The Argument

    Sir Hudibras his passing worth,
    The manner how he sally'd 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 made or drunk,
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;
And pulpit, drum ecclesiactic,
Was beat with fist instead of stick;
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a-colonelling.
A wight he was, whose very sight would
Entitle him Mirror of Knighthood,
That never bow'd his stubborn knee
To any thing but chivalry,
Nor put up blow, but that which laid
Right Worshipful on shoulder blade;
Chief of domestic knights and errant,
Either for chartel 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,
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:
Some hold the one, and some the other,
But, howsoe'er they make a pother
The difference was so small, his brain
Outweigh'd his rage but half a grain;
Which made some take him him for a tool
That knaves do work with, called a Fool.
For 't has been held by many, that
As Montaigne, playing with his cat,
Complains she thought him but an ass,
Much more she would Sir Hudibras:
(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 not such.
We grant, although he had much wit,
H' was very shy of using it,
As being loth to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about;
Unless on holydays or so,
As men their best apparel do.
Beside, 'tis known he could speak Greek
As naturally as pigs squeak;
That Latin was no more difficile,
Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle:
Being rich in both, he never scanted
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,
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.

Hudibras on-line

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