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culty. We have his own information in- and determined to stick to them, and fordeed, that he was by no means one of your swear all farther botheration about long easy scribblers, who have no trouble in ones to mix with them. Whether the disdashing off a page, but a slow, serious, de- covery was thus sudden or gradual, he and liberate writer, for whom every sentence his ostosyllabics did at last come together had its own pangs. His labor in putting so as to understand each other. From his sense and wit into adequate prose, that moment it was all right between him however, must have been as nothing com- and the English literature. On his octopared with that which he at first found in syllabics, indeed, as on his prose, he still cramming it into appropriate jingle. His had to bestow all pains and labor to make matchless success at last was the result not them pass muster before his taste; and in only of perpetual care spent on every line one of his few subsequent pieces of heroics, as he wrote it, even after he had tho- he complains of the trouble that, owing to roughly acquired the knack of versification, his fastidiousness, verse cost him over but also, as we think, of considerable ex- prose, and laments “the caprice” that had periment in the beginning before he hit first induced him to write in rhyme at all, on the exact knack or trick that suited him. and invokes a hearty imprecation on the We have seen his first attempts in the man doggrel ballad-stanza, then so much in
“ who first found out that curse, vogue to supply the cavaliers with songs T' imprison and confine his thoughts in verse, for their drinking bouts; and certainly we To hang so dull a clog upon his wit, have no reason from such specimens to And make his reason to his rhyme submit." conclude that he would have ever set the Thames on fire in that style of rhythm. These, however, are but words of course, The “Nobody-can-deny" fellows did it used in satirizing another poet; and no one much better. Then we can conceive him can, in his own heart, have better apprecitrying heroics, such as Dryden afterwards ated than Butler the force of an older made his own. In these, as is proved by English poet's defence of rhyme, when he some samples in his later poetry, he would said that,“ sure in an eminent spirit, whom doubtless find himself more at ease. Pin- Nature hath fitted for that mystery, rhyme darics, after the Cowley model, he would is no impediment to his conceipt, but rather doubtless also try; and samples remain, gives him wings to mount, and carries him among his later poems, of the skill he like- not out of his course, but, as it were, bewise attained in that uncomfortable species yond his power, and a far happier flight ;" of verse. As is proved, however, by the and again, that “all excellencies being small percentage both of Pindarics and sold us at the hard price of labor, it follows, heroics, now found in the general bulk of where we bestow most thereof, we buy his poetry, he must have found himself the best success; and rhyme being far sufficiently at home in neither. At last, more laborious than loose measures, must in some lucky moment-perhaps when needs, meeting with care and industry, penning the short lines
for some Pindaric- breed greater and worthier effects in our he made the grand discovery of his life, language." Whether Butler had ever seen and stumbled on Octosyllabics.
these words of old Samuel Daniel we
know not; but the sense of them he must “And as the Pagans heretofore
have realized for himself. Accordingly, Did their own handiworks adore,
while he continued all his life to divide And made their stone and timber deities,
himself between plain prose, on the one Their temples and their altars of one piece, The same outgoings seem t' inspire
hand, and his quaint octosyllabics on the Our modern self-will'd edifier,
other, as the two selected vehicles of his That out of things as far from sense, and more, wit and satire, each having its advantages,
Contrives new light and revelation, he evidently had most pleasure in his oc-
tosyllabics, and reserved for them his To worship and fall down before.” strength and the most vigorous efforts of
his fancy. There is evidence even that he If Butler, while yet in search of his proper was in the habit of making his prose a literary form or mode, had penned this kind of jackal for his octosyllabics, jotting Pindaric passage, (it is one of his,) only down in prose rough fancies as they ocfancy how he would have hugged the short curred to him, that he might afterwards lines, and seen them to be the very thing, work them up into rhymes at his leisure.
For some ten years, then, before the sonal portraits for it, theirs had a chance Restoration, we are to conceive Butler of being painted. carrying on a sort of preparatory author- But, though Hudibras was planned and ship in private, jotting down, partly in in part written perhaps before the Restoprose and partly in his favorite octosylla- ration, it was not till two years and a half
a bic verse, his satirical observations on all after that event that Butler had any conthings and sundry, but especially on Pu- siderable portion of it ready for the press. ritanism and the Puritans. It was his Probably, indeed, it was not till after the habit afterwards, we know, to enter his Restoration had rendered such a publicastray thoughts at random in a common- tion possible, by bringing into power those place book, sometimes in a sentence or who could be expected to read or relish it, two of prose, and sometimes in a few dis- that Butler set to work in earnest in pretichs, or even in a single distich of verse; paring it. He had certainly every incenand there is no reason to doubt that such tive to be busy; for much as was already was his habit also from the time when he going in the shape of satire and ridicule first began to practise as an author. The of the parties cast down from power, and habit, however, would be confirmed, and of general fun and scurrility in literature, would acquire new consequence from the by way of outburst of humor that had moment when he had resolved on writing been repressed during the Commonwealth, a connected poem. How long he was in and of welcome to a witty monarch and coming to this determination, and how or his courtiers just come over from the Conwhen the form and scheme of his pro- tinent with French mistresses and French jected poem, (that the Puritans were to manners to inaugurate a new era, Butler be the subject of it was a matter of course,) could not but foresee that such a poem as was first distinctly preconceived, we can he was preparing would cut in through it only guess. One thing is clear—it was all
, and win a place for itself in the midst Cervantes's Don Quixote that suggested of the duller poems and plays with which the form which he actually adopted. To the old Royalists, Davenant, Denham, and invent, like Cervantes, an imaginary knight Waller, and the new aspirants Dryden, and an imaginary squire ; to make the one Sedley, Roscommon, and Co., were bidthe representative of English Presbyteri- ding for the ear of the town. 'One interanism, and the other the representative of ruption there was, however, which he may English Independency; to send them forth have permitted himself with satisfaction on mock-heroic adventures, and to make that caused by his marriage, which took the narration of these adventures a means place about this time, with a Mrs. Herof introducing all kinds of social allusion bert, a lady of some property. Butler, it and invective, and of heaping ridicule on would appear, was late in love as well as the two great revolutionary parties in the in poetry; but for this very reason there State, and on all connected with them— may have been less delay with his Hudisuch was the idea which occurred to Butler bras. in some happy hour, when, perhaps, he was It was not at Sir Samuel Luke's, howturning over the leaves of his Don Quixote, ever, nor in Bedfordshire, that the work in Sir Samuel Luke's farm-house at Cople was finally written out, but in a new situHoo. From that moment Hudibras ex- ation to which Butler, possibly on account isted as a possibility; and Butler's com- of his known loyalty, was promoted after monplace-book became, as Jean Paul used the Restoration—that of Secretary to the to phrase it, when he adopted a similar Earl of Carbery, Lord President of the plan in his own case, only the “quarry" Principality of Wales. It has been ascerfor Hudibras. What was already in it tained, that he held this situation, and could easily be worked into the fabric of the also, in association with it, as the Earl's poem, and whatever was afterwards jotted gift, the Stewardship of Ludlow Castle, at down in it, was meant as so much more least as early as January, 1661, and that material. Woe to Sir Samuel Luke and he retained the stewardship till January, his cronies from that hour; for though 1662. In that month, the Earl's accounts Butler's intended poem was to consist, in speak of him as having vacated the office a great measure, of what may be called of Steward, and having been succeeded disquisitional invective, levelled at classes by another person. The probability thereand modes of thinking rather than at in- fore is, that some time in 1662 he came dividuals, yet as he required a few per- to reside in London, with the purpose of
seeing his Hudibras through the press. “For rhetoric, he could not ope
And when he happened to break off
l' the middle of his speech, or cough, dated the 11th of November, 1662 ; and
H' had hard words ready to show why, though the date 1663 is on the title-page,
And tell what rules he did it by. copies were really out before Christmas,
Else, when with greatest art he spoke, 1662.
You'd think he talked like other folk;
But," &c. without the author's name, and with an intimation on the title-page that the poem But the clenching passage would, of course, was “ written during the late wars. It be that describing the knight's religion: was exactly such a volume as the readers of that day would be likely to take up in
"For his religion, it was fit virtue of its mere appearance--small enough
To match his learning and his wit ;
'Twas Presbyterian, true blae ; to be held between the finger and thumb For he was of that stubborn crew as one walked in the streets, or lounged at Of errant saints, whom all men grant home in the evening, and to be read through To be the true Church militant; at one sitting. And, certainly, if one did Such as do build their faith upon take it up, there was little chance of his The holy text of pike and gun ; laying it down again without doing it jus
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery ; tice. Fancy the first reader opening the
And prove their doctrine orthodox book, and lighting at once on such a be
By apostolic blows and knocks ; ginning as this:
Call fire, and sword, and desolation,
A godly, thorough Reformation, " When civil dudgeon first grew high,
Which always must be carried on, And men fell out they knew not why;
And still be doing, never done; When hard words, jealousies, and fears
As if religion were intended Set folks together by the ears,
For nothing else but to be mended : And made them fight, like mad or drunk, A sect, whose chief devotion lies For Dame Religion, as for punk ;
In odd perverse antipathies ; Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
In falling out with that or this, Though not a man of them knew wherefore ; And finding somewhat still amiss ; When gospel-trumpeter, surrounded
More peevish, cross, and splenetic, With long-eared rout, to battle sounded, Than dog distract or monkey sick ; And pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
That with more care keep holy-day Was beat with fist, instead of a stick ;
The wrong, than others the right way; Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
Compound for sins they are inclined to, And out he rode a colonelling."
By damning those they have no mind to.
Still so perverse and opposite, This was certainly a promising set out, As if they worshipped God for spite, and would tempt the reader to go on. The self-same thing they will abhor And if he did so, he was not likely to be One way, and long another for. disappointed. The description of Sir Hu
Free-will they one way disavow; dibras and his qualifications, now known
Another, nothing else allow.
All piety consists therein to every school-boy, would then come
In them, in other men all sin. upon the reader with all the freshness of
Rather than fail, they will defy
Their best and dearest friend, plum-porridge ;
And blaspheme custard through the nose."
This passage alone would settle the fate Than for a blackbird 'tis to whistle,"
of the book with every Courtier or Roy
alist that might chance to take it up, The famous passage about Sir Hudibras's What mattered it that in going on he rhetoric, occurring in the third or fourth found very little plot or action in the book page, would be read twice or thrice on -nothing but a rough rigmarole story the spot, before going farther :
miserably travestied from Don Quixote,
and spun out through three cantos, of The success of the book was certainly how the Presbyterian knight, and his In- instantaneous. Not a new poem of Tendependent squire Ralpho, sally forth, each nyson's, not a new Christmas-story by accoutred after his fashion, in search of Dickens, has now-a-days a greater run adventures; how they come to a place through the town, than, allowing for the where there is to be a bear-baiting, and difference of times, the first part of Hudiwhere a great rabble is already assembled bras had during the Christmas-week of to witness or take part in the sport, in- 1662–3. The king himself had got hold cluding the bear Bruin himself, Orsin, the of it, and was carrying it about with him, bear's master, the wooden-legged fiddler and quoting it; the courtiers got the pasCrowdero, the warlike butcher and dog-sages he quoted by heart; and in all the owner Talgol, the tinker Magnano, and coffee and chocolate houses the wits dishis female companion Trulla, the one-eyed cussed its merits. Mr. Pepys, who was cobbler Cerdon, the hostler and cattle- never the last to hear of a new thing, lets keeper Colon, and, besides these leaders, us know the exact day on which he first men and mastiffs innumerable from all the heard of the poem, and what he thought parishes round; how it entered the knight's of it. “To the wardrobe” is the entry he head that he ought to put down this bear- makes in his Diary on the 26th of Decembaiting as a heathenish practice, and how ber, 1662, the day after Christmas, “and he and the more reluctant Ralpho debat- hither come Mr. Battersby; and we falled the point; how at last the knight, ing into discourse of a new book of drolending the debate, spurs on his wall-eyed lery in use called Hudibras, I would beast to the encounter, and how, after a needs go find it out, and met with it at fierce tussle, in which both knight and the Temple: cost me 28. 6d. But when squire get unmercifully belabored, they I come to read it, it is so silly an abuse succeed in routing the rabble and captur- of the Presbyter knight going to the ing the fiddler, whom they carry off in warrs, that I am ashamed of it; and by triumph and put in the stocks; but how, and by meeting at Mr. Townsend's at in the end, by the ralllying of the rabble dinner, I sold it him for 18d.,"-after under Trulla’s generalship, the fortune of which, he tells us, he went to the theatre, the war is reversed, Crowdero is rescued, and coming home rather late found his and Hudibras and Ralpho, after a plente- wife “busy among her pies.” Evidently,
a ous thumping, are themselves put in the however, Pepys, from his allusion to "the stocks and left to discuss the comparative Presbyter knight going to the warrs," merits of Presbytery and Independency had not read enough of the book even to at their leisure. To all this burlesque know its subject; and finding himself in tissue of incident, coarse enough in parts the minority in his opinion of it, and its to please a not very squeamish taste, the fame on the town growing instead of abatmore intelligent readers of the poem ing, he thought it prudent to renew his would be comparatively indifferent; nor acquaintance with it. “To Lincolns' Inn would it have enhanced the interest in this Fields,” he writes on the 6th of February respect much if they had troubled them following, “and it being too soon to go selves, as foolish commentators on the home to dinner, I walked up and down, poem afterwards did, with identifying the and looked upon the outside of the new characters with noted sectaries of the day, theatre building in Covent Garden, which whom Butler never thought of or saw. will be very fine; and so to a bookseller's It was enough that, in the course of the in the Strand, and there bought Hudibras narration, the Puritans of all sects were again, it being certainly some ill humor burlesqued as they had never been before, to be so against that which all the world and their habits of talking held up to rid cries up to be an example of wit ; for icule, and that passages of odd wit and which I am resolved once more to read learning occurred in every page, all hit- him and see whether I can find it or no.” ting at some laughable topic of the day, It is no argument against the book that and capable of being remembered and Pepys, even on a second trial, could not quoted. It was probably a circumstance relish it much; and, at all events, the in favor of the full recognition of these town differed from him, for such a demerits in the book that the “First Part” mand was there for copies that within a was published by itself, so as not to over- fortnight after its first appearance, the dose the reader.
publisher had to warn his customers
by advertisement against a pirated edi- | First, and the reception was very much tion.
the same. Some there were who might There seems no reason to doubt that, take interest in the mere continued story though the poem was published anony- of the adventures of the Knight and the mously, Butler at once acknowledged him- Squire—how they were released from the self as the author. The king, it is said, stocks by the intervention of a widow in his first fit of delight with the book, whom the knight has been courting for purposed sending for him ; and it was her money, and who, in releasing him, natural, as Johnson says, that every eye holds out hopes to him, on condition of should watch for the golden shower which his giving himself a flagellation, which he was to fall upon the author of a perform- swears to do; how he puts it off till next ance so exactly to the tune of the reign- day, and then, in riding to the appointed ing taste. Butler, however, was no Danae, spot, begins to reason with Ralpho whether but a somewhat unsocial man of fifty, with such an oath is binding on a saint; how few friends in town; and the golden Ralpho, as his contribution to this proshower did not fall through his garret. blem in casuistry, suggests that some one That he himself shared in the general ex- else should take the whipping in the pectation that something would be done knight's stead, and the knight, catching for him, is very likely; but he does not at the idea, proposes that Ralpho himself seem to have overrated the chance. As shall be the man; how Ralpho instantly only the author of a poem which, though backs out, and there ensues an angry ala valuable service to the Royalist cause, tercation between the two, which has alwas in some respects merely a posthumous most come to blows, when it is interrupted service, rendered when the danger was by the opportune appearance of a “Skimpast and the victory accomplished, he pro- mington Procession,” that is, of a village bably saw that there were other claimants rabble punishing a scold by carrying her closer to the Royal Exchequer than he about astride on horseback, with her huscould expect to be. Sensibly enough, band beside her, to the music of pots and therefore, he seems to have made up his pans and cleavers; how the knight attacks mind to bide his time, and meanwhile to this as another heathenish show, and he labor patiently at the “Second Part” of and Ralpho are discomfited with rotten his poem, so as to get it out before the eggs; how, recovering from this disaster, enthusiasm for the first part had subsided. the knight proposes to go to the widow Already, in fact, besides pirated editions and swear that he has duly performed the of that “First Part,” the town was full promised flagellation, but thinks it worth of pretended continuations and imitations, while, on the way, to go and consult the in which the story was carried on, and Rosicrucian astrologer, Sidrophel, as to the style and metre of the first part copied the probable success of his suit; and how as closely as possible. It was late in 1663, this consultation, beginning in a learned or almost exactly a year after the publica- discussion between Hudibras and Sidrotion of the first part that the true "Second phel on the occult sciences, ends also in a Part” made its appearance, and threw all fight in which Hudibras, Sidrophel, Ralpho, the spurious imitations into the shade. and Sidrophel's man, Whachum, all take The date on the title-page is 1664; but part, and in which the conjurer has the the imprimatur is dated November 5, worst of it. On the whole, however, as 1663, and the pertinacious Pepys, after before, it would be the wit of the poem, borrowing a copy in the end of Novem- its quaint sense and learning, its passages ber, in order to avoid buying it till he of sarcastic reflection on all manner of found out whether he liked it better than topics, and, above all, its unsparing ridithe first, ended by going to his bookseller's cule of men and things on the Puritan at St. Paul's Churchyard on the 10th of side, rather than any merits it might posDecember, and giving an order for both sess of description and narration, that parts together. Having had a windfall would recommend it in higher critical that day of about £3,
he had gone to in- quarters. The Second Part is, indeed, vest it in books; and Hudibras being then even more readable than the First. still, he
says, “the book in greatest fashion It was high time now that the “golden for drollery," he had made it one. shower” should descend, if it was to de
The merits of the “Second Part” of scend at all; and the truth seems to be, Hudibras were the same as those of the that by this time Butler was sorely in