1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

George Gregory, in Letters on Literature, Taste, and Composition (1808) 2:177-78.



Of English satires the first place must by all be assigned to the Hudibras of Butler, a poem which abounds equally in wit and learning, and possesses a greater portion of both than any human production. Butler must have had a memory that retained all he read, and an imagination that, from these unbounded stores, could produce an allusion whenever it was wanted. Perhaps there never was a long work supported with equal spirit; for though the polemical discussions between the knight and squire may appear tedious to us at a period so remote from the date of the poem, yet they are equally witty with the most lively parts which depict the character and actions of the hero, and afford a most admirable picture of the absurd controversies of the times. What an admirable episode is that of Sidrophel, and where can a scene be found so witty and so comic as the dialogue between the knight and the lawyer? The outline of Hudibras is undoubtedly taken from Don Quixote, but it is a very bare outline, or rather a hint; for both the subject, and the manner of treating it, are essentially different.