‘Be not among wine-bibbers; among riotous eaters of
flesh; for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to
poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.’
Proverbs, 23: 20, 21
I’ll tell you two fortunes, my fine little lad,
For you to accept or refuse.
The one of them good, and the other one bad;
Now hear them, and say which you choose!
I see by my gift, within reach of your hand,
A fortune right fair to behold;
A house and a hundred good acres of land,
With harvest fields yellow as gold.
I see a great orchard, the boughs hanging down
With apples of russet and red;
I see droves of cattle, some white and brown,
But all of them sleek and well-fed.
I see doves and swallows about the barn doors,
See the fanning-mill whirling so fast,
See men that are threshing the wheat on the floors;
And now the bright picture is past!
And I see, rising dismally up in the place
Of the beautiful house and the land,
A man with a fire-red nose on his face,
And a little brown jug in his hand!
Oh! if you beheld him, my lad, you would wish
That he were less wretched to see;
For his boot-toes, they gape like the mouth of a fish,
And his trousers are out at the knee!
In walking he staggers, now this way, now that,
And his eyes they stand out like a bug’s,
And he wears an old coat and a battered-in hat,
And I think that the fault is the jug’s!
For our text says the drunkard shall come to be poor,
And drowsiness clothes men with rags;
And he doesn’t look much like a man, I am sure,
Who has honest hard cash in his bags.
Now which will you choose? to be thrifty and snug,
And to be right side up with your dish;
Or to go with your eyes like the eyes of a bug,
And your shoes like the mouth of a fish!