Ralpho scratched his balding head,
Turned to address Hudibras and said,
Clear, tho, as you make it be,
It's impossible for me to see.
Understanding the ways of learned men,
Acting on behalf of kit and kin,
To kill one half mankind is best, *
Just to philosophize the rest.
(From Hudibras in America, pp 117, Hudibras in the Burlesque Tradition)
So say you, 'It was in early days,
A group of men found in their wandering way(s)
Wild areas far from civilization,
Where only the Redskins provided competition.
To a lush river valley with fertile soil,
With gentle climate in which to toil,
They came and so did settle,
Far from where other White Men might meddle.
This seemed to be God's offer to them alone,
A fine place to bring womanfolk and make a home.
The Injuns were persuaded to move Westward,
By force of arms and pestilence; peace was marred.
Having established themselves there -
'Sage descendants we shall see,
Shine forth in the next century,
Proving their wishes to inherit
That discontented factious spirit.' (Hudibras in the Burlesque Tradition, Joseph Peart, pp109)
Perhaps these events would have gone unwritten,
In man's history had not another clan been so smitten,
By the other side of the river and there established ties,
To th' land to raise their own growing families.'
'Ah, Ralpho, lest you forget,
The story isn't finished yet.
These men of great Rakishness,
Had yet to meet their equal in the West.
'They were Religious it is true,
And maintained harsh discipline upon their crew.
Such they do build their faith upon,
Holy text and pike and gun.'
(Hudibras, S. Butler, Part I, Canto I, Line 195)
Let my muse continue, altho unworth,
Lacing History as did Sam Butler's notary.
These two factions of Adam's side,
Were not too long in peace abide.
In circumstances for man to thrive,
Freedoms taken; both far and wide.
Cows, swine and other animal kind,
Were give free range to what they find.
With a sharp knife knotches were given,
To pig's ears a marke so riven.
With ownership in doubt, upon one's hogs disappearance,
T'was suspected, other cuts were made to change marks ‘pearance.
But I get ahead of my story,
Lest I leave out that which is most gory.
First, while peace did exist,
A wariness then did persist.
Second, disputes were for the most part settled,
Not without testing each sides metal.
'And, like a maggot in a sore,
Would that which gave it life, devour.'
(Hudibras, S. Butler, Part II, Canto II, Line 557)
The conflict attracted Government's attention.
Laws of men, were tried as intervention.
They scoffed at the way of this Mad Hatter,
Since it t'was a 'family' matter.
Fine words were spoken by both side(s) .
As arbitrators attempted bridging gaps, wide.
Putting a face on the 'feud' by offering to negotiate,
No wonder neither side was willing to participate.
'Tush! Quoth Mac-..., Never flinch
From principles, nor spurn, no winch:
Ne'er talk of laws ‘gainst nature's right;
You know far better things, Good Knight: '
(Scottish - Hudibas in the Burlesque Tradition, pp84. William Meston)
Regardless, as money flowed and life was improving,
Hands freely moved through communities at their choosing.
There existed an uneasy truce,
Except when lubricated with 'corn' juice.
T'was not unusual to partake, outside of Lent,
Of festive occasions and merriment.
Such it is, of a lad and lass, written,
That he and she were smitten.
To the woods they did go,
And nine months later, Nature did bestow.
A love child unwanted by either side,
Suggesting that each had something to hide.
A manchild of the other side, the misses Pater did pursue,
And members of that household he did slew.
Blood was spilled of man and wife,
As powders cheap and so is life.
Some say a sow was the reason,
For pursuit of evil in this season.
Women folk have many names,
Cow, sow, hen and chick or simply dames.
Maybe money was short as were the tempers,
But with these two tribes, it was grudges semper.
‘Haps it was menfolk had more free time,
Or maybe, just rutting season sublime.
Whatever, the boastful leader of one group,
Did encroach upon the shrine of the other troop.
The result, an immediate call to arms,
'God, family and revenge', were the charms.
Across the river; house and crops ashes became,
As marauding bands; property and livestock they did claim.
Of course to provide the proper lubrication,
More corn drippings were partaken.
Homes were at risk when foolishly set,
In frontier areas where first the violence met.
The folk therein were soon to pay the price,
For the arrogance of their leaders advice.
Killing became a lustful affair,
Women and children were caught in the snare.
Uncounted among the many lost,
Was the reason for this holocaust.
As it were, one side had better,
Guns and powder.
Destroying all the other's dreams,
And wiped out everything.
Being no match in an open fight,
The other side evened the score by raids at night.
Some of which were suicidal;
Killing others as if t'were cattle.
Each claimed high moral and religious grounds.
The land was theirs! The did expound.
As the warring continued and escalated,
Each offered to stop the violence, if once abated.
Judging if the other cooperated,
Was their 'right' and so they stated.
Until the other side, did as required,
The right to attack, kill and maim was desired.
Striking at leaders is a flaw,
Of some unwritten chivalrous law.
Far easier to inflict punishment,
On innocents that can't escape the battle's torment.
Tie one hand behind your back side,
And swallow your losses and your pride.
Came the offer of peace from the bloated leader,
Who would never accept such terms if other side did tender.
A Court of Authority did speak,
Of terms about which they both might tweak.
But peace was not the objective of these men,
Who's goals were to shame the other and to win.
Offers from one side was seen,
As a weakness of mein.
Each arrogant leader was determined,
To claim the valley for their own Kindred.
To eliminate the other side, and cut the roots of the family tree,
Was the only cause to which they could agree.
So more death and destruction was the fate,
Of hapless members of both clans as peace they did await.'
Ralpho interrupted and said, 'But wait, Sir Knight how does it end,
Are Adam's children to always fight to defend,
Their holy places, homes and family.
Or is there an answer to this malady.'
Hudibras answered, 'Most pious One, you seek an answer,
Be aware, the solution was obtained without rancor.
As dismal as this all sounds,
Peace did come to these hallowed grounds.
To this sacred place where so many died,
And bigoted leaders, to their people lied,
The answer was so easily posted,
That man may wonder how it went unnoticed.
Why did law and order return?
The people did for peace so yearn.
For an answer, obvious and simple,
As the face on which there is a pimple.
In the World without; prosperity spread and offered treasures,
The two tribes were not immune from these life's pleasures.
Prosperity like the tide raising a boat,
Upon the economy did each community float.
People on both sides found,
Themselves to be more financially sound.
Between assets or to fight, they had to choose.
Which? They were willing to lose.
While the leaders remained,
At odds with each other and yet no victory claimed,
The settlers saw that the only way,
they could live in peace was to the laws obey.
Deny the leaders their guns and knives,
Which had wracked so much havoc on their lives.
Remove them from leadership anointed,
To which they had themselves appointed.
One posturing leader was seen to be,
Seeking war for his own grandification and not victory.
He retired to his large landed estate,
Where he lived as a King awaiting God's fate.
The other side's, 'leader', a snaggle-tooth wonder,
Who only wanted riches and plunder,
Was not their leader by their call,
And retired to his young wife, child and all.
So you see Ralpho, fables as L'Estrange did spin,
Often do come to a good end.
Such it was with the Hatfield and McCoy feud,
Two misplaced leaders who became unglued.'
If the 'leaders' looked beyond their world of sand
They would find that peace can be known to middle-eastern man.
These bitter men and women, living in the past,
Stretch out misery and seek only for it to last.
Making peace is never easy and to the letter,
But compromise and it's a damn sight better.