1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Butt

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 65 (November 1795) 969.



30 September. At Stanford, co. Worcester, aged 56, the Rev. Dr. George Butt, chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty, rector of Stanford, and vicar of Kidderminster, and had held the vicarage of Clifton on Tame, all in the same county, and was chaplain to the Earl of Finlater and Seafield. He was early in life distinguished by his proficiency in the Belles Lettres, in criticism and poetry, but peculiarly in conversation, which he was formed to animate by his ready wit and extensive memory; he possessed also a rich flow of language, a free and rapid association of ideas, and a benevolence of disposition, which led him to view all men and all things, in their fairest light: he was a man of quick perception and strong intellect; he read much, and could communicate the result of his studies in an interesting and instructive manner. His taste in the fine arts was delicate and correct. He understood the principles of picturesque beauty, and could reduce them to practice with success. His temper was naturally chearful and unsuspicious; his heart warm, open, and generous. Even experience taught him not the wisdom of the world. Strongly impressed by the great and important truths of Christianity, he was at all times a strenuous advocate in its support: he obeyed its laws in purity and simplicity of heart, and regarded with painful regret its present alarming decline. In his conduct, as a minister of the Established Church, he was firm, yet liberal; it was his wish to conciliate conflicting opinions, and restore to the followers of Christ unanimity and fraternal concord. His delivery in the pulpit was animated and interesting; ornamented by no moderate degree of eloquence, and enforced by strong expressions of feeling and self-conviction. In union with theology, ethics peculiarly occupied his attention; and, whatever might be his merit in speculation, no man can deny his excellence in the practice. The vivacity of his imagination, and his fondness for literature, led him early to become an author. He published, at different times, a visitation sermon, 1775; a sermon preached in the Octagon chapel at Bath, on the day Dr. Johnson, bishop of Worcester, was buried, 1776 (see our vol. XLV. p. 192); two volumes of poems, and a poetic translation of Isaiah. In his poetical productions there are sufficient marks of inventive genius and skill in composition; but, like his favourite Dryden, he wrote with haste, and hence is sometimes deficient with respect to polish, correctness, and solidity of language. He excelled in description, and the expression of sentiment, or, in other words, was then most favoured by the Muse, when he pursued the native impulse of his imagination and his heart. Brevity and closeness of style frequently render his prose somewhat obscure; but when his thoughts expand, and his language flows freely, the attention is often forcibly attracted, and the impression not easily erased. But these are considerations of inferior importance; whatever may be the opinion entertained respecting his literary merit, the integrity of his heart, his philanthropy and benevolence, cannot soon be obliterated from the recollection of his friends. To sum up his character in a word, employing the beautiful simplicity of the scriptural language, "he was an Israelite without guile." He was of Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degree of M.A. 1768.