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To my Lady **



OUR commands for the gathering these sticks. into a faggot had fooner been obeyed; but, intending to present you with my whole vintage, I stayed till the latest grapes were ripe: for, here your Ladyship has not only all I have done, but all I ever mean to do of this kind. Not but that I may defend the attempt I have made upon Poetry, by the examples (not to trouble you with history) of many wise and worthy perfons of our own times; as Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Bacon, Cardinal Perron (the ablest of his countrymen), and the former Pope; who, they fay, inftead of the triple crown, wore fometimes the Poet's ivy, as an ornament, perhaps, of leffer weight and trouble. But, Madam, thefe Nightingales fung only in the spring; it was the diversion of their youth; as Ladies learn to fing, and play, when they are children, what they forget when they are women. refemblance holds further; for as you quit the lute the fooner, because the posture is fufpected to draw the body awry; fo this is not always practifed without some villany to the mind; wresting it from present occafions; and accuftoming us to a style fomewhat removed from common ufe. But that you may not think his cafe deplorable who had made verfes; we are told, that Tully (the greatest Wit among the Romans) was once fick of this disease; and yet recovered fo well, that of almost as bad a Poet as your fervant,




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he became the most perfect Orator in the world. So that, not so much to have made verfes, as not to give over in time, leaves a man without excufe: the former presenting us with an opportunity at least of doing wifely, that is, to conceal those we have made; which I fhall yet do, if my humble request may be of as much force with your Ladyfhip, as your commands have been with me. Madam, I only whifper thefe in your ear; if you publish them, they are your own: and therefore, as you apprehend the reproach of a Wit and a Poet, caft them into the fire: or, if they come where green boughs are in the chimney, with the help of your fair friends, (for, thus bound, it will be too hard a tafk for your hands alone) tear them in pieces, wherein you will honour me with the fate of Orpheus; for fo his Poems, whereof we only hear the form, (not his limbs, as the story will have it) I fuppofe were scattered by the Thracian dames. Here, Madam, I might take an opportunity to celebrate your virtues, and to inftruct you how unhappy you' are, in that you know not who you are how much you excel the most excellent of your own, and how much you amaze the least inclined to wonder of our, fex. But as they will be apt to take your Ladyfhip's for a Roman name, so would they believe that I endeavoured the character of a perfect Nymph, worshiped an image of my own making, and dedicated this to the Lady of the brain, not of the heart, of

Your Ladyship's

moft humble Servant,






Printed in the Year 1664.

WHEN the Author of these verses (written only

to please himself, and fuch particular perfons to whom they were directed) returned from abroad fome years fince, he was troubled to find his name in Print: but, fomewhat fatisfied, to fee his Lines fo ill rendered that he might justly disown them; and say to a mistaking Printer, as one did to an ill Reciter,


* Male dum recitas, incipit effe tuus.

Having been ever fince prefied to correct the many and grofs faults (fuch as ufe to be in impreffions wholly neglected by the Authors); his anfwer was, that he made thefe when ill Verfes had more favor, and escaped better, than good ones do in this age: the feverity whereof he thought not unhappily diverted by those faults in the impreffion, which hitherto have hung upon his Book, as the Turks hang old rags, or

Martial, Lib. i. Ep. 39.

B 2


fuch-like ugly things, upon their faireft horfes, and other goodly creatures, to fecure them against fascination. And, for those of a more confined understanding, who pretend not to cenfure; as they admire most what they leaft comprehend, fo, his verfes (maimed to that degree that himself scarce knew what to make of many of them) might, that way at least, have a title to fome admiration: which is no small matter, if what an old Author obferves be true, that the aim of Orators, is victory; of Hiftorians, truth; and of Poets, admiration. He had reafon therefore to indulge those faults in his Book, whereby it might be reconciled to fome, and commended to others.

The Printer also he thought would fare the worfe, if thofe faults were amended: for we fee maimed ftatues fell better than whole ones; and clipped and washed money goes about, when the entire and weighty lies hoarded up.

Thefe are the reafons which for above twelve years past he has opposed to our request; to which it was replied, that as it would be too late to recall that which had fo long been made public; fo, might it find excufe from his youth, the season it was produced in. And, for what had been done fince, and now added, if it commend not his Poetry, it might his Philofophy, which teaches him fo chearfully to bear fo great a calamity, as the loss of the best part of his fortune, torn from him in prifon (in which, and in banishment, the best portion of his life hath also been spent), that


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