If ever preface might serve for an apology, certainly this ought to do so. The bare title of the book is enough to have it universally cried down, and to give the world an ill opinion of its author; for people will not be backward to say, that he who writes the Praise of Drunkenness, must be a drunkard by profession; and who, by discoursing on such a subject, did nothing but what was in his own trade, and resolved not to move out of his own sphere, not unlike Baldwin, a shoe-maker’s son, (and a shoe-maker), in the days of vi yore, who published a treatise on the shoes of the ancients, having a firm resolution strictly to observe this precept, Ne sutor ultra crepidam.
To this I answer, I am very well contented, that the world should believe me as much a drunkard, as Erasmus, who wrote The Praise of Folly, was a fool, and weigh me in the same balance.
But some will say, what good can a man propose to himself in being a panegyrist for drunkenness? To solve this difficulty I shall make use of a comparison.
M. Pelisson, in his History of the French Academy, says, that Menage did not compose that famous Requete des Dictionaires, in which he ridicules all the academics, on account of any aversion he had to them, but purely to vii divert himself, and not to lose the witty turns that came into his head upon that subject. In the same manner, I declare that I did not undertake this work on account of any zeal I have for wine, you must think, but only to divert myself, and not to lose a great many curious remarks I have made upon this most catholic liquid.
It may farther be objected, that this work is so stuffed with quotations, that they hinder the book itself from being seen; like what I heard say of a country fellow, who complained when he left London, that he could not see it for the houses. As an excuse for all the others, I shall make use of one quotation more, and this I shall borrow from Mr. Bayle.1 “There is no room to doubt,” says he, “but some readers will judge, that there are a little too many quotations viii in this work, which is no less a disorder, they will say, than what happens in some cities, where the strangers are more numerous than the citizens. But of what importance is it to travellers, that such disorder appears in any country, provided they find in it honest folks. There is no reason why reading may not be compared to travelling. We should therefore be very little concerned, whether, according to the ancient country frugality, we are entertained with what is of its proper growth; or if, instead of the flesh of domestic animals, and the fruits of our own vineyards and gardens, we are served with what comes from the market. That which really is of consequence is, that the meat be wholesome and well dressed, and the wine good, &c. Unde habeat quærat nemo, sufficit habere.”
As to the rest, I am very far from the sentiments of a certain writer, who having found in ix his book one fault only, consulted one of his friends, whether he should put down Errata or Erratum. For my part, I subscribe with all my heart to the Errata of Benserade, and in his words frankly own, that
Pour moy, parmi des fautes innombrables,
Je n’en connois que deux considerables,
Et dont je fais ma declaration,
C’est l’entreprise et l’execution,
A mon avis fautes irreparables,
En ce volume.
Though num’rous faults I see in this small book,
(And so may any one that will but look),
I know but two of much consideration,
Of which I here make public declaration,
The undertaking and the execution,
Faults too extravagant for absolution.
1. Pref. des Rep. aux Quest. d’un Pr. T. 1.xi
CHAP. I. That one must be Merry
CHAPII. That Wine drives away Sorrow, and excites Mirth
CHAP. III. That it is good for one’s Health to get Drunk sometimes
CHAP. IV. That old People ought to get Drunk sometimes
CHAP. V. That Wine creates Wit
CHAP. VI. That Wine makes one Eloquent
CHAP. VII. That Wine acquires Friends, and reconciles Enemies
CHAP. VIII. That the Custom of getting Drunk is most ancient
CHAP. IX. That the Primitive Christians got Drunk
CHAP. X. Of Churchmen
CHAP. XI. Of Popes, Saints, and Bishops, that used to get Drunk
CHAP. XII. A Catalogue of some illustrious Topers
CHAP. XIII. Of Philosophers that used to get Drunk
CHAP. XIV. Of Poets that used to get Drunk
CHAP. XV. Of Free Masons, and other learned Men, that used to get Drunk
CHAP. XVI. Of Nations that used to get Drunk
CHAP. XVII. Of the Drunkenness of the Germans
CHAP. XVIII. Of Nations that get Drunk with certain Liquors
CHAP. XIX. Other Considerations in favour of Drunkenness
CHAP. XX. An Answer to the Objection, That Drunkenness causes infinite Evils
CHAP. XXI. An Answer to the Objection, That the Mirth which Wine inspires is chimerical
CHAP. XXII. An Answer to the Objection, That one loses one’s Reason in getting Drunk
CHAP. XXIII. An Answer to the Objection, That one cannot trust a Man that gets Drunk
CHAP. XXIV. An Answer to the Objection, That Drunkenness makes one incapable of performing the Duties of civil Life
CHAP. XXV. Burlesque, ridiculous, and out-of-the-Way-Thoughts against Drunkenness
CHAP. XXVI. A ridiculous Aversion that some have to Wine
CHAP. XXVII. Rigorous Laws against Wine and Drunkenness
CHAP. XXVIII. Rules to be observed in getting Drunk. I. Not too often. II. In good Company
CHAP. XXIX. Third Rule, With good Wine
CHAP. XXX. Fourth Rule, At convenient Times
CHAP. XXXI. Fifth Rule, To force no one to drink
CHAP. XXXII. Sixth Rule, Not to push Drunkenness too far
THAT ONE MUST BE MERRY.
If on one hand I have reason to fear that the title of this book will offend the delicate ears of a great many, and make them say, that no vice ever wanted its advocate, Nullo vitio unquam defuit advocatus; I am not, perhaps, less exposed on the other to the criticisms of as many folks, who will probably apply to me that which was said heretofore to one in Lacedemonia, who had a mind to make an 2 encomium on Hercules, viz. Who ever blamed Hercules?
Quis Herculem vituperavit?
However, though I should have no readers at all, yet am I resolved to continue my discourse at the hazard, in some manner, of imitating Pyrrho the philosopher, who one day, as he was haranguing the people, seeing himself abandoned by all his auditors, pursued very magnanimously his declamation to the end. To enter, therefore, upon the present subject, I lay down this as my first position, viz. That it is lawful to get drunk sometimes. Which I prove thus:—
Sadness is in the highest degree prejudicial to health, and causes abundance of distempers. There is no one ignorant of this truth. Joy (or mirth) on the contrary, prevents and forces them away. It is, as the Arabians say, the flower and spirit of a brisk and lively health1. Let us run over, and examine all the different states of life, and we shall be forced to own, that there is not one of them all but what is 3 subject to chagrin and sadness; and, consequently, that joy, or mirth, is most necessary to men. Which very probably the philosopher had in his head, when he defined man a risible animal. But be that as it will, one must certainly look upon that maxim which recommends mingling of pleasures with the affairs of life as a very wise one.
Sometimes with mirth and pleasure lard your cares2.
We shall confirm this precept by a beautiful passage out of Seneca, whose writings most certainly contain no loose morality, and which is as follows:— “The soul must not be always bent: one must sometimes allow it a little pleasure. Socrates was not ashamed to pass the time with children. Cato enjoyed himself in drinking plentifully, when his mind had been too much wearied out in public affairs. Scipio knew very well how to move that body, so much inured to wars and triumphs, without breaking it, as some now-a-days do, with more than womanly pleasures; but as people did in past times, who would 4 make themselves merry on their festivals, by leading a dance really worthy men of those days, whence could ensue no reproach, when even their very enemies had seen them dance. One must allow the mind some recreation: it makes it more gay and peaceful. And as it is not good too much to cultivate soil the most fertile, least, by yielding too large crops, it may soon run to decay and ruin: so in the same manner is the mind broken by a continued labour and application. Those who respite a little, regain their strength. Assiduity of labour begets a languor and bluntness of the mind: for sleep is very necessary to refresh us, and yet he that would do nothing else but sleep night and day, would be a dead man and no more. There is a great deal of difference between loosening a thing, and quite unravelling it. Those who made laws have instituted , to oblige people to appear at public rejoicings, in order to mingle with their cares a necessary temperament. There have been several very great men (as I have mentioned) who would set apart certain days of the month for that end; and some others, who had every day set hours for 5 work, and other set hours for recreation. One must therefore allow the mind some recreation. One must allow it some repose and leisure, which may serve for new strength and nourishment. You must sometimes walk in the open air, that the mind may exalt itself by viewing the heavens, and breathing the air at your ease; sometimes take the air in your chariot, the roads and the change of the country will re-establish you in your vigour; or you may eat and drink a little more plentifully than usual. Sometimes one must go even as far as to get drunk; not, indeed, with an intention to drown ourselves in wine, but to drown our cares. For wine drives away sorrow and care, and goes and fetches them up from the bottom of the soul. And as drunkenness cures some distempers, so, in like manner, it is a sovereign remedy for our sorrows3.”
It must be confessed, indeed, that properly speaking, this passage of Seneca is levelled only against too great assiduity in labour and business; the application, however, is very just, in relation 6 to chagrin, which causes in men’s minds a far greater alteration than can be excited by the most rude labour either of mind or body.
The ancients had, besides this, another motive which induced them to make merry, and pass their time agreeably. They considered the short duration of their life, and for that reason endeavoured to make the best use of it they could. It will be no difficult matter for me to prove what I here advance.
Every one knows that the Egyptians made use of a very extraordinary custom in their festivals. They shewed to every guest a skeleton: this, according to some, was to make them think of death. Others again assure us, “That this strange figure was made use of to a quite contrary end; that this image of death was shewn for no other intent but to excite them to pass away their life merrily, and to employ the few days of its small duration to the best advantage; as having no other condition to expect after death, but that of this frightful skeleton4.”
This last sentiment is, without doubt, most 7 probable; for what likelihood is there that people would make reflections the most sad and serious, at a time when they proposed only to divert, and make themselves merry. This influence had the sight of a skull upon the mind of Trimalchion, who Petronius5 tells us, thus expressed himself on that object:— “Alas! alas! wretched that we are! what a nothing is poor man! we shall be all like this, when Fate shall have snatched us hence. Let us therefore rejoice, and be merry while we are here.” The Latin is much stronger:—
Heu! heu! nos miseros! quam totus homuncio nil est,
Sic erimus cuncti, postquam nos auferet orcus.
Ergo vivamus, dum licet esse, bene.
A little before he said almost the same thing. “Alas! wine therefore lives longer than man, let us then sit down and drink bumpers; life and wine are the same thing.” Heu! heu! ergo diutius vivit vinum, quam homuncio. Quare Tangomenas faciamus, vita vinum est. This 8 puts me in mind of what Athenæus6 reports of an Egyptian, called Mycernius. This man having been told by the oracle that he had but a very short time to live, resolved to make the most of that short space, and to that end did nothing but drink night and day.
This thought of an approaching death is not so importunate as is believed, since it is, says an7 anonymous French author, a principal beauty of an ancient hymn of the poet Cecilius. “Let me be assured, says he, that I shall live six months, and I shall employ them so well, as to die the seventh without any regret in the world.”
The same author goes on thus:— “The moderns have not failed imitating the elegant flights of the fine wits of the ancient Greeks and Romans. I find, especially, that the Italians come nearer to them; perhaps, because they are more proper than others to refine on pleasure. This is the character of the nation, of the truth of which I shall give no other proof than the last lines of an elegy, written by 9 Samazarius, a Neapolitan gentleman.” The sense of which in English runs thus.
Since vig’rous youth, all blooming, brisk, and gay,
Excites our tender souls to sport and play,
Let’s taste ambrosial pleasures while we may.
Those joys to which our souls are most inclin’d,
And suit the throbbing passions of the mind.
Let’s love while soft ecstatic fires engage,
And shew us lovers on the world’s great stage,
Dull reason only suits with frightful age.
And see, she comes, for ever to destroy,
For ever all our bliss, and all our joy.
Unwelcome age comes on with swiftest pace;
Let’s then prevent this wretched sad disgrace.
O may the terrors of approaching fate,
Excite new fires, inspire fresh vig’rous heat;
That love may sov’reign reign in ev’ry part,
And drive unworthy weakness from our heart.
Thrice happy, if surpriz’d by death one day,
Absorpt in sweetest bliss we die away.
But to return to my subject. We are told for certain, that the Scythians used to drink out of a skull; and probably they had the same design in doing so as the Egyptians had in looking on their skeletons. But leaving these 10 objects, which cannot be very diverting, in what view soever one may consider them, let us come to the Romans. Gruter tells us in his Inscriptions8, that they used to cry out at their feasts,
That is, “Friends, while we live, let us be merry.” For Raderus has evidently made it appear, by several examples out of Catullus, Cecilius, Varro, Anacreon, and other ancient authors, that vivere, or to live, signifies to make merry, to give one’s self up to all kinds of pleasures, making good cheer, &c.
I know not whether the Gascogns, who pronouncing the V consonant like B, instead of Vivis et regnas in secula seculorum, say (as I have been informed, how true it is I know not) Bibis et regnas in secula seculorum, are of the same sentiment with Raderus in this point: but very probably that good honest German 11 was, who in a kind of ecstasy over a bottle cry’d out,
O felices populi, quorum vivere est bibere!
However, to prove this, as also at the same time to confirm what has been said above, in relation to the motives that induced people of old times to make merry, I shall instance some passages of the ancients. But first let us not omit this inscription in Gruter9, which is not much unlike the former.
VIVE, HOSPES, DUM LICET, ATQUE VALE.
“Be merry, landlord, and enjoy yourself while ’tis in your power, as for the rest, adieu.”
Martial says somewhere, “Be merry , depend not on to-morrow.”
Sera nimis vita est crastina, vive hodie.
Catullus expresses much the same sentiments in these beautiful verses:—
Rumoresq; senum severiorum,12
Omnes estimemus assis.
Soles occidere et redire possunt;
Nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
Nox est perpetua una dormienda.”9a
“Let us be merry ————
And all the rigid cant of peevish age,
Count as poor straws that on the surface float.
The sun may roll his swift diurnal course,
And from the ocean raise again his head,
But when our glimm’ring lamp of life’s expir’d,
One long perpetual night we then must sleep.”
Horace, in several places, says how we ought (according to him) to employ to the best advantage the little time we have to live; but especially in one of his odes, which in English would run thus.
“All things hereto invite. Come, come, away,
Let’s seize the present hours, nor vainly care
For future time, but wisely, only fear
To lose of life one short uncertain day,
Or moment, which in death must soon decay,
No human force can her strict laws withstand:
Her cruel rigour no one spares,
The blooming cheek, and hoary hairs,
Alike submit to her victorious hand.13
O’er all she bears unbounded sway,
All her impartial scythe relentless mows:
Th’ ill-manner’d tyranness no difference shows,
Betwixt imperial and plebeian clay.
When we the dark and dismal beach
Of dreaded floods below shall reach,
And vain cold phantoms quiv’ring stand,
In those sad gloomy shades of night,
No Cynthia’s charms will then command,
Nor Iris with her angel’s voice delight;
Nor Doris with soft dying languors move.
These dreary realms exclude, alas! for ever love.
Nor are there any boon companions there,
To laugh, and sing, and make good cheer:
There shall we taste no more that wondrous juice,
That nectar which the blessed vines produce,
The height of all our joy, and wishes here.
Nor those sweet entertainments gay,
When by the glass inspir’d so many kings,
We tope, and speak, and do heroic things,
And count ourselves more happy far than they.
These days of ours the fatal sisters spin,
To consecrate to love and wine,14
Let’s now, e’er ’tis too late begin.
Alas! without these pow’rs divine
What should one do with a vain useless thread?
What does it aught avail to breathe and move?
One had as good be dead,
Much better be no more, than not to drink and love.”
I shall close this chapter with one of the Anacreontic odes of the famous Monsieur La Motte, author of the Fables Nouvelles, lately translated into English under the title of “Court Fables.”
“Bûvons, amis, le temps s’enfuit,
Menageons bien ce court espace.
Peut-etre une eternelle nuit
Eteindra le jour qui se passe.
Peut-etre que Caron demain
Nous recevra tous dans sa barque,
Saisissons un moment certain.
C’est autant de pris sur la parque.
A l’envi laissons-nous saisir,
Aux transports d’une douce ivresse:
si c’est un plaisir,
Que ce soit folie ou sagesse.”
“Let’s drink, my friends, time flies away,
Let’s husband well this little space;
For what we know, this very day
May to eternal night give place.
Let’s snatch from Fate one certain minute,
Perhaps to-morrow Charon’s wherry,
May every mother’s son take in it,
And waft us o’er the Stygian ferry.
In giddy transports without measure
With wine lets drown all melancholy.
No matter if it be a pleasure,
Whether ’tis wisdom call’d, or folly.”
1. Elle est, comme disent les Arabes, la fleur et l’esprit de la santé vive et remuante.
2. Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis.
3. Seneca de Tranquilitate.
4. Histoire de Sept Sages, &c. p. 137.
5. Chap. 34.
6. Lib. 10. cap. 10.
7. Reflex. sur les Morts Plais. p. 22.
8. P. 609.
9. P. 699.
9a. Catullus V.1-6: (Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus)
THAT WINE DRIVES AWAY SORROW AND EXCITES MIRTH.
Of all the means proper to drive away sorrow, and excite mirth in the minds of men, wine is certainly the most agreeable and efficacious.
For in the first place it banishes all manner of cares, and makes us entirely forget them, producing the same effect as the waters of the River Lethe on those souls which were destined to enter into other bodies.
—————— Animæ quibus altera fato
Corpora debentur, Lethei ad fluminis undam
Securos latices, et longa oblivio potant1.
—————— Those souls which Fate decrees
Shall other bodies take, upon the strand
Of Lethe sit, and drink secure the flood,
And long oblivion.
For the same reason, undoubtedly, Isidore defined drunkenness a certain forgetfulness caused in the mind, through indulgence of immoderate drinking. His words are these:— Ebrietas est per quam menti quædam oblivio generatur ex superfluorum potuum indulgentia2
A certain French poet3 sings thus much in the same tune:—
“Oui, Thirsis, le vin qui nous fait rejeunir,
Et qui bannit de nos pensees;
Le regret de choses ,
Et le crainte de l’avenir.”
Yes, Thirsis, ’tis the vine’s prolific juice
Can youth and beauty re-produce,
Banish the sad regret of former years,
And of futurity the fears.
In the next place, wine is a sovereign remedy against a particular species of sorrow or chagrin, I mean a sort of inward wearisomeness, which the French call ennui. I shall explain myself a little farther, and for my expositor I cannot make choice of a fitter person than Mr. de St. 18 Evremont4, who, after having discoursed a little on this subject, adds, “That good cheer with one’s friends, is a sovereign remedy against this kind of chagrin; for besides that conversation at such times becomes more free and gay, it insensibly sweetens it. It is certain that wine rouses up the forces of nature, and gives our soul a vigour capable to drive away all sorts of uneasiness. I know very well that certain morose people, at least externally so, and in appearance, will shew a great deal of aversion for a remedy, the delights of which they do not, however, too much despise. But all grimace aside. I don’t trouble myself with their ill-understood severities, since the most severe philosopher in the world has advised us to make use of this remedy; and the most morose of our illustrious men have submitted, if we may say so, their most austere virtues to the charms of this sweet pleasure; and the most well-bred people have not disdained its usage.”
In a word, (I must speak a little French now and then,)19
5Le vin fait que les annees,
Nous durent moins que les journees.
Wine makes whole years to pass away,
And seem much shorter than one day.
But it does more than all this, it even assuages choler; it is an admirable cataplasm for rage. To cite a vast number of examples to prove this important truth would be superfluous. Amongst the many illustrious ones I could instance, I shall content myself to mention that of the Emperor Maximin6, who, having been declared an enemy to the people of Rome, by the senate, fell into such a rage and fury, that no other way could be thought on to bring him back to his natural temper than by making him drunk.
But let us return to the two principal qualities of wine, which consist in driving away care and sorrow, and exciting mirth and joy.
A certain French author7 has a few verses on 20 this subject, which, as not mal-apropos, I shall here insert. Talking of the good qualities of wine, he says,—
“Tu sais, mon cher Thirsis, qu’il a le privilege
D’etouffer les ennuis dont l’aigreur nous assiege.
Et que cette liqueur chasse de nos esprits,
Tous les facheux pensers dont nous sommes surpris,
C’est ce qui nous oblige a cherir la bouteille.”
You know, dear Thirsis, and full well you know,
To wine this privilege we owe,
It stifles all those sad invading cares
Which irksome chagrin ever wears.
This sprightful liquid makes us brisk and gay,
And drives effectually away
Those thoughts vexatious that surprise our soul,
And makes us cherish the full bowl.
Seneca, whom I have mentioned in the foregoing chapter, confirms what has been said, “Sometimes,” says he, “one must go even so far as drunkenness; not, indeed, that it may drown us, but drown our cares: for drunkenness washes away care, and moves the very bottom of the soul. And as it is a sovereign remedy 21 against some distempers, so is it a perfect cure for heaviness and Nonnunquam usque ad ebrietatem veniendum, non ut mergat nos, sed ut deprimat curas. Eluit enim curas, et ab imo animæ movet, et ut morbis quibusdam, ita tristitiæ medetur8. On this account certainly it was, Pliny maintained that Nepenthe, whose virtues Homer so much exaggerates, was nothing in the world but generous wine.
Horace, in like manner, insists that wine is the only proper expeller of the most racking cares.
Mordaces aliter diffugiunt sollicitudines9.
Nor otherwise are cank’ring cares remov’d.
And thus advises the sage Plancus to have recourse to this remedy:—
“Sic tu sapiens finire memento
Tristitiam, vitæque labores
Molli, Plance, mero.”9a
So, thou, sage Plancus, this memento keep,
To lull the cares and toils of life asleep
With cordial juleps of old mellow wine;
The grand and universal anodyne.
In another place he thus beautifully sounds the praises of drunkenness:—
“Ebrietas quid non designat? operta recludit
Spes jubet esse ratas: in prælia trudit inertem,
Sollicitis animis onus eximit: addocet artes.
Facundi calices, quem non fecere disertum?
Contracta quem non in paupertate solutum.”9b
In drunkenness what pow’rful magic lies,
What’s most envelop’d from researching eyes,
(Transparent thing!) it evidently shows,
The innocent no dark disguises knows.
By her commands our hopes maturely rise,
Push’d on to war the coward dauntless dies,
And sinking minds beneath unwieldy care,
Cast off the load, and move with sprightful air.
To her, all arts their origin must owe:
What wretch so dull but eloquent must grow,
When the full goblets with persuasive wine,
Inebriate with bright elegance divine,
The drunken beggars plume like proudest kings,
And the poor tipsy slave in fetters sings.
After all this, will any one accuse me for a plagiary, and that I steal from the most common places? No matter. I have company enough: do not all modern authors do so? However, I shall not, for all that, pass over in silence what Ovid has said of this same drunkenness. The passage is this:—
“Vina parant animos, faciuntque coloribus aptos.
Cura fugit, multo diluiturque mero.
Tunc veniunt risus, tunc pauper cornua sumit,
Tunc dolor et curæ, rugaque frontis abit.
Tunc aperit mentes, ævo rarissima nostro
Simplicitas, artes excutiente Deo.”9c
As I am nothing less than a poet, I shall not presume to dance with the Nine Sisters, to make use of the thought of the ingenious Sarasin. However, here follows an Ode of Anacreon, which may supply the place of a translation of those verses of Ovid.
When I hold a full glass in my hand,
I laugh and I merrily sing;
I think I have sov’reign command
And the treasures possess of a king.24
Let who will try their fate in the field,
In war all their days let them pass:
No arms but the bottle I’ll ,
Fill, boy, then, a thundering glass,
If Bacchus the victory gain,
On the ground tho’ I’m motionless laid;
All agree it, a truth very plain,
’Tis better be drunk than be dead.
And very probably the Greek philosopher had wine in view, when he caused an inscription to be made over his door in these words, in capitals, “Here are remedies for all sorts of afflictions: here are cures for all distempers of the soul.”
The philosopher so often quoted by Seneca, desired no more than bread and cheese, to rival Jupiter in happiness. For my part, though I am no less a philosopher, yet I desire nothing to effect this but good wine. For when I take a hearty glass, I find myself so much transported with joy, that I could almost cry out 25 with that little fool in the Latin comedy10, “Now could I pardon any one that would kill me, so much afraid am I lest some accident may trouble the purity of my happiness, and mingle some ungrateful bitter with the exquisite sweets I now enjoy.” And, indeed, it is amongst bottles and glasses that one may truly say,
———— “Mediis videat discumbere in astris,
Cum Jove, et Iliacâ porrectum sumere dextrâ
Far from the earth remov’d in realms above,
I seem amongst the stars to sit with Jove:
Lolling in ease celestial, lie supine,
And taste from Ganymede immortal wine.
And without doubt Asclepiades had all this in his head, when he maintained that the gods produced nothing that equalled wine in goodness. Philostratus is much of the same sentiment, who after having taken notice of the edict of the 26 Emperor Domitian, who forbad men to be castrated, and vines to be planted, he adds, that this admirable emperor did not reflect that he made the earth in some sort an eunuch, at the same time that he spared men.
Varro sounded the praise of drunkenness in terms no less pathetic.
“Vino nil quicquam jucundius eluet,
Hoc continet coagulum convivii;
Hoc hilaritatis dulce seminarium
Hoc ægritudinem ad medendam invenerunt.”11a
Than wine no orient jewels finer play,
And dart more pleasantly their glittering ray.
This vital juice, the cream of all the feast,
Strong cement, close uniting every breast,
The sweet prolific seed of gay desires,
Bright mirth, and gen’rous amity inspires.
This was found out a certain remedy
To set mankind from all distempers free.
Monsieur La Motte, whom I must ever admire for his inimitable Court Fables, before mentioned, will furnish us with a beautiful ode to close this chapter12.27
“Bacchus contre moi tout conspire,
Viens me consoler de mes maux:
Je vois au mépris de la lire
Couronner d’indignes rivaux.
Tout me rend la vie importune
Une volage me trahit,
J’eus peu de bien de la fortune,
L’injustice me le ravit.
Mon plus cher ami m’abandonne,
En vain j’implore son secours,
Et la calomnie empoisonne.
Le reste de mes tristes jours.
Bacchus viens me verser a boire
Encore——bon——je suis soulagé,
Chaque coup m’ôte la
Des maux qui m’avoient affligé.
Verse encore——je vois l’allegresse
Nager sur le jus precieux.
Donne, redouble——O douce yvresse!
Je suis plus heureux que les dieux.”
Help, Bacchus, or I’m quite undone,
All things against my peace conspire;
Unworthy rivals many a one,
I find, despising song and lyre.28
My life’s entirely irksome grown,
By an inconstant I’m betray’d,
On that small fortune, once my own,
Injustice has severely prey’d.
Forsaken by my dearest friend,
In vain his succour I implore;
And calumnies rank poisons send,
And what is left of life devour.
Bacchus, some wine; fill higher yet
Again——so——I some comfort find;
Each smiling glass makes me forget
Those evils that have rack’d my mind.
Some more——I see gay images
On the rich surface sprightly move,
Fill double——O sweet drunkenness!
I’m happier than the gods above.
1. Virgil. Æneid. lib. vi. v. 713.
2. Lib. 3. Etymol.
3. Rec. Poes.
4. Miscel. vol. i.
5. Rec. de Poes.
6. Jul. Capit. Hist. Aug. Script. fol. p. 359.
7. Nicol. Rec. de Vers. p. 44.
8. Seneca de Tranquil.
9. Lib. i. ode 18.
9a. Horace, Odes I.vii.17-19.
9b. Horace, Epistulae I.v.16-20.
9c. Ovid, Ars Amatoria I.237-242
10. Nunc est profecto cum me patior interfici, ne hoc gaudium aliquâ contaminetur ægritudine. —Eunuch.
11. Statii Sil. 2. lib. iv.
11a. Varro, Menippean Satires, fragment from Est modus matulae.
12. Ode ix. Anacr.
THAT IT IS GOOD FOR ONE’S HEALTH TO GET DRUNK SOMETIMES.
Although mirth and joy be absolutely necessary to health, yet it must be allowed that there are a great many pleasures very injurious and prejudicial to it; and we should act with precaution in using those we make choice of1. But this precaution is not necessary in those we seek in the sweet juice of the grape. So far is drunkenness from prejudicing our health, that, on the contrary, it highly preserves it. This is the sentiment of the most able physicians. These worthy gentlemen are arbiters of life and death. They have over us, jus vitæ et necis. We must therefore believe them. Ergo, let us heartily 30 carouse. Every one knows that Hippocrates, the prince of physicians, prescribes getting drunk once a month, as a thing very necessary to the conservation of health; for, according to him, in the words of a certain French lady 2,
“Une utile et douce chaleur
Fait qu’on pense au sortir de table
Avoir pris de cet or potable,
Qui triomphe des ans, qui chasse la douleur,
Qui fait tout, et qui par malheur
N’a jamais été qu’une fable.”
When from the bottle, flush’d with wine, we rise,
The brisk effluvia brighten in our eyes;
This sweet and useful warmth still makes us think,
That cups of potable rich gold we drink,
Which baffles time, and triumphs over years,
Drives away grief, and sad perplexing cares;
Does all, and yet in fables sweet disguise,
O dire mishap! its only essence lies.
“Avicenna and Rasis, most excellent physicians of Arabia, say3, that it is a thing very salutary and wholesome to get drunk sometimes.”31
Monsieur Hofman confirms what has been just now said in relation to Avicenna, and adds thereto the testimony of another physician. “Avicenna,” says he4, “absolutely approves getting drunk once or twice every month, and alleges for it physical reasons.”—Dioscorides says, “That drunkenness is not always hurtful, but that very often it is necessary for the conservation of health.”—Homer says, “That Nestor, who lived so long, tossed off huge bocals of wine5.”
Monsieur Hofman believes also, that wine is an excellent preservative against distempers, and of an admirable use in their cure. In like manner, several divines believe, that there is no manner of harm in getting drunk, when it is done for health’s sake and not for pleasure. In this class one may reckon Pere Taverne, a Jesuit6. These are his words: “Drunkenness,” says he, “is a mortal sin, if one falls into it for pleasure only; but if one gets drunk for any 32 honest end, as for example, by direction of one’s physician in order to recover health, there is no manner of harm in it at all.”
But, however, not to digress too much from our subject, to preserve their health the Africans drink a great deal of wine; and this they do to help the digestion of the vast quantity of fruits they eat.
Montaigne7 us, that he heard Silvius, an excellent physician of Paris, say, to keep up the powers of the stomach, that they faint not, it would be very proper to rouze them up once a month by this wholesome excess. And if we believe Regnier, a young physician does not see so far as an old drunkard8.
We also say with the French poet9,
“Si Bourdaloue10 un peu severe
Nous dit: craignez la volupté
Escobar10, lui dit on mon pere
Nous la permet pour la !”
If Bourdaloue, somewhat severe,
Warns us to dread voluptuous sweets,
Good honest father Escobar,
To fuddle for one’s health permits.
And, by the bye, if the number of physicians, who used to get drunk, proves any thing, I could insert a good round catalogue, amongst whom I do not find any English doctors, for they are the most abstemious persons in the world; however, being unwilling to trouble my gentle reader with so long a bead-roll, I shall instance only two very illustrious topers of the faculty. The first is no less a man than the great Paracelsus, who used to get drunk very often; and the other is the famous master Dr. Francis Rabelais, who took a singular pleasure to moisten his clay; or to make use of one of his own expressions, Humer le piot.
I could, after these, mention Patin11, who tells us, That when he gave his public entertainment for his decanat, or deanship, at which thirty-six of his colleagues assisted, he never saw in all his life so much toping. From all which, 34 however, one may very reasonably infer, that so many able persons would never have drunk so much, had they not thought it was no ways prejudicial to their health.
To conclude, let any one allege this verse as a maxim, that
Pocula non lædunt paucula, multa nocent.
It does no harm to take a glass or two,
But in great numbers mighty ills accrue.
And I shall do myself the honour to answer him with another verse, that sometimes
Una salus sanis multam potare salutem12.
The only health to people hale and sound,
Is to have many a tippling health go round.
And that this is true, witness the great Hippocrates, who says,
That what to health conduceth best,
Is fuddling once a month at least13.
1. Voluptates ut mel summo digito degustandæ non plerâ manu sumendæ. Dionys. Sophron. apud Philostr.
2. Mad. Deshoul. t. ii. ep. p. 104.
3. Div. Lec. de P. Messie, part ii. ch. 15.
4. Hofman, t. ii. 9 dissert. ch. 6.
5. Bocal, an Italian word, and signifies a pot or jug holding about three pints.
6. Synopses Theolog. Pract.
7. Essays, lib. ii. cap. 2.
10. The names of two jesuits, the former a famous preacher, and the other as famous a casuist.
11. Esprit de Pat. p. 51.
12. Owen, Ep. John Owen (1564-1622): possibly I.ii.42.
13. faut a chaque mois.
Du moin s’enyvrer une fois.
THAT OLD PEOPLE OUGHT TO GET DRUNK SOMETIMES.
Wine taken with some excess is excellent for old people.
—— Ubi jam validis quassatum est viribus ævi
Corpus et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus1.
When shaken by the powerful force of age
The body languid grows, and ev’ry joint
Its proper juice exhal’d, all feeble droops.
And is not the reason plain? because it moistens their dry temperament, and nourishes their radical moisture. Hence came the proverb, which says, “That wine is the milk of old men2.” 36 Tirellus, in his history, declares the same thing, when he says, “That wine is the nutriment of natural heat3.” Conformably to this truth that old man acted, of whom Seneca makes mention, who being pressed to drink wine cooled in snow, said, “That his age made him cold enough, and that he did not desire to be more cold than he was4.” Than which, certainly no answer could be more just and true.
Besides, the infirmities of an advanced age require some consolation and diversion. Let us see what Montaigne says, who was not much given to tippling; for he plainly says, that his gout and complexion were greater enemies to drunkenness than his discourse. His words are these, “The inconveniencies attending old age, which stand in need of some support and refreshment, might with reason produce in me a desire of this faculty, since it is as it were the last pleasure that the course of years steals from us. The natural heat, say the boon companions, begins first at the feet; this is the case of infancy; thence it 37 ascends to the middle region, where it continues a long while, and there produces in my mind the only true pleasures of the corporal life; at last exhaling itself like a vapour, it moves upwards, till it comes to the throat, and there it makes its last little stay5.”
Athenæus, after Theophrastus, says, That wine drives away those irksome inquietudes to which old people are unhappily subject6. And to conclude, the divine Plato assures us, that, “Wine is a medicine as well for the body as the mind, the dryness of old people have great occasion for this kind of moistening, and their severe genius of the brisk gaiety inspired by wine, without which they would not be able to perform their part in the concert, and consequently would be no longer useful members in the commonwealth, which is no other ways supported and preserved than by harmony.”
1. Lucret. lib. iii.
2. Vinum lac senum.
3. Vina calidi innati pabula.
4. Ætas meo frigore contenta est.
5. Essays, lib. ii. cap. 2.
6. Lib. xi. cap. 7.
THAT WINE CREATES WIT.
As wine increases the quantity of animal spirits, by the fumes which it sends to the brain, it is easy to comprehend that it cannot but be of great advantage to dull and heavy wits; so that one may particularly apply to them the common proverb, “Wine sets an edge to wit1.” And the emblem of Adr. Junius, in which he represents Bacchus as a youth with wings on, and with this inscription, “Wine kindles wit2,” agrees admirably well with these people. But the application of both proverb and emblem is no less just in relation to all the world; for it is most certain, that the god Bacchus, by warming the thoughts, renders them more acute, and inspires a greater plenty of witty 39 sallies. For “Bacchus had not the name of Lysian, or Opener, if I may use the term, bestowed upon him for nothing but purely because he opens the mind, by putting it into an agreeable humour, and renders it more subtile and judicious3.” For this reason it is grown into a proverb, That water-drinkers are not near so knowing as those who drink wine4.
Plutarch assures us, That wine collects and increases the powers of the mind. He observes also, That it produces excellent effects on the minds of persons, who, though naturally timid, want no penetration. Plato maintains, as I have observed in the foregoing chapter, That wine warms as well the mind as the body. Monsieur Hofman says a great deal more, viz. experience proves, that those climates which produce good wine, produce also people that infinitely more wit than those of the north, who drink nothing but beer. Gryllus believes, That the Greeks were called fathers 40 of wisdom, on account of the excellency of their wine; and, that they lost their ancient lustre by reason of the Turks rooting out their vines. The Heathens placed Pallas and Bacchus in the same temple, to shew, that wine increased their wisdom, and that the Gods were represented wiser than men, only because they drank nectar and ambrosia.”
In respect of poets the world was always so sensible of the necessity they lay under, of having their imagination roused by wine, that nobody ever had any good opinion of the productions of a poet that drank water, that Non est Dythyrambus si aquam bibat; and wine was called the poets great horse. “There never were any excellent poets,” says Mr. Bayle, “that could versify, till after drinking pretty plentifully5.”
And if we believe Plato, “He could never open the gates of poesy till he was a little beyond himself. The soul can speak nothing grand, or above the common, if it be not somewhat agitated6.”41
Horace7, who knew by experience this truth, goes yet farther.
Nulla placere diu, nec vivere carmina possint,
Quæ scribuntur aquæ potoribus.
Poor water-drinkers sing an irksome tune,
Short-liv’d their numbers, and their airs jejune.
Ovid bewailed himself very bitterly for want of wine in his exile.
“Impetus ille sacer, qui vatum pectora nutrit
Qui prius in nobis esse solebat, abest.”7a
That sacred rage that feeds a poet’s breast,
Common to me, is now no more possest.
La Motte8, my beloved Frenchman, has something not unlike it.
“Loin une raison trop timide
Les froids poetes qu’elle guide42
Languissent et tombent souvent.
Venez yvresse ,
Transports ignorez du
Tels que vous m’agitiez vivant.”
Away, too fearful reason, haste, be gone,
Those frozen poets, whom thy phantoms guide,
Languish, and often feebly slide,
Down to the lowest ebb of wretchless song,
Insipid notes, and lifeless numbers sing.
O come, sweet drunkenness, thou heady thing,
With transports to the vulgar herd unknown,
Which agitates my soul, and gives it wing.
With kind enthusiasms then ecstatic grown,
It takes unusual flights, sublimely soars,
Spurns the dull globe below, and endless worlds explores.
One may very well apply to Bacchus, what the same gentleman says of the graces in this ode9.
“Tout fleurit par vous au Parnasse,
Apollon languit, et nous glace,
Sitot que vous l’avez quitté,
Mieux que les traits les plus sublimes
Vous allez verser sur mes rimes
Le don de l’immortalité
The sprightly influence you shed,
Bright constellation! makes Parnassus gay.
Apollo droops and hangs his head,
His frozen fingers know not how to play;
And we his sons the sad distemper find,
Which chills the fancy, and benumbs the mind,
When cruel you withdraw your magic ray.
You finely paint on ev’ry rhyme
Features most noble and sublime,
Resplendent all the images,
In rich immortal draperies.
You give me colours that can never die,
But baffle time, and live through all eternity.
It is to wine we owe the productions of Eschylus and Anacreon, whose muses were very chilly, till Bacchus warmed them. Aurelius, the sophist, composed his best declamations in his cups. Herodes, called Saginatus Orator, the fattened Orator, never talked better, than after drinking pretty plentifully. And according to Horace, this was the case with Ennius.
“Ennius ipse pater nunquam nisi potus ad arma
Prosiluit dicenda —————— 10.”
Ennius himself ne’er sung of arms,
Martial exploits and wars alarms,
Till the good father’s face did shine,
Enrich’d with ruby beams of wine.
Alcæus, the famous poet, never sat down to compose tragedy till he was tipsy. The disciples of the great Paracelsus took the opportunity, when he was fuddled, to make him dictate. The venerable Messire Francis Rabelais composed over the bottle the acts and jests of Gargantua, and his son Pantagruel, a work which gained him such great reputation. “Pontius de Thiard, bishop of Chalons sur Saone, had greater obligations to Bacchus than Apollo for his good verses; who, not reckoning what wine he drank all day long, never slept without drinking a pretty large bottle11.” So true is it, that
“A la fontaine ou s’enyvre Boileau
Le grand Corneille et le sacré troupeau
De ces auteurs que l’on ne trouve guere
Un bon rimeur doit boire a pleine éguyere,
S’il veut donner un bon tour au rondeau12.”
At that rich fountain where the great Boileau,
Corneille, Racine, to whom so much we owe,
Th’ immortal Dryden, and the sacred band
Of those bright authors, whom we cannot find,
Whose names, (so does oblivion’s power command,)
Alas! we no where know,
Supp’d largely to inebriate their mind.
Here a good versifier, fond of rhime,
Should swill, to make his jingling couplets chime.
From hence, good natur’d B——d, arose your flame,
Hence your inimitable numbers came,
When you so prais’d his house and Buckingham.
And certainly Cicero was much in the wrong, when he said, that “what people do when they are drunk, is not done with the same approbation as if they were sober; they hesitate, and often recall themselves, and frame a weaker judgment of what they see13.” But had he consulted experience, he would have found that drunkenness, far from making people fearful, inspires them with boldness and temerity.
1. Vinum acuit ingenium.
2. Vinum ingenii fomes.
3. Hist. des. vii. sag. p. 123.
4. Non idem sapere possunt qui aquam et qui vinum bibunt.
5. Resp. aux Quest. d’un Prov. t. i. ch. 12.
6. Sive Platoni credimus, frustra poetices fores compos sui pepulit. Non potest grande aliquid et supra cæteros loqui nisi mota mens.
7. 1 Ep. xix. 3.
7a. Ovid, Ex Ponto IV.ii.25-26.
8. La Motte, Ode Pind. 1.
9. Ode 2. Pindar.
10. Ep. xix. 7.
11. Menagiana, t. i. p. 384.
12. —— p. 189.
13. Ne vinolenti quidem quæ faciunt qua’ sobrii, hesitant, revocant se interdum, usque quæ videntur, imbecillius assentiuntur. Acad. Quest. lib. 4.
THAT WINE MAKES ONE ELOQUENT.
What wretch so dull, but eloquent must grow,
When the full goblets with persuasive wine,
Inebriate with bright eloquence divine?
Fæcundi calices quem non fecere disertum?a
Let us make a few commentaries on this verse of Horace.
We read, that “the sages of Portugal having undertaken to convert those of Melinda, gained as much upon them by wine as by reason, which, in the end, facilitated the conquest of the whole country1.”
To draw a consequence from this, we say, That one must reasonably believe, that wine 47 gave those sages an eloquence necessary to convert the people of Melinda, and them a necessary penetration to discover the truth through the thick veils of their ignorance.
Books of travels farther inform us, that “the priests of the kingdom of Tibet, whom they call Lamas, drink a good quantity of wine on their days of fasting and devotion, that they may have, to use their own words, the tongue prompt and ready to say their orisons2.”
According to this doctrine, Palingenius was much in the wrong to say, that wine makes churchmen uncapable to perform the duties of their function.
Nec bene tractabit vinosus sacra sacerdos3.
No priest, who tipples wine that’s good,
Will do his duty as he should.
Surely our author never conversed much with the religious. The would have told him, they never perform their office without taking a 48 choir cup. Experto crede Roberto, as the saying is. There is no false Latin in this, says a good monk to me once upon a time, drawing from under his cassock a double flask. You are much in the right on’t, brother Peter, said I, I believe as the church believes, and so—my service to you, and here’s to the pious memory of St. Boniface. And indeed the vehicle proved capaciously orthodox.
In relation to what hath been said I shall add a remark of the famous M. Bayle. “It cannot be denied,” says he, “that the christians of Europe are subject to two great vices, drunkenness and lewdness. The first of these reigns in cold countries, the other in hot. Bacchus and Venus share these two climates between them. We find that the reformation having divided this portion of christianity, that part which was subject to Venus continues as it was, but the greatest part of what was subject to Bacchus has renounced popery4.”
But you will say, what coherence has this remark with the matter in question? Have a little 49 patience, and you shall presently see the application. I say then, that a thorough true blue hearty Protestant would conclude from this quotation, that wine bestowed so much eloquence and penetration to these northern people, as to put them into that happy state, to discover the truth, and conquer all prejudices against it whatsoever. But of this enough.
Pon, pon; pata pon: tara rara, pon pon5.
a. Horace, Epistulae I.v.19. (Same passage as note 2:9b.)
1. Rem. sur Rabel. t. i. lib. 1. cap. 5.
2. Divers. cur.
3. Lib. iii. p. m. 43.
4. Bayle Dict. t. ii. p. 1163.
THAT WINE ACQUIRES FRIENDS, AND RECONCILES ENEMIES.
Friendship is a good so precious and valuable, and at the same time so very rare, that one cannot take too much care in order to procure it. The most efficacious means to do this is feasting. 50 It is by eating and drinking together that conversation becomes more easy and familiar; and, to use the words of Monsieur de la Mothe le vayer, “We hold, that table communion unites people’s very souls, and causes the strictest friendships.” Unde Philotetius Crater1. And, in reality, can any thing be more agreeable and engaging, than to take a friendly bottle in pleasant and delightful company?
And therefore Cleomedes had great reason to say, “Take away the pleasures of the table, where we open ourselves so agreeably to each other, and you rob us of the sweetest cordial of human life2.” This was also the sentiment of Cicero, in his Book of old Age; of Aristotle, in his Ethics; and Plutarch, in his Questions. Let who will, then, look on trencher friends to be false, and say with those of whom Ovid makes mention,
Dum fueris felix multos numerabis amicos,
Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris.2a
In happy times, while riches round you flow,
A thousand friends their obligations own,
But when loud adverse winds begin to blow,
And darksome clouds appear, you’re left alone.
Daily experience teaches us, that one of the best means to push one’s fortune, is often to regale with those who are in credit; for, to one that may have ruined himself by so doing, ten have made their fortunes. We may therefore say of entertainments, that,
Hæc res et jungit, et junctos servat amicos.2b
These unite friends, and strictly keep them so.
But what is more, wine does the office of a mediator between enemies. Of which truth I shall instance two illustrious examples, M. Crassus reconciled himself to Cicero at a feast; Asdrubal and Scipio did the same on the like occasion. And one may see, in a description which a very learned person3 has given of Switzerland, that when the inhabitants of that country quarrel with one another, and come to blows, they are 52 immediately reconciled, by returning to their cups, and no harm ensues, but sitting up all night, and amicably getting drunk together. The Latin has more force in it, which I shall therefore here transcribe. Quin et si quando vehementius in se insurgunt, depositis in medium armis, pugnis rem manibusque decernunt, sed eodem momento conveniunt, iisdemque epulis, iisdemque poculis à quibus surrexere conciliantibus; et nullo alio ex contentionibus damno, nisi quod innovata pocula in noctem ducantur.
Tacitus had said the same thing long before of the Germans.
But to come nearer. The bishop of Bitonto, one of the fathers of the Council of Trent, and a famous preacher, frequently in his sermons, exhorting the Germans to unity, and to return to the church, made use of this topic of friendly drinking, conjuring them thereto as undoubtedly, by the strongest, and most efficacious argument he could make use of, by remembering how merry and sociable heretofore they had been in their cups.
1. Dial. 2. d’Or, Tuber. p. m. 118.
2. Hist. 7 Sap.
Ovid, Tristia I.ix.5-6.
The first line is more often read as:
Donec eris sospes (or felix)...
2b. Horace, Satire I.iii.54.
3. Dan. Eremit. Descript. p. 416.
THAT THE CUSTOM OF GETTING DRUNK IS MOST ANCIENT.
After having displayed the good qualities of wine and drunkenness, I come now to shew, that it is generally received by all the world. To do this effectually I shall enter into some particular detail, and after having remarked, en passant, how the custom of fuddling is very ancient, I shall then shew, that the primitive christians used to get drunk: I shall speak something of the tippling of churchmen in general, afterwards I shall take a cursory review of popes, saints, and bishops, then I shall come to kings and emperors, and give a small catalogue of these illustrious topers; I shall not forget the philosophers, and much less the poets, who loved drinking. Freemasons, and other learned men, who 54 after having wearied themselves with important studies have taken this diversion, shall also appear upon the stage. After this I shall enumerate the several nations that have been, and those which yet are subject to get fuddled; whether they make use of wine for that purpose, or such liquors as produce the same effect with wine. And from this enumeration I shall draw some consequences in favour of drunkenness.
But before I enter into this detail, I hope I shall be permitted a general remark, which is, that my readers must not expect I should set down a complete list of all the several sorts of topers I just now mentioned; such an exactitude would take up too much time. Much sooner may one reckon up what numbers die away every spring by the doctor; and how many dispose of their maidenheads before marriage.
In every different class you will find no other jolly drinkers, but such as I have met with in my great reading, and as shall occur to my remembrance. Neither shall I be very scrupulous in placing them according to the strict rules of chronology, but put them down as they present themselves to my imagination.55
If the antiquity of a custom makes it always good and laudable, certainly drunkenness can never deserve sufficient recommendation. Every one knows, that Noah got drunk after he had planted the vine. There are some who pretend to excuse him, that he was not acquainted with the strength of wine. But to this it may very well be answered, that it is not very probable so wise a man as Noah should plant a vine without knowing its nature and property. Besides, it is one thing to know, whether he got drunk at all: and another, whether he had an intention to do so.
But if we give any credit to several learned persons, Noah was not the first man that got fuddled. Father Frassen maintains, “That people fed on flesh before the flood, and drank wine. There is no likelihood, according to him, that men contented themselves with drinking water for fifteen or sixteen hundred years together. It is much more credible, that they prepared a drink more nourishing and palatable. These first men of the world were endued with no less share of wit than their posterity, and, consequently, wanted 56 no industry to invent every thing that might contribute to make them pass their lives agreeably. Jesus Christ says, that in the days of Noah, before the Flood, men married, and gave their children in marriage. These people, Father Frassen observes, regaled each other, and made solemn entertainments. Now who can imagine, that they drank at those festivals nothing but water, and fed only on fruits and herbs! Noah, therefore, was not the inventor of that use which we make of the grape; the most that he did, was only to plant new vines1.”
This good father was not singular in his opinion; another very learned person also believed, that from the passage of Scripture above cited, one might draw a very probable argument, that men before the flood drank wine, and that too even to be drunk2.
As for Procopius of Gaza3, one of the most ancient interpreters of Scripture, he thinks it no 57 less true, that the vine was known in the world before Noah’s time, but he does not allow that the use of wine was known before that patriarch, whom he believes to be the inventor of it.
1. Disq. Biblic. Journ. des Sçavans.
2. Jo. Chr. Becman. Annal. Hist.
3. Torner de Ebriet. lib. i. c. 3.
THAT THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS GOT DRUNK.
There is no one that has ever so little dipped into ecclesiastical history, but knows very well, that in the primitive church it was a custom to appoint solemn feasts on the festivals of martyrs. This appears by the harangue of Constantine, and from the works of St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Chrysostom. People generally got drunk at these feasts; and this excess was looked upon as a thing that might be permitted. This evidently appears by the pathetic complaints of St. Augustin and St. Cyprian: the former of these holy fathers expresses himself after this manner:—— 58 “Drunken debauches pass as permitted amongst us, so that people turn them into solemn feasts, to honour the memory of the martyrs; and that not only on those days which are particularly consecrated to them, (which would be a deplorable abuse to those, who look at these things with other eyes than those of the flesh,) but on every day of the year1.”
St. Cyprian, in a treatise attributed to him, says much the same thing. “Drunkenness, says he, is so common with us in Africa, that it scarce passes for a crime. And do we not see Christians forcing one another to get drunk, to celebrate the memory of the martyrs2!”
But it was not only at these repasts that the Christians got drunk, they did the same on several other occasions; and it was on this account that St. Augustin wrote to his dear Alipius in these terms: “However the corruption of manners, and the unhappiness of the times, have induced us to wish, I do not say that people should not get drunk in particular houses, but 59 that they should not get drunk any where else3.”
Cardinal du Perron tells us, “That the Manichæans said, that the Catholicks were people much given to wine, but that they never drank any4.”
Against this charge St. Augustin no otherwise defends them, than by recrimination. He answers, “That it was true, but that they (the Manichæans) drank the juice of apples, which was more delicious than all the wines and liquors in the world. And so does Tertullian, which liquor pressed from apples, he says, was most strong and vinous.” His words are, Succum ex pomis vinosissimum5.
Here one may observe also, that the use of cider was very primitive and antient, but as strong and delicious as it was, the Catholicks stuck close to the juice of the grape, as what was entirely orthodox and no wise conversant with the heretics of those days.60
But to return to these feasts just now mentioned, it is certain, that it was not only customary for the Christians of Africa to get drunk. They had this custom in common with the Christians of Italy, where these kinds of repasts were forbidden by the Council of Laodicea, which was held in the fourth century. Paulinus, however, (and I do not wonder at it, being a poet,) has endeavoured to excuse the Christians, on pretence that they only got drunk out of a good intention, which, say the casuists, judges all human actions6. His words are,
—— “Ignoscenda tamen puto talia parvis
Gaudia quæ ducunt epulis, quia mentibus error.
Irrepit rudibus, nec tantæ conscia culpæ
Simplicitas pietate cadit, male credula sanctos
Perfusis halante mero gaudere sepulchris
But yet that mirth in little feasts enjoy’d,
I think should ready absolution find;
Slight peccadillo of an erring mind,
Artless and rude, of all disguises void,
Their simple hearts too easy to believe
(Conscious of nothing ill) that saints in tombs61
Enshrin’d should any happiness perceive
From quaffing cups, and wines ascending fumes,
Must be excus’d, since what they did they meant,
With piety ill plac’d, yet good intent.
1. Ep. 22.
2. Pamel. p. 416.
3. Ep. 29.
4. Perron, p. 64.
6. Quicquid agunt homines intentio judicat omne.
6a. St. Paulinus of Nola (Paulinus Nolensis), possibly Carmen IX. in St. Felicem.
If one formed a judgment of the manner of Churchmen’s lives by their discourses, certainly one would take them for models of sobriety. But there is a great deal of difference between preaching and practising. This distinction is very solid, and daily experience confirms it. And if those gentlemen would do themselves justice, how many amongst them might say in particular,
Alas! how can I ever dare pretend,
From man this ancient error to remove,
Which they, ev’n to distraction, fondly love:
If I, who blame it, with such pain defend62
Myself from this contagious malady,
This epidemic poison of the mind.
Weak reason, feeble thing, of which mankind
So boasts, this we can only build on thee,
Unjust continuing still, and false and vain,
In our discourses loudly we complain
Against the passions, weakness, vice, and yet
Those things we still cry down, we still commit.
One cannot, therefore, without indignation, hear Churchmen declaim against drunkenness, while they themselves are such ruddy examples of it.
Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione .1
With patience who can hear west-country cudden
Rail against roasted beef and good plum pudden?
If the law of prescription take place, one cannot dispute with them that of fuddling with any colour of reason, for in St. Jerom’s time, the priests were very much given to wine. This we learn from an epistle of that father, in which he very severely reprehends them. They have 63 been no changelings since. We read in the adages of Erasmus, that it was a proverb amongst the Germans, that the lives of the monks consisted in nothing but eating, drinking, and——Monachorum nunc nihil aliud est quam facere, esse, bibere. Besides, a vast number of councils, who made most severe canons against priests that should get drunk, evidently shew, that they used frequently to do so. Such were the Councils of Carthage, Agathon, the first of Tours, that of Worms, Treves, &c. To make this more clear, we shall copy a little of what H. Stephens says on this subject, in his apology for Herodotus:— “But to return, says he, to these proverbs, theologal wine, and the abbots, or prelates table. I say, that without these, one could never rightly understand this beautiful passage of Horace, viz.
“Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
Pulsanda tellus: Nunc saliaribus
Ornare pulvinar Deorum
Tempus erit dapibus sodales.”1a
“Come, boys, put the flowing goblet round,
Drink hard, and with brisk measures beat the ground.64
The tables of the gods now bright shall shine
With cheer luxurious, fit for mouths of priests,
When holy epicures become your guests,
And venerably quaff large cups of wine.”
“Absumet hæres cæcuba dignior
Servata centum clavibus: & mero
Tinget pavimentum superbo
Pontificum potiore cænis.”1b
“A worthy heir shall then with joy unbind
Cæcubian, by a hundred locks confin’d,
And tinge with better wines the ground,
Than e’er at feasts pontifical are found.”
“You see how necessary these proverbs are, to let us into the true understanding of these two passages of this poet. Here follows, word for word, what a certain gloss says of the last of them, Mero dicit potiore (meliore) cænis pontificum, quam quo pontifices in cænis suis, quæ semper sumtuosissimæ fuerunt, unde nunc theologicum dicunt vinum, usi sunt. That is, with better wine than that which the chief priests 65 used at their suppers, which were always most sumptuous and expensive, and which sort of wine we call now theological.
“By this you plainly see how much attached to divines and prelates those gentlemen are who make profession of being expositors of the poets. But in relation to this same theologal, or theological, I know very well that it is a great question if it should be called vinum theologale, or vinum theologalis per appositionem; for the wicked laity, some of them will have it, that when these good men get tipsy they agree no otherwise than dogs and cats. But I shall leave this dispute to be decided by the readers. And as to these two proverbs, they put me in mind of another, and that is, an abbot’s face, which proverb being very ancient, makes me believe that formerly the abbots had their faces illuminated.—But without going any farther for witnesses, I shall content myself with presenting my readers with the following piece of antiquity, viz.
Sanctus Dominicus sit nobis semper amicus,
Cui canimus rostro jugiter preconia nostro
De cordis venis siccatis ante lagenis.
Ergo tuas laudes si tu nos pangere gaudes66
Tempore paschali, fac ne potu puteali
Conveniat uti, quod si fit undique muti
Semper erunt fratres qui non curant nisi ventres.”
“O good Saint Dominic, be ay propitious,
Whose praise we daily chirp in notes delicious
From all the veins of all our hearts,
Having toss’d up some double quarts.
Therefore, if’t be thy true desire,
We chaunt thy lauds at Easter quire.
Let not thy saintship think it meet
We drink from well tho’ ne’er so sweet,
Liquor unworthy priest or parson,
If so, your will hang an arse on,
Who nothing mind, I need not tell ye,
Most holy patron, but their belly.
So used, they’ll ev’ry soul be dumb,
No dixit dominus, but ———— mum.”
Not unlike this is what follows:—
“O monachi, vestri stomachi sunt amphora Bacchi,
Vos estis, Deus est testis, teterrima pestis!”
“O monks, ye reverend drones, your guts
Of wine are but so many buts;
You are, God knows (who can abide ye?)
Of plagues the rankest, bona fide!”
OF POPES, SAINTS, AND BISHOPS, THAT USED TO GET DRUNK.
After having spoken of the drunkenness of churchmen in general, it will not, perhaps, be a thing altogether needless, to put the whole in the clearest light, to confirm what has been said, by the example of Popes, Saints, and Bishops, who have practised that laudable custom of getting drunk.
A little song, mentioned by H. Stephens, in apology for Herodotus, affords matter of speculation in relation to the sobriety of sovereign pontiffs.
“Le Pape qui est a Rome,
Boit du vin comme un autre homme
Et de l’Hypocras aussi.”
The Pope at Rome, his holiness,
Of wine drinks many a hearty glass,
And pleasant Hypocras also,
As any other man I trow.
If one reads over the popes lives, we shall be fully convinced that these holy fathers were no enemies to wine. Alexander the Fifth was a great drinker, and that too of strong wines, says his own historian, Theoderic de Neim. If one may give any credit to the letters of the king of Spain’s ambassador to his master, Sixtus Quintus was a terrible drunkard1.
And Pope Boniface instituted indulgencies for those who should drink a cup after grace (called since St. Boniface’s cup). A plain argument that his sanctity did not hate wine.
This puts me in my mind of what I have formerly read, though the author’s name is now slipped out of my memory, that when cardinal Pignatelli, afterwards Innocent the Twelfth, was advanced to the papacy, his name signifying little pots or mugs, three of which he bore for his 69 arms; and whose mother was of the house of Caraffa, which signifies a jug, a Frenchman made these lines:—
“Nous devons tous en repos
Sous le regne de ce saint pere
ses armes sont des pots
Une Caraffe etoit sa mere.
Celebrons donc avec eclat
Cet auguste Pontificat.”
Under this holy father’s reign
Hang sorrow, let us ne’er complain;
I think all of us should turn sots,
And fuddle with one another,
His name, and so his arms, are pots,
And a gallon pot was his mother;
Then let us brightly celebrate
This most august Pontificate.
In the main, this is nothing but a little punning or playing with words, but it is one of those agreeable trifles that may now and then be worth our thinking on.
One may add to the number of such popes as loved fuddling, all those who sat at Avignon; 70 for if we believe Petrarch2, the long residence that the court of Rome made at Avignon, was only to taste the good French wines; and that it was merely on that account they stayed so long in Provence, and removed with so much reluctance.
Let us now pass on to Saints and Bishops. I shall only instance one of each, because I hate prolixity. The first Saint that presents himself to me, is the renowned St. Augustin, who himself owns, that he used to get drunk sometimes. Crapula autem nonnunquam surrepit servo tuo misereberis ut longe fiat à me. Thy servant has been sometimes crop-sick through excess of wine, have mercy on me, that it may be ever far from me. It is true, 3M. Cousin maintains against my author, M. Petit, the Journal des Sçavans, of the year 1689, 27th June, that St. Augustin, however, never got drunk. The arguments on both sides you may find in Bayle’s Dictionary, under the article Augustin. But 71 yet there are somewhere in St. Augustin these words, viz. My soul certainly being a spirit cannot dwell in a dry place. Anima mea certè quia spiritus est, in sicco habitare non potest.
I shall make no comment upon these words, only insert one already made, which I take from M. Duchat in his Remarks on Rabelais4. On these words of Saint Augustin, says he, mentioned in the second part of the Decretals, caus. 32, q. 2, c. 9, the commentator says, “And this is an argument for the Normans, English, and Poles, that they may drink largely, that the soul may not live in the dry. Et est argumentum pro Normannis, Anglicis, et Polonis, ut possint fortiter bibere, ne anima habitet in To which Peter Chatelain, a Flemish physician, made this pleasant addition, is very probable, that the commentator was an entire stranger to the nature of the Flemings. Verisimile est glossatorem ignorasse naturam Belgarum.”
And, perhaps, this argument from St. Augustine’s words, is as just as one of a merry fellow 72 I knew, who would prove, from St. Paul’s going to the Three Taverns5, That he loved a hearty bottle.
Amongst the Bishops, I cannot instance a more illustrious example of a great drinker than that of Pontus de Thiard. We are told6, “That this gentleman, after having repented of the sins of his youth, came to be bishop of Chalons sur Soane; but, however, he did not renounce the power of drinking heartily, which seemed then inseparable from the quality of a good poet. He had a stomach big enough to empty the largest cellar; and the best wines of Burgundy were too gross for the subtility of the fire which devoured him. Every night, at going to bed, besides the ordinary doses of the day, in which he would not suffer the least drop of water, he used to drink a bottle before he slept. He enjoyed a strong, robust, and vigorous health; to the age of fourscore
1. Thuan. p. 447.
2. Perron, p. 387.
3. Petit Nepænth, p. 137.
4. Liv. i. ch. 5.
5. Acts, cap. xxviii. v. 15.
6. Rep. des Lett. Febr. 1687, art. 7.
A CATALOGUE OF SOME ILLUSTRIOUS TOPERS.
Since, according to Horace’s observation, every one conforms himself to the example of the prince.
“Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis.”a
And that, according to Seneca’s maxim, one must regulate one’s conduct by illustrious models.
“Vita est instituenda illustribus exemplis.”
It must not be wondered at that people so generally get drunk, since in this they follow the examples of great kings, amongst whom are very few that this verse of Ovid, which Guy Patin applied to Naudæus and Gassendi, agrees with1.
“Vina fugit gaudetque meris abstemius undis.”1a74
Flies wine abstemious, but the limpid stream,
Pure and unmixed, his thirsty heat subdues.
And, perhaps, this is the reason, why in comedies they bestow crowns to those that are drunk.
————— Quid ego video
Cum coronâ ebrium pseudolum meum2.
And in Amphytrion, Mercury says,
Ibo inter et capiam ornatum qui potius decet.2a
“I’ll go in and take the ornament which better becomes me.” For he had said a little before,
Capiam coronam in caput, assimulabo me esse ebrium.2a
I’ll put a crown upon my head, and feign myself drunk.
Lipsius3 furnished me with these examples.75
But I should never have done, if I endeavoured to give a list of all the kings that got drunk.
———— “Quorum si nomina quæras
Promptius expediam quot amaverat Hippia ,
Quot themison ægros autumno occiderat uno4.”
———— Whose names, if you require,
With greater expedition could I tell,
To Hippia’s lust how many prostrate fell;
How many only in one autumn died,
By doctors, and their slip-slops ill applied.
I shall content myself, therefore, to instance some of the most illustrious, as they come into my mind, without observing any certain order.
Alexander the Great first offers himself to my imagination. It will be sufficient to mention his name, without saying any more. Nomen non amplius addam.
Cæsar, to make use of Balzac’s words, was not always the sober destroyer of the commonwealth, and he did not at all times hate the pleasure of drinking.76
Cambyses was also very much given to wine, as may be judged by what I am going to say. This prince, having been told by one of his courtiers, That the people took notice he got drunk too often, taking, some time after, his bow and arrow, shot the son of that courtier through the heart, saying no more than this to the father, Is this the act of a drunkard?
Darius, the first king of Persia, had these words put upon his tomb:—
Vinum multum bibere potui idque perferre.
I could drink much wine and bear it well.
King Antigonus may come in here. Ælian reports of this prince, That one day when he was much in drink, meeting Zeno the philosopher, whom he had a great kindness for, he kissed him, and promised to give him whatever he would desire. Zeno only answered very mildly, Go and ease your stomach by vomiting, that’s all I ask of you at present.
Philip, king of Macedon, got drunk sometimes; witness what a woman, whom he had not done 77 justice to, said to him, viz. I appeal from Philip drunk, to Philip when sober.
Dionysius5 the younger, tyrant of Sicily, was sometimes drunk for nine days successively; he drank himself almost blind, and the lords of his court, to flatter him, pretended they themselves could scarce see, so that they neither eat nor drank but what he reached to them.
Tiberius was called Biberius, because of his excessive attachment to drinking; and, in derision, they changed his surname of Nero into Mero.
Bonosus was a terrible drinker, if one may give any credit to his own historian, Flavius Vopiscus. He used to make ambassadors, that came to him from foreign powers, drunk, in order, by that means, to discover their secret instructions.
Maximin6, the father, drank very often a pot containing two gallons. One might very well, therefore, have given him this epitaph:—
Hic jacet amphora vini.78
Trajan and Nerva, those excellent princes, took sometimes a pleasure in getting drunk.
Galerius Maximinus, who, according to Aurelius Victor, was a prince of sweet temper, and loved men of probity and letters, had a very great passion for wine, and frequently got drunk. Having once given orders when he was in this condition, which he repented of when sober, he solemnly forbad any one to obey such orders that he should give when he should get drunk for the future.
a. Claudian, De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti (VIII) 300.
1. Esprit de Pat. p. 22.
1a. Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.323.
2. Plautus. Pseudolus 1286-87.
2a. Plautus, Amphitryon 1007; Amphitryon 999.
3. Ant. Lect. lib. iii.
4. Juvenal, satire x. v. 220. i.e. 219-221.
5. Ælian, chap. 6.
6. J. Capitolin.
OF PHILOSOPHERS THAT USED TO GET DRUNK.
Though the example and authority of Philosophers prove nothing, yet one must not imagine with Boileau,
“———————— Que sans Aristote,
La raison ne voit goute, et le bon sens redote.”
That reason, void of Aristotle’s rule,
Insipid grows, good sense a doating fool.
It is, however, very true, that we shall find ourselves wonderfully disposed to get fuddled, when we consider that those of antiquity, for whom we have most respect and veneration, have made no manner of difficulty to get drunk sometimes, and have praised drunkenness not only by their actions but discourse. This I am going plainly to make appear. I begin with the Seven Sages of Greece, who were acknowledged as such by all antiquity. These philosophers did not look upon drunkenness as a thing incompatible with virtue, of which they made strict profession. History tells us, that they drank largely at the entertainment Periander the Tyrant, or king of Corinth, gave them.
Solon, that famous, yet so rigid, legislator of the Athenians, composed a song in the praise of wine, in which he introduced Venus and the Muses. Seneca is of opinion, that he was suspected to be as much given to wine as Arcesilaus. And M. Chevreau1 observes very well, that “The 80 wisdom of Solon was not of such an austerity as to frighten people, when he said, That the ladies, wine, and the Muses, were the pleasures of human life.”
Zeno, whose philosophy was so severe, got, notwithstanding, drunk sometimes. Being one day at an entertainment, he was asked how he came to be so joyful, he answered, that he was like lupins, which were bitter naturally, but grew sweet after they were moistened.
Socrates, whom the oracle declared the wisest man of Greece, was, in like manner, a very great drinker. M. Charpentier, in his Life, tells us, That though he did not love to drink, yet when he was forced to it, no one could come up to him; and that he had this wonderful happiness, as not afterwards to find himself incommoded by it.
Cato, that hero of stoicism, got drunk sometimes, in order to relax his mind, fatigued with the cares of public employment. These are the very words of Seneca, Cato vino laxabat animum curis publicis fatigatum. And the same author says elsewhere, that “People reproached Cato with drunkenness, but that reproach was rather an honour to him than otherwise.” Catoni 81 ebrietas objecta est, et facilius efficiet quisquis objecerit honestum quam turpem Catonem. Horace gives us the same idea of the great Cato, in these words:—
“Narratur et prisci Catonis
Sæpe mero caluisse virtus.”1a
Tradition tells, that oftentimes with wine,
Ev’n Cato’s virtue moisten’d, shone divine.
If one knew the Scythian philosopher Anacharsis no otherwise than by his apophthegms against wine and drunkenness, one would take him for the soberest man in the world, but we know very well that his theory varied very much upon this point, and no way agreed with his practice. One day above the rest, having got drunk at an entertainment given by Lybis, brother to Pittacus, he demanded the prize that was to be given to the greatest drinker. With which action, when he was afterwards reproached, he replied, “Can a man better signalize himself in battle than by glorious wounds? and at table, than with that gaiety you call drunkenness? Did not Homer, the 82 wisest of your poets, make not only Agamemnon drunk, but Jupiter too, and made nectar flow in full goblets at the table of the Gods2?” Ælian3 also tells us, that this philosopher drank largely at Periander’s feasts, and alleged for an excuse, That to drink a great deal was essential to the Scythians.
Plato, another hero of antiquity, not only permitted, but commanded, that people should get drunk at some certain times. To prove what I say, one has no more to do than to read his laws.
Seneca, who was so severe a philosopher, at least his rigid precepts would make one think him so, thought it no harm now and then to get drunk, and ranges drunkenness amongst the means he prescribes to maintain the strength and vigour of the mind. I have quoted what he says in this respect in the first and second chapter of this work.
The philosopher Arcesilaus, who lived about the 120th Olympiad, might be reckoned amongst 83 those who loved wine, since he died by drinking too much of it unmixed. A greater, and more convincing proof of his sincere love to the creature could not be given.
For he that hangs, or beats out’s brains,
The devil’s in him if he feigns4.
Xenocrates5, one of the most illustrious philosophers of ancient Greece, and of a virtue very rigid and severe, got drunk sometimes. Ælian has put his name into the catalogue of those who loved drinking, and could bear a good deal of liquor. Athenæus, says this philosopher, gained the crown of gold which the tyrant of Syracuse had promised him that should empty a certain measure of wine. Diogenes Laertius confirms this last particular. “He had moreover acquired such an empire over his passions, that a very beautiful courtesan (Phryne) who had laid a wager she could subdue his virtue, lost it, though she had the liberty to lie with him, and use all 84 her little toyings to incite him to enjoy her.” You see here (adds Mr. Bayle) a triumph as remarkable as that of S. Aldhelme, and some other canonized saints, who came off victorious on such attacks.
Cicero6 assures us, That Stilpo of Megera, the philosopher, a man of much wit and ability for the times he lived in, loved wine as well as women; and, that his friends wrote this of him in his praise, and not dishonour.
Athenæus says, That the philosophers Lacides and Timon, once upon a time, past two whole days successively in drinking. Ælian puts their names into his catalogue of hard drinkers; to which he adds Amasis, the lawgiver of the Egyptians.
Chrysippus the philosopher, native of Solos, a town of Cilicia, or of Tharsus, according to others, got drunk pretty often. It is said, That some of his disciples having prevailed upon him to come to a sacrifice, he drank so much pure wine, that he died five days afterwards. There are other authors, however, will have it, that he 85 died of immoderate laughter, seeing an ass eat figs out of a dish, and upon which he commanded they should give him drink.
1. Solonem et Arcesilaum credunt indulsisse vino.
1a. Horace, Odes III.xxi.11-12.
2. Hist. Sep. Sap.
3. Lib. ii. 2.
5. Bayle Dict. Art. Xenoc.
6. Lib. de Fab.
OF POETS THAT USED TO GET DRUNK.
As wine is the poet’s great horse, so it must not be wondered at, that the major part of them fuddle their noses; for, in reality, they cannot properly be said to be mounted on their great horses, till they have drunk pretty heartily. These gentlemen speak then on horseback, for the discourse of poets is quite opposite to that of orators, which Horace says, is a discourse on foot1, but when they drink nothing we can only say, that they are mounted upon.
The attachment that Homer had to wine, appears 86 in the frequent eulogiums he gives that liquor. And if we examine Anacreon never so little, we shall find his inclinations, as well as his verses, were divided between wine and love. As much delicacy and fine turns as one finds in his works, an honest man cannot see without indignation, but that they tend absolutely to debauch. One must drink, one must love. The moments that are not employed in the pleasures of the senses are lost. Pausanius tells us, that he saw at Athens the statue of Anacreon, which represented him drunk and singing.
The poet Philoxenus wished he had a neck as long as a crane, that he might the longer have the pleasure of swallowing wine, and enjoy its delicious taste.
Ion, the poet of Chios, was not much more sober in respect of wine, according to Ælian and Euripides.
Horace must by no means be forgotten, whose satires derive from the grape their sprightfulness and gaiety.
Timocreon of Rhodes, a comic poet in the 75th Olympiad, was a great drinker. Athenæus has given of him this epitaph:—87
Multa bibens et multa vorans, mala plurima dicens
Multis hic jaceo Timocreon Rhodius.
To these we may add Alceus and Eunius, of whom we have already made mention; but what signifies this enumeration, since it is most certain, that almost all the poets in the world, of all ages, got drunk, which puts them under the protection of Bacchus. This made them heretofore in Rome celebrate once a year, in the month of March, a festival in honour to this God with solemn sacrifices. What Ovid2 has said on this point puts the matter out of all doubt:—
Illa dies hæc est, qua te celebrare poetæ
Si modo non fallunt tempora, Bacche, solent,
Festaque odoratis innectunt tempora sertis
Et dicunt laudes ad tua vina tuas.
Inter quos memini, dum me mea fata sinebant,
Non invisa tibi pars ego fui.”
This is the day, unless the times are chang’d,
That poets us’d to sing in merry lays,88
And with sweet garlands crown’d, promiscuous rang’d,
To thy rich wines, great Bacchus, chaunt thy praise.
With these gay chorists, when my fates were kind,
Free, unreserv’d, to thee, immortal power!
(The pleasing object fresh salutes my mind)
Without disguise a part I often bore.
OF FREE MASONS, AND OTHER LEARNED MEN, THAT USED TO GET
If what brother Eugenius Philalethes, author of Long Livers, a book dedicated to the Free Masons, says in his Preface1 to that treatise, 89 be true, those mystical gentlemen very well deserve a place amongst the learned. But, without entering into their peculiar jargon, or whether a man can be sacrilegiously perjured for revealing secrets when he has none, I do assure my readers, they are very great friends to the vintners. An eye-witness of this was I myself, at their late general meeting at Stationers’ Hall, who having learned some of their catechism, passed my examination, paid my five shillings, and took my place accordingly.
We had a good dinner, and, to their eternal honour, the brotherhood laid about them very valiantly. They saw then their high dignity; they saw what they were, acted accordingly, and shewed themselves (what they were) men2. The Westphalia hams and chickens, with good plum pudding, not forgetting the delicious salmon, were plentifully sacrificed, with copious libations 90 of wine for the consolation of the brotherhood. But whether, after a very disedifying manner their demolishing huge walls of venison pasty, be building up a spiritual house, I leave to brother Eugenius Philalethes to determine. However, to do them justice, I must own, there was no mention made of politics or religion, so well do they seem to follow the advice of that author3. And when the music began to play, “Let the king enjoy his own again,” they were immediately reprimanded by a person of great gravity and science.
The bottle, in the mean while, went merrily about, and the following healths were begun by a great man, The King, Prince and Princess, and the Royal Family; the Church as by Law established; Prosperity to Old England under the present Administration; and Love, Liberty, and Science; which were unanimously pledged in full bumpers, attended with loud huzzas.
The faces then of the most ancient and most honourable fraternity of the Free Masons, brightened with ruddy fires; their eyes illuminated, resplendent blazed.91
Well fare ye, merry hearts, thought I, hail ye illustrious topers, if liberty and freedom, ye free mortals, is your essential difference, richly distinguishes you from all others, and is, indeed, the very soul and spirit of the brotherhood, according to brother Eugenius Philalethes4. I know not who may be your alma mater, but Bacchus is your liber pater.
’Tis wine, ye Masons, makes you free,
Bacchus the father is of liberty.
But leaving the Free Masons, and their invaluable secrets, for I know not what they are worth, come we now to speak of other men of learning, who loved to indulge their genius with the delicious juice of the grape. And here we need not fly to antiquity, which would swell this work into a large volume, later times will furnish us with many a bright example. Non semper confugiamus ad vetera.
A man of learning, after ten or twelve hours daily study, cannot do better, than to unbend 92 his mind in drinking plentifully of the creature; and may not such a one say to himself these verses of the French poet:—
“Dois-je mal a propos secher a faire un livre
Et n’avoir pour tout fruit des peines que je prends
Que la haine de sots et les mepris des grands5.”
Why should I pass away my time in vain,
And, to compose a book, dry up my brain,
When all the recompense I’m like to find,
For all the toil and labour of my mind,
Is the unthinking silly ideot’s hate,
And the contempt and scorn of all the great
I must own I would have the indefatigable labour of such a one gain an immortal reputation after his death; but after all, to weary one’s self all one’s life long with those views, is very chimerical. And certainly, he that makes but little account of the honours that might accrue to him after his death, acted like a man of sense. Si venit post fata gloria non propero6.93
Is it not infinitely better to divert one’s self while one lives, than to idle all one’s life away on poring upon books? Much better will the following song become the mouth of a man of letters, which I have transcribed out of the Mercure Galant, of the year 1711, p. 67.
“De ceux qui vivent dans l’,
Ma je n’envierai le sort.
Nargues du Temple de
Ou l’on ne vit que lorsque l’on est mort.
J’aime bien mieux vivre pendant ma
Pour boire avec Silvie;
Car je sentirai
Les momens que je vivrai
Tant que je boirai.”
Faith, I shan’t envy him, whoe’er he be,
That glorious lives in history;
Nor memory’s rich fane amuse my head,
Where no one lives but when he’s dead.
I had much rather, while I life enjoy,
The precious moments all employ,
With my lov’d Silvia, and delicious wine,
Both wonderful, and both divine.
For that I truly live, and healthy prove,
Is that I drink, and that I love.
This is exactly the same thing that Racan said to Maynard in this ode7.
“Je sai, Maynard, que les merveilles
Qui naissent de tes longues veilles
Vivront autant que l’univers;
Mais que te sert il que ta
Eclipse au Temple de Memoire
Quand tu seras des vers?
Quitte cette inutile peine,
Bûvons plûtôt a longue haleine
De ce doux jus delicieux,
Qui pour l’excellence précéde
Le bruvage que Ganimede
Verse dans la coupe des dieux.”
Maynard, I know thy thoughts express’d in rhyme,
Those wonders of thy bright immortal pen,
Shall live for ever in the minds of men,
Till vast eternity shall swallow time.
Yet should thy glories, now so radiant bright,
In Memory’s rare temple lose their light;
Suffer eclipse, when to the worms a prey,
Those reptiles eat thy poor remains away.95
Does this reflection chagrin thee, my friend,
Thus to the useless thought decree an end?
Drink, and drink largely, that delicious juice,
The em’rald vines in purple gems produce,
Which for its excellence surpasses far
That liquor which, to bright celestial souls,
Jove’s minion, Ganimede, with steady care,
Richly dispenses in immortal bowls.
So much for poetry, let us come to the point, and instance some learned men, that have loved this diversion. And first, enter Erasmus, who certainly was no enemy to wine, since he chose rather to continue where the plague was than drink water. To prove this, I shall instance part of a letter written to this great man by Armonius, an Italian, and a very learned person:— “Immediately after my arrival in England, I endeavoured to inform myself where you were, because in your last you told me, the plague had forced you to quit Cambridge. At length I was told for certain, that you had indeed left the town, but retiring into a place where there was no wine, which to you being worse than the plague, you returned thither, and where you now are. O intrepid soldier of Bacchus, whom 96 so eminent a danger could not compel to desert his general!” The Latin having much more force, for the sake of those who understand that language, I shall take the liberty to insert it, as follows:— Simul atque Anglicum solum tetigi, ubi locorum esses rogare cepi, siquidem Cantabrigiensem pestem fugere te scripsisti. Unus tandem sixtinus mihi dixit te quidem Cantabrigiam. Ob pestem reliquisse et concessisse nescio quo, ubi cum vini penuria laborares, et eo carere gravius peste duceres, Cantabrigiam repetiisse atque ibi nunc esse. O fortem Bassarei commilitonem, qui in summo periculo ducem deserere nolueris8.
“Daniel Heinsius loved to drink a little. One day, when he was not in a condition to read his lectures, having got drunk the day before, some arch wags fixed these words on the school-door:— Daniel Heinsius, non leget hodie, propter hesternam carpulam9.”
“George Sharpe, a Scotchman, professor, and vice-chancellor of Montpelier, who died in the 97 year 1673, on his birth-day, aged fifty-nine years, was a great drunkard10.”
Barthius may also be reckoned amongst those learned topers, if what Coloniez says be true. “I knew,” says he, “some learned men in Holland, who spoke of Scriverius as of a man extremely amorous. M. Vossius, amongst others, related to me one day, that Barthius being come from Germany to Haerlaem to see Scriverius, had in his company a lady perfectly beautiful, whom Scriverius had no sooner seen, but he found means to make Barthius drunk, that he might entertain the lady with greater liberty, which he accomplished. It was not, however, so well managed, but Barthius coming to himself had some reason to suspect what had past, which grew so much upon him, that he took the lady along with him in a rage, and drowned her in the Rhine11.”
Scaliger treats as a drunkard, John Kuklin, a calvinist minister, native of Hesse, and a very learned man12.98
“Nicolas de Bourbon, of Bar sur l’Aube, was nephew’s son to the poet Nicolas Bourbon, who lived in the time of Francis the First; after having been king’s professor, then canon of Langres, made himself father of the oratory.——He was a prodigious dry soul, and loved good wine, which made him often say, That though he was of the French academy, yet that when he read French verses he fancied he was drinking water.”
The great Buchanan, so famous for his fine writings, was a terrible drinker, if we may give any credit to Father Garasse. What follows is taken out of his Doctrine Curieuse, p. 748. “I shall,” says he, “recount to our new atheists, the miserable end of a man of their belief and humour, as to eating and drinking. The libertine having passed his debauched youth in Paris and Bourdeaux, more diligent in finding out tavern bushes than the laurel of Parnassus; and being towards the latter end of his life, recalled into Scotland, to instruct the young prince, James VI. continuing his intemperance, he grew at last so dropsical by drinking, that by way of jeer he said he was in labour. Vino intercute, 99 not aquâ intercute. As ill as he was, he would, however, not abstain from drinking bumpers, and them too all of pure wine, as he used to do at Bourdeaux. The physicians who had care of his health, by order of the king, seeing the extravagant excesses of their patient, told him roundly, and in a kind of heat, that he did all he could to kill himself, and that, if he continued this course of life, he could not live above a fortnight, or three weeks, longer. He desired them then to hold a consultation amongst themselves, and let him know how long he might live if he abstained from wine. They did so, and told him, he might on that condition live five or six years longer. Upon which he gave them an answer worthy his humour. Go, says he, with your regimens and prescriptions, and know, that I had rather live three weeks, and get drunk every day, than six years without drinking wine. And as soon as he had thus dismissed the physicians, he caused a barrel of wine of Grave to be placed at his bed’s head, resolving to see the bottom of it before he died; and carried himself so valiantly in this encounter, that he drank it up to the lees, fulfilling literally the contents of this 100 quaint epigram of Epigonus upon a frog, who falling into a pipe of wine, cried out,
φεύ τινες ὕδωρ
πίνουσι μανίην σώφρονα μαινόμενοι. A
“Having death and the glass between his teeth, the ministers visited him to bring him to himself, that he might take resolution to die with some thought and reflection; one of them especially exhorted him to recite the Lord’s Prayer; upon which, opening his eyes, he looked very ghastly upon the minister, And what is that, says he, that you call the Lord’s Prayer? The standers by answered, It was the Our Father; and that, if he could not pronounce that prayer, they desired him that at least he would recite some christian prayer, that he might die like a good man. For my part, replied he, I never knew any other prayer than this,
“Cynthia prima suis miserum me cepit ocellis,
Contractum nullis ante cupidinibus.”12a
Cynthia’s fine eyes, me wretched, first could move,
Before that time I knew not what was love.
“And scarce had he repeated ten or twelve verses of that elegy of Propertius, but he expired, surrounded with cups and glasses, and of him one may really say, that he vomitted his purple soul out, Purpuræam vomit ille animam13.”
I shall not vouch for the truth of this story, but you have it as I find it; nor must it be expected that Buchanan, who was their mortal enemy, should find any favour from the priests of the church of Rome.
Justus Lipsius got sometimes drunk; he tells us so himself, in his Commentary on Seneca, for in that passage where the philosopher says, that drunkenness cures some certain distempers, he makes on the word distempers this remark following—Melancholy (we know it by experience) or cold. And in the discourses which he says were carried on between Carrio Demius and Dusa, upon subjects of literature, and which he inserts in his Ancient Lessons, they had always a glass in their hand.
Every one knows that Baudius, professor in the university of Leyden, was a great drinker, 102 and Culprit himself pleads guilty to the indictment. Habemus rerum confitentem. Here follow his own words, which I own I cannot translate without losing their beauty in the Latin, but the substance is, that he defies envy itself to say any thing against him, but that like the ancient Cato, he drank pretty liberally of the juice of the grape. Concurrant omnes, says he, non dicam ut ille satiricus, Augures, Haruspices, sed quicquid est ubique hominum curiosorum, qui in aliena acta tam sedulo iniquirunt ut ea fingant quæ nunquam fuerunt, nihil inveniet quod in nobis carpere possit livor, quam quod interdum ad exemplum prisci Catonii liberalitatis invitare nos patiamur, nec semper constitimus ultra sobrietatem veterum Sabinorum14. And in another letter he says, that the most virulent detractor could never reproach him with any thing, but that he got sometimes drunk. Malignitas obtrectatorum nihil aliud in nobis sigillare potest quam quod nimis commodus sum convivator, et interdum largius adspargor rore liberi patris15.103
Balzac made also some little debauches with some of his friends at his country-house; and what he wrote to an officer who was then prisoner in Germany, makes it evidently appear that he thought it lawful so to do. “In relation,” says he, “to the German manner of drinking healths, which you speak of with such trouble, as if they were so many Turkish bastinadoes, I think your sobriety in that respect to be a little too delicate, you must learn to howl when you are in company of wolves, as the proverb has it, and not to instance great generals. Don’t you know, that wise ambassadors of kings have heretofore got drunk for the good of their master’s affairs, and sacrificed all their prudence and gravity to the necessity of great men, and the custom of the country where they were. I do not advise you here to any forbidden acts of intemperance, but I think it no manner of harm now and then to drown your chagrin in Rhenish wine, and to make use of that agreeable means to shorten the time, the long continuance of which is ever extremely tedious to prisoners16.”104
The illustrious professor of Utrecht, whose name shall live as long as the republic of letters shall subsist, was a great drinker, and valued himself for drinking a great deal. It is reported of this learned man, that at the congress of the last peace, a certain German prince, of a sovereign house, came on purpose to have a brush with our professor, who accepted the challenge, and came off victorious, having fairly laid his enemy speechless on the floor.
1. Vide Preface, p. 17, l. 6, where are these words, viz. Thus shall princes love and cherish you as their most faithful children and servants, and take delight to commune with you, inasmuch as amongst you are found men excellent in all kinds of sciences, and who, thereby, may make their names, who love and cherish you, immortal
2. Page 6, l. 9.
3. Page 16, l. 19.
4. Page 5, l. 12. Page 42, l. 13.
5. Oeuv. div. du Sieur D’Espreaux, p. 246.
7. Parnass. Franc, p. 97.
8. Bayle Dict. Art. Ammon.
9. Menagian, t. i. p. 26.
10. Patinian, p. 106.
11. Rec. de Partic. p. 318, ed. 4.
12. Scaliger, p. 409.
12a. Propertius I.i.1-2.
13. Bayle Dict. Art. Buchan. D.
14. Ep. xxxiii. centur. 3.
15. Ep. xxvi. centur. 3.
16. Lett. Chois. lib. ii. lett. 5.
OF NATIONS THAT USED TO GET DRUNK.
The plot now begins to thicken upon us, and we are come to give an account of such nations with whom the custom of getting drunk was heretofore very much in vogue; and of those 105 with whom this same custom reigns at this very day.
When we consult ancient histories upon this point, we learn from Plato1, that the Scythians, Thracians, Celtæ and Iberians, were the greatest drinkers that ever were. Ælian2 says the same in relation to the Thracians and Illyrians. It is also reported of the Parthians3, that the more they drink the more thirsty they grow.
Athenæus4 also assures us, that the Thracians were great drinkers; and he says the same thing of the Milesians, Illyrians, Lydians, Persians, Carthaginians, Gauls, and Spaniards.
The Tapyrians were so much given to wine, that they past their whole lives in drinking, and even bathed their bodies in wine5.
The Tarentins used to drink from morning till night, and got quite drunk in public6.
The Leontins, a people in Sicily, were such 106 great drunkards, that they occasioned this proverb, viz. the Leontins are always near a cup of wine7.
The Byzantins must not be refused a place in this chapter. Ælian reports8, that Leonides, their general, being besieged, and unable to make his men keep their posts, which they quitted every moment to go and get drunk at the taverns, he immediately gave orders that the vintners should repair with all their liquors to the ramparts, by which stratagem he kept them to their duty.
But as it may be said that the nations we have already mentioned were all barbarous, we shall, for that reason, verify what Montaigne says, that amongst nations the best regulated, and most polite, this essay of drinking deep was very much in use9.
The Greeks, whom one may look upon as the only nation of the world for politeness and good sense, are a proof of what I advance. They 107 celebrated the feasts of Bacchus with a great deal of solemnity; it is from them that Pergræcari, of which every one knows the signification, is derived. Ælian assures us, that they were so very luxurious, that they put perfumed oils into their wine, which they called wine of myrrh.
The Romans had also a very strong passion for wine, so that at Rome there were frequently very great seditions for want of it. Seditiones sunt concitatæ graves ob inopiam vini10, says Ammianus Marcellinus, in the Life of Constantius and Gallus; and in the reign of Constantius only, the same historian says, there was a sedition also upon that very account.
Titus Livius tells us, that the Clusians passed the Alps, and came to inhabit the country that the Etrurians possessed before, to have the pleasure of drinking wine11.
Let us now descend to some nations, with whom, at present, this custom of getting drunk is received.108
Sir Paul Ricaut12 assures us, that the Turks considering that wine rejoices the heart, and comforts the stomach, have begun to drink it; adding, that at present there are only a few (ulamah) ecclesiastical hypocrites or some ignorant bigots, or superannuated people, that abstain from that liquor; but at the same time drunkenness is grown very common amongst them.
M. Du Mont confirms this truth, “As to wine,” says he, “though it be as expressly forbidden as swine’s flesh, it is nevertheless very certain that a great many Mahometans transgress that precept; and the justest thing that I can say in that respect is, that abstinence from wine is observed there almost after the same manner as Lent in France13.”
The Persians too drink wine to excess, though their law forbids the use of it; and they say for an excuse, “That it is to pass away the time, and sweeten the cares that surprise them14.”
The Armenians are no way behind the Persians, 109 if we may believe Tavernier, who says, that with them, “He that treats thinks he has handsomely acquitted himself of his entertainment, if his guests cannot find the door when they have a mind to go home, which would very often happen, without the assistance of their servants, who lead them, and yet have not power enough sometimes to keep them from falling down in the room, or in the street, which is a great satisfaction to the host; for if he finds any of them master of so much judgment as to guide himself, though he reels never so much, he laments very much, as having the misfortune of spending his money to no purpose15
The Siameze drink wine very heartily when they can get it, though every thing that may intoxicate them is forbidden by their law16.
Father le Clerc, author of a Relation of Gaspesia, assures us, that drunkenness is the favourite vice of the inhabitants of that country17.
The inhabitants of the coast of Africa are great 110 drunkards; they would give all they had in the world for a glass of brandy. At Loanda, capital of the kingdom of Angola, a firkin of wine sells for above thirty pounds sterling. They love it extremely, and they tell you a pleasant story hereupon of the great duke of Bamba, which is a province of the king of Congo, viz. that he once refused the crown, as he himself owned to the fathers missioners, that he might be always near the Portuguese, and drink, by their means, sometimes a little wine or brandy18.
The Muscovites love wine with a kind of fury, and it has been known, that when a man who has drunk to excess, and can swallow no more, they wash him soundly with it. And in Germany you are not looked upon to have treated your guest like a friend, if you do not reduce him to that condition, as quite to forget himself, and know not what he does19.
“As Georgia produces strong wines, so its inhabitants are great drunkards, the strongest liquors is what they love most; and at their 111 entertainments they drink more brandy than wine, women as well as men.20”
Sir John Chardin21 assures us, That there is no country in the world where they drink so much wine, and more excellent, than they do at Georgia; adding, that the Georgians are great drunkards, and that the clergy get drunk as well as the laity.
Like people like priest.
Quales populus talis sacerdos.
We have taken care not to forget Germany. Vocabitur hæc quoque votis. Which we reserve to the next chapter.
1. Lips. cent. 3, ep. li.
2. Lib. ii. cap. 15.
3. Erasm. Adag.
4. Lib. x. cap. 10.
5. Ælian, lib. iii. cap. 13.
6. Lib. xii.
7. Forner de Ebriet. lib. i. cap. 12.
8. Lib. iii. cap. 14.
9. Essays, l. ii. cap. 2.
10. Hist. Aug. Script. ed. 1609. fol. p. 414, and p. 425.
11. P. 85.
12. Hist. of the Turks.
13. Voyage, t. 3, let. v.
14. Tavernier’s Trav. 1. lib. v. cap. 17.
15. Tavern. t. 1, lib. v. cap. 17.
16. Loubere, liv. i. ch. 9.
17. Bibl. Univ. t. xxiii. p. 44.
18. Viaggo del Congo.
19. Chevrean, t. ii. p. 215.
20. Tavern. t. 1, liv. iii. ch. 9.
21. Voyag. t. iip. 129.
OF THE DRUNKENNESS OF THE GERMANS.
The Germans were, in all times and ages, great drinkers, and in the words of one of their own poets,
“Illic nobilitas, æterno nomine digna
Exhaurire cados, siccareque pocula longa1.”
——————————— worthy eternal fame!
’Tis there a piece of true nobility,
To empty casks, and drink deep goblets dry.
To demonstrate the origin of their bibacity, it is absolutely necessary to go higher than Tacitus, who in the treatise which he composed in relation to their customs and manners, thus speaks: “It is no shame with them to pass whole days and 113 nights in drinking; but quarrellings are very frequent amongst them, as are usual amongst folks in that respect, and more often end at daggers drawing than in Billingsgate. It is, however, in such meetings, that alliances and reconciliations are formed. Here they treat of the election of princes. In short, of all affairs, of peace and war. Those opportunities they think most proper, inasmuch as then people shake off all disguise of thought and reflection, and the heat of debauch engages the soul of man to resolutions the most bold and hardy2.”
Owen, our countryman, has made an epitaph in honour of these our substantial topers, the Germans; the sense of which is, that if truth lies hidden in wine, they are the first people 114 in the world that will find it out. His words are,
Si latet in vino verum, ut proverbia dicunt,
Invenit verum Teuto vel inveniet.
Let us see now what travellers have said on this subject of the Germans: and we will begin with M. Aug. de Thou3, an eye-witness thereof. “There is,” says he, “before Mulhausen, a large place, or square, where, during the fair, assemble a prodigious number of people, of both sexes, and of all ages; there one may see wives supporting their husbands, daughters their fathers, tottering upon their horses or asses, a true image of a Bacchanal. The public-houses are full of drinkers, where the young women who wait, pour wine into goblets out of a large bottle with a long neck, without spilling one drop. They press you to drink with pleasantries the most agreeable in the world. People drink here continually, and return at all hours to do the same thing over again.”
This pleasant sight, so new to M. de Thou, 115 continues almost all night. And what is very particular amongst such a great concourse of people, and such a number of drunkards, every thing passes without dispute and quarrelling.
Let us now see what the duke de Rohan says on this head, whose words are these4:— “From thence I came to Trent, a place noways agreeable, and famous for nothing but the last council which was held there; and if it was not that it was half Italian, (being glad of coming out of little Barbary, and a universal tippling-house,) I would take no notice of it; being well satisfied, that the mathematicians of our times can no where find out the perpetual motion so well as here, where the goblets of Germans are an evident demonstration of its possibility—they think they cannot make good cheer, nor permit friendship or fraternity, as they call it, with any, without giving the seal brimful of wine, to seal it for perpetuity.”
M. Misson, who was also some time in Germany, gives us yet a larger description. “The Germans,” says he5, “are, as you know, 116 strange drinkers. There are no people in the world more caressing, more civil, more officious, but still another cup. They have terrible customs on that article of drinking. Every thing is transacted over the bottle; you can do nothing without drinking. One can scarce speak three words at a visit, but you are astonished to see the collation come in, or at least a good quantity of wine, attended with crusts of bread cut into little pieces, upon a plate with salt and pepper, a fatal preparative for bad drinkers. I must instruct you in the laws they observe in their cups; laws sacred and inviolable. You must never drink without drinking some one’s health, which having done, you must immediately present the glass to the party you drank to, who must never refuse it, but drink it to the last drop. Reflect a little, I beseech you, on these customs, and you will see how, and by what means, it is impossible to cease from drinking. After this manner one shall never have done. It is a perpetual circle to drink after the German fashion; it is to drink for ever. You must likewise know, that the glasses too are respected in those countries as much as the wine is loved; they range 117 them all about in ranks and files; most of their rooms are wainscotted up two thirds of the wall, and the glasses are ranged all about, like organ pipes, upon the cornish. They begin with the small, and end with the large ones, which are like melon glasses, and must be taken off at one draught, when they drink any health of importance.”
Let us observe here6, “That it was the custom of the ancient Greeks to drink largely after meals, and that this custom is now practised in Germany.” This was what Æneas, and the people of his train, used to do, as we learn from these verses of Virgil7:—
“Postquam prima quies epulis, mensæque remotæ,
Crateras magnas statuunt et vina coronant
After the teeth had gain’d their first repose,
The dishes ta’en away, the cloth remov’d,
The rich repast gigantic tankards close,
Replete with wines, by nicest tastes approv’d.
It is the same thing with the Armenians, they never drink till at the end of their meals. “After they have said grace, the dishes are removed, in order to bring in the , and then they prepare themselves to drink to excess.”
We come now to the Swiss. Here follows what Daniel Eremita, a very learned man, who published a description of their country, has said of them. “8They have the same simplicity in drinking, but they do not keep the same moderation. Wine is what they place their delight in, and they prefer it to all things in the world. At their assemblies, both for pleasure and business, or any other affairs, wine always makes a party; with which, when they have overloaded their stomach, they discharge it, and sit down to it again, and drink as they did at first. They leave the care of their family to their wives and children, who live with the utmost economy, in favour of their husbands, who are continually at the tavern. They talk with glass in hand, and please themselves in that posture to recount their acts and jests, and those of their ancestors, as examples to posterity. 119 They speak freely all they know, and know not what a secret is. In short, this way of life does not only continue whole days successively, but all the time they live.”
Nor have things now taken another aspect in Switzerland. The author of a travel lately into that country, tells us for certain, that “wine is a singular attractive, a powerful charm, against which the Swiss can make no manner of resistance9.”
Before I close this chapter I shall take notice of the Flemings, whom we ought to look upon as making part of Germany, who, though they are surrounded by water, take care never to drink any, which made Scaliger, when in Holland, say to Douza,
“In mediis habitamus aquis, quis credere possit
Et tamen hic nullæ, Douza, bibuntur aquæ10.”
Amidst the waters here we live,
Yet who can any credit give
To what I say, for, Douza, here
No water drinkers e’er appear.
Guicciardin, in his description of the low countries, accuses the people of drinking too much. 11, says he, poi per la maggior parte quel vitio del bere troppo. He adds, however, “That they are in some sort excusable, because the air of the country being for the most part of the year humid, and apt to inspire melancholy, they could not, perhaps, make use of a more efficacious remedy to expel this irksome, unwholesome melancholy, than wine, which, I suppose, was Horace’s sentiment, when he said, With wine drive away The words in the original are, Ma sono in qualche parte scusabili, per che essendo l’aria del paese il pui del tempo humida et malinconica, non potrieno peraventura trovar instromento piu idoneo a scacciare et battere la malinconia odiosa et mal sana che il vino, si come pare che accerni Horatio dicendo. Vino pellite curas
But without any farther talking of the Germans, I shall end this chapter with this necessary remark, that one need not go out of England for 121 examples of hard drinking, our country, God bless it, does not come behind any other in this particular.
1. G. Brusch. Inter. p. 405.
2. Diem noctemque continuare nullum probium, crebræ ut inter vinolentos rixæ, raro conviciis sepius cede et vulneribus transiguntur. Sed et de reconciliandis invicem inimicitiis et pangendis affinitatibus et adsciscendis principibus, de pace denique ac bello plerunque in conviviis consultant; tanquam nullo magis tempore aut ad simplices cogitationes patea animus, aut ad magnas incalescat. Tacitus, Germania 22.
3. Memoir de Thou. liv. ii. p. 63.
4. Voyag. p. 27. ed. 1646.
5. Voyage de Italie, t. i. let. 9.
6. Chevreana, t. ii. p. 188.
7. Æneid, lib. i. v. 723. i.e. 723-724.
8. Ed. viii. p. 411.
9. Voyag. de Rouvier, p. 89.
10. De admir. Holland.
11. Ed. fol. 1567, p. 29.
OF NATIONS THAT GET DRUNK WITH CERTAIN LIQUORS.
As every country does not produce wine, but, according to the poet1,
“Hic , illic veniunt fælicius uvæ.”
Here wheat, more happily there grows the grape.
Those nations, with whom there are no vines, have invented other drinks to make themselves merry. Pliny2 tells us, That the western 122 people got drunk with certain liquors made with fruits; and that these liquors have different names in Gaul and Spain, though they produce the same effect.
Ammianus Marcellinus reports, That the Gauls having no wine in their country, though they are very fond of it, contrive a great many sorts of liquors, which produce the same effect as wine. Vini avidum genus adfectans ad vini similitum dinem multiplices potus.
The Scythians had no wine, as appears by the answer of Anacharsis, the philosopher, who being asked, If they had none that played on the flute in Scythia, replied, That they had not so much as any wine there. However, for all that, they got drunk with certain liquors which had the force and strength of wine. This also we learn from these words of Virgil:—
“Ipsi in defossis specubus, secura subaltâ
Otia agunt terrâ, congestaque robora tolasque
Advolvere focis ulmos, ignique dedere.
Hic noctem ludo ducunt, et pocula læti
Fermento, atque acidis imitantur vitea sorbis.”2a
Secure, in quiet ease, they dwell in caves
Deep dug in earth, and to their chimneys roll123
Whole oaks and elms entire, which flames devour.
Here all the night, in sport and merry glee,
They pass and imitate, with acid service,
By fermentation vinous made, the grape.
The Thracians intoxicate themselves by swallowing the fumes of certain herbs, which they cast into the fire.
The Babylonians, according to Herodotus, used likewise to get drunk, by swallowing the fumes of certain herbs that they burned.
Strabo reports, That the Indians made a certain drink with sugar canes, which made them merry; very probably not unlike what we now call rum.
Benso, in his History of America, says the same of the inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola, and several other provinces of America.
Pliny and Athenæus tell us, that the Egyptians fuddled themselves with a drink made of barley; by this it seems the liquor of Sir John Barley-Corn is very ancient.
Leri3, in his Voyage to Brazil, tells us, That the inhabitants of that country are as great drinkers as the Germans, Flemings, Lansquenets, 124 Swiss: and all those merry gentleman who love carousing, and drink supernaculum, ought to agree, that they are even with them. Their drink is made of certain roots, which they boil and ferment, and is then called by them in their language, cahou-in. The author adds, “That he has seen them not only drink three days and nights successively without ceasing, but that they were so very drunk, that they could swallow no more till they had disgorged, which was in order to begin again.
“There 4grows in the Eastern countries certain particular drugs, with which the inhabitants are wonderfully delighted, and which produce a kind of drunkenness, or agreeable folly, which continues some time. They are so much accustomed to the use of these drugs, by a long habit, that they imagine that life must be very sad and unhappy without them. The Indians and Persians have their bangué, the Egyptians their bola, and the Turks their opium.”
In relation to the Persians, Tavernier5 has these words, viz. “They have a sort of drink to divert and make themselves merry, which 125 they call kokemaar, made of poppy-seeds boiled. They drink it scalding hot; and there are particular houses, called kokemaar kronè, where people meet, and give a great deal of pleasure and delight to those who see the ridiculous postures which this kind of liquor makes them perform. Before it operates they quarrel with one another, and give abusive language, without coming to blows; afterwards when the drug begins to have its effect, then they also begin to make peace. One compliments in a very high degree, another tells stories, but all are extremely ridiculous both in their words and actions.” And after having spoken of other liquors that they make use of, he adds, “It is difficult to find in Persia a man that is not addicted to some one of these liquors, without which they think they cannot live but very unpleasantly.”
I take no notice here of that admirable drink called Punch with us; nor Juniper-water, (vulgarly called Geneva, a corruption from the French word Genevre, which signifies the same thing,) nor that dram called All-fours, which have such wonderful effects on the wretched commonalty.
1. Virgil. Georgics I.54.
2. Const. et Jul. lib. 16.
2a. Virgil, Georgics III.376-380.
3. P. 126, ed. 1594.
4. L’Emer. des Alim. part iii. ch. 2.
5. T. 1, lib. v. ch. 17.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS IN FAVOUR OF DRUNKENNESS.
Drunkenness will (and ought to do so) appear excusable to people the most sober, if they would but make these two reflections following, viz.
I. That drunkards are not generally given to lewdness.
Aristotle says, “That too much drinking makes one very improper for the acts of Venus, and gives his reasons. Athenæus reports the same thing in that passage, where he makes mention of the drunkenness of Alexander the Great, a vice,” says he, “which, perhaps, was the cause of his little inclination for the ladies.”
Montaigne1 speaks very well on this article, 127 “These,” says he, “are two things which vigorously oppose each other; this weakens our stomach on one hand; whereas, on the other, sobriety serves to make us more quaint and delicate in the exercise of love.”
Ovid2 says much the same thing.
“Vina parant animum veneri, nisi plurima sumas,
Ut stupeant multo corda sepulta mero.”
Wine, not too much, inspires, and makes the mind
To the soft joys of Venus strong inclin’d,
Which buried in excess, unapt to love,
Stupidly lies, and knows not how to move.
II. That in those countries where they do not drink to excess, they are very much addicted to debauchery.
It is certain, that in hot countries they drink a great deal less than they do in cold, but in lieu of that, lewdness reigns much more. Montaigne3, after having observed, that they began to drink less than they used to do, adds, “Does 128 any one think it tends to amendment? No, indeed; but, perhaps, we are much more given to whoring than our forefathers.”
This puts me in mind of an Italian, who having reproached a German with the drunkenness of his country, by these verses, viz.
“Germani multos possunt tolerare labores
O utinam possint tam tolerare sitim.”
The Germans (patient) toil, inur’d to pain,
Oh! could they but their thirst so well sustain!
The German answered him extempore in these other two:—
“Ut nos vitis amor, sic vos Venus improba vexat
Est data lex veneri Julia, nulla mero.”
As we love wine, so wicked Venus you,
Twas this, not that, the Julian Edict knew.
In order to draw a consequence from all this, let us speak once more of Montaigne4, whose words are, “And if we cannot give any pleasure but what costs us something, as the ancients 129 maintain, I find this vice costs the conscience less than all the rest, besides, it is in this respect no despicable consideration, that a man advanced in honours, amongst three principal conveniencies of life, that he told me he yet enjoyed, he reckoned this for one.”
After having shewn, in the foregoing chapters, That drunkenness reigns all the world over, Nulla in parte mundi cessat ebrietas. Let us see what we may hence infer in its favour: and I ask, if the agreement of so many different nations, to do one and the same thing, proves nothing, and may not, in some measure, serve as an apology for drunkenness? For if one considers, that the surprising variety of the humour and temperament of men, do, notwithstanding, in nowise hinder them from agreeing unanimously in this point, one shall have a very strong temptation to believe, that the desire of getting drunk is an innate quality, and we shall be confirmed in this sentiment, after tasting experimentally the exquisite sweetness caused by drunkenness.
All drink, throughout the universe, ’tis plain,
The moon drinks up the sea, the earth the rain,
The sun the air, and ev’ry tree, we know,
The earth’s prolific juice imbibes to grow.
The air sups up the water too, ’tis said,
Why then, my dearest friends, d’ye plague my head,
And angry grow, because, dry soul5, I swill
New wine, drink fit for gods, and quaff my fill.
1. Essais, l. ii. ch. 2.
2. De Remed. Amor.
3. Essais, liv. ii. ch. 2.
4. Essais, liv. ii. ch. 2.
5. Anima mea non potest habitare in sicco. S. Aug.
AN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT DRUNKENNESS CAUSES
After having specified the good qualities of drunkenness, let us now answer some frivolous objections that may be made against what we have here advanced. For example, people will 131 not be wanting immediately to object, that drunkenness has been the cause of infinite evils.
To this I answer, that it has been only the cause of these evils when people have pushed it too far, and not observed the rules they ought to keep in drinking, and which we shall see here prescribed by and by. For where do we find that any one, of so many grave philosophers that used to get drunk, made any disorders? It was for this reason that Chrisippus’s maid said, That her master was drunk in the hams. And it was on this very account, perhaps, that the Stoics said of their sage, “That he was, indeed, to be overcome with wine, but would not, however, be drunk, Vino obrutum iri non ebrium tamen futurum.”
On the other hand, without being willing to excuse those disorders which drunkenness has been the cause of, one may say, nevertheless, that some of these disorders have produced effects highly advantageous. “Suppose, for example, that Lot had not got drunk, and his two daughters had not been possessed with the furious desire of having children, and the fear of dying maids, you ruin, by this means, whole families, who 132 bore a great part in the wonderful events of the children of Israel1.”
Their high mightinesses the States of Holland, have eternal obligations to drunkenness, since to this they owe, in some sort, the establishment of their republic, which was after this manner, according to Strada:— 2The same day that Brederode, accompanied by above two hundred gentlemen, had presented that famous petition to Margaret of Parma, who then governed the Netherlands, he gave a magnificent entertainment in the house of the Count of Culenbourg, there was no want of drinking; and as they saw the Count of Hoocstrate, who by chance passed that way, they began, with a great deal of joy, to give one another the name of Gueux3; upon which taking each of them all together great glasses in their hands, they made vows and oaths to each other by the name of Gueux, and cried out with one voice and general applause, Long live the Gueux! After which they promised mutual fidelity; and 133 the Prince of Orange and the Counts of Egmont and Horn coming to them, they began to drink again, and with great acclamation renewed vows and wishes with these new comers, as they had already done, for the Gueux. At last, in the heat of wine, they took those vigorous resolutions, the effects of which were afterwards seen, which was the liberty of the United Provinces.
1. Lett. xvi. sur la Crit. du Calvin.
2. Strada de Bello Belgico, part i. lib. 5.
3. The French word for beggars.
AN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT THE MIRTH WHICH WINE INSPIRES IS
It will be objected, without doubt, that the mirth which wine inspires is imaginary, and without any foundation, and that, as Boileau has it,134
“Rien n’est beau que le vrai. Le vrai seul est aimable.”
Nothing so beautiful as what is true,
That it is only lovely is its due.
I very willingly own, that this joy and mirth is nothing else than the effect of our imagination.
Full well I’m satisfied ’tis nothing all
But a deceitful hope, less solid far,
A thousand times, than is the moving sand;
But are not all things so with wretched man?
All things soon pass away like rapid streams
Which hasten to the sea, where lost for ever
In th’ ocean’s vast abyss unknown they lie.
Our wisest wishes and desires are vain,
Abstracted vanities, gay painted bubbles,
That break when touch’d, and vanish into air.
Love, wisdom, knowledge, riches, phantoms all.
But before we thoroughly refute this objection, I shall observe by the way, that errors and illusions are necessary to the world. “1In general, indeed, it is true to say, that the world, as it is now, cannot keep itself in the same condition, 135 were not men full of a thousand false prejudices and unreasonable passions; and if philosophy went about to make men act according to the clear and distinct ideas of reason, we might, perhaps, be satisfied, that mankind would quickly be at an end. Errors, passions, prejudices, and a hundred other the like faults, are as a necessary evil to the world. Men would be worth nothing for this world, were they cured, and the greatest part of the things which now take up our time, would be useless, as Quintilian well knew, namely, eloquence
Things are in this condition, and will not easily change, and we may wait long enough for such a happy revolution, before we shall be able to say, with Virgil,
“Magnus ab integro sæculorum nascitur ordo.”1a
A series long of ages now appear,
Entirely new to man, before unknown.
On the other hand, “2If you take away from man every thing that is chimerical, what 136 pleasure will you leave him? Pleasures are not things so solid, as to permit us to search them to the bottom; one must only just touch them and away. They resemble boggy and moorish ground, we must run lightly over them, without ever letting our feet make the least impression.”
No, wheresoe’er we turn our wishing eye,
True pleasures never can our souls enjoy.
Let us add, “3That if we did not help to deceive ourselves, we should never enjoy any pleasure at all. The most agreeable things in this world are, in the bottom, so trivial, that they would not much affect us, if we made but never so little serious reflection upon them. Pleasures are not made to be strictly examined into, and we are obliged every day to pass over a great many things in them, about which it would not be proper to make one-self uneasy.”
“Souvent en s’attachant a des fantômes vains
Notre raison seduite avec plaisir s’egare.
Et cette illusion pour quelque tems repare
Le defaut des vrais biens que la Nature avare
N’a pas accordez aux humains.”
Often enchanted by the ’luring charms
Of phantoms gay, our reason all seduc’d,
With pleasure roams thro’ endless wild,
Enjoys the objects which herself has form’d.
And this illusion for some time repairs
The want of real joys, which niggard Nature
Never has granted to unhappy man.
“Enjoyment,” says Montaigne6, “and possession, belong principally to imagination, which embraces more eagerly that which it is in pursuit of, than that which we have in our power.”138
And certainly, one may pronounce them happy, who thus amuse themselves, and believe themselves to be so. And indeed, when a man is so far gone in this persuasion, every thing that is alleged to the contrary is rejected as a fable.
But to shew, at present, the reality, if one may say so, of mere illusion, we need go no farther than the poets, who are certainly the happiest mortals living in that respect.
To instance no more, there’s Mr. ————, who would fain be a rhimer, and that is his folly; but though the poor man, for his insipid verses, and improper epithets, richly deserves our pity, yet is he wonderfully pleased with his performances, and with a great deal of tranquillity mounts up Parnassus, in his own conceit, in loftier tracts than Virgil or Theocritus ever knew. But, alas! what would become of him, if some audacious person should dare unbind his eyes, and make him see his weak and graceless lines, which, however smoothly they may run, are, at best, but exquisitely dull; contain terms that have no meaning in them, and have no other ornament, but unintelligible jingle, and 139 initial letters? How would he curse the day which deprived his senseless soul of that happy error that so much charmed his thoughts, and amused his imagination?
What is here said of the poets is applicable to all mankind; and so a man, whom any one should undertake to persuade, that the mirth and joy inspired by wine is chimerical, would do well to answer him, after the manner as a certain madman did the doctor that cured him. The story is this:—
Once upon a time a certain bigot, otherwise a man of sense, had his brain a little touched with whimsies, and continually fancied he heard the heavenly music of the blessed spirits. At last a physician, very expert in his profession, cured him, either by his skill, or by chance, no matter which; but when he came to demand his fees; for what? says the other, in a violent passion, by your damned slip-slops and hellish art, you have robbed me of my Paradise, though you have cured me of my error. This I borrow from Boileau7, as he did from Horace8.140
“9There are,” says Pere Bouhours, writing to Bussi Rabutin, “agreeable errors, which are much more valuable than that which the Spaniards called desengano, and which might be called in our language disabusement, if this word, which one of our best writers has ventured upon, had been received.”
We shall conclude with M. de Sacy10, “That it is not always doing mankind an agreeable service to dissipate their illusions.” And we say of those who taste those satisfactions wine inspires, what M. Bayle says very pleasantly of news-mongers who are still in hopes of what they wish for. “They are11,” says he, “the least unhappy, whatever happens. There is a great deal of reality in their agreeable sentiments, how chimerical soever their foundation may be; so that they do not willingly suffer themselves to be disabused; and they sometimes say, when one gives them reasons why they should believe the news, that makes them so joyful, is doubtful or 141 absolutely false, Why do you envy us the pleasures we enjoy? Do not disturb our entertainment, or rob us of what we hold most dear. A friend more opposite to error than charity is a very troublesome reasoner; and if he meddles with their chimeras they will endeavour to do him a diskindness.”
We come now to another objection, and that is, that this joy inspired by wine is but of a very short continuance; and the pleasure one tastes in so short a space, dearly repaid with a long and tedious uneasiness. Ebrietas unius horæ hilarem insaniam longo temporis tedio pensat.
I own that it is a very great misery, that our pleasures are so short: and the shorter too, the more exquisite they are. And, perhaps, this may be a kindness to us, since some are so superlatively so, that should they continue a much longer space, mankind could not support themselves under these ecstacies. But be this as it will, can we make them otherwise than they are? We must therefore have patience, and take them as we find them. In short, there is no present happiness in the world; all we can do, is to 142 be contented with the present, not uneasy at what is to come, but sweeten with an equality of soul the bitter miseries of human life.
1. Lett. xvi. sur la Crit. de Calvin, p. 516.
1a. Virgil, Eclogues IV.5.
2. Fontenelle Dial. d’Elisab. et du D. d’Alençon.
3. Fontenelle Dial. des Morts de Callirh. et de Paulin.
4. Nov. Dial. des Dieux. p. 68.
5. Poesies Pastor.
6. Essais, lib. iii. ch. 9.
7. Satire iv. M. la Vayer.
8. Lib. ii. ep. 2.
9. Lett. de Rab. t. iii. lett. 63.
10. De l’Amitié, p. 2.
11. Rep. aux Quest. d’un Prov. t. i. ch. 20.
AN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT ONE LOSES ONE’S REASON IN GETTING
It is objected here, that reason ought to be the motive of all our actions; and, of consequence, that we ought not voluntarily to lose it.
To this objection I answer several ways:— First and foremost then, I say, people do well to talk to us so much of reason, when almost all mankind acts without reason, so that it may pass for a thing that has no manner of existence but in the imagination. We shall prove this from M. Bayle. “1We are defined,” says he, “a reasonable 143 animal. A very fine definition indeed, when none of us do any thing but without reason. I assure you, sir, that one may say of reason, what Euripides said in the beginning of one of his tragedies, and which afterwards was corrected, on account of the murmurings of the people. O Jupiter, for of thee I know nothing but only the name! In relation to the faculty I am talking of, we know nothing more of it than that, so that we may well laugh at the complaints of that heathen philosopher, who found that reason was a very troublesome present sent to us by the gods for our ruin; for he supposed, that reason busied herself in our affairs, whereas the truth of it is she never meddles in the least with them. We act nothing but with prejudice, by instinct, by self-love, and the sudden starts of a thousand passions, which drag and turn our reason as they will, insomuch that one may most justly define the principle which rules and domineers over us, a mass of prejudices and passions which knows how to draw consequences. I remember to have seen a man, who having never heard mention made of the Cotta of Cicero, said nevertheless as well as he, that it would have been 144 much better that God had not made us reasonable, since reason poisons all our affairs, and makes us ingenious to afflict ourselves, upon which a certain person said to him in raillery, That he had what he desired; that he had received so small a share of reason that it was not worth his while to complain. For my part, I turned the thing otherwise, that people were much in the wrong to murmur against reason, since it is not that which guides us; and that it is not too possible it should, without overthrowing the order which has reigned so long in the world. The learned Erasmus, continued I, deserves the highest praise in this respect; he has written The Praise of Folly, wherein he shews that she sheds every where her influence, and without her, the whole world would in a short time be turned topsy turvy. I make no doubt, sir, but you know the merit of that work. The author speaks, though in a merry manner, the greatest truths in the world; and I do not know whether he believed himself as profound a philosopher, as he really was in that ingenious satire.”145
Secondly, This is not all, “2It is sometimes necessary, for the general good of the world, to follow prejudices, popular errors, and the blind instincts of nature, rather than the distinct ideas of reason.” Mr. Bayle extends himself farther on this idea in another place3, which I shall here insert. “Errors,” says he, “irregular passions, and unreasonable prejudices, are so necessary to the world to make it a theatre of that prodigious diversity of events which make one admire his providence. So that he who would reduce men to do nothing but according to the distinct ideas of reason, would ruin civil society. If man was reduced to this condition, he would have no longer any desire of glory; and having no longer that desire, is it not true, that then mankind would be like ice? I say, he would have no desire of glory, for right reason shews us, that we should not make our happiness depend on the judgment of other men; and consequently, that we should not toil and fatigue ourselves, to make other people say this, or that, of 146 us ——The earnest desire of being praised after death is an instinct of morality that God has impressed in the mind of man, to keep up society. And it is certain, that earnest desire has been the cause of the greatest events; and this ought to instruct us that the world stands in need of a great many instincts, which, examined according to the ideas of our reason, are ridiculous and absurd. For there is nothing so opposite to reason as to torment ourselves in this life, that we may be praised after we are dead, since neither philosophy, nor experience, nor faith, nor any thing whatsover, makes it appear, that the praises given us after death can do us any good. It would be a thing uneasy to the heart of man, if we did nothing but according to the light of reason; and how many designs would come to nothing at the same time?”
Thirdly, Besides, reason very often serves for nothing but to make us wretched. “The happiness of man is never the work of reason.” Of all our evils reason is often the worst; it frightens us in the full career of our pleasures, and with importunate remorses comes to bridle our fleet desires. The horrid thing reserves for us most 147 cruel and matchless rigours. It is like a troublesome pedant one is forced to hear, who always growls, but never touches us, and frequently like D———, and such like venerable impertinents, lose the time they employ in predication.
“If there be any happiness4,” says Fontenelle, “that reason produces, it is like that sort of health which cannot be maintained but by the force of physic, and which is ever most feeble and uncertain.” And in another place he cries out, “5Can we not have sound sight without being at the same time wretched and uneasy? Is there any thing gay but error? And is reason made for any thing else but to torment and kill us?” “6What cause have not men to bewail their wretched condition? Nature furnishes them but with a very few things that are agreeable, and their reason teaches them how to enjoy them yet less.” “7And why has Nature, in giving us passions which are sufficient to make 148 us happy, given us reason, that will not suffer us to be so?”
It was this same troublesome reason that made Sophocles say, “8It is very sweet to live, but none of your wisdom, away with her, she spoils life.”
Vaunt less thy reason, O unhappy man!
Behold how useless is this gift celestial,
For which, they say, thou should’st the rest disdain.
Feeble as thou wert in thy infant days,
Like thee she mov’d, she totter’d, and was weak.
When age mature arriv’d, and call’d to pleasures,
Slave to thy sense, she still was so to thee,
When fifty winters, Fate had let thee count;
Pregnant with thousand cares and worlds of woes,
The hateful issue in thy breast she threw,
And now grown old thou loosest her for ever.
Before I end this chapter, let every body take notice, that if for having spoken so much against reason, any one should say, that it is a plain sign the author has none; and that there are a 149 great many others, who, in the words of M. La Motte9, will be apt to say:—
“Heureux cent fois l’auteur avec qui l’on s’oublie
Qui nous offre un charmant poison,
Et nous associant a sa douce folie
Nous affranchit de la raison.”
Happy the author, whose bewitching style,
Life’s tedious minutes can beguile,
Makes us, with him, forget uneasy care,
And not remember what we are.
Who by a charm, which no one can withstand,
Enchanting poison can command,
Can make us share his pleasing foolery,
And from dull reason set us free.
And I shall not be wanting to answer in the words of the same gentleman:
“10 le joug d’une raison trop fiere
Eteignez son triste flambeau
D’autres enseignent l’art sa lumiere
Mais l’art est plus beau.”
Break, jolly topers, break th’ ungrateful chain
Of reason, if she too imperious grow,
Of being disturb’d you never need complain,
If you put out her troublesome flambeau.
Others may teach the art t’ increase her fires,
To put them out a finer art requires.
1. Lett. xxii, sur la Crit. du Calv. p. 756.
2. Lett. sur la Crit. du Calv. Lett. xvi. p.504.
3. Ibid. p. 535.
4. Dial. de M. Stuart, et P. Riccio.
5. Dial. de Parmen. et de Theb.
6. Dial. de Alexand. et Phryne.
7. Nouv. Dial. des Dieux, p. 99.
8. Moriæ Encom.
9. La Motte, Od. la Vanité.
10. Od. Thalia.
AN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT ONE CANNOT TRUST A MAN THAT GETS
There is a proverb amongst the Jews. “1Ingrediente vino egreditur secretum.” As the wine goes in so the secret goes out. Seneca2 makes the same objection. “As,” says he, “new wine bursts the vessel, and the heat makes every 151 thing go upwards, so the force of wine is such, that it brings to light, and discovers, what is most secret and hidden.”
In answer to this objection I say, that people who are naturally secret, are not less so after drinking. “3And Bacchus was not said to be the inventor of wine, on account of the liberty of his tongue, but because he freed our minds from disquiet, and makes them more firm and resolute in what we undertake.”
Besides, do we not see every day, people of all ranks, conditions, and characters, get drunk, and yet we trust them with secrets, and it very rarely happens they speak of them when they are drunk. Thus, if we consult history, we shall learn from Seneca4 himself, that the design of killing Cæsar was as well communicated to Tullius Cimber, who was a great drinker, as to C. Cassius, who drank nothing but water. And though L. Piso, governor of Rome, got frequently drunk, he, notwithstanding, excellently acquitted himself of his duty. Augustus made 152 no manner of difficulty to give him secret instructions, bestowing on him the government of Thrace, the conquest of which he entirely completed. Tiberius, before he left Rome, where he was generally hated, in order to retire into the Campania, made choice of Costus, who was extremely given to wine, for governor of that city, to whom he communicated such things as he dared not trust his own ministers with.
AN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT DRUNKENNESS MAKES ONE INCAPABLE OF
PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF CIVIL LIFE.
I deny this absolutely, and to prove the contrary, I say, the Persians had a custom to deliberate on things the most serious, and of the 153 greatest importance, after hard drinking. Tacitus reports the same thing of the Germans. Dampier assures us, that the same custom is practised with the inhabitants of the Isthmus Darien. And to go higher, one finds in Homer, that during the siege of Troy, the Greeks, in council, did eat and drink heartily. An evident proof, that this objection is contrary to experience. But to go farther, this same experience made the ancients look on those who could carry a great deal of wine, as persons of a genius very much superior to those who could not drink at all. On this account it was, that Cyrus, in writing to the Lacedemonians the reasons which rendered him more capable of government than his brother, amongst other things, takes notice, that he could drink more wine than he. And so many fine productions, for which we are obliged to the drunkenness of the poets, make it evidently appear, that wine, far from rendering us incapable of doing any thing that is good, rather helps and incites us to it. This important truth we shall confirm by several examples.
Plutarch relates, that Philip king of Macedon, after having conquered the Athenians, made a 154 feast, at which he got drunk; and that all proud with that happy success, he nevertheless did a great many things entirely ridiculous; but being informed that the ambassadors that the Athenians sent to him to desire peace, wished to see him, he changed his countenance all of a sudden, and having heard their proposals with all possible attention, answered them with a great deal of justice.
The emperor Bonosus, who Amelian said was born not to live, but to drink, acted always with greater prudence after drinking, says Flavius Vopiscus, after Onesimus1.
We have taken notice, in the foregoing chapter, that L. Piso, governor of Rome, though he was often drunk, acquitted himself, notwithstanding, punctually of his duty.
Christiern2, the fourth king of Denmark, drank like a templer, and never king was more laborious, a greater lover of his subjects, or more beloved by them.
Scaliger3 says, that a German has as much 155 reason when he is drunk, as when he has drank nothing. Non minus sapit Germanus ebrius quam sobrius.
Montaigne4 speaks in his Essays, of a great lord of his time, who, though he drank every day a prodigious quantity of wine, was, nevertheless, equally careful in his affairs. According to which, that which Cicero says is not generally true, viz. “That one must never expect prudence from a man that is always drunk.” Nec enim ab homine nunquam sobrio postulanda prudentia5.
Another proof that drunkenness does not render us incapable of doing any thing that is good, is, that it inspires people with courage, and even makes the coward valiant. Ad prelia trudit inertem. Experience confirms this truth. “We see,” says Montaigne6, “that our Germans, though drowned in wine, remember their post, the word, and their rank.”
We read in Spartien, that a certain general 156 having been vanquished by the Saracens, his soldiers laid all the blame of their defeat on their want of wine.
The soldiers of the army of Pescennius Niger pressed earnestly for wine, undoubtedly to make them fight the better; but he refused them in these words, “You have the Nile,” said he, “and do you ask for wine?” In imitation, I suppose, of the emperor Augustus7, who, when the people complained of the dearness and scarcity of wine, said to them, “My son-in-law, Agrippa, has preserved you from thirst, by the canals he has made for you.”
By what has been said it plainly appears, that wine is so far from hindering a man from performing the duties of life, that it rather forwards him, and is an admirable ingredient in all states and conditions, both of peace and war, which made Horace8 thus bespeak the god of wine.
“Quanquam choreis aptior et jocis
Ludoque dictus, non sat idoneus157
Pugnis ferebaris, sed idem
Pacis eras mediusque belli.”
Tho’ thou more apt for love than furious war,
And gay desires to move, thy chiefest care,
Yet war, and sweetest pleasures, you can join,
Both Mars and Venus are devotes to wine.
1. Flav. Vopisc. in vita Bonos.
2. Amel. de la Houssai sur Tacit. Ann. liv. xi. ch. 35.
3. Scaligeriana, p. 169.
4. L. ii. ch. 2.
5. Orat. ii. Philip.
6. Essais, l. ii. ch. 2.
7. Sueton. in Vit. August.
8. Lib. ii. Od. 19.
BURLESQUE, RIDICULOUS, AND OUT-OF-THE-WAY THOUGHTS, AGAINST
It is reported that Gerson should say, That there was no difference between a man’s killing himself at one stroke, or to procure death by several, in getting drunk.
Somebody has burlesqued this verse of Ovid1:—158
Vina parant animos, faciuntque coloribus aptos.1a
And thus changed it,
Vina parant asinos, faciuntque furoribus aptos.
Cyneas2 alluding to those high trees to which they used to fasten the vines, said one day, discoursing on wine, that it was not without reason that his mother was hanged upon so high a gibbet.
“3The diversion that people took heretofore in making one another drunk, appeared more heinous to St. Augustine than an assassination, for he maintained, that those who made any one drunk, did him greater injury than if they had given him a stab with a dagger.
“A Greek4 physician once wrote a letter to Alexander, in which he begged him to remember, that every time that he drank wine, he drank the pure blood of the earth, and that he must not abuse it.159
“5Some poets say, that it was the blood of the gods wounded in their battle with the giants.
“6The Severians in St. Epiphanius, hold, that it was engendered by a serpent, and it is for that reason that the vine is so strong. And the Encratites, in the same author, imagine to themselves that it was the gall of the devil.
“Noah7 in an hour of drunkenness,” says St. Jerom, “let his body be seen naked, which he had kept covered for six hundred years.”
1a. Ovid, Ars Amatoria 237.
1. Sphinx Theol. p. 682.
2. Diver, cur. t. i. p. 141.
3. Rep. des Lett. Janv. 1687. Art. I.
5. Entret. de Voiture, et de Costar, Lett. 29.
6. Lib. i. Heres. 47.
7. Ep. ad Ocean.
A RIDICULOUS AVERSION THAT SOME HAVE TO WINE.
An aversion to wine is a thing not very common; and there are but a very few but will say with Catullus:—
“At vos quo lubet, hinc abite lymphæ
Pernicious water, bane to wine, be gone.
One should certainly be very much in the wrong to put in the number of those who had an aversion to wine the duke of Clarence. His brother, Edward the Fourth, prejudiced with the predictions of Merlin, as if they foretold, that one day that duke should usurp the crown from his children, resolved to put him to death, he only gave him the liberty to choose what death he 161 would die of. The duke being willing to die a merry death, chose to be drowned in a butt of Malmsey. Not unlike him on whom this epigram was made.
“1In cyatho vini pleno cum musca periret;
Sic, ait Oeneus, sponte perire velim.”
In a full glass of wine expir’d a fly;
So, said Oeneus, would I freely die.
But let us come in earnest to those who have really had an antipathy to wine. Herbelot2, in his Bibliotheque Orientale, says, that there are some Mussulmans so superstitious, that they will not call wine by its true name, which is Schamr and Nedibh; and that there are some princes amongst them that have forbidden the mentioning of it by express laws. The reason of all this is, the prohibition of Mahomet to his followers, which enjoins them not to drink wine. The occasion of which prohibition is as follows: “3They say, that passing one day through a village, 162 and seeing the people in the mirth of wine embracing and kissing one another, and making a thousand protestations of friendship, he was so charmed with the sight, that he blessed the wine, as the best thing in the world. But that, at his return, observing the same place full of blood, and having been informed, that the same men whom he had seen before so merry, had, at last, changed their mirth into rage, and been fighting with their swords, he recalled his benediction, and cursed wine for ever, on account of the bad effects it produced.”
It is one of the chief commandments amongst the Siameze, to drink no wine, nor any liquor that will procure drunkenness4.
“5Drunkenness is detested in most parts of hot countries. It is looked upon there as infamous. The greatest affront you can give a Spaniard, is to call him drunkard. I have been assured, continues M. Bayle, a servant, if his master should call him so, might bring his action at law against him, and recover damages, though 163 any other name he will suffer very patiently, and without any right of complaint of being injured in his reputation, as rogue, hang-dog, b——, &c.”
Empedocles, we may well conclude, loved wine, which he called, Water putrified in wood.
6Amongst the Locrians, Seleucus had such an aversion to wine, that he forbad any one to drink it under pain of death, or even give it to the sick.
Apollonius Thyanæus never drank any wine, no more than St. Fulgentius, bishop, S. Stephen, king of Poland, and cardinal Emeri.
“7The Severians, disciples of Severus, in the time of pope Sotherus, condemned absolutely wine, as a creature of the devil.”
8The emperor Frederick the Third, seeing his wife barren, consulted the physicians upon the case; who told him, that if the empress would drink wine she might be fruitful. But he told 164 them, like a simpleton as he was, That he had rather his wife should be barren and sober, than be fruitful and drink wine. And the empress, being informed of the wise answer of the imperial ninny-hammer, her husband, said full as wisely, That if she was to be put to her choice, to drink wine or die, she should make no manner of hesitation, but prefer death.
De nimia sapientia libera nos domine.
a. Catullus XXVII.5-6.
1. Rem. sur Rabel. t. iv. ch. 93.
2. Page 777.
3. Du Mont. Voyag. t. iii. let. 5.
4. Chaumont Voyag. de Siam.
5. Bayle Dict. t. ii. p. 1266.
6. Ælian, lib. ii. ch. 33.
7. Du Mont. Voyag. t. iii. lit. 5.
8. Rec. choise d’Hist.
RIGOROUS LAWS AGAINST WINE AND DRUNKENNESS.
It is easy to imagine, that princes who did not love wine themselves, would make very rigorous laws against drunkenness, and fall into that fault which Horace speaks of.
Dum vitant stulti vitia in contraria currunt.a165
But this maxim, Nullum violentum durabile, has been verified a great many times, upon this subject of drunkenness, for all the laws made against it have not long subsisted.
Pentheus1, king of Thebes, endeavoured to extirpate entirely the custom of getting drunk; but he did not find his account in it, for he was very ill-treated by his subjects for his pains.
Lycurgus2, king of Thrace, commanded all the vines of the country to be cut up; for which he was justly punished by Bacchus. He also made laws against drunkenness, which one may reckon amongst the bad ones that he instituted. As,
I. The using women in common.
II. The nudity of young women in certain solemn festivals.
“Pittacus3, one of the wise men of Greece, commanded, that he who committed a fault when he was drunk, should suffer a double 166 punishment. And amongst the laws of Solon, there was one, which condemned to death the chief magistrate if he got drunk. Amongst the Indians, who only just touch wine in the ceremonies of their sacrifices, the law commands, that the woman who killed one of their kings, should get drunk, and marry his successor.”
4The Athenians had also very severe laws against those that should get drunk; but one may say, these laws resembled those of Draco, which were written rather with blood than ink.
We come now to the Turks. Sir Paul Ricaut5 tells us several particulars on this head. Amurath, says he, resolved, in the year 1634, to forbid entirely the use of wine. He put out a severe edict, which commanded all the houses where they sold wine to be razed, the barrels wherever they should be found to be staved, and the wine to be let out into the streets. And that he might truly be satisfied his orders were obeyed, he frequently disguised himself, and walked 167 in that manner about the city; and when he found any one carrying wine, he sent him to prison, and had him bastinadoed almost to death. One day he met in the streets a poor deaf man, who not hearing the noise usually made at the approach of the sultan, did not soon enough avoid a prince whose presence was so fatal. This negligence cost him his life. He was strangled by order of the grand seignior, who commanded his body to be cast into the street. But this great severity did not last long, and all things returned to their former condition.
However, matters took again another turn under the reign of Mahomet the IVth. who, in 1670, resolved to forbid all the soldiery the use of wine. The terrible seditions that liquor had formerly raised were remembered, and especially that which happened under Mahomet the Third, who saw his seraglio forced by a great multitude of soldiers full of wine, and whose fury he could not free himself from, but by sacrificing his principal favourites. An edict was published, to prohibit entirely the use of wine, and to command all those who had any in their houses, to send it out of town. The same extended all over the empire. 168 The sultan condemned to death those who should violate this decree, in which he spoke of wine as of a liquor infernal, invented by the devil to destroy the souls of men, to disturb their reason, and put states into combustion. This was rigorously put in execution, and to that extremity, that it cost the ambassador of England, and the christian merchants of Constantinople, great solicitations, and large sums of money, to get leave to make only as much wine as would suffice for their own families. At Smyrna, the officers of the grand seignior had not the same indulgence for the christians, who were one whole year without wine; and it was with great difficulty they got leave to import it from the isles of the Archipelago, and other places not comprised in that prohibition; for this prohibition reached only those places where there were mosques. Besides all this, they made every Friday sermons stuffed full of declamations against those who should drink it. In short, this edict was so severe, that wine seemed to be banished for ever the states of the grand seignior. But in about a year’s time its severity was somewhat remitted. The ambassadors, and other christians, had leave 169 to make wine within themselves; and about a year after that, the indulgence for wine was general, the taverns were opened, and at this day that liquor is as common as it was before.
a. Horace, Satire I.ii.24.
1. Sphinx. Theol. p. 669.
2. Hist. 7 Sap.
3. Chevreana, t. i. p. 217.
4. Hist. 7 Sap.
5. See his Turkish Hist.
RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN GETTING DRUNK. I. NOT TOO OFTEN. II. IN
To avoid the disorders that drunkenness might cause, here are some rules that ought to be observed in this important affair of getting drunk; for, according to Pliny, the art of getting drunk has its laws.
Hæc ars suis legibus constat.a
I. The first, and principal of these, is not to 170 get drunk too often. This is what Seneca1 recommends very much. “You must not,” says he, “do it often, for fear it grow into a habit; it is but only sometimes you should make your spirits gay in banishing gloomy sobriety.”
And if any person objects, That if one gets drunk sometimes, one shall do it often. I deny the consequence, and say in the words of the philosopher, an axiom held by both universities, that
Ab actu ad habitum non valet consequentia.
II. Second rule. One must not get drunk but in good company. That is to say, with good friends, people of wit, honour, and good humour, and where there is good wine. For example, a man in former times would have done very ill to get drunk with Heliogabalus, whose historian2 reports, that after having made his friends drunk, he used to shut them up in an apartment, and at night let loose upon them lions, leopards, and tigers, which always tore to pieces 171 some of them. On the other hand, the best wine in the world will taste very bad in bad company. It is therefore that Martial reproaches one, that he spoiled his good wine with his silly babbling.
—————— Verbis mucida vina facis.2a
a. Pliny, Natural History XIV.50 (or XIV.xxviii.146).
1. De Tranquillitate.
2. Ælius Lamprid. in Vit. Heliogab.
2a. Martial VIII.vi.4.
THIRD RULE, WITH GOOD WINE.
When one has a mind to get drunk, one should make choice of good wine, and not drink bad, which is prejudicial to health. For example, green wine is very bad; this Guilleaume Cretin1, a great punster, has expressed in these 172 verses, which, I own, I am not able to put into English:—
“Par ce vin verds Atropos a trop os
Des corps humains ruez envers en vers
Dont un quidam apre aux pots a propos
A fort blâmé les tours pervers en vers.”
Good wine, on the contrary, has very good effects. Erasmus2 preserved himself from the plague, by drinking a glass of Burgundy at a proper season.
You see now the efficacy of good wine, which, to be in its perfection, the adepts in the free-schools of Liber Pater say, must have these four properties, and please these four senses:— the taste by its savour, the smell by its flavour, the sight by its clean and bright colour, and the ear by the fame of the country where it grows. Old wine was looked upon to be the best by the ancients.
A beauty, when advanc’d in age,
No more her lovers can engage;
But wine, the rare advantage, knows,
It pleases more, more old it grows.
And were they never so old themselves, they would still, if possible, have the wine older than they were. Nec cuiquam adeo longa erat vita, ut non ante se genita potaret3. Which these words of Seneca4 also confirm, “Why at your house do you drink wine older than yourself? Cur apud te vinum apud te vetustius bibitur.”
Martial says, “Do you ask me of what consulate this wine is? It was before there were any consuls in the world.
“De sinuessanis venerunt massica prælis:
Condita quo quæris consule? nullus erat.”4a
At present the fame of the best wine in Europe is reckoned to be, that of Monte Fiascone, two days journey from Rome. Here it was a German abbot killed himself by drinking too much of this delicious creature. The story is this, and it is related in Lassell’s Travels:—
A certain German abbot, travelling to Rome, ordered his servant to ride before him, and when he found the best wine, to chalk upon the door of 174 the inn (in order to save time) the word EST. Coming to Monte Fiascone, he found it so excellent, that he put down, Est, Est, Est, which the abbot finding true, drank so plentifully of it, that he went no farther on his journey, but lies buried, they say, in the cathedral church, with this epitaph, written by his servant the purveyor.
Est, Est, Est,
Propter nimium Est,
Herus meus Dominus Abbas
The wine called Lachrymæ Christi, or the Tears of Christ, is a most delicious wine. At least a master of arts of the university of Cologn thought so, who going also to Rome, drank at the same place pretty heartily of it, and out of the abundance of his heart cried out,
Utinam Christus lachrymatus fuisset in nostra patria.
I wish Christ had shed tears in our country.
M. Hofman believes, that Rhenish wine is the best of all wines for one’s health.175
There also most excellent in France, such as Champagne.
Wenceslaus5, king of Bohemia and the Romans, being come into France on account of some negociations with Charles the Sixth, arrived at Rheins in the month of March, 1397. When he was in that city he found the wine so good, that he got drunk more than once; and being one day in that condition, that he could not enter into any serious discourses, he rather chose to grant what was asked of him than leave off drinking.
The wines of Burgundy must not be forgotten, which some prefer to Champagne. “Baudius called vin de beaulne, vinum deorum, the wine of the gods6.”
The wines of Ai are also very excellent. S. Evremont7 says, that Leo the Tenth, Charles the Fifth, Francis the First, and Hen. VIII. king of England, did not think it below their dignity, amongst the most important affairs of 176 state, to take care to have the wines of Ai. Henry IV. caused himself to be styled lord of Ai and Gonesse.
But I shall desire my readers here to observe two things, First, That artificial wines, and a many other liquors, containing a great deal of gross, viscous matter, excite a drunkenness more long and dangerous than that which is produced by ordinary wines. Another thing is, Never to get drunk with brandy, spirits, and strong waters. Patin8 says very pleasantly, that these are sugared poisons which surely kill: they give life to those who sell them, and death to those who use them.
1. Rem. sur. Rabel. t. iii. p. 39.
2. Journ. des Sçav. June, 1706.
3. Plin. Natural History XIX.20 (or XIX.xix.53).
4. De Vit. beat. c. 17.
4a. Martial XIII.111.
5. Journ. de Sçav. June, 1706.
6. Patimana, p. 34.
7. Lett. S. Evrem.
8. Vign. Marvill, t. ii. p. 7.
FOURTH RULE, AT CONVENIENT TIMES.
Though one must not get drunk every day, one may, notwithstanding, on certain occasions. One must sometimes unbend the mind.
Neque semper arcum tendit Apollo.a
And when a man puts on the air of a philosopher, it is then he turns fool in affecting to be wise.
There is a time for all things, and so there is in getting drunk, that is, getting drunk with decency and decorum; and there are some times which are not convenient to do so. As for example, (for I love to illustrate what I advance,) it does not suit with decorum for a judge to be drunk on the bench; nor a crier in the court exercising his office, [hiccup, ki—— book;] a parson 178 in the pulpit; an experimental philosopher in shewing of his gimcracks; nor a freemason on the top of a church-steeple.
But it suits very well with strict decorum, to get drunk at a public rejoicing after a signal victory.
When the proud Gaul sustain’d an overthrow
By the immortal MARLBOROUGH,
Ever invincible! then you and I,
My Thirsis, shar’d the common joy.
Blenheim and Ramillies were then our song,
The day tho’ short, the night was long,
Till both with mighty claret glow’d,
And tipsy, to our beds were shew’d.
We may also very decently get drunk with a friend we have not seen a long while.
Here ’tis——O welcome, flask divine,
How bright does thy vermillion shine!
Thou charming native of Dijon1,
At thy approach my cares are flown,
Sad melancholy is no more,
Which rack’d and plagu’d my soul before.179
Whether thy influence incites,
(Sweet influence) to soft delights;
Or else dost other measures keep,
And gently urge to peaceful sleep.
O may’st thou still such streams bestow,
Still with such ruddy torrents flow.
Damon, this bottle is your due,
And more I have in store for you
Under the sun the faithfullest friend;
I’ve kept them for no other end.
Drink then a bumper, ’tis a folly,
Dear Damon, to be melancholy.
However rigorous the Roman laws were against drunkenness, they permitted it nevertheless on their festivals; witness what a young man said to his father in presence of the people. “2No father,” says he, “I have no reason to be ashamed for having taken a little more wine than ordinary at a feast with my companions.” Non est res qua embescam, Pater, si die festo inter æquales largiore vino fui usus.
The Persian soldiers, who otherwise lived 180 very soberly, were permitted to get drunk once a year3.
In Georgia, he who did not get quite drunk at their principal holidays, as at Easter and Christmas, was not looked upon to be a christian, and ought to be excommunicated. 4So that, according to this, getting drunk at certain convenient times amongst these christians, was so far from being unlawful, that a man was not looked upon to be orthodox, without he did so. Getting drunk is therefore very orthodox.
a. Horace, Odes II.x.19-20.
1. Dijon, chief city in Burgundy.
2. Tit. Liv. lib. iv. ch. 14.
3. Alex. ab Alex, lib, ii. ch. 11.
4. Voyag. de Chard. t. ii. 129.
FIFTH RULE, TO FORCE NO ONE TO DRINK.
It is very ridiculous and unreasonable to force any one to drink, because the taking away liberty spoils company, the benefit of which cannot subsist without freedom. Besides, every man’s capacity of drinking is not the same; one shall be able to drink a gallon, and another a pint; the latter, therefore, by drinking a pint, has drank as much as the former when he has taken off his gallon, because they both have drank as they can, and ——— Ferdinando ——— No man can do more than he can do. Let every man, therefore, have the liberty to drink as he pleases, without being tied up to the mad laws of drinking. I am of the same opinion in this matter with brother Horace:—
—————— Prout cuiq; libide est
Siccat inequales calices conviva solutus182
Legibus insanis, sen quis capit acria fortis
Pocula, seu modicis humescit lætius——a
We learn from history, that there was an ancient law amongst the Persians, that forbad anyone to force another to drink. The Lacedemonians also had that laudable custom.
Charlemagne also made a law, that prohibited forcing any one to drink.
Mr. Bayle reports a very pleasant revenge that M. Peyren gave to Raphael Thorius, a very learned person, who would force him to drink, which take as follows. “1M. Peyren dining at London with several persons of learning, could not be discharged from drinking a health that Dr. Thorius toasted. The glass was of a prodigious size, which M. Peyren, for that reason, a long while refused, and alleged a thousand reasons, but all in vain; he must empty the glass. Before he did it he made this agreement with his antagonist, that he should drink a health afterwards that he should toast to him; which being consented to, he took off the bumper, and filled the glass full of water, and drank it off to the 183 doctor, who thereupon was thunderstruck, but seeing he could not get off, sighed deeply, and lifted the glass a thousand times to his lips, and as often drew it back again: he called to his assistance all the quaint sayings of the Greek and Latin poets, and was almost the whole day drinking that cursed bumper.”
This is not much unlike what M. Chevreau reports of Marigni, who, “2after having dined at one of the best eating-houses in Frankfort, with six or seven persons of quality, was called to the sideboard, where one of them began the emperor’s health. This he must drink, and as he foresaw very well, that this extravagance would be attended with others, he ordered three or four great pieces of bread to be brought to him, and having eaten half of one to the health of the king of France, he gave the other half to the other, who took it, indeed, but would not so much as put it to his mouth. The company surprized at so unexpected a novelty, let him alone without any contradiction.”
Nevertheless, one should be very diligent in 184 observing this rule, which is, That when we find ourselves in the company of people that drink, and would not run those lengths they are going to do, to retire; and this was a standing law amongst the Greeks in their festivals, and ought to be as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, viz.
DRINK, OR GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
SIXTH RULE, NOT TO PUSH DRUNKENNESS TOO FAR.
It is certain, that to do well, we ought continually to have an eye to this maxim of Horace, viz. Est modus in rebus. And the Ne quid nimis of Terence; but especially, in this grand and most important affair of drunkenness. 185 Seneca very well distinguishes two sorts of drunkenness, one which entirely buries our reason; and the other, which only diverts melancholy and chagrin. The last we believe to be very lawful; but we would have it go farther, even so far, as not only to divert, but to drive away our cares entirely, or else not to get drunk at all. That which is between these, if any such there can be, does one an injury, according to the poet:—
Aut nulla ebrietas, aut tanta sit ut tibi curas
Eripiat, si quæ est inter utramque nocet.a
After this manner would we have people use the juice of the grape; that is, to go so far as to make our hearts merry, gay, and sprightly, and so as to forget our cares.
It would be here useless to shew, by a great many examples, the disorders that drunkenness has caused, when pushed too far, because it was never the intention of this work, but to divert (as wine was designed to do) and make merry, I shall therefore conclude the whole with an Ode to Bacchus, as follows:—
a. Ovid, Remedium Amoris 809-810.
AN ODE TO BACCHUS.
Let’s sing the glories of the god of wine,
May his immortal praise
Be the eternal object of our song,
And sweetest symphonies; may ev’ry tongue
And throat sonorous, vocal music raise,
And ev’ry grateful instrument combine
To celebrate, great god, thy power divine.
Let other poets to the world relate,
Of Troy, the hard, unhappy fate;
And in immortal song rehearse,
Purpled with streams of blood the Phrygian plain;
The glorious hist’ry of Achilles slain,
And th’ odious memory of Pelop’s sons revive in verse.
God of the grape, thou potent boy,
Thou only object of our cordial vows,187
To thee alone I consecrate my heart,
Ready to follow thee in ev’ry part:
Thy influence sweet mirth bestows,
For thee alone I’d live and die in scenes of joy.
Thy bounty all our wishes still prevents;
Thy wond’rous sweetness calms to soft repose
Our wild regrets and restless woes,
And richly ev’ry craving mind contents.
Without thee Venus has no charms;
You constancy to am’rous souls impart,
And hopes bestow to each despairing heart,
But, what involuntary transports roll,
And seize, at once, my agitated soul!
Into what sacred vale! what silent wood!
(I speak not by the vulgar understood,)
Am I, O god! O wond’rous deity!
Ravish’d, brimful of thy divinity and thee!
To my (once infidel) believing eyes
Bacchus unveils entire his sacred mysteries.
Movements confus’d of joy and fear
Hurry me I know not where.
With boldness all divine the god inspires;
With what a pleasing fury am I fill’d!
Such raging fires
Never the Menades in Thracian caves beheld.188
Descend, O mother-queen of love,
Leave a while the realms above;
With your gay presence grace the feast
Of that great god, who bears a boundless sway,
Who conquer’d climates where first rose the day.
Descend, O mother-queen of love,
At rich repasts an ever welcome guest;
But O ——, too long you stay,
Already young Amyntor, brisk and gay,
His lovely Doris o’er the plain pursues:
The sparkling juice at Sylvan nymphs command
Richly distils from their ambrosial hand,
And old Silenus copiously bedews.
Hence, ye profane,
I hate ye all, fly, quit the field,
My ready soul gives way
To those gay movements, this important day
Inspires, so to the conq’ror willing captives yield.
Come, faithful followers of Bacchus’ train,
(Bacchus, most lovely of the gods)
Enter these bless’d abodes.189
On high his verdant banners rear,
And quick the festival prepare.
Reach me my lute, a proper air
The chords shall sound; the trembling chords obey,
And join to celebrate this glorious day.
But ’midst the transports of a pleasing rage
Let’s banish ever hence,
By a blind vapour rais’d, and vain pretence,
Those loud seditious clamours that engage
Only inhuman, brutish souls,
By barb’rous Scythians only understood,
Who cruelly their flowing bowls
At banquets intermix with streams of blood.
Dreadful, preposterous, merriment!
Our hands all gayly innocent,
Ought ne’er in such confusion bear a part,
Polluted with a savage Centaur’s mortal dart.
From this sweet innocent repast,
(Too exquisite, alas! to last)
Let’s ever banish the rude din of arms,
Frightful Bellona, and her dread alarms.190
The dire confusions of pernicious war,
The satyrs, fauns, and Bacchus, all abhor.
Curs’d be those sanguinary mortals, who
Of reeking blood with crimson tides
The sacred mysteries imbrue
Of our great god who over peace presides.
But if I must wage war,
If so necessity commands,
Follow, my friends, advance your hands,
Let us commence the pleasing jar.
With wreaths of ivy be our temples bound,
Hark! to arms, to arms, they sound,
Th’ alarm to battle calls,
Lend me your formidable Thyrse, ye Bacchanals.
Double your strokes. Bold——bolder yet,
’Tis done———— How many rivals conquer’d lie?
How many hardy combatants submit?
O son of Jupiter, thy deity,
And sovereign power, we own, and aid divine;
Nothing but heaps of jolly topers slain
I see extended on the plain,
Floating in ruddy streams of reeking wine.
Io victoria to our king,
To Bacchus songs of triumph let us sing;191
His great immortal name
Let us aloud to distant worlds proclaim.
Io victoria to our king,
To Bacchus grateful strains belong;
O! may his glories live in endless song,
The vanquish’d welt’ring on the sand,
One health from us their conqu’ror demand.
Fill me a bumper. Trumpet sound,
Second my voice, loud, louder yet,
Sound our exploits, and their defeat,
Who quiet, undisturb’d, possess the ground.
Io victoria to our king,
To Bacchus, songs of triumph let us sing.
To this great work now finished (God be thanked) I subscribe as usual in the like cases of books, for I love decorum, and have an utter aversion to particularity, prolixity, and circumlocution. I say, to make short, I subscribe as usual, &c. in the like cases, &c. for I love, &c. and have an aversion, &c. the universally famous and most noted name which is subscribed to all books by what name or titles dignified or distinguished: or of what sort, species, size, dimension, or magnitude soever, pamphletary and voluminous; whether they be first or foremost, 192 plays, either comical, tragical, comi-tragical, tragi-comical, or pastoral; godly, or profane songs or ballads; sermons high or low, popish or protestant, dissenting, independent, enthusiastical, Brownistical, heterodox, or orthodox; Philadelphian, Muggletonian, Sacheverelian, or Bangorian, quaking, rhapsodical, prophetical, or nonsensical; legends golden or plain; breviaries, graduals, missals, pontificals, ceremonials, antiphonaries, statutes, spelling-books. Or, secondly and lastly, tracts, treatises, essays; pandects, codes, institutes; primers, rosaries, romances; travels, synods, history books; digests, decretals, lives; commentaries anagogical, allegorical, or tropological; journals, expositions, vocabularies, pilgrimages, manuals, indexes common or expurgatorial; almanacks, bulls, constitutions, or lottery books, viz. i. e. namely, to wit, or, that is to say,
Which being interpreted is,
Having received the following letter from a merry friend, wherein are some (not unpleasant) remarks on the foregoing treatise, I thought fit to send it to the press, which the reader, as he is at liberty either to read, or let alone, so it is the same thing to me, whether he does read it, or let it alone.
To the renowned Boniface Oinophilus de Monte Fiascone, A. B. C. author of the most inimitable (and non-pareil) treatise, Ebrietatis Encomium, to be left with that mirror of privative perspicuity, Signor Edemondo Curluccio, at the Bible and Dial, over against Catherine-Street, in the Strand.
Right trusty, and well-beloved, I greet you well,
Having perused (at the bookseller’s, who shewed me the sheets) your Ebrietatis Encomium all 194 through, even unto Finis, or the End, I own I was not a little diverted thereat. But as I never flatter any body, so my friends may least of all expect I should begin with them. I must, therefore, be frank and free with you, most renowned and never-to-be-forgotten Boniface, post nullos memorande sodales, and tell you, that you have omitted several things very material, and highly conducible to the elucidation, or illustration, (choose you whether) of your agreeable subject. But perhaps they either did not occur to your memory; or, which is the same thing, (quoad lectorem) you were entirely ignorant of them, but which take as follow.
First and foremost, amongst your philosophers, you have taken no notice of the stupendous Des Cartes, with his wonderful system of whirlpools (vortices) and particles, cubic, conic, striate, oblong, globular, hooked, crooked, spiral and angular: for who the devil but a mere tipsy, giddy brains, could have dished up such a confounded hotch-potch and gallimatias of whimsical rotations, or fancied that the whole earth whirled round like a town-top, had not Vinorum materia subtilis, the circling effluvia 195 of Liber Pater, abundantly invaded his capital regions.
So have I seen in days of yore a dame,
At Winchester, who seventy winters knew,
Not more nor less, my mistress then yclept,
Hight Margaret, deceas’d long since I trow,
Whose fate I thus bemoan’d in song sublime.
She’s gone, alas! the beauteous nymph is dead,
Dead to my hopes, and all my eager wishes:
Such is the state of poor unhappy man,
All things soon pass away, nought permanent,
That rolls beneath the vortex of the moon.
So when we’ve screw’d up to the highest Peg1
Our ample lines of future happiness,
Some disappointments dire, or chance disastrous,
Snaps the extended chords. Oh! then farewell,
No more shall visual ray of form acute
Affect her wondrous mien. Farewell those lips
Of sapphire tincture, gums of crocus die
Freed from th’ungrateful load of cumbrous teeth.
Mantle farewell, of grograin brown compos’d,
Studded with silver clasp in number plural:
With jacket short, so famous, tory red,196
Not hemm’d, but bound about with good galloon
Of deepest mazarine (delightful hue!)
Farewell (I sighing speak) those non-such shoes
Of obfusc colour (heel of form cylindrous)
Worn only upon days non-ferial.
In love’s true knot of verdant ferrit tied.
But Oh! farewell, a long and last farewell,
To large Ampull with vital water fraught,
Wherein the effluvia soft and delicate
Of dulcet aniseseed (not coriander)
In its capacious rim of form anguillar
Whirl in sweet vortex. Hence it was observ’d,
The subtile matter, when in throat retir’d,
Kept still its roulant quality, and oft
Would mount in circling spires to pericranium
Of she-philosopher, when in elbow chair,
Deep and profound, would the grave matron reve,
And learnedly pronounce (like great Renatus2)
With equal verity the world turns round.
Secondly and foremost, you should have added at the end of the philosophers chapter, the song of the Tippling Philosophers, which I send you here enclosed.197
The bookseller to whom I mentioned this, fancied truly, that you might think it too mean and trifling to insert. But without troubling myself to know, whether this be your sentiment, or whether he spoke this of his own head, I shall trouble myself to tell you, as this song is taken from an excellent French one, which you may find in a very famous book3, and which (to follow your method) you may know by the note at the bottom. The song (whether you have ever seen it, or not, I neither know, nor do I care) is as follows, and will go with the same tune as the English (if I am not mistaken).
1. You must remember my Mrs.’s name was Margaret.
2. Des Cartes’s christian name.
3. Fureteriana, p. 205.
Je cherche en vin la vérité,
Si le vin n’aide a ma foiblesse,
Toute la docte antiquité
Dans le vin puisa la sagesse.
Oui c’est par le bon vin que le bon sens eclate
J’en atteste Hypocrate,
Qui dit qu’il a chaque mois
Du moins s’enivrer une fois.
Socrate cet homme discret
Que toute la terre revere,
Alloit manger au cabaret
Quand sa femme etoit en colere.
Pouvons-nous mieux faire que d’imiter Socrate
Et de suivre Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.199
Platon est nommé le divin
Parce qu’il etoit magnifique,
Et qu’il regala de son vin
La cabale philosophique.
Sa table fût toujours splendide et delicate,
Il suivit Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
Aristotle bûvoit autant,
Et nous avons lieu de le croire
De ce le grand,
Son disciple, aimoit tant a boire,
Qu’il degela cent fois sur les bords de l’Euphrate
En suivant Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
L’on veut que Diogene aimoit l’eau,
Mais il n’eut point cette folie,
Il se logea dans un tonneau
Pour sentir le gout de la lie.
Et pour mieux boire au pot, il jetta la sa jatte
Et tint pour Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.200
Democrite près de sa fin,
Par une invention jolie,
En flairant seulement le vin,
De trois jours prolonga sa vie.
Le vin retarde plus la mort, qu’il ne la ,
Temoin notre Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
Heraclite toujours etoit
En pleurs a que dit l’histoire,
Mais ce que le vin lui sortoit
Par les yeux à force de boire.
Par ce remede seul il guerissoit sa rate
Comme ordonne Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
Epicure sans contredit,
De bons bûveurs est le vrai pere,
Et sa morale nous induit
Au plaisir, a la chere.
En vain l’homme ici bas d’un autre bien se flatte;
Suivons donc Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.201
Esope quelque fois la nuit,
De complot avec la servante,
Chalumoit sans faire de bruit
Les tonneaux de son maitre Xante.
Il en eut mis dix pots sous sa grosse omoplate,
Il suivit Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
Galen, ce fameux docteur
En traittant du jus de la vigne,
Dit qu’il faut defendre le cœur
Contre la qualité maligne
Qui trouble nos humeurs, les altere et les gâte
Et rapporte Hypocrate,
Qui dit, &c.
Diogenes, surly and proud,
Who snarl’d at the Macedon youth,
Delighted in wine that was good,
Because in good wine there is truth;
But growing as poor as a Job,
Unable to purchase a flask,
He chose for his mansion a tub,
And liv’d by the scent of the cask, &c.
Heraclitus ne’er would deny,
To tipple and cherish his heart,
And when he was maudlin he’d cry,
Because he had empty’d his quart:
Tho’ some are so foolish to think
He wept at men’s folly and vice,
’Twas only his fashion to drink
Till the liquor flow’d out of his eyes.203
Democritus always was glad
Of a bumper to cheer up his soul,
And would laugh like a man that was mad,
When over a good flowing bowl.
As long as his cellar was stor’d,
The liquor he’d merrily quaff,
And when he was drunk as a lord
At those that were sober he’d laugh.
Copernicus too like the rest,
Believ’d there was wisdom in wine,
And thought that a cup of the best
Made reason the better to shine.
With wine he’d replenish his veins,
And make his philosophy reel,
Then fancy’d the world, like his brains,
Turn’d round like a chariot wheel.
Aristotle, that master of arts,
Had been but a dunce without wine,
And what we ascribe to his parts,
Is due to the juice of the vine.204
His belly most writers agree,
Was as big as a watering-trough,
He therefore leap’d into the sea,
Because he’d have liquor enough.
Old Plato, that learned divine,
He fondly to wisdom was prone,
But had it not been for good wine,
His merits had never been known;
By wine we are generous made,
It furnishes fancy with wings,
Without it we ne’er shou’d have had
Philosophers, poets, or kings.
Thirdly and lastly, I wish in Chap. XXIII. in your answer to the objection, “That one cannot trust a man that gets drunk,” you had been pleased to have taken notice of the taciturnity and continency of the right worshipful the free masons in this respect. For though otherwise they are free enough of speech, yet I do assure you, as to secrets, though some of them love the creature very heartily, and carouse abundantly, yet has it never been known, though never so fuddled, (for free masons will get fuddled,) that they 205 ever discovered any of their secrets. This is irresistible, irrefragable, irrefutable, or if you will, to speak (norunt dialectici) in stylo infinito, non-resistible, non-refragable, and non-refutable, and, indeed, is my Argumentum palmare Scotisticum.
But, and Fourthly also, and Finally, you will give me leave to remark to you, That in relation to St. Boniface’s cup, which you take notice of in Chap. XI. p. 68, l. 13, I do assure you, sir, the practice was some years ago, to my certain knowledge, much in vogue, (and, as I am credibly informed, is still wonderfully catholic,) and, by the bye, take the following relation.
In the beginning of the last wars, when I was very young, I had the misfortune to be prisoner in Luxembourg, and not too civilly treated by the governor, the morose Count Dautel. Close confinement, (though in the postmaster’s house,) with the unusual smell of the stoves, (for it was in the cold month of March,) made me very ill, and worse, in all probability, should have been, had I not obtained the liberty of the town, which, after many fruitless solicitations, I despaired, from the ill-natured governor, nor should ever have had, 206 were it not by the pressing instance of Father Cripps, a German Franciscan friar, of the convent of Luxembourg, whom they called there Heer1 Cripps, being confessor to the governor, and having been once sent on a message of moment from him to the king of Spain, Philip the Fifth, now reigning.
This Father was really a good man, and a man of honour; him I gained by the good-nature of the postmaster, whose son was then in his noviceship, in the noviciate of their Order at Ulflingen. I need not tell you, that by noviceship is meant that year of probation, which those who have a mind to enter into any religious order in the church of Rome, must pass through, before they can be professed, or take their vows. This you, who have been abroad, must know as well as I.
This good father, with much ado, obtained what I desired from the governor, who he said was, homo mirabilis in negotiis suis, which, by the 207 sequel of his discourse, I understood signified, a very strange man in his affairs. Gratitude obliged me to invite this reverend father to a glass of Rhenish, the wine of the country, which, he frankly accepted of in the afternoon, and, indeed, drank very plentifully, more Germanorum, as you have described. But though he would drink largely as well as his companion, yet I must own, that in none of the many merry bouts we had together (for he visited me very often afterwards, as I did him, I never saw him so far advanced as to lose his reason) he never failed a large glass brimful to St. Boniface, which he drank to the pious memory of the good Father, ad piam memoriam boni patris, and sometimes only to the good Father, ad bonum patrem. I found afterwards the same laudable custom of St. Boniface’s cup in the Low Countries, France and Italy, &c. amongst the religious.
And now, before I subscribe myself,
Your most obedient, &c.
give me leave to tell you, that the French religious, who do not speak much Latin, drink healths in their own language. But I was surprised, 208 when I heard in a certain monastery every one of the fathers drink a full glass to each other in these words, “a bumper,” as I thought. I am obliged to your reverence (reverend father, said I to the procurator, who sat next me, and drank to me in the same words) in drinking in our country language, you do me a great deal of honour. It may be your country phrase, said the prior to me, very gravely, for what I know; your countrymen make use of a great many of our words, but the thing itself, let the word (or vox significans) be what it will, the thing (or res significata) is very laudable, and every one will practise, who has any respect for the sacred see, holy church, and the good of his own soul. Did you never hear of the indulgences that the good father, holy pope St. Boniface, has granted to such as drink his cup, and which we have just now piously done? I ask your reverence’s pardon, reverend father, said I, I thought we had only been drinking a bumper to one another. Seulement au bon pere! replied he a little warmly (for the conversation was all in French, and which word I till then mistook for a bumper.) Why, that is all, said he, mais (continued 209 he) c’êtoit au bon pere Saint Boniface. You see, sir, the double entendre2, and that drinking of bumpers, which some precisians have ignorantly called profane, is a practice very orthodox and catholic.
Heigh Church militant, rare Church militant, dainty Church militant, O!
Dub. Dub. Dub. Dub a dub. Dub. Dub.
Tan. Tan. Tan. Tan. tara rara ra.
Adieu, mon tres-cher,
Votre ami tres-affectioné
Valet bien humble
|May 1, 1723,
From my Garret in
P.S. I paid the waterman six-pence.
1. Heer, in High Dutch, is the same as Monsieur in French, and is given to persons of the highest destinction.
2. The transition from au bon pere, which is pure French, to a bumper, is very natural, and infinitely more so, than that golden pippin should be derived from Cooper, which was said to be effected, in process of time, after this manner, Cooper, Hooper, Roper, Diaper, Napkin, Pipkin, King Pepin, Golden Pippin.