Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPISTLE; TO THE EARL OF..., by CHARLES COTTON



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

EPISTLE; TO THE EARL OF..., by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To write in verse, o count of mine
Last Line: I'm sunk for ever to mankind.
Subject(s): Bagpipes; Christmas; Musical Instruments; Stanhope, Philip Dormer (1694-1773); Nativity, The; Chesterfield, 4th Earl Of


To write in verse, O Count of mine,
To you, who have the Ladies nine,
With a wet finger, at your call,
And I believe have kissed 'em all,
Is such an undertaking, none
But Peakrill bold would venture on:
Yet having found, that, to my woes
No help will be procur'd by prose,
And to write that way is no boot,
I'll try if rhyming will not do 't.
Know then, my Lord, that on my word,
Since my first, second, and my third,
Which I have pester'd you withall,
I've heard no syllable at all,
Or where you are, or what you do;
Or, if I have a Lord, or no.
A pretty comfort to a man
That studies all the ways he can
To keep an interest he does prize
Above all other treasuries.

But let that pass, you now must know
We do on our last quarter go;
And that I may go bravely out,
Am trowling merry bowl about,
To Lord, and Lady, that and this,
As nothing were at all amiss,
When after twenty days are past,
Poor Charles has eat and drunk his last.
No more plum-porridge then, or pie,
No brawn with branch of rosemary,
No chine of beef, enough to make
The tallest yeoman's chine to crack;
No bagpipe humming in the hall,
Nor noise of house-keeping at all,
Nor sign, by which it may be said,
This house was once inhabited.
I may perhaps, with much ado,
Rub out a Christmas more, or two;
Or, if the Fates be pleas'd, a score,
But never look to keep one more.

Some three months hence, I make account
My spur-gall'd Pegasus to mount,
When, whither I intend to go,
My horse, as well as I, will know:
But being got, with much ado,
Out of the reach a stage or two,
Though not the conscience of my shame,
And Pegasus fall'n desp'rate lame,
I shake my stirrups, and forsake him,
Leaving him to the next will take him;
Not that I set so lightly by him,
Would any be so kind to buy him;
But that I think those who have seen
How ill my Muse has mounted been,
Would certainly take better heed
Than to bid money for her steed.

Being then on foot, away I go,
And bang the hoof, incognito,
Though in condition so forlorn,
Little disguise will serve the turn,
Since best of Friends, the world's so base,
Scarce know a man when in disgrace.

But that's too serious. Then suppose,
Like trav'ling Tom, with dint of toes,
I'm got unto extremest shore,
Sick and impatient to be o'er
That Channel which secur'd my state
Of peace, whilst I was fortunate,
But in this moment of distress,
Confines me to unhappiness:
But where's the money to be had
This surly Neptune to persuade?
It is no less than shillings ten,
Gods will be brib'd as well as men.
Imagine then your Highlander
Over a can of muddy beer,
Playing at passage with a pair
Of drunken fumblers for his fare;
And see I've won, oh, lucky chance,
Hoist sail amain, my mates, for France;
Fortune was civil in this throw,
And having robb'd me, lets me go.
I've won, and yet how could I choose,
He needs must win, that cannot lose;
Fate send me then a happy wind,
And better luck to those behind.

But what advantage will it be
That winds and tides are kind to me,
When still the wretched have their woes,
Wherever they their feet dispose?
What satisfaction, or delight
Are ragouts to an appetite?
What ease can France or Flanders give
To him that is a fugitive?
Some two years hence, when you come o'er,
In all your state, Ambassador,
If my ill nature be so strong
T' outlive my infamy so long,
You'll find your little Officer
Ragged as his old colours are;
And naked, as he's discontent,
Standing at some poor sutler's tent,
With his pike cheek't, to guard the Tun
He must not taste when he has done.
"Hump," says my Lord, "I'm half afraid
My Captain's turn'd a Reformade,
That scurvy face I sure should know,"
"Yes faith, my Lord, 'tis even so,
I am that individual he:
I told your Lordship how 'twould be."
"Thou did'st so, Charles, it is confest,
Yet still I thought thou wer't in jest;
But comfort! Poverty's no crime,
I'll take thy word another time."

This matters now are coming to,
And I'm resolv'd upon 't; whilst you,
Sleeping in Fortune's arms, ne'er dream
Who feels the contrary extreme;
Faith write to me, that I may know
Whether you love me still, or no;
Or if you do not, by what ways
I've pull'd upon me my disgrace;
For whilst I still stand fair with you,
I dare the worst my Fate can do;
But your opinion gone I find,
I'm sunk for ever to mankind.





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