Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

express. : The measure is quick, sprightly, and, colloquial, suitable to the vulgarity of the words and the Jevity of the sentiments. But such numbers and such diction can gain regard only when they are used by a writer whose vigour of fancy and copiousness of knowledge entitle him to contempt of ornaments, and who, in confidence of the novelty and justness of his conceptions can afford to throw metapbors and epithets away. To another that conveys.common thoughts in careless versification, it will only be said, . Pauper videri Cinna vult, et est pauper." The meaning and diction will be worthy of each other, and criticism may justly.doom them to perish together. Nor, even tho' another Butler should arise, would another Hudibras obtain the same regard." Several imitations of Hudibras have been attempted, such as: "The second part of Hudibras," Butler's Ghost,”

," " The occasional Hypocrite," and others, but without success. The author of the first of those pieces is supposed to have been ridiculed in Butler's description of Whackum's skill in poetry. The verses are excellent and may serve as a specimen of our author's wit, and humour.

“ Besides all this, he serv'd his master
in quality of poetaster,
and rhymes appropriate cou'd make
to ev'ry month i' th'almanack;
when terms begin and end could tell,
with their returns-in doggerel.
He would an elegy compose
on maggots squeez'd out of his nose;
in lyric numbers write an ode on
his mistress eating a black pudding;
and when imprisoned air escap'd her
it puffd him with poetic rapture.
His sonnets charm’d th' attentive croud,
by wide-mouth'd moral troll'd aloud,

that, circled with the long-ear'd guests,
like Orpheus look'd among the beasts.
A carman's horse cou'd not pass by,
but stood ty'd up to poetry;
nor porter's burthen pass'd along,
but serv'd for burthen of his song.
Each window, like the pill’ry, appears,
with heads thrust thro'nail'd by the ears.
All trades run in, as to the sight
of monsters, or their dear delight
the gallows-tree, when cutting purse
breeds business for heroic verse;
which none does hear but would have hung,
t' have been the theme of such a song,

Hud. p. ii, can, iii, v. 358. Some time after Butler's death, 3 small volumes were published as his posthumous works; but as they added nothing to the reputation of the author of Hudi. bras, they have been deemed spurious. Two small volumes, certainly genuine, where published as his posthumous works, in 1759, by Mr. Thyer, of the public library, Manchester, from manuscripts received from Mr. Longileville. A new edition of ludibras was published in 1744, by Zachary Grey, LL. D. with large annotations, and a preface, in two volumes, 8vo.

The large poem of Hudibras is too local and obsolete to be selected from ; the following pieces are therefore taken as favourable specimens of Butler's manner, style, wit, and originality. Satire was his forte and indignation gave it keenness.

SATIRE UPON GAMING. What fool would trouble Fortune more, when she has been too kind before; or tempt her to take back again what she had thrown away in vain, by idly vent'ring her good graces to be dispos'd of by ames-aces; or settling it in trust to uses out of his pow'r, on trays and deuses; to put it to the chance and try, j'th' ballot of a box and dye, whether bis money be his own, and lose it, if he be o'erthrown; as if he were betray'd and set by his own stars to ev'ry cheat, or wretchedly condemn’d by Fate to throw dice for his own estate; as mutineers, by fatal doom, do for their lives upon a drum? for what less influence can produce so great a monster as a chouse, or any two-legg'd thing possess with such a brutish sottishness? unless those tutelary stars, entrusted by astrologers to have the charge of man,

combin'd to use him in the self-same kind ; as those that help'd them to the trust, are wont to deal with others just. For to become so sadly dull aud stupid, as to fine for gull,

(not as, in cities, to b’excus'd, but to be judg'd fit to be us’d) that whosoe'er can draw it in is sure inevitably twin, and, with a cursd half-witted fate, to grow more dully desperate, the more 't is made a common prey, and cheated foppishly at play, is their condition, Fate betrays to Folly first, and then destroys. For what but miracles can serve so great a madness to preserve, as his, that ventures goods and chattels (where there's no quarter giv'n) in battles, and knights with money bags as bold, as men with sandbags did of old; puts lands, and tenements, and stocks, into a paltry juggler's box; and, like an alderman of Gotham, embarketh in so vile a bottom; engages blind and senseless hap 'gainst high, and low, and slur, and knap, (as Tartars with a man of straw encounter lions hand to paw) with those that never venture more than they 'ad safely' ensur'd before who, when they knock the box, and shake, do, like the Indian rattlesnake, but strive to ruin and destroy those that mistake it for fair play ; that have their fulhams at command, brought up to do their feats at hand ; that understand their calls and knocks, and how to place themselves i' th' box;

can tell the oddses of all games, and when to answer to their names; and, when he conjures them t'appear, like imps are ready ev'ry where; when to play foul, and when run fair (out of design) upon

the

square, and let the greedy cully win, only to draw him further in; while those with which he idly plays, have no regard to what he says, although he jernie and blaspheme, when they miscarry, heav'n and them, and damn his soul, and swear, and curse and crucify his Saviour worse than those Jew-troopers that threw out, when they were raffling for his coat; denouoce revenge, as if they heard, and rightly understood and fear'd, and wou'd take heed another time how to commit to bold a crime; when the poor bones are innocent of all he did, or said, or meant, and have as little sense, almost, as he that damns them when he 'as lost; as if he had rely'd upon their judgment rather than his own ; and that it were their fault, not his, that manag'd them himself amiss, and gave them ill insructions how to run, as he wou'd have them do and then condemns them sillily for having no more wit than he ?

« PreviousContinue »