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For ballads Elderton * never had peer ;
How went his wit in them, with how merry a gale, And with all the sails up, had he been at the cup,
And washed his beard with a pot of good ale.
And the power of it shows, no whit less in prose,
It will fill one's phrase, and set forth his tale : Fill him but a bowl, it will make his tongue troul,
For flowing speech flows from a pot of good ale.
And master philosopher, if he drink his part,
Will not trifle his time in the husk or the shale, But go to the kernel by the depth of his art,
To be found in the bottom of a pot of good ale.
Give a scholar of Oxford a pot of sixteen,
And put him to prove that an ape hath no tail, And sixteen times better his wit will be seen,
If you fetch him from Botley a pot of good ale.
Thus it helps speech and wit, and it hurts not a whit,
But rather doth further the virtues morale ; Then think it not much, if a little I touch
The good moral parts of a pot of good ale.
To the church and religion it is a good friend,
Or else our forefathers their wisdom did fail, That at every mile, next to the church-stile,
Set a consecrate house to a pot of good ale.
* [Of this toping ballad-monger some account is given by Dr. Percy, in the fourth edition of his Reliques, vol. ii. p. 208.]
But now, as they say, beer bears it away ;
The more is the pity, if right might prevail ;
The old catholic-drink is a pot of good ale.
The churches much owe, as we all do know,
For when they 'be drooping and ready to fall,
And owe their repairing to a pot of good ale.
Truth will do it right, it brings truth to light,
many bad matters it helps to reveal ; For they that will drink, will speak what they think:
Tom Tell-troth lies hid in a pot of good ale.
It is Justice's friend, she will it commend,
For all is here served by measure and tale ;
And next I alledge it is Fortitude's edge,
For a very cow-herd, that shrinks like a snail, Will swear and will swagger, and out goes
his dagger, If he be but arm’d with a pot of good ale.
Yea, ale hath her knights and 'squires of degree,
That never wore corslet, nor yet shirt of mail, But have fought their fights all, 'twixt the pot and the
wall, When once they were dub’d with a pot of good ale.
* (Whitsun-ale and Church-ale were feasts held at Whitsuntide, and at the consecration or repair of a parish church.]
And sure it will make a man suddenly wise,
Ere-while was scarce able to tell a right tale ; It will open his jaw, he will tell you the law,
As made a right bencher of a pot of good ale.
Or he that will make a bargain to gain,
In buying or setting his goods forth to sale, Must not plod in the mire, but sit by the fire,
And seal up his match with a pot of good ale.
But for soberness, needs must I confess,
and few do prevail Not to go too deep, but temper to keep,
Such is the attractive of a pot of good ale.
But here's an amends, which will make all friends,
And ever doth tend to the best avail : If you take it too deep, it will make you but sleep;
So comes no great harm of a pot of good ale.
If, reeling, they happen to fall to the ground,
The fall is not great, they may hold by the rail ; If into the water, they cannot be drown’d,
For that gift is given to a pot of good ale.
If drinking about, they chance to fall out,
Fear not that alarm, though flesh be but frail ; It will prove but some blows, or at most a bloody nose,
And friends again straight with a pot of good ale.
And physic will favour ale, as it is bound,
And be against beer both tooth and nail; They send up and down, all over the town,
To get for their patients a pot of good ale.
Their ale-berries, caudles, and possets each one,
And syllabubs made at the milking-pail, Although they be many, beer comes not in
any, But all are compos'd with a pot of good ale.
And, in very deed, the hop's but a weed,
Brought o'er against law, and here set to sale : Would the law were renew'd, and no more beer brew'd,
But all men betake them to a pot of good ale !
The law that will take it under his wing,
For, at every law-day, or moot of the hale,
In the ancient office of conner of ale.
There's never a lord of a manor or town,
By strand or by land, by hill or by dale, But thinks it a franchise, and a flow'r of the crown,
To hold the assize of a pot of good ale.
And though there lie writs from the courts paramount,
To stay the proceedings of the courts paravaile ;* Law favours it so, you may come, you may go,
There lies no prohibition to a pot of good ale.
They talk much of state, both early and late;
But the state it must stand by a pot of good ale.
* [Paramount and paravail seem to be here used for the superior aud inferior courts of law.]
But they say that sit by it are good men and quiet,
No dangerous plotters in the common-weal,
Than to call for, and pay for, a pot of good ale.
To the praise of Gambrivius, that good British king,
That devis’d for the nation (by the Welshmen's tale) Seventeen hundred years before Christ did spring,
The happy invention of a pot of good ale.
The North they will praise it, and praise it with passion,
Where every river gives name to a dale ; There men are yet living that are of th’ old fashion,
No nectar they know but a pot of good ale.
The Picts and the Scots for ale were at lots,
So high was the skill, and so kept under seal ; The Picts were undone, slain each mother's son,
For not teaching the Scots to make hether-ale.
But hither and thither, it skills not much whither;
For drink must be had, men live not by kail, Nor by haver-banocks, nor by haver-janocks;
The thing the Scots live on is a pot of good ale.
Now, if ye will say it, I will not denay it,
That many a man it brings to his bale ;
Than to die by the part of a pot of good ale.
Yet let not the innocent bear any blame,
It is their own doings to break o'er the pale : And neither the malt, nor the good wife in fault,
If any be potted with a pot of good ale.