Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
The Logic and Rhetoric of Hudibras
By Samuel Butler (1612–1680)
 
From “Hudibras”

HE was in logic a great critic,
Profoundly skilled in analytic;
He could distinguish, and divide
A hair ’twixt south, and south-west side,
On either which he would dispute,        5
Confute, change hands, and still confute.
He’d undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man’s no horse;
He’d prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a lord may be an owl,        10
A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks committee-men and trustees.
He’d run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination.
All this by syllogism, true        15
In mood and figure, he would do.
For rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happened to break off
I’ th’ middle of his speech, or cough,        20
H’ had hard words ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else, when with greatest art he spoke,
You’d think he talked like other folk.
For all a rhetorician’s rules        25
Teach nothing but to name his tools,
But, when he pleased to show’t, his speech
In loftiness of sound was rich:
A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned pedants much affect.        30
It was a party-coloured dress
Of patched and piebald languages;
’Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin;
It had an old promiscuous tone,        35
As if h’ had talked three parts in one;
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
Th’ had heard three labourers of Babel,
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.        40
This he as volubly would vent
As if his stock would ne’er be spent:
And truly, to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he could coin, or counterfeit        45
New words, with little or no wit;
Words so debased and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on;
And when with hasty noise he spoke ’em,
The ignorant for current took ’em—        50
That had the orator, who once
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones
When he harangued, but known his phrase,
He would have used no other ways.
 
 
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