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WHAT, and how great, the virtue and the art
To live on little with a cheerful heart;
(A doctrine sage, but truly none of mine;)
Let's talk, my friends, but talk before we dine.
Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride
Turns you from sound philosophy aside ;
Not when from plate to plate your eye-balls roll,
And the brain dances to the mantling bowl.
Hear BETHEL's sermon, one not vers’d in schools,
and wise without the rules.
Go work, hunt, exercise! (he thus began,)
Then scorn a homely dinner, if you can.
Your wine lock'd up, your butler stroll'd abroad,
Or fish deny'd, (the river yet unthaw'd,)
If then plain bread and milk will do the feat, IS
The pleasure lies in you, and not the meat.
Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men Will choose a pheasant still before a hen ;
VER. 9. BETHEL] The same to whom several of Mr. Pope's Letters are addressed.
Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold,
Except you eat the feathers green and gold.
Of carps and mullets why prefer the great,
(Tho'cut in pieces ere my Lord can eat,)
Yet for small turbots such esteem profess?
Because God made these large, the other less.
Oldfield with more than harpy throat endu’d, 25
Cries, “ Send me, Gods! a whole hog barbecu'd!”
Oh blast it, south winds! till a stench exhale
Rank as the ripeness of a rabbit's tail.
By what criterion do ye eat, d'ye think,
If this is priz'd for sweetness, that for stink? 30
When the tir'd glutton labours through a treat,
He finds no relish in the sweetest meat,
He calls for something bitter, something sour,
And the rich feast concludes extremely poor :
Cheap eggs, and herbs, and olives still we see ; 35
Thus much is left of old simplicity!
The robin-red-breast till of late had rest,
And children sacred held a martin's nest,
Till Becaficos sold so dev’lish dear
To one that was, or would have been, a peer. 40
Let me extol a cat, on oysters fed,
I'll have a party at the Bedford-head;
VER. 25. Oldfield] This eminent glutton ran through a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a-year in the simple luxury of good eating.
VER. 26. Hog barbecu'd, &c.] A West Indian term of gluttony; a hug roasted whole, stuffed with spice, and basted with Madeira wine.
Or e'en to crack live crawfish recommend ;
I'd never doubt at court to make a friend.
'Tis yet in vain, I own, to keep a pother 45
About one vice, and fall into the other :
Between excess and famine lies a mean;
Plain, but not sordid ; tho' not splendid, clean.
Avidien, or his wife, (no matter which, For him you'll call a dog, and her a bitch,) 50 Sell their presented partridges, and fruits, And humbly live on rabbits and on roots : One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine, And is at once their vinegar and wine. But on some lucky day (as when they found
A lost bank-bill, or heard their son was drown'd)
At such a feast, old vinegar to spare,
Is what two souls so gen'rous cannot bear :
Oil, tho' it stink, they drop by drop impart,
But sowse the cabbage with a bounteous heart.
He knows to live, who keeps the middle state,
And neither leans on this side, nor on that ;
Nor stops, for one bad cork, his butler's pay,
Swears, like Albutius, a good cook away;
Nor lets, like Nævius, ev'ry error pass,
The musty wine, foul cloth, or greasy glass.
Now hear what blessings temperance can bring : (Thus said our friend, and what he said I sing :)
VER. 42. Badford-bead;} A famous eating-house.
First health : the stomach (cramm'd from ev'ry dish,
A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish, 70
Where bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar,
And all the man is one intestine war)
Remembers oft the school-boy's simple fare,
The temp’rate sleeps, and spirits light as air.
How pale, each worshipful and rev'rend guest
Rise from a clergy, or a city feast !
What life in all that ample body, say?
What heav'nly particle inspires the clay?
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines
To seem but mortal, ev’n in sound divines. 80
On morning wings how active springs the mind
That leaves the load of yesterday behind ?
How easy ev'ry labour it pursues ?
How coming to the poet ev'ry muse?
Not but we may exceed, some holy time,
Or tir'd in search of truth, or search of rhyme ;
Ill health some just indulgence may engage,
And more the sickness of long life, old age :
For fainting age what cordial drop remains,
If our intemp’rate youth the vessel drains ? 20
Our fathers prais'd rank ven’son.
You suppose Perhaps, young men ! our fathers had no nose. Not so: a buck was then a week's repast, And 'twas their point, I ween, to make it last ; More pleas'd to keep it till their friends could come, Than eat the sweetest by themselves at home. 96 9