Samuel Butler.

Hudibras online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibrarySamuel ButlerHudibras → online text (page 1 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Transcriber's Notes:

Credits: This e-text was scanned, proofed and edited with a
glossary and translations from the Latin by Donal O' Danachair.
([email protected]). The text is that of an edition
published in London, 1805. This e-text is hereby placed in the
public domain.

Spelling and punctuation: These are the same as in the book as
far as possible. The AE and OE digraphs have been transcribed
as two letters. Greek words have been transliterated.

Notes: The notes are identified by letters in the text, thus: .
In a few cases the note has no text reference: these are indicated .

Layout: the line numbers all end in col. 65. View this e-text in a
monospaced font such as Courier and they will all line up in the
right margin.

Latin: All translations are by the transcriber. In the notes, they
immediately follow the Latin text in [square brackets].
Translations of Latin phrases in the poem are in the glossary.
Disclaimer: these translations are probably very inaccurate - I
am no great Latin scholar.



- - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - -
- - -


Poeta nascitur non fit, [poets are born, not made] is a sentence
of as great truth as antiquity; it being most certain, that all the
acquired learning imaginable is insufficient to compleat a poet,
without a natural genius and propensity to so noble and sublime
an art. And we may, without offence, observe, that many very
learned men, who have been ambitious to be thought poets,
have only rendered themselves obnoxious to that satyrical
inspiration our Author wittily invokes:

Which made them, though it were in spight
Of nature and their stars, to write.

On the one side some who have had very little human learning,
but were endued with a large share of natural wit and parts,
have become the most celebrated (Shakespear, D'Avenant, &c.)
poets of the age they lived in. But, as these last are, "Rarae aves
in terris," so, when the muses have not disdained the assistances
of other arts and sciences, we are then blessed with those lasting
monuments of wit and learning, which may justly claim a kind
of eternity upon earth. And our author, had his modesty
permitted him, might, with Horace, have said,

Exegi monumentum aere perennius:
[I have raised a memorial more lasting than bronze]

Or, with Ovid,

Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,
Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas.
[For I have raised a work which neither the rage of Jupiter,
Nor fire, nor iron, nor consuming age can destroy.]

The Author of this celebrated Poem was of this his last
composition: for although he had not the happiness of an
academical education, as some affirm, if may be perceived,
throughout his whole Poem, that he had read much, and was
very well accomplished in the most useful parts of human

Rapin (in his reflections) speaking of the necessary qualities
belonging to a poet, tells us, he must have a genius
extraordinary; great natural gifts; a wit just, fruitful, piercing,
solid, and universal; an understanding clear and distinct; an
imagination neat and pleasant; an elevation of soul, that
depends not only on art or study, but is purely the gift of
heaven, which must be sustained by a lively sense and vivacity;
judgment to consider wisely of things, and vivacity for the
beautiful expression of them, &c.

Now, how justly this character is due to our Author, we leave to
the impartial reader, and those of nicer judgment, who had the
happiness to be more intimately acquainted with him.

The reputation of this incomparable Poem is so thoroughly
established in the world, that it would be superfluous, if not
impertinent, to endeavour any panegyric upon it. King Charles
II. whom the judicious part of mankind will readily
acknowledge to be a sovereign judge of wit, was so great an
admirer of it, that he would often pleasantly quote it in his
conversation. However, since most men have a curiosity to have
some account of such anonymous authors, whose compositions
have been eminent for wit or learning, we have, for their
information, subjoined a short Life of the Author.


Samuel Butler, the Author of this excellent Poem, was born in
the Parish of Strensham, in the county of Worcester, and
baptized there the 13th of Feb. 1612. His father, who was of the
same name, was an honest country farmer, who had some small
estate of his own, but rented a much greater of the Lord of the
Manor where he lived. However, perceiving in this son an early
inclination to learning, he made a shift to have him educated in
the free-school at Worcester, under Mr. Henry Bright; where
having passed the usual time, and being become an excellent
school-scholar, he went for some little time to Cambridge, but
was never matriculated into that University, his father's abilities
not being sufficient to be at the charge of an academical
education; so that our Author returned soon into his native
county, and became clerk to one Mr. Jefferys, of Earl's-Croom,
an eminent Justice of the Peace for that County, with whom he
lived some years, in an easy and no contemptible service. Here
by the indulgence of a kind master, he had sufficient leisure to
apply himself to whatever learning his inclinations led him,
which were chiefly history and poetry; to which, for his
diversion, he joined music and painting; and I have seen some
pictures, said to be of his drawing, which remained in that
family; which I mention not for the excellency of them, but to
satisfy the reader of his early inclinations to that noble art; for
which also he was afterwards entirely beloved by Mr. Samuel
Cooper, one of the most eminent painters of his time.

He was after this recommended to that great encourager of
learning, Elizabeth Countess of Kent, where he had not only the
opportunity to consult all manner of learned books, but to
converse also with that living library of learning, the great Mr

Our Author lived some time also with Sir Samuel Luke, who
was of an ancient family in Bedfordshire but, to his dishonour,
an eminent commander under the usurper Oliver Cromwell: and
then it was, as I am informed, he composed this loyal Poem.
For, though fate, more than choice, seems to have placed him in
the service of a Knight so notorious, both in his person and
politics, yet, by the rule of contraries, one may observe
throughout his whole Poem, that he was most orthodox, both in
his religion and loyalty. And I am the more induced to believe
he wrote it about that time, because he had then the opportunity
to converse with those living characters of rebellion, nonsense,
and hypocrisy, which he so livelily and pathetically exposes
throughout the whole work.

After the restoration of King Charles II. those who were at the
helm, minding money more than merit, our Author found that
verse in Juvenal to be exactly verified in himself:

Haud facile emergunt, quorum virtutibus obstat
Res angusta domi:
[They do not easily rise whose virtues are held back by the
straitened circumstances of their home]

And being endued with that innate modesty, which rarely finds
promotion in princes' courts. He became Secretary to Richard
Earl of Carbury, Lord President of the Principality of Wales,
who made him Steward of Ludlow-Castle, when the Court there
was revived. About this time he married one Mrs. Herbert, a
gentlewoman of a very good family, but no widow, as the
Oxford Antiquary has reported; she had a competent fortune,
but it was most of it unfortunately lost, by being put out on ill
securities, so that it was of little advantage to him. He is
reported by the Antiquary to have been Secretary to his Grace
George Duke of Buckingham, when he was Chancellor to the
University of Cambridge; but whether that be true or no, it is
certain, the Duke had a great kindness for him, and was often a
benefactor to him. But no man was a more generous friend to
him, than that Mecaenas of all learned and witty men, Charles
Lord Buckhurst, the late Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, who,
being himself an excellent poet, knew how to set a just value
upon the ingenious performances of others, and has often taken
care privately to relieve and supply the necessities of those,
whose modesty would endeavour to conceal them; of which our
author was a signal instance, as several others have been, who
are now living. In fine the integrity of his life, the acuteness of
his wit, and easiness of his conversation, had rendered him most
acceptable to all men; yet he prudently avoided a multiplicity of
acquaintance, and wisely chose such only whom his discerning
judgment could distinguish (as Mr. Cowley expresseth it)

From the great vulgar or the small.

And having thus lived to a good old age, admired by all, though
personally known to few, he departed this life in the year 1680,
and was buried at the charge of his good friend Mr. Longuevil,
of the Temple, in the yard belonging to the church of St. Paul's
Covent-garden, at the west-end of the said yard, on the north
side, under the wall of the said church, and under that wall
which parts the yard from the common highway. And since he
has no monument yet set up for him, give me leave to borrow
his epitaph from that of Michael Drayton, the poet, as the author
of Mr. Cowley's has partly done before me:

And though no monument can claim
To be the treasurer of thy name;
This work, which ne'er will die, shall be
An everlasting monument to thee.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sir Hudibras 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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out they knew not why?
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
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,
Though not a man of them knew wherefore:
When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded
With long-ear'd rout, to battle sounded, 10
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a colonelling.
A wight he was, whose very sight wou'd 15
Entitle him Mirror of Knighthood;
That never bent his stubborn knee
To any thing but Chivalry;
Nor put up blow, but that which laid
Right worshipful on shoulder-blade; 20
Chief of domestic knights and errant,
Either for cartel or for warrant;
Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o'er, as swaddle;
Mighty he was at both of these, 25
And styl'd 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: 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,
And offer to lay wagers that
As MONTAIGNE, playing with his cat,
Complains she thought him but an ass,
Much more she wou'd 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 squeek;
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, 60
He had such plenty, as suffic'd
To make some think him circumcis'd;
And truly so, he was, perhaps,
Not as a proselyte, but for claps.

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, 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, a goose a justice, 75
And rooks Committee-men and Trustees.
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,
H' had hard words,ready to show why, 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
His ordinary rate of 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;
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;
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 cou'd 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
When he harangu'd, but known his phrase
He would have us'd no other ways.
In MATHEMATICKS he was greater
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,
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,
He understood b' implicit faith: 130
Whatever sceptic could inquire for,
For ev'ry why he had a wherefore;
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 th' one
For th' other, as great clerks have done.
He could reduce all things to acts,
And knew their natures by abstracts;
Where entity and quiddity, 145
The ghosts of defunct bodies fly;
Where truth in person does appear,
Like words congeal'd in northern air.
He knew what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly; 150
In school-divinity as able
As he that hight, Irrefragable;
A second THOMAS, or, at once,
To name them all, another DUNCE:
Profound in all the Nominal 155
And Real ways, beyond them all:
For he a rope of sand cou'd twist
As tough as learned SORBONIST;
And weave fine cobwebs, fit for skull
That's empty when the moon is full; 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;
And, as he was dispos'd, 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; 180
If either of them had a navel:
Who first made music malleable:
Whether the serpent, at the fall,
Had cloven feet, or none at all.
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;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon 195
The holy text of pike and gun;
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;
In falling out with that or this,
And finding somewhat still amiss; 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;
Compound for sins they are inclin'd 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:
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 minc'd-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 pidgeon,
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.

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 follows thus 240
His tawny beard was th' equal grace
Both of his wisdom and his face;
In cut and dye so like a tile,
A sudden view it would beguile:
The upper part thereof was whey; 245
The nether, orange mix'd with grey.
This hairy meteor did denounce
The fall of scepters and of crowns;
With grisly type did represent
Declining age of government; 250
And tell with hieroglyphick spade,
Its own grave and the state's were made.
Like SAMPSON'S heart-breakers, it grew
In time to make a nation rue;
Tho' it contributed its own fall, 255
To wait upon the publick downfal,
It was monastick, and did grow
In holy orders by strict vow;
Of rule as sullen and severe
As that of rigid Cordeliere. 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 tortur'd;
Revil'd, and spit upon, and martyr'd.
Maugre all which, 'twas to stand fast
As long as monarchy shou'd 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 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
Wou'd last as long as parent breech;
But when the date of NOCK was out, 285
Off drop'd the sympathetic snout.

His back, or rather burthen, show'd,
As if it stoop'd with its own load:
For as AENEAS 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, butter-milk, and curds,
Such as a country-house affords; 300
With other vittle, which anon
We farther 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 tho' not sword, yet cudgel-proof;
Whereby 'twas fitter for his use,
Who fear'd no blows, but such as bruise.

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.
Thro' they were lin'd 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 t' 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 fortify'd redoubt.
And tho' Knights Errant, as some think,
Of old did neither eat nor drink,
Because, when thorough desarts vast,
And regions desolate, they past, 330
Where belly-timber above ground,
Or under, was not to be found,
Unless they graz'd, 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,
On which with shirt pull'd out behind,
And eke before, his good Knights din'd. 340
Though 'twas no table, some suppose,
But a huge pair of round trunk hose;
In which he carry'd as much meat
As he and all the Knights cou'd eat,
When, laying by their swords and truncheons, 345

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibrarySamuel ButlerHudibras → online text (page 1 of 23)