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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Samuel Butler (1612–1680)

Hudibras’ Religion

From “Hudibras”

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 splenetic,

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 inclined to,

By damning those they have no mind to;

Still so perverse and opposite,

As if they worshipped God for spite.

The selfsame 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 minced-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 widgeon,

To whom our knight, by fast instinct

Of wit and temper, was so linked,

As if hypocrisy and nonsense

Had got the advowson of his conscience.