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at which he was more ready than to do good office to those of desert, though no one was better qualified than he, both in regard to his fortune and understanding, to protect them; and from that time to the day of his death, poor Butler never found the least effect of his promise.”
This is a good story; but, with Johnson, we disbelieve its authencity.
That Butler did not meet with the generous support and recognition to which his genius, and his services to the cause of the Royalists, entitled him, is evident enough from the complaints of Oldham and Dryden, which could never have been so publicly and generally made if there had been no warranty for them. Oldham writes with honest indignation :
“ On Butler, who can think without just rage,
The glory and the scandal of the age ?
(Satire against Poetry). And Dryden :
“Unpitied Hudibras, your champion friend,
But Butler himself had already protested, in his “Hudibras at Court" (in the “Remains ") against the royal ingratitude :
“Now after all, was it not hard
That he should meet with no reward,
This monarch did so much admire." It may be that the obscurity in which the poet was. suffered to remain originated in the faults of his character. Aubrey speaks of him as choleric, and of a severe and sound judgment; adding, with keen knowledge of human nature, “satirical wits disoblige whom they converse with, and consequently make themselves many enemies and few friends." Such, he says, was Butler's case.
In this “mist of obscurity "—the phrase is Johnson's died Samuel Butler, on the 25th of September, 1680; and at the expense of his friends was buried in St. Paul's. Churchyard, Covent Garden, the honour of a public funeral in Westminster Abbey having been refused. About forty years afterwards, Alderman Barber erected in the Abbey a monument to his memory, on which is engraved an elaborate laudatory inscription in Latin, which in pithiness and force is much surpassed by the epitaph ascribed to John Dennis :
“ Near this place lies interred
Author of Hudibras.
Admirable in a manner
In wbich he knew no guide,
And has found no followers.” The tardiness of this tribute to the poet elicited some epigrammatic lines from Samuel Wesley :
“ While Butler, needy wretch, was yet alive,
No generous patron would a dinner give;
He asked for bread, and he received a stone." Besides his immortal “Hudibras,” Butler was the author of a couple of pamphlets, a satirical Ode on the exploits of the famous highwayman, “Claude Duval," and various poems and prose writings included in his “Remains," of which we may notice as the most important, “The Elephant in the Moon;” “A Satire upon the Royal Society;” “A Satire upon the Imperfection and Abuse of Human Learning;” and “A Panegyric upon Sir John Denham's Recovery from his Madness." His “Description of Holland,” with its richly humorous exaggeration, is well known.