Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPISTLE TO SIR ROBERT WALPOLE (1), by HENRY FIELDING



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EPISTLE TO SIR ROBERT WALPOLE (1), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: While at the helm of state you ride
Last Line: I'm fittest for--a sinecure.
Variant Title(s): Author And The Statesman
Subject(s): Walpole, Robert (1676-1745)


WHILE at the helm of State you ride,
Our nation's envy, and its pride;
While foreign Courts with wonder gaze,
And curse those counsels that they praise;
Would you not wonder, sir, to view
Your bard a greater man than you?
Which that he is, you cannot doubt,
When you have read the sequel out.

You know, great sir, that ancient fellows,
Philosophers, and such folks, tell us,
No great analogy between
Greatness and happiness is seen,
If then, as it might follow straight,
Wretched to be, is to be great;
Forbid it, gods, that you should try
What 'tis to be so great as I!

The family that dines the latest
Is in our street esteemed the greatest;
But latest hours must surely fall
'Fore him who never dines at all.
Your taste in architect, you know,
Hath been admired by friend and foe;
But can your earthly domes compare
With all my castles--in the air?
We're often taught, it doth behove us
To think those greater who're above us;
Another instance of my glory,
Who live above you, twice two story;
And from my garret can look down
On the whole street of Arlington.

Greatness by poets still is painted
With many followers acquainted;
This, too, doth in my favour speak;
Your levee is but twice a week;
From mine I can exclude but one day,
My door is quiet on a Sunday.

Nor in the matter of attendance
Doth your great bard claim less asoendance.
Familiar you to admiration
May be approached by all the nation;
While I, like the Mogul in Indo,
Am never seen but at the window.
If with my greatness you're offended,
The fault is easily amended;
For I'll come down, with wondrous ease,
Into whatever place you please.
I'm not ambitious; little matters
Will serve us great, but humble creatures.

Suppose a secretary o' this isle,
Just to be doing with a while;
Admiral, general, judge, or bishop:
Or I can foreign treaties dish up.
If the good genius of the nation
Should call me to negotiation,
Tuscan and French are in my head,
Latin I write, and Greek--I read.
If you should ask, what pleases best?
To get the most, and do the least;
What fittest for?--you know, I'm sure,
I'm fittest for--a sinecure.





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