Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler Poems

HE was in Logick a great Critick,
Profoundly skill'd in Analytick.
He could distinguish, and divide
A Hair 'twixt South and South-West side:
...

Sir Hudibras his passing worth,
The manner how he sallied forth;
His arms and equipage are shown;
...

She was too kind, wooed too persistently,
Wrote moving letters to me day by day;
The more she wrote, the more unmoved was I,
...

Our brethren of New England use
Choice malefactors to excuse,
And hang the guiltless in their stead,
Of whom the churches have less need;
...

That you're a beast, and turn'd to grass,
Is no strange news, nor ever was;
At least to me, who once you know,
Did from the pound replevin you,
...

I who was once as great as Caesar,
Am now reduc'd to Nebuchadnezzar;
And from as fam'd a conqueror
As ever took degree in war,
...

Samuel Butler Biography

Poet and satirist; born at Strensham in Worcestershire and educated at the King's School, Worcester. He then went to work as a secretary to Thomas Jefferey at Earl's Croom, near to Upton-upon-Severn. He took up painting and there are two portraits attributed to him in the nearby rectory.

Charles II is known to have had a high opinion of Butler's great religious satire Hudibras (1663-1678) and awarded him an annual pension of £100, although the writer still died in poverty.

Butler began Hudibras while lodging in Holborn around 1658. In 1661 he is recorded as being at Ludlow Castle as steward to Richard Vaughan, Earl of Carberry. During the Civil War the castle had been captured by Parliamentarians and the contents sold, but during the Restoration, when the Court of the Marches was revived, Carberry (the President) undertook to make the castle inhabitable again. Part of Samuel Butler's work at the castle was towards this end, with account books apparently showing him making payments to craftsmen working on the repairs. He is supposed to have married around this time and was certainly still working on Hudibras, a satire ridiculing religious hypocrisy, while at Ludlow. He gave up his stewardship in January 1662 and the first part of Hudibras was published in December of the same year.

The Best Poem Of Samuel Butler

The Metaphysical Sectarian

HE was in Logick a great Critick,
Profoundly skill'd in Analytick.
He could distinguish, and divide
A Hair 'twixt South and South-West side:
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands, and still confute.
He'd undertake to prove by force
Of Argument, a Man's no Horse.
He'd prove a Buzard is no Fowl,
And that a Lord may be an Owl;
A Calf an Alderman, a Goose a Justice,
And Rooks Committee-men and Trustees.
He'd run in Debt by Disputation,
And pay with Ratiocination.
All this by Syllogism, true
In Mood and Figure, he would do.

For Rhetorick, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a Trope:
And when he hapned to break off
I'th middle of his speech, or cough,
H'had hard words, ready to shew why,
And tell what Rules he did it by.
Else when with greatest Art he spoke,
You'd think he talk'd like other folk.
For all a Rhetoricians Rules
Teach nothing but to name his Tools.
His ordinary Rate of Speech
In loftiness of sound was rich,
A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned Pedants much affect.
It was a parti-colour'd dress
Of patch'd and pyball'd Languages:
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like Fustian heretofore on Sattin.
It had an odd promiscuous Tone,
As if h' had talk'd three parts in one.
Which made some think when he did gabble,
Th' had heard three Labourers of Babel;
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A Leash of Languages at once.
This he as volubly would vent,
As if his stock would ne'r be spent.
And truly to support that charge
He had supplies as vast and large.
For he could coyn or counterfeit
New words with little or no wit:
Words so debas'd and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on.
And when with hasty noise he spoke 'em,
The Ignorant for currant took 'em,
That had the Orator who once
Did fill his Mouth with Pebble stones
When he harangu'd, but known his Phrase,
He would have us'd no other ways.

In Mathematicks he was greater
Then Tycho Brahe, or Erra Pater:
For he by Geometrick scale
Could take the size of Pots of Ale;
Resolve by Signes and Tangents straight,
If Bread or Butter wanted weight;
And wisely tell what hour o'th day
The Clock does strike, by Algebra.

Beside he was a shrewd Philosopher;
And had read every Text and gloss over:
What e're the crabbed'st Author hath
He understood b'implicit Faith,
What ever Sceptick could inquere for;
For every why he had a wherefore:
Knew more then forty of them do,
As far as words and terms could go.
All which he understood by Rote,
And as occasion serv'd, would quote;
No matter whether right or wrong:
They might be either said or sung.
His Notions fitted things so well,
That which was which he could not tell;
But oftentimes mistook the one
For th'other, as Great Clerks have done.
He could reduce all things to Acts
And knew their Natures by Abstracts,
Where Entity and Quiddity
The Ghosts of defunct Bodies flie;
Where Truth in Person does appear,
Like words congeal'd in Northern Air.
He knew what's what, and that's as high
As Metaphysick wit can fly.
In School Divinity as able
As he that hight Irrefragable;
Profound in all the Nominal
And real ways beyond them all,
And with as delicate a Hand
Could twist as tough a Rope of Sand,
And weave fine Cobwebs, fit for skull
That's empty when the Moon is full;
Such as take Lodgings in a Head
That's to be lett unfurnished.
He could raise Scruples dark and nice,
And after solve 'em in a trice:
As if Divinity had catch'd
The Itch, of purpose to be scratch'd;
Or, like a Mountebank, did wound
And stab her self with doubts profound,
Onely to shew with how small pain
The sores of faith are cur'd again;
Although by woful proof we find,
They always leave a Scar behind.
He knew the Seat of Paradise,
Could tell in what degree it lies:
And, as he was dispos'd, could prove it,
Below the Moon, or else above it:
What Adam dreamt of when his Bride
Came from her Closet in his side:
Whether the Devil tempted her
By a High Dutch Interpreter:
If either of them had a Navel;
Who first made Musick malleable:
Whether the Serpent at the fall
Had cloven Feet, or none at all,
All this without a Gloss or Comment,
He would unriddle in a moment
In proper terms, such as men smatter
When they throw out and miss the matter.

Samuel Butler Comments

Samuel Butler Quotes

Thought reading is like the circulation of the blood. We are all thought readers only we don't pay attention to it.

If the wages of sin are death, what else, I should like to know, is the wages of virtue?

To die is but to leave off dying and do the thing once for all.

I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

There are more fools than knaves in the world, else the knaves would not have enough to live upon.

Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them.

For every why he had a wherefore.

Bodily offspring I do not leave, but mental offspring I do. Well, my books do not have to be sent to school and college, and then insist on going into the church, or take to drinking, or marry their mother's maid.

Evil is like water, it abounds, is cheap, soon fouls, but runs itself clear of taint.

A lawyer's dream of Heaven: Every man reclaimed his own property at the resurrection, and each tried to recover it from all his forefathers.

The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.

Logic is like the sword—those who appeal to it, shall perish by it.

I said in my novel that the clergyman is a kind of human Sunday. Jones and I settled that my sister May was a kind of human Good Friday and Mrs. Bovill an Easter Monday or some other Bank Holiday.

The only living works are those which have drained much of the author's own life into them.

Academic and aristocratic people live in such an uncommon atmosphere that common sense can rarely reach them.

To know is to know the things belonging to one's peace.

Our ideas are for the most part like bad sixpences, and we spend our lives trying to pass them on one another.

The healthy stomach is nothing if it is not conservative. Few radicals have good digestions.

A genius can never expect to have a good time anywhere, if he is a genuine article, but America is about the last place in which life will be endurable at all for an inspired writer of any kind.

The seven deadly sins: Want of money, bad health, bad temper, chastity, family ties, knowing that you know things, and believing in the Christian religion.

People are lucky and unlucky not according to what they get absolutely, but according to the ratio between what they get and what they have been led to expect.

Entertaining angels unawares: It is always we who are to entertain the angels, and never they us. I cannot, however, think that an angel would be a very entertaining person, either as guest or host.

Women can stand a beating except when it is with their own weapons.

Words are not as satisfactory as we should like them to be, but, like our neighbours, we have got to live with them and must make the best and not the worst of them.

Man is a jelly which quivers so much as to run about.

Our minds want clothes as much as our bodies.

A man should be just cultured enough to be able to look with suspicion upon culture at first, not second hand.

I believe that he was really sorry that people would not believe he was sorry that he was not more sorry.

Sight and all the other senses are only modes of touch.

In old times people used to try and square the circle; now they try and devise schemes for satisfying the Irish nation.

The want of money is the root of all evil.

A man may begin as a bad sound, or even as a bad echo, but he is to be distrusted if he begins as a good echo.

Priests are not men of the world; it is not intended that they should be; and a University training is the one best adapted to prevent their becoming so.

The little Strangs say the "good words," as they call them, before going to bed, aloud and at their father's knee, or rather in the pit of his stomach. One of them was lately heard to say "Forgive us our christmasses as we forgive them that christmas against us."

The youth of an art is, like the youth of anything else, its most interesting period. When it has come to the knowledge of good and evil it is stronger, but we care less about it.

It is a wise tune that knows its own father, and I like my music to be the legitimate offspring of respectable parents.

A sense of humour keen enough to show a man his own absurdities as well as those of other people will keep a man from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing.

Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.

Arguments are like fire-arms which a man may keep at home but should not carry about with him.

Be virtuous—and you will be vicious.

Science, after all, is only an expression for our ignorance of our own ignorance.

The first duty of a conscientious person is to have his or her conscience absolutely under his or her own control.

Don't learn to do, but learn in doing. Let your falls not be on a prepared ground, but let them be bona fide falls in the rough and tumble of the world.

Let every man be true and every god a liar.

Vaccination is the medical sacrament corresponding to baptism. Whether it is or is not more efficacious I do not know.

Faith: You can do very little with it, but you can do nothing without it.

The family: I believe more unhappiness comes from this source than from any other—I mean the attempt to prolong family connection unduly, and to make people hang together artificially who would never naturally do so.

The better part of valour is indiscretion.

Justice is my being allowed to do whatever I like. Injustice is whatever prevents my doing so.

Samuel Butler Popularity

Samuel Butler Popularity

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