Hudibras/Part 1/Canto 1
PART I. CANTO I.
HUDIBRAS. CANTO I.
hen civil dudgeon first grew high,
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Mighty he was at both of these, 25
As being loth to wear it out,
He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl,
A Babylonish dialect,
For he, by geometric scale,
Where Truth in person does appear,
He could raise scruples dark and nice,
Whether the serpent, at the fall,
As if Religion were intended 205
Quarrel with minced pies, and disparage
And toll, with hieroglyphic spade,
Maugre all which, 'twas to stand fast
With other victual, which anon
Unless they grazed, there's not one word
And ate into itself, for lack
In th' holsters, at his saddle-bow,
The beast was sturdy, large, and tall,
To active trot one side of's horse, 455
This sturdy Squire had, as well 475
For as of vagabonds we say,
For mystic learning wondrous able
He Anthroposophus, and Floud,
From a Print prefixed to his "Philosophia Sacra," 1626
He'd extract numbers out of matter,
Or dreadful comet, he hath done
As sure as if they knew the moment
On one that fits our purpose most,
And to crack'd fiddle, and hoarse tabor,
As he believed h' was bound to do
Enough at once to lie at stake 735
Unless by providential wit,
The Indians fought for the truth
For certainly there's no such word
And that both are so near of kin,
Of deeds, not words, and such as suit
'Tis sung, there is a valiant Mamaluke
While still the more he kick'd and spurr'd,
- 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.
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.
- A ridicule on Ronsard's Franciade, and Sir William Davenant's Gondibert, both unfinished.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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."
- Ridiculing their vehement action in the pulpit, and their beating it with their fists, as if they were beating a drum.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A challenge; also an agreement in writing between parties or armies which are enemies. MS. Key.
- 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.
- 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.
- See this playful passage (quoted from Montaigne, Essays ii. 12) in Walton's Angler, chap. i.
"He Greek and Latin speaks with greater ease
Than hogs eat acorns, and tame pigeons peas."
- 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.
- In the first editions this couplet was differently expressed.
And truly so he was perhaps,
Not as a proselyte, but for claps.
- 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.
- Such was Alderman Pennington, who sent a person to Newgate for singing what he called a malignant psalm
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If any copy would warrant it, I should read "author saith." Nash.
- 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.
- 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.
- A satire upon the abstract notions of the metaphysicians. Butler humorously calls the metaphysical essences ghosts or shadows of real substances.
- 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.
- 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.
- The jest here is in giving a vulgar expression as the translation of the "quid est quid" of our old logicians.
- 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 acutcness, 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.).
- 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.
- That is, subtle questions or foolish conceits, fit for the brain of a lunatic.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- This relates to the idea that music was first invented bv Pythagoras, on hearing the variations of sound produced by a blacksmith striking his anvil with a hammer—a story which has been frequently ridiculed.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- As a comet is supposed to portend some public calamity, so this parliamentary beard threatened monarchy.
- Alluding to the pictures of Time and Death.
- 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.
- 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.
- The later editions, for canonic, read monastic.
- 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.
- 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.
- Clotho, Lachosis, and Atropos, the three destinies whom the ancient poets feigned to spin and determine how long the thread of life should last.
- 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.
- 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.
- A Devonshire dish.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alluding to the method by which bum-bailiffs, as they are called, arrest persons, by giving them a tap on the shoulder.
- Thus Homer accoutres Agamemnon with a dagger hanging near his sword, which he used instead of a knife. Iliad. Lib. iii. 271.
- A dudgeon was a short sword, or dagger: from the Teutonic Degen.
- That is, for domestic uses or any drudgery, such as follows in the next verses.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Suetonius relates, that the hoofs of Cæsar's horse were divided like human toes. See also Montfaucon, Antiquité expliquée, vol. ii. p. 58.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A double allusion. Tailors sit at their work in this posture; and Crusaders are represented on funeral monuments with their legs across.
- 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.
- In allusion to Æneas's descent into hell, and the tailor's receptacle for his filchings, also called hell.
- Var. "His wit was sent him."
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- A burlesque parallel between traders in spiritual gifts, and traders who show their goods to advantage by means of sky-lights.
- 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.
- Poetry and Enthusiasm are closely allied: a Poet is an Enthusiast in jest; an Enthusiast a Poet in earnest.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- "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.
- See the ancient and modern customs of the Irish, in Camden's Britannia, and Speed's Theatre of Great Britain.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- The title assumed by alchemists, who pretended to have discovered the philosopher's stone.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Pythagorean philosophy held that there were certain mystical charms in certain numbers.
Plato held whatsoe'er encumbers
Or strengthens empire, comes from numbers.
- 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."
- 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.
- That is, the Sectaries, in their pretence to inspiration, assumed to be passive instruments of the Holy Spirit, directed like puppets.
- 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.
- Alluding to the old notion, that the moon was the repository of all things that were lost or stolen.
- Mercury is the god of thieves, and Mars of pirates.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- i. e. did not take to astrological, but to religious imposture.
- 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.
- That is, Parnassus, supposed to be cleft on the summit.
- He probably means Brentford, about eight miles west of London. See Part ii. Cant. iii. ver. 996.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Pharos, a celebrated light-house of antiquity, 500 feet high, whence the English word Pharos, a watch-tower.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Meaning, though every nose do not smell it. Nare from Nares, the Latin for nostrils.
- 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.
- 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.
- To eradicate, or pluck up by the root.
- 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.
- The Protestation was a solemn vow entered into, and subscribed, the first year of the long parliament.
- 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.
- 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."
- No hands here mean paws.
- 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.
- The Ichneumon, or water-rat of the Nile, called also Pharaoh's rat, which destroys the eggs of the Crocodile.
- 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.
- Valiantly, tooth and nail.
- That is, so silly.
- See Tacitus, Annals, B. xv. c. 44. (Bohn's transl. vol. i. p. 423.)
- 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."
- The Assembly of Divines, in their Annotations on Genesis i. 1, assail the King for creating honours.
- 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.
- 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.
- See Psalm cvi. 38.
- Exactly true, and according to rule.
- 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.
- Great cry and little wool, as they say when any one talks much, and proves nothing.
- 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;
- The first and second editions read:
Compr'hend them inclusive both.
- The additional syllable is humorous, and no doubt intended.
- Tho Presbyterians were great fatalists, and set up the doctrine of predestination to meet all contingencies.
- 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.
- 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.
- These four lines are no doubt in allusion to a celebrted 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.
- Laocoon; who, at the siege of Troy, suspecting treachery, struck the wooden horse with his spear.
- 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.
- 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.