Hudibras/Part 1/Canto 1

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Hudibras, 1859 - Illustration - v1 p2.png


Sir Hudibras[1]his passing worth,
The manner how he sallied forth;
His arms and equipage are shown;
His horse's virtues, and his own.
Th' adventure of the bear and fiddle
Is sung, but breaks off in the middle.[2]


When civil dudgeon[3] first grew high,
And men fell out they knew not why?[4]
When hard words[5], jealousies, and fears,[6]
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk, 5
For dame Religion, as for Punk;
Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
Tho' not a man of them knew wherefore:
When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded[7]
With long-ear'd[8] rout, to battle sounded, 10

And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;[9]
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling.
And out he rode a colonelling.[10]
A Wight he was, whose very sight would 15
Entitle him Mirror of Knighthood;
That never bow'd his stubborn knee[11]
To anything but chivalry;
Nor put up blow, but that which laid
Right Worshipful on shoulder-blade:[12] 20
Chief of domestic knights, and errant,
Either for chartel[13] or for warrant:
Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o'er, as swaddle:[14]

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Montaigne.png

R. Cooper sculpr.


From a Print by Chereau

Mighty he was at both of these, 25
And styled of War as well as Peace.
So some rats of amphibious nature,
Are either for the land or water.
But here our authors make a doubt.
Whether he were more wise, or stout.[15] 30
Some hold the one, and some the other;
But howsoe'er they make a pother,
The diff'rence was so small, his brain
Outweigh'd his rage but half a grain;
Which made some take him for a tool 35
That knaves do work with, call'd a Fool.
For t' has been held by many, that
As Montaigne, playing with his cat,

Hudibras, 1859 - Illustration - v1 p5.png

Complains she thought him but an ass,[16]
Much more she would Sir Hudibras: 40
For that's the name our valiant knight
To all his challenges did write.
But they're mistaken very much,
'Tis plain enough he was no such;
We grant, although he had much wit, 45
H' was very shy of using it;

As being loth to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about,
Unless on holy-days, or so,
As men their best apparel do. 50
Beside, 'tis known he could speak Greek
As naturally as pigs squeak;[17]
That Latin was no more difficile,
Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle:
Being rich in both, he never scanted 55
His bounty unto such as wanted;
But much of either would afford
To many, that had not one word.
For Hebrew roots, although they're found
To flourish most in barren ground,[18] 60
He had such plenty, as sufficed
To make some think him circumcised;
And truly so, perhaps, he was
'Tis many a pious Christian's case.[19]
He was in Logic a great critic, 65
Profoundly skill'd in analytic;
He could distinguish, and divide
A hair 'twixt south, and south-west side:
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands, and still confute,[20] 70
He'd undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man's no horse;

He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a Lord may be an owl,
A calf an Alderman,[21] a goose a Justice,[22] 75
And rooks, Committee-men and Trustees.[23]
He'd run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination.
All this by syllogism, true
In mood and figure, he would do. 80
For Rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happen'd to break off
I' th' middle of his speech, or cough,[24]
H' had hard words,ready to show why,[25] 85
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else, when with greatest art he spoke,
You'd think he talk'd like other folk,
For all a Rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools. 90
But when he pleased to show 't, his speech
In loftiness of sound was rich;

A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned pedants much affect.
It was a parti-colour'd dress 95
Of patch'd and pie-bald languages;
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin.[26]
It had an odd promiscuous tone,
As if h' had talk'd three parts in one; 100
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
Th' had heard three labourers of Babel;[27]
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.
This he as volubly would vent 105
As if his stock would ne'er be spent:
And truly, to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he could coin, or counterfeit
New words, with little or no wit; 110
Words so debas'd and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on.
And when with hasty noise he spoke 'em,
The ignorant for current took 'em;
That had the orator, who once 115
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones[28]
When he harangued, but known his phrase,
He would have used no other ways.
    In Mathematics he was greater
Than Tycho Brahe, or Erra Pater:[29] 120

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Tycho Brahe.png

R.Cooper sculpt.


From a scarce Print

For he, by geometric scale,
Could take the size of pots of ale;
Resolve, by sines and tangents straight,
If bread or butter wanted weight;[30]
And wisely tell what hour o' th' day 125
The clock does strike by algebra.
Beside, he was a shrewd Philosopher,
And had read ev'ry text and gloss over;
Whate'er the crabbed'st author hath,[31]
He understood b' implicit faith: 130
Whatever Sceptic could inquire for,
For ev'ry why he had a wherefore:[32]
Knew more than forty of them do,
As far as words and terms cou'd go.
All which he understood by rote, 135
And, as occasion serv'd, would quote;
No matter whether right or wrong,
They might be either said or sung.
His notions fitted things so well,
That which was which he could not tell; 140
But oftentimes mistook the one
For th' other, as great clerks have done.
He could reduce all things to acts,
And knew their natures by abstracts;[33]
Where entity and quiddity, 145
The ghosts of defunct bodies fly;[34]

Where Truth in person does appear,[35]
Like words congeal' d in northern air.[36]
He knew what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly.[37]150
In school-divinity as able
As he that hight irrefragable;
A second Thomas, or at once.
To name them all, another Duns:[38]
Profound in all the nominal, 155
And real ways, beyond them all;
And, with as delicate a hand,
Could twist as tough a rope of sand;[39]
And weave tine cobwebs, fit for scull
That's empty when the moon is full;[40] 160
Such as take lodgings in a head
That's to be let unfurnished.

He could raise scruples dark and nice,
And after solve 'em in a trice;
As if Divinity had catch'd 165
The itch, on purpose to be scratch'd;
Or, like a mountebank, did wound
And stab herself with doubts profound,
Only to show with how small pain
The sores of Faith are cur'd again; 170
Although by woeful proof we find,
They always leave a scar behind.
He knew the seat of Paradise,
Could tell in what degree it lies;[41]
And, as he was disposed, could prove it, 175
Below the moon, or else above it.
What Adam dreamt of, when his bride
Came from her closet in his side:
Whether the devil tempted her
By a High Dutch interpreter;[42] 180
If either of them had a navel;[43]
Who first made music malleable:[44]

Whether the serpent, at the fall,
Had cloven feet, or none at all.[45]
All this, without a gloss, or comment, 185
He could unriddle in a moment,
In proper terms, such as men smatter
When they throw out, and miss the matter.
For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit; 190
'Twas Presbyterian true blue;[46]
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant[47] saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;[48]
Such as do build their faith upon 195
The holy text of pike and gun;[49]
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks; 200
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done:

As if Religion were intended 205
For nothing else but to be mended.
A sect, whose chief devotion lies
In odd perverse antipathies:[50]
In falling out with that or this,
And finding somewhat still amiss:[51] 210
More peevish, cross, and splenetick,
Than dog distract, or monkey sick:
That with more care keep holy-day
The wrong, than others the right way:[52]
Compound for sins they are inclined to, 215
By damning those they have no mind to:
Still so perverse and opposite,
As if they worshipp'd God for spite.
The self-same thing they will abhor
One way, and long another for. 220
Free-will they one way disavow,
Another, nothing else allow:[53]
All piety consists therein
In them, in other men all sin:
Rather than fail, they will defy 225
That which they love most tenderly;

Quarrel with minced pies, and disparage
Their best and dearest friend, plum-porridge;
Fat pig and goose itself oppose,
And blaspheme custard through the nose. 230
Th' apostles of this fierce religion,
Like Mahomet's, were ass and widgeon,[54]
To whom our knight, by fast instinct
Of wit and temper, was so linkt,
As if hypocrisy and nonsense 235
Had got th' advowson of his conscience.[55]
Thus was he gifted and accouter'd.
We mean on th' inside, not the outward:
That next of all we shall discuss;
Then listen, Sirs, it followeth thus: 240
His tawny beard was th' equal grace
Both of his wisdom and his face;
In cut and dye so like a tile.[56]
A sudden view it would beguile;
The upper part thereof was whey, 245
The nether orange, mixt with grey.
This hairy meteor did denounce
The fall of sceptres and of crowns;[57]
With grisly type did represent
Declining age of government. 250

And tell, with hieroglyphic spade,[58]
Its own grave and the state's were made.
Like Samson's heart-breakers, it grew
In time to make a nation rue;[59]
Tho' it contributed its own fall, 255
To wait upon the public downfal:[60]
It was canonic,[61] and did grow
In holy orders, by strict vow:[62]
Of rule as sullen and severe
As that of rigid Cordeliere.[63]260
'Twas bound to suffer persecution
And martyrdom with resolution;
T' oppose itself against the hate
And vengeance of th' incensed state:
In whose defiance it was worn. 265
Still ready to be pull'd and torn,
With red-hot irons to be tortured.
Reviled, and spit upon, and martyr'd.

Maugre all which, 'twas to stand fast
As long as monarchy should last; 270
But when the state should hap to reel,
'Twas to submit to fatal steel,
And fall, as it was consecrate
A sacrifice to fall of state;
Whose thread of life the fatal sisters[64] 275
Did twist together with its whiskers,
And twine so close, that Time should never,
In life or death, their fortunes sever;
But with his rusty sickle mow
Both down together at a blow. 280
So learned Taliacotius, from
The brawny part of porter's bum,
Cut supplemental noses, which
Would last as long as parent breech:[65]
But when the date of Nock was out,[66] 285
Off dropt the sympathetic snout.
    His back, or rather burthen, show'd
As if it stoop'd with its own load.
For as Æneas bore his sire
Upon his shoulders thro' the fire, 290
Our knight did bear no less a pack
Of his own buttocks on his back:
Which now had almost got the upper-
Hand of his head, for want of crupper.
To poise this equally, he bore 295
A paunch of the same bulk before:
Which still he had a special care
To keep well-cramm'd with thrifty fare;
As white-pot,[67] butter-milk, and curds,
Such as a country-house affords; 300

With other victual, which anon
We further shall dilate upon,
When of his hose we come to treat,
The cupboard where he kept his meat.
His doublet was of sturdy buff, 305
And though not sword, yet cudgel-proof,
Whereby 'twas fitter for his use,
Who fear'd no blows but such as bruise.[68]
His breeches were of rugged woollen,
And had been at the siege of Bullen; 310
To old King Harry so well known,
Some writers held they were his own.[69]
Thro' they were lined with many a piece
Of ammunition-bread and cheese,
And fat black-puddings, proper food 315
For warriors that delight in blood.
For, as we said, he always chose
To carry vittle in his hose,
That often tempted rats and mice,
The ammunition to surprise: 320
And when he put a hand but in
The one or th' other magazine.
They stoutly in defence on't stood,
And from the wounded foe drew blood;
And till th' were storm'd and beaten out, 325
Ne'er left the fortified redoubt:
And tho' knights errant, as some think,
Of old did neither eat nor drink,[70]
Because when thorough deserts vast,
And regions desolate, they past, 330
Where belly-timber above ground,
Or under, was not to be found,

Unless they grazed, there's not one word
Of their provision on record:
Which made some confidently write, 335
They had no stomachs but to fight.
'Tis false: for Arthur wore in hall
Round-table like a farthingal,[71]
On which, with shirt pull'd out behind.
And eke before, his good knights dined. 340
Tho' 'twas no table some suppose,
But a huge pair of round trunk-hose:
In which he carried as much meat
As he and all his knights could eat,[72]
When laying by their swords and truncheons, 345
They took their breakfasts, or their nuncheons.[73]
But let that pass at present, lest
"We should forget where we digrest;
As learned authors use, to whom
"We leave it, and to th' purpose come. 350
His puissant sword unto his side,
Near his undaunted heart, was tied.
With basket-hilt, that would hold broth,
And serve for fight and dinner both.
In it he melted lead for bullets, 355
To shoot at foes, and sometimes pullets;
To whom he bore so fell a grutch,
He ne'er gave quarter t' any such.
The trenchant blade, Toledo trusty,[74]
For want of fighting was grown rusty, 360

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Oliver Cromwell.png

R.Cooper sculpt.


From an original Picture by Walker

And ate into itself, for lack
Of somebody to hew and hack.
The peaceful scabbard where it dwelt,
The rancour of its edge had felt:
For of the lower end two handful 365
It had devour'd, 'twas so manful,
And so much scorn'd to lurk in case,
As if it durst not show its face.
In many desperate attempts,
Of warrants, exigents, contempts,[75] 370
It had appear'd with courage bolder
Than Serjeant Bum, invading shoulder:[76]
Oft had it ta'en possession,
And pris'ners too, or made them run.
This sword a dagger had, his page, 375
That was but little for his age:[77]
And therefore waited on him so,
As dwarfs upon knights errant do.
It was a serviceable dudgeon,[78]
Either for fighting or for drudging:[79] 380
When it had stabb'd, or broke a head,
It would scrape trenchers, or chip bread,
Toast cheese or bacon,[80] though it were
To bait a mouse-trap, 'twould not care.
'Twould make clean shoes, and in the earth 385
Set leeks and onions, and so forth:
It had been 'prentice to a brewer,
Where this, and more, it did endure;
But left the trade, as many more
Have lately done, on the same score.[81] 390

In th' holsters, at his saddle-bow,
Two aged pistols he did stow,
Among the surplus of such meat
As in his hose he could not get.
These would inveigle rats with th' scent, 395
To forage when the cocks were bent;
And sometimes catch 'em with a snap,
As cleverly as th' ablest trap.
They were upon hard duty still,
And every night stood sentinel, 400
To guard the magazine i' th' hose,
From two-legg'd, and from four-legg'd foes.
Thus clad and fortified, Sir Knight,
From peaceful home, set forth to fight.
But first, with nimble active force, 405
He got on th' outside of his horse.[82]
For having but one stirrup tied
T' his saddle, on the further side,
It was so short, h' had much ado
To reach it with his desp'rate toe. 410
But after many strains and heaves,
He got upon the saddle eaves,
From whence he vaulted into th' seat,
With so much vigour, strength, and heat,
That he had almost tumbled over 415
With his own weight, but did recover,
By laying hold on tail and mane,
Which oft he used instead of rein.
But now we talk of mounting steed,
Before we further do proceed, 420
It doth behove us to say something
Of that which bore our valiant bumkin.

The beast was sturdy, large, and tall,
With mouth of meal, and eyes of wall;
I would say eye, for h' had but one, 425
As most agree, though some say none.
He was well stay'd, and in his gait,
Preserv'd a grave, majestic state.
At spur or switch no more he skipt.
Or mended pace, than Spaniard whipt:[83] 430
And yet so fiery, he would bound,
As if he grieved to touch the ground:
That Cæsar's horse, who, as fame goes,
Had corns upon his feet and toes,[84]
Was not by half so tender-hooft, 435
Nor trod upon the ground so soft:
And as that beast would kneel and stoop,
Some write, to take his rider up:[85]
So Hudibras his, 'tis well known.
Would often do, to set him down. 440
We shall not need to say what lack
Of leather was upon his back:
For that was hidden under pad,
And breech of Knight gall'd full as bad.
His strutting ribs on both sides show'd 445
Like furrows he himself had plow'd:
For underneath the skirt of pannel,
'Twixt every two there was a channel.
His draggling tail hung in the dirt,
Which on his rider he would flirt, 450
Still as his tender side he prickt,
With arm'd heel, or with unarm'd, kickt:
For Hudibras wore but one spur.
As wisely knowing, could he stir

To active trot one side of's horse, 455
The other would not hang an arse.[86]
A Squire he had, whose name was Ralph,[87]
That in th' adventure went his half.
Though writers, for more stately tone,
Do call him Ralpho, 'tis all one: 460
And when we can, with metre safe,
We'll call him so, if not, plain Raph.[88]
For rhyme the rudder is of verses,
With which, like ships, they steer their courses.
An equal stock of wit and valour 465
He had lain in, by birth a tailor.
The mighty Tyrian queen that gain'd,
With subtle shreds, a tract of land,[89]
Did leave it, with a castle fair,
To his great ancestor, her heir; 470
From him descended cross-legg'd knights;[90]
Famed for their faith and warlike fights
Against the bloody Cannibal,[91]
Whom they destroy'd both great and small.

This sturdy Squire had, as well 475
As the bold Trojan knight, seen hell,[92]
Not with a counterfeited pass
Of golden bough, but true gold lace.
His knowledge was not far behind
The knight's, but of another kind, 480
And he another way came by't;
Some call it Gifts, and some New Light.
A lib'ral art, that costs no pains
Of study, industry, or brains.
His wits were sent him for a token,[93] 485
But in the carriage crack'd and broken.
Like commendation nine-pence, crookt
With—to and from my love—it lookt.[94]
He ne'er consider' d it, as loth
To look a gift-horse in the mouth; 490
And very wisely would lay forth
No more upon it than 'twas worth.[95]
But as he got it freely, so
He spent it frank and freely too.
For saints themselves will sometimes be, 495
Of gifts that cost them nothing, free.
By means of this, with hem and cough,
Prolongers to enlighten'd snuff,[96]
He could deep mysteries unriddle.
As easily as thread a needle; 500

For as of vagabonds we say,
That they are ne'er beside their way:
"Whate'er men speak by this new light,
Still they are sure to be i' th' right.
'Tis a dark-lanthorn of the spirit, 505
Which none see by but those that bear it:
A light that falls down from on high,[97]
For spiritual trades to cozen by:
An ignis fatuus, that bewitches,
And leads men into pools and ditches,[98] 510
To make them dip themselves, and sound
For Christendom in dirty pond;
To dive, like wild-fowl, for salvation,
And fish to catch regeneration.
This light inspires, and plays upon 515
The nose of saint, like bagpipe drone,
And speaks through hollow empty soul,
As through a trunk, or whisp'ring hole,
Such language as no mortal ear
But spiritual eaves-droppers can hear. 520
So Phœbus, or some friendly muse,
Into small poets song infuse;[99]
Which they at second-hand rehearse,
Thro' reed or bag-pipe, verse for verse.
Thus Ralph became infallible, 525
As three or four legg'd oracle,
The ancient cup, or modern chair;[100]
Spoke truth point blank, though unaware.

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Agrippa.png

R.Cooper sculpt.


From a scarce Print

For mystic learning wondrous able
In magic talisman, and cabal,[101] 530
Whose primitive tradition reaches,
As far as Adam's first green breeches:[102]
Deep-sighted in intelligences,
Ideas, atoms, influences;
And much of terra incognita, 535
Th' intelligible world could say; [103]
A deep occult philosopher,
As learn'd as the wild Irish are,[104]
Or Sir Agrippa, for profound
And solid lying much renown'd:[105] 540

He Anthroposophus,[106] and Floud,
And Jacob Behmen understood;
Knew many an amulet and charm,
That would do neither good nor harm;
In Rosicrucian lore as learned,[107] 545
As he that verè adeptus[108] earned.
He understood the speech of birds[109]
As well as they themselves do words;
Could tell what subtlest parrots mean,
That speak and think contrary clean;[110] 550
"What member 'tis of whom they talk,
When they cry Rope—and Walk, Knave, walk.[111]

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Robert Fludd.png

R.Cooper sculpt.


From a Print prefixed to his "Philosophia Sacra," 1626

He'd extract numbers out of matter,[112]
And keep them in a glass, like water,
Of sov'reign power to make men wise:[113] 555
For, dropt in blear, thick-sighted eyes,
They'd make them see in darkest night,
Like owls, tho' purblind in the light.
By help of these, as he profest,
He had first matter seen undrest: 560
He took her naked, all alone,
Before one rag of form was on.[114]
The chaos too he had descry'd,
And seen quite thro', or else he lied:
Not that of pasteboard, which men shew 565
For groats, at fair of Barthol'mew;[115]
But its great grandsire, first o' th' name,
Whence that and Reformation came,
Both cousin-germans, and right able
T'inveigle and draw in the rabble: 570
But Reformation was, some say,
O' th' younger house to puppet-play.[116]
He could foretell wbats'ever was,
By consequence, to come to pass:
As death of great men, alterations, 575
Diseases, battles, inundations:
All this without th' eclipse of th' sun,

Or dreadful comet, he hath done
By Inward Light, a way as good,
And easy to be understood: 580
But with more lucky hit than those
That use to make the stars depose,
Like knights o' th' post,[117] and falsely charge
Upon themselves what others forge;
As if they were consenting to 585
All mischief in the world men do:
Or, like the devil, did tempt and sway 'em
To rogueries, and then betray 'em.
They'll search a planet's house, to know
Who broke and robb'd a house below; 590
Examine Venus and the Moon,
Who stole a thimble and a spoon:[118]
And tho' they nothing will confess,
Yet by their very looks can guess,
And tell what guilty aspect bodes, 595
Who stole, and who received the goods.
They'll question Mars, and, by his look,
Detect who 'twas that nimm'd a cloak;
Make Mercury confess, and 'peach
Those thieves which he himself did teach.[119] 600
They'll find, i' th' physiognomies
O' th' planets, all men's destinies;
Like him that took the doctor's bill,
And swallow'd it instead o' th' pill.[120]
Cast the nativity o' th' question,[121] 605
And from positions to be guest on,

As sure as if they knew the moment
Of Native's birth, tell what will come on't.
They'll feel the pulses of the stars,
To find out agues, coughs, catarrhs: 610
And tell what crisis does divine
The rot in sheep, or mange in swine:
In men, what gives or cures the itch,
What made them cuckolds, poor, or rich;
What gains, or loses, hangs, or saves, 615
What makes men great, what fools, or knaves;
But not what wise, for only of those
The stars, they say, cannot dispose,[122]
No more than can the astrologians.
There they say right, and like true Trojans. 620
This Ralpho knew, and therefore took
The other course, of which we spoke.[123]
Thus was th' accomplish'd squire endued
With gifts and knowledge per'lous shrewd.
Never did trusty squire with knight, 625
Or knight with squire, jump more right.
Their arms and equipage did fit,
As well as virtues, parts, and wit:
Their valours too, were of a rate,
And out they sallied at the gate. 630
Few miles on horseback had they jogged,
But fortune unto them turn'd dogged;
For they a sad adventure met,
Of which anon we mean to treat:
But ere we venture to unfold 635
Achievements so resolved and bold,
We should, as learned poets use,
Invoke th' assistance of some Muse;
However critics count it sillier,
Than jugglers talking t' a familiar: 640
We think 'tis no great matter which;
They're all alike, yet we shall pitch

On one that fits our purpose most,
Whom therefore thus we do accost:—
    Thou that with ale, or viler liquors, 645
Didst inspire Withers, Pryn, and Vickars,[124]
And force them, though it were in spite
Of Nature, and their stars, to write;
Who, as we find in sullen writs,
And cross-grain'd works of modern wits, 650
With vanity, opinion, want,
The wonder of the ignorant,
The praises of the author, penn'd
By himself, or wit-insuring friend;
The itch of picture in the front, 655
With bays, and wicked rhyme upon't,
All that is left o' th' forked hill[125]
To make men scribble without skill;
Canst make a poet, spite of fate,
And teach all people to translate; 660
Though out of languages, in which
They understand no part of speech;
Assist me but this once, I 'mplore,
And I shall trouble thee no more.
    In western clime there is a town,[126] 665
To those that dwell therein well known,
Therefore there needs no more be said here,
We unto them refer our reader;
For brevity is very good.
When w' are, or are not understood.[127] 670
To this town people did repair
On days of market, or of fair,

Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - George Withers.jpg

R.Cooper sculpt.


From a rare Print by Holle

And to crack'd fiddle, and hoarse tabor,
In merriment did drudge and labour;
But now a sport more formidable 675
Had raked together village rabble:
'Twas an old way of recreating,
Which learned butchers call bear-baiting;
A bold advent'rous exercise,
With ancient heroes in high prize; 680
For authors do affirm it came
From Isthmian or Nemean game;
Others derive it from the bear
That's fix'd in northern hemisphere,
And round about the pole does make 685
A circle, like a bear at stake,
That at the chain's end wheels about,
And overturns the rabble-rout.
For after solemn proclamation,[128]
In the bear's name, as is the fashion, 690
According to the law of arms.
To keep men from inglorious harms,
That none presume to come so near
As forty feet of stake of bear;
If any yet be so fool-hardy, 695
T' expose themselves to vain jeopardy,
If they come wounded off, and lame,
No honour's got by such a maim,
Altho' the bear gain much, b'ing bound,
In honour to make good his ground, 700
When he's engag'd, and take no notice,
If any press upon him, who 'tis,
But lets them know, at their own cost,
That he intends to keep his post.
This to prevent, and other harms, 705
Which always wait on feats of arms,
For in the hurry of a fray
'Tis hard to keep out of harm's way.
Thither the Knight his course did steer
To keep the peace 'twixt dog and bear, 710

As he believed h' was bound to do
In conscience, and commission too;[129]
And therefore thus bespoke the Squire:—
We that are wisely mounted higher
Than constables, in curule wit, 715
When on tribunal bench we sit,[130]
Like speculators, should foresee,
From Pharos[131] of authority,
Portended mischiefs farther than
Low proletarian tything-men:[132] 720
And therefore being inform'd by bruit,
That dog and bear are to dispute;
For so of late men fighting name,
Because they often prove the same;
For where the first does hap to be, 725
The last does coincidere.
Quantum in nobis, have thought good
To save th' expense of Christian blood,
And try if we, by mediation
Of treaty, and accommodation, 730
Can end the quarrel, and compose
The bloody duel without blows.
Are not our liberties, our lives,
The laws, religion, and our wives,

Enough at once to lie at stake 735
For Cov'nant,[133] and the Cause's sake?[134]
But in that quarrel dogs and bears,
As well as we, must venture theirs?
This feud, by Jesuits invented,
By evil counsel is fomented; 740
There is a Machiavelian plot,
Tho' ev'ry nare olfact it not;[135]
A deep design in't, to divide
The well-affected that confide,
By setting brother against brother 745
To claw and curry one another.
Have we not enemies plus satis,
That cane et angue pejus[136] hate us?
And shall we turn our fangs and claws
Upon our own selves, without cause? 750
That some occult design doth lie
In bloody cynarctomachy,[137]
Is plain enough to him that knows
How saints lead brothers by the nose.
I wish myself a pseudo-prophet, 755
But sure some mischief will come of it,

Unless by providential wit,
Or force, we averruncate[138] it.
For what design, what interest,
Can beast have to encounter beast? 760
They fight for no espoused Cause,
Frail privilege, fundamental laws,[139]
Nor for a thorough Reformation,
Nor Covenant, nor Protestation,[140]
Nor liberty of consciences,[141] 765
Nor lords' and commons' ordinances;[142]
Nor for the church, nor for church-lands,
To get them in their own no hands;[143]
Nor evil counsellors to bring
To justice, that seduce the king; 770
Nor for the worship of us men,
Tho' we have done as much for them.
Th' Egyptians worshipp'd dogs,[144] and for
Their faith made internecine war.
Others adored a rat,[145] and some 775
For that church suffer'd martyrdom.

The Indians fought for the truth
Of th' elephant and monkey's tooth;[146]
And many, to defend that faith,
Fought it out mordicus to death.[147] 780
But no beast ever was so slight,[148]
For man, as for his god, to fight;
They have more wit, alas! and know
Themselves and us better than so.
But we, who only do infuse 785
The rage in them like boutè-feus,[149]
'Tis our example that instils
In them th' infection of our ills.
For, as some late philosophers
Have well observed, beasts that converse 790
With man take after him, as hogs
Get pigs all the year, and bitches dogs.
Just so, by our example, cattle
Learn to give one another battle.
We read, in Nero's time, the Heathen, 795
When they destroy' d the Christian brethren,
They sew'd them in the skins of bears,[150]
And then set dogs about their ears;
From whence, no doubt, th' invention came[151]
Of this lewd antichristian game. 800
    To this, quoth Ralpho, Verily
The point seems very plain to me;
It is an antichristian game,
Unlawful both in thing and name.
First, for the name; the word bear-baiting 805
Is carnal, and of man's creating;[152]

For certainly there's no such word
In all the Scripture on record:
Therefore unlawful, and a sin;[153]
And so is, secondly, the thing: 810
A vile assembly 'tis, that can
No more be proved by Scripture, than
Provincial, Classic, National;[154]
Mere human creature-cobwebs all.
Thirdly, it is idolatrous; 815
For when men run a-whoring thus[155]
With their inventions, whatsoe'er
The thing be, whether dog or bear,
It is idolatrous and pagan,
No less than worshipping of Dagon. 820
Quoth Hudibras, I smell a rat;
Ralpho, thou dost prevaricate:
For though the thesis which thou lay'st
Be true, ad amussim,[156] as thou say'st;
For that bear-baiting should appear, 825
Jure divino, lawfuller
Than synods are, thou dost deny
Totidem verbis; so do I:
Yet there's a fallacy in this;
For if by sly homœosis,[157] 830
Thou wouldst sophistically imply
Both are unlawful, I deny.
And I, quoth Ralpho, do not doubt
But bear-baiting may be made out,
In gospel-times, as lawful as is 835
Provincial, or parochial Classis;

And that both are so near of kin,
And like in all, as well as sin,
That, put 'em in a bag and shake 'em,
Yourself o' th' sudden would mistake 'em, 840
And not know which is which, unless
You measure by their wickedness;
For 'tis not hard t' imagine whether
O' th' two is worst, tho' I name neither.
    Quoth Hudibras, Thou offer'st much, 845
But art not able to keep touch.
Mira de lente,[158] as 'tis i' th' adage,
Id est, to make a leek a cabbage;
Thou canst at best but overstrain
A paradox, and th' own hot brain;[159] 850
For what can synods have at all
With bear that's analogical?
Or what relation has debating
Of church-affairs with bear-baiting?
A just comparison still is 855
Of things ejusdem generis:
And then what genus rightly doth
Include, and comprehend them both? [160]
If animal, both of its may
As justly pass for bears as they; 860
For we are animals no less,
Although of diff'rent specieses.[161]
But, Ralpho, this is no fit place,
Nor time, to argue out the case:
For now the field is not far off, 865
Where we must give the world a proof

Of deeds, not words, and such as suit
Another manner of dispute:
A controversy that affords
Actions for arguments, not words; 870
Which we must manage at a rate
Of prowess and conduct, adequate
To what our place and fame doth promise,
And all the godly expect from us.
Nor shall they be deceived, unless 875
W' are slurr'd and outed by success;
Success, the mark no mortal wit
Or surest hand can always hit:
For whatsoe'er we perpetrate,
We do but row, w' are steer'd by fate,[162] 880
Which in success oft disinherits,
For spurious causes, noblest merits.
Great actions are not always true sons
Of great and mighty resolutions;
Nor do the bold'st attempts bring forth 885
Events still equal to their worth;
But sometimes fail, and in their stead
Fortune and cowardice succeed.
Yet we have no great cause to doubt,
Our actions still have borne us out; 890
Which, tho' they're known to be so ample,
We need not copy from example;
We're not the only persons durst
Attempt this province, nor the first.
In northern clime a val'rous knight[163] 895
Did whilom kill his bear in fight,
And wound a fiddler: we have both
Of these the objects of our wroth,
And equal fame and glory from
Th' attempt, or victory to come. 900

'Tis sung, there is a valiant Mamaluke
In foreign land, yelep'd ———[164]
To whom we have been oft compared
For person, parts, address, and beard;
Both equally reputed stout, 905
And in the same Cause both have fought.
He oft, in such attempts as these,
Came off with glory and success:
Nor will we fail in th' execution,
For want of equal resolution. 910
Honour is, like a widow, won
With brisk attempt, and putting on;
With ent'ring manfully and urging;
Not slow approaches, like a virgin.[165]
This said, as erst the Phrygian knight,[166] 915
So ours, with rusty steel did smite
His Trojan horse, and just as much
He mended pace upon the touch;
But from his empty stomach groan'd,
Just as that hollow beast did sound, 920
And, angry, answer'd from behind,
With brandish'd tail and blast of wind.
So have I seen, with armed heel,
A wight bestride a Common-weal,[167]

While still the more he kick'd and spurr'd,925
The less the sullen jade has stirr'd.[168]

Hudibras, 1859 - Illustration - v1 p40.png
Hudibras, 1859 - Plate - Richard Cromwell.png

R. Cooper sculpr.


From a Miniature by Cooper

  1. Butler probably took the name of Hudibras from Spencer's Fairy Queen, B. ii. C. ii. St. 17.

    He that made love unto the eldest dame
    Was hight Sir Hudibras, an hardy man;
    Yet not so good of deeds, as great of name,
    Which he by many rash adventures wan,
    Since errant arms to sew he first began.

    Geoffrey of Monmouth mentions a British king of this name, as living about the time of Solomon, and reigning 39 years. He is said to have composed all the dissensions among his people. Others have supposed it derived from the French, Hugo, or Hu de Bras, signifying Hugh with the strong arm: thus Fortinbras, Firebras.

    In the Grub-street Journal, Col. Rolls, a Devonshire gentleman, is said to be satirized under the character of Hudibras; and it is asserted, that Hugh de Bras was the name of the old tutelar saint of that county; Dr Grey had been informed, on credible authority, that the person intended was Sir Henry Rosewell, of Ford Abbey, Devonshire; but it is idle to look for personal reflections in a poem designed for a general satire on hypocrisy, enthusiasm, and false learning. There is no doubt, however, that Sir Samuel Luke, of Bedfordshire, is the likeliest hero. See lines 15 and 902.

  2. A ridicule on Ronsard's Franciade, and Sir William Davenant's Gondibert, both unfinished.
  3. To take in dudgeon is inwardly to resent some injury or affront, a sort of grumbling in the gizzard (as Tom Hood has said), and what is previous to actual fury. It was altered by Mr Butler, in his edition of 1674, to civil fury, and so stood until 1700. But the original word was restored in 1704, and has been adopted, with two or three recent exceptions, ever since; and it unquestionably is most in keeping with the character of the poem. Dudgeon in its primitive sense is a dagger, and is so used towards the close of the present canto.
  4. It may be justly said they knew not why, since, as Lord Clarendon observes, "The like peace and plenty, and universal tranquillity, was never enjoyed by any nation for ten years together, before those unhappy troubles began."
  5. The jargon and cant-words used by the Presbyterians and other sectaries, such as gospel-walking-times, soul-saving, carnal-minded, carryings-on, workings-out, committee-dom, &c. They called themselves the elect, the saints, the predestinated, and their opponents Papists, Prelatists, reprobates, &c. &c. They set the people against the Common-prayer, which they asserted was the mass-book in English, and nicknamed it Porridge; and enraged them against the surplice, calling it a rag of Popery, the whore of Babylon's smock, and the smock of the whore of Rome.
  6. Jealousies and fears were words bandied between Charles I. and the parliament in all their papers, before the absolute breaking out of the war. They were used by the parliament to the king, in their petition for the militia, March 1, 1641–2; and by the king in his answer. "You speak of jealousies and fears; lay your hands to your hearts and ask yourselves, whether I may not be disturbed with jealousies and fears."
  7. The Presbyterians (many of whom before the war had got into parish churches) preached the people info rebellion, incited them to take up arms and fight the Lord's battles, and destroy the Amalekites, root and branch, hip and thigh. They told them also to bind their kings in chains, and their nobles in links of iron. And Dr South has recorded that many of the regicides were drawn into the grand rebellion by the direful imprecations of seditious preachers from the pulpit. See Spectator, Nos. 60 and 153.
  8. The Puritans had a custom of putting their hands behind their ears, at sermons, and bending them forward, under pretence of hearing the better. Five hundred or a thousand large ears were sometimes pricked up in this fashion as soon as the text was named, and as they wore their hair very short (whence they were called round-heads), they were the more prominent. Dryden alludes to this in his line:
    "And pricks up his predestinating ears."
  9. Ridiculing their vehement action in the pulpit, and their beating it with their fists, as if they were beating a drum.
  10. Sir Samuel Luke, of Bedfordshire, is no doubt the type of our hero. This has hitherto been merely surmised, first by Grey, and since by all his successors, including Nash; but the present editor possesses a copy of the original edition, 1663, in which a MS. Key, evidently of the same date, gives the name of Sir Samuel Luke, without any question. Sir Samuel was a rigid Presbyterian, high in the favour of Cromwell, justice of the peace, chairman of the quarter sessions, a colonel in the parliament army, a committee-man of his own county, and scout-master-general in the counties of Bedford and Surrey. Butler was for a time in the service of Sir Samuel, probably as secretary; and though in the centre of Puritan meetings, was at heart a Royalist and a Churchman.
  11. Alluding to the Presbyterians, who refused to kneel at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and insisted upon receiving it in a sitting or standing posture. In some of the kirks in Scotland, the pews arc so made, that it is very difficult for any one to kneel.
  12. That is, did not kneel or submit to a blow, except when the King dubbed him a knight. Sir Konelm Digby tells us, that when King James I., who had an antipathy to a sword, dubbed him knight, had not the Duke of Buckingham guided his hand aright, in lieu of touching his shoulder, he had certainly run the point of it into his eye.
  13. A challenge; also an agreement in writing between parties or armies which are enemies. MS. Key.
  14. Swaddle.—This word has two opposite meanings, one to beat or cudgel, the other to bind up or swathe, hence swaddling clothes. See Johnson, Webster, &c.
  15. A burlesque on the usual strain of rhetorical flattery, when authors pretend to be puzzled which of their patrons' noble qualities they should give the preference to.
  16. See this playful passage (quoted from Montaigne, Essays ii. 12) in Walton's Angler, chap. i.
  17. "He Greek and Latin speaks with greater ease
    Than hogs eat acorns, and tame pigeons peas."
    Cranfield's Panegyric on Tom Coriate.

  18. Alluding probably to a notion promulgated by Echard and Sir Thomas Browne, that as Hebrew is the primitive language of man, children, if removed from all society, "brought up in a wood, and suckled by a wolf," would, at four years old, instinctively speak Hebrew. Some students in Hebrew (especially John Ryland, the friend of Robert Hull) have been very angry with these lines, and assert that they have done more to prevent the study of that language, than all the professors have done to promote it.
  19. In the first editions this couplet was differently expressed.

    And truly so he was perhaps,
    Not as a proselyte, but for claps.

  20. Carneades, the academic, having one day disputed at Rome very copiously in praise of justice, refuted every word on the morrow, by a train of contrary arguments.—Something similar is said of Cardinal Perron.
  21. Such was Alderman Pennington, who sent a person to Newgate for singing what he called a malignant psalm
  22. After the declaration of No more addresses to the king, they who before were not above the condition of ordinary constables now became justices of the peace. Chelmsford, at the beginning of the rebellion, was governed by two tailors, two cobblers, two pedlars, and a tinker.
  23. A rook is supposed to devour the grain ; hence, by a figure, applied to the committee-men, who, under the authority of parliament, harassed and oppressed the country, devouring, in an arbitrary manner, the property of those they did not like. An ordinance was passed in 1649, for the sale of
    the royal lands, to pay the army; the common soldiers purchasing by regiments, like corporations, and having trustees for the whole. These trustees often purchased the soldiers' shares at a very small price, and cheated both officers and soldiers, by detaining the trust estates for their own use.
  24. The preachers of those days looked upon coughing and hemming as ornaments of speech; and when they printed their sermons, noted in the margin where the preacher coughed or hemm'd. This practice was not confined to England, for Olivier Maillard, a Cordelier, and famous preacher, printed a sermon at Brussels in the year 1500, and marked in the margin where the preacher hemm'd once or twice, or coughed.
  25. Amongst the "hard words" of the rhetoricians ridiculed here, were such as hyperbaton, ephonesis, asyndeton, aporia, homœosis, hyperbole, hypomone, apodioxis, anadiplosis, &c. &c.; for the meanings of which, see Webster's Dictionary.
  26. Slashed sleeves and hose may be seen in the pictures of Dobson, Vandyke, and others; they were coarse fustian pinked, or cut into holes, that the satin might appear through it.
  27. Diodorus Siculus mentions some southern islands, the inhabitants of which, having their tongues divided, were capable of speaking two different languages at once, and Rabelais, in his account of the monster Hearsay (see Works, Bohn's Edit. v. 2, p. 45), observes, that his mouth was slit up to his ears, and in it were seven tongues, each of them cleft into seven parts, and that he talked with all the seven at once, of different matters, and in divers languages.
  28. Demosthenes.
  29. William Lilly, the famous astrologer of those times. The House of Commons had so great a regard to his predictions, that the author of Mercurius Pragmaticus (No. 20) styles the members the sons of Erra Pater, an old astrologer, of whose predictions John Taylor, the water poet, makes mention.
  30. As a justice of the peace it was his duty to inspect weights and measures:

    "For well his Worship knows, that ale-house sins
    Maintain himself in gloves, his wife in pins."
    A Satyr against Hypocrites, p. 3, 4.

  31. If any copy would warrant it, I should read "author saith." Nash.
  32. That is, he could answer one question by asking another, or elude one difficulty by proposing another. Ray gives the phrase as a proverb. See Handbook of Proverbs, p. 142.
  33. A thing is in potentia, when it is possible, but does not actually exist; a thing is in act, when it is not only possible, but does exist. A thing is said to be reduced from power into act, when that which was only possible begins really to exist. How far we can know the nature of things by abstracts, has long been a dispute. See Locke, on the Understanding.
  34. A satire upon the abstract notions of the metaphysicians. Butler humorously calls the metaphysical essences ghosts or shadows of real substances.
  35. Some authors have represented truth as a real thing or person, whereas it is nothing but a right method of putting man's notions or images of things into the same state and order that their originals hold in nature. See Aristotle, Met. lib. 2.
  36. In Rabelais, Pantagruel throws upon deck three or four handfuls of frozen words. This notion is humorously elaborated in the Tatler, p. 254, and in Munchausen's Travels.
  37. The jest here is in giving a vulgar expression as the translation of the "quid est quid" of our old logicians.
  38. These two lines were omitted after the second edition, but restored in 1704. This whole passage is a smart satire upon the old School divines, many of whom were honoured with some extravagant epithet, and as well known by it as by their proper names: thus Alexander Hales was called doctor irrefragable, or invincible; Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor, or eagle of divines; Duns Scotus, the great opponent of the doctrine of Aquinas, acquired, by his logical acuteness, the title of the subtle doctor. This last was father of the Reals, and William Ockham of the Nominals. See a full account of these Schoolmen in Tennemann's Manual (Bohn's edit. p. 243 et seq.).
  39. A proverbial saying applicable to those who lose their labour by busying themselves in trifles, or attempting things impossible. The couplet stood thus in the first and all succeeding editions till 1704:—

    For he a rope of sand could twist
    As tough as learned Sorbonist.

    The proverb is supposed to be derived from the story of the devil being baulked of a soul for which he had contracted (under the guise of a doctor of the College of Sorbonne), by not being able to make a rope of sand.
  40. That is, subtle questions or foolish conceits, fit for the brain of a lunatic.
  41. This is a banter upon the many learned and laborious treatises which have been published on the Site of Paradise; some affirming it to be above the moon, others above the air; some that it is the whole world, others only a part of the north; some thinking that it was nowhere, whilst others supposed it to be God knows where in the West Indies. Rudbeck, a Swede, asserts that Sweden was the real Paradise. The learned Bishop Huet gives a map of Paradise, and says it is situated upon the canal formed by the Tigris and Euphrates, near Aracca. Mahomet assured his followers, that Paradise was seated in heaven, and that Adam was cast out from thence when he transgressed. Humboldt (see Cosmos, Bohn, vol. i. p. 364–5) brings up the rear, with telling us that every nation has a. Paradise somewhere on the other side of the mountains.
  42. Joh. Goropius Becanus maintained the Teutonic to be the first and most ancient language in the world, and assumed it to have been spoken in Paradise.
  43. "Over one of the doors of the King's antechamber at St James's, is a picture of Adam and Eve, painted by Mabuse, which formerly hung in the gallery at Whitehall, thence called the Adam and Eve Gallery. Evelyn, in the preface to his 'Idea of the Perfection of Painting,' mentions this picture, and objects to the absurdity of representing Adam and Eve with navels." See Sir Thomas Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting. Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, has a chapter expressly on this subject, and is, no doubt, what the poet is quizzing.
  44. This relates to the idea that music was first invented by Pythagoras, on hearing the variations of sound produced by a blacksmith striking his anvil with a hammer—a story which has been frequently ridiculed.
  45. That curse upon the serpent, "on thy belly shalt thou go," seeming to imply a deprivation of what he enjoyed before, has been thought to imply that the serpent must previously have had feet. Accordingly St Basil says, he went erect like a man, and had the use of speech, before the fall.
  46. "True blue," which is found in the old proverb, "true blue will never stain," is used here as an indication of stubborn adherence to party, right or wrong. There is another reference to it in Part III., Canto II., line 870. Blue has immemorially been regarded as the emblematical colour of fidelity, and was the usual livery of servants.

    ——————came a velvet justice, with a long
    Great train of blue-coats, twelve or fourteen strong.
    Donne, Sat. I.

  47. Literally, itinerant, such as missionaries. But the poet no doubt uses the word "errant" with a double meaning, that is, in the sense of knights "errant" as well as "errant" knaves.
  48. The church on earth is called militant, as struggling with temptations, and subject to persecutions : but the Presbyterians of those days were literally the church militant, fighting with the establishment, and all that opposed them.
  49. Cornet Joyce, when he carried away the king from Holdenby, being desired by his Majesty to show his instructions, drew up his troop in the inner court, and said, "These, sir, are my instructions."
  50. The Presbyterians not only opposed some of the articles of belief held by others, but also the pastimes and amusements of the people. Among other things, they reckoned it sinful to eat plum-porridge, or minced pies, at Christmas. The cavaliers, observing the formal carriage of their adversaries, fell into the opposite extreme, and ate and drank plentifully every day, especially after the Restoration.
  51. Queen Elizabeth was often heard to say, that she knew very well what would content the Catholics, but could never learn what would content the Puritans.
  52. In the year 1645, Christmas-day was ordered to be observed as fast: and on the other hand, Oliver, when Protector, was feasted by the lord mayor on Ash-Wednesday. When James the First desired the magistrates of Edinburgh to feast the French ambassadors before their return to France, the ministers proclaimed a fast to be kept the same day. The innovation is thus wittily satirized in a ballad of the time:

    "Gone are the golden days of yore.
    When Christmas was an high day,
    Whose sports we now shall see no more —
    'Tis turn'd into Good Friday."

  53. As maintaining absolute predestination, and denying the liberty of man's will: at the same time contending for absolute freedom in rites and ceremonies, and the discipline of the church.
  54. The Ass is the milk-white beast called Alborach, which Mahomet tells us, in the Koran, the angel Gabriel brought to carry him to the presence of God. Alborach refused to let him get up, unless he would promise to procure him an entrance into paradise. Widgeon means the pigeon, which Mahomet taught to eat out of his ear, that it might be thought to be the means of divine communication. Our poet calls it a widgeon, for the sake of equivoque: widgeon, in the figurative sense, signifying a foolish silly fellow.
  55. Dr Bruno Ryves, in his Mercurius Rusticus, gives a remarkable instance of a fanatical conscience, in a captain, who was invited by a soldier to eat part of a goose with him, but refused, because he said it was stolen; but being to march away, he, who would eat no stolen goose, made no scruple to ride away upon a stolen mare.
  56. In the time of Charles I., the beard was worn sharply peaked in a triangular form, like the old English tiles. Some had pasteboard cases to put over their beards in the night, lest they should get rumpled during their sleep.
  57. As a comet is supposed to portend some public calamity, so this parliamentary beard threatened monarchy.
  58. Alluding to the pictures of Time and Death.
  59. Heart-breakers were particular curls worn by the ladies, and sometimes by men. Samson's strength consisted in his hair; when that was cut off, he was taken prisoner; when it grew again, he was able to pull down the house, and destroy his enemies.
  60. Many of the Presbyterians and Independents swore not to cut their beards till monarchy and episcopacy were ruined. Such vows were common among the barbarous nations, especially the Germans. Civilis, as we learn from Tacitus, having destroyed the Roman legions, cut his hair, which he had vowed to let grow from his first taking up arms. And it became at length a national custom among some of the Germans, never to trim their hair, or their beards, till they had killed an enemy.
  61. The later editions, for canonic, read monastic.
  62. The vow of not shaving the beard till some particular event happened was not uncommon in those times. In a humorous poem, falsely ascribed to Mr Butler, entitled The Cobler and Vicar of Bray, we read,
    This worthy knight was one that swore
    He would not cut his beard,
    Till this ungodly nation was
    From kings and bishops clear'd.

    Which holy vow he firmly kept,
    And most devoutly wore
    A grisly meteor on his face.
    Till they were both no more.
  63. An order so called in France, from the knotted cord which they wore about their middles. In England they were named Grey Friars, and were the strictest branch of the Franciscans.
  64. Clotho, Lachosis, and Atropos, the three destinies whom the ancient poets feigned to spin and determine how long the thread of life should last.
  65. Taliacotius was professor of physic and surgery at Bologna, where he was born, 1553. His treatise in Latin, on the art of ingrafting noses, is well known. See a very humorous account of him, Tatler, No. 260.
  66. Nock is a British word, signifying a slit or crack, and hence, figuratively, the fundament; but the more usual term was nock-andro. Nock, Nockys, is used by Gawin Douglas in his version of the Æneid, for the bottom or extremity of anything.
  67. A Devonshire dish.
  68. A man of nice honour suffers more from a kick, or a slap in the face, than from a wound. Sir Walter Raleigh says, to be strucken with a sword is like a man, but to he strucken with a stick is like a slave.
  69. Henry VIII. besieged Boulogne in person, July 14, 1544. He was very fat, and consequently his breeches very large. See the engravings published by the Society of Antiquaries.
  70. "Though I think, says Don Quixote, that I have read as many histories of chivalry in my time as any other man, I never could find that knights errant ever eat, unless it were by mere accident, when they were invited to great feasts and roval banquets; at other times, they indulged themselves with little other food besides their thoughts."
  71. The farthingale was a large hoop petticoat worn by the ladies. King Arthur is said to have made choice of the round table that his knights might not quarrel about precedence.
  72. True-wit, in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, says of Sir Amorous La Fool, "If he could but victual himself for half-a-year in his breeches, he is sufficiently armed to overrun a country." Act 4, sc. 5.
  73. A substitute for a regular meal; equivalent to what is now called a luncheon. Our ancestors in the 13th and 14th century had four meals a day,—breakfast at 7; dinner at 10; supper at 4; and livery at 8 or 9; soon after which they went to bed. The tradesmen and labouring people had only three meals a day,—breakfast at 8; dinner at 12; and supper at 6. They had no livery.
  74. Toledo, in Spain, famous for the manufacture of swords: the Toledo blades were generally broad, to wear on horseback, and of great length, suitable to the old Spanish dress.
  75. Exigent is a writ issued in order to bring a person to an outlawry, if he does not appear to answer the suit commenced against him.
  76. Alluding to the method by which bum-bailiffs, as they are called, arrest persons, by giving them a tap on the shoulder.
  77. Thus Homer accoutres Agamemnon with a dagger hanging near his sword, which he used instead of a knife. Iliad. Lib. iii. 271.
  78. A dudgeon was a short sword, or dagger: from the Teutonic Degen.
  79. That is, for domestic uses or any drudgery, such as follows in the next verses.
  80. Corporal Nym says, in Shakspeare's Henry V., "I dare not fight, but I will wink, and hold out mine iron: it is a simple one, but what though—it will toast cheese."
  81. A joke upon Oliver Cromwell, who was said to be the son of a brewer in Huntingdonshire. It was frequently the subject of lampoons during his lifetime. Pride had been a brewer, Hewson and Scott brewers' clerks.
  82. Nothing can be more completely droll, than this description of Hudibras mounting his horse. He had one stirrup tied on the off-side very short, the saddle very large; the knight short, fat, and unwieldy, having his breeches and pockets stuffed with black puddings and other provision, overacting his effort to mount, and nearly tumbling over on the opposite side; his single spur, we may suppose, catching in some of his horse's furniture. Cleveland identities this picture in his lines:—"like Sir Samuel Luke in a great saddle, nothing to be seen but the giddy feather in his crown."
  83. This alludes to Sir Roger l'Estrange's story of a Spaniard, who was condemned to run the gauntlet, and disdained to avoid any part of the punishment by mending his pace.
  84. Suetonius relates, that the hoofs of Cæsar's horse were divided like human toes. See also Montfaucon, Antiquité expliquée, vol. ii. p. 58.
  85. Stirrups were not in use in the time of Caesar. Common persons, who were active and hardy, vaulted into their seats; and persons of distinction had their horses taught to hend down towards the ground, or else they were assisted by their equerries.
  86. This jest had previously appeared in an old book called Gratiæ ludentes, or Jests from the Universitis, 1638, where it runs thus: "A scholar being jeered on the way for wearing but one spur, said that if one side of his horse went on, it was not likely the other would stay behind."
  87. As the knight was of the Presbyterian party, so the squire was an Anabaptist or Independent. This gives our author an opportunity of characterizing these several sects, and of showing their joint concurrence against the king and church.
  88. Sir Roger L' Estrange supposes, that the original of Ralph was one Isaac Robinson, a butcher in Moorfields : another authority thinks that the character was designed for Pemble a tailor, one of the committee of sequestrators. Grey supposes, that the name of Ralph was taken from the grocer's apprentice, in Beaumont and Fletcher's "Knight of the Burning Pestle." Mr Pemberton, who was a relation and godson of Mr Butler, said, that the 'squire was designed for Ralph Bedford, esquire, member of parliament for the town of Bedford.
  89. The allusion is to the well-known story of Dido, who purchased as much land as she could surround with an ox's hide. She cut the hide into extremely narrow strips, and so obtained twenty-two furlongs. See Virg. Æneid. lib. i. 367.
  90. A double allusion. Tailors sit at their work in this posture; and Crusaders are represented on funeral monuments with their legs across.
  91. Tailors, as well as Crusaders, are famed for their faith, though of different kind's. The words, bloody cannibal, are meant to be equally applicable to the Saracens and a louse.
  92. In allusion to Æneas's descent into hell, and the tailor's receptacle for his filchings, also called hell.
  93. Var. "His wit was sent him."
  94. From this passage, and the proverb "he has brought his noble to ninepence," one would be led to conclude, that coins were commonly struck of that value; but only two instances of the kind are recorded by Mr Folkes, both during the civil wars, the one at Dublin, and the other at Newark. Long before this period, however, by royal proclamation of July 9, 1551, the base testoons or shillings of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. were rated at ninepence, and these were as abundant as sixpences or shillings until 1696, when all money not milled was called in. Such pieces were often bent and given as love-tokens, and were called "To my love and from my love." See Tatler, No. 240.
  95. When the barber came to shave Sir Thomas More, the morning of his execution, the prisoner told him, "that there was a contest betwixt the King and him for his head, and he would not willingly lay out more upon it than it was worth."
  96. Enlighten'd Snuff.—This reading, which is confirmed by Butler's Genuine Remains, seems preferable to "enlightened stuff," and is a good allusion. As a lamp just expiring with a faint light, for want of oil, emits flashes at intervals; so the tailor's shallow discourse, like the extempore preaching of his brethren, was lengthened out with hems and coughs, with stops and pauses, for want of matter.
  97. A burlesque parallel between traders in spiritual gifts, and traders who show their goods to advantage by means of sky-lights.
  98. An allusion to the Anabaptists, or Dippers. There were two sorts of Anabaptists, one called the Old Men or Aspersi, because they were only sprinkled; the other called New Men or Immersi, because they were overwhelmed in their rebaptization. Sec Mercurius Rusticus, No. 3.
  99. Poetry and Enthusiasm are closely allied: a Poet is an Enthusiast in jest; an Enthusiast a Poet in earnest.
  100. Alluding to Joseph's divining-cup, Gen. xliv. 5; the Pope's infallible chair; and the tripos, or three-legged stool of the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. Four-legg'd oracle probably means telling fortunes from quadrupeds.
  101. Talisman was a magical inscription or figure, engraved or cast by the direction of astrologers, under certain positions of the heavenly bodies, and thought to have great efficacy as a preservative from diseases and all kinds of evil. Cabal, or cabbala, is a sort of divination by letters or numbers: it signifies likewise the secret or mysterious doctrines of any religion or sect. In the time of Charles II. it obtained its present signification as being applied to the intriguing junto composed of Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale, the first letters of whose names form the word.
  102. The author of the Magia Adamica endeavours to prove, that the learning of the ancient Magi was derived from the knowledge which God communicated to Adam in paradise. The second line is a burlesque on the Genevan translation of the Bible, Genesis iii., which reads breeches, instead of aprons. In Mr Butler's character of an hermetic philosopher we read: "he derives the pedigree of magic from Adam's first green breeches; because fig-leaves, being the first covering that mankind wore, are the most ancient monuments of concealed mysteries."
  103. "Ideas, according to my philosophy, are not in the soul, but in a superior intelligible nature, wherein the soul only beholds and contemplates them." See Norris's Letter to Dodwell, on the Immortality of the Soul, p. 114. Nash. But it is more probable that Butler is alluding to Gabriel John's Theory of an Intelligible World, publ. London, 1700; a book which created much sensation at the time, and is supposed to have furnished Swift with some of his material.
  104. See the ancient and modern customs of the Irish, in Camden's Britannia, and Speed's Theatre of Great Britain.
  105. Agrippa was born at Cologne, ann. 1486, and knighted for his military services under the Emperor Maximilian. When very young, he published a book De Occulta Philosophia. which contains almost all the stories that ever roguery invented, or credulity swallowed, concerning the operations of magic. But in his riper years Agrippa was thoroughly ashamed of this book, and suppressed it in his collected works.
  106. A nickname given to Dr Vaughan, author of a discourse on the condition of man after death, entitled, Anthroposophia theomagica,—which, according to Dean Swift, is "a piece of the most unintelligible fustian that perhaps was ever published in any language." Robert Floud (or Fludd), son of Sir Thomas Floud, Treasurer of War to Queen Elizabeth, was Doctor of Physic, and devoted to occult philosophy. He wrote an apology for the Rosicrucians, also a system of physics, called the Mosaic Philosophy, and many other mystical works, to the extent of 6 vols, folio. Jacob Behmen was an enthusiast of the same period, and wrote unintelligibly in mystical terms, Mr Law, who revived some of his notions, calls him a Theosopher.
  107. The Rosicrucians were a sect of hermetical philosophers. They owed their origin to a German, named Christian Rosenkreuz, but frequently went by other names, such as the Illuminati, the Immortales, the Invisible Brothers. Their learning had a great mixture of enthusiasm; and as Lemery, the famous chymist, says, "it was an art without an art, whose beginning was lying, whose middle was labour, and whose end was beggary."
  108. The title assumed by alchemists, who pretended to have discovered the philosopher's stone.
  109. Porphyry, De Abstinentiâ, lib. iii. cap. 3, contends that animals have a language, and that men may understand it; and the author of the Targum on Esther says, that Solomon understood the speech of birds.
  110. In allusion, no doubt, to the story of Henry the Eighth's parrot, which falling into the Thames, cried out, A boat, twenty pounds for a boat, and was saved by a waterman, who on restoring him to the king claimed the reward. But on an appeal to the parrot he exclaimed. Give the knave a groat.
  111. Alluding probably to Judge Tomlinson, who in a ludicrous speech, on swearing in the Sheriffs, said: "You are the chief executioners of sentences upon malefactors, Mr Sheriffs; therefore I shall entreat a favour of you. I have a kinsman, a rope-maker; and as I know you will have many occasions during the year for his services, I commend him to you." A satirical tract was published by Edw. Gayton, probably levelled at Colonel Hewson, with this title, "Walk, knaves, walk: a discourse intended to have been spoken at court," &c.
  112. Every absurd notion, that could be picked up from the ancients, was adopted by the wild enthusiasts of our author's days. Plato, as Aristotle informs us, Metaph. lib. i. c. 6, conceived numbers to exist by themselves, beside the sensibles, like accidents without a substance. Pythagoras maintained that sensible things consisted of numbers. Ib. lib. xi. c. 6. And see Plato in his Cratylus.
  113. The Pythagorean philosophy held that there were certain mystical charms in certain numbers.

    Plato held whatsoe'er encumbers
    Or strengthens empire, comes from numbers.

    Butler's MS.

  114. Thus Cleveland, page 110. "The next ingredient of a diurnal is plots, horrible plots, which with wonderful sagacity it hunts dry foot, while they are yet in their causes, before materia prima can put on her smock."
  115. The puppet-shows, sometimes called Moralities or Mysteries, exhibited Chaos, the Creation, Flood, Nativity, and other subjects of sacred history, on pasteboard scenery. These induced many to read the Old and New Testament; and is therefore called the Elder Brother of the Reformation.
  116. That is, the Sectaries, in their pretence to inspiration, assumed to be passive instruments of the Holy Spirit, directed like puppets.
  117. Knights of the post were infamous persons, who attended the courts of justice, to swear for hire anything that might be required, and even to confess themselves guilty of crimes, upon sufficient remuneration: they acquired the designation from their habit of loitering at the posts on which the sheriffs' proclamations were affixed.
  118. Alluding to the old notion, that the moon was the repository of all things that were lost or stolen.
  119. Mercury is the god of thieves, and Mars of pirates.
  120. This alludes to a well-known story told in Henry Stephens's apology for Herodotus. A physician, having prescribed for a countryman, gave him the paper, desiring him to take it, which he did literally, wrapping it up like a bolus, and was cured.
  121. In casting a nativity, astrologers considered it necessary to have the exact time of birth; but in the absence of this, the position of the heavens at the minute the question was asked was taken as a substitute.
  122. Sapiens dominabitur astris (the wise man will govern the stars), was an old proverb among the astrologers. Bishop Warburton observes, that the obscurity in these lines arises from the double sense of the word dispose; when it relates to the stars, it signifies influence; when it relates to astrologers, it signifies deceive.
  123. i. e. did not take to astrological, but to religious imposture.
  124. George Wither, a violent party writer, and author of many poetical pieces; William Prynne, a voluminous writer, and author of the Histriomastix, for which he lost his ears; John Vickars, a fierce parliamentary zealot. A list of the works of these and other writers of the period will be found in Lowndes, Bibl. Manual.
  125. That is, Parnassus, supposed to be cleft on the summit.
  126. He probably means Brentford, about eight miles west of London. See Part ii. Cant. iii. ver. 996.
  127. "If we are understood, more words are unnecessary; if we are not likely to be understood, they are useless." Charles II. answered the Earl of Manchester with the above couplet, only changing very for ever, when he was making a long speech in favour of the dissenters.
  128. The proclamation here mentioned was usually made at bear or bull-baiting. The people were warned by the steward not to come within 40 feet of the bull or bear, at their peril.
  129. The Presbyterians and Independents were great enemies to those sports with which the country people amused themselves, and which King James had most expressly encouraged, and even countenanced on a Sunday, as well by act of Parliament as by writing his "Book of Sports" (published 1618) in their favour. Hume, anno 1660, says, "All recreations were in a manner suspended, by the rigid severity of the Presbyterians and Independents; even bear-baiting was esteemed heathenish and unchristian; the sport of it, not the inhumanity, gave offence. Colonel Hewson, in his pious zeal, marched with his regiment into London, and destroyed all the bears which were there kept for the diversion of the citizens. This adventure seems to have given birth to the fiction of Hudibras."
  130. Some of the chief magistrates in Rome were said to hold curule offices, from the chair of state or chariot they rode in, called sella curulis.
  131. Pharos, a celebrated light-house of antiquity, 500 feet high, whence the English word Pharos, a watch-tower.
  132. Proletarii were the lowest class of people among the Romans; by affixing this term to tythingmen, the knight implies the little estimation in which they were held.
  133. This was the Solemn League and Covenant, which was first framed and taken by the Scottish parliament, and by them sent to the parliament of England, in order to unite the two nations more closely in religion. It was received and taken by both houses, and by the City of London, and ordered to be read in all the churches throughout the kingdom; and every person was bound to give his consent by holding up his hand at the reading of it. See a copy of it in Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion.
  134. Sir William Dugdale informs us, that Mr Bond, preaching at the Savoy, told his auditors from the pulpit, "That they ought to contribute, and pray, and do all they were able to bring in their brethren of Scotland, for settling of God's cause: I say, quoth he, this is God's cause, and if our God hath any cause, this is it; and if this be not God's cause, then God is no God for me; but the devil is got up into heaven."
  135. Meaning, though every nose do not smell it. Nare from Nares, the Latin for nostrils.
  136. A proverbial saying, used by Horace, expressive of bitter aversion. The punishment for parricide among the Romans was, to be put into a sack with a snake, a dog, and an ape, and thrown into the river.
  137. A compound of three Greek words, signifying a fight between dogs and bears. Colonel Cromwell, finding the people of Uppingham, in Rutlandshire, bear-baiting on the Lord's-day, caused the bears to be seized, tied to a tree, and shot.
  138. To eradicate, or pluck up by the root.
  139. The lines that follow recite the grounds on which the Parliament began the war against the king, and justified their proceedings. Butler calls the privileges of parliament frail, because they were so very apt to complain of their being broken. Whatever the king did, or refused to do, contrary to the sentiments, they voted a breach of their privilege; his dissenting to any of the bills they offered him was a breach of privilege; his proclaiming them traitors, who were in arms against him, was a high breach of their Privilege: and the Commons at last voted it a breach of privilege for the House of Lords to refuse assent to anything that came from the lower house.
  140. The Protestation was a solemn vow entered into, and subscribed, the first year of the long parliament.
  141. The early editions have it Nor for free liberty of conscience; and this reading Bishop Warburton approves; "free liberty" being, as he thinks, a satirical periphrasis for licentiousness, which is what the author here hints at.
  142. The king being driven from the Parliament, no legal acts could be made. An ordinance (says Cleveland, p. 109) is a law still-born, dropt before quickened by the royal assent. "'Tis one of the parliament's by-blows, Acts only being legitimate, and hath no more sire than a Spanish gennet, that is begotten by the wind."
  143. No hands here mean paws.
  144. Anubis, one of their gods, was figured with a dog's face. The Egyptians also worshipped cats; see an instance in Diodorus Siculus of their putting a Roman noble to death for killing a cat, although by mistake.
  145. The Ichneumon, or water-rat of the Nile, called also Pharaoh's rat, which destroys the eggs of the Crocodile.
  146. The inhabitants of Ceylon and Siam worshipped the teeth of monkeys and elephants. The Portuguese, out of zeal for the Christian religion, destroyed these idols; and the Siamese are said to have offered 700,000 ducats to redeem a monkey's tooth which they had long worshipped. See Linschoten's, Le Blanc's, and Herbert's Travels.
  147. Valiantly, tooth and nail.
  148. That is, so silly.
  149. Incendiaries.
  150. See Tacitus, Annals, B. xv. c. 44. (Bohn's transl. vol. i. p. 423.)
  151. Alluding probably to Prynne's Histrio-mastix, p. 556 and 583, who has endeavoured to prove it such from the 61st canon of the sixth Council of Constantinople, which he has thus translated: "Those ought also to be subject to six years' excommunication who carry about bears, or such like creatures, for sport, to the hurt of simple people."
  152. The Assembly of Divines, in their Annotations on Genesis i. 1, assail the King for creating honours.
  153. The disciplinarians held, that the Scriptures were full and express on every subject, and that everything was sinful which was not there directed. Some of the Huguenots refused to pay rent to their landlords, unless they could produce a text of Scripture directing them to do so.
  154. These words represent things of man's invention, therefore carnal and unlawful. The vile assembly means the bear-baiting, but alludes covertly to the Assembly of Divines.
  155. See Psalm cvi. 38.
  156. Exactly true, and according to rule.
  157. The explanation of a thing by something resembling it. Between this line and the next, the following couplet is inserted in several editions:—

    Tussis pro crepitu, an art
    Under a cough to slur a f—rt.

  158. Great cry and little wool, as they say when any one talks much, and proves nothing.
  159. The following lines are substituted, in some editions, for 849 and 850:—

    Thou wilt at best but suck a bull,
    Or shear swine, all cry and no wool;

    Such a bull is explained by the proverb, "As wise as Waltham's Calf, that ran nine miles to suck a bull." See Handbook of Proverbs, p. 322.
  160. The first and second editions read:

    Compr'hend them inclusive both.

  161. The additional syllable is humorous, and no doubt intended.
  162. Tho Presbyterians were great fatalists, and set up the doctrine of predestination to meet all contingencies.
  163. Hudibras encourages himself by two precedents; first, that of a gentleman who killed a bear and wounded a fiddler; and secondly, that of Sir Samuel Luke, who had often, as a magistrate, been engaged in similar adventures.
  164. Sir Samuel Luke. See the note at line 14. The Marmalukes were persons carried off, in their childhood, from various provinces of the Ottoman empire, and sold in Constantinople and Grand Cairo. They often rose first to be cachet's or lieutenants; and then to be beys or petty tyrants. In like manner in the English civil wars, many rose from the lowest rank in life to considerable power.
  165. These four lines are no doubt in allusion to a celebrated but somewhat indecent proverb, first quoted in Nath. Smith's Quakers' Spiritual Court, 1669, and adopted by Ray, with an amusing apology. See Bohn's Handbook of Proverbs, page 43.
  166. Laocoon; who, at the siege of Troy, suspecting treachery, struck the wooden horse with his spear.
  167. Our poet might possibly have in mind a print engraved in Holland. It represented a cow, the emblem of the Common-wealth, with the King of Spain on her back kicking and spurring her; the Queen of England before, stopping and feeding her; the Prince of Orange milking her; and the Duke of Anjou behind pulling her back by the tail. After the Spaniards, in a war of forty years, had spent an hundred millions of crowns, and had lost four hundred thousand men, they were forced to acknowledge the independence of the Dutch.
  168. Mr Butler had been witness to the refractory humour of the nation, not only under the weak government of Richard Cromwell, but in many instances under the resolute management of Oliver.