Hear, O ye host of Epicurus! hear!
Each portly form, whose overhanging paunch
Can well denote the all-transcendent joy
That springs unbounded from fruition full
Of rich repast; to you I consecrate
The song advent'rous; happy if the Muse
Can cook the numbers to your palates keen,
Or send but half the relish with her song,
Than smoaking sirloins to your souls convey.
Hence now, ye starv'lngs wan! whole empty wombs
Oft echo to the hollow murmuring tones
Of hunger fell.- Avaunt ye base-born hinds!
Whose fates ne'er destin'd you to gorge
The banquet rare, or wage a pleasing war
With the delicious morsels of the earth.
To you I sing not: for, alas! what pain,
What pain, what tantalising tortures would ensue,
To aid the force of Famine's sharpest tooth,
Were I to breathe my accents in your ear!
Hail, ROAST BEEF! monarch of the festive throng,
To hunger's bane the strongest antidote;
Come, and with all thy rage-appeasing sweets
Our appetites allay: For, or attended
By root Hibernian, or plumb-pudding rare,
Still thou art welcome to the social board.
Say, can the spicy gales from orient blown,
Or zephyrs wing, that from the orange groves
Brushes the breeze, with rich perfumes replete,
More aromatic or reviving smell
To nostril's bring? Or can the glassy streams
Of Pactolus, that o'er its golden sands
Delightful glide, thy luscious drops outvie
That from thy sides imbrown'd unnumber'd fall?
behold, at thy approach what smiles serene,
Beam from the ravish'd guests.-Still are their tongues,
While they with whetted instruments prepare
For deep incision.-Now the abscess bleeds,
And the devouring band, with stomachs keen
And glutting rage, thy beauteous form destroy,
Leave you a marrowless skeleton and bare,
A prey to dunghills,or vexatious sport
Of torrent rushing from defilement's urns,
That o'er the city's flinty pavement hurls.
So fares it with the man, whose powerful pelf
Once could command respect. Caress'd by all,
His bounties were as lavish as the hand
Of yellow Ceres, till his stores decay'd,
And then ( O dismal tale!) those precious drops
Of flattery that bedew'd his spring of fortune,
Leave the sad winter of his state to fall'n,
Nor nurse the thorn from which they ne'er can hope
Again to pluck the odour-dropping rose.
For thee, Roast Beef! in variegated shapes
Have mortals toil'd.-The sailor sternly braves
The strength of Boreas, and exulting stands
Upon the sea-washed deck- with hopes inspir'd
Of yet indulging in thy wish'd for sweets,
He smiles amidst the dangers that surround him;
Cheerful he steers to cold forbidding climes,
Or to the torrid zone explores his way.
Be kind, ye Powers! and still propitious send
This paragon of feeding to our halls;
With this regal'd, who would vain-glorious wish
For towering pyramids superbly crown'd,
With jellies, syllabubs, or ice-creams rare?
These can amuse the eye, and may bestow
A short-liv'd pleasure to a palate strange;
But, for a moments pleasure, who would vend
A life-time that would else be spent in joy,
For hateful loathings and for gouty rheums,
Ever preceded by indulg'd excess?
Blest be those walls where HOSPITALITY
And welcome reign at large! There may you oft
Of social cheer partake, and love, and joy,
Pleasures that to the human mind convey
Ideal pictures of the bliss supreme:
But near the gate where Parsimony dwells,
Where ceremony cool, and brow austere,
Confront the guests, ne'er let thy foot approach;
For, void of kind Benevolence, heavenly virtue!
What is life's garden but a devious wild,
Thro' which the traveller must pass forlorn,
Unguided by the aid of friendship's ray?
Rather if poverty hold converse with thee,
To the lone garret's lofty bield ascend,
Or dive to some sad cell; there have recourse
To meagre offals, where, tho' small thy fare,
Freedom shall wing thee to a purer joy
Than banquets with superfluous dainties crown'd,
Mix'd with reserve and coolness, can afford.
But, if your better fortunes have prepar'd
Your purse with ducats, and with health thy frame,
Assemblefriends! and to the tavern straight,
Where the officious drawer, bending low,
Is passive to a fault. Then, nor the Signior grand,
Or Russia's empress, signaliz'd for war,
Can govern with more arbitrary sway.
Ye, for who health, for exercise, for air,
Oft saunter from Edina's smoke-capt spires,
And, by the grassy hill or dimpl'd brook
An appetite revive, should oft-times stray
O'er Arthurs-seat's green pastures to the town,
For sheep-heads, and bone-bridges fam'd of yore,
That in our country's annals stands yclept,
Fair Duddingstonia, where you may be blest
With simple fare and vegetative sweets,
Freed from the clamours of the busy world.
Or, if for recreation you should stray
To Leithian shore, and breathe the keener air
Wafted from Neptune's empire of the main;
If appetite invite, and cash prevail,
Ply not your joints upon the homeward track,
Till LAWSON, chiefest of the Scottish hosts!
To nimble-footed waiters give command
The cloth to lay.-Instinctively they come,
And lo! the table, wrapt in cloudy steams,
Groans with the weight of the transporting fare
That breathes frankincense on the guests around.
Now, while stern Winter holds his frigid sway,
And to a period spins the closing year;
While festivals abound,and sportive hours
Kill the remembrance of our weaning time,
Let not Intemperance, destructive fiend!
Gain entrance to your halls. -Despoiled by him,
Shall cloyed appetite, forerunner fad
Of rank disease, inveterate clasp your frame.
Contentment shall no more be known to spread
Her cherub wings round thy once happy dwelling,
But misery of thought,and racking pain,
Shall plunge you headlong to the dark abyss.