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The period extending from the Restoration to the reign of George I. was the bright age of English comedy. The comedies of that period are infinitely and skilfully varied in their plots, full of brilliant wit and humour, Aristophanic in their satire, except that living characters are not brought on the stage by name, and hardly less than Aristophanic in their licentiousness. They are, however, so far personal that they are the most admirable pictures of contemporary life that we possess, and they have the advantage of entering into all its minuteness. In these comedies we are often introduced into the private society of our fair countrywomen; and “strong waters ” play no small part in the scene, for the ladies of those days loved their spirit-bottle. We learn from Shadwell's “Squire of Alsatia" (1688), that they often carried “a silver strong-water bottle” about with them. The bottle was commonly used in secret. In Estcourt's “Fair Example” (1706), when Springlove asks,“ Where is she ?” Flora replies, “In her closet, with Seneca in one hand, and her bottle of spirits in t other” (Act v. sc. 1). “If,” says one of the characters in Montfort's “Greenwich Park,” 1691 (Act iv. sc. 4), “If she have any comfortable waters, 6 t'u drink her into compliance.” In Tom Durfey's “Richmond Heiress,” we have a scene (Act ii. sc. 1) in which the following bit of dialogue occurs :
It appears that the confirmed dramdrinkers preferred pure brandy, and that this was especially the favourite drink of ladies who had reached a certain age. A character in the play last quoted says, “Gad, I believe the old Sibil has been “regaling herself with a gill or two of " brandy after dinner” (Act iii. sc. 1). In Tate's “ Cuckolds' Haven, 1685 (Act i. sc. 2), Quicksilver, speaking also of an old womani, says, “I'd raise her with aqua-vitæ out of old hogsheads." And another old dame, Mrs. Mandrake, in Farquhar's “Twin Rivals” (Act ü. sc. 2), is made to say, “There is nothing more “comfortable to a poor creature, and “fitter to revive wasting spirits, than a “ little plain brandy. Ian't for your hot "spirits, your rosa-solis, your ratafias, your "orange-waters, and the like; a moderate "glass of cool Nantes is the thing." There is a scene in Dennis's comedy, “A Plot and no Plot," written in the closing years of the reign of King William III. (Act iv. sc. 1), which is curiously, illustrative of this practice of brandy drink. ing. · Frowzy, an old camp-follower, is employed to deceive, in the disguise of a lady of rank, a city usurer named Bull; and in their first interview he offers her brandy :
« Bull. Madam, 'tis the very best in the three kingdoms. Here, sirrah, [to his man) take the key of my closet, and bring the twoquart bottle of brandy to the countess. ... (Enter Greg. with the brandy.) Sirrah, fill a glass. Madanı, my hearty service to you. ...
Frowzy. Mr. Bull, on the other side of the water this liquor is grown mightilyin use among women of my quality. Do they use it here?
Bull. Gadsbud, madam, they drink nothirs else. Formerly, saving your ladyship's presence, only so-and-so drank brandy, but now some great ladies have taken to their liquor. ... Does your ladyship mind the colour of that brandy?
Frowzy. A lovely complexion indeed. ... (She smeils to the glass.)
Bull. How does your ladyship like the flavour ?
Frowzy. A most alluring flavour, in troth. Come, sir, my daughter's health to you. (Drinks.) Upon my honour, this is right Nantz: I warrant this costs you ten and eightpence a gallon at least. At the last conference that I had abroad for the publick benefit, there was some quantity of it drunk; since I have tasted nothing like it. As God shall judge me, this is a treasure.”
“Madam Squeamish. I did but innocently regale myself t'other day, amongst other choice female friends, at my Lady Goodfellow's, with a glass or two of Hockamore (a sort of wine], and, if the beastly poet, in his next paper, did not say I was drunk there, I'm no Christian ! O filthy!...
Sophronia. Drunk, indeed, was a little too uncourtly: mellow had been a good word there ; for to my knowledge there were six quarts drunk in two hours between four of ye, besides my lady's farewell bottle of aqua mirabilis. ...
Mrs. Stockjob. Vell, dis I must say of de French, dey are de most temperate people in de whole varld ; l'homme du cour delights in nothing but de cool mead, de tizzan, or de sherbet vid ice.
Sophr. Yes, the comfortable usbuebagh, the refreshing spirit of clary, or sometimes the cool brandy and burrage, good Mrs. Stockjobb."
There were various methods practised by "drink healths, or toast fellows; for prethe ladies to disguise the liquor they “vention of which I banish all foreign were drinking; one of which occurs in “forces, all auxiliaries to the tea-table, as Durfey's “ Marriage-Hater Matched,” “orange-brandy, all aniseed, cinnamon, where (Act iïi. sc. 2) we are introduced “ citron, and Barbadoes waters, together to a party of fashionable ladies at tea, “with ratafia and the most noble spirit at which, a new visitor arriving, she is “of clary—but, for cowslip wine, poppy greeted as follows:
“water, and alldormitives, those I allow.”
Aniseed was one of the earliest of these “ Lady B. Ah, sweet Mrs. La Pupsey, here, cordials, and retained its popularity prithee take some tea ; 'tis good now y'are hot.
longest; for it stands at the head of La Pup. Tea, madam ; 'tis burnt brandy! Lady B. Why, that's all the tea in fashion
all the books of receipts for making now, fool.”
waters” from the latter end of the
sixteenth century to the middle of the In Steele's “Funeral," 1702 (Act iii.), last, and is still a favourite liqueur in a party of ladies pay their visit of con- France under the name of anisette. dolence to a widow, who counterfeits Cherry-brandy, too, was a very favourite great grief and pretends to faint, exclaim- liqueur from an early period, and is ing, “Alas, alas! oh! oh! I swoon, I one of the few which have outlived its expire !” One of the ladies calls to companions. Congreve's play last quoted another, “Pray, Mrs. Tattleaid, bring contains an amusing scene (Act iii. sc. 1), something that is cordial to her.” Mrs. in which Lady Wishfort appears at her Tattleaid immediately brings bottles and toilet with her maid Peg :glasses; the widow forgets her sorrow; and they all fall to drinking and scandal.
“ Lady Wish. Fetch me the red—the red, There is a somewhat similar scene in do you hear, sweetheart? ...
Peg. The red ratafia, does your ladyship Baker's “ Act at Oxford,” 1704 (Act ii.
mean, or the cherry-brandy ? sc. 2):
Lady Wish. Ratafia, fool ? no, fool ; not the
ratafia, fool.-Grant me patience! I mean “ Arabella. At the door, ah! (Affects a the Spanish paper, idiot; complexion, darling. Swoon.)
Paint, paint, paint, dost thou understand Berynthia. Bless me! she faints ! a glass of that? .:: cold water there.
Peg. Lord, madam, your ladyship is so imAra. (recovering). No water, 'no water, Be patient !-I cannot come at the paint, madam ; rynthia ! have you any good rosa solis?
Mrs. Foible has lock'd it up, and carry'd the Ber. Follow me into my closet, and I'll give key with her. you a dram of the best rosa solis, the best Lady Wish. A plague take you both! Fetch ratafia, or the best plain brandy.
me the cherry-brandy then. (Exit Peg.)... Ara. Then thou art the best of women." Wench, come, come, wench, what art thou
doing?' sipping? tasting ?-Save thee, dost Sir Jealous Traffick, in the “ Busie
thou not know the bottle?
(Enter Peg, with a bottle and China cup.) Body” (Act ü.), describes the effect of Peg. Madam, I was looking for a cup. these various waters when he says, Lady Wish. A cup! save thee, and what a “No, mistress, 'tis your high-fed, lusty, cup hast thou brought! Dost thou take me “ rambling, rampant ladies that are
for a fairy, to drink out of an acorn? Why
didst thou not bring thy thimble? Hast thou “ troubled with the vapours ; 'tis your ne'er a brass thimble clinking in thy pocket “ ratafia, persico, cynamon, citron, and with a bit of nutmeg, I warrant thee? Come, “ spirit of clary, cause such swi-m-ing fill, fill-S0--again. See who that is one “ in the brain, that carries many a guinea
knocks). Set down the bottle first. Here,
here, under the table. What, would'st thou “full tide to the doctor.” And in Con go with the bottle in thy hand, like a tapster ? greve's “Way of the World," 1700 (Act As I'm a person, this wench has lived in an iv. sc. 5). Mirabell, prescribing to his inn upon the road, before she came to me." intended wife her behaviour after mar- . riage, says, with regard to the tea-table, At the beginning of the eighteenth " that on no account you encroach upon century, many of the old liqueurs had “the men's prerogative, and presume to become, or were becoming, obsolete, and existed only in name. The aqua mi. It was better known, for some reason rabilis, which “cheered the heart," was which is not quite clear, by the French made till the middle of the last century. name for the tree, genièvre, which was Such was the case also with Dr. Stephens's ordinarily corrupted to Geneva; and both water, which, according to a book printed were soon abbreviated into the popular at the date last mentioned, was then “in name of gin. But, like everything great demand in London.” In the same popular, this liquor, at its first start, book we learn that “ Ratafia is not gained a number of aliases. “ Geneva," “much in demand, save in some particular says a workon distillery, published before 66 places where it has gain'd a great reputa- the middle of the last century," hath “ tion.” Yet, in a later publication, the “more several and different names and second edition of which, now before me, "titles than any other liquor that is sold was printed in 1769, and which is en “here : as double Geneva, royal Geneva, titled the “Professed Cook”—an adap “ celestial Geneva, tittery, collonia, striketation “to the London Market” of a "fire, &c., and has gain'd such universal French book entitled “Les Soupers de “applause, especially with the common la Cour"-we have still receipts for “people, that, by a moderate computation, making “ratafiats,” which are explained “there is more of it in quantity sold daily, as meaning, in English, “sweet drams “in a great many distillers' shops, than or cordials.” In this book we have "of beer and ale vended in most public“ratafiats” of noyaux, of lemon-peel, of “houses.” We might easily add to the juniper-berries, of muscadine grapes, of list of popular names here given to gin anniseed, of apricocks (as this fruit was in the earlier part of the last century. still called in England), of walnuts, of Bailey's Dictionary gives us, as synonyms orange-flowers, and of cherries.
-the first, more correctly—titire, royal While many of the liqueurs previously poverty, and white tape, with an "&c." in vogue were disappearing from fashion. We can perfectly understand all this able society, a few new ones were in- multiplicity of popular names and titles truding themselves into the list. The when we consider that previously the balance, however, was in favour of the liqueurs, the “strong waters," had been past. Among the new ones was "honey, mostly out of the reach of the lower water," which was perhaps the metheg- classes of society, who were obliged, lyn of the Welsh. Another liqueur, perhaps fortunately, to content themwhich was very fashionable during the selves with the old English beverages, earlier half of the last century, was ale and beer. Gin was a spirit which called Hungary water; or, when its title could be sold cheap enough to come was given more in full, the Queen of within the reach of the vulgar, and the Hungary's water, because it was the consequence was a great rivalry between reputed invention of a Hungarian queen. the old beer and the new gin. The It was flavoured with herbs, especially almanack of “Poor Robin,” for the year rosemary, lavender, margeram, sage, 1735, expresses this feeling of rivalry in and thyme. Another liqueur of the its usual doggrel style in the following last century was named cardamum, or lines : (popularly) “all fours,” and was distilled from
• The winter's now a-coming in, clove, caraway, and coriander
And Pocus loves a glass of gin; seeds. But a "water" was introduced
Or, if it have another name, to the early part of the eighteenth The liquor still remains the same ; century, which was destined to obtain a And, which is more, its virtues hold, greater name and a greater popularity
Be weather hot, or be it cold;
It melts the money down like wax, than all the rest. At first this new in
And burns the garments from their backs." vention, which was brought from Holland, appears to have been known merely by Hogarth's celebrated engravings of Beer the name of “juniper water,” because it Street and Gin Lane were published in was flavoured with the juniper berry. 1751; and the exaggeration on both sides
is so strong that we can hardly look not hesitate to revenge themselves by upon Hogarth otherwise than as an ad- laying false informations against those vocate on the part of beer versus gin. who had offended them. Thus the Gin In the latter years of the reign of George Act became more and more unpopular, I. and in the earlier years of George II. until, after a very unsatisfactory trial of the drinking of spirituous liquors, chiefly six years, the prohibition duties were gin, was carried to such an excess that repealed in 1742, and moderate duties the moralists began to prognosticate a substituted in their place. general dissolution of society. The town Among the pamphleteers who engaged was filled with miserable little shops in in the heat of the gin controversy, some which they were retailed, and troops of tried to give it a political character. itinerant hawkers carried them about the “Mother Gin” represented the popustreets. The government of the day, lace, the mob. “ The Life of Mother influenced by the declamations of the Gin" appeared in 1736 from the pen of zealous moralists and by the present an anonymous writer, who claimed the ments of grand juries, resolved to inter- title-claimed by everybody who had no fere; but, instead of attempting to regu- claim to it—of “an impartial hand.” late and moderate the sale of spirits, This remarkable matron was, we are they sought to suppress it altogether; told, of Dutch parentage, born in Rotand, in 1736, the celebrated Gin Actterdam. Her father had been active in was passed, in the preamble to which the faction opposed to the De Witts, it is stated “that the drinking of spi- and on that account had left his country “rituous liquors, or strong waters, is and settled in England, where he obtained “ become very common, especially among an act of naturalization and married an “people of lower and inferior rank.” To English woman of low rank. It will remedy this, a very heavy duty was easily seem that there is much quiet and levied upon all spirituous liquors, which clever satire in all this. In spite of her was equivalent to a prohibition; and a low origin, the wife of the emigrant no less heavy fine was levied on all per- boasted of a rather large acquaintance sons who infringed or evaded the Act. among ladies of rank; "and, as to Mother The hawkers of “strong waters," whether “Gin herself, though she did not live in male or female, were ordered to be “stript “a constant intercourse of friendship with “naked from the middle upwards, and “persons of fashion, yet she was often “whipt until his or her body be bloody.” “admitted into their confidence, and was This measure encountered strong oppo- “universally admired, and even idolized, sition at the time, and there were people “by the common people.” Her father who proclaimed publicly that it was wished to give her a good education, but contrary to Magna Charta and to the her English mother objected to it, judgliberties of the subject. But there was ing that education was only detrimental a much more serious evil attendant upon to morals. Her father died when she it. While the result was not at all that was five-and-twenty, and her mother which the advocates of the act expected- survived but a short time, and, as they for the sale of spirituous liquors was not were both dissenters, they were buried suppressed, but merely thrown into the in the same grave in Bunhill Fields. hands of a low and dishonest class—it Although her parents were very lowexposed respectable people to persecu- church indeed, Mother Gin herself was tion of a most frightful character. As the high-church in her principles, and was a rewards for informations against those great and effectual supporter of Dr. Sawho infringed the act were considerable, cheverell. Indeed, her zeal in his cause society was invaded by gangs of infamous contributed greatly to the change of the wretches who made a living by in- administration. The new ministry formed forming; and, as their statements were a just estimate of the political value of taken upon their own oaths, nobody was Mother Gin, and laboured to conciliate safe. Individuals were found who did her, the more so as she was a bitter FISHERMEN-NOT OF GALILEE.
enemy to the Duke of Marlborough. They would have given her a place in the ministry, but there was no precedent for giving an office to one of her sex; so they introduced her into the cabinet. When the party with whom Mother Gin had thus allied herself seemed sure of final triumph, accidental events overthrew them, and the Whigs came in with the House of Hanover. The new government were not unwilling to give Mother Gin credit for her political influence, until the legislature, “grow"ing jealous of her power, and being "apprehensive lest she should assume to “herself the sole direction of all affairs, “ecclesiastical, civil, and military, they “passed a very severe and arbitrary law “ [the Riot Act was passed in the first “year of the reign of George I.] prohibit “ing her followers, to the number of “twelve or more, from assembling in a “riotous and tumultuous manner, under “the pain of death ; which amounted to “the same thing as restraining them
“from assembling at all ; for how would “these wise lawgivers have the people “assemble together, if they are not to do “it in a riotous and tumultuous manner ? “For my part, I am at a loss to guess ; “but, as this is a law which has been “proved by the ingenious authors of the “ Craftsman and Fog's Journal to be “directly contrary to Magna Charta, and “in manifest violation of the liberties of “the subject, I entirely fall in with their “way of thinking, that little or no regard "ought to be had to it.”
Thus oppressed, Mother Gin appeared less frequently in public affairs, except at the elections of members to Parliament. She had been a staunch Tory, and still preserved her attachment to that party; but under the government of the second George she had gradually yielded to the tide, and entered the ranks of the patriots. These, however, knew that she was not cordially with them, and this was the reason why they now sought to destroy her.
(AFTER READING A CERTAIN BOOK.)
They have toiled all the night, the long, weary night;
They have toiled all the night, Lord, and taken nothing : The heavens are as brass, and all flesh seems as grass,
Death strikes with horror and life with loathing. Walk’st Thou by the waters, the dark silent waters,
The fathomless waters that no line can plumb ?
Preaching a kingdom that cannot come ?
Scarcely delay'st Thou their terrors to lull;
" Let down your nets !”-And they draw them up-full !
Jesus, Redeemer-only Redeemer!
I, a poor dreamer, lay hold upon Thee : Thy will pursuing, though no end viewing,
But simply doing as Thou biddest me.