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 should be alike,
From tropic even to pole arctique,
Since you have such a constitution
As nowhere suffers diminution.
You can be old in grave debate
And young in love's affairs of state,
And both to wives and husbands show
The vigor of a Plenipo.
Like mighty missioner you come
Ad partes infidelium —
A work of wondrous merit sure,
So far to go, so much endure,
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 and nutmegs to the Line a
Or even for oranges to China;
That had indeed been charity,
Where lovesick ladies helpless lie,
Chopped, and for want of liquor dry.
But you have made your zeal appear
Within the circle of the Bear;
What region of the earth so dull
That is not of your labors full?
Triptolemus (so sing the Nine)
Strewed plenty from his cart divine;
But spite of all those fable makers
He never sowed on Almain acres.
No, that was left, by fate's decree,
To be performed and sung by thee.
Thou breakst through forms with as much ease
As the French King through articles;
In grand affairs thy days are spent
Of waging weighty compliment,
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 every King is crowned,
Besides three Holy Mitered Hectors
And the whole College of Electors;
No health of Potentate is sunk
That pays to make his Envoy drunk.
These Dutch delights I mentioned last
Suit not, I know, your English taste;
For wine to leave a whore or play
Was ne'er Your Excellence's way.
Nor need the title give offense,
For here you were His 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, there's a harder imposition,
Which is indeed the Court's petition:
That setting worldly pomp aside
(Which poet has at font defied)
You would be pleased in humble way
To write a trifle called a play.
This truly is a degradation
But would oblige the Crown and Nation,
Next to your wise negotiation.
If you pretend (as well you may)
Your high degree, your friends will say
That Duke St. Aignan made a play;
If Gallic Peer convince you scarce,
His Grace of Bucks has writ a farce;
And you, whose comic wit is terse all,
Can hardly fall below Rehearsal.
Then finish what you here began
But scribble faster, if you can,
For yet no George to our discerning
Has writ without a ten years' warning.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.