Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset etc.

A Restoration wit.
I tracked down a site with some samples of the poetry of Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset who is the object of Dryden’s somewhat overeffusive praise. Here’s a short example of his work from which you can perhaps judge for yourselves whether Dryden was exaggerating slightly.

To Mr. Edward Howard on His New Utopia

Thou damn’d antipodes to common sense!
Thou foil to Flecknoe! Prithee tell from whence
Does all this mighty stock of dullness spring,
Which in such loads thou to the stage dost bring?
Is’t all thy own, or hast thou from Snow Hill [5]
Th’assistance of some ballad-making quill?
No, they fly higher yet; thy plays are such
I’d swear they were translated out of Dutch:
And who the devil was e’er yet so drunk
To own the volumes of Mynheer Van Dunk? [10]
Fain would I know what diet thou dost keep,
If thou dost always or dost never sleep.
Sure hasty pudding is thy chiefest dish;
With lights and livers and with stinking fish,
Oxcheek, tripe, garbage, thou dost treat thy brain, [15]
Which nobly pays this tribute back again.
With daisy roots thy dwarfish muse is fed:
A giant’s body with a pigmy’s head.
Canst thou not find ’mongst all thy num’rous race
One friend so kind to tell thee that thy play’s [20]
Laugh’d at by box, pit, gallery, nay stage
And grown the nauseous grievance of this age?
Think on’t a while, and thou wilt quickly find
Thy body made for labor, not thy mind.
No other use of paper thou should’st make [25]
But carrying loads of reams upon thy back.
Carry vast burdens ’till thy shoulders shrink,
But curs’d be he that gives thee pen and ink:
Those dang’rous weapons should be kept from fools,
As nurses from their children keep edge tools. [30]
For thy dull muse a muckender were fit
To wipe the slav’rings of her infant wit,
Which, though ’tis late, if justice could be found,
Should like blind, new-born puppies yet be drown’d.
For were it not we must respect afford [35]
To any muse that’s grandchild to a lord,
Thine in the ducking stool should take her seat,
Drench’d like herself in a great chair of state,
Where like a muse of quality she’ll die,
And thou thyself shalt make her elegy [40]
In the same strain thou writ’st thy comedy.


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