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POE M S
BY THE HONOURABLE
SIR JOHN DENHAM,
KNIGHT OF THE BATH.
FTER the delivery of your royal father's perfon
A undertaking to
the queen-mother that I would find fome means to get access to him, she was pleased to fend me; and by the help of Hugh Peters I got my admittance, and coming well inftructed from the queen (his majefty having been kept long in the dark) he was pleased to difcourse very freely with me of the whole state of his affairs: But, fir, I will not launch into an history, inftead of an epistle. One morning waiting on him at Caufham, fmiling upon me, he faid he could tell' me fome news of myself, which was, that he had feen fome verfes of mine the evening before (being those to Sir R. Fanfhaw); and afking me when I made them, I told him two or three years fince; he was pleafed to fay, that having never seen them before, he was afraid I had written them fince my return into England, and though he liked them well, he would advise me to write no more; alledging, that when men are young, and have little else to do, they might vent the overflowings of their fancy that way; but when they were thought fit for more ferious employments, if
they still perfifted in that course, it would look as if they minded not the way to any
Whereupon I ftood corrected as long as I had the honour to wait upon him, and at his departure from Hampton-Court, he was pleased to command me to ftay privately at London, to fend to him and receive from him all his letters from and to all his correfpondents at home and abroad, and I was furnished with nine feveral cyphers in order to it: which truft I performed with great fafety to the persons with whom we correfponded; but about nine months after being discovered by their knowledge of Mr. Cowley's hand, I happily escaped both for myself, and thofe that held correfpondence with me. That time was too hot and bufy for fuch idle fpeculations: but after I had the good fortune to wait upon your majefty in Holland and France, you were pleased sometimes to give me arguments to divert and put off the evil hours of our banishment, which now and then fell not short of your majefty's expectation.
After, when your majesty, departing from St. Germains to Jersey, was pleafed freely (without my afking) to confer upon me that place wherein I have now the honour to ferve you, I then gave over poetical lines, and made it my business to draw fuch others as might be more ferviceable to your majesty, and I hope more lafting. Since that time I never difobeyed my old mafter's commands till this fummer at the Wells, my retirement there tempting me to divert those melancholy thoughts, which the new apparitions of fo
reign invafion and domestic discontent gave us but thefe clouds being now happily blown over, and our fun clearly fhining out again, I have recovered the relapfe, it being fufpected that it would have proved the epidemical disease of age, which is apt to fall back into the follies of youth; yet Socrates, Aristotle, and Cato did the fame; and Scaliger faith, that fragment of Aristotle was beyond any thing that Pindar or Homer ever wrote. I will not call this a dedication, for those epiftles are commonly greater abfurdities than any that come after; for what author can reafonably believe, that fixing the great name of some eminent patron in the forehead of his book can charm away cenfure, and that the first leaf fhould be a curtain to draw over and hide all the deformities that stand behind it? neither have I any need of fuch shifts, for most of the parts of this body have already your majesty's view, and having past the test of fo clear and sharp-fighted a judgment, which has as good a title to give law in matters of this nature as in any other, they who shall presume to diffent from your majefty, will do more wrong to their own judgment than their judgment can do to me and for those latter parts which have not yet received your majesty's favourable afpect, if they who have seen them do not flatter me (for I dare not truft my own judgment) they will make it appear, that it is not with me as with most of mankind, who never forfake their darling vices, till their vices forfake them; and that this divorce was not Frigiditatis caufa, but an act of choice,