Hudibras, by Samuel Butler

An Heroical Epistle of Hudibras to Sidrophel

Ecce Iterum Crispinus. ——

WELL! SIDROPHEL, though ’tis in vain

To tamper with your crazy brain,

Without trepanning of your skull

As often as the moon’s at full

’Tis not amiss, e’re y’ are giv’n o’er,

To try one desp’rate med’cine more

For where your case can be no worse,

The desp’rat’st is the wisest course.

Is’t possible that you, whose ears

Are of the tribe of Issachar’s,

And might (with equal reason) either,

For merit, or extent of leather,

With WILLIAM PRYN’S, before they were

Retrench’d and crucify’d, compare,

Shou’d yet be deaf against a noise

So roaring as the publick voice

That speaks your virtues free, and loud,

And openly, in ev’ry crowd,

As, loud as one that sings his part

T’ a wheel-barrow or turnip-cart,

Or your new nick-nam’d old invention

To cry green-hastings with an engine;

(As if the vehemence had stunn’d,

And turn your drum-heads with the sound;)

And ‘cause your folly’s now no news,

But overgrown, and out of use,

Persuade yourself there’s no such matter,

But that ’tis vanish’d out of nature;

When folly, as it grows in years,

The more extravagant appears;

For who but you could be possest

With so much ignorance, and beast,

That neither all mens’ scorn and hate,

Nor being laugh’d and pointed at,

Nor bray’d so often in a mortar,

Can teach you wholesome sense and nurture;

But (like a reprobate) what course

Soever’s us’d, grow worse and worse

Can no transfusion of the blood,

That makes fools cattle, do you good?

Nor putting pigs t’ a bitch to nurse,

To turn ’em into mungrel-curs,

Put you into a way, at least,

To make yourself a better beast?

Can all your critical intrigues

Of trying sound from rotten eggs;

Your several new-found remedies

Of curing wounds and scabs in trees;

Your arts of flexing them for claps,

And purging their infected saps;

Recov’ring shankers, crystallines,

And nodes and botches in their rinds,

Have no effect to operate

Upon that duller block, your pate?

But still it must be lewdly bent

To tempt your own due punishment;

And, like your whymsy’d chariots, draw,

The boys to course you without law;

As if the art you have so long

Profess’d, of making old dogs young,

In you had virtue to renew

Not only youth, but childhood too.

Can you that understand all books,

By judging only with your looks,

Resolve all problems with your face,

As others do with B’s and A’s;

Unriddle all that mankind knows

With solid bending of your brows;

All arts and sciences advance,

With screwing of your countenance,

And, with a penetrating eye,

Into th’ abstrusest learning pry?

Know more of any trade b’ a hint;

Than those that have been bred up in’t;

And yet have no art, true or false,

To help your own bad naturals;

But still, the more you strive t’ appear,

Are found to be the wretcheder

For fools are known by looking wise,

As men find woodcocks by their eyes.

Hence ’tis that ‘cause y’ have gain’d o’ th’ college

A quarter share (at most) of knowledge,

And brought in none, but spent repute,

Y’ assume a pow’r as absolute

To judge, and censure, and controll,

As if you were the sole Sir Poll;

And saucily pretend to know

More than your dividend comes to.

You’ll find the thing will not be done

With ignorance and face alone

No, though y’ have purchas’d to your name,

In history, so great a fame;

That now your talents, so well

For having all belief out-grown,

That ev’ry strange prodigious tale

Is measur’d by your German scale;

By which the virtuosi try

The magnitude of ev’ry lye,

Cast up to what it does amount,

And place the bigg’st to your account?

That all those stories that are laid

Too truly to you, and those made,

Are now still charg’d upon your score,

And lesser authors nam’d no more.

Alas! that faculty betrays

Those soonest it designs to raise;

And all your vain renown will spoil,

As guns o’ercharg’d the more recoil.

Though he that has but impudence,

To all things has a fair pretence;

And put among his wants but shame,

To all the world may lay his claim:

Though you have try’d that nothing’s borne

With greater ease than public scorn,

That all affronts do still give place

To your impenetrable face,

That makes your way through all affairs,

As pigs through hedges creep with theirs;

Yet as ’tis counterfeit, and brass,

You must not think ’twill always pass;

For all impostors, when they’re known,

Are past their labour, and undone.

And all the best that can befal

An artificial natural,

Is that which madmen find as soon

As once they’re broke loose from the moon,

And, proof against her influence,

Relapse to e’er so little sense,

To turn stark fools, and subjects fit

For sport of boys, and rabble-wit.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/butler/samuel_1612-1680/hudibras/chapter3.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31