"Drink And Be Merry"

Context: The work of Thomas Jordan, Restoration dramatist and versifier, consists largely of popular and topical verse, masques, short plays, and brief pageants glorifying the public figures of his day. Hedonism and a carefree approach to life characterize much of it. Jordan's advice did not, of course, originate with him: the attitude is as old as man. We are all familiar with the sentiments of Omar Khayyám, and several statements akin to Jordan's are to be found in the Bible. "A man hath no better thing under the sun," says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes (8:15), "than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry." Luke condemns a rich man who holds this view (12:19); and Isaiah, lamenting Jewry's destruction by Persia, describes the public hysteria in ominously modern terms: "let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die." (22:13) Jordan's poem is from a pageant (or masque) entitled Triumphs of London, which he produced in 1675 to honor the city's Lord Mayor. Replete with pomp and splendor, it culminates in a great banquet for leading public figures; after the banquet, "The Epicure" and another song are given, thus concluding the performance. "The Epicure," somewhat adapted, became popular with Sir Henry Morgan's buccaneers.

Let us drink and be merry, dance, Joke, and Rejoice,
With Claret and Sherry, Theorbo and Voice,
The changeable World to our Joy is unjust,
All Treasure uncertain, then down with your dust.
In Frollicks dispose your pounds, shillings, and pence,
For we shall be nothing a hundred years hence.