Horace, Lib. I, Epist. IX, Imitated

Original Text: 
Matthew Prior, Poems on Several Occasions (London: J. Tonson and J. Barber, 1718). F-10 499 Fisher Rare Book Library
To the right honourable Mr. Harley
2Believes, as firmly as he does his creed,
3That you and I, sir, are extremely great;
4Though I plain Mat, you minister of state.
5One word from me, without all doubt, he says,
6Would fix his fortune in some little place.
7Thus better than myself, it seems, he knows
8How far my interest with my patron goes;
9And answering all objections I can make,
10Still plunges deeper in his dear mistake.
11      From this wild fancy, sir, there may proceed
12One wilder yet, which I foresee, and dread;
13That I, in fact, a real interest have,
14Which to my own advantage I would save,
15And, with the usual courtier's trick, intend
16To serve myself, forgetful of my friend.
17      To shun this censure, I all shame lay by,
18And make my reason with his will comply;
19Hoping, for my excuse, 'twill be confest,
20That of two evils I have chose the least.
21So, sir, with this epistolary scroll,
22Receive the partner of my inmost soul:
23Him you will find in letters, and in laws
24Not unexpert, firm to his country's cause,
25Warm in the glorious interest you pursue,
26And, in one word, a good man and a true.


1] Addressed to Harley, eal of Oxford, leader of the Tory party under Queen Anne.
Dick: Richard Shelton, one of Prior's closest friends. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.526; RPO 1996-2000.