It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish. Charles Baudelaire
The Bible tells us that wine is a mocker and beer a brawler, and whoever is led astray by them is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). Which is likely why those suffering from drunkenness are made fun of as they pick fights and do foolish things.
Drunk as a … Lord
This Hogarth print was so popular it spawned the play “A Modern Midnight Conversation, taken from Hogarth’s celebrated Print,” which was acted at Covent Garden. The caption on the print reads:
Think not to find one meant resemblance here,
We lash the Vices, but the Persons spare.
Prints should be prized, as Authors should be read,
Who sharply smile prevailing Folly dead.
So Rabilais [sic] taught, and so Cervantes thought,
So Nature dictated what Art has taught.
Drunk as an … Emperor
Ten times as drunk as a lord.
Here we find Byzantine Emperor Zeno so completely gone he is taken for dead and buried. When sounds are heard from his tomb, however, the plot thickens: his wife Ariadne tells people to take no notice. So this level of drinking will get you buried alive.
Drunk as a … Wheelbarrow
Totally incapacitated with drink.
This phrase implies “you’re so drunk, you shan’t make it home save for the aid of a wheelbarrow,” the humble yet sturdy transportation device for the obviously cup-shot. When you’re so drunk you can’t even stay in a wheelbarrow, you are most assuredly flying the flag of defiance (to purloin another cant phrase).
- Learn all about the (in)famous Hogarth print at La Clé des langues.
- Slang term definitions taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue and Online Etymological Dictionary.
- To learn more about the life and times of Ariadne and Zeno, check out Europe in Two Volumes, with Sixty-Eight Maps, etc., by Savoy, and History of the Later Roman Empire by J. B. Bury (chapter 13).
- Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard” had much to say about being drunk as …, and the 2 Nerdy History Girls wrote about it here.