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Billingsgate! the best are but so many strings of unmeaning puns, and ill-managed conceits, and betray not more the ignorance of their encouragers, than the barrenness of their authors. Let me only ask the warmest advocate for this species of composition what, upou a cool reflection he thinks of the following song :

By the gaily circling glass
We can see how minutes pags,
By the hollow cask we're told
How the waning night grows old ;
Soon, too soon, the busy day
Calls us from our sports away.
What have we with day to do?
Sons of care 'twas made for you.'

* The foregoing little song, though one of the least offensive in the whole round of a bon vivant collection, has neither thought nor expression to recommend it, and can, wben sung, be termed no more than an agreeable piece of impertinence, calculated to supply a want of understanding in the company. I forbear to mention • The Big-bellied Bottle,' and a variety of similar productions, which are universally known, and deserve to be universally despised."

The most notable attempt to reform the character of English drinking-songs was made by the Captain Morris, already mentioned, a gentleman whose good voice, pleasing manners, and readiness to sing for the amusement of the brilliant society in which he moved, made him a great favourite. Although he did not banish Bacchus altogether from his effusions, he strove to impart a more modern and natural, as well as more gentlemanly tone, to the drinking lyrics which he wrote and sang; but his compositions of this class possessed no other merit. They were deficient in strength, originality, and wit, and were quite worthy, in most respects, of being attributed to "the Lady of Quality "—if that eminent "Myth" could be supposed to have so far forgotten herself as to have written for the mess-table

“ Come sip thy glass, my rosy lass,

"Twill prove a bless'd infusion,
'Twill witch thy sight with wild delight,

And brighten Love's illusion.

'Twill round thee ope a world of Hope,

A heaven of sweet emotion,
Then let's not blight the sure delight

For want of true devotion."

If such stanzas as these were more decorous, they were certainly not so vigorous, or by any means so appropriate to their purpose as the roystering ditties which they were intended to supersede, and it was not until Richard Brinsley Sheridan first, and Thomas Moore afterwards, lent their genius to celebrate the glories of the wine-cup, that poetry was in any way concerned in the drinkingsongs of the English nation. An exception must be made in favour of some of the Sea Songs of the Dibdins, in which the daring conviviality of the English sailor is admirably represented. The taste for bacchanalian songs, like the practice of bacchanalian excess, has long been on the decline.

If an apology be necessary for presenting the reader with so many compositions of this class, it must be found in the fact that a collection of English songs would be incomplete without them—and that as illustrative not only of the history of manners, but of the history of literature, it was necessary to include a few specimens of them.

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By John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells, born 1542, died 1607.
I CANNOT eat but little meat,

My stomach is not good;
But sure, I think that I can drink

With any that wears a hood.
Tho' I go bare, take ye no care,

I am nothing a cold,
I stuff my skin so full within

Of jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare, go bare,

Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

Whether it be new or old.

I love no roast but a nut-brown toast,

And a crab laid in the fire;
A little bread shall do me stead,

Much bread I don't desire.
No frost, no snow, no wind I trow

Can hurt me if I wold,
I am so wrapt, and thoroughly lapt

Of jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare, go bare,

Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough

Whether it be new or old.

And Tib, my wife, that as her life

Loveth well good ale to seek,
Full oft drinks she, till you may see

The tears run down her cheek;
Then doth she troul to me the bowl,

Even as a maltworm should,
And saith “Sweetheart, I take my part

Of this jolly good ale and old.”
Back and side go bare, go bare,

Both foot and hand go cold ;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

Whether it be new or old.

Now let them drink till they nod and wink,

Even as good fellows should do;
They shall not miss to have the bliss

Good ale doth bring men to;
And all poor souls that have scoured bowls,

Or have them lustily trould,
GOD save the lives of them and their wives,

Whether they be young or old.
Back and side go bare, go bare,

Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

Whether it be new or old.

The Comedy of “Gammer Gurton's Needle," in which this song appears, was first acted in 1566, but not printed until 1575. “It is believed to have been," says Mr. Ellis, in his “ Specimens of Ancient English Poetry," " the earliest English drama that exhibited any approaches to regular comedy."

From "Antony and Cleopatra," by WilliAM SHAKSPEARE.

COME, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne,
In thy vats our cares be drowned,
With thy grapes our bairs be crowned
Cup us till the world go round.



The thirsty earth drinks up the rain
And thirsts, and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair.
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy sun (and one would guess
By's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and when he's done,
The moon and stars drink up the sun.
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night:
Nothing in nature's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses here; for why
Should every creature drink but I ?
Why, man of morals, tell me why!

Freely translated from Anacreon.


From “ The Antidote to Melancholy," 1682.
'Twas God above that made all things,
The heaven's, the earth, and all therein;
The ships that on the sea do swim,
To guard from foes, that none come in ;
And let them all do what they can,
'Tis but for one end-the use of man.
So I wish in Heav'n his soul may dwell,
That first found out the leather bottèl.

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