1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Butler

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 7:449-50.



CHARLES BUTLER, an ingenious writer of the seventeenth century, was born in 1559, at High Wycomb, in Buckinghamshire; and entered a student into Magdalen hall, Oxford, in 1579, where he took a degree in arts; and was translated to Magdalen college, and made one of the bible clerks. Soon after, he became master of the free school at Basingstoke in Hampshire; and had the cure of a small church in the neighbourhood. About 1600 he was promoted to the vicarage of Lawrence Wotton, in Hampshire; which Wood thinks a very inadequate preferment for a scholar of his abilities. There, however, he appears to have remained until his death, March 29, 1647, in his eighty-eighth year. He wrote: 1. The Feminine Monarchy; or a Treatise on Bees, Oxon. 1609, 8vo, and Lond. 1623, Oxon. 1634, 4to; a work not more curious for its matter, than for the manner of printing, abounding in new characters, which appear to have been cast on purpose, and a very singular mode of orthography. It was afterwards translated into Latin by Rich. Richardson, of Emanuel college, Cambridge, Lond. 1673, 8vo. 2 Rhetoricae libri duo, Oxon. 1618; often reprinted. 3. De propinquitate matrimonium impediente regula generalis, on the marriage of cousin-germans, a work much approved by Dr. Prideaux, Oxon. 1625, 4to. 4. Oratoriae libri duo, Oxon. 1633, 4to, Lond. 1635, 8vo. 5. English Grammar, Oxon. 1634, 4to. 6. The Principles of Music, Lond. 1636, 4to. Dr. Johnson, in the preface to his Dictionary, gives an account of his Grammar, with a specimen of his orthography from his Treatise on Bees. Of his Principles of Music, Dr. Burney says, that it was the only theoretical or didactic work published on the subject of music during the reign of king Charles I. and that it contains more knowledge in a small compass than any other of the kind in our language; but the Saxon and new characters he uses, in order to explode such letters as are redundant, or of uncertain powers, render this musical tract somewhat difficult to peruse.