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be the reason or occasion of a man's drinking, or the rule whereby to try the convenient when or season of it; but whenever a man shall make such and such a bargain with me, or pay me for, or get payment from me of, such and such things, that must be the rule of my eating and drinking! What beast would be thus dealt with? There is a drinking of healths, by this means forcing, tempting, or occasioning drinking in others; this is one of the highest provocations to drunkenness. What can be the use of drinking healths? It was a notable saying of a great man, solicited to drink the king's health, * By your leave, I will pray for the king's health, and drink for my own. This practice will probably be found to have arisen from heathen idolaters, who used libamen Jovi, Baccho, &c.: it is certain there is no vestige for it in Christianity, nor any reason for it.”* There are other examples of men of eminence objecting to the practice of health-drinking.
“ It happened,” says Dr. Williams, “ about the year 1629, when Sir Matthew Hale was a young man, and previous to his call to the bar, having joined some young men in a convivial party out of town, one of their number, notwithstanding all Hale's efforts to prevent it, indulged in wine to such a degree as to become insensible, and at length apparently dead. Hale retired to another room, and having shut the door, prayed to Him who seeth in secret,' that his friend might be restored, and that the countenance given by himself to such excess might be pardoned. He vowed also against the indulgence in such companionship for the future, and that he would not even drink a health if his friend recovered. And the vow was performed, occasionally to the inconvenience and reproach of its framer; for, in after days, when drinking the King's health was deemed a distinguishing mark of loyalty, Hale was sometimes uncivilly treated, because of his refusal to observe the ceremony.
Nor was Judge Hale altogether singular in his views. It is clear, that, even in that age, temperance principles, and the necessity of resisting a foolish custom, were properly understood and appreciated by some few others. On the blank leaf of an old English Bible, which has been handed down from parent to child, through successive generations, is written the following pledge. The book appears at the time to have been the property of Robert Bolton, Bachelor of Divinity, and preacher of God's word, at Broughton, in Northamptonshire :“Ffrom this daye forwarde to the ende of my life, I will
* The Rev. Mr. Durham on the Ten Commandments.
never pledge anye health, nor drink a whole carouse in a glass, cupp, bowle, or other drinking instrument whatsoever; whatsoever it be, from whomsoever it come, except the necessity of nature doe require it. Not my owne most gracious kinge nor anye the greatest monarch or tyrant on earth, not my dearest ffriende, nor all the goulde in the worlde, shail ever enforce me or allure me. Not an angell from heaven (who I know will not attempt it) shall persuade me. Not Satan, with all his old subtleties, nor all the powers of hell itself, shall ever betraye me. By this very sinne, (ffor a sinne it is, and not a little one) I do plainly ffinde that I have more offended and dishonoured my great and glorious Maker, and most merciful Saviour, than by all other sinnes that I am subject untoe; and ffor this very sinne it is, that my God hath often been straunge untoe me; and ffor that cause, and noe other respect, I have thus vowed; and I heartily beg my good Ffather in heaven, of his great goodness and infinite mercy in Jesus Christ, to assist me in the same, and to be favourable untoe me ffor what is past. Amen. R. Bolton.
Broughton, April 10, 1637.” The system of toasts at public feasts is naught; it is clearly unnecessary and superfluous that a speech should be prefaced with a draught of liquor. A list of subjects might be made out, and corresponding speeches prepared and delivered, without that close union with liquor intimated by the phrase “ toast."
“It is exceedingly painful to hear a fellow at a tavern, selected for his powers of vociferation, roar out from behind the President's chair, “Gentlemen, please to charge your glasses-a bumper— Success to the Church of England!*** It would be difficult to discover the real connexion that exists between wishing prosperity to a cause or an individual, and simultaneously swallowing wine; but it is not difficult to perceive, that an eloquent speech, or pathetic appeal, is, in fact, vilified and degraded by adding a glass of punch to its conclusion. Perhaps the public will require, in this country, to be further indoctrinated into the mysteries and consequences of drinking usage, before they will submit to any direct invasion of the glorious British privilege of giving toasts at civic dinners. A few words in passing, however, may be thrown out on this topic. In connecting a sentiment, or expression of good-will, of admiration or adherence, with liquor, a certain force is used on all the company unfavourable to temperance and moral
* London Christian Observer.
liberty. When gentlemen affirm, that, now-a-days, they are not required by convivial law to swallow bumpers, perhaps it would be fitting they should consider, that although incipient civilization on this point has begun to emancipate the upper ranks from such servitude, yet that large masses of the inhabitants are still enthralled on occasions, public and private, to “ bumpers, true bumpers, real bumpers,” of liquid fire; and “no heel tops.” Surely it is possible to make a speech at a public feast—to panegyrize a given character or system-to convey the most useful views of moral, political, or literary truth—to breathe most hearty wishes for the welfare of any scheme or individual—without confirming all that has been said, and clinching it, by the unmeaning ceremony of swallowing a mouthful of liquor. Dispassionately considered, a declamation on the conduct of public affairs, with a glass of punch tagged to its end, is a combination nearly akin to the burlesque, and infuses a taint of doggerel into what might otherwise be a sublime appeal to the passions or the reason.
In the palmy days of ancient eloquence, when the surcharged emotion of citizens, stung with the thoughts of their country, burst from the lips in such floods of persuasion, as failed not to rouse the national feelings to pitches of excitement, adequate to strike daggers into the hearts of tyrants, and to annihilate whole Asiatic armies; surely it would have been but an impotent conclusion, to have had such Grecian harangues as these reported as having been nestled and hatched amid vulgar and brutish festivity. And even our own newspaper reports of the enormities of the late “ Durham Feed” at Glasgow, or any such national festival, are yet further lowered by the despicable peroration with which such narratives generally conclude, viz. that the dishes and wines were excellent, and did great credit to some respectable individual, the landlord of the Chequers, the Bald-faced Stag, or the Blue Boar.
On the whole it would be desirable that influential men should consider of some more appropriate entertainment, at which to disseminate patriotic and political truth. Heavy eating is indubitably unfavourable to the exercise of reason or of fancy. How men gorged with mutton and punch, and with a fermenting conglomeration of omnigenous food, should be the better fitted for the peculiar exercise of mental energy, is an enigma, which puts reason to a stand; and which can principally be solved by the British, who seem to delight in nothing more than in its gross experience.
When a gentleman in Scotland, on receiving a visit from a
friend, thinks it proper to drink a tumbler of “toddy,” or perhaps two, before his face, in order not to appear to discourage his guest from taking what pleases him—this is clearly in the nature of artificial usage; and it is hard that a man should not only be obliged to provide food and accommodation for his visitor, but that he must also injure himself, perhaps, in a useless display of false courtesy. Indeed, it seems of the utmost importance to society that it should be generally known, and intently noted, that all eating and drinking in mere courtesy, is the remnant of worthless custom, that ought to be utterly banished the realm, if it were for nothing else than to unchain us from the thraldom in which it involves society. To drink when we are thirsty only, and eat when nature directs, is a maxim of a benevolent friend of Temperance, fraught with the soundest sense. That our etiquettes impose any compulsion against this rule, is worse than slavery. But when to this is added, that a poison is thus forced upon social life, which has nearly ruined the population, surely it is high time that we should pause, and by a resolute effort rid ourselves of the
The Use of Alcohol as daily Diet arraigned-Practice of the Ancient Greeks,
Romans, and Jews, in that respect-Practices of British Females censured.
Ar this period of the discussion we may be permitted to advert to circumstances connected with the customs of other countries, and of former ages, in regard to the use of alcoholic liquor, although these practices may not in perfect logical method come within our strict definitions of compulsory drinking usage. The inhabitants of Great Britain are by no means generally aware of the comparatively savage use that is made among themselves of alcoholic stimulants, and that the single circumstance of the ordinary wines drunk in our country being coarse, heady, and impregnated with brandy, is such as to justify with continental kingdoms the most significant national comparisons. But the advocates of Total Abstinence go a step further than arraigning such a wretched wine system. Whereas in this country it is a general opinion, which has been almost universally acted upon for a considerable number of years,
that some moderate portion of alcoholic stimulant is good and necessary as a daily diet. The abstinence men meet this position in the teeth, and utterly deny it; and not only deny it, but assert its contradiction; which we believe is the most opposite stand that can be taken in the science and practice of reasoning. They assert that the daily habitual use by individuals in ordinary health of alcoholic stimulants is unnatural and pernicious, more or less, in all cases, unfitted to the human constitution, contrary to the general practice of all ages of the world, and contrary to the stated testimony, not only of the most eminent physicians of America, but, latterly, of the principal medical men in the British metropolis. We are sensible that all this apparently wild asseveration has met, and will yet meet, with the surprise, indignation, and denial, mental or expressed, of the grand majority of all classes in her Majesty's dominions. Nevertheless, here we take our stand, and prepared to accept this same British public as our ultimate judge and convert.
To enter upon the medical point is far beyond the scope of our limits in an essay on usages; as well as to consider that part of the question which relates to Total Abstainers rejecting even the occasional use of alcoholic liquors in the present crisis of national inebriation; we shall content ourselves with referring to the metropolitan medical testimony contained in the note below.*
With regard to the daily habitual use of alcoholic liquors, as diet, we deny that it was generally such in ancient Greece, Rome, Persia or Judea, with some exceptions to be mentioned : and we believe of the 800 millions of inhabitants of the globe at this moment, but a small fraction employ alcohol as a daily diet. If this be true it is no argument for present British practice, that the Jews, without reproach from our blessed Saviour, occasionally drank wine. We humbly submit that much of the wine used among the ancients was unfermented; and, as to that which did intoxicate, it was quite different from ours, probably generally used in a diluted state, and above all, never daily, but at casual feasts, on marriage and other occasions. And we may fairly call upon our objectors to prove their case of the use of daily dietetical alcoholic drinks being
* Man in ordinary health, like other animals, requires not such stimulants, and cannot be benefited by an habitual employment of any quantity of them, large or small; nor will their use during his lifetime increase the aggregate amount of his labour. In whatever quantity they are employed, they will rather tend to diminish it. (Signed by the majority of the principal London Physicians.)