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A Tankard of Ale
In those old days, the Nymph called Etiquette (Appalling thought to dwell on) was not born.
They had their May, but no Mayfair as yet, No fashions varying as the hues of morn.
Just as they pleased they dressed and drank and ate, Sang hymns to Ceres (their John Barleycorn)
And danced unchaperoned, and laughed unchecked,
And were no doubt extremely incorrect.
Yet do I think their theory was pleasant:
And oft, I own, my " wayward fancy roams "
Back to those times, so different from the present; When no one smoked cigars, nor gave at-homes,
Nor smote a billiard ball, nor winged a pheasant,
Nor " did " their hair by means of long-tailed combs,
Nor migrated to Brighton once a year,
Nor—most astonishing of all—drank Beer.
No, they did not drink Beer, " which brings me to " (As Gilpin said) " the middle of my song."
Not that " the middle " is precisely true, Or else I should not tax your patience long :
If I had said " beginning," it might do ; But I have a dislike to quoting wrong :
I was unlucky—sinned against, not sinning—
When Cowper wrote down " middle " for " beginning."
So to proceed. That abstinence from Malt Has always struck me as extremely curious.
The Greek mind must have had some vital fault, That they should stick to liquors so injurious—