The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.
§ 3. Butlers Life before and after the Restoration
Only scanty materials for an account of Samuel Butler’s life survive. The son of a farmer, he was born at Strensham in Worcestershire, 8 February, 1612, and died in London in the year 1680. He was educated at the cathedral school at Worcester, and, judging by his proficiency in classical literature, must have been exceedingly well grounded. Afterwards, he lived in or near Cambridge, but does not seem to have entered at any one of the colleges or to have been a member of the university. Later, he was engaged as an attendant or secretary to Elizabeth, countess of Kent, at Wrest in Bedfordshire. This was an important period of his life, for John Selden, the accomplished lawyer, passed at least three long vacations (1626–8) under the same roof, and interested himself in Butler. It may, perhaps, be fanciful to find in the lawyer’s fondness for illustration and analogy in his Table Talk the suggestion of the similar treatment of his subjects in the droll similes and comparisons that meet us often in Butler’s writings.