A PANEGYRIC on ALE.
— Mea nec Falernae
Temperant vites, neque Formiani
1 BALM of my cares, sweet solace of my toils,
2 Hail, juice benignant! o'er the costly cups
3 Of riot-stirring wine, unwholsome draught,
4 Let Pride's loose sons prolong the wasteful night:
5 My sober ev'ning let the tankard bless,
6 With toast imbrown'd, and fragrant nutmeg fraught,[Page 259]
7 While the rich draught with oft repeated whiffs
8 Tobacco mild improves: divine repast!
9 Where no crude surfeit, or intemperate joys
10 Of lawless Bacchus reign: but o'er my soul
11 A calm Lethean creeps: in drowsy trance
12 Each thought subsides, and sweet oblivion wraps
13 My peaceful brain, as if the magic rod
14 Of leaden Morpheus o'er mine eyes had shed
15 Its opiate influence. What tho' sore ills
16 Oppress, dire want of chill-dispelling coals,
17 Or cheerful candle, save the makeweight's gleam
18 Hap'ly remaining; heart-rejoicing ale
19 Cheers the sad scene, and every want supplies.
20 Meantime not mindless of the daily task
21 Of tutor sage, upon the learned leaves
22 Of deep Smiglecius much I meditate;
23 While ale inspires, and lends her kindred aid
24 The thought-perplexing labour to pursue,
25 Sweet Helicon of logic! — But if friends
26 Congenial call me from the toilsome page,
27 To pot-house I repair, the sacred haunt,
28 Where, Ale, thy votaries in full resort
29 Hold rites nocturnal. In capacious chair
30 Of monumental oak, and antique mould,
31 That long has stood the rage of conquering Time
32 Inviolate, (not in more ample seat
33 Smokes rosy justice, when th' important cause,
34 Whether of henroost or of mirthful rape,[Page 260]
35 In all the majesty of paunch, he tries:)
36 Studious of ease, and provident I place
37 My gladsome limbs, while in repeated round
38 Returns replenish'd the successive cup,
39 And the brisk fire conspires to genial joy.
40 Nor seldom to relieve the ling'ring hours
41 In innocent delight, amusive putt
42 On smooth joint-stool in emblematic play
43 The vain vicissitudes of fortune shews.
44 Nor reck'ning, name tremendous, me disturbs,
45 Nor, call'd-for, chills my breast with sudden fear,
46 While on the wonted door (expressive mark!)
47 The frequent penny stands describ'd to view
48 In snowy characters, a graceful row.
49 Hail Ticking! surest guardian of distress,
50 Beneath thy shelter pennyless I quaff
51 The cheering cup: tho' much the poet's friend
52 Ne'er yet attempted in poetic strain,
53 Accept this humble tribute of my praise.
54 Nor proctor thrice with vocal heel alarms
55 Our joys secure, nor deigns the lowly roof
56 Of pot-house snug to visit: wiser he
57 The splendid tavern haunts, or coffee-house
58 Of James or Juggins, where the grateful breath
59 Of mild tobacco ne'er diffus'd its balm;
60 But the lewd spendthrift, falsely deem'd polite,
61 While steams around the fragrant Indian bowl
62 Oft damns the vulgar sons of humbler Ale:[Page 261]
63 In vain — the proctor's voice alarms their joy;
64 Just fate os wanton pride, and vain excess!
65 Nor less by day delightful is thy draught,
66 Heart-easing Ale, whose sorrow-soothing sweets
67 Oft I repeat in vacant afternoon,
68 When tatter'd stockings ask my mending hand
69 Not unexperienc'd, while the tedious toil
70 Slides unregarded. Let the tender swain
71 Each morn regale on nerve-relaxing tea,
72 Companion meet of languor-loving nymph:
73 Be mine each morn with eager appetite
74 And hunger undissembled, to repair
75 To friendly butt'ry, there on smoaking crust
76 And foaming Ale to banquet unrestrain'd,
77 Material breakfast! Thus in ancient times
78 Our ancestors robust with liberal cups
79 Usher'd the morn, unlike the languid sons
80 Of modern days; nor ever had the might
81 Of Britons brave decay'd, had thus they fed,
82 With English Ale improving English worth.
83 With Ale irriguous, undismay'd I har
84 The frequent dun ascend my lofty dome
85 Importunate: whether the plaintive voice
86 Of laundress shrill awake my startled ear,
87 Or taylor with obsequious bow advance;
88 Or groom invade me with defying look
89 And fierce demeanor, whose emaciate steeds
90 Had panted oft beneath my goring steel;
91 In vain they plead or threat; all-powerful Ale[Page 262]
92 Excuses new supplies, and each descends
93 With joyless pace and debt-despairing looks.
94 E'en Sp—y with indignant bow retires,
95 Sternest of duns! and conquer'd quits the field.
96 Why did the gods such various blessings pour
97 On helpless mortals, from their grateful hands
98 So soon the short-liv'd bounty to recal?
99 Thus while, improvident of future ill,
100 I quaff the luscious tankard unrestrain'd,
101 And thoughtless riot in ambrosial bliss,
102 Sudden (dire fate of all things excellent!)
103 Th' unpitying bursar's cross affixing hand
104 Blast all my joys, and stops my glad career.
105 Nor now the friendly pot-house longer yields
106 A sure retreat when ev'ning shades the skies,
* Noted alehouses in Oxford. Sheppard, rushless widow, now vouchsafes
108 The wonted trust, and*
* Noted alehouses in Oxford. Winter ticks no more.
109 Thus Adam exil'd from the blissful scenes
110 Of Eden griev'd, no more in hallow'd bow'r
111 On nect'rine fruits to feast, fresh shade or vale
112 No more to visit, or vine-mantled grot;
113 But all forlorn the naked wilderness,
114 And unrejoicing solitudes to trace.
115 Thus too the matchless bard, whose lay resounds
116 The Splendid Shilling's praise, in nightly gloom
117 Of lonesome garret pin'd for cheerful Ale:
118 Whose steps in verse Miltonic I pursue,
119 Mean follower! like him with honest love
120 Of Ale divine inspir'd, and love of song.[Page 263]
121 But long may bounteous Heav'n with watchful care
122 Avert his hapless fate! enough for me,
123 That burning with congenial flame I dar'd
124 His guiding steps at distance to pursue,
125 And sing his fav'rite theme in kindred strains.