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Of excessive drinking, as great ranters do,
For that would turn a great wit to a sot
I meane the merry quibling o're a pot,
Which makes dull melancholy spirits be,
For criticks and great witts, good company.
Oh the ripe virtues of this barley broth!

To rich and poor, it's meat, and drink, and cloth.
The court here stopt him, and the prince did say,
Where may we find this nectar, I thee pray?
The boon good fellow answer'd I can tell,
Northallerton, in Yorkshire, does excel
All England, nay all Europe, for strong ale,
If thither we adjourn, we shall not fail
To taste such humming stuff, as, I dare say,
Your highness never tasted to this day.
They hearing this, the house agreed upon
All for adjournment to Northallerton:

Madam Bradley's was the chief house then nam'd,
There they must taste this noble ale so fam'd,
And nois'd abroad in each place far and near
Nay, take it, Bradley, for strong ale and beer
Thou hast it loose, there's none can do so well,
In brewing Ale thou dost all else excel.

Adjournment day being come, there did appear
A brave full house, Bacchus himself was there.
This nectar was brought in, each had his cup,
But at the first they did but sipple up
This rare ambrosia, but finding that
'Twas grateful to the taste and made them chat,
And laugh and talk, O then when all was out,
They call'd for more, and drank full cans about.
But in short space, such strange effects it wrought
Amongst the courtiers, as Bacchus never thought
Or dream'd upon his wise men it made fools,
And made his councellors to look like owles.
The simple sort of fellow it made prate,
And talk of court affairs, and things of state;
And those that were dull fellows, when they came,

Were now turn'd nimble orators of fame.

And such of them was thought to be no wits

Were metamorphis'd into excellent poets;

Those that were lame, and came there with a staff,
Threw't quite away, which made the prince to laugh;
The cripple which did crutches thither bring,
Without them now did hop about and sing;

Some o're the stools and forms did skip and leap,

Some knack'd their fingers, no plain word could speak, Some shak'd their legs and arms with great delight, Some curst and swore, and others they did fight;

Some antick tricks did play like a baboon,

Some knit their brows, did shake their heads and frown; Some maudlin drunken were, and wept full sore,

Others fell fast asleep, begun to snore;

Thousands of lies and stories some did tell,

Their tongues went like the clapper of a bell;
Others were tongue-ti'd, could not speak one word,
And some did cast their reckonings up at board.
Some sung aloud, and did deaf their fellows,
Making a noise worse than Vulcan's bellows;

Some were for bad talk, and some did shout;
Some mist the cup, and pour'd the liquor out,
At every word, some did their neighbours jump,
And some did often give the board a thump.
Some were all kindness-did their fellows kiss,
Some all bedaub'd their clothes, and mouths did miss,
For argument some were, and learn'd discourses,
Some talked of greyhounds, some of running horses;
Some talked of hounds, and some of cocks o'th' game,
Some nought but hawks, and setting-dogs did name.
Some talked of battles, seiges, and great warrs,
And what great wounds and cutts they had, and scarrs;
Some very zealous were, and full of devotion,
But being sober then had no such notion;
Some their were all for drinking healths about,
Some were for bargains, some for wagers laying,
Others for cards and tables cry'd for playing;
Some broke the pipes, and round about them threw,
Some smoak'd tobacco till their nose was blew.
Some in the fire fell, and sing'd their cloths,

And some fell from their seats and broke their nose.
Some could not stir a foot, did sit and glare,
Some called for musick, others were for a dance,
And some lay staring, as if in a trance.
Some call'd for victuals, others for a crust,
Some op'd their buttons, and were like to burst.
Some challeng'd all the people that were there,
And some with strange invented oaths did swear;
Others at such discourse were sore amus'd;
Some shrink'd their drink, did put away the cup,
And some took all that came-left not one sup;
Some whilest they sober were would nothing pay,
But being drunk, would all the shot defray;
Others whilest sober, were as free as any,
But when once drunk, refuse to pay one penny;
Some were for news, and how the state of things
Did stand amongst great potentates and kings;
Some all their friends and neighbours did backbite,
And some in jearing others took delight;
Some of their birth and riches made great boast,
And none but they were fit to rule the roast :

Some filled the room with noise, yet could not speak
One word of English, Latin, French, or Greek,
Or any other language, which one might
Put into sense, and understand aright;
Some laught until their eyes did run on water,
And neither they nor others knew the matter;
Some so mischievous were, they without fear,
Would give their chiefest friend a box on th' ear;
Some were so holy, that they would not hear
Words either that profane or smutty were:
Some in melancholy posture laid,

Others did cry, What is the reckoning paid?
Some burnt their hats, others the windows broke,
Some cry'd, more liquor, we are like to choake;
Lame gouty men, did dance about so spritely,
A boy of fifteen scarce could skip so lightly:
Old crampy chaps, that scarce a sword could draw,
Swore now they'd keep the King of France in awe;

And new commissions get to raise more men,
For now they swore they were grown young again;
Off went their perriwigs, coats, and rapers,

Out went the candles, noses for tapers

Serv'd to give light, whilst they did dance around,
Drinking full healths with cups upon the ground:
And still as they did dance their roundelays,
They all did cry, this drink deserves the bays
Above all liquors we have ever tasted :
It's a pity that a drop of it were wasted;
A stranger coming by, did hear the noise,
He step'd into the house to see the boys;
Such sights he saw, as he ne'er see before,
Which made him laugh until his sides were sore;
His horse did follow, and saw the quaffing,

He neigh'd aloud, and broke his girts with laughing.
These antick sights made Bacchus to admire,
And then he did begin for to enquire
What privileges were bestowed upon

This famous Ale Town of Northallerton; *
The answer was that it was known

To have four fairs i'th' year, a borough town,
One market every week, and that was all:
This mov'd Bacchus presently to call

For a great jug, which held about five quarts,
And filling it to the brim; Come, here, my hearts,
Said he, we'll drink about this merry health,

To the honour of the town, their state and wealth;

For by the essence of this drink I swear,

This town is famous for strong ale and beer;
And for the sake of this good nappy ale,

Of my great favour it shall never fail ;
For to promote the quick return of trade,
For all strong ale and beer that here is made.
So to't they went and drank full healths about,
Till they drunk money, wit, and senses out :
For whilst one drop of ale was to be had,
They quaft, and drunk it round about like mad.
When all was off, then out they pull'd the taps,
And stuck the spiddocks finely in their hats;
And so triumphantly away they went,
But they did all agree, with one consent,
To Easingwold they then away would pass,
With Nanny Driffield there to drink a glass;

Then they to famous York would haste away,
For thither they'd adjourn the court that day:
The horses were led out, they mounted all,
And each of them did for a flagon call;
Well sirs, said they, we yield, the days your own,
Wee'l try again next time we come to town.
Agree'd, the townsmen said, come when you will,
You'l find us true blue fubling bullies still;

They drank about, the townsmen pledg'd the same,
So took their leaves till they should meet again;
At parting they did kiss, and Bacchus swore
He never met with such boon blades before.

* White says, Northallerton was once famous for quoits, cricket, and spell and knurr.

Well, noble boys, said he, before 't be long
I hope our lott will be to sing a song:

Great Bacchus, when you come, the townsmen said,
Come well prepar'd, for we are not afraid.
Farewell, good lads, said he, and so away
They took their journey unto York that day.
When they to York were come, they rov'd about
From house to house, to find such nectar out
As they had tasted last, at length they heard
Of Parker's coffee-house i' th' Minster yard;
The several sorts of strong ale there would find,
Some of which ale would surely please their mind :
Come wench, said they, with strong ale we'll begin :
Sirs, said the girl, we've ale that's strong and old,
Both from Northallerton and Easingwold,
From Sutton, Thirsk, likewise Rascal Town,
We've ale also that's call'd Knocker-down,
Well bring a tankard of each in, you maid,
We'll taste them every one, the courtiers said.
The ale came in, each man a tankard had,
They tasted all and swore they were full glad,
Such stingo, nappy, pure ale they had found:
Let's lose no time, said they, but drink around;
And chear our spirits up with this good creature,
For miser est qui nummos admiratur.
About and about it went full merrily,

Till some could neither go, stand, sit, nor see.
Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur; if true,
The wisest in the company is you,

Said one, to s' opposite beyond the table,

Who was so drunk, to speak he was not able.

They called and drank till they were all high flown,
And could not find their way into the town,
They staggar'd to and fro, had such light heads
That they were guided all into their beds!
And in the morning when they did awake,

They curs'd and swore that all their heads did ach;
O Yorkshire, Yorkshire! thy ale it is so strong,
That it will kill us all if we stay long.

So they agreed a journey for to make

Into the south, some respit there to take,

But in short space again, they said, they'd come
And taste some more of the said Yorkshire hum:
Nay Bacchus swore to come he would not fail,
And glut himself with Yorkshire nappy ale;
It is so pleasant, mellow too, and fine,

That Bacchus swore he'd never more drink wine.

Now I have done, and will hold a piece on't,

That, nil hic nisi carmina desunt,

Some men will say, perhaps, here is no wit,
Let such then know, ex nihilo nihil fit.*

*The above rhyme, with a dialogue in the Yorkshire dialect, and a glossary of terms, was printed at York, in 1697, by John White, for Francis Hilyard, at the sign of the Bible, in Stonegate.

OCCASIONAL PROLOGUE:

SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW Theatre,
NORTHALLErton,

On Monday Evening, October the 6th, 1800,

BY MR. MEADOWS.

(CROSS AND DIBDIN, JUNIOR.)

The stoic's plan is futile, which requires,
Our wants supplied, by lopping our desires,
As well by this vague scheme might we propose,
Cut off your feet, 'twill save the price of shoes;
As well might we, thus courting public favour,
To gain your plaudits, lop off all endeavour,
The thought we spurn, be it our constant aim,
By assiduity to gain a name,

Your approbation points the road to fame;
Each effort use, nor e'er a moment pause,
To reap that golden harvest, your applause,

Sweet is the balm, which hope's kind aid bestows,
To lighten grief, or mitigate our woes,

To raise desponding merit, banish fear,
And from the trembler, wipe the falling tear;

To diffidence inspire its dread beguile,

And doubt extinguish, with a cheering smile;
That task be yours, my co-mates with some dread,
Depute me here their willing cause to plead,
Your fiat must our future fates control,
For here our chief has "garner'd up his soul;"
Eager to please, his throbbing heart beats high,

By you depress'd or swell'd to extacy;

Then bid the phantom fear at once depart,
And rapture revel, in his anxious heart,
From you, ye fair, who gaily circling sit,

The galaxy of beauty, and of wit,*

*

"The first toast after dinner, which I gave with three cheers, "Was success to the Town and to its Volunteers;"

I thought that the best way to finish the day,

Was to treat both myself and dear Bet to the Play,
Perhaps you may think that I'm full of my railery,
When I tell you I left her just now in the gallery;
There she is tho' she's lusty I hope she don't throng ye,
You may laugh but by jingo Bet Bouncer's among ye;
Coming down here to buy her some apples and pears,
My old friend Tom Meadows, I met on the stairs,
For all your kind favours I've oft heard him say.
No words can express them no language convey,
On his true hearty thanks you may safely depend,
And with life that his gratitude only will end.†

*The portion from the bottom of page 102 to the top of page 107 is unfortunately missing.

+The above Prologue was found in a basket of waste paper at Gisborough, and given by the finder to Mr. R. W. Fairburn, who handed it to his brother, Mr. Joseph Fairburn, of Northallerton, to whom I am indebted for a copy.-J.L.S.

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