To the Perfect Gentleman

Sir Robert Townshend

If the greatest faults may crave
Pardon where contrition is,
Noble sir, I needs must have
A long one for a long amiss.
If you ask me, how is this?
   Upon my faith, I'll tell you frankly,
   You love above my means to thank ye.
 
Yet, according to my talent,
As sour fortune loves to use me,
A poor shepherd I have sent
In home-spun gray for to excuse me;
And may all my hopes refuse me,
    But when better comes ashore,
    You shall have better, newer, more!
 
Till when, like our desperate debtors,
Or our three-piled sweet protestors,
I must please you in bare letters,
And so pay my debts, like jesters;
Yet I oft have seen good feasters,
    Only for to please the pallet,
    Leave great meat and choose a sallet.
 
All yours,
JOHN FLETCHER.