Nothing is known about the author of this timely and witty adaptation of Hudibras other than that he was a solicitor. The three-part mock-romantic poem by Samuel Butler concerning the adventures of the Don Quixote-like Sir Hudibras, a Presbyterian ‘Knight’ (the first two parts were published in 1663), was an allusive and highly sceptical satire on the hypocrisy and prejudice exemplified by narrow-minded religious and political beliefs that Butler saw all around him. Most important for this adaptation, however, was its satire on Non-conformist and Dissenting religions, and the politics of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period. Out of these materials Peart has constructed an elaborate continuation in which Sir Hudibras is aligned with the dissenters who fomented the Civil war and who plan to emigrate to the American colonies to sow the seeds of future rebellion there. Peart uses another important allusion, John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), when he has Hudibras echo the speeches of Satan after the rebellion in Heaven and his plans to overthrow Eden. To many Britons the war with the colonies presaged another paradise lost.
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- Joseph Peart, from A Continuation of Hudibras in Two Cantos. Written in the Time of the Unhappy Contest between Great Britain and America, in 1777 and 1778 (1778)
Stephen H. Gregg
- Macmillan Education UK
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