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

Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)

Parody on a Speech from the Throne by Charles II

I told you, at our last meeting, the winter was the fittest time for business, and truly I thought so, till my lord-treasurer assured me the spring was the best season for salads and subsidies. I hope, therefore, that April will not prove so unnatural a month as not to afford some kind showers on my parched exchequer, which gapes for want of them. Some of you, perhaps, will think it dangerous to make me too rich; but I do not fear it; for I promise you faithfully, whatever you give me I will always want; and although in other things my word may be thought a slender authority, yet in that you may rely upon me. I will never break it.

My lords and gentlemen, I can bear my straits with patience; but my lord-treasurer does protest to me that the revenue, as it now stands, will not serve him and me too. One of us must pinch for it, if you do not help me. I must speak freely to you; I am under bad circumstances. Here is my lord-treasurer can tell that all the money designed for next summer’s guards must of necessity be applied to the next year’s cradles and swaddling-clothes. What shall we do for ships then? I hint this only to you, it being your business, not mine. I know, by experience, I can live without ships. I lived ten years abroad without, and never had my health better in my life; but how you will be without, I leave to yourselves to judge, and therefore hint this only by the bye; I do not insist upon it. There is another thing I must press more earnestly, and that is this: It seems a good part of my revenue will expire in two or three years, except you will be pleased to continue it. I have to say for it: Pray, why did you give me so much as you have done, unless you resolve to give on as fast as I call for it? The nation hates you already for giving so much, and I will hate you too if you do not give me more. So that, if you stick not to me, you must not have a friend in England. On the other hand, if you will give me the revenue I desire, I shall be able to do those things for your religion and liberty that I have had long in my thoughts, but cannot effect them without a little more money to carry me through. Therefore look to’t, and take notice, that if you do not make me rich enough to undo you, it shall lie at your doors. For my part, I wash my hands on it.

If you desire more instances of my zeal, I have them for you. For example, I have converted my sons from popery, and I may say without vanity, it was my own work. ’Twould do one’s heart good to hear how prettily George can read already in the Psalter. They are all fine children, God bless ’em, and so like me in their understandings!

I must now acquaint you that, by my lord-treasurer’s advice, I have made a considerable retrenchment upon my expenses in candles and charcoal, and do not intend to stop, but will, with your help, look into the late embezzlements of my dripping-pans and kitchen-stuff.