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hundred pounds. This is contradicted by all / who, in the confidence of legal authority and the tradition, by the complaints of Oldham, and by rage of zealous ignorance, ranges the country to the reproaches of Dryden ; and I am afraid will repress superstition and correct abuses, accomnever be confirmed.
panied by an an independent clerk, disputatious About sixty years afterwards, Mr. Barber, a and obstinate, with whom he often debates, but printer, mayor of London, and a friend to But never conquers him. ler's principles, bestowed on him a monument in Cervantes had so much kindness for Don Westminster Abbey, thus inscribed :
Quixote, that however he embarrasses him with
absurd distresses, he gives him so much sense SAMUELIS BUTLERI,
and virtue as may preserve our esteem; wherQui Strepshamiæ in agro Vigorn, nat. 1612,
ever he is, or whatever he does, he is made by obiit Lond. 1690.
matchless dexterity conimonly ridiculous, but Vir doctus imprimis, acer, integer;
But for poor Hudibras, his poet had no tenQuo simulata Religionis Larvam detraxit, derness; he chooses not that any pity shouid be Et Perduellium scelera liberrimè cxagitavit ; shown or respect paid him; he gives bim up at Scriptorum in suo genere, Primus et Poutremus. once to laughter and contempt, without any
Ne, cui vivo deerant ferè omnia,
quality that can dignify or protect him.
In forming the character of Hudibras, and de. Johannes Barber, Civis Londinensis, 1721. scribing his person and habiliments, the author After his death were published three small seems to labour with a tumultuous confusion of volumes of his posthumous works: I know not dissimilar ideas. He had read the history of the by whom collected, or by what authority ascer- mock knights-errant; he knew the notions and tained ;* and, lately, two volunes more have manners of a Presbyterian magistrate, and tried been printed by Mr. Thyer, of Manchester, in- to unite the absurdities of both, however distant, dubitably genuine. From none of these pieces
in one personage. Thus he gives him that pe can his life be traced, or his character discover- dantie ostentation of knowledge which has no ed. Some verses in the last collection, show relation to chivalry, and loads him with martial him to have been among those who ridiculed the encumbrances that can add nothing to his civil institution of the Royal Society, of which the dignity. He sends him out a colonelling, and yet enemies were for some time very numerous and never brings him within sight of war. very acrimonious, for what reason it is hard to tive of the Presbyterians, it is not easy to say why
If Hudibras be considered as the representaconceive, since the philosophers professed not to advance doctrines, but to produce facts; and his weapons should be represented as ridiculous the most zealous enemy of innovation must ad- or useless; for, whatever judgment might be mit the gradual progress of experience, however passed upon their knowledge or their arguments, he may oppose hypothetical temerity.
experience had sufficiently shown that their In this mist of obscurity passed the life of swords were not to be despised. Putler, a man whose name can only perish with
The hero, thus compounded of swaggerer and his language. The mode and place of his edu- pedant, of knight and justice, is led.forth to accation are unknown; the events of his life are
tion, with his squire Ralpho, an independent variously related; and all that can be told with enthusiast. certainty is, that he was poor.
Of the contexture of events planned by the The poem of “Hudibras” is one of those Author, which is called the action of the poem, compositions of which a nation may justly since it is left imperfect, no judgment can be noast; as the images which it exhibits are do made. It is probable that the hero was to be led mrstic, the sentiments unborrowed and unex. through many luckless adventures, which would pected, and the strain of diction original and give occasion, like his attack upon the “bear peculiar. We must not, however, suffer the and fiddle,” to expose the ridiculous rigour of pride, which we assume as the countrymen of the sectarics; like his encounter with Sidrophel Butler, to make any encroachment upon justice, and Whachum, to make superstition and credupor appropriate those honours which others lity contemptible; or, like his recourse to the have a right to share. The poem of "Hudi- low retailer of the law, discover the fraudulent bras” is not wholly English the original idea practices of different professions. is to be found in the history of “Don Quixote;"
What series of events he would have formed, a book to which a mind of the greatest powers or in what manner he would have rewarded or may be indebted without disgrace.
punished his hero, it is now rain to conjecture. Cervantes shows a man, who having, by the His work must have had, as it seems, the defect incessant perusal of incredible tales, subjected which Dryden imputes to Spenser ; the action his understanding to his imagination, and fami- could not have been one; there could only have larised his mind by pertinacious meditation to been a succession of incidents, each of which trains of incredible events, and scenes of impos- might have happened without the rest, and sible existence; goes out in the pride of knight which could not all co-operate to any single hood to redress wrongs, and defend virgins, to
conclusion. rescue captive princesses, and tumble usurpers
The discontinuity of the action might, how. from their thrones ; attended by a squire, whose ever, have been easily forgiven, if there had been cunning, too low for the suspicion of a generous action enough: but I believe every reader regrets mind, enables him often to cheat his master,
the paucity of events, and complains that in the The hero of Butler is a Presbyterian justice, poem of " Hudibras," as in the history of Thu
cydides, there is more said than done. The + They were collected into one, and published in 12mo. is tired with long conversation.
scenes are too seldom changed, and the attention It is, indeed, much more easy to form dialogues verbial axioms to the general stock of practical than to contrive adventures. Every position makes knowledge. way for an argument, and every objection dic- When any work has been viewed and admired, tates an answer. When two disputants are en- the first question of intelligent curiosity is, how giged upon a complicated and extensive ques. was it performed ? "Hudibras" was not a hasty tion, the difficulty is not to continue, but to end, effusion; it was not produced by a sudden tumult the controversy. But whether it be that we com- of imagination, or a short paroxysm of violeat prehend but few of the possibilities of life, or that labour. To accumulate such a mass of sentilife itself affords little variety, every man who has ments at the call of accidental desire, or of sud. tried knows how much labour it will cost to form den necessity, is beyond the reach and power of such a combination of circumstances as shall have the most active and comprehensive miid. I am at once the grace of novelty and credibility, and informed by Mr. Thyer, of Manchester, that ex delight fancy without violence to reason.
cellent editor of this author's relics, that he could Perhaps the dialogue of this poem is not per- show something like "Hudibras” in prose. Hc sect. Some power of engaging the attention has in his possession the common-place book, in might have been added to it by quicker recipro- which Butler reposited not such events and pre cation, by seasonable interruptions, by sudden cepts as are gathered by reading, but such requestions, and by a nearer approach to dramatic marks, similitudes, allusions, assemblages, or insprightliness; without which fictitious speeches ferences, as occasion prompted, or meditation prowill always tire, however sparkling with sentences, duced, those thoughts that were generated in his and however variegated with allusions,
own mind, and might be usefully applied to some The great source of pleasure is variety: Uni- future purpose. Such is the labour of those who formity must tire at last, though it be uniformity write for immortality. of excellence. We love to expect; and, when But human works are not easily found without expectation is disappointed or gratified, we want a perishable part of the ancient poets every to be again expecting. For this impatience of the reader feels the mythology tedious and oppressive. present, whoever would please must make provi- of “Hudibras," the manners, being founded on sion. The skilful writer irritat, mulcet, makes a opinions, are temporary and local, and therefore due distribution of the still and animated parts. become every day less intelligible, and less strik It is for want of this artful intertexture, and ing. What Cicero says of philosophy is true those necessary changes, that the whole of a likewise of wit and humour, that “umc effaces book may be tedious, though all the parts are the fictions of opinions, and confirms the deterpraised.
minations of Nature.” Such manners as depend If inexhaustible wit could give perpetual plea- upon standing relations and general passions are sure, no ege would ever leave half-read the work co-extended with the race of man; but those of Butler; for what poet has ever brought so modifications of life and peculiarities of practice, many remote images so happily together? It is which are the progeny of error and perverseness, scarcely possible to peruse a page without finding or at best of some accidental influence or transien some association of images that was never found persuasion, must perish with their parents. before. By the first paragraph the reader is Much therefore of that humour which trang amused, by the next he is delighted, and by a few ported the last* century with merriment is lost to more strained to astonishment; but astonishment us, who do not know the sour solemnity, the sulis a toilsome pleasure ; he is soon weary of won- len superstition, the gloomy moroseness, and the dering, and longs to be diverted.
stubborn scruples of the ancient puritans; or, it Onnia rull helle Matho dicere, dic aliquando
we knew them, derive our information only from Et bene, dic neutrum, dic aliquando male. books, or from tradition, have never had them
before our eyes, and cannot but by recollection Imagination is useless without knowledge: na- and study understand the lines in which they are wre gives in vain the power of combination, unless satirized. Our grandfathers knew the picture study and observation supply materials to be from the life ; we judge of the life by contemplatcornbined. Butler's treasures of knowledge ap- ing the picture. pear proportioned to his expense: whatever topic
It is scarcely possible, in the regularity and employs his
mind, he shows himself qualified to composure of the present time, to image the tuexpand and illustrate it with all the accessaries mult of absurdity, and clamour of contradiction, that books can furnish: he is found not only to which perplexed doctrine, disordered practice, and have travelled the beaten road, but the by-paths disturbed both public and private quiet, in that of literature; not only to have taken general sur- age when subordination was broken, andawe was veys, but to have examined particulars with mi- hissed away ; when any unsettled innovator, who nute inspection. If the French boast the learning of Rabelais, the public; when every man might become a
could hatch a half-formed notion, produced it to we need not be afraid of confronting them with
preacher, and almost every preacher could collect Butler. But the most valuable parts of his performance
The wisdom of the nation is very reasonably are those which retired study and native wit can- supposed to reside in the parliament. What can ot supply. He that merely makes a book from be concluded of the lower classes of the people, oks may be useful, but can scarcely be great. when, in one of the parliaments summoned by atler had not suffered life to glide beside him Cromwell, it was seriously proposed, that all the
seen or unobserved. He had watched with records in the tower should be burned, that all great diligence the operations of human nature, mernory of things past should be effaced, and that and traced the effects of opinion, huniour, interest, the whole system of life should commence anew? and passion. From such remarks proceeded that
We have never been witnesses of animosities great number of sententious distichs which have passed into conversation, and are added as pro
excited by the use of minco-pies and plum-por- The diction of this poem is grossly familiar ridge; nor seen with what abhorrence those, who and the numbers purposely neglected, except in could eat them at all other times of the year, a few places where the thoughts by their native would shrink from them in December. An old excellence secure themselves from violation, being puritan, who was alive in my childhood, being at such as mean language cannot express. The one of the feasts of the church invited by a neigh-, mode of versification has been blamed by Dry. bour to partake his cheer, told him, that if heden, who regrets that the heroic measure was not would treat him at an alehouse with beer brewed rather chosen. To the critical sentence of Dryden for all times and seasons, he should accept his the highest reverence would be due, were not his kindness, but would have none of his supersti- decisions often precipitate, and his opinions imtious meats or drinks.
When he wished to change the mca. One of the puritanical tenets was the illegality sure, he probably would have been willing to of all games of chance; and he that reads Gata change more. If he intended that, when the ker upon Lots may see how much learning and numbers were heroic, the diction should still rereason one of the Prst scholars of his age thought main vulgar, he planned a very heterogeneous and necessary, to prove that it was no crime to throw unnatural composition. If he preferred a genera! a die, or play at cards, or to hide a shilling for the stateliness both of sound and words, he can be reckoning.
only understood to wish Butler had undertaken a Astrology, however, against which so much of different work. the satire is directed, was not more the folly of The measure is quick, sprightly, and colloquia., the puritans than of others. It had in that time suitable to the vulgarity of the words and the a very extensive dominion. Its predictions raised levity of the sentiments. But such numbers ana hopes and fears in minds which ought to have such diction can gain regard only when they are rejected it with contempt. In hazardous under- used by a writer whose vigour of fancy and cotakings care was taken to begin under the influ- piousness of knowledge entitle him to contempt ence of a propitious planet ; and, when the King of ornaments, and who, in consequence of the was prisoner in Carisbrook Castle, an astrologer novelty and justness of his conceptions, can afford was consulted what hour would be found most to throw metaphors and epithets away. To an, favourable to an escape.
other that conveys common thoughts in careless What effect this poem had upon the public, versification, it will only be said, Pauper videre whether it shamed imposture, or reclaimed credu- Cinna rull, et est pauper. The meaning and lity, is not easily determined. Cheats can seldom diction will be worthy of each other, and cristand long against laughter. It is certain that the ticism may justly doom them to perish togecredit of planetary intelligence wore tast away; ther. though some men of knowledge, and Dryden Nor, even though another Butler should arise, among them, continued to believe that conjunc- would another “Hudibras" obtain the same re tions and oppositions had a great part in the dis- gard. Burlesque consists in a disproportion betribution of good or evil, and in the government tween the style and the sentiments, or between of sublunary things.
the adventitious sentiments and the fundamenta! Poetical action onght to be probable upon cer- subject. It, therefore, like all bodies compounded tain suppositions; and such probability as bur- of heterogeneous parts, contains in it a principle lesque requires is here violated only by one inci- of corruption. All disproportion is unnatural · dent. Nothing can show more plainly the neces- and from what is unnatural we can derive only sity of doing something, and the difficulty of tind- the pleasure which novelty produces. We ading something to do, than that Butler was reduced mire it awhile as a strange thing; but when it is to transfer to his hero the flagellation of Sancho, no longer strange, we perceive its deformity. It not the most agreeable fiction of Cervantes; very is a kind of artifice, which by frequent repetition suitable indeed to the manners of that age and detects itself: and the reader, learning in time nation, which ascribed wonderful efficacy to vo- what he is to expect, lays down his book, as the luntary penances ; but so remote from the prac- spectator turns away from a second exhibition of Lice and opinions of the Hudibrastic time, that those tricks, of which the only use is to show that judgment and imagination are alike offended. they can be played.
JOHN Wilmot, afterwards Earl of Rochester, He travelled afterwards into France and Italy; the son of Henry, Earl of Rochester, better known and at his return devoted himself to the court. by the title of Lord Wilmot, so often mentioned In 1665, he went to sea with Sandwich, and disin Clarendon's History, was born April 10, 1647, tinguished himself at Bergen, by uncommon inat Ditchley, in Oxfordshire. After a grammatical trepidity; and the next summer served again on education at the school of Burford, he entered a board Sir Edward Spragge, who, in the heat of nobleman into Wadham College, in 1659, only the engagement, having a message of reproof to twelve years old; and in 1661, at fourteen, was, send to one of his captains, could find no man with some other persons of high rank, made ready to carry it hut Wilmot, who, in an open master of arts by Lord Clarendon in person. boat, went and returned amidst the storm of sha!
But his reputation for bravery was not lasting; He died, July 26, 1680, before he had comde was reproached with slinking away in street pleted his thirty-fourth year; and was so worn quarrels, and leaving his companions to shift as away by a long illness, that life went out without they could without him; and 'Sheffield, Duke of a struggle. Buckingham, has left a story of his refusal to Lord Rochester was eminent for the vigour of fight him.
his colloquial wit, and remarkable for many wild He had very early an inclination to intemper- pranks and sallies of extravagance. The glare ance, which he totally subdued in his travels ; of his general character diffused itself upon his but when he became a courtier, he unhappily writings; the compositions of a man whose name addicted himself to dissolute and vicious com- was heard so often were certain of attention, and pany, by which his principles were corrupted, and from many readers certain of applause. This his manners depraved. He lost all sense of re- blaze of reputation is not yet quite extinguished; ligious restraint, and, finding it not convenient to and his poetry still retains some splendour beadmit the authority of laws, which he was re- yond that which genius has bestowed. solved not to obey, sheltered bis wickedness be- Wood and Burnet give us reason to believe, hind infidelity.
that much was imputed to him which he did not As he excelled in that noisy and licentious mer- write. I know not by whom the original collecriment which wine excites, his companions eagerly tion was made, or by what authority its genuineencouraged him in excess, and he willingly in- ness was ascertained. The first edition was puh. dulged it; till, as he confessed to Dr. Burnet, he lished in the year of his death, with an air of conwas for five years together continually drunk, or cealment, professing in the title-page to be printed so much infiamed by frequent ebriety, as in no at Antwerp. interval to be master of himself.
Of some of the pieces, however, there is no In this state he played many frolics, which it is doubt. The imitation of Horace's satire, the not for his honour that we should remember, and verses to Lord Mulgrave, satire against Man, the which are not now distinctly known. He often verses upon “Nothing," and perhaps some others, pursued low amours in mean disguises, and always are I believe genuine, and perhaps most of those acted with great exactness and dexterity the cha- which the collection exhibits.* racters which he assumed.
As he cannot be supposed to have found leisure He once erected a stage on Tower-hill, and for any course of continued study, his pieces are harangued the populace as a mountebank; and, commonly short, such as one fit of resolution having made physic part of his study, is said to would produce. have practised it successfully.
His songs have no particular character; they He was so much in favour with King Charles, tell, like other songs, in smooth and easy language, that he was made one of the gentlemen of the of scorn and kindness, dismission and desertion, bed-chamber, and comptroller of Woodstock absence and inconstancy, with the common-places Park.
of artificial courtship. They are commonly smooth Having an active and inquisitive mind, he and easy; but have little nature, and little sentinever, except in his paroxysms of intemperance, ment. was wholly negligent of study; he read what is His imitation of Horace on Lucilius is not inconsidered as polite learning so much, that he is elegant, or unhappy. In the reign of Charles the mentioned by Wood, as the greatest scholar of all Second, began that adaption, which has since the nobility. Sometimes he retired into the coun- been very frequent, of ancient poetry to present try, and amused himself with writing libels, in times; and perhaps few will be found where the which he did not pretend to confine himself to parallelism is better preserved than in this. The truth.
versification is indeed sometimes careless, but it His favourite author in French was Boileau, is sometimes vigorous and weighty. and in English, Cowley.
The strongest effort of bis Muse is his poem Thus in a course of drunken gayety, and gross upon “ Nothing." He is not the first who has sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps yet chosen this barren topic for the boast of his fer. more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all tility. There is a poem called “ Nihil,” in Latin, decency and order, a total disregard of every by Passerat, a poet and critic of the sixteenth moral,' and a resolute denial of every religious century, in France; who, in his own epitaph, ex obligation, he lived worthless and useless, and presses his zeal for good poetry thus :blazed out his youth and his health in lavish
-Molliter osea quiescent, voluptuousness; till, at the age of one-and-thirty, Sint modo carminibus non onerata malis. he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced hims to a state of weakness and decay.
His works are not common, and therefore I At this time he was led to an acquaintance
shall subjoin his verses. with Dr. Burnet, to whom he laid open with great
In examining this performance, “ Nothing" freedom the tenor of his opinions, and the course but a kind of positive signification; as, I need not
must be considered as having not only a negative, of his life, and from whom he received such con fear thieves ; 'I have nothing; and nothing is a viction of the reasonableness of moral duty, and the truth of Christianity, as produced a total very powerful protector. In the first part of the change both of his manners and opinions. The sentence it is taken negatively, in the second it is account of those salutary conferences is given taken positively, as an agent." In one of Boileau's by Burnet, in a book entitled, “Some Passages of the Life and Death of John, Earl of Rochester," # Dr. Johnson has made no mention of " Valen. which the critic ought to read for its elegance, the tinian” (altered from Beaumont and Fletcher. i wlich philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for was published after his death, by a friend, who describes its piety. It were an injury to the reader to offer geniuses, but one of the most virtuous men war ever him an abridgment.
ines it was a question, whether he should use
POEMA à rien faire, or à ne rien faire; and the first was
CI. V. JOANNIS PASSERATII, preferred, because it gave rien a sense in some
Regii in Academia Parisiensi Prof.ssoris, sort positive. Nothing can be a subject only in its positive sense, and such a sense is given it in AD ORNATISSIMUM VIRUM ERRICUM MEMMITY the first line:
Janus adest, festæ poscunt sua dona Kalendæ,
Munus abest festis quod possim offerre Kalendis. Nothing, thou elder brother ev'n to shade.
Siccine Castalius nobis exaruit humor!
Usque adeo ingenii nostri est exhausta facultas, In this line, I know not whether he does not Immunem ut videat redeuntis janitor anni? allude to a curious book, “ De Umbra,” by Quod nusquam est, porius nova per vestigia quæram. Wowerus, which having told the qualities of Invenit mea Musa nihil, ne despice munus. shale, concludes with a poem in which are these Nam nihil est gemmis, nihil est pretiosius auro. lines:
Huc animum, huc igitur vultus adverte benignos
Res nova narratur quæ nulli audita priorum, Jam primum terram validis circumspice claustris
Ausonii et Graji dixerunt caetera vates, Suspensam totam, decus admirabile' mundi
Ausoniæ indictum nihil est Griecæque Camænæ. Terrasque tractusque maris, camposque liquentes E cælo quacunque Ceres sua prospicii arva Æris et vasti laqueata palatia cæli
Aut genitor liquidis orbem complectitur ulnis Omnibus Umbra prior.
Oceanus, nihil interitus et originis expers.
Immortale nihil, nihil omni parle beatum. The positive sense is generally preserved with Quod si hinc majestas
et vis divina probatur, great skill through the whole poem; though, Conspectu lucis nihil est jucundius almæ,
Num quid honore deum, num quid dignabimur ar's sometimes, in a subordinate sense, the negative Vere nihil, nihil irriguo formosius horio, nothing is injudiciously mingled. Passerat con- Floridius pratis, Zephyri clementius aura ; founds the two senses.
In bello sanctum nihil est, Maruisque tumultu : Another of his most vigorous pieces is his lam- Felix cui nihil est, (inerant hæc vota Tibullo,)
Justum in pace nihil, nihil est in fædere lutum. poon on Sir Car Scrope, who, in a poem called Non timet insidias : fures, incendia temnit ( 'The Praise of Satire," had some lines like Solicitas sequitur nullo sub judice lites. these:*
Ille ipse invictis qui subjicit omnia fatis
Zenonis sapiens, nihil adiniratur el optat. He who can puah into a midnight fray
Socraticique gregis fuit ista scientia quondam,
Scire nihil, studio cui nunc incumbitur uni.
Nec quicquam in ludo mavult didicisse juventus, Then put it off with some buffoon conceit:
Ad magnas quia ducit opes, el culmen honorum. Him, thus dishonour'd, for a wit you own,
Nosce whil, nosees fertur quod Pythagorea
Grano lærere fabze, cui vox adjuncta negantis And court him as top fiddler of the town.
Multi Mercurio freti duce viscera terra
Pura liquefaciunt simul, et patrimonia miscent, This was meant of Rochester, whose buffoon Arcano instantes operi, et carbonibus atris, onceit was, I suppose, a saying often mentioned, Qui tandem exhausti daninis, fractique labore, that every man would be a coward if he durst; and Inveniunt atque inventum nihil usque requirunt. drew from him those furious verses; to which Nec numeret Libycæ numerum qui collet arence Scrope made in reply an epigram, ending with Et Phæbo ignocum nihil est, nihil altius astris. these lines:
Tuque, libi licet eximium sic mentis acumen,
Omnem in naturam penetrans, et in abdita rerum, Thou canst hurt no man's fame with thy ill word ;
Pace tua, Memini, nihil ignorare videris. Thy pen is full as harmless as thy sword.
Sole tamen nihil est, a puro clarius igne.
Tange nihil, dice que nihil sino corpore tangi Of the satire against “Man," Rochester can
Cerne nihil, cerni dices nihil abeque colore,
Surdum audit loquiturque nihil sine voce, volatque only claim what remains when all Boileau's part Absque ope pennarum, et graditur sine cruribus aliis. is taken away.
Abaque loco motuque nihil per inane vagatur. In all his works there is sprightliness and vigour, Humano generi utilius nihil arte medendi. and every where may be found tokens of a mind Ne rhombos, igitur, neu Thessala murmura tenter
Idalia vacuum trajectus arundine pectus, which study might have carried to excellence. Neu legat Idro Diceum in vertice gramen What more can be expected from a life spent in Vulneribus sævi nihil auxiliator amoris ostentatious contempt of regularity, and ended Vexerit et quemvis trans mastas portitor undas, before the abilities of many other men began to Inferni nihil intleclit præcordia regis.
Ad superos imo nihil hunc revocabit ab orco. be displayed.f
Parcarunque colos, et inexorabile pensum.
Porrigitur magni nihil extra monia mundi: * I quote from memory.-Dr. J.
Diique nihil metuunt. Quid longo carmine plura |_The late George Stephens, Esq. made the selection Commemorem? Virtute nihil præstantius ipsa, of Rochester's Poems, which appears in Dr. Johnson's Splendidius nihil est; nihil est Jove denique majuk edition ; but Mr. Malone observes, that the same cask Sed tempus finem argutis imponere nugis had been performed in the early part of the last century, Ne tibi si multa laudem mea carmine charta, by Jacob Tonson.-C.
De nihilo nihili pariant fastidia versus