The Connoisseurs

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

A quarrel rose, both long and loud,

A well-stocked wine-cellar within,

Where wine-bibbers--a goodly crowd--

Tasted and argued, talked and sipped again.

The occasion was, that many tried

Veterans their voices did combine,

With obstinacy, rude and flagrant,

That no such drinks our times supplied,

No such delicious, luscious wine,

As days gone
by--so generous, fine,

So ripe, so mellow and so fragrant.

In the opinion of the rest,

The later wines were deemed the best.

Their opponents' theory they abuse;

Their notion termed exaggeration,--

Mere trashy, idle declamation

Picked up from interested Jews,

Who glosing tales for cheatery use.

Of either side the rabid hum

The cellar filled to overflowing;

When an old toper chanced to come--

A famous connoisseur and knowing.

Said he then,--letting slip an oath,--

"By jolly Bacchus, the divine,"--

Among such worthies 'tis a strong one--

"Better than I, for choice of wine,

No one is fitted, by my troth,

To tell the right one from the wrong one.

So cease, good friends, your idle din.

You see that I am from Navarre.

In cask, or bottle, jug or skin,

Hogshead or tub, or earthen jar,

I've tasted of the juice of grape,

Of every kind, in every shape.

To taste, distinguish and to judge,

And surely to lay down the law,

In any vintage, I'll not grudge,

From Xeres' plains to Tudela.

From Malaga unto Peralta,

From the Canary Isles to Malta,

From Valdepenas to Oporto,

Their wines I know--and many more, too.

I tell you now, 'tis folly great

To think that every cask of wine,

Which on its head bears ancient date,

By age will mellow and refine.

Time cannot make the poor wine good;

If mean it was, in its first hour,

It will be washy still and crude,

In nothing changed, but turning sour.

Worth no jot more this hour, you know,

Than vinegar a century ago.

New wines, from time to time, there are,--

Though some despise for being new,--

Which very safely may compare

With any wines that ever grew.

Those you despise--although surpassed,

Occasionally, in times long past,

By certain vintages--yet may

Tickle the palates of a future day.

Enough--to settle the dispute--

Bad wine I hold in low repute,

And ever do eschew.

But when 'tis good, I drain the flask;

And never vex myself to ask,

If it be old or new."

* * * * *

Many a learned bore

Keeps up a constant bother;

One praising ancient lore--

Modern alone, another.

By no such foolish question vexed,

I take the jolly toper's text;

The good, whate'er it is, I use;

The bad, without a word, refuse.