This verse was originally written in December MMX to subtly poke fun at male camaraderie, the so-called imperatives of the clubman. For as G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “…the thread of comradeship and conversation must be protected because it is so frivolous. It must be held sacred, it must not be snapped, because it is not worth tying together again. It is exactly because argument is idle that men (I mean males) must take it seriously…,” and, of course, I do not take it seriously at all.
That a gentleman has needs there is no doubt,
For he must breathe air, slake thirst, and take of meat.
He requires garments tame
To fashion on his frame,
And a house that’s both respectable and neat.
Every Sunday he’s compell’d to some repose,
That he might renew the concourse with his god.
To his confessor plead,
Pray the virgin intercede,
Then sing glory, alleluia, praise, and laud.
Domesticity befits him very well
And marital congress won’t be malign’d.
His son inspires ardour,
For his daughter, he’s a martyr,
And to spousal satisfaction he’s inclin’d.
In industry he to the town repairs,
Collects his weekly wages from his betters,
Thus employ’d his hand persists,
’Til his beating heart desists,
To provide his house with freedoms not with fetters.
He embodies all the virtues Anglo-Saxon,
Press of business and a stoic reservation.
His labours ne’er will cease,
’Til with Christ he makes his peace,
’Til his fortune’s fix’d in upward animation.
But the cultured gentleman is oft afflict’d
By the vapours spilling forth from off the sea.
And without his club and fellows,
He’d succumb to foggy gallows.
A splenetic, morbid chap he’d come to be.
So insist I do upon this solemn want,
That a gentleman withdraw from frown of trouble.
May his spirits thus replenish,
May his sorrow thus diminish,
May he happiness define and promptly double.
This excludes the ministrations of his lover
And the frolicking of children at his feet.
Drink and smoke is too desir’d,
And an atmosphere conducive to retreat.
Lots of leather, paneled walls are much in vogue,
And a hearthstone set ablaze with fiery might.
On the walls let trophies shine,
On the floor let dogs recline.
All discussion must be held in warm, dim light.
Here a man may talk of politics and parties,
Ethics, œconomics, and the derby race,
How one’s clergyman’s a coward,
How the ship of state is power’d,
And how Rochester is lewd but worth his place.
Here a man may ply his verses to his brethren
And receive the criticism that he may;
And recite his horrid prose,
Looking down his lofty nose,
Quoding Pope and Johnson, Addison and Gay.
To partake of all the pleasures there’n provid’d,
Drink his brandy or his scotch — smoke his cigar,
Eat anchovies on his toast,
Of his constitution boast,
His liver to irreparably scar!
Though he never should exceed temp’rate behaviour,
The dalliance of this bailiwick he needs.
For without it he’ll go mad
And in bedlam he’ll be had,
Where the worm upon one’s madness ever feeds.
If these principles are kept and ne’er abandon’d,
He may happiness, content, and virtue know.
He’ll be husband to his wife,
In his work there’ll be no strife,
And his fortune will not ever cease to grow.
I declare it from the seat with much pretension.
This opinion do I foster as a truth:
That a man must needs retire
To a drink, pipe, friend, and fire.
Need I furnish more than what I have as proof?