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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

John Dryden (1631–1700)

Character of Zimri (the Duke of Buckingham)

SOME of their chiefs were princes of the land:

In the first rank of these did Zimri stand,

A man so various, that he seemed to be

Not one, but all mankind’s epitome:

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,

Was everything by starts, and nothing long,

But, in the course of one revolving moon,

Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon,

Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,

Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.

Blest madman, who could every hour employ

With something new to wish or to enjoy,

Railing, and praising, were his usual themes;

And both, to show his judgment, in extremes:

So over-violent, or over-civil,

That every man with him was god or devil.

In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;

Nothing went unrewarded but desert.

Beggared by fools, whom still he found too late,

He had his jest and they had his estate.

He laughed himself from court, then sought relief

By forming parties, but could ne’er be chief;

For spite of him, the weight of business fell

On Absalom and wise Achitophel.

Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,

He left not faction, but of that was left.