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Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42). The Poetical Works. 1880.


How to use the Court and himself therein, written to Sir Francis Brian

A SPENDING hand that alway poureth out,

Had need to have a bringer-in as fast;

And on the stone that still doth turn about,

There groweth no moss: these proverbs yet do last;

Reason hath set them in so sure a place,

That length of years their force can never waste.

When I remember this, and eke the case

Wherein thou standst, I thought forthwith to write,

Brian, to thee, who knows how great a grace

In writing is, to counsel man the right.

To thee therefore, that trots still up and down,

And never rests; but running day and night

From realm to realm, from city, street, and town;

Why dost thou wear thy body to the bones?

And mightst at home sleep in thy bed of down:

And drink good ale so nappy for the nones;

Feed thyself fat; and heap up pound by pound.

Likest thou not this? No. Why? For swine so groins

In sty; and chaw dung moulded on the ground;

And drivel on pearls, with head still in the manger:

So of the harp the ass doth hear the sound:

So sacks of dirt be fill’d. The neat courtier

So serves for less than do these fatted swine.

Though I seem lean and dry, withouten moisture,

Yet will I serve my prince, my lord and thine;

And let them live to feed the paunch that list;

So I may live to feed both me and mine.

By God, well said. But what and if thou wist

How to bring in, as fast as thou dost spend,

That would I learn. And it shall not be miss’d

To tell thee how. Now hark what I intend:

Thou knowest well first, whoso can seek to please,

Shall purchase friends, where truth shall but offend

Flee therefore truth, it is both wealth and ease.

For though that truth of every man hath praise,

Full near that wind goeth truth in great misease.

Use Virtue, as it goeth now-a-days,

In word alone, to make thy language sweet:

And of thy deed yet do not as thou says;

Else be thou sure, thou shalt be far unmeet

To get thy bread; each thing is now so scant,

Seek still thy profit upon thy bare feet.

Lend in no wise, for fear that thou do want,

Unless it be as to a calf a cheese:

But if thou can be sure to win a cant

Of half at least. It is not good to leese.

Learn at the lad, that in a long white coat,

From under the stall, withouten lands or fees,

Hath leapt into the shop; who knows by rote

This rule that I have told thee here before.

Some time also rich age begins to dote;

See thou when there thy gain may be the more:

Stay him by the arm whereso he walk or go;

Be near alway, and if he cough too sore,

What he hath spit tread out; and please him so.

A diligent knave that picks his master’s purse

May please him so, that he, withouten mo’,

Executor is: And what is he the worse?

But if so chance, thou get nought of the man,

The widow may for all thy pain disburse:

A riveled skin, a stinking breath; what then?

A toothless mouth shall do thy lips no harm;

The gold is good: and though she curse or ban,

Yet where thee list thou mayst lie good and warm;

Let the old mule bite upon the bridle,

Whilst there do lie a sweeter in thy arm.

In this also see that thou be not idle,

Thy niece, thy cousin, sister, or thy daughter,

If she be fair, if handsome be her middle,

If thy better hath her love besought her,

Avance his cause, and he shall help thy need:

It is but love, turn thou it to a laughter.

But ware, I say, so gold thee help and speed,

That in this case thou be not so unwise

As Pander was in such a like deed;

For he, the fool of conscience, was so nice,

That he no gain would have for all his pain:

Be next thyself, for friendship bears no price.

Laughest thou at me? why? do I speak in vain?

No, not at thee, but at thy thrifty jest:

Wouldst thou, I should, for any loss or gain

Change that for gold that I have ta’en for best

Next godly things, to have an honest name?

Should I leave that? then take me for a beast.

Nay then, farewell, and if thou care for shame,

Content thee then with honest poverty;

With free tongue what thee mislikes, to blame,

And for thy truth, sometime adversity.

And therewithal this gift I shall thee give,

In this world now little prosperity;

And coin to keep, as water in a sieve.