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Character of a Happy Life
by Sir Henry Wotton

Wotton produced a small body of work and was mainly known for being a distinguished man of affairs. His best known works include; Elizabeth of Bohemia: or You Meaner Beauties of the Night, The Character of a Happy life and Upon the Sudden Restraint of the Earl of Somerset. Twelve years after his death, a collection of his works was published entitled Reliquiae Wollonianae. This collection was edited by the poet Izaak Walton.


Character of a Happy Life
by Sir Henry Wotton

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!

Whose passions not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Untied unto the world by care
Of public fame or private breath;

Who envies none that chance doth raise,
Nor vice; who never understood
How deepest wounds are giv'n by praise;
Nor rules of state, but rules of good;

Who hath his life from rumours freed;
Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruin make oppressors great.

Who God doth late and early pray
More of His grace than gifts to lend;
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious book or friend.

This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.


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