David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

sir jefferey hudson

[info]doqz had a great post about Raynald de Chatillio, which prompted me to comment with a brief account of one of my favorite bizarrely wonderful life stories: Sir Jefferey Hudson. [info]mendori and I were chatting one night, and she linked me that above-linked picture of what one presumes is his headstone; I said that a dwarf who was presented in a pie to King Charles I was cool, but he was no match for the dwarf I found mentioned in Paul Kirchner's book on duelling who fought a pistol duel on horseback, and won. We kibitzed about it a bit, and then the following exchange occurred:

[info]mendori: omg
[info]mendori: ... turns out
[info]mendori: HE WAS the dwarf that fought the duel from horseback!
[info - personal]hradzka: FUCKING A
[info - personal]hradzka: HOW CAN ONE DWARF BE SO FUCKING AWESOME

He turned out to be even more awesome than that. Here is a brief summary of his life: born the son of a gamekeeper, taken into a ducal household as a novelty, presented in a pie to King Charles, then *given* to the King and Queen by their hosts; joined Queen Henrietta Maria's household as a novelty (again), served as a Captain of Horse during the English Civil War, killed a man in a pistol duel fought on horseback, got kicked out of the Queen's household for duelling, then was promptly *captured by pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa,* eventually was released from slavery after twenty-five years and returned to England, where he was sent to prison for being Catholic.

I did a Google search on him, just for curiosity, and discovered something glorious: there is a poem about him. God bless Google Books. So now I may share this wonderful delight with you. I had been toying with the idea of doing a poem about Hudson, but I can't, because I couldn't do a better one.


by William Jones

first published in 1866, in THE NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, vol. 136, p. 479.

Now little men all, who may wish to be tall,
I will tell you a story worth knowing,
Of a well-figured man, who was merely a span,
But at forty found out he was growing.
Jeffery Hudson his name, a dwarf of some fame,
Who the court of King Charles once delighted;
So great was his merit, so dauntless his spirit,
That the queer little fellow was knighted.

In a cold pie one day, as the chronicles say,
He was served to the king and his nobles,
But vaulting too high, for ambition will fly,
He got in an ocean of troubles.
To France he was sent, on a state mission bent,
But was taken by pirates returning,
And lost all his wealth, and declined in his health—
How to eat humble-pie he was learning.

A turkey-cock once flew right at his sconce,
The size of the hero disdaining;
The battle wax'd hot, but the bird went to pot,
A woman Sir Jeffery sustaining.
Still brave to the bone, a real duel he won,
From a man who was constantly jeering;
Who came arm'd with a squirt, which could do him no hurt,
But the dwarf shot him dead as a herring.

For this he was banish'd, but care had not vanish'd,
His troubles were scarcely half over —
As ill luck would be, while crossing the sea,
He was seized by a wild Turkish rover.
So a slave he was sold, in a Barbary hold,
And fed upon dry bread and gruel,
And beat by the Moors, until covered with sores,
He escaped from a bondage so cruel.

Now all little men, if they shoot up again,
Should on no account be too elated,
Too sudden a rise will throw dust in the eyes,
And lead to misfortune ill fated.
If Sir Jeffery had known how to let well alone
In the garden that Nature disposes,
He would have found out, to his pleasure no doubt,
That small branches will bear the best roses.

A side note: as the poem mentions, Hudson claimed to have unexpectedly grown considerably during his 25-year period of slavery abroad. One could be forgiven for wondering whether the real Sir Jeffery died in North Africa and had his identity appropriated by a taller dwarf who knew an opportunity for social climbing when he saw one.
Tags: history, wtf

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