1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Debauchee.

Town and Country Magazine 3 (March 1771) 158.

W. Porden


In this imitation of L'Allegro the Debauchee calls aloud for love, liquor, and music: "This, ye gods, this, this is pleasure, | Thus will I employ my treasure: | Life's a span, and time still flying, | Let me never think of dying." Thus the first three stanzas: in the second three the vices catch up with the speaker, who concludes, "Welcome then thou dreadful death." I have not identified W. Porden.

Compare "The Picture of a Debauchee" published in Town and Country Magazine 5 (January 1773) 48, another Milton imitation that amplifies this theme while suppressing W. Porden's moralistic conclusion.



Come, ye nymphs, who're brisk and airy,
Handsome, tender, wanton, merry;
Come in flowing, loose attire,
Come and fan my raging fire;
Let me on your bosom press,
Height of joy and happiness:
Sages may their books approve,
All my study shall be love.

Jolly Bacchus too attend,
Thou'rt the jovial lover's friend;
Bring thy mirth-inspiring liquor;
Bring it — faster — move thee quicker;
Let me drown my thirsty soul;
Come, ye nymphs, and kiss the bowl,
Make the gods in concert join,
Love is always fir'd by wine.

Music's vot'ries next advance,
Leave the mazes of the dance,
All your instruments prepare,
Play the soft, the tender air;
Soothe my love with harmony;
Hark, ye nymphs, what melody!
Music's charms, with sparkling wine,
Shall, to heighten love, combine.

This, ye gods, this, this is pleasure,
Thus will I employ my treasure:
Life's a span, and time still flying,
Let me never think of dying;
But enjoy the good possessing,
Riches! Heaven's greatest blessing:
Music's charms, and love, and wine,
All in riches will combine.

But, oh! what pains do now assail me!
All my limbs and senses fail me!
Rack'd and tortur'd all over,
I now more can act the lover;
All my follies now o'er take me,
Mirth and pleasure quite forsake me:
Music seems no more divine,
Tasteless too is sparkling wine.

Oh! to late, I see my error,
In Experience's mirrour!
How my precious time I've wasted!
How to swift destruction hasted!
Diamonds, rubies, glittering gold,
Sapphires, pearls, in which I roll'd,
Cannot stay my fleeting breath:
Welcome then thou dreadful Death.

[p. 158]