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tion around, and saying, “ Am not I in sport?" we must pause. A rhyming brother of the mighty spirit, whose ranging desolations we deplore, affords an apposite conclusion to the detail:
“Robin Burns, in many a ditty,
Loudly sings in whisky's praise;
Hector M'Neil. The celebrated national song of “ Auld lang syne” mingles the most delightful reminiscence of the days of childhood and youth, with the gross reciprocity of the give and take of liquor :
“An' surely you'll be your pint stoup,
An' surely I'll be mine," &c. But we shall not attempt at present any farther investigation into the necessarily bacchanalian character of part of the literature of Scotland.
That we may not appear to leave out important information, because it does not happen to fall exactly under our pre-adopted categories and definitions, we shall subjoin a word or two on the subject of what we choose to call demi-usages.
We have defined a drinking usage to be an artificial and conventional conjunction with liquor, not pointed out by nature; drink given or taken as diet, does not, therefore, strictly come under consideration in this place. There are, however, some cases in Scotland, when spirits are received or taken under pretence of diet or refreshment, where a certain degree of ceremonial mingles as an ingredient: some of these may be here noticed.
Rafters (men who conduct rafts of timber, and lay it up in ponds and yards) receive each from their employers, from four to six glasses of whisky a-day.
Seamen sometimes receive as much as four glasses each man a-day, and boys two. Government allows spirits, duty free,
Lumpers, (who assist in discharging cargoes of large vessels,) purchase for themselves from two to four glasses a-day, as the job will afford it, and are paid in a public-house, where a money usage intervenes.
Quay Porters, in assisting at discharge of vessels, receive from their employers three glasses a piece a-day; and a bottle of rum among them at the close of the discharge.
At mowing hay men receive two glasses a-day.
for this purpose,
Hired peat-cutters the same.
Tailors working in farmers' houses, receive a glass before commencing work.
Washerwomen, in some places, receive a regular dose of whisky, as if it were necessary as a medicine.
In towns, large masses of the operative population take their glass, or glasses, of liquid fire, regularly each morning in going to work; for this purpose, the whisky shops are put in order, and opened an hour before the time of work. In the winter season, a spectator, in traversing a town an hour before daylight, may see the neat and convenient accommodation made for this purpose; the spirit stores being swept, garnished, and glancing with gas-light. It is unpleasing to advert severely to the practice of respectable men, (for such are found among whisky sellers,) but few sights can be more appalling to the lover of his kind, than this punctual and brilliant array of preparation.
At Rockings, (an assemblage of young people round a farmer's fireside, for the purpose of amusing themselves by reciting tales,) much whisky is usually dispensed. In one case lately a glass of spirits was handed round to each five times. In other parts of the hill country of the Lowlands, the following statement has been given :-A gathering of young men and women takes place, to the amount of ninety or an hundred; they are supplied with bread, cheese, and whisky, in a barn or large outhouse; dancing commences to the tones of a fiddle; when no musician is at hand, the want is supplied by a pair of tongs and poker; (alas ! for the degeneracy in the musical accomplishments of the Scotch ;) whisky is handed round profusely, from time to time. On a late occasion, ten men and eight women drank thirteen quarts of whisky. The consequences of thus interweaving drinking with other recreations is represented as direful.
At tea-drinkings among the lower classes, it is extremely prevalent, after tea is finished, to bring in toddy, and even raw spirits, and to drink plentifully. This barbarous addition to the "
сир that cheers, but not inebriates," has increased greatly within twenty years.
At kirns, (harvest homes,) a profusion of whisky is frequently served out, and scenes of the worst description ensue, often ending in bloodshed.
Reapers frequently get an allowance of whisky.
I do not affirm that strong drink is dispensed in the proportions above-mentioned, or used in every case and transaction similar to those detailed, that may occur throughout Scotland; but I have reason to conclude, that rules approximating to those stated, are very general; nay more, I am of opinion that I have not reached, by any means, the whole amount of drinking usage in this country. I, however, earnestly reiterate my request on all Committees of Temperance Societies, not to put this department of temperance investigation away from them, as, notwithstanding my most pressing remonstrances, many of them have done for years; but now to persevere in the inquiry, and sift the whole matter in such a way as that the inhabitants may judge of its extent, and provide a suitable remedy.
It is observable, that most of the liquor bestowed as we have just now stated, is dealt out under the fallacy of the fatal medical error, that strong liquor is beneficial to labourers ; but argument on this point does not come within the scope of our present inquiries.
In regard to funerals, as it is likely that the inhabitants of various districts in Scotland will demand a change on this subject at no distant period, we are necessitated to advert to it more in detail; and this we do with considerable diffidence, not being professionally qualified for discussing the merits of different kinds of devotional service connected with the duty in question.
For towns, the following is submitted as leading to fewer inconveniences than the method frequently used :
1. Half an hour before the general company meets at the house of mourning, the family, or such part as can attend, including females, to engage with their own minister in an act of devotion, which will comprehend reading the scriptures and prayer. The service to be performed without wine or spirits; and only a very few near relatives to be admitted besides the family.
2. The general company to meet at the hour appointed, in front of the house; and every thing being ready, the whole procession to move off at once, and precisely at the hour, towards the place of interment.
3. At the burying-ground, while the relatives (who have already enjoyed a devotional service) are engaged at the grave in the act of burial, the general company to enter the adjacent church, and the minister to engage in prayer. Where no church is contiguous, a commodious and comfortable booth or
apartment to be erected near the gate of the burying-ground, sufficient to give standing accommodation to such a number as generally assemble.
It seems a mistake to suppose that this plan of conducting funerals can be identified with the Church of England service. It appears to be much nearer the method employed in Knox's time, than the service at present used in various places, (vide Compendium of the Laws of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1830, p. 305.) Indeed, the service would be much the same as at present, the place only different; and a public service demands a public place: no man surely is bound to make his house a place of public ordinance.
As a matter of course, Temperance Societies ought to endeavour to procure the suppression of all drinking usage previous to the funeral, and after it; and if liquor, in consequence of adopting a plan similar to the above, should thus be disused at the funeral, it will assist the dismissal of the preliminary and subsequent use of spirits, which we have formerly adverted to.
We shall conclude the account of Scottish drinking usages with a scene at a dinner party at Glasgow.
“The office of mingling the discordant elements of punch into one sweet and harmonious whole, is perhaps the only one which calls into full play the sympathies and energies of a Glasgow gentleman. You read in the solemnity of his countenance his sense of the deep responsibility which attaches to the duty he discharges. He feels there is an awful trust confided to him. The fortune of the table is in his hands. One slight miscalculation of quantity, one exuberant pressure of the fingers, and the enjoyment of a whole party is destroyed. With what an air of deliberate sagacity does he perform the functions of his calling! How knowingly he squeezes the lemons, and distinguishes between Jamaica rum and Leeward Island, by the smell! No pointer ever nosed his game with more unerring accuracy. Then the snort and the snifter, and the smacking of the lips, with which the beverage, when completed, is tasted by the whole party! Such a scene is worthy of the pencil of George Cruikshank; and he alone could do justice to its unrivalled ridicule. When the beverage has been duly concocted, at least one half hour passes, during which the merits of the punch form the sole topic of conversation in the party. On this subject even the most taciturn and obtuse members of the company wax eloquent."-Cyril Thornton.
To the above playful criticism of one who knew what he was writing about, we may add, in reference to the coarseness and strength of port wine, that nothing can be more inconceivably ludicrous than to witness a divan of British port drinkers sitting around, and solemnly delivering their opinion of the Tartarean nectar which they gravely sip, as if they were deciding the most important question in the world : and all the while they and their whole nation are justly considered, from their use of brandied wines, as fairly incapable of detecting the transcendent flavour and hidden delicacies of genuine wine; and are known and designated as thus unqualified by continental dealers and real judges, who doubtless laugh in their sleeve ; while the worthy Britons enjoy an ambrosia, which Pinkerton, perhaps rather unceremoniously, calls a wine fit for hogs.
IRISH ARTIFICIAL AND COMPULSORY DRINKING USAGES.
Temperance Reform of Ireland-T. Mathew-Necessity of Drinking Usages
forming part of Temperance Investigation-Obscurity of the Subject, and general Ignorance regarding it-Irish Investigation-Usages of Carpenters Cabinet-makers.
In the immediate view and survey of the admirable moral change that has been wrought and is working in Ireland, it might have been almost expected, that, in this edition, I should have drawn the pen through and through the following pages, which were compiled chiefly during a personal visit and examination of Irish drinking usages in 1837. But great and extraordinary as the Temperance reform in Ireland has latterly been, we inust rejoice with trembling; and remember that there still exists a mighty array of inebriation to be over
Heaven grant as prosperous an issue as the present appearances are auspicious and encouraging ! Lest I should be thought, however, to undervalue this great national movement, I crave leave to repeat what I have said elsewhere regarding it, viz. “ I despair of producing any emotion in the minds of auditors or readers, that will at all be adequate to express the admiration with which the great moral reformation at present taking place in Ireland, ought to be regarded.