Monday, June 10, 2013


An Easy and Free Life

Charles Cotton (1630-1687), "Saphick Ode," in his Poems on Several Occasions (London: Printed for Tho. Bassett..., 1689), pp. 225-226 (line numbers added):
  How easie is his Life, and free,
  Who, urg'd by no necessity,
Eats chearfull Bread, and over night does pay
            For's next day's Crapula.

  No suitor such a mean estate      5
  Invites to be importunate,
No supple flatt'rer, robbing Villain, or
            Obstreperous Creditor.

  This man does need no Bolts nor Locks,
  Nor needs he start when any knocks,     10
But may on careless Pillow lie and snoar,
            With a wide open door.

  Trouble and Danger Wealth attend,
  An usefull but a dang'rous Friend,
Who makes us pay, e'er we can be releas'd,     15
            Quadruple Interest.

  Let's live to day then for to morrow,
  The Fool's too provident will borrow
A thing, which through Chance or Infirmity,
            'Tis odds he ne'er may see.     20

  Spend all then e'er you go to Heaven,
  So with the World you will make even;
And men discharge by dying Nature's score,
            Which done we owe no more.
3-4: "Crapula" is "the sickness or indisposition following upon a drunken or gluttonous debauch" (Oxford English Dictionary), but I have trouble understanding "over night does pay / For's next day's Crapula." Cf. Cotton's "Night. Quatrains," stanza XVIII (p. 248):
The Drunkard now supinely snores,
His load of Ale sweats through his Pores;
Yet when he wakes the Wine shall find
A Cropala remains behind.
Perhaps it simply means that, by getting a good night's sleep, the man of easy and free life doesn't have a hangover the day after moderate drinking.

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