« ElőzőTovább »
Turn in, and show* to wainscot half tne room.
Straight without further information,
I, that perceiv'd now what his musick meant,
Lest his too subtle body, growing rare,
He dress'd, and ready to disfurnish now
Me a great favor, for I seek to go.” · Flecnoe, an English Priest at Rome.- Poor Flecnoe was the poetaster, after whom Dryden christened Shadwell, “ MacFlec. noe.” See passages from the satire thus entitled in the present volume. The verses before us, which are written in the same spirit of exaggeration as the preceding, exhibit that strange rug. gedness in the versification, which was intentional in the satirists of those days when they used the heroic measure,
and which they took to be the representative of the satirical numbers of Horace or his predecessors. Flecnoe luckily appears to have rendered the most good-natured poets callous, by a corresponding insensibility to the hardest attacks.
BORN, 1612-DIED, 1680.
BUTLER is the wittiest of English poets, and at the same time is one of the most learned, and what is more, one of the wisest. His Hudibras, though naturally the most popular of his works from its size, subject, and witty excess, was an accident of birth and party compared with his Miscellaneous Poems; yet both abound in thoughts as great and deep as the surface is sparkling; and his genius altogether, having the additional recommendation of verse, might have given him a fame greater than Rabe. lais, had his animal spirits been equal to the rest of his qualifications for a universalist. At the same time, though not abounding in poetic sensibility, he was not without it. He is author of the touching simile,
True as the dial to the sun,
Although it be not shin'd upon. The following is as elegant as anything in Lovelace or Wal. ler:
- What security's too strong
And this, if read with the seriousness and singleness of feeling that become it, is, I think, a comparison full of as much grandeu #cordiality,
Like Indian widows, gone to bed.
In flaming curtains to the dead. You would sooner have looked for it in one of Marvel's poems, than in Hudibras.
Butler has little humor. His two heroes, Hudibras and Ralph, are not so much humorists as pedants. They are as little like their prototypes, Don Quixote and Sancho, as two dreary puppets are unlike excesses of humanity. They are not even consistent with their other prototypes, the Puritans, or with themselves, for they are dull fellows unaccountably gifted with the author's wit. In this respect, and as a narrative, the poem is a failure. No. body ever thinks of the story, except to wonder at its inefficiency; or of Hudibras himself, except as described at his outset. He is nothing but a ludicrous figure. But considered as a banter issu. ing from the author's own lips, the wrong side of Puritanism, and indeed on all the pedantic and hypocritical abuses of human reason, the whole production is a marvellous compound of wit. learning, and felicitous execution. The wit is pure and inces. sant; the learning as quaint and out-of-the-way as the subject; the very rhymes are echoing scourges, made of the peremptory and the incongruous. This is one of the reasons why the rhymes have been so much admired. They are laughable, not merely in themselves, but from the masterly will and violence with which they are made to correspond to the absurdities they lash. The most extraordinary license is assumed as a matter of course; the accentuation jerked out of its place with all the indifference and effrontery of a reason sufficing unto itself.” The poem is so peculiar in this respect, the laughing delight of the reader so well founded, and the passages so sure to be accompanied with a full measure of wit and knowledge, that I have retained its best rhymes throughout, and thus brought them together for the first time.
Butler, like the great wit of the opposite party, Marvel, was an honest man, fonder of his books than of worldly success, and superior to party itself in regard to final principles. He wrote a satire on the follies and vices of the court, which is most likely the reason why it is doubted whether he ever got anything by Hudibras ; and he was so little prejudiced in favor of the scholar. ship he possessed, that he vindicated the born poet above the poet of books, and would not have Shakspeare tried by a Grecian standard.
DESCRIPTION OF HUDIBRAS AND HIS EQUIPMENTS
When civil dudgeon first grew high,
• Chartel is a challenge to a duel.