Hudibras, by Samuel Butler


Canto I

The Argument

The Knight by damnable Magician,

Being cast illegally in prison,

Love brings his Action on the Case.

And lays it upon Hudibras.

How he receives the Lady’s Visit,

And cunningly solicits his Suite,

Which she defers; yet on Parole

Redeems him from th’ inchanted Hole.

But now, t’observe a romantic method,

Let bloody steel a while be sheathed,

And all those harsh and rugged sounds

Of bastinadoes, cuts, and wounds,

Exchang’d to Love’s more gentle stile,

To let our reader breathe a while;

In which, that we may be as brief as

Is possible, by way of preface,

Is’t not enough to make one strange,

That some men’s fancies should ne’er change,

But make all people do and say

The same things still the self-same way

Some writers make all ladies purloin’d,

And knights pursuing like a whirlwind

Others make all their knights, in fits

Of jealousy, to lose their wits;

Till drawing blood o’th’ dames, like witches,

Th’ are forthwith cur’d of their capriches.

Some always thrive in their amours

By pulling plaisters off their sores;

As cripples do to get an alms,

Just so do they, and win their dames.

Some force whole regions, in despight

O’ geography, to change their site;

Make former times shake hands with latter,

And that which was before, come after.

But those that write in rhime, still make

The one verse for the other’s sake;

For, one for sense, and one for rhime,

I think’s sufficient at one time.

But we forget in what sad plight

We whilom left the captiv’d Knight

And pensive Squire, both bruis’d in body,

And conjur’d into safe custody.

Tir’d with dispute and speaking Latin,

As well as basting and bear-baiting,

And desperate of any course,

To free himself by wit or force,

His only solace was, that now

His dog-bolt fortune was so low,

That either it must quickly end

Or turn about again, and mend;

In which he found th’ event, no less

Than other times beside his guess.

There is a tall long sided dame

(But wond’rous light,) ycleped Fame

That, like a thin camelion, boards

Herself on air, and eats her words;

Upon her shoulders wings she wears

Like hanging-sleeves, lin’d through with ears,

And eyes, and tongues, as poets list,

Made good by deep mythologist,

With these she through the welkin flies,

And sometimes carries truth, oft lies

With letters hung like eastern pigeons,

And Mercuries of furthest regions;

Diurnals writ for regulation

Of lying, to inform the nation;

And by their public use to bring down

The rate of whetstones in the kingdom.

About her neck a pacquet-male,

Fraught with advice, some fresh, some stale,

Of men that walk’d when they were dead,

And cows of monsters brought to bed;

Of hail-stones big as pullets eggs,

And puppies whelp’d with twice two legs;

A blazing star seen in the west,

By six or seven men at least.

Two trumpets she does sound at once,

But both of clean contrary tones;

But whether both with the same wind,

Or one before, and one behind,

We know not; only this can tell,

The one sounds vilely, th’ other well;

And therefore vulgar authors name

Th’ one Good, the other Evil, Fame.

This tattling gossip knew too well

What mischief HUDIBRAS befell.

And straight the spiteful tidings bears

Of all to th’ unkind widow’s ears.

DEMOCRITUS ne’er laugh’d so loud

To see bawds carted through the crowd,

Or funerals with stately pomp

March slowly on in solemn dump,

As she laugh’d out, until her back,

As well as sides, was like to crack.

She vow’d she would go see the sight,

And visit the distressed Knight;

To do the office of a neighbour,

And be a gossip at his labour;

And from his wooden jail, the stocks,

To set at large his fetter-locks;

And, by exchange, parole, or ransom,

To free him from th’ enchanted mansion.

This b’ing resolv’d, she call’d for hood

And usher, implements abroad

Which ladies wear, beside a slender

Young waiting damsel to attend her;

All which appearing, on she went,

To find the Knight in limbo pent.

And ’twas not long before she found

Him, and the stout Squire, in the pound;

Both coupled in enchanted tether,

By further leg behind together

For as he sat upon his rump,

His head like one in doleful dump,

Between his knees, his hands apply’d

Unto his ears on either side;

And by him, in another hole,

Afflicted RALPHO, cheek by jowl;

She came upon him in his wooden

Magician’s circle on the sudden,

As spirits do t’ a conjurer,

When in their dreadful shapes th’ appear.

No sooner did the Knight perceive her,

But straight he fell into a fever,

Inflam’d all over with disgrace,

To be seen by her in such a place;

Which made him hang his head, and scoul,

And wink, and goggle like an owl.

He felt his brains begin to swim,

When thus the dame accosted him:

This place (quoth she) they say’s enchanted,

And with delinquent spirits haunted,

That here are ty’d in chains, and scourg’d,

Until their guilty crimes be purg’d.

Look, there are two of them appear,

Like persons I have seen somewhere.

Some have mistaken blocks and posts

For spectres, apparitions, ghosts,

With saucer eyes, and horns; and some

Have heard the Devil beat a drum:

But if our eyes are not false glasses,

That give a wrong account of faces,

That beard and I should be acquainted,

Before ’twas conjur’d or enchanted;

For though it be disfigur’d somewhat,

As if ‘t had lately been in combat,

It did belong to a worthy Knight

Howe’er this goblin has come by’t.

When HUDIBRAS the Lady heard

Discoursing thus upon his beard,

And speak with such respect and honour,

Both of the beard and the beard’s owner,

He thought it best to set as good

A face upon it as he cou’d,

And thus he spoke: Lady, your bright

And radiant eyes are in the right:

The beard’s th’ identic beard you knew,

The same numerically true:

Nor is it worn by fiend or elf,

But its proprietor himself.

O, heavens! quoth she, can that be true?

I do begin to fear ’tis you:

Not by your individual whiskers,

But by your dialect and discourse,

That never spoke to man or beast

In notions vulgarly exprest.

But what malignant star, alas

Has brought you both to this sad pass?

Quoth he, The fortune of the war,

Which I am less afflicted for,

Than to be seen with beard and face,

By you in such a homely case.

Quoth she, Those need not he asham’d

For being honorably maim’d,

If he that is in battle conquer’d,

Have any title to his own beard;

Though yours be sorely lugg’d and torn,

It does your visage more adorn

Than if ’twere prun’d, and starch’d, and lander’d,

And cut square by the Russian standard.

A torn beard’s like a tatter’d ensign,

That’s bravest which there are most rents in.

That petticoat about your shoulders

Does not so well become a souldier’s;

And I’m afraid they are worse handled

Although i’ th’ rear; your beard the van led;

And those uneasy bruises make

My heart for company to ake,

To see so worshipful a friend

I’ th’ pillory set, at the wrong end.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, This thing call’d pain

Is (as the learned Stoicks maintain)

Not bad simpliciter, nor good,

But merely as ’tis understood.

Sense is deceitful, and may feign,

As well in counterfeiting pain

As other gross phenomenas,

In which it oft mistakes the case.

But since the immortal intellect

(That’s free from error and defect,

Whose objects still persist the same)

Is free from outward bruise and maim,

Which nought external can expose

To gross material bangs or blows,

It follows, we can ne’er be sure,

Whether we pain or not endure;

And just so far are sore and griev’d,

As by the fancy is believ’d.

Some have been wounded with conceit,

And dy’d of mere opinion straight;

Others, tho’ wounded sore in reason,

Felt no contusion, nor discretion.

A Saxon Duke did grow so fat,

That mice (as histories relate)

Eat grots and labyrinths to dwell in

His postick parts without his feeling:

Then how is’t possible a kick

Should e’er reach that way to the quick?

Quoth she, I grant it is in vain.

For one that’s basted to feel pain,

Because the pangs his bones endure

Contribute nothing to the cure:

Yet honor hurt, is wont to rage

With pain no med’cine can asswage.

Quoth he, That honour’s very squeamish

That takes a basting for a blemish;

For what’s more hon’rable than scars,

Or skin to tatters rent in wars?

Some have been beaten till they know

What wood a cudgel’s of by th’ blow;

Some kick’d until they can feel whether

A shoe be Spanish or neat’s leather;

And yet have met, after long running,

With some whom they have taught that cunning.

The furthest way about t’ o’ercome,

In the end does prove the nearest home.

By laws of learned duellists,

They that are bruis’d with wood or fists,

And think one beating may for once

Suffice, are cowards and pultroons:

But if they dare engage t’ a second,

They’re stout and gallant fellows reckon’d.

Th’ old Romans freedom did bestow,

Our princes worship, with a blow.

King PYRRHUS cur’d his splenetic

And testy courtiers with a kick.

The NEGUS, when some mighty lord

Or potentate’s to be restor’d

And pardon’d for some great offence,

With which be’s willing to dispense,

First has him laid upon his belly,

Then beaten back and side to a jelly;

That done, he rises, humbly bows,

And gives thanks for the princely blows;

Departs not meanly proud, and boasting

Of this magnificent rib-roasting.

The beaten soldier proves most manful,

That, like his sword, endures the anvil,

And justly’s held more formidable,

The more his valour’s malleable:

But he that fears a bastinado

Will run away from his own shadow:

And though I’m now in durance fast,

By our own party basely cast,

Ransom, exchange, parole refus’d,

And worse than by the enemy us’d;

In close catasta shut, past hope

Of wit or valour to elope;

As beards the nearer that they tend

To th’ earth still grow more reverend;

And cannons shoot the higher pitches,

The lower we let down their breeches;

I’ll make this low dejected fate

Advance me to a greater height.

Quoth she, Y’ have almost made me in love

With that which did my pity move.

Great wits and valours, like great states,

Do sometimes sink with their own weights:

Th’ extremes of glory and of shame,

Like East and West, become the same:

No Indian Prince has to his palace

More foll’wers than a thief to th’ gallows,

But if a beating seem so brave,

What glories must a whipping have

Such great atchievements cannot fail

To cast salt on a woman’s tail:

For if I thought your nat’ral talent

Of passive courage were so gallant,

As you strain hard to have it thought,

I could grow amorous, and dote.

When HUDIBRAS this language heard,

He prick’d up’s ears and strok’d his beard;

Thought he, this is the lucky hour;

Wines work when vines are in the flow’r;

This crisis then I’ll set my rest on,

And put her boldly to the question.

Madam, what you wou’d seem to doubt,

Shall be to all the world made out,

How I’ve been drubb’d, and with what spirit

And magnanimity I bear it;

And if you doubt it to be true,

I’ll stake myself down against you:

And if I fail in love or troth,

Be you the winner, and take both.

Quoth she, I’ve beard old cunning stagers

Say, fools for arguments use wagers;

And though I prais’d your valour, yet

I did not mean to baulk your wit;

Which, if you have, you must needs know

What I have told you before now,

And you b’ experiment have prov’d,

I cannot love where I’m belov’d.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, ’tis a caprich

Beyond th’ infliction of a witch;

So cheats to play with those still aim

That do not understand the game.

Love in your heart as icily burns

As fire in antique Roman urns,

To warm the dead, and vainly light

Those only that see nothing by’t.

Have you not power to entertain,

And render love for love again;

As no man can draw in his breath

At once, and force out air beneath?

Or do you love yourself so much,

To bear all rivals else a grutch?

What fate can lay a greater curse

Than you upon yourself would force?

For wedlock without love, some say,

Is but a lock without a key.

It is a kind of rape to marry

One that neglects, or cares not for ye:

For what does make it ravishment,

But b’ing against the mind’s consent?

A rape that is the more inhuman

For being acted by a woman.

Why are you fair, but to entice us

To love you, that you may despise us?

But though you cannot Love, you say,

Out of your own fanatick way,

Why should you not at least allow

Those that love you to do so too?

For, as you fly me, and pursue

Love more averse, so I do you;

And am by your own doctrine taught

To practise what you call a fau’t.

Quoth she, If what you say is true,

You must fly me as I do you;

But ’tis not what we do, but say,

In love and preaching, that must sway.

Quoth he, To bid me not to love,

Is to forbid my pulse to move,

My beard to grow, my ears to prick up,

Or (when I’m in a fit) to hickup:

Command me to piss out the moon,

And ’twill as easily be done:

Love’s power’s too great to be withstood

By feeble human flesh and blood.

’Twas he that brought upon his knees

The hect’ring, kill-cow HERCULES;

Transform’d his leager-lion’s skin

T’ a petticoat, and made him spin;

Seiz’d on his club, and made it dwindle

T’ a feeble distaff, and a spindle.

’Twas he that made emperors gallants

To their own sisters and their aunts;

Set popes and cardinals agog,

To play with pages at leap-frog.

’Twas he that gave our Senate purges,

And flux’d the House of many a burgess;

Made those that represent the nation

Submit, and suffer amputation;

And all the Grandees o’ the Cabal

Adjourn to tubs at Spring and Fall.

He mounted Synod–Men, and rode ’em

To Dirty–Lane and Little Sodom;

Made ’em curvet like Spanish jenets,

And take the ring at Madam [Bennet’s]

’Twas he that made Saint FRANCIS do

More than the Devil could tempt him to,

In cold and frosty weather, grow

Enamour’d of a wife of snow;

And though she were of rigid temper,

With melting flames accost and tempt her;

Which after in enjoyment quenching,

He hung a garland on his engine

Quoth she, If Love have these effects,

Why is it not forbid our sex?

Why is’t not damn’d and interdicted,

For diabolical and wicked?

And sung, as out of tune, against,

As Turk and Pope are by the Saints?

I find I’ve greater reason for it,

Than I believ’d before t’ abhor it.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, These sad effects

Spring from your Heathenish neglects

Of Love’s great pow’r, which he returns

Upon yourselves with equal scorns;

And those who worthy lovers slight,

Plagues with prepost’rous appetite.

This made the beauteous Queen of Crete

To take a town-bull for her sweet,

And from her greatness stoop so low,

To be the rival of a cow:

Others to prostitute their great hearts,

To he baboons’ and monkeys’ sweet-hearts;

Some with the Dev’l himself in league grow,

By’s representative a Negro.

’Twas this made vestal-maids love-sick,

And venture to be bury’d quick:

Some by their fathers, and their brothers,

To be made mistresses and mothers.

’Tis this that proudest dames enamours

On lacquies and valets des chambres;

Their haughty stomachs overcomes,

And makes ’em stoop to dirty grooms;

To slight the world, and to disparage

Claps, issue, infamy, and marriage.

Quoth she, These judgments are severe,

Yet such as I should rather bear,

Than trust men with their oaths, or prove

Their faith and secresy in love,

Says he, There is as weighty reason

For secresy in love as treason.

Love is a burglarer, a felon,

That at the windore-eyes does steal in

To rob the heart, and with his prey

Steals out again a closer way,

Which whosoever can discover,

He’s sure (as he deserves) to suffer.

Love is a fire, that burns and sparkles

In men as nat’rally as in charcoals,

Which sooty chymists stop in holes

When out of wood they extract coals:

So lovers should their passions choak,

That, tho’ they burn, they may not smoak.

’Tis like that sturdy thief that stole

And dragg’d beasts backwards into’s hole:

So Love does lovers, and us men

Draws by the tails into his den,

That no impression may discover,

And trace t’ his cave, the wary lover,

But if you doubt I should reveal

What you entrust me under seal.

I’ll prove myself as close and virtuous

As your own secretary ALBERTUS.

Quoth she, I grant you may be close

In hiding what your aims propose.

Love-passions are like parables,

By which men still mean something else,

Though love be all the world’s pretence,

Money’s the mythologick sense;

The real substance of the shadow,

Which all address and courtship’s made to.

Thought he, I understand your play,

And how to quit you your own way:

He that will win his dame, must do

As Love does when he bends his bow;

With one hand thrust the lady from,

And with the other pull her home.

I grant, quoth he, wealth is a great

Provocative to am’rous heat.

It is all philters, and high diet,

That makes love rampant, and to fly out:

’Tis beauty always in the flower,

That buds and blossoms at fourscore:

’Tis that by which the sun and moon

At their own weapons are out-done:

That makes Knights–Errant fall in trances,

And lay about ’em in romances:

’Tis virtue, wit, and worth, and all

That men divine and sacred call:

For what is worth in any thing,

But so much money as ’twill bring?

Or what, but riches is there known,

Which man can solely call his own

In which no creature goes his half;

Unless it be to squint and laugh?

I do confess, with goods and land,

I’d have a wife at second-hand;

And such you are. Nor is ‘t your person

My stomach’s set so sharp and fierce on;

But ’tis (your better part) your riches,

That my enamour’d heart bewitches.

Let me your fortune but possess,

And settle your person how you please:

Or make it o’er in trust to th’ Devil;

You’ll find me reasonable and civil.

Quoth she, I like this plainness better

Than false mock-passion, speech, or letter,

Or any feat of qualm or sowning,

But hanging of yourself, or drowning.

Your only way with me to break

Your mind, is breaking of your neck;

For as when merchants break, o’erthrown,

Like nine-pins they strike others down,

So that would break my heart; which done,

My tempting fortune is your own,

These are but trifles: ev’ry lover

Will damn himself over and over,

And greater matters undertake

For a less worthy mistress’ sake:

Yet th’ are the only ways to prove

Th’ unfeign’d realities of love:

For he that hangs, or beats out’s brains,

The Devil’s in him if he feigns.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, This way’s too rough

For mere experiment and proof:

It is no jesting, trivial matter,

To swing t’ th’ air, or douce in Water,

And, like a water-witch, try love;

That’s to destroy, and not to prove;

As if a man should be dissected

To find what part is disaffected.

Your better way is to make over,

In trust, your fortune to your lover.

Trust is a trial; if it break,

’Tis not so desp’rate as a neck.

Beside, th’ experiment’s more certain;

Men venture necks to gain a fortune:

The soldier does it ev’ry day.

(Eight to the week) for sixpence pay:

Your pettifoggers damn their souls,

To share with knaves in cheating fools:

And merchants, vent’ring through the main,

Slight pirates, rocks, and horns, for gain.

This is the way I advise you to:

Trust me, and see what I will do.

Quoth she, I should be loth to run

Myself all th’ hazard, and you none;

Which must be done, unless some deed

Of your’s aforesaid do precede.

Give but yourself one gentle swing

For trial, and I’ll cut the string:

Or give that rev’rend head a maul,

Or two, or three, against a wall,

To shew you are a man of mettle,

And I’ll engage myself to settle.

Quoth he, My head’s not made of brass,

As Friar BACON’S noodle was;

Nor (like the Indian’s skull) so tough

That, authors say, ’twas musket-proof,

As yet on any new adventure,

As it had need to be, to enter.

You see what bangs it has endur’d,

That would, before new feats, be cur’d.

But if that’s all you stand upon,

Here, strike me luck, it shall be done.

Quoth she, The matter’s not so far gone

As you suppose: Two words t’ a bargain:

That may be done, and time enough,

When you have given downright proof;

And yet ’tis no fantastic pique

I have to love, nor coy dislike:

’Tis no implicit, nice aversion

T’ your conversation, mein, or person,

But a just fear, lest you should prove

False and perfidious in love:,

For if I thought you could be true,

I could love twice as much as you.

Quoth he, My faith as adamanatine,

As chains of destiny, I’ll maintain:

True as APOLLO ever spoke,

Or Oracle from heart of oak;

And if you’ll give my flame but vent,

Now in close hugger-mugger pent,

And shine upon me but benignly,

With that one, and that other pigsney,

The sun and day shall sooner part,

Than love or you shake off my heart;

The sun, that shall no more dispense

His own but your bright influence.

I’ll carve your name on barks of trees,

With true-loves-knots and flourishes,

That shall infuse eternal spring,

And everlasting flourishing:

Drink ev’ry letter on’t in stum,

And make it brisk champaign become;

Where-e’er you tread, your foot shall set

The primrose and the violet:

All spices, perfumes, and sweet powders,

Shall borrow from your breath their odours:

Nature her charter shall renew,

And take all lives of things from you;

The world depend upon your eye,

And when you frown upon it, die:

Only our loves shall still survive,

New worlds and natures to out-live:

And, like to heralds’ moons, remain

All crescents, without change or wane.

Hold, hold, quoth she; no more of this,

Sir Knight; you take your aim amiss:

For you will find it a hard chapter

To catch me with poetic rapture,

In which your mastery of art

Doth shew itself, and not your heart:

Nor will you raise in mine combustion

By dint of high heroic fustian.

She that with poetry is won,

Is but a desk to write upon;

And what men say of her, they mean

No more than on the thing they lean.

Some with Arabian spices strive

T’ embalm her cruelly alive;

Or season her, as French cooks use

Their haut-gousts, bouillies, or ragousts:

Use her so barbarously ill,

To grind her lips upon a mill,

Until the facet doublet doth

Fit their rhimes rather than her mouth:

Her mouth compar’d to an oyster’s, with

A row of pearl in’t — stead of teeth.

Others make posies of her cheeks,

Where red and whitest colours mix;

In which the lily, and the rose,

For Indian lake and ceruse goes.

The sun and moon by her bright eyes

Eclips’d, and darken’d in the skies,

Are but black patches, that she wears,

Cut into suns, and moons, and stars:

By which astrologers as well,

As those in Heav’n above, can tell

What strange events they do foreshow

Unto her under-world below.

Her voice, the music of the spheres,

So loud, it deafens mortals ears;

As wise philosophers have thought;

And that’s the cause we hear it not.

This has been done by some, who those

Th’ ador’d in rhime, would kick in prose;

And in those ribbons would have hung

On which melodiously they sung;

That have the hard fate to write best

Of those still that deserve it least;

It matters not how false, or forc’d:

So the best things be said o’ th’ worst:

It goes for nothing when ’tis said;

Only the arrow’s drawn to th’ bead,

Whether it be a swan or goose

They level at: So shepherds use

To set the same mark on the hip

Both of their sound and rotten sheep:

For wits, that carry low or wide,

Must be aim’d higher, or beside

The mark, which else they ne’er come nigh,

But when they take their aim awry.

But I do wonder you should choose

This way t’ attack me with your Muse,

As one cut out to pass your tricks on,

With fulhams of poetic fiction:

I rather hop’d I should no more

Hear from you o’ th’ gallanting score:

For hard dry-bastings us’d to prove

The readiest remedies of love;

Next a dry-diet: but if those fail,

Yet this uneasy loop-hol’d jail,

In which ye are hamper’d by the fetlock,

Cannot but put y’ in mind of wedlock;

Wedlock, that’s worse than any hole here,

If that may serve you for a cooler,

T’ allay your mettle, all agog

Upon a wife, the heavi’r clog:

Or rather thank your gentler fate,

That for a bruis’d or broken pate,

Has freed you from those knobs that grow

Much harder on the marry’d brow:

But if no dread can cool your courage,

From vent’ring on that dragon, marriage,

Yet give me quarter, and advance

To nobler aims your puissance:

Level at beauty and at wit;

The fairest mark is easiest hit.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, I’m beforehand

In that already, with your command

For where does beauty and high wit

But in your constellation meet?

Quoth she, What does a match imply,

But likeness and equality?

I know you cannot think me fit

To be th’ yoke-fellow of your wit;

Nor take one of so mean deserts,

To be the partner of your parts;

A grace which, if I cou’d believe,

I’ve not the conscience to receive.

That conscience, quoth HUDIBRAS,

Is mis-inform’d: I’ll state the case

A man may be a legal donor,

Of any thing whereof he’s owner,

And may confer it where he lists,

I’ th’ judgment of all casuists,

Then wit, and parts, and valour, may

Be ali’nated, and made away,

By those that are proprietors,

As I may give or sell my horse.

Quoth she, I grant the case is true

And proper ‘twixt your horse and you;

But whether I may take as well

As you may give away or sell?

Buyers you know are bid beware;

And worse than thieves receivers are.

How shall I answer hue and cry,

For a roan gelding, twelve hands high,

All spurr’d and switch’d, a lock on’s hoof,

A sorrel mane? Can I bring proof

Where, when, by whom, and what y’ were sold for,

And in the open market toll’d for?

Or should I take you for a stray,

You must be kept a year and day

(Ere I can own you) here i’ the pound,

Where, if y’ are sought, you may be found

And in the mean time I must pay

For all your provender and hay.

Quoth he, It stands me much upon

T’ enervate this objection,

And prove myself; by topic clear

No gelding, as you would infer.

Loss of virility’s averr’d

To be the cause of loss of beard,

That does (like embryo in the womb)

Abortive on the chin become.

This first a woman did invent,

In envy of man’s ornament;

SEMIRAMIS, of Babylon,

Who first of all cut men o’ th’ stone,

To mar their beards, and lay foundation

Of sow-geldering operation.

Look on this beard, and tell me whether

Eunuchs wear such, or geldings either?

Next it appears I am no horse;

That I can argue and discourse

Have but two legs, and ne’er a tail.

Quoth she, That nothing will avail

For some philosophers of late here,

Write, men have four legs by nature,

And that ’tis custom makes them go

Erron’ously upon but two;

As ’twas in Germany made good

B’ a boy that lost himself in a wood,

And growing down to a man, was wont

With wolves upon all four to hunt.

As for your reasons drawn from tails,

We cannot say they’re true or false,

Till you explain yourself, and show,

B’ experiment, ’tis so or no.

Quoth he, If you’ll join issue on’t,

I’ll give you satisfactory account;

So you will promise, if you lose,

To settle all, and be my spouse.

That never shall be done (quoth she)

To one that wants a tail, by me

For tails by nature sure were meant,

As well as beards, for ornament:

And though the vulgar count them homely,

In men or beast they are so comely,

So gentee, alamode, and handsome,

I’ll never marry man that wants one;

And till you can demonstrate plain,

You have one equal to your mane,

I’ll be torn piece-meal by a horse,

Ere I’ll take you for better or worse.

The Prince of CAMBAY’s daily food

Is asp, and basilisk, and toad;

Which makes him have so strong a breath,

Each night he stinks a queen to death;

Yet I shall rather lie in’s arms

Than yours, on any other terms.

Quoth he, What nature can afford,

I shall produce, upon my word;

And if she ever gave that boon

To man, I’ll prove that I have one

I mean by postulate illation,

When you shall offer just occasion:

But since y’ have yet deny’d to give

My heart, your pris’ner, a reprieve,

But made it sink down to my heel,

Let that at least your pity feel;

And, for the sufferings of your martyr,

Give its poor entertainer quarter;

And, by discharge or main-prize, grant

Deliv’ry from this base restraint.

Quoth she, I grieve to see your leg

Stuck in a hole here like a peg;

And if I knew which way to do’t

(Your honour safe) I’d let you out.

That Dames by jail-delivery

Of Errant–Knights have been set free,

When by enchantment they have been,

And sometimes for it too, laid in,

Is that which Knights are bound to do

By order, oath, and honour too:

For what are they renown’d, and famous else,

But aiding of distressed damosels?

But for a Lady no ways errant,

To free a Knight, we have no warrant

In any authentical romance,

Or classic author, yet of France;

And I’d be loth to have you break

An ancient custom for a freak,

Or innovation introduce

In place of things of antique use;

To free your heels by any course,

That might b’ unwholesome to your spurs;

Which, if I should consent unto,

It is not in my pow’r to do;

For ’tis a service must be done ye

With solemn previous ceremony;

Which always has been us’d t’ untie

The charms of those who here do lie

For as the ancients heretofore

To Honour’s Temple had no door,

But that which thorough Virtue’s lay,

So from this dungeon there’s no way

To honour’d freedom, but by passing

That other virtuous school of lashing,

Where Knights are kept in narrow lists,

With wooden lockets ‘bout their wrists;

In which they for a while are tenants,

And for their Ladies suffer penance:

Whipping, that’s Virtue’s governess,

Tutress of arts and sciences;

That mends the gross mistakes of Nature,

And puts new life into dull matter;

That lays foundation for renown,

And all the honours of the gown.

This suffer’d, they are set at large,

And freed with hon’rable discharge.

Then in their robes the penitentials

Are straight presented with credentials,

And in their way attended on

By magistrates of ev’ry town;

And, all respect and charges paid,

They’re to their ancient seats convey’d.

Now if you’ll venture, for my sake,

To try the toughness of your back,

And suffer (as the rest have done)

The laying of a whipping on,

(And may you prosper in your suit,

As you with equal vigour do’t,)

I here engage myself to loose ye,

And free your heels from Caperdewsie.

But since our sex’s modesty

Will not allow I should be by,

Bring me, on oath, a fair account,

And honour too, when you have done’t,

And I’ll admit you to the place

You claim as due in my good grace.

If matrimony and hanging go

By dest’ny, why not whipping too?

What med’cine else can cure the fits

Of lovers when they lose their wits?

Love is a boy by poets stil’d;

Then spare the rod and spoil the child.

A Persian emp’ror whipp’d his grannam

The sea, his mother VENUS came on;

And hence some rev’rend men approve

Of rosemary in making love.

As skilful coopers hoop their tubs

With Lydian and with Phrygian dubs,

Why may not whipping have as good

A grace, perform’d in time and mood,

With comely movement, and by art,

Raise passion in a lady’s heart?

It is an easier way to make

Love by, than that which many take.

Who would not rather suffer whipping,

Than swallow toasts of bits of ribbon?

Make wicked verses, treats, and faces,

And spell names over with beer-glasses

Be under vows to hang and die

Love’s sacrifice, and all a lie?

With china-oranges and tarts

And whinning plays, lay baits for hearts?

Bribe chamber-maids with love and money,

To break no roguish jests upon ye?

For lilies limn’d on cheeks, and roses,

With painted perfumes, hazard noses?

Or, vent’ring to be brisk and wanton,

Do penance in a paper lanthorn?

All this you may compound for now,

By suffering what I offer you;

Which is no more than has been done

By Knights for Ladies long agone.

Did not the great LA MANCHA do so


Did not th’ illustrious Bassa make

Himself a slave for Misse’s sake?

And with bull’s pizzle, for her love,

Was taw ‘d as gentle as a glove?

Was not young FLORIO sent (to cool

His flame for BIANCAFIORE) to school,

Where pedant made his pathic bum

For her sake suffer martyrdom?

Did not a certain lady whip

Of late her husband’s own Lordship?

And though a grandee of the House,

Claw’d him with fundamental blows

Ty’d him stark naked to a bed-post,

And firk’d his hide, as if sh’ had rid post

And after, in the sessions-court,

Where whipping’s judg’d, had honour for’t?

This swear you will perform, and then

I’ll set you from th’ inchanted den,

And the magician’s circle clear.

Quoth he, I do profess and swear,

And will perform what you enjoin,

Or may I never see you mine.

Amen, (quoth she;) then turn’d about,

And bid her Esquire let him out.

But ere an artist could be found

T’ undo the charms another bound,

The sun grew low, and left the skies,

Put down (some write) by ladies eyes,

The moon pull’d off her veil of light

That hides her face by day from sight,

(Mysterious veil, of brightness made,

That’s both her lustre and her shade,)

And in the lanthorn of the night

With shining horns hung out her light;

For darkness is the proper sphere,

Where all false glories use t’ appear.

The twinkling stars began to muster,

And glitter with their borrow’d lustre,

While sleep the weary ‘d world reliev’d,

By counterfeiting death reviv’d;

His whipping penance till the morn

Our vot’ry thought it best t’ adjourn,

And not to carry on a work

Of such importance in the dark,

With erring haste, but rather stay,

And do’t in th’ open face of day;

And in the mean time go in quest

Of next retreat to take his rest.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51