1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 104.



The son of a Worcestershire farmer, Samuel Butler (1612-1680) is not known to have had a university education. Having lost his wife's fortune through bad investments, he became an author, and published in 1663 the first part of his Hudibras, a satire launched at the Puritan party. It is indebted for much of its celebrity to public sympathy with its partisan hits. It had a large success, and has been praised as "the best burlesque poem in the English language" — which is not saying much for it. It now has few readers. But it contains several epigrammatic expressions which have become proverbial, and it is rich in wit and wisdom. Butler died obscurely in his sixty-eighth year, having suffered deeply from that hope deferred which maketh the heart sick.