Hudibras, by Samuel Butler

The Lady’s Answer to the Knight.

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,

When both your sword and spurs were won

In combat by an Amazon.

That sword, that did (like Fate) determine

Th’ inevitable death of vermine,

And never dealt its furious blows,

But cut the throats of pigs and cows,

By TRULLA was, in single fight,

Disarm’d and wrested from its knight;

Your heels degraded of your spurs,

And in the stocks close prisoners;

Where still they’d lain, in base restraint,

If I, in pity of your complaint,

Had not on honourable conditions,

Releast ’em from the worst of prisons

And what return that favour met

You cannot (though you wou’d) forget;

When, being free, you strove t’ evade

The oaths you had in prison made;

Forswore yourself; and first deny’d it,

But after own’d and justify’d it

And when y’ had falsely broke one vow,

Absolv’d yourself by breaking two.

For while you sneakingly submit,

And beg for pardon at our feet,

Discourag’d by your guilty fears,

To hope for quarter for your ears,

And doubting ’twas in vain to sue,

You claim us boldly as your due;

Declare that treachery and force,

To deal with us, is th’ only course;

We have no title nor pretence

To body, soul, or conscience;

But ought to fall to that man’s share

That claims us for his proper ware.

These are the motives which, t’ induce

Or fright us into love, you use.

A pretty new way of gallanting,

Between soliciting and ranting;

Like sturdy beggars, that intreat

For charity at once, and threat.

But since you undertake to prove

Your own propriety in love,

As if we were but lawful prize

In war between two enemies,

Or forfeitures, which ev’ry lover,

That wou’d but sue for, might recover,

It is not hard to understand

The myst’ry of this bold demand,

That cannot at our persons aim,

But something capable of claim.

’Tis not those paultry counterfeit

French stones, which in our eyes you set,

But our right diamonds, that inspire

And set your am’rous hearts on fire.

Nor can those false St. Martin’s beads,

Which on our lips you lay for reds,

And make us wear, like Indian dames,

Add fuel to your scorching flames;

But those true rubies of the rock,

Which in our cabinets we lock.

’Tis not those orient pearls our teeth,

That you are so transported with;

But those we wear about our necks,

Produce those amorous effects.

Nor is’t those threads of gold, our hair,

The periwigs you make us wear,

But those bright guineas in our chests,

That light the wild fire in your breasts.

These love-tricks I’ve been vers’d in so,

That all their sly intrigues I know,

And can unriddle, by their tones,

Their mystick cabals and jargones;

Can tell what passions, by their sounds,

Pine for the beauties of my grounds;

What raptures fond and amorous

O’ th’ charms and graces of my house;

What extasy and scorching flame,

Burns for my money in my name;

What from th’ unnatural desire

To beasts and cattle takes its fire;

What tender sigh, and trickling tear,

Longs for a thousand pounds a year;

And languishing transports are fond

Of statute, mortgage, bill, and bond.

These are th’ attracts which most men fall

Inamour’d, at first sight, withal

To these th’ address with serenades,

And court with balls and masquerades;

And yet, for all the yearning pain

Y’ have suffer’d for their loves in vain,

I fear they’ll prove so nice and coy

To have, and t’ hold and to enjoy

That all your oaths and labour lost,

They’ll ne’er turn ladies of the post.

This is not meant to disapprove

Your judgment in your choice of love;

Which is so wise, the greatest part

Of mankind study ‘t as an art;

For love shou’d, like a deodand,

Still fall to th’ owner of the land;

And where there’s substance for its ground,

Cannot but be more firm and sound

Than that which has the slightest basis

Of airy virtue, wit, and graces;

Which is of such thin subtlety,

It steals and creeps in at the eye,

And, as it can’t endure to stay,

Steals out again as nice a way.

But love, that its extraction owns

From solid gold and precious stones

Must, like its shining parents, prove

As solid and as glorious love.

Hence ’tis you have no way t’express

Our charms and graces but by these:

For what are lips, and eyes, and teeth,

Which beauty invades and conquers with,

But rubies, pearls, and diamonds,

With which a philter-love commands?

This is the way all parents prove,

In managing their childrens’ love;

That force ’em t’ intermarry and wed,

As if th’ were bur’ing of the dead;

Cast earth to earth, as in the grave,

To join in wedlock all they have:

And when the settlement’s in force,

Take all the rest for better or worse;

For money has a power above

The stars and fate to manage love;

Whose arrows, learned poets hold,1

That never miss, are tipp’d with gold.

And though some say, the parents’ claims

To make love in their childrens’ names,

Who many times at once provide

The nurse, the husband, and the bride

Feel darts and charms, attracts and flames,

And woo and contract in their names;

And as they christen, use to marry ’em,

And, like their gossips, answer for ’em;

Is not to give in matrimony,

But sell and prostitute for money;

’Tis better than their own betrothing,

Who often do’t for worse than nothing;

And when th’ are at their own dispose,

With greater disadvantage choose.

All this is right; but for the course

You take to do’t, by fraud or force,

’Tis so ridiculous, as soon

As told, ’tis never to be done;

No more than setters can betray,

That tell what tricks they are to play.

Marriage, at best, is but a vow,

Which all men either break or bow:

Then what will those forbear to do,

Who perjure when they do but woo?

Such as before-hand swear and lie

For earnest to their treachery;

And, rather than a crime confess,

With greater strive to make it less;

Like thieves, who, after sentence past,

Maintain their innocence to the last;

And when their crimes were made appear

As plain as witnesses can swear,

Yet, when the wretches come to die,

Will take upon their death a lie,

Nor are the virtues you confest

T’ your ghostly father, as you guest,

So slight as to be justify’d

By being as shamefully deny’d,

As if you thought your word would pass

Point-blank on both sides of a case;

Or credit were not to be lost

B’ a brave Knight–Errant of the Post,

That eats perfidiously his word,

And swears his ears through a two inch board:

Can own the same thing, and disown,

And perjure booty, Pro and Con:

Can make the Gospel serve his turn,

And help him out, to be forsworn;

When ’tis laid hands upon, and kist,

To be betray’d and sold like Christ.

These are the virtues in whose name

A right to all the world you claim,

And boldly challenge a dominion,

In grace and nature, o’er all women;

Of whom no less will satisfy

Than all the sex your tyranny,

Although you’ll find it a hard province,

With all your crafty frauds and covins,

To govern such a num’rous crew,

Who, one by one, now govern you:

For if you all were SOLOMONS,

And wise and great as he was once,

You’ll find they’re able to subdue

(As they did him) and baffle you.

And if you are impos’d upon

’Tis by your own temptation done,

That with your ignorance invite;

And teach us how to use the slight.

For when we find y’ are still more taken

With false attracts of our own making;

Swear that’s a rose, and that a stone,

Like sots, to us that laid it on,

And what we did but slightly prime,

Most ignorantly daub in rhime;

You force us, in our own defences,

To copy beams and influences;

To lay perfections on the graces,

And draw attracts upon our faces;

And, in compliance to your wit,

Your own false jewels counterfeit.

For, by the practice of those arts

We gain a greater share of hearts;

And those deserve in reason most

That greatest pains and study cost;

For great perfections are, like heaven,

Too rich a present to be given.

Nor are these master-strokes of beauty

To be perform’d without hard duty,

Which, when they’re nobly done and well,

The simple natural excell.

How fair and sweet the planted rose

Beyond the wild in hedges grows!

For without art the noblest seeds

Of flow’rs degen’rate into weeds.

How dull and rugged, e’re ’tis ground

And polish’d, looks a diamond!

Though Paradise were e’er so fair,

It was not kept so without care.

The whole world, without art and dress,

Would be but one great wilderness;

And mankind but a savage herd,

For all that nature has conferr’d.

This does but rough-hew, and design;

Leaves art to polish and refine.

Though women first were made for men,

Yet men were made for them agen;

For when (outwitted by his wife)

Man first turn’d tenant but for life,

If women had not interven’d,

How soon had mankind had an end!

And that it is in being yet,

To us alone you are in debt.

And where’s your liberty of choice,

And our unnatural No Voice?

Since all the privilege you boast,

And falsly usurp’d, or vainly lost,

Is now our right; to whose creation

You owe your happy restoration:

And if we had not weighty cause

To not appear, in making laws,

We could, in spite of all your tricks,

And shallow, formal politicks,

Force you our managements t’ obey,

As we to yours (in shew) give way.

Hence ’tis that, while you vainly strive

T’ advance your high prerogative,

You basely, after all your braves,

Submit, and own yourselves our slaves;

And ‘cause we do not make it known,

Nor publickly our int’rest own,

Like sots, suppose we have no shares

In ord’ring you and your affairs;

When all your empire and command

You have from us at second hand

As if a pilot, that appears

To sit still only while he steers,

And does not make a noise and stir

Like ev’ry common mariner,

Knew nothing of the card, nor star,

And did not guide the man of war;

Nor we, because we don’t appear

In councils, do not govern there;

While, like the mighty 2 PRESTER JOHN,

Whose person none dares look upon,

But is preserv’d in close disguise,

From being made cheap to vulgar eyes,

W’ enjoy as large a pow’r unseen,

To govern him, as he does men;

And in the right of our Pope JOAN,

Make Emp’rors at our feet fall down;

Or 3 JOAN DE PUCEL’S braver name,

Our right to arms and conduct claim;

Who, though a Spinster, yet was able

To serve FRANCE for a Grand Constable.

We make and execute all laws;

Can judge the judges and the cause;

Prescribe all rules of right or wrong

To th’ long robe, and the longer tongue;

‘Gainst which the world has no defence;

But our more pow’rful eloquence.

We manage things of greatest weight

In all the world’s affairs of state

Are ministers of war and peace,

That sway all nations how we please.

We rule all churches and their flocks,

Heretical and orthodox;

And are the heavenly vehicles

O’ th’ spirits in all conventicles.

By us is all commerce and trade

Improv’d, and manag’d, and decay’d;

For nothing can go off so well,

Nor bears that price, as what we sell.

We rule in ev’ry publique meeting,

And make men do what we judge fitting;

Are magistrates in all great towns,

Where men do nothing but wear gowns.

We make the man of war strike sail,

And to our braver conduct veil,

And, when h’ has chac’d his enemies,

Submit to us upon his knees.

Is there an officer of state

Untimely rais’d, or magistrate,

That’s haughty and imperious?

He’s but a journeyman to us.

That as he gives us cause to do’t,

Can keep him in, or turn him out.

We are your guardians, that increase

Or waste your fortunes how we please;

And, as you humour us, can deal

In all your matters, ill or well.

’Tis we that can dispose alone,

Whether your heirs shall be your own,

To whose integrity you must,

In spight of all your caution, trust;

And, ‘less you fly beyond the seas,

Can fit you with what heirs we please;

And force you t’ own ’em, though begotten

By French Valets or Irish Footmen.

Nor can the vigorousest course

Prevail, unless to make us worse;

Who still, the harsher we are us’d,

Are further off from b’ing reduc’d;

And scorn t’ abate, for any ills,

The least punctilios of our wills.

Force does but whet our wits t’ apply

Arts, born with us, for remedy;

Which all your politicks, as yet,

Have ne’er been able to defeat:

For when y’ have try’d all sorts of ways,

What fools d’ we make of you in plays!

While all the favours we afford,

Are but to girt you with the sword,

To fight our battles in our steads,

And have your brains beat out o’ your heads;

Encounter, in despite of nature,

And fight at once, with fire and water,

With pirates, rocks, and storms, and seas,

Our pride and vanity t’ appease;

Kill one another, and cut throats,

For our good graces, and best thoughts;

To do your exercise for honour,

And have your brains beat out the sooner;

Or crack’d, as learnedly, upon

Things that are never to be known;

And still appear the more industrious,

The more your projects are prepost’rous;

To square the circle of the arts,

And run stark mad to shew your parts;

Expound the oracle of laws,

And turn them which way we see cause

Be our solicitors and agents,

And stand for us in all engagements.

And these are all the mighty pow’rs

You vainly boast to cry down ours;

And what in real value’s wanting,

Supply with vapouring and ranting;

Because yourselves are terrify’d,

And stoop to one another’s pride,

Believe we have as little wit

To be out-hector’d, and submit;

By your example, lose that right

In treaties which we gain’d in fight;

And, terrify’d into an awe,

Pass on ourselves a 4 Salique law:

Or, as some nations use, give place,

And truckle to your mighty race;

Let men usurp th’ unjust dominion,

As if they were the better women.

1 Whose Arrows learned Poets hold, &c.] The poets feign Cupid to have two sorts of arrows; the one tipped with gold, and the other with lead. The golden always inspire and inflame love in the persons he wounds with them: but, on the contrary, the leaden create the utmost aversion and hatred. With the first of these he shot Apollo, and with the other Daphne, according to Ovid.

2 While, like the mighty Prester John, &c.] Prester John, an absolute prince, emperor of Abyssinia or Ethiopia. One of them is reported to have had seventy kings for his vassals, and so superb and arrogant, that none durst look upon him without his permission.

3 Or Joan de Pucel’s braver Name.] Joan of Arc, called also the Pucelle, or Maid of Orleans. She was born at the town of Damremi, on the Meuse, daughter of James de Arc, and Isabella Romee; and was bred, up a shepherdess in the country. At the age of eighteen or twenty she pretended to an express commission from God to go to the relief of Orleans, then besieged by the English, and defended by John Compte de Dennis, and almost reduced to the last extremity. She went to the coronation of Charles the Seventh, when he was almost ruined. She knew that prince in the midst of his nobles; though meanly habited. The doctors of divinity, and members of parliament, openly declared that there was some thing supernatural in her conduct. She sent for a sword, which lay in the tomb of a knight, which was behind the great altar of the church of St. Katharine de Forbois, upon the blade of which the cross and flower-deluces were engraven, which put the king in a very great surprise, in regard none besides himself knew of it. Upon this he sent her with the command of some troops, with which she relieved Orleans, and drove the English from it, defeated Talbot at the battle of Pattai, and recovered Champagne. At last she was unfortunately taken prisoner in a sally at Champagne in 1430, and tried for a witch or sorceress, condemned, and burnt in Rouen market-place in May 1430.

4 Pass on ourselves a Salique Law.] The Salique Law is a law in France, whereby it is enacted, that no female shall inherit that crown.

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