by: Samuel Butler (1612-1680)

      E was in Logick a great Critick,
      Profoundly skill'd in Analytick.
      He could distinguish, and divide
      A Hair 'twixt South and South-West side:
      On either which he would dispute,
      Confute, change hands, and still confute.
      He'd undertake to prove by force
      Of Argument, a Man's no Horse.
      He'd prove a Buzard is no Fowl,
      And that a Lord may be an Owl;
      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
      In Mood and Figure, he would do.
      In Mathematicks he was greater
      Than Tycho Brahe, or Ezra Pater:
      For he by Geometrick scale
      Could take the size of Pots of Ale;
      Resolve by Signes and Tangents straight,
      If Bread or Butter wanted weight;
      And wisely tell what hour o'th day
      The Clock does strike, by Algebra.
      Beside he was a shrewd Philosopher;
      And had read every Text and gloss over:
      What e'er the crabbed'st Author hath
      He understood b'implicit Faith,
      What ever Sceptick could inquere for;
      For every why he had a wherefore:
      Knew more then forty of them do,
      As far as words and terms could go.
      All which he understood by Rote,
      And as occasion serv'd, would quote;
      No matter whether right or wrong:
      They might be either said or sung.
      His Notions fitted things so well,
      That which was which he could not tell;
      But oftentimes mistook the one
      For th'other, as Great Clerks have done.
      He could reduce all things to Acts
      And knew their Natures by Abstracts,
      Where Entity and Quiddity
      The Ghosts of defunct Bodies flie;
      Where Truth in Person does appear,
      Like words congeal'd in Northern Air.
      He knew what's what, and that's as high
      As Metaphysick wit can fly.
      In School Divinity as able
      As he that hight Irrefragable;
      Profound in all the Nominal
      And real ways beyond them all,
      And with as delicate a Hand
      Could twist as tough a Rope of Sand,
      And weave fine Cobwebs, fit for skull
      That's empty when the moon is full;
      Such as take Lodgings in a Head
      That's to be lett unfurnished.
      He could raise Scruples dark and nice,
      And after solve them in a trice:
      As if Divinity had catch'd
      The Itch, of purpose to be scratch'd;
      Or, like a Mountebank, did wound
      And stab herself with doubts profound,
      Only to shew with how small pain
      The sores of faith are cur'd again;
      Although by woful proof we find,
      They always leave a Scar behind.
      He knew the Seat of Paradise,
      Could tell in what degree it lies:
      And, as he was dispos'd, could prove it,
      Below the Moon, or else above it:
      What Adam dreamt of when his Bride
      Came from her Closet in his side:
      Whether the Devil tempted her
      By a High Dutch Interpreter:
      If either of them had a Navel;
      Who first made Musick malleable:
      Whether the Serpent at the fall
      Had cloven Feet, or none at all,
      All this without a Gloss or Comment,
      He would unriddle in a moment
      In proper terms, such as men smatter
      When they throw out and miss the matter.




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