Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for the People

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: James Burns, 1843.

II. The Teetotallers.

And so the Teetotallers meet here to-day!
Well! they talk very big, and they look very gay;
And they tease me to join them from morning till night;
But first I've one question, and that's--Is it right?

They talk a great deal about taking the vow,
How they once used to drink, and are temperate now;
Well! I can't see the virtue, or glory at least,
Of promising not to turn into a beast.

Or supposing there were,--they have taken before
All the vows they now take, ay, and very much more:
Not from drinking alone, but all sin to abstain;
When they first were baptis'd--and why take it again?

God's command is what all men at once should obey,
Not to drink to excess;--do they keep it? Not they!
They make a new vow for themselves, and then think
They are vastly good Christians in keeping from drink!

I should just like to ask these same excellent men,
Why they vow but to keep one command out of ten?
Why, a man may lie, curse, steal, or swear, if he will,
And yet be a perfect Teetotaller still!

It is just the same thing as if I were to say,
"My boys, go and work in my orchard to-day:
There is plenty of fruit on the trees--but take care
That you don't, for your lives, touch an apple or pear."

Says Jack, "Oh! no, father! But don't you mistake--
We won't touch the fruit,--but it's not for your sake:
It's because we've agreed not an apple to pick!"--
D'ye think I should thank him, or give him the stick?

Or suppose that young Bill, like a rogue, should reply:
"Touch the apples? your apples? dear father, not I!
Touch the apples who will, I for one won't go shares;"--
I should think, Why, most likely he'll set on the pears.

There is but one vow God commands us to take,
When we first are baptis'd, which we never must break;
So may those who make new ones be left in the lurch!
There's but one Temp'rance Union, and that is--the Church!

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