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THE deserved reputation which the poem Of HUDIBRAS has so long enjoyed, renders any apo. logy unnecessary for offering it to the public in a ner form.
In regard to the advantages which the present edition of our humorous English Classic possesses over preceding ones, we may observe, in the first place, that the text has been carefully collated with the best editions of Hudibras that are extant, and not a single word of our author's has been omitted or changed.
The notes and illustrations comprehend not merely the best notes and explanations of Dr. Grey and former editors, but a very large accession of nero matter has been made, the result of months' careful researches at the library of the British Museum, and a diligent perusal of all the modern writers whose labours hare thrown any light on the history of the times of which Butler treats. Among the modern works which leave been consulted with the greatest adrantage may he mentioned, particularly, Hume's and Smollet's Histories of England, the Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson, Cobbet's Parliamentary Debates, and Mr. Fox's Introductory Chapter to his History of the Reign of James the Second.
The Preliminary Discourse on the Civil War and Usurpation, compiled for the most part from sources of authority which were not in existence when Dr. Grey published his edition of our poet, will, it is confidently hoped, not only be found extremely uesub to facilitate the understanding of our author, by freeing his work at the threshold from many of its difficulties, but will likewise be considered valuable as conveying a new and interesting picture of the most remarkable era in our history,
It may be mentioned also, that the present volumes are embellished with two beautiful and spirited engrave ings, from original designs by Uwins, and two vig. nette title-pages ; and in point of typographical excellence, it is presumed they will be found to yield, in neatness and perspicuity, to no volumes of a similar sort that have hitherto been published.
SAMUEL BUTLER was born in the parish of Strensham, in Worcestershire, in the year 1612. His father, a reputable country farmer, perceiving in his son ap early inclination to learning, sent him for education to the grammar-school at Worcester, under the care of Mr. Henry Brigbt, where having laid in a good foundation of scholastic learning, he was sent to the univer. sity of Cambridge, but for want of money was never made a member of any college. On quitting the university our author returned to his native county, and. became clerk to one Mr. Jeffries, of Earls-Coom, a justice of the peace, with whom he lived some years in an easy and reputable service. Here he had sufficient leisure to apply himself to the cultivation of his mind; and his inclination led him chiefly to the study of poetry and history, to which, for his amusement, he joined music and painting. “I have seen,” says Dr. Grey, “ some pictures, said to be of his drawing, which I mention not for the excellence 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 emi. nent painters of his time.”
From the family of Mr. Jeffries, Butler removed to that of Elizabeth, Countess of Kent, a situation highly favourable for a young man desirous of acquiring knowledge, and where he had not only the use of an excellent library, but the further advantage of being introduced to the great Mr. Selden, who probably gave him some useful instructions for the prosecatiou of his less studies.
His next employment was in the service of Sir Samuel Luke, a gentleman of an ancient family in Bedfordshire, and a justice of the peace, and colonel in the Parliamentary army. The period that Butler lived with this Knight formed the most remarkable era in his life. Sir Samuel was in principles a Presbyterian; and distinguished himself by the outrageousness of his veal against church and kingly government. It has been generally thought that the person and politics of Sir Samuel Luke suggested to Butler the idea of Hudibras, and this indeed is confirmed by what he makes Hudibras say of himself towards the conclusion of the first Canto: “there is a valiant Mamaluke
In foreign land, y' clep'd
And in the same cause both have fought." But though the poem of Hudibras may have been suggested by the hypocrisy and fanaticism of an indi. vidual, it appears clear that Butler, in writing it, had a far more material object in view than merely to expose an individual character to ridicule. His situation in the family of Sir Samuel Luke must have afforded him many opportunities of gaining a right insight into the true principles of the Presbyterian party, and he probably saw so much of the selfishness, intolerance, and wickedness of that sect, as to cause him to hold