Horace, Lib. I, Epist. IX, Imitated by Matthew Prior
[To the right honourable Mr. Harley]
Dear Dick, how e'er it comes into his head, Believes, as firmly as he does his creed, That you and I, sir, are extremely great; Though I plain Mat, you minister of state. One word from me, without all doubt, he says, Would fix his fortune in some little place. Thus better than myself, it seems, he knows How far my interest with my patron goes; And answering all objections I can make, Still plunges deeper in his dear mistake.
From this wild fancy, sir, there may proceed One wilder yet, which I foresee, and dread; That I, in fact, a real interest have, Which to my own advantage I would save, And, with the usual courtier's trick, intend To serve myself, forgetful of my friend.
To shun this censure, I all shame lay by, And make my reason with his will comply; Hoping, for my excuse, 'twill be confest, That of two evils I have chose the least. So, sir, with this epistolary scroll, Receive the partner of my inmost soul: Him you will find in letters, and in laws Not unexpert, firm to his country's cause, Warm in the glorious interest you pursue, And, in one word, a good man and a true.