Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SWORD AND BUCKLER; OR, SERVING-MAN'S DEFENCE, by WILLIAM BASSE



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SWORD AND BUCKLER; OR, SERVING-MAN'S DEFENCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A man that's neither borne to wealth, nor place
Last Line: The serving-man to no estate comes short.
Subject(s): Civil Service; Fights; Knights & Knighthood; Military; Patriotism; Soldiers; Swords


1.
A MAN that's neither borne to wealth, nor place,
But to the meere despite of Fortunes brow,
Though, peradventure, well endew'd with grace
Of stature, forme, and other giftes enow,
Submits himself unto a servile yoke,
And is content to weare a livery cloke;

2.
Whether it be by hard constraint of need
Or love to be made perfect in good fashion,
Or by the meanes of some unlawfull deed,
That might deprive an ancient reputation;
Who-euer to this course himself doth giue,
Is call'd a Serving-man. And thus doth liue

3.
Continually at hand, to see, to heare
His Lords his Masters, Ladies, Mistris will
T'attempt with dutie, readines and feare,
What they command his service to fulfill:
And yet not as he would, but as he shall,
To grudge at nothing, to accept of all,

4.
To act with truth and serviceable skill
The tasks or offices imposde on him,
To be observant and industrious still,
Well manner'd, and disposde to goe as trim,
As wages, gifts, or proper state affords;
Active in deedes, and curteous in words.

5.
Having a head well wonted to abide
To goe without his shelter, cold and bare;
Having a heart well hammerd, strongly tride,
On Chances Anviles, fornaces of care;
A good capacitie to understand
A legging foote, a well-embracing hand.

6.
This man of all things must abandon pride,
Chieflie in gestures, and in acts exteriour;
For greater states can by no meanes abide
Ambition in a person so inferiour:
Yet in his private thoughts no whit dismist
To prize his reputation as he list.

7.
Though if he be himselfe of gentle blood,
Or of his nature loftily disposde
Yet never let him brag himselfe so good;
But rather hold such matters undisclosde,
And keepe his state and cariage in one fashion,
Gracing himselfe with inward estimation.

8.
For if we doe insult in tearmes or show
Above our callings, then we seeme to swarve;
But if we humble our affections low,
We must needs gaine the love of them we sarve:
Which to our merits if they list not pay,
Then we are men of more respect than they.

9.
But in these Times (alas, poore seruing-men!)
How cheape a credit are we growne into!
With what enforcing taxes, now and then,
This envious world doth our estates pursue!
How poore, alas, we are ordain'd to be,
How ill regarded in our povertie!

10.
What dutie, what obedience daily now
Our hard commanders looke for at our hands!
And yet how deadly cold their bounties grow,
And how unconstant all their favours stands!
How much we hazard for how little gaine,
How fraile our state, how meane our entertaine!

11.
How subject are we to the checking front,
For every small and trifled oversight!
Compeld to shift, predestinate to want,
Surfet with wrong, yet dare demaund no right:
Organs of profit upon imputation,
Outcasts of losse on euery small occasion!

12.
Our Lords they charge, our Ladies they command,
And who but us? And for a thing not done,
Our Lords and Ladies anger, out of hand,
Must turne us walking in the Summers Sunne,
While those things that are done must alwaies lye,
As objects to a nice exceptious eye.

13.
In common-wealth or, bus'nesses of state,
If Lord or Master exercisde hath bin,
Who but his servant thereupon must waite,
What accidents soever fall therein,
And be industrious in all meanes he can:
For why he weares his badge, and is his man.

14.
And in contempt of any adversarie
Or mortall triall of the life or land,
How oftentimes the master might miscarie,
Unlesse he be attended, and well mand
With serving resolutes, that at a word
Will rather lose their lives, than leave their Lord.

15.
But what should I care to recount or no
Partiquerly every thing we doe?
Ye Lords and Masters cannot chuse but know,
That whatsoever thing belongs to you,
That danger, trouble, paines, attention asks,
We are your servants, and it is our tasks.

16.
Your slight regard and recompence of this,
So duplifies the bondage of our state,
That oftentimes, solicited amis
By extreame want: and overrul'd by fate,
Thereby it comes to passe, that now and then
Many mischances hap to Serving-men.

17.
The countrie, then, that with her purblind eyes
Beholds these things in lothsome ignorance,
Catch at report, and piece it out with lyes,
Rash censures, and defaming circumstance,
Affirming what they would have oft denide,
If in such case they might be roughly tride.

18.
But see, how hatefull is but lately growne
This fatall title of a Serving-man,
That euery dunghill clowne and every Drone,
Nor wise in nature nor condition,
Spares not to vilefie our name and place,
In Dunsicall reproch, and blockish phrase.

19.
A morkin-gnoffe that in his Chimney nooke
Sits carping how t' advance his shapelesse brood,
And in their severall properties doth looke,
To see whats best to bring them all to good,
One points he out a Smith, and one a Baker,
A third a Piper, fourth a Coller-maker.

20.
If one, more native gentle than the rest,
To be a Serving-man doth now demaund,
Up starts his sire, as bedlim or possest,
And asks his sonne, and if he will be hangd?
Shalt be a hangman, villaine, first (quoth he):
Amen (say I) so he be none for me.

21.
The Pearking citizen, and minsing Dame
Of any paltrie beggerd Market towne,
Through rotten teeth will giggle out the same,
Though not in so harsh manner as the clowne:
—I have but two sonnes, but if I had ten,
The worst of them should be no Serving-men.

22.
Thus is our servile innocence exposde
To the reprochfull censures of all sorts,
To whom our lives were justly ne'r disclosde
But by uncertaine larums, false reports
Whereof, men apt to judge (be't truth or no)
Doe rashly speake, before they rightly know.

23.
Who let's us now to finde our owne defence
Against all such encounters offer'd thus?
Who is so void of loue, or bare of sence,
To thinke it any misdemeasne in us,
If we, to right our selves, doe fall againe
Into our ancient Sword and Buckler vaine?

24.
Yet will we not an Insurrection make
Against our owne superiour Lords and Masters,
With whose kinde love we may more order take
By dutie, then by trying out with wasters;
Though in this case who need to feare our might
For we meane nothing but a speaking fight.

25.
But you, the nice tongu'd huswifes of our time,
That seldome cease to execrate our calling,
We doe esteeme it now an odious crime,
With your licentious mouthes to stand a brauling:
Our Sword and Buckler's out, our stomack's come;
We will not hurt you much, but hit you home.

26.
Yet doe we not replie to only you,
Or those that you instruct, but every man
That gives us more discurtesie then due:
The Merchant, or the Machivilian,
The Yeoman, Tradesman, Clowne, or any one,
What ere he be, we turne our backs to none.

27.
You Gentles all, that through your worthines,
Your birth, your place, your wealth, or other cause,
Deserve to entertaine and to possesse
These Serving-men the subjects of your lawes,
Be moved not with wrath and spleenish freakes,
When in their right your poore inferiour speakes.

28.
When you command, remember 'tis but speech
To bid a thing be acted to your minde,
Th' obedient man that shall performe the which,
In doing it shall greater labour finde:
Yet where a servants diligence may please,
He may doe all his acts with greater ease.

29.
You give him food and wages: That's most true,
And other matters to sustaine his living:
Why, els he is not bound to follow you;
Ill service that is worth no more then giving.
Who Rent's your lands is sure to pay to you,
And if y' have servants, you must pay them too.

30.
Alas, if must your great affaires be done,
Know that faire means encrease your servants vigour:
Hearts by unpleasing checks are never won,
And willingnes is not enlarg'd by rigour,
When good respect may cherish servile harts,
And helpe t' augment the number of desarts.

31.
If with reviling, and disdainfull scorne,
You urge us with the baseness of our kinde,
Pray, who was Adams man when Cain was borne?
Or in what scripture doe we reade or finde
That ever God created Adams two,
Or we proceeded of worse stocke then you?

32.
For though that like a brood of starres divine
You thus maintaine your glorie without date,
And we more like a heard of Circes swine,
Are chang'd into a baser forme of state,
Antiquitie yet saies, that you and wee,
Like Ants of Æacus, came all of a tree.

33.
But mightie God, the more to glorifie
His pow'rfull hand by manifold creation,
Hath since advisde himselfe to multiplie
The kindred of our mortall generation,
That this great sixe daies labour of his hand
Might not unstor'd, or long unpeopled stand.

34.
And we, like wretches, carelesly oreseene,
Neglecting all continuance of our good,
Of our owne birth have immemorious beene,
And quite forgot the Nephewes of our blood,
And of neere kin are growne meere stra¯gers rather,
Almost forgetting we had all one father.

35.
The Times then fild with Avarice and strife,
Th' unequalnes of states did happen thus:
Fell out to some a large delightfull life,
To othersome the like as fals to us:
Thereafter, as in worldly scraping thrift,
Each craftie mortall for himselfe could shift.

36.
Those that in scorne of discentious striving,
Or b'ing too weake, could not themselues enrich,
Submitted were by force (in servile living)
To them that by their pow'r had gain'd so much.
Thus scambl'd al the world: some gain'd, some lost,
And who got least serv'd him that gained most,

37.
Yeelding themselves by a devout submission
To those that were ordain'd to high degree,
Well seas'ning with an humble disposition
Their little pow'r, and small abilitie,
To doe all rev'rent seruice. Thus began
Th' estate and title of a Seruing-man.

38.
And since that time the kindreds, b'ing all one,
Are now encreas'd into two kindreds more:
The great are Nephewes to the great alone,
And all the poore are Cosins to the poore.
The Serving-men stand in a state betweene,
As brothers all, but very little kin.

39.
Thus it appeares that mongst the meaner sort,
Those that come neerest to the gentle kinde,
Either in labour to get good report,
Or els in nature, curtesie, or minde,
Digressing from the rudenes of their blood,
Become partakers in this brotherhood.

40.
And sure me thinks, although unequall lot
Hath ill distributed all worldly goods,
That all alliance single is forgot,
And we dispers'd into so many bloods,
Yet that we were all one, and shall agen,
Appeares in the good minds of Serving-men.

41.
For though the great, by learning and by might,
Gaine all the honour, as they doe the lands,
And though the poorer sort lose all their right
Of noblenes, for want of pow'rfull hands,
Yet while the band of Serving-men encrease,
The gentrie of the poore shall never cease.

42.
O! then be pleas'd to cast away disdaine,
Exile injustice, and detest all ire:
Let faire respect in your conditions raigne,
And bountie curbe all orderlesse desire;
That as you profit by your servants labour,
So he may be encourag'd by your favour.

43.
We grudge you not upon a just occasion
To use your rigour in discretion on us,
When proofe, or triall, or examination,
Shall truly burthen some misdeed upon us:
Herein we rest the patients of your lawes,
So that your med'cines not exceed the cause.

44.
Yet if sometimes we doe transgresse in acts
Either concerning you or other things,
This is no proofe that we are paltrie Jacks,
As the rude wind-pipe of the countrie sings.
All flesh will faile, and grace will helpe to mend,
And often they finde fault that most offend.

45.
Thus speake I to the barbrous multitude
That every rotten hamlet's fild withall
Or to the viprous foes of servitude,
The prescise flirts of ev'ry trades-mans stall,
Whose busie tongues, and lothing maw, defiles
Our honest sort with vomited reviles.

46.
O! see (saies one) how fine yon yonker goes,
As bad for pride as Lucifer, or worse;
I, a right Serving-creature, weares gay clothes,
But little Chinke (I warrant you) in's purse.
This is a thing I will not much denie,
But sometimes the judicious Cox-combs lie.

47.
If he goe handsome, then you say he's proud:
I hope ther's no necessitie in that;
Besides, if'twere a matter to be vow'd,
Or answerd by long proofe (as sure 'tis not)
I only could compell you to confes
Your judgments false by many instances.

48.
And if his vestiments be fine and gay,
Belike that argu's that he ha's no pence;
But seeing him now so brave, what will you say
If he goe braver farre a twel'month hence?
Then you wil eate your vomit up againe,
And say 'tis Crownes that doe him thus maintaine.

49.
But what should make the gallant lasses say
That ev'ry Serving-man doth love a whore,
But that sometimes, when the good man's away,
She ha's some proofe, which makes her say the more?
This was a rule with some in auncient time,
And now imposed as a gen'rall crime.

50.
For too much tippling we are chaleng'd, too,
Which as I'll absolutely not confes,
So I could wish (to please both God and you)
We had the grace and power to use it les;
Yet (which is no excuse) I dare to say,
We are not all that doe offend that way.

51.
In this foule vice you all sometimes transgresse,
Clarke, lay-man, yeoman, trades-man, clowne, & all;
And many gentlemen love Dronkennesse,
And use it to their great disgrace and fall;
And therefore 'tis absurditie to thinke
That none but we do use immoderat drinke.

52.
I graunt, it is a vice that at this day
Disgraceth much the rare sufficiencie
Of many a Serving-man, inclin'd that way
Through great abundance of his curtesie:
For to no other end, that I can see,
Is this excesse of drinking said to be.

53.
Though some for meere love of the very pot
In this excesse are very vicious growne;
And whether such be Serving-men, or not,
I wish them finde excuses of their owne:
For what so ere he be that's so possest
I doe his actions and himselfe detest.

54.
But as I said, it is not we alone
From whom proceed such store of swilling mates;
A cunning spie would now and then finde one,
And twentie dronkards amongst other states:
Then hit not one peculiarly i' th' teeth,
With that that all men are infected with.

55.
Besides, you charge us much with idlenes,
And chiefly those that have superiour roomes
In seruice; but to meaner offices,
As Bailiffes, Caters, Vndercooks and Groomes,
You doe impute more labour and less sloth:
Here err's againe your judgement in the troth.

56.
No Serving-man, that ever waited well
In's Master's chamber, or in other place,
But will be sworne with me his toyles excell
The daily labours of th' inferiour race;
But that the name, authoritie, and gaines
Of place or office easeth well the paines.

57.
A Gentleman in Countrie rides or walks
From place to place, as his occasions bind him,
One of his men carries a cast of Hawks,
The other ha's a clokebag tide behind him;
The Faulkners work passeth the other double,
But that the credit do's abate the trouble.

58.
Thus understand our labour is all great,
Ev'n as our charge and offices be many:
If through condition, leasure, or respect,
There seeme a single libertie in any,
Judge him not idle, lest your thoughts be lost;
For some seeme slothfull when they labour most.

59.
Like as a man that round about his head,
In a strong garter, or a twisted lace,
Windeth a plummet, or a ball of lead;
Sometimes it goes but slow, sometimes apace;
When it goes fastest 'tis not seene a whit,
But then takes he most paines in winding it.

60.
Sometimes our changed fashions trouble you,
Things that amongst our selves are nothing strange:
And it may be a thing your selves would doe,
If you were not too miserly to change,
Or els too bankrupt; but we seldome finde
That vesture alters any whit the minde.

61.
And with a hundred rude comparisons,
Injurious censures, and defaming mocks,
You needlesly ubbray our haire: for once
Receive this slight defendant of our locks,
A man may catch a cold with going bare;
And he that weares not hat, allow him haire.

62.
For curteous speech, and congeyes of delight,
Which your grosse joynts were never taught to doe,
If oftentimes we use them in your sight,
We shall be censur'd, and be laught at too:
But when you come where others have to doe,
Our betters will beseeme to laugh at you.

63.
This speake I not unto the countrie clownes,
For their simplicitie will seldome do't;
But to the mongrill gentles of good townes,
That mock the motions of anothers foot,
And yet make halting bowes to them they meete,
And drop ill favour'd curt'sies in the streete.

64.
If I should touch particularly all
Wherein the moodie spleene of captious Time
Doth taxe our functions, I should then enthrall
My moved spirit in perpetuall rime:
A gentle vaine that every careles sight
Peruseth much, but nothing mended by't.

65.
I will not all my daies in combat spend,
So much I honour Charitie and peace;
And what is past, I did it to defend,
Yet am the first that do's the quarrell cease,
Ev'n as I was the latest that began
And yet I am a Sword and Buckler man.

66.
Poore Serving-man, ordain'd to leade his daies,
Not as himselfe, but as another list,
Whose hoped wealth depends upon delaies,
Whose priviledges upon doubts consist,
Whose pleasures still ore-cast with sorrowes spight,
As swarfie vapours doe a twinkling night!

67.
Whose sleepes are, like a warrants force, cut short
By vertue of a new Commissions might;
Or like the blisse of some affected sport,
Vntimely ended by approach of night:
And like a tertian fever is his joy,
That ha's an ill fit ev'ry second day.

68.
His libertie is in an howers while,
Both done and undone like Penelop's web;
His fortunes like an Æthiopian Nile,
That ha's a months flow for a twel-months ebbe:
His zealous actions like Æneas pietie,
Cras'd by the hate of every envious Deitie.

69.
His labours like a Sysiphus his wait,
Continually beginning where they stay;
His Recompence like Tantalus his bait,
That do's but kis his mouth and vade away:
His gaines like winters hoarie hailestones, felt
Betweene the hands, doe in the handling melt.

70.
Now to be short: All that I wish is this,
That all you great, to whom these men repaire,
Respect your servant, as your servant is
The instrument of every great affaire,
The necessarie vicar of your good,
The next in manners to your gentle blood.

71.
That you with love their duties would regard,
With gentlenes allow them all their rights;
Respect their paines with bountie and reward;
Consider mildly of their oversights:
For where the master's milde, the servant's merrie,
But where the master's wilde, the servant's wearie.

72.
Unto the world I wish more skill in judging,
More temp'rance in deriding and declaring,
More charitable honestie in grudging,
And more contented humour of forbearing,
Of anything she nicely can espie
In Serving-men with her unlearned eye.

73.
I that have served but a little while,
And that for want of more encrease in age.
Scarse having yet attain'd an elder stile
Live in the place and manner of a Page:
Yet in meere hope and love of what I shall,
I have begun this combat for them all.

74.
Excepting yet two sorts of men that serve,
In whose behalfe I neither fight nor write:
1. Those that through basenes of condition swarve
Into all odious luxure and delight.
2. Those that in place of Serving-men doe stand,
Yet scorne the title of a Serving-man.

75.
For the good fellowes and true-hearts am I,
The rest I lothe, as they our name doe scorne;
And I will stoutly stand to 't till I dye,
Or till my Buckler rot, and Sword be worne,
For good condition, manhood, wit, and Art,
The Serving-man to no estate comes short.





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