John Cleveland (16 June 1613 – 29 April 1658 / Loughborough, England)
The Rebel Scot
How, Providence? and yet a Scottish crew?
Then Madam Nature wears black patches too!
What, shall our nation be in bondage thus
Unto a land that truckles under us?
Ring the bells backward! I am all on fire.
Not all the buckets in a country quire
Shall quench my rage. A poet should be feared
When angry, like a comet's flaming beard.
And where's the stoic can his wrath appease,
To see his country sick of Pym's disease?
By Scotch invasion to be made a prey
To such pigwidgeon myrmidons as they?
But that there's charm in verse, I would not quote
The name of Scot without an antidote;
Unless my head were red, that I might brew
Invention there that might be poison too.
Were I a drowsy judge whose dismal note
Disgorgeth halters as a juggler's throat
Doth ribbons; could I in Sir Empiric's tone
Speak pills in phrase and quack destruction;
Or roar like Marshall, that Geneva bull,
Hell and damnation a pulpit full;
Yet to express a Scot, to play that prize,
Not all those mouth-grenadoes can suffice.
Before a Scot can properly be curst,
I must like Hocus swallow daggers first.
Come, keen iambics, with your badger's feet,
And badger-like bite till your teeth do meet.
Help, ye tart satirists, to imp my rage
With all the scorpions that should whip this age.
Scots are like witches; do but whet your pen,
Scratch till the blood come, they'll not hurt you then.
Now, as the martyrs were enforced to take
The shape of beasts, like hypocrites at stake,
I'll bait my Scot so, yet not cheat your eyes:
A Scot within a beast is no disguise.
No more let Ireland brag; her harmless nation
Fosters no venom since the Scot's plantation;
Nor can our feigned antiquity obtain:
Since they came in, England hath wolves again.
The Scot that kept the Tower might have shown,
Within the grate of his own breast alone,
The leopard and the panther, and engrossed
What all those wild collegiates had cost
The honest high-shoes in their termly fees;
First to the salvage lawyer, next to these.
Nature herself doth Scotchmen beasts confess,
Making their country such a wilderness:
A land that brings in question and suspense
God's omnipresence, but that Charles came thence,
But that Montrose and Crawford's loyal band
Atoned their sin and christened half their land.
Nor is it all the nation hath these sports:
There is a Church as well as Kirk of Scots,
As in a picture where the squinting paint
Shows fiend on this side, and on that side saint.
He that saw hell in's melancholy dream
And in the twilight of his fancy's theme,
Scared from his sins, repented in a fright,
Had he viewed Scotland, had turned proselyte.
A land where one may pray with curst intent,
Oh may they never suffer banishment!
Had Cain been Scot, God would have changed his doom:
Not forced him wander, but confined him home!
Like Jews they spread, and as infection fly,
As if the devil had ubiquity.
Hence 'tis they live at rovers and defy
This or that place, rags of geography.
They're citizens of the world; they're all in all;
Scotland's a nation epidemical.
And yet they ramble not to learn the mode,
How to be dressed, or how to lisp abroad;
To return knowing in the Spanish shrug,
Or which of the Dutch states a double jug
Resembles most in belly or in beard
(The card by which the mariners are steered).
No, the Scots-errant fight and fight to eat;
Their ostrich stomachs make their swords their meat.
Nature with Scots as tooth-drawers hath dealt,
Who use to string their teeth upon their belt.
Yet wonder not at this their happy choice,
The serpent's fatal still to Paradise.
Sure, England hath the hemorrhoids, and these
On the north postern of the patient seize
Like leeches; thus they physically thirst
After our blood, but in the cure shall burst!
Let them not think to make us run o' the score
To purchase villenage, as once before
Call them good subjects, buy them gingerbread.
Not gold, nor acts of grace, 'tis steel must tame
The stubborn Scot; a prince that would reclaim
Rebels by yielding, doth like him, or worse,
Who saddled his own back to shame his horse.
Was it for this you left your leaner soil,
Thus to lard Israel with Egypt's spoil?
They are the Gospel's life-guard; but for them,
The garrison of New Jerusalem,
What would the brethren do? The Cause! The Cause!
Sack-possets and the fundamental laws!
Lord! What a godly thing is want of shirts!
How a Scotch stomach and no meat converts!
They wanted food and raiment; so they took
Religion for their seamstress and their cook.
Unmask them well; their honors and estate,
As well as conscience, are sophisticate.
Shrive but their titles and their moneys poise,
A laird and twenty pence pronounced with noise,
When contrued, but for a plain yeoman go,
And a good sober twopence, and well so.
Hence, then, you proud impostors; get you gone,
You Picts in gentry and devotion;
You scandal to the stock of verse, a race
Able to bring the gibbet in disgrace.
Hyperbolus by suffering did traduce
The ostracism and shamed it out of use.
The Indian that Heaven did forswear
Because he heard some Spaniards were there,
Had he but known what Scots in hell had been,
He would, Erasmus-like, have hung between.
My Muse hath done. A voider for the nonce,
I wrong the devil should I pick their bones.
That dish is his; for when the Scots decease,
Hell, like their nation, feeds on barnacles.
A Scot, when from the gallow-tree got loose,
Drops into Styx and turns a solan goose.
Comments about this poem (The Rebel Scot by John Cleveland )
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