1805
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Deserted Dram Shop.

Port Folio 5 (12 January 1805) 8.

C.


A parody of Goldsmith's The Deserted Village, signed "C." This political poem is part of the Port Folio's ongoing attack on Thomas Jefferson and his democratic political party. In the wake of Jefferson's triumphant reelection in 1804, patronage at the Dram Shop has fallen off badly, as political bribes are no longer being administered: "How often have I bless'd each rainy day, | When toil, remitting, lent its turn to play, | And all the sweating train from labour come | To praise the president, — inspir'd by rum; | While drunken democrats with fury prate, | Th' ignorant listening, as the wise debate." In addition to fueling political contests, alcohol was a perennial topic of burlesque poetry.



Dear —! noisiest dram shop of the plain,
Where Rum and Brandy cheer'd the staggering swain,
Where tippling sots their earliest visit paid,
And drunken guests the parting hour delay'd:
Dear lowly seat of drunkenness and vice,
Where every sport some virtue could entice;
How often have I stagger'd o'er thy floor,
When my own wretchedness was felt no more!
How often have I held the empty mug,
Paus'd o'er the wooden bench, and broken jug;
The never-failing keg, the busy spoon,
The sign, the red-nosed image of the moon,
The spreading elm, with seats beneath the shade,
For sickening, staff-supported, drunkards made!
How often have I bless'd each rainy day,
When toil, remitting, lent its turn to play,
And all the sweating train from labour come
To praise the president, — inspir'd by rum;
While drunken democrats with fury prate,
Th' ignorant listening, as the wise debate,
Whose zeal increas'd, whose arguments grew sound,
With every mug of toddy that went round,
And still, as every repeated falsehood tir'd,
Succeeding lies were offer'd, and admir'd,
The tippling patriots, who sought renown,
By holding out, to drink each other down,
Unmindful of their country, friends, or home,
While flowing mugs were handed round the room—
The tapster's prying glances on the floor,
To see who's drunk, or has not paid his score—
These were thy charms, sweet Dram shop! guests like these,
With drunken strife, taught politics to please;
These round thy walls their staggering partners led,
These were thy charms — but all these charms are fled.

Dear lowly Dram shop! loveliest of the lawn,
Thy flip is fled, and all thy guests are gone;
Amid thy casks Sir Richard's hand appears,
And draining kegs demand our rising tears;
The lonely landlord drains the dernier drop,
His trembling hand uplifts the half-fill'd cup,
No more the dram with sparkling brightness glows,
But as he sips the muddy current flows.
Along thy path, a solitary sot
Now pensive walks, and mourns thy hapless lot,
Now from his course averts his watery eye,
Looks at thy door, and hickups out a sigh,
To see the silent haunt, and broken seat,
Where, lousy politicians us'd to meet;
Who, now no more to writs and duns a prey,
Are made the petty tyrants of the day.

Ill fares the ruler — soon his power decays,
Who dares do right, nor court the rabble's praise;
Reason and Truth his conduct may commend,
Falsehood opposes, and obtains its end;
But Prejudice, upheld by foolish Pride,
When once 'tis fix'd, is never set aside.

A time there was, ere demos rul'd the state,
When here they met to tipple and debate;
For them the candidate his rum would pour,
Give just enough to lay them on the floor;
Their best design, th' election to promote,
And their best wealth, a democratic vote.
But times are chang'd, new rulers are elected;
Along thy path no more the noisy throng
At midnight roar the bacchanalian song;
No more their drunken shouts my ears invade,
But solemn silence saddens in thy shade.
Those tippling trains, whom bribery bade to come,
Those humble guests, who ask'd for nought but rum,
Those sots, who drank when every mug went round,
Stept at each step, and lengthen'd on the ground;
These all to Monticello now have flown,
And left the landlord to get drunk alone.

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