"All Learned, And All Drunk!"

Context: In "The Winter Evening," Book IV of The Task, Cowper contrasts the wholesome comfort of the winter fireside in the country with the idleness and debauch of city life (see "God made the country, and man made the town"). All the diversions of a winter evening in the city are mere devices "To palliate dulness, and give time a shove" (line 210). Like his good friends, the Methodists, Cowper severely censures such pastimes as the theater, card games, dice, and billiards. But worst of all is the public house–"through city or through town,/ Village, or hamlet . . . ev'ry twentieth pace/ Conducts th' unguarded nose to such a whiff/ Of stale debauch, forth-issuing from the styes/ That law has licens'd, as makes temp'rance reel" (lines 466-471). Here sit the cronies of the evening, "lost in curling clouds/ Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor,/ The lackey, and the groom . . ." (lines 472-474). The quoted line reads in context:

Smith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies the shears,
And he that kneads the dough; all loud alike,
All learned, and all drunk!