1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

William Henry Ireland, "Samuel Butler" Neglected Genius (1812) 15-17 &n.



From heav'n-fraught flights to satire's bard I turn,
And bend, great Butler, at thy sainted urn;
Butler, unrivall'd by those lashing lays,
That justly grace his brows with blooming bays;
There poignant wit displays the mental store,
And depth of learning shows scholastic lore.
Scar'd by his gall sarcastic, falsehood fled,
Bif'rous hypocrisy abas'd its head;
The canting saints confess'd the censure just,
Fanaticism, wreathing, bit the dust.
Truth in each couplet paints imposture's crime,
Render'd more poignant by the cutting rhyme;
That path ne'er trod before by sons of verse,
Though short, intelligent — though merry, terse.
No penal institute, no martial arm,
Like thee, had check'd the puritanic charm;
Oppos'd to Hudibras and Ralph his squire,
Laws had been wind, and smoke the cannon's fire;
An host was center'd in great Butler's brain,
And one lampoon drove falsehood from the plain.
Yet, when the subtle Cromwell's race was run,
And England own'd its martyr'd sov'reign's son;
Charles, as licentious as renown'd for wit,
Who ceaseless quoted what our bard had writ;
Whose taste, the standard of the courtly crew,
Diffus'd that universal praise his due;
Still, thus applauding, (blush at Butler's lot)
The golden profit sov'reign Charles forgot;
With empty praise the bard a monarch quits:
Thus paid our witty king the king of wits.
And when the scarf of death enwrapp'd his form,
When the pure soul inspir'd fled life's rude storm;
The godlike satirist's corporeal frame
Its burial ow'd to charity's pure flame;
When years revolv'd before one feeling mind
Paid a just tribute to his wit refin'd,
And bade the monumental marble trace,
Of satire's matchless chief the mortal race:
While future times fame's clarion trump shall raise,
And Hudibras accord him endless praise.

Butler died in 1680, and was buried in the church of St. Paul's, Covent Garden; nor was it till 1721, that Alderman Barber, the printer, erected a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey.