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Then Cæsar he's nicknamed, as duly as
He that in Rome was christen'd Julius,
And was address'd to by a crow,

As pertinently long ago.

BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.


IT has been observed, that not one favourite of the Muses has ever been able to build a house since the days of Amphion, whose art it would be fortunate for them if they possessed; and that the greatest punishment that can possibly be inflicted upon them, is to oblige them to sup in their own lodgings.


Of all the good that mortal men pursue,
The Muse has least to give, and gives to few.
The Newspaper.


ALL writers, tho' of diff'rent fancies,
Do make all people in romances,
That are distress'd and discontent,
Make songs, and sing t' an instrument,
And poets by their suff'rings grow;
As if there was no more to do,

To make a poet excellent,

But only want and discontent,

BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.

Advice to a young Poet.

WHEN you set about composing, it may be necessary for your ease, and better distillation of wit, to put on your worst clothes, and the worse the better; for an author, like a limb, will yield the better for having a rag about him: besides that I have observed a gardener cut the outward rind of a tree, (which is the surtout of it,) to make it bear well: and this is a natural account of the usual poverty of poets, and is an argument, why wits, of all men living, ought to be ill clad. I have always a sacred veneration for any one I observe to be a little out of repair in his person, as supposing him either a poet or a philosopher; because the richest minerals are ever found under the most ragged and withered surfaces of the earth.

SEVEN wealthy towns contend for Homer dead,*
Thro' which the living Homer begg'd his bread.

On Butler's Monument in Westminster Abbey.
WHILST Butler, needy wretch! was yet alive
No gen'rous patron would a dinner give;

See him, when starved to death, and turn'd to dust,
Presented with a monumental bust!

The poet's fate is here in emblems shown;

He asked for bread and he received a stone.

MYSELF was once a student, and indeed
Fed with the self-same humour he is now.
Dreaming on naught but idle poetry,
That fruitless and unprofitable art,

Good unto none but least to the professors;


Which then I thought the mistress of all knowledge,
But since, time and the truth have waked my judgment

And reason taught me better to distinguish

The vain from the useful learnings.

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HOOD observes that the phrase "republic of letters was hit upon to insinuate that, taking the whole lot of authors together, they had not got a sovereign amongst them.

It is not poetry that make men poor,

For few do write that were not so before;

And those that have writ best, had they been rich,


Had loved their ease too well to take the pains

To undergo that drudgery of brains;

But being for all other trades unfit,

Only t' avoid being idle set up wit.

BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.

*Homer's poverty, as taught by the Irish schoolmaster :
And eke the bard that sung of their renown,
In garb of Greece most beggar-like and torn,
He paints, with colly, wand'ring up and down;
Because, at once in seven cities born,

And so, of parish rights, was all his days forlorn.


CAPTAIN, or colonel, or knight in arms,

Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
If deed of honour did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms,
He can requite thee; for he knows the charms
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o'er lands and seas.
Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms,
Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower:
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground: and the repeated air
Of sad Electra's poet had the power

To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

MILTON. Sonnet, When the Assault was intended to the City.

FOR Rhyme the rudder is of verses,

With which like ships they steer their courses.

Hudibras, Part I., Canto 1.

HOLD, hold, quoth she, no more of this,

Sir Knight; you take your aim amiss:
For you will find it a hard chapter
To catch me with poetic rapture,

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate :
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

We poets, madder yet than all,
With a refined fantastic vanity,


Think we not only have, but give eternity.


In which your mastery of art
Doth show itself, and not your heart :
Nor will you raise in mine combustion
By dint of high heroic fustian.
She that with poetry is won,

Is but a desk to write upon;

And what men say of her they mean
No more than on the thing they lean.


Hudibras, Part II., Canto 1.

DEAR chorister, who from those shadows sends,
Ere that the blushing morn dare show her light,
Such sad lamenting strains, that night attends
(Become all ear), stars stay to hear thy plight;
If one whose grief even reach of thought transcends,
Who ne'er (not in a dream) did taste delight,
May thee importune who like ease pretends,*
And seem to joy in woe, in woe's despite ;
Tell me (so may thou fortune milder try,
And long long sing !) for what thou thus complains,
Since winter's gone, and sun in dappled sky
Enamour'd smiles, on woods and flow'ry plains?

The bird, as if my questions did her move,

With trembling wings sigh'd forth, I love, I love.

AND made him like a man abroad at morn
When first the liquid note beloved of men
Comes flying over many a windy wave

To Britain, and in April suddenly


Breaks from a coppice gemm'd with green and red,

And he suspends his converse with a friend,

Or it may be the labour of his hands,

To think or say, There is the Nightingale.


TENNYSON. Idylls, Enid.

FOR no man is judged fit to have the care
Of others' lives, unless he has made it known,
How much he does despise and scorn his own.

BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.

And that bewailing nightingales did borrow,
Plaints of my plaint, and sorrows of my sorrow.


IN desp❜rate cases, all, or most are known
Commanders; few for execution.


AND, like an hypocritic brother,

Profess'd one thing and did another.

As all things when they're most profess'd,

Are found to be regarded least.


BUTLER. Fragments.


THE intellect of the generality of women serves more to fortify their folly than their reason.



Gripe. WHY, what shall hinder me, insolence?

Flip. That which hinders most husbands; contradiction.
G. Suppose I resolve I won't be contradicted ?

F. Suppose she resolves you shall ?

G. A wife's resolution is not good by law.

F. Nor a husband's by custom.

VANBRUGH. The Confederacy.


Ulysses. TIME hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for Oblivion,

A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:

Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd

As fast as they are made, forgot as soon

As done perseverance, dear my lord,

Keeps honour bright: to have done, is to hang

Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail

In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,

Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by,

And leave you hindmost ;

Or, like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank,

Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,

O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours:

For Time is like a fashionable host,

That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand:

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