Hudibras, by Samuel Butler

Canto II

The Argument

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


So th’ ancient 1 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 2 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 3

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,)


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?4

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,


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,


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;5

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,6

So her proud standard-bearer here

Waves on his spear, in dreadful manner,

A Tyrian-petticoat for banner:

Next links and torches, heretofore7

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,8

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.

1 So th’ ancient Stoicks, &c.] In Porticu (Stoicorum Schola Athenis) Discipulorum Seditionibus mille Quadrigenti triginta Cives interfecti sunt. — Diog. Laert. In Vita Zenonis, p. 383.

[One thousand four hundred and thirty citizens were killed in the quarrels of the disciples in the porch (of the Stoic School of Athens).]

Those old Virtuosos were better proficients in those exercises than modern, who seldom improve higher than cuffing and kicking.

2 Bonum is such a kind of animal as our modern virtuosi from Don Quixote will have windmills under sail to be. The same authors are of opinion, that all ships are fishes while they are afloat; but when they are run on ground, & laid up, in the dock, become ships again.

3 in a town, &c.] The history of the Cobler had been attested by persons of good credit, who were upon the place when it was done.

4 Have been exchang’d, &c.] The knight was kept prisoner in Exeter, and, after several exchanges proposed, but none accepted of, was at last released for a barrel of ale, as he often used to declare.

5 Bore a slave with him in his chariot.]

—— Et sibi Consul

Me placeat, curru servus portatur eodem.

[And it pleased the Consul to have me carried as a slave in his chariot]

6 Hung out, &c.] Tunica Coccinia solebat pridie quam dimicandum esset, supra praetorium poni, quasi admonito, & indicium futurae pugnae. [The praetors wore scarlet tunics on the day before the battle, for a warning, and a portent of the future. ] Lipsius in Tacit. p. 56.

7 next links, &c.] That the Roman Emperors were wont to have torches borne before them (by day) appears by Herodian in Pertinace. Lipsius in Tacit. p. 16.

8 Vespasian being dawb’d, &c.] C. Caesar sucensens, propter curam verrendis viis non adhibitam, Luto jussit appleri congesto per milites in praetexte sinum. Sueton. in Vespas. C.5.

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