Hudibras - Samuel Butler

Hudibras
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Название: Hudibras
Автор: Samuel Butler
Добавлено: 14 апрель 2022
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The knight-errant Hudibras and his trusty (and somewhat more grounded) squire Ralph roam the land in search of adventure and love. Never the most congenial of partners, their constant arguments are Samuel Butler’s satire of the major issues of the day in late 17th century Britain, including the recent civil war, religious sectarianism, philosophy, astrology, and even the differing rights of women and men.

Butler had originally studied to be a lawyer (which explains some of the detail in the third part of Hudibras), but made a living variously as a clerk, part-time painter, and secretary before dedicating himself to writing in 1662. Hudibras was immediately popular on the release of its first part, and, like Don Quixote, even had an unauthorized second part available before Butler had finished the genuine one. Voltaire praised the humor, and although Samuel Pepys wasn’t immediately taken with the poem, it was such the rage that he noted in his diary that he’d repurchased it to see again what the fuss was about. Hudibras’s popularity did not fade for many years, and although some of the finer detail of 17th century talking points might be lost on the modern reader, the wit of the caricatures (and a large collection of endnotes) help bring this story to life.

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Hudibras

By Samuel Butler.

Imprint

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This ebook is the product of many hours of hard work by volunteers for Standard Ebooks, and builds on the hard work of other literature lovers made possible by the public domain.

This particular ebook is based on a transcription produced for Project Gutenberg and on digital scans available at the Internet Archive.

The writing and artwork within are believed to be in the U.S. public domain, and Standard Ebooks releases this ebook edition under the terms in the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. For full license information, see the Uncopyright at the end of this ebook.

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To the Reader

Poeta nascitur non fit, 1 is a sentence of as great truth as antiquity; it being most certain, that all the acquired learning imaginable is insufficient to complete a poet, without a natural genius and propensity to so noble and sublime an art. And we may, without offence, observe, that many very learned men, who have been ambitious to be thought poets, have only rendered themselves obnoxious to that satyrical inspiration our Author wittily invokes:

Which made them, though it were in spight
Of nature and their stars, to write.

On the one side some who have had very little human learning, but were endued with a large share of natural wit and parts, have become the most celebrated (Shakespeare, D’Avenant,  etc.) poets of the age they lived in. But, as these last are, Rarae aves in terris, so, when the muses have not disdained the assistances of other arts and sciences, we are then blessed with those lasting monuments of wit and learning, which may justly claim a kind of eternity upon earth. And our author, had his modesty permitted him, might, with Horace, have said,

Exegi monumentum aere perennius: 2

Or, with Ovid,

Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,
Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas. 3

The Author of this celebrated Poem was of this his last composition: for although he had not the happiness of an academical education, as some affirm, if may be perceived, throughout his whole Poem, that he had read much, and was very well accomplished in the most useful parts of human learning.

Rapin (in his reflections) speaking of the necessary qualities belonging to a poet, tells us, he must have a genius extraordinary; great natural gifts; a wit just, fruitful, piercing, solid, and universal; an understanding clear and distinct; an imagination neat and pleasant; an elevation of soul, that depends not only on art or study, but is purely the gift of heaven, which must be sustained by a lively sense and vivacity; judgment to consider wisely of things, and vivacity for the beautiful expression of them,  etc.

Now, how justly this character is due to our Author, we leave to the impartial reader, and those of nicer judgment, who had the happiness to be more intimately acquainted with him.

The reputation of this incomparable Poem is so thoroughly established in the world, that it would be superfluous, if not impertinent, to endeavour any panegyric upon it. King Charles II whom the judicious part of mankind will readily acknowledge to be a sovereign judge of wit, was so great an admirer of it, that he would often pleasantly quote it in his conversation. However, since most men have a curiosity to have some account of such anonymous authors, whose compositions have been eminent for wit or learning, we have, for their information, subjoined a short Life of the Author.

The Author’s Life

Samuel Butler, the Author of this excellent Poem, was born in the Parish of Strensham, in the county of Worcester, and baptized there the 13th of Feb. 1612. His father, who was of the same name, was an honest country farmer, who had some small estate of his own, but rented a much greater of the Lord of the Manor where he lived. However, perceiving in this son an early inclination to learning, he made a shift to have him educated in the free-school at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright; where having passed the usual time, and being become an excellent school-scholar, he went for some little time to Cambridge, but was never matriculated into that University, his father’s abilities not being sufficient to be at the charge of an academical education; so that our Author returned soon into his native county, and became clerk to one Mr. Jefferys, of Earl’s-Croom, an eminent Justice of the Peace for that County, with whom he lived some years, in an easy and no contemptible service. Here by the indulgence of a kind master, he had sufficient leisure to apply himself to whatever learning his inclinations led him, which were chiefly history and poetry; to which, for his diversion, he joined music and painting; and I have seen some pictures, said to be of his drawing, which remained in that family; which I mention not for the excellency of them, but to satisfy the reader of his early inclinations to that noble art; for which also he was afterwards entirely beloved by Mr. Samuel Cooper, one of the most

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