The Doubtful Case of Abstinence and Temperance — with the Umpire's Opinion


As long as there are wells and springs,
And clear, refreshing fountains,
As long as mighty rivers run
To ocean, from the mountains,
As long as seas give back to clouds
The rains that form the river,
We'll drink our draughts of water pure,
And bless the bounteous Giver.


As long as vineyards yield the grape,
And nectarines grow mellow,
As long as apples load the trees,
And barley-fields are yellow,
We'll drink our cider, ale, or mead,
And wine, the best of liquors,
And press whatever juice we please
To fill our flowing bickers.


Let those who toast the lords of war,
And demi-gods of battle,
Prefer the draught of fiery wine,
And make the tables rattle;
We drink to men of fearful deeds,
To men abhorring slaughter,
The civilizers of the Earth,
And — here's to them! — in water!

Let those whose fitful passions rove
From new to newer beauty,
Drink to their changeful loves in wine,
And scorn the charms of duty;
We drink the mild domestic hearth,
The wife, the son, the daughter —
The bright fireside of honest men —
And — here's to it! — in water!


Let you, who are so puling weak —
So lost to self-reliance,
As not to trust your own resolve
To bid excess defiance;
Drink, if you will, at pumps and wells,
Lest use of wine should hurt you;
We'll taste the blessings Heaven has sent,
Nor think denial virtue.

Poor souls! you fear not other men,
You dread internal treason,
But if you starved for fear you'd choke,
You'd show as much of reason.
We too can honor virtuous love,
And fame unbought of slaughter —
We'll drink to both in wholesome wine;
And wash ourselves in water!


Like every umpire ever named,
A doubtful case to settle,
I can but say, I like ye both,
Oh goblet! and oh kettle! —
Whene'er I drink to honest hearts,
I'll drink with equal pleasure,
The limpid water from the brook,
Or wine in flowing measure.

Let those, who, masters of themselves,
Can use without abusing,
Drink the good wine whate'er it be —
I leave it to their choosing.
But those who feel their want of strength,
When woo'd by potions richer,
Are wise if they confine their draughts
To water from the pitcher.
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