Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

such a state of intoxication, as to be unable Blois, in one of his letters, thus remarks: to render him any assistance.

“When you behold our Barons and Knights The long continuance of peace, during going upon a military expedition, you see the reign of Edward the Confessor, was, their baggage horses loaded, not with iron, according to William of Malmsbury, marked but wine ; not with lances, but cheeses ; not with the luxury and vicious manners of the with swords, but bottles ; not with spears, English. Much pains were taken in the but spits. You would imagine they were preparation of their drinks, which princi- going to prepare a great feast, rather than to pally consisted of Mead, Ale, Cyder, and make war."* The same author also states, similar fermented liquors. The conquest of -“There are even too many who boast England by the Normans appears to have of their excessive drunkenness and gluttony: been less owing to the prowess of arms than and labour to acquire fame, by swallowing to the effects of intemperance. Previous to great quantities of meat and drink.”+ the battle of Hastings, the victorious Nor- IV. King Henry I., commonly called Beaumans passed the night in fasting and prayer ; clerc, in the midst of his prosperity, received the Anglo-Saxons devoted the same period from an act of intemperance, a shock, to drunkenness and debauch. The Norman which ever afterwards rendered him misersoldiers were as inferior to the English in able. This was the death of his only son, a numbers, as the latter sunk in comparison prince on whose education he had bestowed with their invaders in point of temperance. the greatest care, and who, he expected, was “For," remarks a quaint writer,* “ the to succeed him on the throne. The marriage English, being revelling before, had in the of the young prince, to a princess of France, morning their brains arrested for the arrear- and the possessions he thereby obtained had ages of the indigested fumes of the former unfolded to him prospects of great wealth night, and were no better than drunk when and honour. He embarked for England, in they came to fight.”+ In succeeding reigns, a vessel with fifty rowers, from Harfleur on there is sufficient evidence upon record, that the coast of Normandy. Turner thus dethe English did not lose their relish for scribes the melancholy catastrophe, and its intoxicating liquors. Wines in particular, cause :-" Unfortunately the sailors solicitbecame important articles of commerce; and ed him for wine, and in the gaiety of youth a considerable revenue was derived from he distributed it profusely. The seamen, their importation. The marriage of Henry the captain, his friends, all became intoxiII., with a French princess who possessed cated, and in this state a giddy desire arose extensive vineyards in the south of France, to pass by every ship that was before them. contributed not a little to the increase of this The emulatory whipa was instantly adopted; branch of commerce. In the reign of King every arm was exerted, every eye was intent John, it had become so important, as to on this single object, and the ship was flying cause the appointment of Officers in every with all the velocity that unusually exerted town, to regulate the prices of wines, and strength could give her, in a fine calm moon. other matters connected with their sale. light night; when, by the heedlessness of Hoveden, the historian of those times, re. the inebriated helmsman, she struck sud. marks, that “ by this means, the land was denly on a rock near the shore, then covered filled with drink and drunkards."'I

with water, but known and visible at low III. The Norman conquerors of England water. The shock burst through two planks were, it appears, of comparatively sober and on the left side of the vessel, and the sea temperate habits, until vitiated by their entered fast. The prince got into little intercourse with the less sober English. boat, and was escaping, when he heard the William of Malmsbury, who may be con- voice of his sister, shrieking to him to help sidered as the most correct historian of that her ; he put back to the ship to take her in, age, writes thus,~"The English were much but at the same time so many leaped into it, addicted to excessive eating and drinking, in that it sunk, and every one on board perishwhich they sometimes spent both day and ed. The ship soon disappeared under the night, without intermission. The Normans waves with all its crew, 300 in number, exwere very unlike them in this respect, being cepting two persons, a young nobleman and delicate in the choice of their meats and a butcher, who held clinging to the top of drinks, but seldom exceeding the bounds of the mast." The butcher only, however, temperance. By this means the Normans escaped to tell the woeful disaster to the lived with greater elegance and at less ex. king, who is said to have been so depressed pense, than the English.”ll

by the news as to have “ never smiled Unfortunately this sobriety did not long again." continue. The Normans gradually adopted

During the several centuries which imthe vicious practices of the English, and a mediately succeeded this period, it does not corresponding deterioration in their general appear that the English became more tema character immediately succeeded. Peter of perate in their habits. The immense

quantities of food and drink consumed at * Fuller's Church History of Britain. b. iii. sect. 1. feasts, which were frequently held, would appear almost incredible, were it not for practised on these occasions. The following authentic records, wherein an accurate de- were the items for drink at the installation scription of them is given.

+ Manè adhuc ebrii contra hostes incunctanter procedunt.-M. PARIS.

| Hoveden Annals. # W. Melmsbury, b. iii. • P. Bleseus, Ep. 24. + Ib. Ep. 86.

feast of George Nevill, Archbishop of York, Heny II., A.D. 1216, issued a proclamation A.D. 1466. Goodly provision, made for wherein it is stated that because of "the out the installation feast,” &c. rageous and excessive multitude of meats

300 and dishes which the great men of our

In Ale, Tuns.

100 kingdom have used and still use, in their

In Wine, Ditto.

1 castles, and by persons of inferior rank,

In Ipocrass Pipe. imitating their example beyond what their

At a magnificent feast given to Queen stations require, and their circumstances Elizabeth, by the Earl of Leicester, at can afford, many great evils have come upon Kenilworth Castle, in addition to other our kingdom, the health of our subjects has stores of intoxicating liquors, 365 hogsheads been injured, their goods have been con

(twenty-three thousand gallons) of beer alone sumed, and they have been reduced to poverty." This ordinance restricted the this time to restrain excesses; but when the

were drunk. Sumptuary laws were made at number of dishes to be used by the great highest authorities in the land set so bad an men of the land, and attached severe example, the more humble classes of society penalties to every transgression. In the might naturally be expected to imitate them. reign of Edward III., A.D. 1363, sumptuary In fact, during a considerable portion of the laws were enacted for arresting the progress sixteenth century, intemperance appears to of extravagant living among various ranks; have been the common vice of the country. but historians remark that they produced The citizens of those days were much little beneficial effect. Immense quantities addicted to drunkenness. Some writers of of wines were consumed at these feasts, and that period strongly advert to this fact. the utmost care was taken to procure them The most noted taverns are even named, of the richest quality. It appears from with their situations and qualifications.* Hollinshed, that the strongest wines were in

Stubbs, in his “ Anatomie of Abuse,”t most repute at this period, the weaker sort, asserts that the public-houses in London such as claret, not being in common demand. were crowded from morning to night with

In the reign of Henry III. the Earl of inveterate drunkards. Harrison, the wellAlbermarle, under the influence of wine, known historian, often refers to the drinking ordered upwards of thirty individuals to be habits of the English during the middle hung from the battlements of his castle. portion of the sixteenth century. He states A summons is now extant which cites him that above fifty-six kinds of French wines, to answer to the charge before his peers; in addition to about thirty kinds from Italy, but in those lawless times, this nobleman Greece, Spain, the Canaries, and other did not hesitate to fortify his castle, and set

places, were seen at the tables of the his monarch at defiance, by which means wealthier classes. “Furthermore," says he escaped the punishment which he de- this writer, “when these have had their served at the hands of justice.

course which nature yieldeth, sundry sorts At a later period, Sir John Fortescue, of artificial stuff, as hippocras and wormwhile illustrating the diet of the rich, and wood wine, must in like manner succeed in with a view to exhibit the comparative com- their turns, beside stale ale and strong beer, forts and privileges enjoyed by the English which nevertheless bear the greatest brunt people, thus remarks:-" They drink no in drinking, and are of so many sorts and water, except when they abstain from other ages as it pleaseth the brewer to make drinks, by way of penance, and from a them.”I principle of devotion.” At this period, the Harrison describes the social meetings of clergy in particular indulged in luxurious tradesmen and artisans as follows:-“ If habits, and converted religious festivals into they happen to stumble upon a piece, of intemperate carousals. In the Northum- venison and a cup of wine or very strong berland Family Book, are found the follow- beer or ale, (which latter they commonly ing curious items, for the Earl and Countess, provide against their appointed day,) they during the Lent fast days, viz.; "a loaf of think their cheer so great, and themselves bread on trenchers, two manchetts, (small to have fared so well, as the Lord Mayor of loves of white bread) a quart of beer, a London, with whom, when their bellies be quart of wine, half a chyne of mutton, or a full

, they will not often stick to make comchyne of beef boiled.”. The evening repast parison, because that of a subject there is of the same lady and lord, was as follows: no public officer of any city in Europe that “Two manchetts, a loaf of household bread, may compare in port and countenance with a gallon of beer, and a quart of wine.”

him during the time of his office." The feasts which were held at this period,

Ale appears to have been & favourite on all particular occasions, displayed great magnificence, and profusion of provisions of * Vide Contin. to Henry's Hist. of England, vol. various sorts; and were plentifully supplied ii. p. 269. with intoxicating liquors. It can scarcely

† Page 73.

Historical Description of the Island of Britain, be supposed that temperance was a virtue Chap. vi. Book 2.

combs."*

potation with the lovers of strong drink at “good soules, that have scoured bowles," that period.

“Certes," says our historian, concludes thus : “ I know some ale-knights so much addicted “ God save the lives of them and their wives, thereunto, that they will not cease from Whether they be young or olde." morrow until even

to visit the same, Camden and Baker, both agree that the cleansing house after house, till they either English indulged more in intemperance after fall quite under the board, or else, not daring the Dutch war. Baker states, that after to stir from their stools, sit still, winking this war, the English learned to be drunkards, with their narrow eyes, as half sleeping, till and so much deluged the kingdom with the fume of their adversary be digested, that this vice, that laws were obliged to be enhe may go to it afresh.”

acted for repressing it.* In a subsequent part of the same work Har- Camden, it would seem looked upon the rison again justly reproaches the English for vices of the English, at a previous period, their bibulous propensities. He makes as not so venial as the statements of other pointed allusion to their indifference as to writers would represent. “ The English," good bread, compared with the appetite they he remarks, “who hitherto had, of all the exhibit for drink as strong as it can be made. northern nations, shown themselves least In regard to country towns, he remarks, addicted to immoderate drinking, and been “ There is such heady ale and beer in most commended for their sobriety, first learned, of them, as for the mightiness thereof among in these wars in the Netherlands, to swallow such as seek it out is commonly called huff- large quantities of intoxicating liquors, and cap, mad-dog, angel's-food, dragon's milk, destroy their own health, by drinking that (in addition to other expressive, but not of others.t very delicate epithets.) It is incredible to Similar luxurious habits existed in succeed. say how our malt-bugs lug at this liquor, ing reigns. Many and severe complaints even as pigs should lie in a row lugging at were made against the clergy, in particular, their dame's teats, till they lie still again and some of whom are described as having led be not able to wag. Neither did Romulus dissolute lives. This bad example may be and Remus suck their she-wolf, or shepherd's supposed to have had a corresponding inwife Lupa, with such eager and sharp de- fluence on the people, who in general have votion as these men hale at huff-cap till they been found but too willing to imitate vices be as red as cocks, and little wiser than their sanctioned by the practice, though opposed

to the precepts, of their spiritual pastors This tippling propensity, with its evil con- and teachers. sequences, moral and physical, is well de

Numerous historical notices are recorded scribed in a song, published A.D. 1551, and of the intemperate habits of the people in said to have been the first drinking song of the seventeenth century. During the reign merit, written in this country.f The two of James I., intemperance was no less prefirst verses of this song are inserted for the valent than it had been under former information of the reader.

monarchs. James, on his accession, rather I cannot eat but little meat,

encouraged this vice, by the passing of laws My stomach is not good;

for the increase of houses appropriated to But sure, I think, that I can drink, the sale of intoxicating liquors; but, as will With him that wears a hood.

afterwards be found, the result so clearly Though I go bare, take ye no care, I nothing am a colde;

proved the injurious nature of these measures, I stuff my skin, so full within,

that he subsequently passed enactments Of jolly good ale and olde.

for the punishment of drunkenness. These CHORUS.

checks, notwithstanding, were far from prov. Backe and side, go bare go bare,

ing effectual ; and in the reign of Charles I. Both foot and hand go colde;

drunkenness prevailed to such an extent as But belly, God send thee, good ale enoughe, to call for additional regulations for its Whether it be new or olde.

suppression. During the period of the In the following verse, the delicate

Commonwealth, drunkenness was the pre

appetite of the drunkard is still further pour-vailing vice of the land ; this indeed was so trayed.

generally the case, that by other nations

England was denominated “The Land of
I love no rost, but a nut-brown toste, Drunkards." Intemperance, however, was

And a crab laid in the fire ;
A little bread shall do my stead,

strongly denounced at this period by MinisMuche bread I noght desire.

ters of the Gospel, and by others, who No frost, no snowe, no winde I trowe, viewed this degrading vice with detestation Can hurt me if I wolde;

and alarm. There are several characteristic I am so wrapt and thorougely lapt, Of jolly goode ale and olde.

pamphlets, the production of their pious Backe and side, &c. zeal, still extant, wherein the folly of The last verse, in reference to those drunkenness is forcibly pourtrayed, and the

dreadful extent of its ravages exhibited. * Historical description of the Island of Britain, Chap. xviii. Book 2.

* Baker's Chronicle. + Vide Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. iii. Camden's Annals, 1581

But these efforts contributed very little to ing and promoting this vice of drunxehness. check its progress, and the vice, with all its among the poor, will not think it a scandal attendantevils pursued its devastating course. upon the gentry of England, if we say, that

In the reign of William and Mary, drunken- the mode of drinking as it is now practised, ness was very prevalent, and in fact was had its original from the practice of the indirectly promoted by an Act, passed " for country gentlemen, and they again from the the encouragement of distillation,” under court." the plea of benefiting the agricultural in- Gross scenes of intemperance were witterests of the country. The pernicious nessed in the streets of London, during the consequences which ensued, and especially visit of Christian IV., the King of Denmark, the alarming demoralization of the lower to bis sister Anne of Denmark, Queen of classes, soon induced the enactment of other England. The Danish King was well known laws for the restriction of the sale of intoxi. for his love of strong drink, and the festivi. cating liquors. The celebrated De Foe has ties held on the occasion were calculated to recorded some characteristic sketches of the gratify the dissolute propensities of the intemperance of these times. “ If the northern monarch. history of this well-bred vice,” says he, Sir John Harrington, in describing the

was to be written, it would plainly appear debaucheries which attended this royal visit, that it began among the gentry, and from in a letter written to Secretary Barlow, them was handed down to the poorer sort, says, “She had women, and indeed wine too, who still love to be like their betters. of such plenty, as would have astonished After the Restoration, when [drinking to] each sober beholder. The Dane hath the king's health became the distinction strangely wrought on our good English between a “Cavalier' and a · Roundhead,' nobles ; ' for those whom I never could get drunkenness began its reign, and it has to taste good liquor, now follow the fashion reigned almost forty years. The gentry and wallow in beastly delights. The ladies caressed the beastly vice at such a rate, that abandon their sobriety, and are seen to roll no companion, no servant, was thought about in intoxication. The conduits in the proper unless he could bear a quantity of streets ran with wine." Sir John Harrington wine ; and to this day it is added to the concludes by remarking, “the gunpowder character of a man, when you would speak fright is got out of all our heads, and we are well of him, “he is an honest drunken fellow ;' going on hereabouts, as if the devil was as if his drunkenness was a recommendation contriving every man should blow up himto his honesty. From the practice of this self, by wild riot, excess, and devastation of nasty faculty, our gentlemen have arrived to time and temperance—the Danes have again the teaching of it; and that it might be conquered the Britains, for I see no man, or effectually preserved to the next age, have woman either, that can now command very early instructed the youth in it. Nay, himself or herself.''* so far has this custom prevailed, that the In the eighteenth century ample testimony top of a gentlemanly entertainment has been is on record to exhibit the awful ravages of to make his friend drunk; and the friend is drunkenness in Great Britain. The parliaso much reconciled to it, that he takes that mentary debates which took place in confor the effect of his

kindness which he ought sequence, afford us some interesting facts. as much to be affronted at as if he had Lord Cholmondeley informs us, that the kicked him down stairs. Thus it is become consumption of French brandy, during the a science; and but that instruction proves reign of Charles II., was very great. This so easy, and the youth too apt to learn, excited discontent, from the idea that the possibly we might have had a college erected nation experienced considerable loss from for it before now. The further perfection the want of encouragement to home distillaof this vice among the gentry will appear in tion. Charles therefore was induced to two things, that it is become the subject of grant permission to a company to distil their glory, and the way of their expressing brandy from wine and malt. After the their joy for any public blessing. 'Jack,' said revolution of 1688, when commerce with a gentleman of very high quality, when after the French was interdicted, any person was the debate in the House of Lords, King permitted to set up a distillery, provided William was voted into the vacant throne, a notice of ten days was given to the excise.t Jack, go home to your Lady, and tell her This encouragement to distillation was a we have got a Protestant King and Queen, few years afterwards patronized and perand go make a bonfire as big as a house, and petuated by William, and increased to a bid the butler make ye ali drunk, ye dog.' considerable extent the consumption of Here," continues De Foe, “was sacrificing home-made spirits. In London and Westto the devil for a thanksgiving to God."'* minster in particular, the trade was pro

This remarkable writer concludes these secuted with much success. The legislature observations as follows :—“Whoever gives held out the same encouragement to this himself the trouble to reflect on the custom traffic, during the reign of George I. The of our gentlemen in their families, encourag

* Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. 1 * De Foe's “ Poor Man's Plea."

+ Parliamentary History, vol. 12, p. 1213.

distillers became more expert in their The host of petitions which were sent in
business, and, by this and other means, were from various parts of the kingdom, at length
enabled to dispose of the produce of their induced the government to pass more
stills at so cheap a rate, that the populace restrictive measures, which had some effect
were induced to indulge in the most extra- in reducing the consumption of these liquors;
vagant excess. No wonder then that health, but the appetite for them had been created,
morals, and industry, were at a low ebb. and to the present day this unhappy country
National ruin and degradation appeared is still groaning under a torrent of evils
Ievitable, and the legislature, in alarm and originating in the same cause.
despair, placed such a duty on spirits, in The excitement produced by this obnox-
addition to a heavy sum on taking out a ious measure in various parts of the country,
license, as was tantamount to a prohibition was such as to induce the proper authorities
of its retail sale in a legitimate and public to take active steps to suppress all popular
manner. The appetite for strong drink, tumults. The Bill came in force on Sep-
however, was too deeply rooted-immense tember 29th, 1736. On that day the
quantities of spirits were illicitly sold by populace at Norwich, Bristol, as well as
some, while others evaded the law by retailing London, and other places, with the view
a kind of spirit which was, in derision, duly to honour the death of Madame
called, “ Parliament Brandy."

Gin," made a formal procession at her
This injudicious enactment, passed 2 Geo. funeral," on which occasion some of her
II., was found to be ineffectual in its devoted admirers of both sexes got drunk,
operation, and accordingly in the sixth year but fortunately committed no further out-
of the same reign was totally repealed, rage.
“ withopt making any regulation for pre- The distillers, as might be supposed, were
venting the excessive use of such liquors.” much perplexed. Some took out licenses
Lord Cholmondeley describes this measure to sell wine, others prepared to embark in
as very injurious in its results. The poor, the brewing trade, while not a few offered
he says, being restored to their liberty of for sale a liquor composed of wine in which
getting drunk as usual, like men set free spices were infused. Lord Cholmondeley
from a gaol, made a most extravagant use of says, “the very commencement of the law
that liberty. Lord Cartaret and Lord exposed us to the change of Rebellion : an
Cholmondeley observed, that on their way insurrection of the populace was threatened
to the house they had witnessed persons .-nay, the government had information of
lying insensible in the gutters, from the its being actually designed, and very wisely
effect of strong drink. The cost of gin at commanded the troops to be ordered out
this period was 6d. per quart. The legisla- and paraded in the several places where the
ture now became more determined than ever mob was likely to assemble, which, per-
in its resolves to put an end to the traffic; in haps, prevented a great deal of bloodshed.”
consequence of which an Act was passed in the same statesman tells us that the infor.
the ninth year of George II., which, in mers, who, as might be expected, were
effect, absolutely prohibited the retail of objects of public detestation, were hunted
spirituous liquors.

down like wild beasts. Respectable dealers Perhaps no circumstance is more illustra- soon abandoned the proscribed traffic, and the tive of the intemperance of these times than trade soon fell into the hands of disreputhe disgusting manner in which the sellers table men, who were fearless of the legisof these poisonous liquors endeavoured to lature and set at nought its enactments. extend their trade. A contemporary publi- “ Within two years of the passing of the cation has inserted the following notice for Act,” remarks Tindal, “ it had become the year 1736. “We have observed some odious and contemptible, and policy, as well signs where such liquors are retailed, with as humanity, forced the commissioners of the following inscription, — Drunk for a excise to mitigate its penalties.* This penny, dead drunk for two-pence, clean writer further informs us, that during these straw for nothing.' Smollet makes the two years no less than 12,000 individuals following remark upon this subject :-"They were convicted of offences connected with accordingly provided cellars and places strew- the traffic.+ Lord Cholmondeley states, that ed with straw, to which they conveyed those at this period, in defiance of the exertions of wretches who were overwhelmed with government, no less than seven millions of intoxication : in those dismal caverns they gallons and upwards were consumed in Lonlay until they recovered some use of their don and adjacent districts. faculties, and then they had recourse to the One popular mode of evasion was same mischievous potion ; thus consuming follows:-Drams were sold in the brandy their health and ruining their families, in shops, under the following and other quaint hideous receptacles of the most filthy vice, appellations, “ Sangree, “ Tom Row,' resounding with riot, execration, and blas. "Cuckold's Comfort," 6. Parliament Gin," phemy."'t

* Continuation of Rapin. Vol. viii. p. 358. * Parliamentary History, vol. xii. p. 1213. * Smollet's Hist. of England, passim.

+ Ibid. Vol. viii. p. 388.

[ocr errors]

as

Ed.

1759.

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »