Come, neighbour, take a walk with me,
Thro' many a London Street;
And see the cause of penury,
In hundreds we shall meet.
We shall not need to travel far—
Behold that great man's door;
He well discerns that idle crew,
From the deserving poor.
He will relieve with liberal hand
The child of honest thrift:
But where long scores at Gin-ships stand
He will with-hold his gift
Behold that shivering female there,
Who plies her woeful trade!
'Tis ten to one you'll find that Gin
That hopeless wretch has made.
Look down those steps, and view below
Yon cellar under ground;
There every want, and every woe,
And every Sin, is found.
Those little wretches trembling there,
With hunger and with cold,
Were by their parents love of drink,
To Sin and Misery sold...
To prison dire misfortunes oft
The guiltless debtor bring;
Yet oft'ner far it will be found
From Gin the misery springs.
See the pale Manufact'rer there,
How lank and lean he lies!
How haggard is his sickly cheek!
How dim his hollow eyes!
He plied the loom with good success,
His wages still were high;
Twice what the village lab'rer gains,
His master did supply.
No book-debts kept him from his cash,
All paid as soon as due;
His wages on the Saturday
To fail be never knew.
How amply had his gains sufficed,
On wife and children spent!
But all must for his pleasure go;
All to the Gin-shop went.
See that apprentice, young in years;
But hackney'd long in sin,
What made him rob his master's till?
Alas! 'twas love of Gin.
That serving Man—I knew him once,
So jaunty, spruce, and smart!
Why did he steal, and pawn the plate?
'Twas Gin ensnared his heart.
But hark! what dismal sound is that?
'Tis Saint Sepulchre's bell!
It tolls, alas! for human guilt,
Some malefactor's knell
O! woeful sound, O! what could cause,
Such punishment and sin?
Hark! hear his words, he owns the cause—
Bad Company and Gin.
And when the future Lot is fixed,
Of darkness, fire and chains,
How can the drunkard hope to 'scape
Those everlasting pains?
For if the murderer's doomed to woe,
As holy writ declares,
The Drunkard with Self-murderers
That dreadful portion shares.
Stanzas from the (long) original as selected in Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Anthology
ed. Roger Lonsdale. Interestingly, the Oxford Text Archive
transcribes a version set in Dublin, and bemoaning the ills of whiskey.
Today's poem is brought to you by end-of-semester G&Ts with various colleagues, including an impromptu lesson on the social history of gin by Lecturer 18th c. You may wish to accompany this poem with Hogarth's 'Beer Street and Gin Lane'