The Maim’d Debauchee
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
As some brave Admiral, in former War
Deprived of Force, but pressed with Courage still,
Two Rival Fleets appearing from afar,
Crawls to the top of an adjacent Hill;
From whence (with Thoughts full of Concern) he views
The wise and daring Conduct of the Fight:
And each bold Action to his Mind renews,
His present Glory, and his past Delight.
From his fierce Eyes Flashes of Rage he throws,
As from black Clouds when Lightning breaks away,
Transported thinks himself amidst his Foes,
And absent, yet enjoys the bloody Day.
So, when my Days of Impotence approach,
And I’m by Love and Wine’s unlucky chance
Driv'n from the pleasing Billows of Debauch,
On the dull Shoar of lazy Temperance;
My Pains at least some Respite shall afford,
While I behold the Battlels you maintain:
When Fleets of Glases sail around the Board,
From whose Broad-sides Volleys of Wit shall rain.
Nor shall the sight of honorable Scars,
Which my too forward Valor did procure,
Frighten new-listed Soldiers from the Wars;
Past Joys have more than paid what I endure.
Should some brave Youth (worth being drunk) prove nice. nice=reluctant
And from his fair Inviter meanly shrink,
’Twould please the Ghost of my departed Vice,
If, at my Counsel, he repent and drink.
Or shou’d some cold-complexioned Sot forbid,
With his dull Morals, our Night’s brisk Alarms;
I’ll fire his Blood, by telling what I did,
When I was strong, and able to bear Arms.
I’ll tell of Whores attack’d, their Lords at home,
Bawds Quarters beaten up, and Fortress won;
Windows demolished, Watches overcome,
And handsom Ills by my Contrivance done.
With Tales like these I will such Heat inspire,
As to important Mischief shall incline;
I’ll make him long some ancient Church to fire,
And fear no Lewdness they’re called to by Wine.
Thus Statesman-like I’ll saucily impose,
And, safe from Danger, valiantly advise;
Shelter’d in Impotence, urge you to Blows,
And, being good for nothing else, be Wise.