Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
The Rebel Scot
By John Cleveland (1613–1658)
HOW, 1 Providence? and yet a Scottish crew?
Then Madame 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.        5
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?        10
By Scotch invasion to be made a prey
To such pigwidgeon 2 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        15
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 praise and quack destruction;        20
Or roar like Marshall, that Geneva bull, 3
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,        25
I must like Hocus swallow daggers first.
Come, keen iambics, with your badger’s feet
And badger-like bite until your teeth do meet.
Help, ye tart satirists, to imp my rage
With all the scorpions that should whip this age.        30
Scots are like witches; do but whet your pen,
Scratch till the blood comes, 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;        35
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.        40
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; 4        45
First to the savage 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,        50
But that Montrose 5 and Crawford’s 6 loyal band
Atoned their sin and christened half the land.
Nor is it all the nation hath these spots;
There is a Church as well as Kirk of Scots.
As in a picture where the squinting paint        55
Shows fiend on this side, and on that side saint.
He, that saw Hell in his 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.        60
A land where one may pray with cursed intent,
O, 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,        65
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.        70
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,        75
(The card by which the marineers 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.        80
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        85
After our blood, but in the cure shall burst!
Let them not think to make us run of the score
To purchase villanage, as once before
When an act passed 7 to stroke them on the head,
Call them good subjects, buy them gingerbread.        90
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,        95
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 brethern do? The Cause! The Cause!
Sack-possets and the fundamental laws!        100
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 honours and estate,        105
As well as conscience, are sophisticate.
Shrive but their titles and their moneys poize,
A laird and twenty pence pronounced with noise,
When construed, but for a plain yeoman go,
And a good sober two-pence and well so.        110
Hence then, you proud imposters; get you gone,
You Picts 8 in gentry and devotion;
You scandal to the stock of verse, a race
Able to bring the gibbet in disgrace.
Hyperbolus 9 by suffering did traduce        115
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.        120
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,        125
Drops into Styx and turns a Soland goose. 10
Note 1. “The siege of Gloucester,” says Mr. Berdan, The Poems of John Cleveland, 1903, p. 146, “August 10, 1643, is always given as the turning point in the war. It was not that the King was defeated so much as that he failed to score a victory, when a victory would have been decisive. Pym rose to the occasion, forced the Covenant upon Scotland, and called in the Scots. His death, December 6th, followed this last triumph. The Scotch army of invasion entered England, January 19, 1644, to fight against their King. To the Royalist there seemed no greater wickedness than this action of the Scots, who were thus at one and the same time both foreign invaders and rebellious subjects. The satire … is Cleveland’s most celebrated work.” [back]
Note 2. Pigwidgeon: name of a fairy: Cf. Drayton’s Nymphidia, Book of Elizabethan Verse, No. 444; here used for anything “pretty or small.” [back]
Note 3. Marshall, that Geneva bull: Stephen Marshall of Finchingfield in Essex, one of the “Smectymnuans,” and commonly known as the “Geneva Bull” from his “Calvinistic doctrines and his strong voice.” [back]
Note 4. Wild collegiates had cost the honest high-shoes in their termly fees: Of the word Collegiates, and these lines Mr. Berdan says (Poems of John Cleveland, 1903), “The meaning is evidently collections, but I cannot find the word in this sense any where else. The passage refers to the fact that the country people, on coming to London, usually on business with their lawyers, went to see the collections of wild animals in the Tower.” [back]
Note 5. Montrose: James Graham, Marquis of Montrose. [back]
Note 6. Crawford: Ludovic Lindsay, Earl of Crawford. [back]
Note 7. When an act passed: Mr. Berdan quoting from Lord Clarendon’s History of the Civil War, Bk. III. p. 292, says, that the two houses voted as a token of their friendship toward the Scots, “to give them a gratuity of three hundred thousand pounds, over and above the twenty-five thousand pounds the month, during the time that their stay here should be necessary!… And without doubt, when posterity shall recover the courage, and conscience, and the old honor of the English nation, it will not with more indignation and blushes contemplate any action of this sedetious and rebellious age, than that the nobility and gentry of England, who were not guilty of the treason, should recompense an invasion from a foreign condemned nation, with whatever establishments they proposed in their own kingdom, and with a donative of three hundred thousand pounds, over and above all charges, out of the bowels of England.” [back]
Note 8. Picts: from pictus, empty, vain; here used as a pun on one of the names given the Scots. [back]
Note 9. Hyperbolus: a demagogue of Athens who attempted to ostracise Aristides, but was banished himself. “The application of this dignified punishment upon so base a man disgraced it, and it is said never to have been used again.” (Berdan). [back]
Note 10. A Scot … Soland goose: For an explanation of the belief in these lines Mr. Berdan quotes the account of Sir Robert Moray in Relations concerning Barnacles: “These shells hang at the tree by a neck longer than the shell; of a kind of filmy substance, round and hollow, and creased, not unlike the wind-pipe of a chicken; spreading out broadest where it is fastened to the tree, from which it seems to draw and convey the matter which serves for the growth and vegetation of the shell, and the little bird within it. This in every shell that I opened, as well the least as the biggest, I found so curiously and completely formed, that there appeared nothing as to the external parts for making up a perfect sea-fowl; every little part appearing so distinctly, that the whole looked like a large bird seen through a concave, or diminishing glass, the colour and feature being everywhere so clear and neat. The little bill like that of a goose, the eyes marked, the head, neck, breast and wings, tail and feet formed, the feathers everywhere perfectly shaped and blackish coloured, and the feet like those of other water fowl to the best of my remembrance; all being dead and dry, I did not look after the inward parts of them; but having nipt off and broken a great many of them, I carried about twenty or twenty-four away with me.” [back]

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