Nicholas Amhurst Poems >>
The Bottle-Scrue

The Patten, Fan, and Petticoat,
Three modern Themes of special Note,
In parlous Rhimes immortal live,
If Rhimes immortal Life can give;
The Mouse--Trap in sonorous lays
Trensmits thro' Ages Taffy's praise;
While still unsung in pompous Strains,
Oh! shame! the Bottle--scrue remains,
The Bottle--scrue, whose Worth, whose Use,
All Men confess, that love the Juice;
Forgotten sleeps the Man, to whom
We owe th' Invention, in his Tomb,
No publick Honours grace his Name,
No pious Bard records his Fame,
Elate with Pride and Joy I see
The deathless Task reserv'd for me.

Say, gentle Muse, in living Song,
Whence First this useful Engine sprung,
And Thou, who (if report speak true)
In Pocket always bear'st thy Scrue,
Accept, D---l---ne, in youthful Lays,
The Homage which the Poet pays.

Once on a Time, of mortal Men,
(No Matter where, no Matter when)
There liv'd a jolly, Country Vicar,
Who lov'd the Church and eke his Liquor,
What was his Name, I do not read
In Baker, Hollinshead, or Speed,
But thro' the Progress of our Poem,
By Name of Roger you must know him,

Some little Faults this Roger had,
But of the Dead, mum! nothing bad;
As that he rarely paid his Debts,
And others which the Muse forgets;
Our Business 'tis his Faults to hide,
And only shew his better Side.

All Writers in this Point agree,
That he was jovisant and free,
A merry Wight! and after Mass,
Would smoke his Pipe, and drink his Glass:
Oft fond of Mirth and Conversation,
Or press'd by courteous Invitation,
To neighb'ring Farmers he'd repair,
And spend a winter Ev'ning there;
Sometimes of grizly Sprights would talk,
That in white Sheets at Midnight walk,
'Till all the list'ning Children groan,
And dare not go to Bed alone;
Sometimes would on the Musick play,
Or Putt, to pass the Time away,
Sometimes to ravish'd Clowns would speak
Mouthfuls of Latin, and of Greek,
His Logick shew and Classick Knowledge,
And tell of merry Freaks at College;
Play with the Louts at Christmas Games,
And in their Absence--with their Dames
For wary Clerks learn all these Arts
To gain Esteem, and conquer Hearts.

It chanc'd, as old Traditions say,
That on a certain Holiday,
The 'Squire, designing to carouse,
Some Friends invited to his House;
Amongst the rest, as was most fitting,
To sanctify the merry Meeting,
The Parson, If we credit Fame,
Was sent for and precisely came.

Supper now waited on the Board,
The Guests stand round, and at the Word,
Sir Roger, with a solemn Face,
Held forth his Hat, and ton'd a Grace,
He said, and Hemming thrice aloud,
Sate down, and venerably Bow'd.

Plain, not luxurious was the Feast,
But what a gen'rous Heart confess'd;
First, on the Dish sublimely rear'd,
The famous British Loin appear'd,
Whose worth our loftiest Praise deserves,
Great Builder of the Warrior's Nerves!
Two Turkies next the Footman bore,
Which lately gobbled at the Door,
But oh! how very short their Span?
Unhappy Fowls! the Food of Man!
The careful Matron, from whose Hand
To peck the Grain they wont to stand,
From Weeping scarcely could refrain,
To see her pretty Poultry slain.
The Feast a Dish of Wild--fowl crown'd'
Which on the neighb'ring woody Ground,
The 'Squire himself had lately kill'd,
A Sportsman, most exactly skill'd;
Full oft, unerring from afar,
Forth trudg'd he to the Sylvan War,
In search of Foes, with ruthless Mind,
Dreaded by all the feather'd Kind,
For let 'em that way fly or this,
Seldom the 'Squire was known to miss.

Thus far premis'd, 'tis now high Time
To check our long--digressing Rhime,
The Task intended to pursue,
And of our Tale resume the Clue;
Wherefore the Supper now was over,
And Thomas brought up the October;
The hoary Bottle seem'd to tell,
That all within was Ripe and Well;
When studious to extract the Cork,
Sir Roger set his Teeth to work;
This way and that the Cork he ply'd,
And wrench'd in vain from side to side;
In vain his ivory Grinders strain'd,
For still unmov'd the Cork remain'd;
And as a Chieftain stout in Fight
Exerts his utmost, warlike Might,
Loth to desert his destin'd Post,
And see his ravish'd Honours lost,
So did the Cork maintain the Field;
And scorn'd to human Force to yield,
Still kept the Seat, each Shock repress'd,
Which in the Cellar it possess'd.
At length, enrag'd with foul Defeat,
The Levite burn'd with fiercer Heat,
And grown by Thirst more Valiant far,
He meditates a second War;
Firm on the spungy Cork he plac'd
His doubty Thumb, and downward press'd
The yielding Wood;--but oh! dire luck!
Fast in its Place his own Thumb stuck.
Loudly the pleas'd Spectators laugh'd,
With Pain and Shame the Parson chaf'd,
Long did he strive, with adverse Fate,
His captive Thumb to extricate,
Nor could his Liberty regain,
'Till Hammer broke the glassy Chain;
Leave to withdraw the Priest desir'd,
And Bowing, sullingly retir'd.

Homewards with flying Steps he sped,
Smoak'd half a Pipe, and went to Bed,
Where pond'ring for a while he lay
On the Miscarriage of the Day;
At length the Shades of Sleep arise,
And gently Seal his closing Eyes:
Now thro' the Gloom of pitchy Night
There stood presented to his Sight,
Or seem'd to stand, the God of Wine,
Known by his Thyrsus and his Vine,
Which clust'ring round his ample Head,
His broad impurled Cheeks o'erspread,
This Hand a Cork--Scrue did contain,
And that a Bottle of Champaign;
He sat Majestick 'cross his Tun,
And said, ``Hail! dearest rev'rend Son.
``Whose bulky Paunch and rosy Face
``Proclaim thee of the toping Race,
``Behold in me thy darling God,
``At whose Imperial, awful Nod,
``Immortal Deities get Drunk,
``And lewdly Rave for mortal Punck,
``Your grosser Flesh and Blood put on,
``And tread on solid Nerves and Bone,
``Scorn their own thin, unbody'd Dames,
``And Scorch in sensual, human Flames,
``For we, to give Mankind their due,
``Love a tit Bit, as well as you.

``Last Night (for we above, you know,
``See all Things that are done below)
``I saw thy concious Shame and Grief,
``And come to minister Relief;
``For lo! this crooked Instrument
``All future Mischief shall prevent.
Thus, with a Smile, kind Bacchus spoke,
And in his Hand the Weapon took,
He slipt it o'er his Finger--joint,
And to the Cork apply'd the Point,
Gently he turn'd it round and round,
'Till in the Midst its Spires were wound,
Then bending earthward low, betwixt
His Knees the Bottle firmly fixt,
And giving it a sudden Jerk,
From its close Prison wrench'd the Cork:
The Wine now issu'd at Command,
When, with a Bumper in his Hand,
Your Health, Sir Roger, quoth the God,
Sir Roger gave a reverend Nod,
In a full Brimmer pledg'd his Guest.
And gravely toasted--to the Best.
They Chat together, Drink and Fill,
And like two Inkle--weavers Swill,
'Till both begin to hang the Lip,
See double, stare like Pigs, and clip;
Then, hugging, take a parting Glass,
(But dream--wise all this came to pass)
His Deity reel'd home to Heav'n,
And Master Roger wak'd at Sev'n.

Up strait he got, in joyous hast,
And recollecting what had pass'd,
How with a God he spent the Night.
His Heart exalted with Delight,
Each Circumstance, their Talk, their Wine,
Prov'd his late Visitor divine,
The Thought of which celestial Favour,
Gave a new Turn to his Behaviour,
Wore off the Gloom of last Night's Spleen,
Intent to form the new Machine.

But first, to his nocturnal Guest
This short Petition he address'd;
``Thrice honour'd Pow'r! whose drunken Sway
``The jovial Sons of Earth obey,
``If yet the racy Fumes are fled,
``Which seiz'd last Night thy gracious Head,
``The Hint, which then you kindly gave,
``Accomplish and oblige your Slave.
``For the great Work my Arm inspire,
``To bend aright the stubborn Wire,
``To grind the Edge, no easy Thing!
``And for the Finger shape the Ring;
``So Yearly, at thy hollow'd Shrine,
``I'll sacrifice a Tun of Wine.

He spoke, and with his lifted Eyes
Saw the God posting from the Skies.

Now to the mighty Task he sets
His Hands, and o'er the Anvil sweats,
First puts the Iron in the Fire,
And hammers out the glowing Wire,
Then tortures it in Curls around,
As Tendrils on the Vine are found,
Sharpens the Bottom, rounds the Top,
And finish'd bears it from the Shop;
Well--pleas'd, a Bottle--scrue he names it,
And sacred to the God proclaims it.

This curious Engine, says the Priest,
Shall stretch my Fame from West to East,
Me the Fox--hunting, tipling 'Squire,
And punning Curate shall admire;
Me shall the raking Templer praise,
And Altars to my Glory raise,
When privately he treats his Whore,
And this fam'd Scrue secures the Door;
By me shall Birmingham become
In future Days, more fam'd than Rome,
Shall owe to me her Reputation,
And serve with Bottle--scrues the Nation.