Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Distichs and Saws (from Hudibras and Miscellanies)
By Samuel Butler (1612–1680)
 
(1)          RHYME the rudder is of verses,
  With which like ships they steer their courses.
 
(2)          In the hurry of a fray
  ’Tis hard to keep out of harm’s way.
 
(3)  Honour is like a widow, won        5
  With brisk attempt and putting on,
  With entering manfully and urging;
  Not slow approaches, like a virgin.
 
(4)      Great commanders always own
  What ’s prosperous by the soldier done.        10
 
(5)  Great conquerors greater glory gain
  By foes in triumph led than slain.
 
(6)  Ay me! what perils do environ
  The man that meddles with cold iron!
 
(7)  Valour ’s a mousetrap, wit a gin,        15
  That women oft are taken in.
 
(8)  In all the trade of war no feat
  Is nobler than a brave retreat,
  For those that run away and fly
  Take place at least of the enemy.        20
 
(9)  He that runs may fight again,
  Which he can never do that ’s slain.
 
(10)  Fools are known by looking wise,
  As men tell woodcocks by their eyes.
 
(11)  Night is the sabbath of mankind        25
  To rest the body and the mind.
 
(12)  As if artillery and edge-tools
  Were the only engines to save souls!
 
(13)  Money that, like the swords of kings,
  Is the last reason of all things.        30
 
(14)  He that complies against his will
  Is of his own opinion still.
 
(15)    Those that write in rhyme still make
  The one verse for the other’s sake.
 
(16)  He that will win his dame must do        35
  As Love does when he bends his bow:
  With one hand thrust the lady from,
  And with the other pull her home.
 
(17)      What is worth in anything
  But so much money as ’twill bring?        40
 
(18)  The Public Faith, which every one
  Is bound to observe, is kept by none.
 
(19)  He that imposes an oath makes it,
  Not he that for convenience takes it.
 
(20)  Opinion governs all mankind,        45
  Like the blind’s leading of the blind.
 
(21)  The worst of rebels never arm
  To do their king and country harm,
  But draw their swords to do them good,
  As doctors use, by letting blood.        50
 
(22)  The soberest saints are more stiff-neckèd
  Than the hottest-headed of the wicked.
 
(23)  Wedlock without love, some say,
  Is like a lock without a key.
 
(24)  Too much or too little wit        55
  Do only render the owners fit
  For nothing, but to be undone
  Much easier than if they had none.
 
(25)  In little trades more cheats and lying
  Is used in selling than in buying;        60
  But in the great unjuster dealing
  Is used in buying than in selling,
 
(26)      Loyalty is still the same,
  Whether it win or lose the game;
  True as the dial to the sun,        65
  Although it be not shined upon.
 
(27)      The subtler all things are,
  They’re but to nothing the more near.
 
(28)  Things said false and never meant
  Do oft prove true by accident.        70
 
(29)  Authority is a disease and cure
  Which men can neither want nor well endure.
 
 
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