Epistle From Henry Of Exeter To John Of Tuam.

A poem by Thomas Moore

Dear John, as I know, like our brother of London,
You've sipt of all knowledge, both sacred and mundane,
No doubt, in some ancient Joe Miller, you've read
What Cato, that cunning old Roman, once said--
That he ne'er saw two reverend sooth-say ers meet,
Let it be where it might, in the shrine or the street,
Without wondering the rogues, mid their solemn grimaces,
Didn’t burst out a laughing in each other's faces.
What Cato then meant, tho' 'tis so long ago,
Even we in the present times pretty well know;
Having soothsayers also, who--sooth to say, John--
Are no better in some points than those of days gone,
And a pair of whom, meeting (between you and me),
Might laugh in their sleeves, too--all lawn tho' they be.

But this, by the way--my intention being chiefly
In this, my first letter, to hint to you briefly,
That, seeing how fond you of Tuum[1] must be,
While Meum's at all times the main point with me,
We scarce could do better than form an alliance,
To set these sad Anti-Church times at defiance:
You, John, recollect, being still to embark,
With no share in the firm but your title and mark;
Or even should you feel in your grandeur inclined
To call yourself Pope, why, I shouldn’t much mind;
While my church as usual holds fast by your Tuum,
And every one else's, to make it all Suum.

Thus allied, I've no doubt we shall nicely agree,
As no twins can be liker, in most points, than we;
Both, specimens choice of that mixt sort of beast,
(See Rev. xiii. I) a political priest:
Both mettlesome chargers, both brisk pamphleteers,
Ripe and ready for all that sets men by the ears;
And I, at least one, who would scorn to stick longer
By any given cause than I found it the stronger,
And who, smooth in my turnings, as if on a swivel,
When the tone ecclesiastic won’t do, try the civil.

In short (not to bore you, even jure divino)
We've the same cause in common, John--all but the rhino;
And that vulgar surplus, whate'er it may be,
As you're not used to cash, John, you'd best leave to me.
And so, without form--as the postman won’t tarry--
I'm, dear Jack of Tuain,
Yours,
EXETER HARRY.

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