Hudibras: Part 2 - Canto II
The Knight and Squire, in hot dispute,
Within an ace of falling out,
Are parted with a sudden fright
Of strange alarm, and stranger sight;
With which adventuring to stickle,
They're sent away in nasty pickle.
'Tis strange how some mens' tempers suit
(Like bawd and brandy) with dispute,
That for their own opinions stand last
Only to have them claw'd and canvast;
That keep their consciences in cases,
As fiddlers do their crowds and bases,
Ne'er to be us'd, but when they're bent
To play a fit for argument;
Make true and false, unjust and just,
Of no use but to be discust;
Dispute, and set a paradox
Like a straight boot upon the stocks,
And stretch it more unmercifully
Than HELMONT, MONTAIGN, WHITE, or TULLY,
So th' ancient Stoicks, in their porch,
With fierce dispute maintain'd their church;
Beat out their brains in fight and study,
To prove that Virtue is a Body;
That Bonum is an Animal,
Made good with stout polemic brawl;
in which some hundreds on the place
Were slain outright; and many a face
Retrench'd of nose, and eyes, and beard,
To maintain what their sect averr'd;
All which the Knight and Squire, in wrath,
Had like t' have suffered for their faith,
Each striving to make good his own,
As by the sequel shall be shown.
The Sun had long since, in the lap
Of THETIS, taken out his nap,
And, like a lobster boil'd, the morn
From black to red began to turn,
When HUDIBRAS, whom thoughts and aking,
'Twixt sleeping kept all night and waking,
Began to rub his drowsy eyes,
And from his couch prepar'd to rise,
Resolving to dispatch the deed
He vow'd to do with trusty speed.
But first, with knocking loud, and bawling,
He rouz'd the Squire, in truckle lolling;
And, after many circumstances,
Which vulgar authors, in romances,
Do use to spend their time and wits on,
To make impertinent description,
They got (with much ado) to horse,
And to the Castle bent their course,
In which he to the Dame before
To suffer whipping duly swore;
Where now arriv'd, and half unharnest,
To carry on the work in earnest,
He stopp'd, and paus'd upon the sudden,
And with a serious forehead plodding,
Sprung a new scruple his head,
Which first he scratch'd, and after said -
Whether it be direct infringing
An oath, if I should wave this swingeing,
And what I've sworn to bear, forbear,
And so b' equivocation swear,
Or whether it be a lesser sin
To be forsworn than act the thing,
Are deep and subtle points, which must,
T' inform my conscience, be discust;
In which to err a tittle may
To errors infinite make way;
And therefore I desire to know
Thy judgment e'er we further go.
Quoth Ralpho, Since you do enjoin't,
I shall enlarge upon the point;
And, for my own part, do not doubt
Th' affirmative may be made out,
But first, to state the case aright,
For best advantage of our light,
And thus 'tis: Whether 't be a sin
To claw and curry your own skin,
Greater or less, than to forbear,
And that you are forsworn, forswear.
But first, o' th' first: The inward man,
And outward, like a clan and clan,
Have always been at daggers-drawing,
And one another clapper-clawing.
Not that they really cuff, or fence,
But in a Spiritual Mystick sense;
Which to mistake, and make 'em squabble
In literal fray's abominable.
'Tis heathenish, in frequent use
With Pagans and apostate Jews,
To offer sacrifice of bridewells,
Like modern Indians to their idols;
And mongrel Christians of our times,
That expiate less with greater crimes,
And call the foul abomination,
Contrition and mortification.
Is 't not enough we're bruis'd and kicked
With sinful members of the wicked,
Our vessels, that are sanctify'd,
Prophan'd and curry'd back and side,
But we must claw ourselves with shameful
And heathen stripes, by their example;
Which (were there nothing to forbid it)
Is impious because they did it;
This, therefore, may be justly reckon'd
A heinous sin. Now to the second
That Saints may claim a dispensation
To swear and forswear, on occasion,
I doubt not but it will appear
With pregnant light: the point is clear.
Oaths are but words, and words but wind;
Too feeble implements to bind;
And hold with deeds proportion so
As shadows to a substance do.
Then when they strive for place, 'tis fit
The weaker vessel should submit.
Although your Church be opposite
To ours as Black Friars are to White,
In rule and order, yet I grant,
You are a Reformado Saint;
And what the Saints do claim as due,
You may pretend a title to:
But Saints whom oaths and vows oblige,
Know little of their privilege;
Further (I mean) than carrying on
Some self-advantage of their own:
For if the Dev'l, to serve his turn,
Can tell troth, why the Saints should scorn,
When it serves theirs, to swear and lye;
I think there's little reason why:
Else h' has a greater pow'r than they,
Which 't were impiety to say.
W' are not commanded to forbear
Indefinitely at all to swear;
But to swear idly, and in vain,
Without self-interest or gain
For breaking of an oath, and lying,
Is but a kind of self-denying;
A Saint-like virtue: and from hence
Some have broke oaths by Providence
Some, to the glory of the Lord,
Perjur'd themselves, and broke their word;
And this the constant rule and practice
Of all our late Apostles acts is.
Was not the cause at first begun
With perjury, and carried on?
Was there an oath the Godly took,
But in due time and place they broke?
Did we not bring our oaths in first,
Before our plate, to have them burst,
And cast in fitter models for
The present use of Church and War?
Did not our Worthies of the House,
Before they broke the peace, break vows?
For having freed us first from both
Th' Allegiance and Supremacy Oath,
Did they not next compel the Nation
To take and break the Protestation?
To swear, and after to recant
The solemn League and Covenant?
To take th' Engagement, and disclaim it,
Enforc'd by those who first did frame it
Did they not swear, at first, to fight
For the KING'S Safety and his Right,
And after march'd to find him out,
And charg'd him home with horse and foot;
But yet still had the confidence
To swear it was in his defence
Did they not swear to live and die
With Essex, and straight laid him by?
If that were all, for some have swore
As false as they, if th' did no more,
Did they not swear to maintain Law,
In which that swearing made a flaw?
For Protestant Religion vow,
That did that vowing disallow?
For Privilege of Parliament,
In which that swearing made a rent?
And since, of all the three, not one
Is left in being, 'tis well known.
Did they not swear, in express words,
To prop and back the House of Lords,
And after turn'd out the whole House-full
Of Peers, as dang'rous and unusefull?
So CROMWELL, with deep oaths and vows,
Swore all the Commons out o' th' House;
Vow'd that the red-coats would disband,
Ay, marry wou'd they, at their command;
And troll'd them on, and swore, and swore,
Till th' army turn'd them out of door.
This tells us plainly what they thought,
That oaths and swearing go for nought,
And that by them th' were only meant
To serve for an expedient.
What was the Public Faith found out for,
But to slur men of what they fought for
The Public Faith, which ev'ry one
Is bound t' observe, yet kept by none;
And if that go for nothing, why
Should Private Faith have such a tye?
Oaths were not purpos'd more than law,
To keep the good and just in awe,
But to confine the bad and sinful,
Like moral cattle, in a pinfold.
A Saint's of th' Heav'nly Realm a Peer;
And as no Peer is bound to swear,
But on the Gospel of his Honour,
Of which he may dispose as owner,
It follows, though the thing be forgery,
And false th' affirm, it is no perjury,
But a mere ceremony, and a breach
Of nothing, but a form of speech;
And goes for no more when 'tis took,
Than mere saluting of the book.
Suppose the Scriptures are of force,
They're but commissions of course,
And Saints have freedom to digress,
And vary from 'em, as they please;
Or mis-interpret them, by private
Instructions, to all aims they drive at.
Then why should we ourselves abridge
And curtail our own privilege?
Quakers (that, like to lanthorns, bear
Their light within 'em) will not swear
Their gospel is an accidence,
By which they construe conscience,
And hold no sin so deeply red,
As that of breaking Priscian's head;
(The head and founder of their order,)
That stirring Hat's held worse than murder.
These thinking th' are oblig'd to troth
In swearing, will not take an oath
Like mules, who, if th' have not their will
To keep their own pace, stand stock-still:
But they are weak, and little know
What free-born consciences may do.
'Tis the temptation of the Devil
That makes all human actions evil
For Saints may do the same things by
The Spirit, in sincerity,
Which other men are tempted to,
And at the Devil's instance do
And yet the actions be contrary,
Just as the Saints and Wicked vary.
For as on land there is no beast,
But in some fish at sea's exprest,
So in the Wicked there's no Vice,
Of which the Saints have not a spice;
And yet that thing that's pious in
The one, in th' other is a sin.
Is't not ridiculous, and nonsense,
A Saint should be a slave to conscience,
That ought to be above such fancies,
As far as above ordinances?
She's of the wicked, as I guess,
B' her looks, her language, and her dress:
And though, like constables, we search,
For false wares, one another's Church,
Yet all of us hold this for true,
No Faith is to the wicked due;
For truth is precious and divine;
Too rich a pearl for carnal swine,
Quoth HUDIBRAS, All this is true;
Yet 'tis not fit that all men knew,
Those mysteries and revelations,
And therefore topical evasions
Of subtle turns and shifts of sense,
Serve best with th' wicked for pretence,
Such as the learned Jesuits use,
And Presbyterians for excuse
Against the Protestants, when th' happen
To find their Churches taken napping:
As thus: A breach of oath is duple,
And either way admits a scruple,
And may be, ex parte of the maker
More criminal than th' injur'd taker;
For he that strains too far a vow,
Will break it, like an o'er-bent bow:
And he that made, and forc'd it, broke it,
Not he that for convenience took it.
A broken oath is, quatenus oath,
As sound t' all purposes of troth,
As broken laws are ne'er the worse;
Nay, till th' are broken have no force.
What's justice to a man, or laws,
That never comes within their claws
They have no pow'r, but to admonish:
Cannot controul, coerce, or punish,
Until they're broken, and then touch
Those only that do make 'em such.
Beside, no engagement is allow'd
By men in prison made for good;
For when they're set at liberty,
They're from th' engagement too set free.
The rabbins write, when any Jew
Did make to God, or man, a vow,
Which afterward he found untoward,
And stubborn to be kept, or too hard,
Any three other Jews o' th' nation,
Might free him from the obligation
And have not two saints pow'r to use
A greater privilege than three Jews?
The court of conscience, which in man
Should be supreme and sovereign,
Is't fit should be subordinate
To ev'ry petty court i' the state,
And have less power than the lesser,
To deal with perjury at pleasure?
Have its proceedings disallow'd, or
Allow'd, at fancy of Pye-Powder?
Tell all it does, or does not know,
For swearing ex officio?
Be forc'd t' impeach a broken hedge,
And pigs unring'd at Vis. Franc. Pledge?
Discover thieves, and bawds, recusants,
Priests, witches, eves-droppers, and nuisance:
Tell who did play at games unlawful,
And who fill'd pots of ale but half-full
And have no pow'r at all, nor shift,
To help itself at a dead lift
Why should not conscience have vacation
As well as other courts o' th' nation
Have equal power to adjourn,
Appoint appearance and return;
And make as nice distinction serve
To split a case, as those that carve,
Invoking cuckolds' names, hit joints;
Why should not tricks as slight do points
Is not th' High-Court of Justice sworn
To judge that law that serves their turn,
Make their own jealousies high-treason,
And fix 'm whomsoe'er they please on?
Cannot the learned counsel there
Make laws in any shape appear?
Mould 'em as witches do their clay,
When they make pictures to destroy
And vex 'em into any form
That fits their purpose to do harm?
Rack 'em until they do confess,
Impeach of treason whom they please,
And most perfidiously condemn
Those that engag'd their lives for them?
And yet do nothing in their own sense,
But what they ought by oath and conscience?
Can they not juggle, and, with slight
Conveyance, play with wrong and right;
And sell their blasts of wind as dear
As Lapland witches bottled air?
Will not fear, favour, bribe and grudge
The same case sev'ral ways adjudge?
As seamen, with the self-same gale,
Will sev'ral different courses sail?
As when the sea breaks o'er its bounds,
And overflows the level grounds,
Those banks and dams, that, like a screen,
Did keep it out, now keep it in;
So when tyrannic usurpation
Invades the freedom of a nation,
The laws o' th' land, that were intended
To keep it out, are made defend it.
Does not in chanc'ry ev'ry man swear
What makes best for him in his answer?
Is not the winding up witnesses
And nicking more than half the bus'ness?
For witnesses, like watches, go
Just as they're set, too fast or slow;
And where in conscience they're strait-lac'd,
'Tis ten to one that side is cast.
Do not your juries give their verdict
As if they felt the cause, not heard it?
And as they please, make matter of fact
Run all on one side, as they're pack't?
Nature has made man's breast no windores,
To publish what he does within doors,
Nor what dark secrets there inhabit,
Unless his own rash folly blab it.
If oaths can do a man no good
In his own bus'ness, why they shou'd
In other matters do him hurt,
I think there's little reason for't.
He that imposes an oath, makes it,
Not he that for convenience takes it:
Then how can any man be said
To break an oath he never made?
These reasons may, perhaps, look oddly
To th' Wicked, though th' evince the Godly;
But if they will not serve to clear
My honour, I am ne'er the near.
Honour is like that glassy bubble
That finds philosophers such trouble,
Whose least part crack't, the whole does fly,
And wits are crack'd to find out why.
Quoth RALPHO, Honour's but a word
To swear by only in a Lord:
In other men 'tis but a huff,
To vapour with instead of proof;
That, like a wen, looks big and swells,
Is senseless, and just nothing else.
Let it (quoth he) be what it will,
It has the world's opinion still.
But as men are not wise that run
The slightest hazard they may shun,
There may a medium be found out
To clear to all the world the doubt;
And that is, if a man may do't,
By proxy whipt, or substitute.
Though nice and dark the point appear,
(Quoth RALPH) it may hold up and clear.
That sinners may supply the place
Of suff'ring Saints is a plain case.
Justice gives sentence many times
On one man for another's crimes.
Our brethren of NEW ENGLAND use
Choice malefactors to excuse,
And hang the guiltless in their stead,
Of whom the Churches have less need;
As lately 't happen'd: In a town
There liv'd a cobler, and but one,
That out of doctrine could cut use,
And mend men's lives as well as shoes,
This precious brother having slain,
In time of peace, an Indian,
(Not out of malice, but mere zeal,
Because he was an Infidel,)
The mighty TOTTIPOTTYMOY
Sent to our elders an envoy,
Complaining sorely of the breach
Of league held forth by brother Patch
Against the articles in force
Between both Churches, his and ours
For which he crav'd the Saints to render
Into his hands or hang th' offender
But they maturely having weigh'd,
They had no more but him o' th' trade,
(A man that serv'd them in a double
Capacity, to teach and cobble,)
Resolv'd to spare him; yet, to do
The Indian Hoghgan Moghgan too
Impartial justice, in his stead did
Hang an old Weaver, that was bed-rid.
Then wherefore way not you be skipp'd,
And in your room another whipp'd?
For all Philosophers, but the Sceptick,
Hold whipping may be sympathetick.
It is enough, quoth HUDIBRAS,
Thou hast resolv'd and clear'd the case
And canst, in conscience, not refuse
From thy own doctrine to raise use.
I know thou wilt not (for my sake)
Be tender-conscienc'd of thy back.
Then strip thee off thy carnal jerking,
And give thy outward-fellow a ferking;
For when thy vessel is new hoop'd,
All leaks of sinning will be stopp'd.
Quoth RALPHO, You mistake the matter;
For in all scruples of this nature,
No man includes himself, nor turns
The point upon his own concerns.
As no man of his own self catches
The itch, or amorous French aches
So no man does himself convince,
By his own doctrine, of his sins
And though all cry down self, none means
His ownself in a literal sense.
Beside, it is not only foppish,
But vile, idolatrous and Popish,
For one man, out of his own skin,
To ferk and whip another's sin;
As pedants out of school-boys' breeches
Do claw and curry their own itches.
But in this case it is prophane,
And sinful too, because in vain;
For we must take our oaths upon it,
You did the deed, when I have done it.
Quoth HUDIBRAS, That's answer'd soon
Give us the whip, we'll lay it on.
Quoth RALPHO, That we may swear true,
'Twere properer that I whipp'd you
For when with your consent 'tis done,
The act is really your own.
Quoth HUDIBRAS, It is in vain
(I see) to argue 'gainst the grain;
Or, like the stars, incline men to
What they're averse themselves to do:
For when disputes are weary'd out,
'Tis interest still resolves the doubt
But since no reason can confute ye,
I'll try to force you to your duty
For so it is, howe'er you mince it;
As ere we part, I shall evince it
And curry (if you stand out) whether
You will or no, your stubborn leather.
Canst thou refuse to hear thy part
I' th' publick work, base as thou art?
To higgle thus for a few blows,
To gain thy Knight an op'lent spouse
Whose wealth his bowels yearn to purchase,
Merely for th' interest of the Churches;
And when he has it in his claws,
Will not be hide-bound to the Cause?
Nor shalt thou find him a Curmudgin,
If thou dispatch it without grudging.
If not, resolve, before we go,
That you and I must pull a crow.
Y' had best (quoth RALPHO) as the ancients
Say wisely, Have a care o' th' main chance,
And look before you ere you leap;
For as you sow, y' are like to reap:
And were y' as good as George-a-Green,
I shall make bold to turn agen
Nor am I doubtful of the issue
In a just quarrel, and mine is so.
Is't fitting for a man of honour
To whip the Saints, like Bishop Bonner?
A Knight t' usurp the beadle's office,
For which y' are like to raise brave trophies.
But I advise you (not for fear,
But for your own sake) to forbear;
And for the Churches, which may chance,
From hence, to spring a variance;
And raise among themselves new scruples,
Whom common danger hardly couples.
Remember how, in arms and politicks,
We still have worsted all your holy tricks;
Trepann'd your party with intrigue,
And took your grandees down a peg;
New modell'd th' army, and cashier'd
All that to legion SMEC adher'd;
Made a mere utensil o' your Church,
And after left it in the lurch
A scaffold to build up our own,
And, when w' had done with't, pull'd it down
Capoch'd your Rabbins of the Synod,
And snap'd their Canons with a why-not;
(Grave Synod Men, that were rever'd
For solid face and depth of beard);
Their classic model prov'd a maggot,
Their direct'ry an Indian Pagod;
And drown'd their discipline like a kitten,
On which they'd been so long a sitting;
Decry'd it as a holy cheat,
Grown out of date, and obsolete;
And all the Saints of the first grass
As casting foals of Balaam's ass.
At this the Knight grew high in chafe,
And staring furiously on RALPH,
He trembled, and look'd pale with ire
Like ashes first, then red as fire.
Have I (quoth he) been ta'en in fight,
And for so many moons lain by't,
And, when all other means did fail,
Have been exchang'd for tubs of ale?
Not but they thought me worth a ransome
Much more consid'rable and handsome,
But for their own sakes, and for fear
They were not safe when I was there
Now to be baffled by a scoundrel,
An upstart sect'ry, and a mungrel;
Such as breed out of peccant humours,
Of our own Church, like wens or tumours,
And, like a maggot in a sore,
Would that which gave it life devour;
It never shall be done or said;
With that he seiz'd upon his blade;
And RALPHO too, as quick and bold,
Upon his basket-hilt laid hold,
With equal readiness prcpar'd
To draw, and stand upon his guard;
When both were parted on the sudden,
With hideous clamour, and a loud one
As if all sorts of noise had been
Contracted into one loud din;
Or that some member to be chosen,
Had got the odds above a thousand,
And by the greatness of its noise,
Prov'd fittest for his country's choice.
This strange surprisal put the Knight
And wrathful Squire into a fright;
And though they stood prepar'd, with fatal
Impetuous rancour to join battel,
Both thought it was the wisest course
To wave the fight and mount to horse,
And to secure by swift retreating,
Themselves from danger of worse beating.
Yet neither of them would disparage,
By utt'ring of his mind, his courage,
Which made them stoutly keep their ground,
With horror and disdain wind-bound.
And now the cause of all their fear
By slow degrees approach'd so near,
They might distinguish different noise
Of horns, and pans, and dogs, and boys,
And kettle-drums, whose sullen dub
Sounds like the hooping of a tub.
But when the sight appear'd in view,
They found it was an antique show;
A triumph, that, for pomp and state,
Did proudest Romans emulate:
For as the aldermen of Rome
Their foes at training overcome,
And not enlarging territory,
(As some mistaken write in Story,)
Being mounted, in their best array,
Upon a carr, and who but they!
And follow'd with a world of tall-lads,
That merry ditties troll'd, and ballads,
Did ride with many a good-morrow,
Crying, Hey for our Town! through the Borough
So when this triumph drew so nigh
They might particulars descry,
They never saw two things so pat,
In all respects, as this and that.
First, he that led the cavalcade,
Wore a sow-gelder's flagellate,
On which he blew as strong a levet
As well-fee'd lawyer on his breviate,
When over one another's heads
They charge (three ranks at once) like Swedes,
Next pans and kettle, of all keys,
From trebles down to double base;
And after them, upon a nag,
That might pass for a forehand stag,
A cornet rode, and on his staff
A smock display'd did proudly wave.
Then bagpipes of the loudest drones,
With snuffling broken-winded tones,
Whose blasts of air, in pockets shut
Sound filthier than from the gut,
And make a viler noise than swine
In windy weather, when they whine.
Next one upon a pair of panniers,
Full fraught with that which for good manners
Shall here be nameless, mixt with grains,
Which he dispens'd among the swains,
And busily upon the crowd
At random round about bestow'd.
Then, mounted on a horned horse,
One bore a gauntlet and gilt spurs,
Ty'd to the pummel of a long sword
He held reverst, the point turn'd downward,
Next after, on a raw-bon'd steed,
The conqueror's standard-bearer rid,
And bore aloft before the champion
A petticoat display'd, and rampant
Near whom the Amazon triumphant
Bestrid her beast, and on the rump on't
Sat face to tail, and bum to bum,
The warrior whilom overcome;
Arm'd with a spindle and a distaff,
Which, as he rode, she made him twist off;
And when he loiter'd, o'er her shoulder
Chastis'd the reformado soldier.
Before the dame, and round about,
March'd whifflers and staffiers on foot,
With lackies, grooms, valets, and pages,
In fit and proper equipages;
Of whom some torches bore, some links,
Before the proud virago minx,
That was both Madam and a Don,
Like NERO'S SPORUS, or POPE JOAN;
And at fit periods the whole rout
Set up their throats with clamorous shout.
The Knight, transported, and the Squire,
Put up their weapons, and their ire;
And HUDIBRAS, who us'd to ponder
On such sights with judicious wonder,
Could hold no longer to impart
His animadversions, for his heart.
Quoth he, In all my life, till now,
I ne'er saw so prophane a show.
It is a Paganish invention, -
Which heathen writers often mention:
And he who made it had read GOODWIN,
Or Ross, or CAELIUS RHODOGINE,
With all the Grecians, SPEEDS and STOWS,
That best describe those ancient shows;
And has observ'd all fit decorums
We find describ'd by old historians:
For as the Roman conqueror,
That put an end to foreign war,
Ent'ring the town in triumph for it,
Bore a slave with him, in his chariot;
So this insulting female brave,
Carries behind her here a slave:
And as the ancients long ago,
When they in field defy'd the foe,
Hung out their mantles della guerre,
So her proud standard-bearer here
Waves on his spear, in dreadful manner,
A Tyrian-petticoat for banner:
Next links and torches, heretofore
Still borne before the emperor.
And as, in antique triumphs, eggs
Were borne for mystical intrigues,
There's one with truncheon, like a ladle,
That carries eggs too, fresh or addle;
And still at random, as he goes,
Among the rabble-rout bestows.
Quoth Ralpho, You mistake the matter;
For all th' antiquity you smatter,
Is but a riding, us'd of course
When the grey mare's the better horse;
When o'er the breeches greedy women
Fight to extend their vast dominion;
And in the cause impatient Grizel
Has drubb'd her Husband with bull's pizzle,
And brought him under Covert-Baron,
To turn her vassal with a murrain;
When wives their sexes shift, like hares,
And ride their husbands like night-mares,
And they in mortal battle vanquish'd,
Are of their charter disenfranchis'd
And by the right of war, like gills,
Condemn'd to distaff, horns, and wheels:
For when men by their wives are cow'd,
Their horns of course are understood
Quoth HUDIBRAS thou still giv'st sentence
Impertinently, and against sense.
Tis not the least disparagement
To be defeated by th' event,
Nor to be beaten by main force;
That does not make a man the worse,
Although his shoulders with battoon
Be claw'd and cudgel'd to some tune.
A taylor's 'prentice has no hard
Measure that's bang'd with a true yard:
But to turn tail, or run away,
And without blows give up the day,
Or to surrender ere th' assault,
That's no man's fortune, but his fault,
And renders men of honour less
Than all th' adversity of success;
And only unto such this shew
Of horns and petticoats is due.
There is a lesser profanation,
Like that the Romans call'd ovation:
For as ovation was allow'd
For conquest purchas'd without blood,
So men decree these lesser shows
For victory gotten without blows,
By dint of sharp hard words, which some
Give battle with, and overcome.
These mounted in a chair-curule,
Which moderns call a cucking-stool,
March proudly to the river's side,
And o'er the waves in triumph ride;
Like Dukes of VENICE, who are said
The Adriatick Sea to wed;
And have a gentler wife than those
For whom the State decrees those shows,
But both are heathenish, and come
From th' whores of Babylon and Rome;
And by the Saints should be withstood,
As Antichristian and lewd;
And as such, should now contribute
Our utmost struggling to prohibit.
This said, they both advanc'd, and rode
A dog-trot through the bawling crowd,
T'attack the leader, and still prest,
Till they approach'd him breast to breast
Then HUDIBRAS, with face and hand,
Made signs for silence; which obtain'd,
What means (quoth he) this Devil's precession
With men of orthodox profession?
'Tis ethnic and idolatrous,
From heathenism deriv'd to us,
Does not the Whore of Babylon ride
Upon her horned beast astride
Like this proud dame, who either is
A type of her, or she of this?
Are things of superstitious function
Fit to be us'd in Gospel Sun-shine?
It is an Antichristian opera,
Much us'd in midnight times of Popery,
Of running after self-inventions
Of wicked and profane intentions;
To scandalize that sex for scolding,
To whom the Saints are so beholden.
Women, who were our first Apostles
Without whose aid we had been lost else;
Women, that left no stone unturn'd
In which the Cause might he concern'd;
Brought in their children's' spoons and whistles,
To purchase swords, carbines, and pistols;
Their husbands, cullies, and sweet-hearts,
To take the Saints and Churches' parts;
Drew several gifted Brethren in,
That for the Bishops would have been,
And fix'd 'em constant to the party,
With motives powerful and hearty;
Their husbands robb'd, and made hard shifts
T'administer unto their gifts
All they cou'd rap, and rend, and pilfer,
To scraps and ends of gold and silver;
Rubb'd down the Teachers, tir'd and spent
With holding forth for Parliament,
Pamper'd and edify'd their zeal
With marrow-puddings many a meal;
And led them, with store of meat,
On controverted points to eat;
And cram'd 'em, till their guts did ake,
With cawdle, custard, and plum-cake:
What have they done, or what left undone,
That might advance the Cause at London?
March'd rank and file, with drum and ensign,
T'intrench the city for defence in
Rais'd rampiers with their own soft hands,
To put the enemy to stands;
From ladies down to oyster-wenches,
Labour'd like pioneers in trenches;
Fell to their pick-axes, and tools,
And help'd the men to dig like moles?
Have not the handmaids of the city
Chose of their members a committee,
For raising of a common purse
Out of their wages to raise horse?
And do they not as triers sit,
To judge what officers are fit
Have they -? At that an egg let fly,
Hit him directly o'er the eye,
And running down his cheek, besmear'd,
With orange tawny slime, his beard;
But beard and slime being of one hue,
The wound the less appear'd in view.
Then he that on the panniers rode,
Let fly on th' other side a load,
And, quickly charg'd again, gave fully
In RALPHO'S face another volley.
The Knight was startled with the smell,
And for his sword began to feel;
And RALPHO, smother'd with the stink,
Grasp'd his; when one, that bore a link,
O' th' sudden clapp'd his flaming cudgel,
Like linstock, to the horse's touch-hole;
And straight another, with his flambeaux,
Gave RALPHO'S o'er the eye a damn'd blow.
The beasts began to kick and fling,
And forc'd the rout to make a ring,
Through which they quickly broke their way,
And brought them off from further fray;
And though disorder'd in retreat,
Each of them stoutly kept his seat
For quitting both their swords and reins,
They grasp'd with all their strength the manes,
And, to avoid the foe's pursuit,
With spurring put their cattle to't;
And till all four were out of wind,
And danger too, ne'er look'd behind.
After th' had paus'd a while, supplying
Their spirits, spent with fight and flying,
And HUDIBRAS recruited force
Of lungs, for action or discourse,
Quoth he, That man is sure to lose
That fouls his hands with dirty foes:
For where no honour's to be gain'd,
'Tis thrown away in b'ing maintain'd.
'Twas ill for us we had to do
With so dishonourable a foe:
For though the law of arms doth bar
The use of venom'd shot in war,
Yet, by the nauseous smell, and noisome,
Their case-shot savours strong of poison;
And doubtless have been chew'd with teeth
Of some that had a stinking breath;
Else, when we put it to the push,
They have not giv'n us such a brush.
But as those pultroons, that fling dirt,
Do but defile, but cannot hurt,
So all the honour they have won,
Or we have lost, is much as one,
'Twas well we made so resolute
And brave retreat without pursuit;
For if we had not, we had sped
Much worse, to be in triumph led;
Than which the ancients held no state
Of man's life more unfortunate.
But if this bold adventure e'er
Do chance to reach the widow's ear,
It may, b'ing destin'd to assert
Her sex's honour, reach her heart:
And as such homely treats (they say)
Portend good fortune, so this may.
VESPASIAN being daub'd with dirt,
Was destin'd to the empire for't;
And from a Scavenger did come
To be a mighty Prince in Rome
And why may not this foul address
Presage in love the same success
Then let us straight, to cleanse our wounds,
Advance in quest of nearest ponds,
And after (as we first design'd)
Swear I've perform'd what she enjoin'd.
Samuel Butler's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Hudibras: Part 2 - Canto II by Samuel Butler )
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