1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

Leigh Hunt, in Autobiography of Leigh Hunt (1850) 1:94.



Hudibras I remember reading through at one desperate plunge [while a student at Christ's Hospital], while I lay incapable of moving, with two scalded legs. I did it as a sort of achievement, driving on through the verses without understanding a twentieth part of them, but now and then laughing immoderately at the rhymes and similes, and catching a bit of knowledge unawares. I had a schoolfellow of the name of Brooke, afterward an officer in the East India service — a grave, quiet boy, with a fund of manliness and good-humour. He would pick out the ludicrous couplets, like plums; such as those on the astrologer:

Who deals in destiny's dark counsels,
And sage opinions of the moon sells;

And on the apothecary's shop,

With stores of deleterious med'cines,
Which whosoever took is dead since.

He had the little thick duodecimo edition, with Hogarth's plates, dirty, and well read, looking like Hudibras himself.