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This book was originally published in 1714 as "Eloge de l'Yvresse" by Albert-Henri de Sallengre, and translated in 1723 by Robert Samber with the present title. The 1812 edition updates the spelling and punctuation, and omits part of the title page (see Errata), but is otherwise the same text.
In the original text, footnotes were identified with * and other marks. For this e-text they have been numbered from 1 within each chapter. Footnotes added by the transcriber are identified with letters [1a] and [[double brackets]]. The word "possibly" means that an attribution exists but the transcriber has not personally seen the source text.
Typographical errors are listed at the end of the e-text. Unless otherwise noted, quotation marks are as printed.]
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
or, the PRAISE of DRUNKENNESS:
Wherein Is Authentically, and Most Evidently Proved,
THE NECESSITY of FREQUENTLY GETTING DRUNK;
And, That the Practice Is Most Ancient, Primitive, and Catholic.
By BONIFACE OINOPHILUS, De Monte Fiascone, A. B. C.
Vinum laetificans cor hominis. Narratur et prisci Catonis, Saepe mero caluisse virtus. —HOR.
LONDON: Printed For C. Chapple, Pall Mall.
Harding & Wright, Printers, St. John's Square, London.
PRAISE OF DRUNKENNESS
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 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 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. "There is no room to doubt," says he, "but some readers will judge, that there are a little too many quotations 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 quaerat nemo, sufficit habere."
As to the rest, I am very far from the sentiments of a certain writer, who having found in 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.
[Footnote 1: Pref. des Rep. aux Quest. d'un Pr. T. 1.]
Page. CHAP. I. That one must be Merry 1 CHAP. II. That Wine drives away Sorrow, and excites Mirth 16 CHAP. III. That it is good for one's Health to get Drunk sometimes 29 CHAP. IV. That old People ought to get Drunk sometimes 35 CHAP. V. That Wine creates Wit 38 CHAP. VI. That Wine makes one Eloquent 46 CHAP. VII. That Wine acquires Friends, and reconciles Enemies 49 CHAP. VIII. That the Custom of getting Drunk is most ancient 53 CHAP. IX. That the Primitive Christians got Drunk 57 CHAP. X. Of Churchmen 61 CHAP. XI. Of Popes, Saints, and Bishops, that used to get Drunk 67 CHAP. XII. A Catalogue of some illustrious Topers 73 CHAP. XIII. Of Philosophers that used to get Drunk 78 CHAP. XIV. Of Poets that used to get Drunk 85 CHAP. XV. Of Free Masons, and other learned Men, that used to get Drunk 88 CHAP. XVI. Of Nations that used to get Drunk 104 CHAP. XVII. Of the Drunkenness of the Germans 112 CHAP. XVIII. Of Nations that get Drunk with certain Liquors 121 CHAP. XIX. Other Considerations in favour of Drunkenness 126 CHAP. XX. An Answer to the Objection, That Drunkenness causes infinite Evils 130 CHAP. XXI. An Answer to the Objection, That the Mirth which Wine inspires is chimerical 133 CHAP. XXII. An Answer to the Objection, That one loses one's Reason in getting Drunk 142 CHAP. XXIII. An Answer to the Objection, That one cannot trust a Man that gets Drunk 150 CHAP. XXIV. An Answer to the Objection, That Drunkenness makes one incapable of performing the Duties of civil Life 152 CHAP. XXV. Burlesque, ridiculous, and out-of-the-Way Thoughts against Drunkenness 157 CHAP. XXVI. A ridiculous Aversion that some have to Wine 160 CHAP. XXVII. Rigorous Laws against Wine and Drunkenness 164 CHAP. XXVIII. Rules to be observed in getting Drunk. I. Not too often. II. In good Company 169 CHAP. XXIX. Third Rule, With good Wine 171 CHAP. XXX. Fourth Rule, At convenient Times 177 CHAP. XXXI. Fifth Rule, To force no one to drink 181 CHAP. XXXII. Sixth Rule, Not to push Drunkenness too far 184 POSTSCRIPT 193
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 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 health. 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 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 cares.
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 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 holydays, 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 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 sorrows."
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 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 skeleton."
This last sentiment is, without doubt, most 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 Petronius 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 puts me in mind of what Athenaeus 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 an 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 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 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 Inscriptions, that they used to cry out at their feasts,
AMICI, DUM VIVIMUS, VIVAMUS.
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 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 Gruter, 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 to-day, depend not on to-morrow."
Sera nimis vita est crastina, vive hodie.
Catullus expresses much the same sentiments in these beautiful verses:—
"Vivamus ———— Rumoresq; senum severiorum, Omnes unius 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. 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, 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."
"Buvons, 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: Qu'importe 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."
[Footnote 1: Elle est, comme disent les Arabes, la fleur et l'esprit de la sante vive et remuante.]
[Footnote 2: Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis.]
[Footnote 3: Seneca de Tranquilitate.]
[Footnote 4: Histoire de Sept Sages, &c. p. 137.]
[Footnote 5: Chap. 34.]
[Footnote 6: Lib. 10. cap. 10.]
[Footnote 7: Reflex. sur les Morts Plais. p. 22.]
[Footnote 8: P. 609.]
[Footnote 9: P. 699.]
[[Footnote 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.
—————— Animae quibus altera fato Corpora debentur, Lethei ad fluminis undam Securos latices, et longa oblivio potant.
—————— 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 quaedam oblivio generatur ex superfluorum potuum indulgentia.
A certain French poet sings thus much in the same tune:—
"Oui, Thirsis, c'est le vin qui nous fait rejeunir, Et qui bannit de nos pensees; Le regret de choses possees, 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. Evremont, 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,)
Le 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 Maximin, 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 author has a few verses on 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 against some distempers, so is it a perfect cure for heaviness and sorrow. Nonnunquam usque ad ebrietatem veniendum, non ut mergat nos, sed ut deprimat curas. Eluit enim curas, et ab imo animae movet, et ut morbis quibusdam, ita tristitiae medetur. 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.
———————— Neque Mordaces aliter diffugiunt sollicitudines.
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, vitaeque 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 praelia 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 curae, rugaque frontis abit. Tunc aperit mentes, aevo 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.
Let who will try their fate in the field, In war all their days let them pass: No arms but the bottle I'll weild, 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 with that little fool in the Latin comedy, "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 Iliaca porrectum sumere dextra Immortale merum."
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 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 aegritudinem 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 chapter.
"Bacchus contre moi tout conspire, Viens me consoler de mes maux: Je vois au mepris 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 soulage, Chaque coup m'ote la memoire Des maux qui m'avoient afflige.
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.
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.
[Footnote 1: Virgil. AEneid. lib. vi. v. 713.]
[Footnote 2: Lib. 3. Etymol.]
[Footnote 3: Rec. Poes.]
[Footnote 4: Miscel. vol. i.]
[Footnote 5: Rec. de Poes.]
[Footnote 6: Jul. Capit. Hist. Aug. Script. fol. p. 359.]
[Footnote 7: Nicol. Rec. de Vers. p. 44.]
[Footnote 8: Seneca de Tranquil.]
[Footnote 9: Lib. i. ode 18.]
[[Footnote 9a: Horace, Odes I.vii.17-19.]]
[[Footnote 9b: Horace, Epistulae I.v.16-20.]]
[[Footnote 9c: Ovid, Ars Amatoria I.237-242.]]
[Footnote 10: Nunc est profecto cum me patior interfici, ne hoc gaudium aliqua contaminetur aegritudine. —Eunuch.]
[Footnote 11: Statii Sil. 2. lib. iv.]
[[Footnote 11a: Varro, Menippean Satires, fragment from Est modus matulae.]]
[Footnote 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 of. 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 vitae et necis. We must therefore believe them. Ergo, let us heartily 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 ,
"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 ete 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, say, that it is a thing very salutary and wholesome to get drunk sometimes."
Monsieur Hofman confirms what has been just now said in relation to Avicenna, and adds thereto the testimony of another physician. "Avicenna," says he, "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 wine."
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 Jesuit. 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 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.
Montaigne tells us, that he heard Silvius, an excellent physician of Paris, say, "That 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 drunkard.
We also say with the French poet,
"Si Bourdaloue un peu severe Nous dit: craignez la volupte Escobar, lui dit on mon pere Nous la permet pour la sante!"
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 Patin, 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, 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 laedunt 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 salutem.
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 least.
[Footnote 1: Voluptates ut mel summo digito degustandae non plera manu sumendae. Dionys. Sophron. apud Philostr.]
[Footnote 2: Mad. Deshoul. t. ii. ep. p. 104.]
[Footnote 3: Div. Lec. de P. Messie, part ii. ch. 15.]
[Footnote 4: Hofman, t. ii. 9 dissert. ch. 6.]
[Footnote 5: Bocal, an Italian word, and signifies a pot or jug holding about three pints.]
[Footnote 6: Synopses Theolog. Pract.]
[Footnote 7: Essays, lib. ii. cap. 2.]
[Footnote 8: Satir.]
[Footnote 9: Boileau.]
[Footnote 10: The names of two jesuits, the former a famous preacher, and the other as famous a casuist.]
[Footnote 11: Esprit de Pat. p. 51.]
[Footnote 12: Owen, Ep.] [[John Owen (1564-1622): possibly I.ii.42.]]
[Footnote 13: Qu'il faut a chaque mois. Du moin s'enyvrer une fois. Fureteriana.]
THAT OLD PEOPLE OUGHT TO GET DRUNK SOMETIMES.
Wine taken with some excess is excellent for old people.
—— Ubi jam validis quassatum est viribus aevi Corpus et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus.
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 men." Tirellus, in his history, declares the same thing, when he says, "That wine is the nutriment of natural heat." 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 was." 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 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 stay."
Athenaeus, after Theophrastus, says, That wine drives away those irksome inquietudes to which old people are unhappily subject. 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."
[Footnote 1: Lucret. lib. iii.]
[Footnote 2: Vinum lac senum.]
[Footnote 3: Vina calidi innati pabula.]
[Footnote 4: AEtas meo frigore contenta est.]
[Footnote 5: Essays, lib. ii. cap. 2.]
[Footnote 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 wit." And the emblem of Adr. Junius, in which he represents Bacchus as a youth with wings on, and with this inscription, "Wine kindles wit," 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 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 judicious." For this reason it is grown into a proverb, That water-drinkers are not near so knowing as those who drink wine.
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. That experience proves, that those climates which produce good wine, produce also people that "have infinitely more wit than those of the north, who drink nothing but beer. Gryllus believes, That the Greeks were called fathers 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 plentifully."
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 agitated."
Horace, who knew by experience this truth, goes yet farther.
Nulla placere diu, nec vivere carmina possint, Quae scribuntur aquae 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 Motte, my beloved Frenchman, has something not unlike it.
"Loin une raison trop timide Les froids poetes qu'elle guide Languissent et tombent souvent. Venez yvresse temeraire, Transports ignorez du vulgaire 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 ode.
"Tout fleurit par vous au Parnasse, Apollon languit, et nous glace, Sitot que vous l'avez quitte, Mieux que les traits les plus sublimes Vous allez verser sur mes rimes Le don de l'immortalite.
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 —————— ."
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.
Alcaeus, 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 bottle." So true is it, that
"A la fontaine ou s'enyvre Boileau Le grand Corneille et le sacre troupeau De ces auteurs que l'on ne trouve guere Un bon rimeur doit boire a pleine eguyere, S'il veut donner un bon tour au rondeau."
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 see." But had he consulted experience, he would have found that drunkenness, far from making people fearful, inspires them with boldness and temerity.
[Footnote 1: Vinum acuit ingenium.]
[Footnote 2: Vinum ingenii fomes.]
[Footnote 3: Hist. des. vii. sag. p. 123.]
[Footnote 4: Non idem sapere possunt qui aquam et qui vinum bibunt.]
[Footnote 5: Resp. aux Quest. d'un Prov. t. i. ch. 12.]
[Footnote 6: Sive Platoni credimus, frustra poetices fores compos sui pepulit. Non potest grande aliquid et supra caeteros loqui nisi mota mens.]
[Footnote 7: 1 Ep. xix. 3.]
[[Footnote 7a: Ovid, Ex Ponto IV.ii.25-26.]]
[Footnote 8: La Motte, Ode Pind. 1.]
[Footnote 9: Ode 2. Pindar.]
[Footnote 10: Ep. xix. 7.]
[Footnote 11: Menagiana, t. i. p. 384.]
[Footnote 12: —— p. 189.]
[Footnote 13: Ne vinolenti quidem quae faciunt qua' sobrii, hesitant, revocant se interdum, usque quae 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?
Faecundi 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 country."
To draw a consequence from this, we say, That one must reasonably believe, that wine 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 orisons."
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 sacerdos.
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 friers would have told him, they never perform their office without taking a 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 popery."
But you will say, what coherence has this remark with the matter in question? Have a little 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 pon.
[[Footnote a: Horace, Epistulae I.v.19. (Same passage as note 2:9b.)]]
[Footnote 1: Rem. sur Rabel. t. i. lib. 1. cap. 5.]
[Footnote 2: Divers. cur.]
[Footnote 3: Lib. iii. p. m. 43.]
[Footnote 4: Bayle Dict. t. ii. p. 1163.]
[Footnote 5: Racine.]
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. 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 Crater. 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 life." 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,
Haec 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 person has given of Switzerland, that when the inhabitants of that country quarrel with one another, and come to blows, they are 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 a 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.
[Footnote 1: Dial. 2. d'Or, Tuber. p. m. 118.]
[Footnote 2: Hist. 7 Sap.]
[[Footnote 2a: Ovid, Tristia I.ix.5-6. First line is more often read as Donec eris sospes (or felix) ...]]
[[Footnote 2b: Horace, Satire I.iii.54.]]
[Footnote 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 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.
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 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 vines."
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 drunk.
As for Procopius of Gaza, one of the most ancient interpreters of Scripture, he thinks it no 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.
[Footnote 1: Disq. Biblic. Journ. des Scavans.]
[Footnote 2: Jo. Chr. Becman. Annal. Hist.]
[Footnote 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:—— "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 year."
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 martyrs!"
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 that they should not get drunk any where else."
Cardinal du Perron tells us, "That the Manichaeans said, that the Catholicks were people much given to wine, but that they never drank any."
Against this charge St. Augustin no otherwise defends them, than by recrimination. He answers, "That it was true, but that they (the Manichaeans) 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 vinosissimum.
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.
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 actions. His words are,
—— "Ignoscenda tamen puto talia parvis Gaudia quae ducunt epulis, quia mentibus error. Irrepit rudibus, nec tantae conscia culpae Simplicitas pietate cadit, male credula sanctos Perfusis halante mero gaudere sepulchris.[6a]
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 tombs 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.
[Footnote 1: Ep. 22.]
[Footnote 2: Pamel. p. 416.]
[Footnote 3: Ep. 29.]
[Footnote 4: Perron, p. 64.]
[Footnote 5: Ibid.]
[Footnote 6: Quicquid agunt homines intentio judicat omne.]
[[Footnote 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 defend 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 quaerentes.
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 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, lets put the flowing goblet round, Drink hard, and with brisk measures beat the ground. 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."
Nor this other,
"Absumet haeres caecuba dignior Servata centum clavibus: & mero Tinget pavimentum superbo Pontificum potiore caenis."[1b]
"A worthy heir shall then with joy unbind Caecubian, 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) caenis pontificum, quam quo pontifices in caenis suis, quae semper sumtuosissimae fuerunt, unde nunc theologicum dicunt vinum, usi sunt. That is, with better wine than that which the chief priests 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 gaudes 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 friers 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!"
[Footnote 1: Juvenal.] [[Satire II. 24.]]
[[Footnote 1a: Horace, Odes I.xxxvii.1-4.]]
[[Footnote 1b: Horace, Odes II.xiv.25-28.]]
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 his 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 drunkard.
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 arms; and whose mother was of the house of Caraffa, which signifies a jug, a Frenchman made these lines:—
"Nous devons tous boire en repos Sous le regne de ce saint pere Son nom 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; for if we believe Petrarch, 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 a 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, M. Cousin maintains against my author, M. Petit, the Journal des Scavans, 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 yet there are somewhere in St. Augustin these words, viz. My soul certainly being a spirit cannot dwell in a dry place. Anima mea certe 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 Rabelais. 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 sicco. To which Peter Chatelain, a Flemish physician, made this pleasant addition, It 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 I knew, who would prove, from St. Paul's going to the Three Taverns, 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 told, "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.
[Footnote 1: Thuan. p. 447.]
[Footnote 2: Perron, p. 387.]
[Footnote 3: Petit Nepaenth, p. 137.]
[Footnote 4: Liv. i. ch. 5.]
[Footnote 5: Acts, cap. xxviii. v. 15.]
[Footnote 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 Naudaeus and Gassendi, agrees with.
"Vina fugit gaudetque meris abstemius undis."[1a]
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 PS. Cum corona ebrium pseudolum meum.
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.
Lipsius furnished me with these examples.
But I should never have done, if I endeavoured to give a list of all the kings that got drunk.
———— "Quorum si nomina quaeras Promptius expediam quot amaverat Hippia maechos, Quot themison aegros autumno occiderat uno."
———— 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.
Caesar, 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.
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. AElian 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 justice to, said to him, viz. I appeal from Philip drunk, to Philip when sober.
Dionysius 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.
Maximin, the father, drank very often a pot containing two gallons. One might very well, therefore, have given him this epitaph:—
Hic jacet amphora vini.
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.
[[Footnote a: Claudian, De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti (VIII) 300.]]
[Footnote 1: Esprit de Pat. p. 22.]
[[Footnote 1a: Ovid, Metamosphoses XV.323.]]
[Footnote 2: Plautus.] [[Pseudolus 1286-87.]]
[[Footnote 2a: Plautus, Amphitryon 1007; Amphitryon 999.]]
[Footnote 3: Ant. Lect. lib. iii.]
[Footnote 4: Juvenal, satire x. v. 220.] [[i.e. 219-221.]]
[Footnote 5: AElian, chap. 6.]
[Footnote 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. Chevreau observes very well, that "The 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 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 Saepe 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 wisest of your poets, make not only Agamemnon drunk, but Jupiter too, and made nectar flow in full goblets at the table of the Gods?" AElian 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 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 feigns.
Xenocrates, one of the most illustrious philosophers of ancient Greece, and of a virtue very rigid and severe, got drunk sometimes. AElian has put his name into the catalogue of those who loved drinking, and could bear a good deal of liquor. Athenaeus, 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 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.
Cicero 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.
Athenaeus says, That the philosophers Lacides and Timon, once upon a time, past two whole days successively in drinking. AElian 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 died of immoderate laughter, seeing an ass eat figs out of a dish, and upon which he commanded they should give him drink.
[Footnote 1: Solonem et Arcesilaum credunt indulsisse vino.]
[[Footnote 1a: Horace, Odes III.xxi.11-12.]]
[Footnote 2: Hist. Sep. Sap.]
[Footnote 3: Lib. ii. 2.]
[Footnote 4: Hudibras.]
[Footnote 5: Bayle Dict. Art. Xenoc.]
[Footnote 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 foot, but when they drink nothing we can only say, that they are mounted upon.
The attachment that Homer had to wine, appears 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 AElian 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. Athenaeus has given of him this epitaph:—
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 Ovid has said on this point puts the matter out of all doubt:—
"Illa dies haec est, qua te celebrare poetae 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 saepe fui."
This is the day, unless the times are chang'd, That poets us'd to sing in merry lays, 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.
[Footnote 1: Sermo pedestris.]
[Footnote 2: Trist. v. 3.]
OF FREE MASONS, AND OTHER LEARNED MEN, THAT USED TO GET DRUNK.
If what brother Eugenius Philalethes, author of Long Livers, a book dedicated to the Free Masons, says in his Preface to that treatise, 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.