Ere cherries ripe, and strawberries be gone;
Unto the cries of London I'll add one;
Ripe statesmen, ripe: they grow in ev'ry street;
At six-and-twenty, ripe. You shall 'em meet,
And have him yield no favour, but of state.
Ripe are their ruffs, their cuffs, their beards, their gate,
And grave as ripe, like mellow as their faces.
They know the states of Christendom, not the places:
Yet have they seen the maps, and bought 'em too,
And understand 'em, as most chapmen do.
The counsels, projects, practices they know,
And what each prince doth for intelligence owe,
And unto whom; they are the almanacks
For twelve years yet to come, what each state lacks.
They carry in their pockets Tacitus,
And the Gazetti, or Gallo-Belgicus:
And talk reserv'd, lock'd up, and full of fear;
Nay, ask you how the day goes, in your ear.
Keep a Star-chamber sentence close twelve days:
And whisper what a Proclamation says.
They meet in sixes, and at ev'ry mart,
Are sure to con the catalogue by heart;
Or ev'ry day, some one at Rimee's looks,
Or bills, and there he buys the name of books.
They all get Porta, for the sundry ways
To write in cypher, and the several keys,
To ope the character. They've found the slight
With juice of lemons, onions, piss, to write;
To break up seals and close 'em. And they know,
If the states make peace, how it will go
With England. All forbidden books they get,
And of the powder-plot, they will talk yet.
At naming the French king, their heads they shake,
And at the Pope, and Spain, slight faces make.
Or 'gainst the bishops, for the brethren rail
Much like those brethren; thinking to prevail
With ignorance on us, as they have done
On them: and therefore do not only shun
Others more modest, but contemn us too,
That know not so much state, wrong, as they do.