1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

George Dyer, in Poetics: or a Series of Poems and Disquisitions on Poetry (1812) 2:18-19.



Butler was a genius of another school, but a poet; a caricaturist as to characters, but a real painter in his descriptions; a man of whim in the temper of his writings, but a man of science, of the most combining and diversified imagination. No writer, ancient or modern, has displayed more learning, and enclosed it within a smaller space, than has Butler in his first canto of Hudibras. It cannot be said of his learning, as he says of his knight's wit,—

We grant, although he had much wit
H' was very shy of using it,
As being loth to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about;

for it was ready on all occasions; and like his Taliocotius, whose doctrine, however, he has inaccurately stated, Butler fills up every vacuity with extracts from more living parts, and the supplements of most substantial knowledge.