John Dryden ( )

A Letter to Sir George Etherege

TO you who live in chill Degree,
As Map informs, of Fifty three,
And do not much for Cold atone
By bringing thither Fifty one,
Methinks all Climes shoud be alike,
From Tropick even to Pole Artique;
Since you have such a Constitution
As nowhere suffers Diminution.
You can be old in grave Debate,
And young in Love-affairs of State:
And both to Wives and Husbands show
The Vigour of a Plenipo.
Like mighty Missioner you come
Ad Partes Infidelium;
A Work of wondrous Merit sure,
So far to go, so much t indure;
And all to Preach to German Dame,
Where Sound of Cupid never came.
Less had you done, had you been sent
As far as Drake or Pinto went,
For Cloves or Nutmegs to the line a,
Or een for Oranges to China:
That had indeed been Charity,
Where Love-sick Ladies helpless lye,
Chapt, and for want of Liquor dry.
But you have made your Zeal appear
Within the Circle of the Bear.
What Region of the Earths so dull,
That is not of your Labours full?
Triptolemus, so sung the Nine,
Strewd Plenty from his Cart Divine.
But spite of all these Fable-Makers,
He never sowd on Almain Acres:
No, that was left by Fates Decree
To be performd and sung by thee.
Thou breakst thro Forms with as much ease
As the French King thro Articles.
In grand Affairs thy Days are spent,
In waging weighty Complement
With such as monarchs represent.
They who such vast Fatigues attend,
Want some soft Minutes to unbend,
To show the World that now and then
Great Ministers are mortal Men.
Then Rhenish Rummers walk the Round,
In Bumpers evry King is crownd,
Besides three Holy miterd Hectors,
And the whole College of Electors.
No Health of Potentate is sunk
That pays to make his Envoy drunk.
These Dutch Delights I mentiond last,
Suit not I know your English taste:
For Wine to leave a Whore or Play
Was neer your Excellencys way.
Nor need this Title give Offence,
For here you were your Excellence;
For Gaming, Writing, Speaking, Keeping,
His Excellence for all but Sleeping.
Now if you tope in form, and treat,
Tis the sour Sauce to the sweet Meat,
The fine you pay for being great.
Nay, heres a harder Imposition,
Which is indeed the Courts Petition,
That setting worldly Pomp aside,
Which Poet has at Font denyd,
You woud be pleased in humble way
To write a Trifle calld a Play.
This truly is a Degradation,
But woud oblige the Crown and Nation
Next to your wise Negotiation.
If you pretend, as well you may,
Your high Degree, your friends will say,
The Duke St. Agnon made a play.
If Gallick Wit convince you scarce,
His Grace of Bucks has made a Farce;
And you, whose Comick Wit is Terse all,
Can hardly fall below Rehearsal.
Then finish what you have began,
But scribble faster if you can:
For yet no George, to our discerning,
Has writ without a ten Years Warning.

John Dryden's other poems:
  1. On Mrs. Margaret Paston, of Barningham, in Norfolk
  2. A Song (High State and Honours to others impart)
  3. Epitaph on a Nephew in Catworth Church, Huntingdonshire
  4. Epitaph On Sir Palmes Fairborne's Tomb In Westminster Abbey
  5. On the Monument of the Marquis of Winchester

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