Page images
PDF
EPUB

House of Commons would probably have treated the matter very differently. ave treated the matter very differentlů

There probably came into play, to save Lord Fitzhardinge on this occasion, that comniunity of interest and reciprocity of service between a government and an influential parliamentary supporter which enters so largely in the working of our political system. The Government of that day tried to protect Lord Fitzhardinge against inquiry, just as a government of which Sir F. Thesiger, now Lord Chelmsford, would be a member, would endeavour to save one of its parliamentary supporters. Reasonably, too, it may have influenced the disinclination to pursue Lord Fitzbardinge with a parliamentary inquiry, that the political scandal had grown out of a family brawl.

In the debate on Mr. Wakley's motion, Admiral Berkeley, the present Lord Fitzhardinge, stated for and from his accused brother, that “it was the “ foulest falsehood that ever disgraced “any set of men, when it was asserted “ that he had induced any of his “ tenantry to retire from the corps of " which his brother was captain ; and “ that he had not in any way interfered “ with respect to the election.”

It is fair to Mr. Grantley Berkeley to produce the reply which he made on the moment to this contradiction, and which is recorded in “Hansard.” It was not Mr. Grantley Berkeley's fault that he had no opportunity of proving his statement before a Committee of the House of Commons.

“I feel it only necessary to say that happen to be the captain of the corps which has been mentioned. and I can assure the House of the truth of the interference. I have in my possession the letters of the tenantry serving in my corps, telling me that they would not have left me bad they not been coerced to do so by their landlord. If the committee is granted, I can produce these letters in support of my assertion. When I returned the muster-roll of my corps to the War Office, I represented the fact under the printed heading for observations, why so many of my best men had suddenly deserted my corps, as I thought it might appear owing to some error in my own conduct; and I then stated that they had left me through the coercion of the Lord-Lieutenant of the county. I was not permitted to send that muster-roj to the War Office with those words in it; and therefore,

in obedience to my commanding officer, after having consulted a gallant officer, a friend of mine, in this House, I erased the words having first inquired how I was to report the fact why so many men had left my corps. I can assure the House that these men were compelled to leave it through the interference of their landlord.”

The scandalous history of the West Gloucestershire election of 1847, and the other incidental revelations in Mr. Grantley Berkeley's book of delicate relations between the Lord of Berkeley Castle and the cities of Bristol, Gloucester, and Cheltenham, are lessons which should not be thrown away by those who desire to effect a real purification of the English system of representative government. The expediency, justice, and even practicability of excluding peers from influence in elections for the House of Commons, may be fairly disputed. The sessional order against any peer's “concerning himself” in elections is, and perhaps had better be, inoperative. In the last session of Parliament a nobleman, who cannot be suspected of revolutionary tendencies, broadly stated—what has indeed been stated over and over again, and is notorious, but what comes with peculiar effect from such a quarter—that the representation of counties was chiefly in the hands of peers. It was on the occasion of Mr. Locke King's motion, he introducing his often rejected Bill for a ten-pound county franchise, that Lord Robert Montagu expressed himself as follows:

“His own great objection to the Bill was, that it was founded on a delusion. It assumed that the representation 4 real thing. This was a hallucination. The fact was, that the representation of the counties was in the hands of large landowners. It was chiefly in the hands of the peers.”

Many boroughs, also, exemplify an over-ruling or marked influence of peers. The influence of the peerage in elections is inseparably associated with political power to peers, and a large share for the aristocracy of Government patronage ; and the problem to be solved is, how to separate the legitimate in fluences of rank and property from abuses of wealth and power, and save the aristocratic element of our State

from the injurious effects of borough mongering malpractices and political jobbery.

Mr. Henry Berkeley, the member for Bristol, who has worn for many years the ballot-mantle of Mr. Grote, and annually delivers a clever and amusing speech on the iniquities of bribers and intimidators, has excluded the Berkeley examples from his catalogues. That is not surprising. His brother Grantley supplies the omission. The many public admirers of the present parliamentary apostle of the Ballot will read with interest some of the notices in this volume of Mr. Henry Berkeley's younger days. He was, it appears, “ before his severe illness, of his weight, the best amateur boxer in the kingdom," and, when only sixteen, “went to the Fives Court, under the special introduction of the late Mr. Berkeley Craven and Colonel Berkeley, and with the trial gloves on, set to, and had a great deal the best of it, with one of the well-known pugilists of the day, Caleb Baldwin.” It is further related that the member for Bristol never went to bed, in his youthful days, without suspending the clothes. bag, full of linen, to a nail, and hitting at it, right and left, by way of practice, for half an hour together. “The chi!d is father of the man," and the youthful pugilist who tried his prentice hand in punishing dirty-clothes bags has ripened into the hard" hitter of the House of Commons against the foul practices of intimidation and corruption.

P.S. ---Since the above article was in type, we have seen a small pamphlet, which is a Reply to some passages of Mr. Grantley Berkeley's book by his four surviving brothers. The passages replied to exclusively relate to the conduct of their parents and the question of the legitimacy of the elder children under an alleged secret first marriage, which the late Lord Fitzhardinge failed to prove to the satisfaction of the House of Lords. As in the introduction to our article we have incidentally stated the illegitimacy of a portion of the family as a fact, in accordance with Mr. Grantley Berkeley's statements and the

decision of the House of Lords, it is, perhaps, fair, in so delicate a matter, that we should give currency to the following declaration of Mr. Grantley's four surviving brothers, one of them being Mr. Moreton Berkeley :

“The surviving brothers do not desire here to discuss the questions involved in the decision of the House of Lords ; they simply desire to give to the world their united testimony as against that of their brother-that in their belief the history of the matter given by the late Earl and Countess, under sanction of their oaths, was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Their father solemnly, in his place in the House of Lords, made his declaration that the first marriage had been solemnised and registered, and confirmed that statement by his oath. Their sons believe devoutly their parents' solemn declaration. In this belief Mr. Moreton Berkeley shares as strongly as his elder brothers, and they have a perfect knowledge that their brother Craven up to the time of his death held the same conviction.”

It is further stated in this panıphlet. that, long after Mr. Grantley Berkeley became a member of Parliament, " he professed to share the belief of the other members of his family in the due celebration of the first marriage.”

The four brothers also say :“Mr. Grantley Berkeley knows that his father, within a few days of his death, and while in full possession of his intellect, and mindful of the Presence in which he must soon appear, too weak to write, dictated, and with his own hand signed, a letter to the Prince Regent, containing the following words :- Your Royal Highness was well acquainted with the situation which I had placed my wife and children in by concealing my first marriage in 1785.' This letter was handed to the Prince Regent, who endorsed on it these words,-'I certify the whole of these particulars to be true. G. P.R.' The Prince made a statement to the same effect to Mr. Sergeant Best, counsel for the claimant, but His Royal Highness was not called as a witness by counsel, they supposing his evidence to be a declaration made post litem motam, instead of being, as in fact it was, ante litem motam. The mistake was fully explained in letters now extant, and which have been seen by Mr. Grantley Berkeley.

With the main object of our article this question has nothing to do ; the reply of the four brothers does not touch election matters ; for ourselves and the public the decision of the House of Lords must settle the question of legitimacy.

478

STRONG WATERS :

A CHAPTER FROM THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE PAST.

BY THOMAS WRIGHT, F.S.A.

The two agents which have perhaps exerted the greatest influence on the social condition of man are printing and alcohol, both of which were unknown to the ancients. To whatever extent they may have indulged in other excitements, neither Greeks nor Romans were brandy-drinkers or gin-drinkers; and our mediæval forefathers were obliged to restrict themselves to ale, or mead, or wine, till the impatient curiosity of mediæval science hit upon one of the most notable of modern discoveries. We owe it to those old searchers after hidden principles and hidden powers, the alchemists, who incessantly tried experiment after experiment in pursuit of that quintessence of quintessences and elixir of elixirs, the elixir of life. After almost every imaginable substance had been called into requisition, one day it came into the head of an adventurous investigator to put wine in the alembic ; and there came from it a spirit of such extraordinary purity, and which displayed such remarkable qualities, that he rejoiced in the conviction that he had at length reached the object of his vows. The exact date of this event, and the name of the discoverer, are equally unknown, but it is believed to have taken place in the course of the thirteenth century. It was no doubt at first communicated only to a few, and then gradually became known to the many; and all, equally impressed with its importance, believed they saw in it a special intervention of God's providence. They imagined at first that the new agent was destined to be the grand regenerator of mankind, which was supposed to be greatly fallen from its ori. ginal perfection—that it would free man from his liability to disease and in

firmity, and that it would prolong his life. But no good in this world is without its alloy, and even this fortunate discovery brought with it a cause of alarm. There were those who considered that a novelty so wonderful could betoken nothing less than the near approach of the consummation of all things, the end of this world.

Thus was brandy discovered. At first the alchemists modestly gave it the name, in their technical nomenclature, of aqua vini, water of wine, but this was soon changed to aqua vitæ, water of life, which expressed better their estimate of its qualities, and which many of them relished all the better, because they imagined ingeniously that it involved a sort of equivoque, or pun, upon aqua vitis, the water of the vine, or of the grape. One of the famous physicians of the middle ages, Arnaldus de Villanova, who is said to have been born about the year 1300, is the earliest writer who mentions aqua vitæ; and he speaks of it as though it had not then been long known (et jam virtutes ejus notre sunt apud multos). In a treatise which bears the significant title, De conservanda juventute et retardanda senectute, dedicated to Robert, King of Jerusalem and Sicily, Arnaldus speaks of this liquor, which he says was effective in nourishing youth (juventutem nutrit) and in keeping off the approach of old age. “It prolongs life," he says, " and on account of its operation in this “respect, it has merited the name of “aqua vitæ " (prol-ngat vitam, et ex ejus operatione dici micruit aqua vitæ). It was best kept, he adds, in vessels of gold, and could be preserved in no other material except glass. Only one of the anticipations of the old alchemists in regard to their aqua vitæ bas been

WIRBTITLE

fulfilled—it has produced a vast effect upon social life ; but it has certainly neither tended to prolong youth nor to retard old age.

These early alchemists, indeed, do not appear to have foreseen the usage of their newly-discovered spirit as an exciting and intoxicating drink, nor does it appear to have been employed for this purpose to much extent before the sixteenth century. It was considered as a medicinal potion, and, perhaps, in course of time, it began to be taken as a cordial “ on the sly.” It was probably very expensive, and no doubt a great mystery was made about it; but people who could possess it, and were persuaded that it would preserve youth and keep off old age, would be frequently tempted to take a dose, when they might not in outward appearance be in want of it. The use of aqua vitæ as a drink appears to have increased rapidly during the sixteenth century, until the , regular consumption must have become very considerable. It is spoken of as a thing in common use in the plays of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher; and the “ aqua-vitæ man," who carried it about for sale, is introduced as a common character. In the comedy of the “ Beggar's Bush,” by the two last-mentioned dramatists, the aqua-vitæ man calls his merchandize “ brand wine,” which (meaning simply burnt wine) was the name by which it was known in Dutch, and was the origin of its modern name, brandy. The earliest large manufacture of brandy, in fact, was seated in the Low Countries and Germany. At the close of the seventeenth and the commencement of the eighteenth centuries Strasburg and Nantes were celebrated for this manu. facture, at least, it was from those two cities that the best brandies were brought to England.

In Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night," Sir Toby Belch talks of brandy as a favourite drink with midwives; and from that time forwards we may trace among female society in all ranks a gentle leaning towards the exhilarating stimulant. But the ladies sought to

conceal the true character of the liquor they were drinking under disguises, and an immense quantity of brandy was consumed indirectly in making what were usually termed “cordial waters," because they were supposed to be taken for medicinal purposes, though some people were plain enough to call them strong waters. It must be remembered that one of the greatest accomplishments of the lady of the house in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was skill in the art of distilling, and that every well-ordered household of any respectability possessed its alembic or still, until the exciseman came to suppress the practice. In that curious book for the illustration of social manners, the “ Ladies' Dictionary," published by John Dunton, the bookseller, at the close of the seventeenth century, we are told, under the head of “Distillation," that “ Every young gentlewoman “is to be furnish'd with very good stills, " for the distillations of all kinds of “waters—which stills must be either of "tin, or sweet earth; and in them she "shall distil all manner of waters meet “ for the health of her household.” The essential of these waters always consisted of brandy ; but it was disguised and flavoured by a great variety of ingredients, consisting, however, chiefly of herbs. We know tolerably well the composition of most of these cordials, from the receipts for making them, which were soon collected and printed in small books-a continuous series of which exist, beginning with the sixteenth century. These books appear under rather quaint names. One of the earliest I know, printed in 1595, is entitled, “ The Widdowes Treasure.” The “ waters” it contains are called by Latin names rosa solis, aqua composita, and aqua rosæ solis. The title of another similar book, printed in the year following, is “ The Good Huswifes Jewell,” and its cordials are, rosemary water, water imperiall, cinnamon water, Dr. Stephens's water, aqua composita, and water of life—this latter stated to be a great cordial, good especially “for to quicken the memory of man." As will be seen, in these treatises we can trace from date to date the increase in number and variety of these favourite cordials.

These earlier books were merely destined for the use of good housewives, who were their own distillers; but the manufacture and sale of strong waters became soon a public and extensive trade. In 1639, appeared the “Distiller of London,” a work put forth by authority by the Distillers' Company. This book contains receipts for no less than thirty-two different waters. A reprint of it, with fuller explanations and directions, but the same title, appeared in 1652. In the more numerous list of waters given in this work, we find aniseed water, “a famous surfeit water” (in which poppies form one of the ingredients), aqua coelestis, horseradish water, aqua imperialis, and snail water. Larger and more full works on the subjects of distilling were published in the earlier part of the last century ; among which one of the best was the “ Complete Body of Distilling," compiled " by George Smith, of Kendal,” and printed in 1725, and again in 1738. A remarkable characteristic of many of these cordials is the number of ingredients, mostly herbs, which are mixed up to produce one water. There are thus no less than sixty-two ingredients, besides sugar and aqua vitæ (brandy), in the aqua coelestis of the “ Distiller of London" of 1652. In an earlier book, known by the title of “The Ladies Cabinet Opened,” and printed in 1639, we have the following receipt :

"A WATER. “Take a gallon of Gascoigne wine; of ginger, gallingall, sinamon, nutmegs, graines, cloves, mace, annis-seeds, caraway-seed, coriander-seed, fennell-seed, and suger, of every one a dramme; then take of sacke and ale a quart a peece, of cammomill, sage, mint, red roses, time, pellitorie of the wall, wilde majorame, rosemary, wilde time, lavendir, pene. royall, fennell rootes, parsly rootes, and setwall rootes, of each halfe a handfull : Then beate the spice small, and bruise the hearbes, and put them altogether into the wine, and só let it stand sixteene houres, stirring it now and then : Then distill it in a limbecke with a soft fire, and keepe the first pinte of the water by itselfe, for it is the best, and the rest by itselfe, for it is not so good as the first."

Some of these cordial-makers appear to have regarded their “ waters" with feel. ings similar to those of the old alchemists in regard to their aqua vitæ; and the compiler of this book assures us that the water here described was good against “all cold diseases-it preserveth youth, comforteth the stomacke;" and he adds, “it preserved Dr. Stevens tenne yeares bed-red, that he lived to ninety-eight yeares." In fact, it was a water which, under the name of Dr. Stephens's water, was popular from the days of Queen Elizabeth until the middle of the last century.

“The Ladies' Directory," by Hanna Wolley, printed in 1662, furnishes us with the following receipt for a water, which is stated to be good to “comfort the spirits :"—

"ANOTHER CORDIAL-WATER. “Take cellondine, sage, coursmary, rue, wormwood, mugwort, scordian, pimpernel, scabious, agrimony, betony, balm, cardus, centory, pennyroyal, elecampane roots, tormentel with the roots, horehound, rosa-solis, marygold flowers, angellico, dragon, margerum, time, camomile, of each two good handfulls; licorice, zeduary, of each an ounce ; slice the roots, shred the herbs, and steep them in four quarts of white wine, and let it stand close covered two dayes, then put it in an ordinary still close detted; when you use it, sweeten it with sugar, and warm it.' Here, no doubt, the brandy is, as boys say in construing their Latin, “understood." This is not the case in the following receipt, taken from “ The Closet of Rarities," printed in 1706 :

“TO MAKE SURFEIT-WATER. “ Take two gallons of brandy, or good spirit; steep in it the flowers of red poppies a night and a day, then squeeze them out hard into the liquor, and so put fresh ones in till it becomes of a deep red; then put in nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, of each half an ounce, grosly bruised, and to each quart four ounces of fine sugar; set it in a warm place twenty days, often shaking it; then strain it.”

“ This,” we are told, among other qualities,“ removes surfeits.” It, or nearly the same thing, is given in the “ Distiller of London" of 1652, as “a famous surfeit-water;” meaning, I presume, that it was a corrective in the morning for those who had indulged to

« PreviousContinue »