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John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester


Nothing thou Elder Brother ev'n to shade,

Thou hadst a being, e're the World was made,

And (well fixt) art alone of ending not afraid.

E're time, and place, were, time, and place, were not

When Primitive Nothing, something strait begot,

Then all proceeded from the great united --- What?

Something, the gen'ral Attribute of all,

Sever'd from thee, it's sole Original,

Into the boundless self, must undistinguish'd fall.

Yet something did thy mighty Pow'r command,

And from thy fruitful emptinesses hand,

Snatcht Men, Beasts, Birds, Fire, Aire, and Land.

Matter, the wicked'st Off spring of thy Race,

By forme assisted, flew from thy embrace,

And Rebel Light obscur'd thy reverend dusky Face.

With form, and Matter, time, and place, did join,

Body, thy Foe, with thee did Leagues combine,

To spoil thy peaceful Realm, and ruin all thy Line.

But Turn-Coat Time assists the Foe in vain,

And brib'd by thee, assists thy short-liv'd Reign,

And to thy hungry Womb drives back thy Slaves again.

Tho Mysteries are barr'd from Laich-Eyes,

And the Divine alone, with Warrant pryes,

Into thy Bosome, where thy truth in private lyes.

Yet this of thee, the wise may freely say,

Thou from the Virtuous nothing tak'st away,

And to be part of thee, the Wicked wisely pray.

Great Negative, how vainly wou'd the Wise,

Enquire, define, distinguish, teach, devise,

Didst thou not stand to point their dull Philosophies.

Is, or is not, the Two great ends of Fate,

And true, or false, the Subject of debate,

That perfect, or destroy, the vast designs of Fate.

When they have rack'd the Politicians Breast,

Within thy Bosome, most securely rest,

And when reduc'd to thee, are least unsafe, & best.

But Nothing, why does something still permit,

That Sacred Monarchs shou'd at Councel sit,

With Persons highly thought, at best, for Nothing fit.

Whil'st weighty Something modestly abstains,

From Princes Coffers, and from States-Mens Brains,

And Nothing there, like stately Nothing reigns.

Nothing who dwellst with Fools, in grave disguise,

For whom they Reverend shapes, & forms devise.

Lawn-sleeves, & Furrs, & Gowns, when they like thee look wise.

French Truth, Dutch Prowess, British Policy,

Hybernian Learning, Scotch Civility,

Spaniards dispatch, Dames Wit, are mainly seen in thee.

The great Mans gratitude to his best Friend,

Kings Promises, Whores Vows, towards thee they bend,

Flow swiftly into thee, and in thee ever end.

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