members whom the army lead- scripts by Mr. Thyer of Manchester in 1759, ers and Independents “ secluded” about this and which are indubitably authentic, or such time from farther attendance in the House, other casual pieces in prose or verse, not inhe yet appears to have retained his zeal included among these, as there is any probable the general cause of the Revolution, and to ground for believing to have been really his have been an active magistrate in Bedford - there is not one which we can ascertain to shire under Cromwell's government. The have been published prior to 1660, or, at all precise nature of Butler's duties in his ser-events, to 1659, if indeed any one of them vice cannot be known ; but if he entered it was published prior to Hudibras itself in 1663. after 1651, when the Civil Wars in England But, though none of them was certainly pub were over, and the Commonwealth was an lished before this period, there are one or two established fact, they may very well have of them which were certainly written before been such as a secretary, though of Royalist it. Among these, the earliest to which we connections and sentiments himself, might can assign a probable date is a piece of rude consistently enough discharge for a Presby- doggrel, calling itself a “Ballad," and seemterian master. As to the duration of this ingly meant as a squib against Cromwell, service, however, we are totally uninformed about the time of his military successes and We have assumed it to have begun in 1651, paramount influence in the kingdom, just and it may have continued till 1660 or there before the King's death. It occurs among abouts - i. e., through the period of the first Thyer's “ Genuine Remains," where it is Rump, and the Protectorships of Cromwell printed from the manuscript. Here is a and his son Richard, down to the confusions specimen, part of a portrait, which must be of the second Rump apd Monk's intrigues supposed to be that of Cromwell :
“ His face is round and decent
" As close as a goose
Sat a Parliament House
To hatch the royal gull;
After much fiddle-faddle,
The egg proved addle,
And Oliver came forth Noll."
date at about 1656–1657, when the propriety To be seen two fair And large well-grown mustaches.
inf Oliver's exchanging the title of Protector
for that of King was a matter of general dis"Now this with admiration Does all beholders strike,
cussion. Butler, among others, had his noThat a beard should grow
tions on the subject, of which he relieved Upon a thing's brow
himself, for his own satisfaction, or probably Did ye ever see the like ?
for the amusement of those about him, as " He has no skull, 't is well known above. , After the death of Cromwell, and To thousands of beholders ;
amid the confusions of Richard's brief ProtecNothing but a skin
torate and the second Rump, there was less Does keep his brains in From running about his shoulders."
reason for reserve in such expressions of opin
ion; and, accordingly, during the year imAnd so on, through a score or so of stan- mediately preceding the Restoration, Butler’s zas more, the last of which, containing an pen seems to have been somewhat busy. Beallusion to the King and Parliament as both sides other scraps, there is one prose piece of still extant, and to the civil wars as still rag- some length, the composition of which may ing, enables one to assign the year 1648, or be certainly attributed to the year 1659–1660, thereby, as the probable date of the compo- though it remained unpublished till aftersition. Such as it is, it is the first authentic wards. This piece consists of “ Two Speeches piece from Butler's pen that remains to us ; made in the Rump-Parliament when it was and that which comes nearest to it in point restored by the Officers of the Army in the of time is a short prose tract, entitled "The year 1659,” the said speeches being mockCase of King Charles I. truly stated," orig- barangues, invented by Butler, and put, the inally published from the manuscript in 1691, one into the mouth of an old Presbyterian by an anonymous editor, after Butler's death, member of the House, who is indignant at and reprinted by Thyer. This tract is in all that has been done by the Army during the form of a reply to a pamphlet, entitled the last ten years ; and the other into the " King Charles' Case, or an Appeal to all mouth of an Independent, or Army-man, who Rational Men concerning his Trial," prepared hates the Presbyterians. The composition by John Cook, Master of Gray's Inn, soli- is one of some vigor; and the writer makes citor to the Parliament in the proceedings the two debaters abuse each other, very much against the King, and afterwards executed as as Hudibras and Ralph do in the poem, only in one of the chief regicides. The pamphlet sober earnest, and so as to produce an impreswas put in circulation with others after the sion unfavorable both.to a continuance of milKing's death, in defence of the policy of the tary rule or Independency, and to a revival Commonwealth leaders ; and Butler appears of mere Parliamentary government without a to have tried his hand at writing an answer, royal head. Had the pamphlet been published, with the intention of publishing it some time it would really have done some service in the or other. He never did so, however, and it cause of the Restoration, while that question was found among
It may be was being debated, and Monk's intentions assumed to have been written some time be- were uncertain. It is evident, in short, that tween 1649 and 1654, the anonymous editor Butler took a great interest in that question ; of 1691 speaking of it as having been“ penned and it is possible that, though the composiabout forty years since.” Next, in point of tlon just mentioned was not printed, he may certain date, among Butler’s remains, is a about this time have contributed other pieces piece of doggrel similar in style to that above of a political tenor which did find their way quoted, entitled, " A Ballad about the Par- into circulation. liament which deliberated about making Oli The result of this brief investigation is, that ver King." It begins :
it was not till about the 37th year of Butler's
age, and when, according to our chronology, throughout the kingdom. In & somewhat he was in the service of the Countess of Kent, different sense, Denham's conceit may be taken at her seat in Bedfordshire, that he began to as true. If there was less of poetry proper use his pen for anything like a literary pur- in England in that age of social convulsion, pose, and that from that time he used it only there was more of that kind of poetry which sparingly, in occasional pieces of verse and consists in social and political allusion put into of prose satire against the Puritans, till about verse. Balked of any more effective way of the eve of the Restoration, when, being then giving vent to their hatred of the Puritans, in Sir Samuel Luke's service in the same the Royalists took their revenge in abundance county of Bedfordshire, or just about to quit of satirical squibs and ballads.
Just as now that service, he found himself a sufficiently ex- we sometimes see a shrewd middle-aged citizen, pert writer to wish to appear as such, and or country-squire, who never suspected himcapable not only of throwing off political self of any literary tendency, suddenly moved pamphlets suited for the time, but also of by his interest in some controversy to write to planning and preparing a burlesque poem of the newspapers, or perhaps to pen a pamphlet, some length.
and by that one fatal act parting with his This account, probable on external grounds, liberty forever after, and selling himself, body corresponds with the impression we have of and soul, to the printer's devil, so it was then. Butler's character. Always a shrewd, indus- Rough old cavaliers, rather shaky in their trious, and reading man, with a quantity of syntax, furbished it up for the occasion, that grim crabbed satire in him, which may have they might have a slap at the Roundheads come out in his talk, he was evidently, as we one way if they could not have it in another ; have already said, not one of that class of and fellows who had never found the legitiwriters who, like Milton and Cowley, take mate source of poetical inspiration at twenty naturally from their childhood to literary in their mistress's eyebrow, were inspired at effort, as ducklings do to the water. He last, at forty, by Oliver Cromwell's noše. If could always, we have no doubt, write excel- a sample is wanted, take the following, two lent business-prose ; but he may have been scraps from a mountain of similar stuff: comparatively advanced in life before the idea
“ Cromwell wants neither wardrobe nor occurred to him of breaking up this business
armour ; his face is natural buff, and his skin prose, and enriching it, and fining it, and may furnish him with a rusty coat-of-mail
. You putting all his wit, and force, and power of would think he had been christened in a lime-pit, learned allusion into it, so as to fit it for the and tanned alive ; but his countenance still con
Much more may
it purposes of literature.
tinues mangy. Wecry out against superstition,
and yet we worship a piece of wainscot, and idolhave required a distinct stimulus from withoutize an unblanched almond. Certainly 'tis no to put the idea into his head of rising above human visage, but the emblem of a mandrake, his prose altogether and becoming a poet. one scarce handsome enough to have been the Such a stimulus he found at last in the un-progeny of Hecuba, had she whelped him.”usual social and political incidents of his time
Pamphlet of the year 1649. acting on his long constitutional and acquired “Of all professions in the town, antipathy to the Puritans. It was antipathy
The brewer's trade hath gained renown ;
His liquor reaches up to the crown, to the Puritans that caused Butler in middle
Which nobody can deny. life, at a time when he was probably known
“ He scorneth all laws and martial stops, by his Bedfordshire neighbors only as a hard
But whips an army as round as tops, headed and somewhat crusty and eccentric And cuts off his foes as thick as hops, man of business, to become an author and a
Which nobody can deny. poet. He was not the only man who was so
“He dives for riches down to the bottom, affected. Denham, in a mock-address, in the
And cries, ' My masters,' when he has got 'em, name of the poets of England, to the Long * Let every tub stand upon his own bottom,' Parliament, declares that one effect of their
Which nobody can deny.' proceedings had been to make the whole na
Song of 1651-1658. tion, including King Charles himself, poets. It was certainly no arrogance in Butler, The drift of this lame conceit is, that the Par- even if he had never written anything before, liament had made at least one of the incentives to think that he could do better than this. to poetry, namely, poverty, general enough The main qualification -- that of positive irre
concilable dislike to the Puritans, and their Royalists during the period of Cromwell's whole mode of thought, speech, and action
government. he had in perfection. No one can understand In prose, Butler, once he had begun, could Butler who fails distinctly to conceive this. never have had any peculiar difficulty. We His antipathy to the Puritans in all their have his own information, indeed, that he was branches and denominations, from the most by no means one of your easy scribblers, who moderate Presbyterian to the most atical have no trouble in dashing off a page, but a sectary and Fifth-monarchy man, was no as- slow, serious, deliberate writer, for whom ersumed feeling; it was an honest inborn aver-ery sentence had its own pangs. His labor sion, an absolute incapacity of finding any-in putting his sense and wit into adequate thing in that order of ideas or things with prose, however, must have been as nothing which he could sympathize ; a crabbed con- compared with that which he at first found stitutional disgust with it all as cant, humbug, in cramming it into appropriate jingle. His hypocrisy, and delusion. A man, whose habit matchless success at last was the result not it was to " censure things to be either well or only of perpetual care spent on every line as ill,” there were probably very few things that he wrote it, even after he had thoroughly he would in any circumstances have censured acquired the knack of versification, but also, to be well; but there could not by possibility as we think, of considerable experiment in have been an ensemble of things more calcu- the beginning before he hit on the exact lated to provoke his perpetual ill-censure thạn knack or trick that suited him. We have that in the midst of which he found himself. seen his first attempts in the doggrel balladLike Swift
, an obstinately descendental man, stanza, then so much in vogue to supply the or bigot for the bard terrestrial sense of things, cavaliers with songs for their drinking bouts ; and yet living in an age when transcendental- and certainly we have no reason from such ism had broken loose, and seemed to be whirl- specimens to conclude that he would have ing heaven and earth together, he must have ever set the Thames on fire in that style of plodded about Bedfordshire with a kind of rhythm. The “Nobody-can-deny" fellows sneering conviction on his face that very few did it much better. Then we can conceive besides himself still knew it to be only Bed-him trying heroics, such as Dryden afterfordshire, and not a county in some celestial wards made his own. In these, as is proved kingdom. The more he saw of the Puritans by some samples in his later poetry, he would in his own neighborhood, and the farther that doubtless find himself more at ease. Pindarparty advanced, throughout the pation at ics, after the Cowley model, he would doubt large, from their first beginnings of zeal to less also try ; and samples remain, among his their last exhibitions of religious and politi- later poems, of the skill he likewise attained cal enthusiasm, the more they became to him in that uncomfortable species of verse. As an object of satire; and if, at Sir Samuel is proved, however, by the small percentage Luke's or anywhere else, he was thrown both of Pindarics and heroics, now found in much among their chief men, so as to have the general bulk of his poetry, he must have opportunities of observing them, he must have found himself sufficiently at home in neither. " taken notes " rarely. Nor was it strange At last, in some lucky moment perhaps that a man of his extraordinary natural wit, when penning the short lines for some Pindarand extensive familiarity as a reader with all ic -- he made the grand discovery of his life, sorts of books
a painter, too, and therefore and stumbled on Octosyllabics. akin to an author already — should think of
“And as the Pagans heretofore doing as others were doing around him, and Did their own handiworks adore, putting down some of his observations in black And made their stone and timber deities, and white. Beginning, therefore, perhaps,
Their temples and their altars of one piece,
The same outgoings seem t’inspire with some such doggrel ballad against Crom
Our modern self-willed edifier, well as that which we have quoted as the first That vut of things as far from sense, and more, known production of his pen, he went on, as Contrives new light and revelation, we suppose, inditing scraps
The creatures of imagination, for his own private gratification, some of
To worship and fall down before." which
, however, not now to be traced, may If Butler, while yet in search of his proper have had a contraband circulation among the literary form or mode, had penned this Pin
daric passage (it is one of his), only fancy in his favorite octosyllabic verse, his satirical how he would have hugged the short lines, observations on all things and sundry, but and seen them to be the very thing, and de- especially on Puritanism and the Puritans. termined to stick to them, and forswear all It was his habit afterwards, we know, to farther botheration about long ones to mix enter his stray thoughts at random in a comwith them. Whether the discovery was thus monplace book, sometimes in a sentence or sudden or gradual, he and his octosyllabics two of prose, and sometimes in a few distichs, did at last come together so as to understand or even in a single distich, of verse; and each other. From that moment it was all there is no reason to doubt that such was right between him and the English literature. his habit also from the time when he first On his octosyllabics; indeed, as on his prose, began to practise as an author. The habit, he still had to bestow all pains and labor to however, would be confirmed, and would acmake them pass muster before his taste; and quire new consequence, from the moment in one of his few subsequent pieces of heroics, when he resolved on writing a connected he complains of the trouble that, owing to poem. How long he was in coming to this his fastidiousness, verse cost him over prose, determination, and how or when the form and laments “ the caprice” that had first in- and scheme of his projected poem (that the duced him to write in rhyme at all, and in- Puritans were to be the subject of it was a vokes a hearty imprecation on the man matter of course), was first distinctly pre" who first found out that curse,
conceived, we can only guess. One thing is
clear-it was Cervantes' Don Quirote that T'imprison and confine his thoughts in verse, To hang so dull a clog upon his wit,
suggested the form which he actually adoptAnd make his reason to his rhyme submit.”
ed. To invent, like Cervantes, an imaginary
knight and an imaginary squire ; to make These, however, are but words of course, the one the representative of English Presbyused in satirizing another poet; and no one terianism, and the other the representative can, in his own heart, have better appreci- of English Independency; to send them ated than Butler the force of an older Eng; forth on mock-heroic adventures, and to make lish poet's defence of rhyme, when he said the narration of these adventures a means that sure in an eminent spirit, whom Na- of introducing all kinds of social allusion, ture hath fitted for that mystery, rhyme is and invective, and of heaping ridicule on no impediment to his conceipt, but rather the two great revolutionary parties in the gives him wings to mount, and carries him State, and on all connected with them — such not out of his course, but, as it were, beyond was the idea which occurred to Butler in his power, and a far happier flight;, and some happy hour, when, perhaps, he was again, that “all excellencies being sold us at turning over the leaves of his Don Quixote, the hard price of labor, it follows, where we in Sir Samuel Luke's farmhouse at Cople bestow most thereof, we buy the best suc- Hoo. From that moment Hudibras existed cess; and rhyme being far more laborious as a possibility; and Butler's commonplace than loose measures, must needs, meeting book became, as Jean Paul used to phrase it, with care and industry, breed greater and when he adopted a similar plan in his own worthier effects in our language. Whether case, only the “quarry' for Hudibras. Butler had ever seen these words of old What was already in it could easily be worked Samuel Daniel we know not: but the sense into the fabric of the poem, and whatever of them he must have realized for himself. was afterwards jotted down in it, was meant Accordingly, while he continued all his life as so much more material. Woe to Sir to divide himself between plain.prose, on the Samuel Luke and his cronies from that hour; one hand, and his quaint octosyllabics on the for though Butler's intended poem was to other, as the two selected vehicles of his wit consist, in a great measure, of what may be and satire, each having its advantages, he called disquisitional invective, levelled at evidently had most pleasure in his octosylla- classes and modes of thinking rather than at bics, and reserved for them his strength and individuals, yet as he required a few perthe most vigorous efforts of his fancy. There sonal portraits for it, theirs had a chance of is evidence even that he was in the habit of being painted. making his prose a kind of jackal for his But, though Hudibras was planned and octosyllabics, jotting down in prose rough in part written perhaps before the Restorafancies as they occurred to him, that he might tion, it was not till two years and a half after afterwards work them up into rhymes at his that event that Butler had any considerable leisure.
portion of it ready for the press. Probably, For some ten years, then, before the Res- indeed, it was not till after the Restoration toration, we are to conceive Butler carrying had rendered such a publication possible, by on a sort of preparatory authorship in pri- bringing into power those who could be exvate, jotting down, partly in prose and partly pected to read or relish it, that Butler set to