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In what character Butler was admitted into that Lady's service, how long he continued in it, and why he left it, is, like the other incidents of his life, utterly unknown.
The vicissitudes of his condition placed him afterwards in the family of Sir Samuel Luke, one of Cromwell's officers. Here he observed fo much of the character of the sectaries, that he is said to have written or begun his poem at this time; and it is likely that such a design would be formed in a place where he saw the principles and practices of the rebels, auda. cious and undisguised in the confidence of fuccess.
At length the King returned, and the time came in which loyalty hoped for its reward. Butler, however, was only made secretary to the Earl of Carbury, president of the principality of Wales ; who conferred on him the stewardship of Ludlow Castle, when the Court of the Marches was revived.
In this part of his life, he married Mrs. Herbert, a gentlewoman of a good family;
and lived, says Wood, upon her fortune, · having studied the common law, but never practised it.
A fortune she had, says his biographer, but it was lost by bad securities.
In 1663 was published the first part, containing three cantos, of the poem of Hudibras, which, as Prior relates, was made known at Court by the taste and influence of the Earl of Dorset. When it was known, it was necessarily admired: the king quoted, the courtiers studied, and the whole party of the royalists applauded it. Every eye watched for the golden shower which was to fall upon the author, who certainly was not without his part in the general expectation.
In 1664 the second part appeared; the curiosity of the nation was rekindled, and the writer was again praised and elated. But praise was his whole reward. Clarendon, says Wood, gave him reason to hope for “ places and employments of value and cre* dit;" but no such advantages did he ever obtain. It is reported that the King once gave him three hundred guineas; but of this temporary bounty I find no proof.
Wood relates that he was secretary to Villiers Duke of Buckingham, when he was Chancellor of Cambridge: this is doubted by the other writer, who yet allows the Duke to have been his frequent benefactor.
That both these accounts are falle there is reason to suspect, from a story told by Packe, in his account of the Life of Wycherley; and from some verses which Mr. Thyer has published in the author's Remains.
“ Mr. Wycherley," says Packe, “ had al" ways laid hold of an opportunity which * offered of representing to the Duke of
Buckingham how well Mr. Butler had de. “ served of the royal family, by writing his 6 inimitable Hudibras; and that it was à 66 reproach to the Court, that a person of his
loyalty and wit should suffer in obscurity, 6 and under the wants he did. The duke 86
always feemed to hearken to him with at“ tention enough; and after some time un* dertook to recommend his pretensions to “ his Majesty. Mr. Wycherley, in hopes to " keep him steady to his word, obtained of his Gracę to name a day, when he might
as introduce that modest and unfortunate poet *s to his new patron. At last an appoint“ ment was made, and the place of meeting “ was agreed to be the Roebuck. Mr. But" ler and his friend attended accordingly : “ the Duke joined them ; but, as the dal 66 would have it, the door of the room where ll they fat was open, and his Grace, who “ had sented himself near it, observing a “ pimp of his acquaintance (the creature too " was a knight) trip by with a brace of La6 dies, immediately quitted bis engagement, " to follow another kind of business, at s which he was more ready than in doing
good offices to men 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 !"
Such is the story. The verses are written with a degree of acrimony, such as neglect and disappointment might naturally excite and such as it would be hard to imagine Butler capable of expressing against a man who had any claim to his gratitude.
Notwithstanding this discouragement and neglect, he still prosecuted his design; and in 1678 published the third part, which still leaves the poein imperfect and abrupt. How much more he originally intended, or with what events the action was to be concluded, it is vain to conjecture. Nor can it be thought strange that he should stop here, however unexpectedly. To write without reward is fufficiently unplealing. He had now arrived at an age when he might think it proper to be in jcft no longer, and perhaps his health might now begin to fail.
He died in 1680 ; and Mr. Longueville, having unsuccessrully solicited a subscription for his interment in Weliminster Abbey, buried him at his own cost in the churchyard of Covent Garden *. Dr. Simon Patrick read the service,
In a note in the “ Biographia Britannica,” p. 1075, he is said, on the authority of the younger Mr. Longueville, to have lived for some years in Rose Street, Covent Garden, and alío that he died there ; the laiter of these particulars is rendered highly probable, by his being interred in the ceinetry of that parish. H.