The Careless Good Fellow

Original Text: 
John Oldham, Poems and Translations (London: Joseph Hindmarsh, 1684). B-12 6177 Fisher Rare Book Library
1A pox of this fooling, and plotting of late,
2What a pother, and stir has it kept in the state?
3Let the rabble run mad with suspicions, and fears,
4Let them scuffle, and jar, till they go by the ears:
5    Their grievances never shall trouble my pate,
6    So I can enjoy my dear bottle at quiet.
7What coxcombs were those, who would barter their ease
10Had they been but true subjects to drink, and their king;
11    A friend, and a bottle is all my design;
12    He has no room for treason, that's top-full of wine.
13I mind not the members and makers of laws,
14Let them sit or prorogue, as his majesty please:
16At my lodging, when dead, so alive I have wine:
17    Yet oft in my drink I can hardly forbear
19I mind not grave asses, who idly debate
20About right and succession, the trifles of state;
22That will trouble his head with who shall come after:
23    Come, here's to his health, and I wish he may be
24    As free from all care, and all trouble, as we.
28If the conqueror take it by storming, or gold?
30    And when the fleet's coming, I pray for a wind.
32By dull cutting of throats, and vent'ring his own;
33Let him fight and be damn'd, and make matches and treat,
34To afford the news-mongers, and coffee-house chat:
35    He's but a brave wretch, while I am more free,
36    More safe, and a thousand times happier than he.
37Come he, or the Pope, or the Devil to boot,
38Or come faggot, and stake; I care not a groat;
41    I'll drink in defiance of gibbet, and halter,
42    This is the profession, that never will alter.


8] Alluding to the martyrdom of Roman Catholics at the time of the Popish Plot; see note on Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, 108. Back to Line
9] Tyburn. The principal place of execution of malefactors in London until 1783. Back to Line
15] damn us to woollen. Charles II had, for the encouragement of the woollen industry, passed a law ordering all corpses to be buried in a woollen shroud. Back to Line
18] Alluding to taxes levied on luxuries for the expenses of government. Back to Line
21] Referring to contemporary disputes over the succession to Charles II; see notes to Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel. Back to Line
25] English foreign policy at this time was chiefly concerned with Louis XIV's military operations in the Netherlands. Back to Line
26] Sidney. Probably Algernon Sidney, formerly a republican, executed for complicity in the Rye House Plot, 1683.
D'Avaux. Ambassador of Louis XIV to Holland; later accompanied James II in his campaign against William III in Ireland. Back to Line
27] Cassel. A fort of Louis XIV in north-eastern France, near Dunkirk. Back to Line
29] Bordeaux. Where Bordeaux wine came from. Back to Line
31] bully of France. Louis XIV, whose intrigues, wars and alliances form most of the political history of the time. Back to Line
39] Smithfield. Where Protestants were burnt under the persecution of Queen Mary's reign. Back to Line
40] Mr. Fox. John Foxe, author of the Book of Martyrs (1563), an account of the victims of the Marian reaction. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.519, ed. N. J. Endicott; RPO 1996-2000.