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The Age of Dryden
> Course of Part
and its Models
Course of Part
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.
§ 10. Course of Part
As the pair ride forth, the true romantic method is followed, beginning with a comic invocation of the muse, who
With ale and viler liquors
Didst inspire Withers, Pryn and Vickars,
certain presbyterian poetasters, the last of whom is said in Butlers Annotations to have translated
into as horrible a Travesty in earnest as the French
did in Burlesque. This introduces the action, which is brought about by the discovery of a rabble intent on bear-baiting. The knight looks upon this as lewd and anti-Christian, and it may be intended to represent the insolency of the late tumults described in
which was accepted by the royalists as the composition of Charles I. The leaders of the rebellion are there styled
or known incendiaries, a term here used by Butler probably in allusion to its occurrence in the tract, and explained in his Annotations as a French word and, therefore, necessarily understood by persons of quality. Bear-baiting is quaintly derived from the constellation
which circles round the pole. The knight finds in this
a plot to set brother against brother, so as to prevent them from offering a united front on behalf of a thorough reformation.
As, in Rabelais and
it is the conversations that bring into relief the convictions and prejudices of the interlocutors, so, in
the altercations between the knight and squire, which often degenerate into recriminations, are intended to unmask the hypocritical contentions of both parties. In the very first canto, the suspicion that was rife between the presbyterian knight and the independent squire is brought out, and the warmth of religious partisanship is heightened on every subsequent occasion.
The description of the warriors on the other side, that is, the bear-baiters, is humorous in the extreme. They consist of a one-legged fiddler, Crowdero (from
an old word for a fiddle), a bear-ward, a butcher, a tinker, Magnano (the Italian equivalent for locksmith), a virago named Trulla, a cobbler and an ostler. These have been identified by Sir Roger lEstrange, who was a contemporary, with men who obtained posts in Cromwells army and gained subsequent distinction. The wit and humour lavished on the description of these worthies is extraordinary, and may be exemplified in one or two cases. Talgol, the butcher, had made many orphans and widows, and, like Guy of Warwick, had slain many a dun cow; he had fought more flocks of sheep than Ajax or Don Quixote, and slain many serpents in the shape of wasps.
Cerdon, the cobbler, is compared to Hercules in the repair of wrong (in shoes):
He raised the low and fortifid
The weak against the strongest Side.
Colon, the ostler, is compared to a centaur for his riding, and
Sturdy he was and no less able
to cleanse a Stable;
As great a Drover and as great
A Critic too in Hog and Neat.
A question as to whether He
Ors Horse were of a family
but antiquaries gave their decision,
And provd not onely Horse, but Cows,
Nay Pigs were of the elder House:
For Beasts, when Man was but a piece
Of earth himself, did th Earth possess.
Butlers peculiar trick of giving the characteristics of each person by parallels of similar accomplishments in some noted hero, but in ludicrous travesty, is, doubtless, imitated from Scarron. Rabelais delights in finding in ancient history and literature parallels to his modern instances, but does not go further, except where the general tone of the speaker dramatically requires it; but, with Butlers mocking humour, the method is reversed, and it is only for the purpose of debasing it in the application that a striking instance is found.
In order to bring Hudibras into contempt from the first, he is represented as anxious to put down bear-baiting, one of the most popular amusements of the time, and substituting for it the cult of the solemn league and covenant, which was thrust upon the English by the Scottish presbyterians. The knight feels bound, in conscience and commission too, to keep the peace twixt dog and bear, and dubs the whole proceeding pagan and idolatrous. The squire consents to this, but, from his point of view as an independent, insists that, if there is no scriptural warrant for bear-baiting, neither is there warrant for
Provincial, classic, national,
Mere human creature cobwebs all.
These three words, specially applied by the presbyterians to their various synods, make Hudibras suspicious of his squire; but he puts off the argument, because it is now time for action.
The description of the battle is rendered more absurd by the high-flown epic vein in which it is set forth. The metrical devices of pauses in particular places are duly observed, as well as the repetitions of emphatic words, such as
He Trulla loved, Trulla more bright, etc.
And gave the Champions Steed a thump
That staggerd him. The knight did stoop, etc.
The bear having been badly mauled in the battle, the retreat is saved by the cobbler Cerdon aad by Trulla, who leads
The Warrior to a grassy Bed,
As Authors write, in a cool Shade,
Which Eglantine and Roses made,
Close by a softly murmring Stream,
Where lovers usd to loll and dream.
This is a ludicrous imitation of the first book of the
where Venus puts Ascanius to rest in similar surroundings.
Hudibras had been victorious in the first battle and, with the help of the squire, had put Crowdero in the stocks; but, in a second encounter, after the combatants have rallied their forces, he is worsted, and, with Ralpho, takes the place of Crowdero. Even here, while Hudibras
Cheerd up himself with ends of Verse
And Sayings of Philosophers,
Ralpho the independent resumes his attack on the presbyterians, and we are treated to the catch-words gifts, illumination, light, synodical, orders, constitutions, church-censures and so forth. Challenged by the knight, he repeats his argument that synods are mystical bear-gardens, in which saints are represented by the bear and presbyters and scribes by the dogs that are set upon them. Synods are whelps of the inquisition, and they have their triers (or testers), whose business it is
To cast a figure for mens
To find in lines of Beard and Face
The Physiognomy of
And by the sound and
twang of Nose
If all be sound within disclose.
. There is even an instance of aposiopesis:
Which now thou shaltbut first our care
Must see how Hudibras doth fare,
imitating the Vergilian
Quos egosed motos,
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