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
 
Hudibras’ Religion
By Samuel Butler (1612–1680)
 
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        5
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;        10
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,        15
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;        20
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        25
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.        30
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        35
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;        40
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        45
Of wit and temper, was so linked,
As if hypocrisy and nonsense
Had got the advowson of his conscience.
 
 
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