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Whereby 'tis plain thy light and gifts
Quoth Ralpho, ‘Nothing but th' abuse
* The Ranters,' says Alexander Ross, 'held that God, Devil, Angels, Heaven and Hell, &c., were fictions and fables ; that Moses, John Baptist, and Christ, were impostors,' &c. In his Characters, Butler describes a Ranter as 'a monster produced by the madness of this latter age ; but if it had been his fate to have been whelped in old Rome he had passed for a prodigy, and been received among raining of stones, and the speaking of bulls, and would have put a stop to all public affairs, until he had been expiated. Nero clothed Christians in the skins of wild beasts ; but he wraps wild beasts in the skins of Christians.' Whitelocke says that the soldiers in the parliament army were frequently punished for being ranters.
t''Twas the opinion of those tinkers, tailors, &c., that governed Chelmsford at the beginning of the rebellion, that learning had always been an enemy to the gospel, and that it were a happy thing if there were no Universities, and that all books were burned except the Bible.'—Mercurius Rusticus.
I Human learning' was, of course, considered vain and impious by those sects that held inspiration to be the only source of truth. In a MS. of Butler's, quoted by Dr. Nash, the following reflections occur with a direct application to this subject. The modern doctrine of the court, hat men's natural parts are rather impaired than improved by study and learning, is ridiculously false ; and the design of it as plain as its ignorant nonsense-no more than what the levellers and quakers found out before them; that is, to bring down all other men, whom they have no possibility of coming near any other way, to an equality with themselves ; that no man may be thought to receive any advantage by that, which they, with all their confidence, dare not pretend to.'
An art t’incumber gifts and wit, '
That will not with old rules jump right;
* 1 Samuel xvii. 38. + This observation is just; the logicians have run into strange absurdities of this kind. Peter Ramus, the best of them, in his Logic, rejects a very just argument of Cicero's as sophistical, because it did not jump right with his rules.—WARBURTON.
t Amongst the Remains published by Mr. Thyer, there is a passage in which the thought expressed in these lines is amplified, and followed out to its conclusion. It is one of several fragments upon the vanities of pedantry, and the mere jargon of scholarship, which Butler left unfinished, and which he probably intended ultimately to throw into a connected form. Some of them seem to be either germs of ideas afterwards exhausted in a different shape in Hudibras, or, as apparently in this instance, ideas elaborated from hints suggested in the progress of the poem.
As old knights-errant in their harness fought
Until the fustian stuff be spent,
Quoth Hudibras, "Friend Ralph, thou hast
Fall foul on some extravagant expression,
Of knaves concerned, and pedants unconcerned. The disputant assailed in these lines is Milton, in reference to his controversy with Salmasius.
* Things separate and totally dissimilar. The Knight evidently feels that he has got the worst of the argument, and is glad of an excuse to postpone the dispute. Dryden has fol. : lowed the example closely in the discussion between the twochurches :
Thus did the gentle Hind her fable end,
Hind and Panther.
PART II.-CANTO I.
BUT now, t' observe romantiquo method,
Is't not enough to make one strange,||
* Originally this couplet stood
The Knight, by damnable magician,
Being cast illegally in prison, &c. † An example of Butler's familiarity with the terms and practice of law. An action on the case is an action for damages, brought for an offence done without force, and not specially provided against by law.
To the opening of this part, Butler attaches the following note. • The beginning of this Second Part may perhaps seem strange and abrupt to those who do not know that it was written on purpose in imitation of Virgil, who begins the Fourth Book of his Æneids in the very same manner, At regina gravi, &c. And this is enough to satisfy the curiosity of those who believe that invention and fancy ought to be measured, like cases in law, by precedents, or else they are in the power of the critic.'
§ Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Richard III. i. i. | That is, to make one wonder.
Some writers make all ladies purloined,
But we forget in what sad plight
* It was a common superstition that by drawing the blood of a witch, you deprived her of her power of sorcery. Glanvil gives an instance in his account of the demon of Tedworth, who had bewitched a boy. The boy drew towards Jane Brooks, the woman who had bewitched him, who was behind her two sisters, and put his hand upon her, which his father perceiving, immediately scratched her face, and drew blood from her. The youth then cried out that he was well.' Thus, also, Shakspeare:
- I'll have a bout with thee;
Henry VI., Part I., i. 5. + The dramatic poets who had set aside the unities are bantered in this passage. A similar charge is brought against the Spanish dramatists in Don Quixote, where the Canon speaks of having seen a play .in which the first act begins in Europe, the second in Asia, and the third ending in Africa ; probably,' he adds, “if there had been another act, they had carried it into Amerioa.'