Hudibras, by Samuel Butler

Canto III

The Argument

The Knight and squire’s prodigious Flight

To quit th’ inchanted Bow’r by Night.

He plods to turn his amorous Suit

T’ a Plea in Law, and prosecute

Repairs to Counsel, to advise

‘Bout managing the Enterprise;

But first resolves to try by Letter,

And one more fair Address, to get her.

WHO wou’d believe what strange bugbears

Mankind creates itself of fears

That spring like fern, that insect weed,

Equivocally, without seed;

And have no possible foundation,

But merely in th’ imagination;

And yet can do more dreadful feats

Than hags, with all their 1 imps and teats

Make more bewitch and haunt themselves

Than all their nurseries of elves?

For fear does things so like a witch,

’Tis hard t’ unriddle which is which:

Sets up Communities of senses,

To chop and change intelligences;

As 2 Rosicrucian virtuosos

Can see with ears, and hear with noses;

And when they neither see nor hear,

Have more than both supply’d by fear

That makes ’em in the dark see visions,

And hag themselves with apparitions;

And when their eyes discover least,

Discern the subtlest objects best

Do things not contrary, alone,

To th’ course of nature, but its own;

The courage of the bravest daunt,

And turn poltroons as valiant:

For men as resolute appear

With too much as too little fear

And when they’re out of hopes of flying,

Will run away from death by dying;

Or turn again to stand it out,

And those they fled, like lions, rout.

This HUDIBRAS had prov’d too true,

Who, by the furies left perdue,

And haunted with detachments, sent

From 3 Marshal Legion’s regiment,

Was by a fiend, as counterfeit,

Reliev’d and rescu’d with a cheat;

When nothing but himself, and fear,

Was both the imp and conjurer;

As, by the rules o’ th’ virtuosi,

It follows in due form of poesie.

Disguis’d in all the masks of night,

We left our champion on his flight,

At blind man’s buff, to grope his way,

In equal fear of night and day,

Who took his dark and desp’rate course,

He knew no better than his horse;

And, by an unknown Devil led,

(He knew as little whither,) fled.

He never was in greater need,

Nor less capacity, of speed;

Disabled, both in man and beast,

To fly and run away his best;

To keep the enemy, and fear,

From equal falling on his rear.

And though with kicks and bangs he ply’d

The further and the nearer side,

(As seamen ride with all their force,

And tug as if they row’d the horse,

And when the hackney sails most swift,

Believe they lag, or run a-drift,)

So, though he posted e’er so fast,

His fear was greater than his haste:

For fear, though fleeter than the wind,

Believes ’tis always left behind.

But when the morn began t’ appear,

And shift t’ another scene his fear,

He found his new officious shade,

That came so timely to his aid,

And forc’d him from the foe t’ escape,

Had turn’d itself to RALPHO’s shape;

So like in person, garb, and pitch,

’Twas hard t’ interpret which was which.

For RALPHO had no sooner told

The Lady all he had t’ unfold,

But she convey’d him out of sight,

To entertain the approaching Knight;

And, while he gave himself diversion,

T’ accommodate his beast and person,

And put his beard into a posture

At best advantage to accost her,

She order’d th’ anti-masquerade

(For his reception) aforesaid:

But when the ceremony was done,

The lights put out, and furies gone,

And HUDIBRAS, among the rest,

Convey’d away, as RALPHO guess’d,

The wretched caitiff, all alone,

(As he believ’d) began to moan,

And tell his story to himself,

The Knight mistook him for an elf;

And did so still till he began

To scruple at RALPH’s Outward Man;

And thought, because they oft agreed

T’ appear in one another’s stead,

And act the Saint’s and Devil’s part

With undistinguishable art,

They might have done so now, perhaps,

And put on one another’s shapes

And therefore, to resolve the doubt,

He star’d upon him, and cry’d out,

What art? My ‘Squire, or that bold Sprite

That took his place and shape to-night?

Some busy indepenent pug,

Retainer to his Synagogue?

Alas! quoth he, I’m none of those,

Your bosom friends, as you suppose;

But RALPH himself, your trusty ‘Squire,

Wh’ has dragg’d your Dunship out o’ th’ mire,

And from th’ inchantments of a widow,

Wh’ had turn’d you int’ a beast, have freed you;

And, though a prisoner of war,

Have brought you safe where you now are;

Which you would gratefully repay

Your constant Presbyterian way.

That’s stranger (quoth the Knight) and stranger.

Who gave thee notice of my danger?

Quoth he, Th’ infernal Conjurer

Pursu’d and took me prisoner;

And knowing you were hereabout,

Brought me along to find you out;

Where I, in hugger-mugger hid,

Have noted all they said or did:

And though they lay to him the pageant,

I did not see him, nor his agent;

Who play’d their sorceries out of sight,

T’ avoid a fiercer second fight.

But didst thou see no Devils then?

Not one (quoth he) but carnal men,

A little worse than fiends in hell,

And that She–Devil Jezebel,

That laugh’d and tee-he’d with derision,

To see them take your deposition.

What then (quoth HUDIBRAS) was he

That play’d the Dev’l to examine me?

A rallying weaver in the town,

That did it in a parson’s gown;

Whom all the parish take for gifted;

But, for my part, I ne’er believ’d it:

In which you told them all your feats,

Your conscientious frauds and cheats;

Deny’d your whipping, and confest

The naked truth of all the rest,

More plainly than the 4 Rev’rend Writer,

That to our Churches veil’d his Mitre;

All which they took in black and white,

And cudgell’d me to under-write.

What made thee, when they all were gone,

And none but thou and I alone,

To act the Devil, and forbear

To rid me of my hellish fear?

Quoth he, I knew your constant rate

And frame of sp’rit too obstinate

To be by me prevail’d upon

With any motives of my own;

And therefore strove to counterfeit

The Dev’l a-while, to nick your wit;

The Devil, that is your constant crony,

That only can prevail upon ye;

Else we might still have been disputing,

And they with weighty drubs confuting.

The Knight who now began to find

Th’ had left the enemy behind,

And saw no farther harm remain,

But feeble weariness and pain;

Perceiv’d, by losing of their way,

Th’ had gain’d th’ advantage of the day;

And, by declining of the road,

They had, by chance, their rear made good;

He ventur’d to dismiss his fear,

That parting’s wont to rent and tear,

And give the desperat’st attack

To danger still behind its back.

For having paus’d to recollect,

And on his past success reflect,

T’ examine and consider why,

And whence, and how, they came to fly,

And when no Devil had appear’d,

What else, it cou’d be said, he fear’d;

It put him in so fierce a rage,

He once resolv’d to reengage;

Toss’d like a foot-ball back again,

With shame and vengeance, and disdain.

Quoth he, it was thy cowardice

That made me from this leaguer rise

And when I’d half reduc’d the place,

To quit it infamously base

Was better cover’d by the new

Arriv’d detachment then I knew;

To slight my new acquests, and run

Victoriously from battles won;

And reck’ning all I gain’d or lost,

To sell them cheaper than they cost;

To make me put myself to flight,

And conqu’ring run away by night

To drag me out, which th’ haughty foe

Durst never have presum’d to do

To mount me in the dark, by force,

Upon the bare ridge of my horse;

Expos’d in querpo to their rage,

Without my arms and equipage;

Lest, if they ventur’d to pursue,

I might th’ unequal fight renew;

And, to preserve thy Outward Man,

Assum’d my place, and led the van.

All this quoth RALPH, I did, ’tis true,

Not to preserve my self, but you;

You, who were damn’d to baser drubs

Than wretches feel in powd’ring tubs.

To mount two-wheel’d carroches, worse

Than managing a wooden-horse

Dragg’d out through straiter holes by th’ ears,

Eras’d or coup’d for perjurers;

Who, though th’ attempt had prov’d in vain,

Had had no reason to complain:

But since it prosper’d, ’tis unhandsome

To blame the hand that paid our ransome,

And rescu’d your obnoxious bones

From unavoidable battoons.

The enemy was reinforc’d,

And we disabled, and unhors’d,

Disarm’d, unqualify’d for fight,

And no way left but hasty flight,

Which though as desp’rate in th’ attempt,

Has giv’n you freedom to condemn’t.

But were our bones in fit condition

To reinforce the expedition,

’Tis now unseasonable, and vain,

To think of falling on again.

No martial project to surprize

Can ever be attempted twice;

Nor cast design serve afterwards,

As gamesters tear their losing-cards,

Beside, our bangs of man and beast

Are fit for nothing now but rest;

And for a-while will not be able

To rally, and prove serviceable;

And therefore I, with reason, chose

This stratagem t’ amuse our foes;

To make an honourable retreat,

And wave a total sure defeat;

For those that fly may fight again,

Which he can never do that’s slain.

Hence timely running’s no mean part

Of conduct in the martial art;

By which some glorious feats atchieve,

As citizens by breaking thrive;

And cannons conquer armies, while

They seem to draw off and recoil;

Is held the gallantest course, and bravest

To great exploits, as well as safest;

That spares th’ expence of time and pains,

And dangerous beating out of brains;

And in the end prevails as certain

As those that never trust to fortune;

But make their fear do execution

Beyond the stoutest resolution;

As earthquakes kill without a blow,

And, only trembling, overthrow,

If 5 th’ ancients crown’d their bravest men

That only sav’d a citizen,

What victory could e’er be won,

If ev’ry one would save but one

Or fight endanger’d to be lost,

Where all resolve to save the most?

By this means, when a battle’s won,

The war’s as far from being done;

For those that save themselves, and fly,

Go halves, at least, i’ th’ victory;

And sometimes, when the loss is small,

And danger great, they challenge all;

Print new additions to their feats,

And emendations in Gazettes;

And when, for furious haste to run,

They durst not stay to fire a gun,

Have done’t with bonfires, and at home

Made squibs and crackers overcome;

To set the rabble on a flame,

And keep their governors from blame;

Disperse the news the pulpit tells,

Confirm’d with fire-works and with bells;

And though reduc’d to that extream,

They have been forc’d to sing Te Deum;

Yet, with religious blasphemy,

By flattering Heaven with a lie

And for their beating giving thanks,

Th’ have rais’d recruits, and fill’d their banks;

For those who run from th’ enemy,

Engage them equally to fly;

And when the fight becomes a chace,

Those win the day that win the race

And that which would not pass in fights,

Has done the feat with easy flights;

Recover’d many a desp’rate campaign

With Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champaign;

Restor’d the fainting high and mighty

With brandy-wine and aqua-vitae;

And made ’em stoutly overcome

With bachrach, hoccamore, and mum;

Whom the uncontroul’d decrees of fate

To victory necessitate;

With which, although they run or burn

They unavoidably return:

Or else their 6 sultan populaces

Still strangle all their routed Bassas.

Quoth HUDIBRAS, I understand

What fights thou mean’st at sea and land,

And who those were that run away,

And yet gave out th’ had won the day;

Although the rabble sous’d them for’t,

O’er head and ears in mud and dirt.

’Tis true, our modern way of war

Is grown more politick by far,

But not so resolute, and bold,

Nor ty’d to honour, as the old.

For now they laugh at giving battle,

Unless it be to herds of cattle;

Or fighting convoys of provision,

The whole design o’ the expedition:

And not with downright blows to rout

The enemy, but eat them out:

As fighting, in all beasts of prey,

And eating, are perform’d one way,

To give defiance to their teeth

And fight their stubborn guts to death;

And those atchieve the high’st renown,

That bring the others’ stomachs down,

There’s now no fear of wounds, nor maiming;

All dangers are reduc’d to famine;

And feats of arms, to plot, design,

Surprize, and stratagem, and mine;

But have no need nor use of courage,

Unless it be for glory or forage:

For if they fight, ’tis but by chance,

When one side vent’ring to advance,

And come uncivilly too near,

Are charg’d unmercifully i’ th’ rear;

And forc’d with terrible resistance,

To keep hereafter at a distance;

To pick out ground to incamp upon,

Where store of largest rivers run,

That serve, instead of peaceful barriers,

To part th’ engagements of their warriors;

Where both from side to side may skip,

And only encounter at bo-peep:

For men are found the stouter-hearted,

The certainer th’ are to be parted,

And therefore post themselves in bogs,

As th’ ancient 7 mice attack’d the frogs,

And made their mortal enemy,

The water-rat, their strict ally.

For ’tis not now, who’s stout and bold,

But who bears hunger best, and cold;

And he’s approv’d the most deserving,

Who longest can hold out at starving;

And he that routs most pigs and cows,

The formidablest man of prowess.

So th’ emperor CALIGULA,

That triumph’d o’er the British Sea,

Took crabs and oysters prisoners,

Lobsters, ‘stead of cuirasiers,

Engag’d his legions in fierce bustles

With periwinkles, prawns, and muscles;

And led his troops with furious gallops,

To charge whole regiments of scallops

Not like their ancient way of war,

To wait on his triumphal carr

But when he went to dine or sup

More bravely eat his captives up;

And left all war, by his example,

Reduc’d to vict’ling of a camp well.

Quoth RALPH, By all that you have said,

And twice as much that I cou’d add,

’Tis plain you cannot now do worse,

Than take this out-of-fashion’d course;

To hope, by stratagem, to woo her,

Or waging battle to subdue her

Though some have done it in romances,

And bang’d them into amorous fancies;

As those who won the AMAZONS,

By wanton drubbing of their bones;

And stout 8 Rinaldo gain’d his bride,

By courting of her back and side.

But since those times and feats are over,

They are not for a modern lover,

When mistresses are too cross-grain’d

By such addresses to be gain’d;

And if they were, wou’d have it out

With many another kind of bout.

Therefore I hold no course s’ infeasible,

As this of force to win the JEZEBEL;

To storm her heart, by th’ antick charms

Of ladies errant, force of arms;

But rather strive by law to win her,

And try the title you have in her.

Your case is clear; you have her word,

And me to witness the accord

Besides two more of her retinue

To testify what pass’d between you;

More probable, and like to hold,

Than hand, or seal, or breaking gold;

For which so many, that renounc’d

Their plighted contracts, have been trounc’d

And bills upon record been found,

That forc’d the ladies to compound;

And that, unless I miss the matter,

Is all the bus’ness you look after.

Besides, encounters at the bar

Are braver now than those in war,

In which the law does execution

With less disorder and confusion

Has more of honour in’t, some hold

Not like the new way, but the old

When those the pen had drawn together,

Decided quarrels with the feather,

And winged arrows kill’d as dead,

And more than bullets now of lead.

So all their combats now, as then,

Are manag’d chiefly by the pen;

That does the feat with braver vigours,

In words at length, as well as figures;

Is judge of all the world performs

In voluntary feats of arms

And whatsoe’er’s atchiev’d in fight,

Determines which is wrong or right:

For whether you prevail, or lose

All must be try’d there in the close;

And therefore ’tis not wise to shun

What you must trust to ere y’ have done.

The law, that settles all you do,

And marries where you did but woo;

That makes the most perfidious lover

A lady, that’s as false, recover;

And if it judge upon your side,

Will soon extend her for your bride;

And put her person, goods, or lands,

Or which you like best int’ your hands.

For law’s the wisdom of all ages,

And manag’d by the ablest sages;

Who, though their bus’ness at the bar

Be but a kind of civil war,

In which th’ engage with fiercer dudgeons

Than e’er the GRECIANS did and TROJANS,

They never manage the contest

T’ impair their public interest;

Or by their controversies lessen

The dignity of their profession:

Not like us Brethren, who divide

Our Commonwealth, the Cause, and Side;

And though w’ are all as near of kindred

As th’ outward man is to the inward,

We agree in nothing, but to wrangle

About the slightest fingle-fangle;

While lawyers have more sober sense

Than t’ argue at their own expence,

But make their best advantages

Of others’ quarrels, like the Swiss;

And, out of foreign controversies,

By aiding both sides, fill their purses;

But have no int’rest in the cause

For which th’ engage, and wage the laws;

Nor further prospect than their pay,

Whether they lose or win the day:

And though th’ abounded in all ages,

With sundry learned clerks and sages,

Though all their business be dispute,

Which way they canvass ev’ry suit,

Th’ have no disputes about their art,

Nor in Polemicks controvert:

While all professions else are found

With nothing but disputes t’ abound

Divines of all sorts, and physicians,

Philosophers, mathematicians:

The Galenist and Paracelsian

Condemn the way each other deals in:

Anatomists dissect and mangle,

To cut themselves out work to wrangle

Astrologers dispute their dreams,

That in their sleeps they talk of schemes:

And heralds stickle, who got who

So many hundred years ago.

But lawyers are too wise a nation

T’ expose their trade to disputation;

Or make the busy rabble judges

Of all their secret piques and grudges;

In which whoever wins the day,

The whole profession’s sure to pay.

Beside, no mountebanks, nor cheats,

Dare undertake to do their feats,

When in all other sciences

They swarm, like insects, and increase.

For what bigot durst ever draw,

By inward light, a deed in law?

Or could hold forth, by revelation,

An answer to a declaration?

For those that meddle with their tools

Will cut their fingers, if they’re fools;

And if you follow their advice,

In bills, and answers, and replies,

They’ll write a love-letter in chancery,

Shall bring her upon oath to answer ye,

And soon reduce her to b’ your wife,

Or make her weary of her life.

The Knight, who us’d with tricks and shifts

To edify by RALPHO’s Gifts,

But in appearance cry’d him down,

To make them better seem his own,

(All Plagiaries’ constant course

Of sinking when they take a purse),

Resolv’d to follow his advice,

But kept it from him by disguise;

And, after stubborn contradiction,

To counterfeit his own conviction,

And by transition fall upon

The resolution as his own.

Quoth he, This gambol thou advisest

Is of all others the unwisest;

For if I think by law to gain her,

There’s nothing sillier or vainer

’Tis but to hazard my pretence,

Where nothing’s certain, but th’ expence;

To act against myself, and traverse

My suit and title, to her favours

And if she shou’d (which Heav’n forbid)

O’erthrow me, as the fidler did,

What aftercourse have I to take,

‘Gainst losing all I have at stake?

He that with injury is griev’d,

And goes to law to be reliev’d,

Is sillier than a sottish chowse,

Who, when thief has robb’d his house,

Applies himself to cunning men,

To help him to his goods agen;

When all he can expect to gain,

Is but to squander more in vain;

And yet I have no other way

But is as difficult to play.

For to reduce her by main force,

Is now in vain; by fair means, worse;

But worst of all, to give her over,

‘Till she’s as desp’rate to recover

For bad games are thrown up too soon,

Until th’ are never to be won.

But since I have no other course,

But is as bad t’ attempt, or worse,

He that complies against his will,

Is of his own opinion still;

Which he may adhere to, yet disown,

For reasons to himself best known:

But ’tis not to b’ avoided now,

For SIDROPHEL resolves to sue;

Whom I must answer, or begin

Inevitably first with him.

For I’ve receiv’d advertisement,

By times enough, of his intent;

And knowing he that first complains

Th’ advantage of the business gains;

For Courts of Justice understand

The plaintiff to be eldest hand;

Who what he pleases may aver;

The other, nothing, till he swear;

Is freely admitted to all grace,

And lawful favour, by his place;

And, for his bringing custom in,

Has all advantages to win.

I, who resolve to oversee

No lucky opportunity,

Will go to council, to advise

Which way t’ encounter, or surprize,

And, after long consideration,

Have found out one to fit th’ occasion;

Most apt for what I have to do,

As counsellor and justice too.

And truly so, no doubt, he was,

A lawyer fit for such a case.

An 9 old dull sot, who told the clock

For many years at Bridewell-dock,

At Westminster, and Hicks’s-Hall,

And Hiccius Doctius play’d in all;

Where, in all governments and times,

H’ had been both friend and foe to crimes,

And us’d two equal ways of gaining

By hind’ring justice or maintaining;

To many a whore gave priviledge,

And whipp’d for want of quarteridge:

Cart-loads of bawds to prison sent

For b’ing behind a fortnight’s rent

And many a trusty pimp and croney

To 10 Puddle-dock for want of money;

Engag’d the constable to seize

All those that would not break the peace,

Nor give him back his own foul words,

Though sometimes Commoners or Lords,

And kept ’em prisoners of course,

For being sober at ill hours;

That in the morning he might free

Or bind ’em over for his fee;

Made 11 monsters fine, and puppet-plays,

For leave to practise in their ways;

Farm’d out all cheats, and went a share

With th’ headborough and scavenger;

And made the dirt i’ th’ streets compound

For taking up the publick ground;

The kennel, and the King’s highway,

For being unmolested, pay;

Let out the stocks, and whipping-post,

And cage, to those that gave him most;

Impos’d a tax on bakers’ ears,

And for false weights on chandelers;

Made victuallers and vintners fine

For arbitrary ale and wine;

But was a kind and constant friend

To all that regularly offend;

As residentiary bawds,

And brokers that receive stol’n goods;

That cheat in lawful mysteries,

And pay church duties and his fees;

But was implacable, and awkward,

To all that interlop’d and hawker’d.

To this brave man the Knight repairs

For council in his law-affairs

And found him mounted in his pew,

With books and money plac’d for shew,

Like nest-eggs to make clients lay,

And for his false opinion pay

To whom the knight, with comely grace,

Put off his hat to put his case

Which he as proudly entertain’d

As th’ other courteously strain’d;

And, to assure him ‘t was not that

He look’d for, bid him put on’s hat.

Quoth he, There is one SIDROPHEL,

Whom I have cudgell’d — Very well.

And now he brags t’ have beaten me. —

Better and better still, quoth he. —

And vows to stick me to a wall

Where-e’er he meets me — Best of all.

’Tis true, the knave has taken’s oath

That I robb’d him — Well done, in troth

When h’ has confess’d he stole my cloak,

And pick’d my fob, and what he took;

Which was the cause that made me bang him,

And take my goods again — Marry hang him.

Now whether I should before-hand,

Swear he robb’d me? — I understand.

Or bring my action of conversion

And trover for my goods? — Ah, Whoreson!

Or if ’tis better to indite,

And bring him to his trial? — Right.

Prevent what he designs to do,

And swear for th’ State against him? — True.

Or whether he that is defendant

In this case has the better end on’t;

Who, putting in a new cross-bill,

May traverse th’ action? — Better still.

Then there’s a Lady too — Aye, marry

That’s easily prov’d accessary;

A widow, who, by solemn vows

Contracted to me for my spouse,

Combin’d with him to break her word,

And has abetted all. — Good Lord

Suborn’d th’ aforesaid SIDROPHEL

To tamper with the Dev’l of Hell;

Who put m’ into a horrid fear,

Fear of my life. — Make that appear.

Made an assault with fiends and men

Upon my body. — Good agen,

And kept me in a deadly fright,

And false imprisonment, all night

Mean while they robb’d me, and my horse,

And stole my saddle. — Worse and worse.

And made me mount upon the bare ridge,

T’ avoid a wretcheder miscarriage.

Sir, quoth the Lawyer, not to flatter ye,

You have as good and fair a battery

As heart can wish, and need not shame

The proudest man alive to claim.

For if th’ have us’d you as you say;

Marry, quoth I, God give you joy.

I wou’d it were my case, I’d give

More than I’ll say, or you’ll believe.

I would so trounce her, and her purse;

I’d make her kneel for better or worse;

For matrimony and hanging here

Both go by destiny so clear,

That you as sure may pick and choose,

As Cross, I win; and, Pile, you lose;

And, if I durst, I would advance

As much in ready maintenance,

As upon any case I’ve known,

But we that practise dare not own.

The law severely contrabands

Our taking bus’ness off men’s hands;

’Tis common barratry, that bears

Point-blank an action ‘gainst our ears

And crops them till there is not leather

To stick a pin in left of either;

For which some do the Summer-sault,

And o’er the bar, like tumblers, vault,

But you may swear, at any rate,

Things not in nature, for the State;

For in all courts of justice here

A witness is not said to swear,

But make oath; that is, in plain terms,

To forge whatever he affirms.

(I thank you, quoth the Knight, for that,

Because ’tis to my purpose pat — )

For Justice, though she’s painted blind,

Is to the weaker Side inclin’d,

Like Charity; else right and wrong

Could never hold it out so long,

And, like blind Fortune, with a slight

Convey mens’ interest and right

From 12 Stiles’s pocket into Nokes’s,

As easily as Hocus Pocus;

Play fast and loose; make men obnoxious,

And clear again, like Hiccius Doctius.

Then whether you wou’d take her life,

Or but recover her for your wife,

Or be content with what she has,

And let all other matters pass,

The bus’ness to the law’s alone,

The proof is all it looks upon:

And you can want no witnesses

To swear to any thing you please,

That hardly get their mere expences

By th’ labour of their consciences;

Or letting out to hire their ears

To affidavit customers,

At inconsiderable values,

To serve for jury-men or tallies,

Although retain’d in th’ hardest matters,

Of trustees and administrators.

For that, quoth he, let me alone;

W’ have store of such, and all our own;

Bred up and tutor’d by our teachers,

The ablest of conscience-stretchers.

That’s well, quoth he; but I should guess,

By weighing all advantages,

Your surest way is first to pitch

On 13 BONGEY for a water-witch;

And when y’ have hang’d the conjurer,

Y’ have time enough to deal with her.

In th’ int’rim, spare for no trepans

To draw her neck into the bans

Ply her with love-letters and billets,

And bait ’em well, for quirks and quillets

With trains t’ inveigle, and surprize,

Her heedless answers and replies;

And if she miss the mouse-trap lines,

They’ll serve for other by-designs;

And make an artist understand

To copy out her seal or hand;

Or find void places in the paper

To steal in something to intrap her

Till, with her worldly goods and body,

Spight of her heart, she has endow’d ye,

Retain all sorts of witnesses,

That ply i’ th’ Temple under trees;

Or walk the round, with knights o’ th’ posts,

About the cross-legg’d knights, their hosts;

Or wait for customers between

The pillars-rows in Lincoln’s-Inn

Where vouchers, forgers, common-bail,

And affidavit-men, ne’er fail

T’ expose to sale all sorts of oaths,

According to their ears and cloaths,

Their only necessary tools,

Besides the Gospel and their souls;

And when y’ are furnish’d with all purveys,

I shall be ready at your service.

I would not give, quoth HUDIBRAS,

A straw to understand a case,

Without the admirable skill

To wind and manage it at will;

To vere, and tack, and steer a cause

Against the weather-gage of laws;

And ring the changes upon cases

As plain as noses upon faces,

As you have well instructed me,

For which you’ve earn’d (here ’tis) your fee.

I long to practise your advice,

And try the subtle artifice;

To bait a letter, as you bid;

As not long after, thus he did

For having pump’d up all his wit,

And humm’d upon it, thus he writ.

1 Than Hags with all their Imps and Teats.] Alluding to the vulgar opinion, that witches have their imps, or familiar spirits, that are employed in their diabolical practices, and suck private teats they have about them.

2 As Rosi-crucian Virtuosos, &c.] The Rosicrusians were a sect that appeared in Germany in the beginning of the XVIIth age. They are also called the Enlightened, Immortal, and Invisible. They are a very enthusiastical sort of men, and hold many wild and extravagant opinions.

3 From Marshal Legion’s Regiment.] He used to preach, as if they might expect legions to drop down from heaven, for the propagation of the good Old Cause.

4 More plainly than the Reverend Writer, &c.] A most Reverend Prelate, A. B. of Y. who sided with the disaffected party.

5 If the Ancients crown’d their bravest Men, &c.] The Romans highly honoured, and nobly rewarded, those persons that were instrumental in the preservation of the lives of their citizens, either in battle or otherwise

6 Or else their Sultan Populaces, &c.] The Author compares the arbitrary actings of the ungovernable mob to the Sultan or Grand Signior, who very seldom fails to sacrifice any of his chief commanders, called Bassas, if they prove unsuccessful in battle.

7 As the ancient Mice attack’d the Frogs.) Homer wrote a poem of the War between the Mice and the Frogs.

8 And stout Rinaldo gain’d his Bride, &c.] A story in Tasso, an Italian Poet, of a hero that gained his mistress by conquering her party.

9 An old dull Sot, who told the Clock, &c.] Prideux, a justice of peace, a very pragmatical busy person in those times, and a mercenary and cruel magistrate, infamous for the following methods of getting of money among many others.

10 And many a trusty Pimp and Croney, &c.] There was a gaol for puny offenders.

11 Made Monsters fine, and Puppet-plays, &c.] He extorted money from those that kept shows.

12 From Stiles’s Pocket into Nokes’s, &c.] John a Nokes, and John a Stiles, are two fictitious names made use of in stating cases of law only.

13 On BONGEY for a Water Witch.] Bongey was a Franciscan, and lived towards the end of the thirteenth century, a doctor of divinity in Oxford; and a particular acquaintance of Friar Bacon’s. In that ignorant age, every thing that seemed extraordinary was reputed magick; and so both Bacon and Bongey went under the imputation of studying the black-art. Bongey also, publishing a treatise of Natural Magick, confirmed some well-meaning credulous people in this opinion; but it was altogether groundless; for Bongey was chosen provincial of his order, being a person of most excellent parts and piety.

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