The Disabled Debauchee
by John Wilmot (1647-1680)
As some brave Admiral, in former War
Depriv’d 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 Pox and Wine’s unlucky chance
Forc’d from the pleasing Billows of Debauch
On the Dull Shore of lazy Temperance;
My pains at least some respite shall afford
While I behold the Battles you maintain,
When Fleets of Glasses Sail about 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-lifted Soldiers from the Wars;
Past joys have more than paid what I endure.
Should hopeful youths, worth being drunk, prove nice,
And from their fair Inviters meanly shrink;
Twill please the Ghost of my departed Vice
If, at my counsel, they repent, and Drink.
Or should some cold complexion’d Sot forbid,
With his Dull Morals, your bold Night-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;
Bauds Quarters beaten up, and Fortress won:
Windows demolish’d, Watches overcome;
And handsome Ills, by my contrivance, done.
Nor shall our Love-fits Cloris be forgot,
When each the well-look’d Linkboy strove t’enjoy;
And the best Kiss was the deciding Lot,
Whether the Boy Fuck’d you, or I the Boy.
With Tales like these, I will such thoughts inspire
As to important mischief shall incline;
I’ll make him long some Ancient Church to fire,
And fear no lewdness he’s call’d to by Wine.
Thus, Statesman-like, I’ll saucily Impose,
And, safe from Action, valiantly Advise;
Shelter’d in Impotence, urge you to blows:
And being good for nothing else, be Wise.