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earned a precarious living, first as clerk to a country justice, and afterwards in the family of the Countess of Kent, where he was occasionally employed by the learned Selden, her ladyship’s steward. He afterwards went into the employment of Sir Samuel Luke, a commonwealth's man, where he saw so much of the worst side of the character of the Puritans, that it is presumed Hudibras may be dated from this residence. The first part of this remarkable poem was published after the Restoration ; the other parts at long intervals. It was quoted, recited, and constantly perused at court; but admiration was the poet's sole reward, though he was from time to time buoyed up with expectation. Butler died in Lon.
don, and was buried at the expense of a friend. As a poem, Hudibras is unique in European literature. It
possesses an excess of wit, rhymes the most original and ingenious, and the most apt and burlesque metaphors, couched in an easy, gossiping, colloquial metre; yet it would be as impossible to read Hudibras to an end at once as to dine on cayenne or pickles. It administers no food to the higher and more permanent feelings of the human mind. The moral comes to be felt to be without dignity-the wit without gaiety or relief-the story lagging and flat. Even the rhymes, amusing as they are, become, after a time, like the repetitions of a mimic, tiresome and stale. Dryden regrets that Hudibras was not written in the heroic measure, instead of the slipshod rhymes adopted. It is amusing to conceive of a Hudibras thus stilted; but the metre might perhaps have been occasionally varied with good effect, and certainly with welcome relief to the reader.
DRESS AND ARMOUR OF SIR HUDIBRAS.
His breeches were of rugged woollen,
His puissant sword unto his side,
For of the lower end two handful
This sword a dagger had, his page,
In th' holsters, at his saddle-bow,
They were upon hard duty still,
Thus clad and fortify’d, Sir Knight,
BORN 1613-DIED 1641,
This gay young cavalier, whose mercurial productions look
like the mere ebullition of high animal spirits, while they in fact possess the ease and grace of polished composition, was the son of the comptroller of the household of Charles I., and born and bred in the atmosphere of a court. Suckling died at the age of twenty-eight, having written five plays, lyric pieces, letters, tracts, &c. &c. He was also in parliament, and distinguished for the various accomplishments of a court-gallant. At the commencement of the civil wars, he raised what would now be called a crack regiment of horse for the King's service. His soldiers were as ridiculous, in the first instance, for the finery and effeminacy of their equipments, as they afterwards became contemptible for their cowardice when opposed to the sturdy Scottish covenanters. It is related, that the King, seeing many of the troops so finely equipped, remarked, that “the Scots would fight stoutly were it but for the Englishmen's fine clothes." The disgrace of Suckling and his foppish regiment produced a “pasquil," as it was then called, which overwhelmed him
with shame.(a) This humorous ballad is attributed to Sir John Mennis, a contemporary versifier, though it has been given to Suckling himself. Human nature never
carried mirth so far. Suckling, being involved by an attempt to rescue Strafford
from the Tower, fled to France, where he died soon afterwards. The manner of his death is not a little painful. Having discovered that his foreign servant had robbed him and fled, Suckling hastily dressed himself to pursue the thief, and, in drawing on his boots, pierced his foot with a rusty nail, which speedily occasioned mortification
and death. His ballad of the WEDDING has ever been admired : it is
unequalled in its kind.
(a) A few stanzas from this ballad may be amusing, as a specimen of the tone of ridicule and mockery about 200 years ago. Our modern party-newspapers rarely produce any thing so good. The lack-a-daisical metre is not its least merit :
Sir John he got him an ambling nag,
To Scotland for to ride-a,
To guard him on every side-a.
No errant-knight ever went to fight
With half so gay a bravado,
He'd have conquer'd a whole armado.
The ladies ran all to the windows to see
So gallant and warlike a sight-a,
“Sir John, why will you go fight-a ?"