A Letter To Sir George Etherege.

A poem by John Dryden

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 e'en to pole arctique;
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' 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 or nutmegs to the line-a,
Or even for oranges to China.
That had indeed been charity;
Where love-sick ladies helpless lie,
Chapt, and for want of liquor dry.
But you have made your zeal appear
Within the circle of the Bear.
What region of the earth's so dull
That is not of your labours full?
Triptolemus (so sung the Nine)
Strew'd plenty from his cart divine,
But spite of all these fable-makers,
He never sow'd on Almain acres:
No; that was left by Fate's decree,
To be perform'd and sung by thee.
Thou break'st through forms with as much ease
As the French king through articles.
In grand affairs thy days are spent,
In waging weighty compliment,
With such as monarchs represent.
They, whom 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 rammers walk the round;
In bumpers every king is crown'd;
Besides three holy mitred Hectors,
And the whole college of Electors,
No health of potentate is sunk,
That pays to make his envoy drunk.
These Dutch delights I mention'd last
Suit not, I know, your English taste:
For wine to leave a whore or play
Was ne'er your Excellency's 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, here's a harder imposition,
Which is indeed the court's petition,
That setting worldly pomp aside,
Which poet has at font denied,
You would be pleased in humble way
To write a trifle call'd 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,
The Duke St Aignon made a play.
If Gallic wit convince you scarce,
His Grace of Bucks has made a farce,
And you, whose comic 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.

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