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- Inebriety and the Candidate - 1/4 -


Transcribed by Mark Sherwood, e-mail mark.sherwood@btinternet.com

Inebriety and The Candidate by George Crabbe

Contents: Inebriety The Candidate An Introductory Address To the Reader To the Authors of the Monthly Review

"INEBRIETY" {1}

The mighty spirit, and its power, which stains The bloodless cheek, and vivifies the brains, I sing. Say, ye, its fiery vot'ries true, The jovial curate, and the shrill-tongued shrew; Ye, in the floods of limpid poison nurst, Where bowl the second charms like bowl the first; Say how, and why, the sparkling ill is shed, The heart which hardens, and which rules the head. When winter stern his gloomy front uprears, A sable void the barren earth appears; The meads no more their former verdure boast, Fast bound their streams, and all their beauty lost; The herds, the flocks, in icy garments mourn, And wildly murmur for the spring's return; From snow-topp'd hills the whirlwinds keenly blow, Howl through the woods, and pierce the vales below; Through the sharp air a flaky torrent flies, Mocks the slow sight, and hides the gloomy skies; The fleecy clouds their chilly bosoms bare, And shed their substance on the floating air; The floating air their downy substance glides Through springing waters, and prevents their tides; Seizes the rolling waves, and, as a god, Charms their swift race, and stops the refluent flood; The opening valves, which fill the venal road, Then scarcely urge along the sanguine flood; The labouring pulse a slower motion rules, The tendons stiffen, and the spirit cools; Each asks the aid of Nature's sister, Art, To cheer the senses, and to warm the heart. The gentle fair on nervous tea relies, Whilst gay good-nature sparkles in her eyes; An inoffensive scandal fluttering round, Too rough to tickle, and too light to wound; Champagne the courtier drinks, the spleen to chase, The colonel burgundy, and port his grace; Turtle and 'rrac the city rulers charm, Ale and content the labouring peasants warm: O'er the dull embers, happy Colin sits, Colin, the prince of joke, and rural wits; Whilst the wind whistles through the hollow panes, He drinks, nor of the rude assault complains; And tells the tale, from sire to son retold, Of spirits vanishing near hidden gold; Of moon-clad imps that tremble by the dew, Who skim the air, or glide o'er waters blue: The throng invisible that, doubtless, float By mouldering tombs, and o'er the stagnant meat: Fays dimly glancing on the russet plain, And all the dreadful nothing of the green. Peace be to such, the happiest and the best, Who with the forms of fancy urge their jest; Who wage no war with an avenger's rod, Nor in the pride of reason curse their God. When in the vaulted arch Lucina gleams, And gaily dances o'er the azure streams; On silent ether when a trembling sound Reverberates, and wildly floats around, Breaking through trackless space upon the ear, Conclude the Bacchanalian rustic near: O'er hills and vales the jovial savage reels, Fire in his head and frenzy at his heels; From paths direct the bending hero swerves, And shapes his way in ill-proportioned curves. Now safe arrived, his sleeping rib he calls, And madly thunders on the muddy walls; The well-known sounds an equal fury move, For rage meets rage, as love enkindles love: In vain the waken'd infant's accents shrill, The humble regions of the cottage fill; In vain the cricket chirps the mansion through, 'Tis war, and blood, and battle must ensue. As when, on humble stage, him Satan hight Defies the brazen hero to the fight: From twanging strokes what dire misfortunes rise, What fate to maple arms and glassen eyes! Here lies a leg of elm, and there a stroke From ashen neck has whirl'd a head of oak. So drops from either power, with vengeance big, A remnant night-cap and an old cut wig; Titles unmusical retorted round, On either ear with leaden vengeance sound; Till equal valour, equal wounds create, And drowsy peace concludes the fell debate; Sleep in her woollen mantle wraps the pair, And sheds her poppies on the ambient air; Intoxication flies, as fury fled, On rooky pinions quits the aching head; Returning reason cools the fiery blood, And drives from memory's seat the rosy god. Yet still he holds o'er some his maddening rule. Still sways his sceptre, and still knows his fool; Witness the livid lip, and fiery front, With many a smarting trophy placed upon't; The hollow eye, which plays in misty springs, And the hoarse voice, which rough and broken rings; These are his triumphs, and o'er these he reigns, The blinking deity of reeling brains. See Inebriety! her wand she waves, And lo! her pale, and lo! her purple slaves! Sots in embroidery, and sots in crape, Of every order, station, rank, and shape: The king, who nods upon his rattle throne; The staggering peer, to midnight revel prone; The slow-tongued bishop, and the deacon sly, The humble pensioner, and gownsman dry; The proud, the mean, the selfish, and the great, Swell the dull throng, and stagger into state. Lo! proud Flaminius at the splendid board, The easy chaplain of an atheist lord, Quaffs the bright juice, with all the gust of sense, And clouds his brain in torpid elegance; In china vases, see! the sparkling ill, From gay decanters view the rosy rill; The neat-carved pipes in silver settle laid, The screw by mathematic cunning made: Oh, happy priest! whose God, like Egypt's, lies At once the deity and sacrifice. But is Flaminius then the man alone To whom the joys of swimming brains are known? Lo! the poor toper whose untutor'd sense, Sees bliss in ale, and can with wine dispense; Whose head proud fancy never taught to steer Beyond the muddy ecstasies of beer; But simple nature can her longing quench, Behind the settle's curve, or humbler bench: Some kitchen fire diffusing warmth around, The semi-globe by hieroglyphics crown'd; Where canvas purse displays the brass enroll'd, Nor waiters rave, nor landlords thirst for gold; Ale and content his fancy's bounds confine. He asks no limpid punch, no rosy wine; But sees, admitted to an equal share, Each faithful swain the heady potion bear: Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of taste, Weigh gout and gravel against ale and rest; Call vulgar palates what thou judgest so; Say beer is heavy, windy, cold, and slow; Laugh at poor sots with insolent pretence, Yet cry, when tortured, where is Providence? In various forms the madd'ning spirit moves, This drinks and fights, another drinks and loves. A bastard zeal, of different kinds it shows, And now with rage, and now religion glows: The frantic soul bright reason's path defies, Now creeps on earth, now triumphs in the skies; Swims in the seas of error, and explores, Through midnight mists, the fluctuating shores; From wave to wave in rocky channel glides, And sinks in woe, or on presumption slides; In pride exalted, or by shame deprest, An angel-devil, or a human-beast. Some rage in all the strength of folly mad; Some love stupidity, in silence clad, Are never quarrelsome, are never gay, But sleep, and groan, and drink the night away; Old Torpio nods, and as the laugh goes round, Grunts through the nasal duct, and joins the sound. Then sleeps again, and, as the liquors pass, Wakes at the friendly jog, and takes his glass: Alike to him who stands, or reels, or moves, The elbow chair, good wine, and sleep he loves, Nor cares of state disturb his easy head, By grosser fumes and calmer follies fed; Nor thoughts of when, or where, or how to come, The canvass general, or the general doom; Extremes ne'er reach'd one passion of his soul, A villain tame, and an unmettled fool; To half his vices he has but pretence, For they usurp the place of common sense; To half his little merits has no claim,


Inebriety and the Candidate - 1/4

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