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BUTLER Samuel (17th cent.)



For his Religion, it was fit

To match his learning and his wit;

'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

The holy text of pike and gun;

Decide all controversies by

Infallible artillery;

And prove their doctrine orthodox

By apostolic blows and knocks;

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

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;

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,

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.

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

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.

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

Had got th' advowson of his conscience.


Thus was he gifted and accouter'd;

We mean on th' inside, not the outward…


He could reduce all things to acts,

And knew their natures by abstracts;

Where entity and quiddity,

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;

In school-divinity as able

As he that hight Irrefragable;

Profound in all the Nominal

And Real ways, beyond them all:

And with as delicate a hand,

Could twist as tough a rope of sand;

And weave fine cobwebs, fit for skull

That's empty when the moon is full;

Such as take lodgings in a head

That's to be let unfurnished.