George Wither

11 June 1588 – 2 May 1667 / Bentworth, Hampshire

From A Satire Written To King James I

Did I not know a great man's power and might
In spite of innocence can smother right,
Colour his villainies to get esteem,
And make the honest man the villain seem?
I know it, and the world doth know 'tis true,
Yet I protest if such a man I knew,
That might my country prejudice or thee
Were he the greatest or the proudest he,
That breathes this day; if so it might be found
That any good to either might redound,
I unappalled, dare in such a case
Rip up his foulest crimes before his face,
Though for my labour I were sure to drop
Into the mouth of ruin without hope.
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