Butler, Samuel (16121680)

Butler, Samuel, a master of burlesque, born at Strensham, in Worcestershire, the son of a small farmer; the author of “Hudibras,” a poem of about 10,000 octosyllabic lines, in which he subjects to ridicule the ideas and manners of the English Puritans of the Civil War and the Commonwealth; it appeared in three parts, the first in 1663, the second soon after, and the third in 1678; it is sparkling with wit, yet is hard reading, and few who take it up read it through; was an especial favourite with Charles II., who was never weary of quoting from it. “It represents,” says Stopford Brooke, “the fierce reaction that (at the Restoration) had set in against Puritanism. It is justly famed,” he adds, “for wit, learning, good sense, and ingenious drollery, and, in accordance with the new criticism, is absolutely without obscurity. It is often as terse as Pope's best work; but it is too long; its wit wearies us at last, and it undoes the force of its attacks on the Puritans by its exaggeration” (16121680).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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