Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

wine, lest they should drink half a dozen. They fear to put the glass to their lips, lest they should make beasts of themselves. They may as well fear to eat, lest they become gluttons.

Dean. But men may live without wine.

Professor. True, so they may, upon bread and water. Wine is a comfort and blessing in a northern climate, taken in moderation; even a small quantity of spirits may be very useful and necessary in certain situations. “ Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used-exclaim no more against it,” says the poet of all times. If moral considerations are of no avail, the vows of Temperance Society men are of no better tenure. I knew a sort of temperance man, who, after a fit of drinking for three, vowed to keep sober for six months, and kept his word religiously; but he watched the clock to the second, and, with doubly excited feelings, began his career of drunkenness again when the period expired. Send the temperance men to Walcheren, and how long would they live there without geneva ? The population returns show we are in the aggregate not very rapidly diminishing in numbers, even under the gin-shop system, so disgraceful to morals and manners. There wretched beings congregate, for the benefit of the revenue, in places rivalling the saloons of the wealthy in splendour. There the superlative of squalid misery and rags mocks the tawdry gilding and colours that “ paint damnation gay" around. There incipient prostitution acquires the lessons to which the hacknied in infamy can alone stoop. There the parent exchanges love of offspring for cruelty to its own Alesh and blood, and the mother poisons the stream of vitality that should nourish infant helplessness. There conjugal regard is drowned in the horrible excesses of rage, kindled by inebriation, and the child learns to lift its hand against those to whom it owes its being—plunges deeper and deeper in crimes as its years advance-and becomes at last ripe for the executioner. Filth, disease, profanity, theft, and gambling, go to school there, and strengthen bad habits by intercourse and example, under licence from the revenue. There excess brings to the visiter, who is ashamed of his haunt, but cannot resist the temptation, that slow fever which works out death; for it is not to the unreflecting and vicious alone the evil extends; it is not the child of guilt that alone strives to bury his distracting thoughts there; the son and daughter of misfortune too often follow their example, while emaciated want burns out its sinking stomach with the purchase of its last pence instead of buying wholesome nutriment. There is a misery of mind, too, that now and then seeks the same refuge,-the most excusable motive for the sin, perhaps! What a motley crowd of worshippers at the shrine of the deity of modern ebriety, the Gorgon to whom the Bacchus of old was an angel of light.

Dean (filling his glass). The morals of the lower classes get worse and worse. I know not what respectable people will do very soon ;drinking is a horrible vice.

Egrappé. Only with gin, Monsieur Dean-dere be all de difference.

Professor. You are mistaken, my dear Dean; look at the calendar of crime. Then, in respect to morals, I think the lower classes are only aping their betters in refining upon their sins. Formerly they were much coarser in their vices, now they tread on the kibe of their superiors, and begin to tinge their profligacy with couleur de rose.

Dean. (taking off his glass). But religion, my dear Professor-think of that. We must have some new penal laws to make the people religious, or we shall have no religion left, very soon, except in good society.

Egrappé. I do tink de religion cannot be harm dat is good, and I do not tink de laws can make men religious dat have no heart for it. One king of my land, Francis I., when a man vas found dead drunk in de street, sent him to prison, and had him whipped, for de first offence, between two hurdles. For de second he vas curried in public, and for de third he lost his ears and vas banished.

Professor. What baskets of ears à la Turc would our police get, were that law here. Legislation might mend morals by punishing men found drunk in our streets, but it must first shut up its own gin-shops. If a man will get drunk, let him do it at home in his own house ; he must be free from all interference there, or we are no better off than the people of Turkey. In that case, too, the drunkard does not contract new vices, nor the novice in crime become rapidly matured by new company. Gin temples are receptacles for ripening vice by concentrating in habits of drunkenness every grade of infamy, besides the daily seduction of fresh victims—but we must not deviate further into matters of policy or legislation. M. Egrappé, a song.

Egrappé. I vill sing one of De Beranger my compatriote, vat he wrote when he vas first put in prison by de French attorney general, upon getting a present dere of some Romanée and Chambertin wine from his friends.- I have got it in your tongue :

Chorus
My friends, all's right! although in prison,
Your wine has brought me back to reason !

After a cup of Romanée,
My senses hasten back to me,
I curse my Muse so obstinate
That rail'd at ministers of state ;
Her whim again might make me naughty,
But then the remedy you've taught me.
With flattery I cure all pain,

After a glass of Chambertin.
My friends, all's right! although in prison,
Your wine has brought me back to reason !

After two cups of Romanée,
I blush my wickedness to see;
I look around my jail and bless
The donors of my happiness ;
The sentence of my judge I vow,
Touches my contrite spirit now;
My love attorney generals gain,

After two cups of Chambertin.
My friends, &c.

After three cups of Romanée,
Oppression's dead, and Frenchmen free;
The press defies the lawyer's clutch,
Censors the Budget only touch.
Tolerance the city walks at last,
In the grave dress of apron'd priest,

And I a saint's career begin,

After three cups of Chambertin.
My friends, &c.

Another cup of Romanée,
The tear of joy starts in my e'e,
Freedom I see with crown of flowers,
And olive wreath dance down the hours;
Mild laws the strongest now appear,
The uncertain future now is clear ;
Locks, bolts, and bars, are broke in twain,

At this last cup of Chambertin.
My friends, &c.

O Chambertin! O Romanée !
With a new morning's break to me,
You bring a day-dream from above,
Born of bright hope and smiling love,
Man's fairy friend bestowed to be
The guard of his own destiny.
Now for the Romanée again !
Now for a cup of Chambertin !
All's right, my friends! although in prison,

Yes, wine has brought me back to reason ! Professor. That's good, the satire is excellent, delicate, too delicate for John Bull, who must be fed more grossly; he cannot relish such a piece of wit as this, which says “ when I'm drunk I'm all I should be to bad men.”

Dean. Beranger seems no lover of aquatics, 'tis true, but he is abominably contumacious,-a despiser of all established authority, which we are bound to treat with awe and respect, be it what it may. We must in all things submit to the higher powers.

Professor. There were different opinions about that in every age, Dean. He would have done admirably for the table of Horace-the “immortal Falernian" of Horace, however, is beaten by the Chambertin of Beranger and

Doctor. Professor, you cannot affirm that. They were different coloured wines, too; the Falernian, I assert, was a white wine, although ancient writers say it was a dark one-dark red or black. I have no scruple in asserting that the wine so called, drunk at the Sabine Farm, was white.

Dean. And the taste, Doctor ?
Doctor. That of sherry, Sir, precisely.
Professor. That, I presume, you discover by instinct retrospective.

Dean. Divination retrospective, I imagine. Our friend is travolto, as Dante styles it; his mind has two heads, one fathoming antiquity, the other turned upon the present and future.

Professor. You are too hard, Mr. Dean, on one who has contributed so much to our delectation by his harmless conjectures and er cathedrd settlements of knotty points in oinography. We should rather honour his amicable predilections for extreme inference. I shall vote, if he die before us, that we give him an Epitaph from Propertius

“Et tenerâ poneret ossa rosa,"

"lay his bones in roses," pouring a bottle of sherry, antiquitized with rosin and salt water, over his remains.

Dean. Would not something indicative of our friend's office in another world be properly added, as wine taster to Pluto, or, as Ovid has it

- one of giant line

That to the Gods does mix immortal wine." Doctor. I am content, gentlemen, to suffer for the truth of my positions for the soundness of my conjectures and the exact construing of all passages in ancient authors which treat of wine. Really, however, while I am content to be your butt in my turn, personally, you have no right to impugn my inferences. I insist that Falernian

Egrappé. O, ve have had dat vine, Doctare-our bottle is out, let us have a bottle of Napoleon's vine, de immortal Chambertin. O dat nectar of all de vine of mine pays— Doctare, de ancients not know dat vine. It have no salt vater; it be vater of de Cote d'or-golden vater.

Professor. Taisez toi, Monsieur! The wine will tell its own tale to our friend, who is no Sangrado when wine, ancient or modern, is in question. He will never contend that wine is water contaminated by the officious interference of the vine.

Doctor. Pshaw, pshaw !

Dean. It was Cronaus who first spoiled water with wine, or wine with water.

Egrappé. Who vas dat?
Dean. A king of Athens.
Professor. And a very great ass.

Doctor. It was an ancient custom. Twenty parts of water to one of wine, Thasian wine, was a common proportion. I take it the wine was a pure essence of a grape unknown in these less worthy times—it was not palatable until mixed with water.

Professor. Palatable, Doctor! small beer wine "vino æquorello, belle Piscatine !" “ agua pic !” well watered wine, indeed : noble oinographists those Greeks !

Egrappé (filling his glass.) Dis no need of de vater—dis be fine aged Burgundy, bene inquit ætatem fert, as Cicero says to Damasippus about some Falernian, “ it bear its age well." .

Doctor. Caligula had wine one hundred and fifty years old, which drank quite fresh,- there is no such wine now.

Egrappé. Pardon, Doctare, dere is Rousillon, a rancio wine; dere be hock, and dere be many wine in mine pays dat bear cent feuilles of age.

Dean. I do not understand cent feuilles ?

Professor. It means a hundred seasons, or appearances of the leaf, or vintages, or springtimes old.

Dean. Very significant, too,

Doctor. Horace does not use the term, that I recollect, either to designate the age of Falernian, Cæcuban, Alban, or any other wine-it cannot be vinodox.

Egrappé. Vat did de do for bottles to keep it so long?

Doctor. Ignoramus! the ancients had bottles of very good glass, but they did not want them. They had better modes of keeping wine. I assert, upon the authority of Aristotle, that the wine of Arcadia,and I am of opinion other wines were often so preserved,- was placed in pitched goatskins, to which it clung and dried up. The wine would thus keep for ages. When they wanted to drink it, they scraped off the wine, put the scrapings to dissolve in water, and so drank it. A most ingenious method of preserving wine, of which we know nothing. I infer it must be a good mode.

Egrappé. Dat be how Cronaus found out how to vater vine, I do tink. Dat vas, indeed, a dry vine, Doctor, nor do I know de use of de fumarium!

Doctor. You know nothing about it, Sir, nor about the wine of the ancients. I have no doubt such wine was transcendent. There has been nothing like it since Homer. Talk of the fumarium, Sir! why, Sir, I tell you that

Professor. Come, gentlemen, do not be warm now

Doctor. But, Sir, the fumarium for Greek wine, and such an insult, Sir.

Professor. I am ablative absolute here. What does Horace say to his cask? To you, Doctor, I will not quote a modern, even as young as ten centuries. What does Horace say to his cask, but that wine should promote harmony-be born of Venus and the Graces ?* Salt water, gentlemen.

“Natis in usum lætitiæ scyphis

Pugnare Thracum est.”+ Doctor. But, Sir, Aristotle

Professor. Not a word more, Doctor, or by my Ceraunian power, I will inflict punishment adequate to the violation of social intercourse.

Dean. Bacche, lö Bacche!“ Choleric men are drunken men, says the proverb.

Egrappé. I no mean any ting to de Doctare-
Professor. Silence, Gaul.
Seymour (rousing from his sleep). What, a quarrel - pistols !-

Professor. O no, Captain, only a dispute whether the Romans drank champaign?

Dean. That could not be, because the wine was not noted until the thirteenth century. Doctor. It was known to the Romans, that is clear,-read Virgil

“- Ille impiger haussit

Spumantem pateram.” Professor. One of your inferences again, Doctor, clear to yourself alone. “Spumantem” means sparkling or fermenting, as well as frothing, and they are equally correct explanations. "He lifted the sparkling bowl instantly, or swiftly;" it had been just poured out, and the bubbles created by the motion made “sparkling" applicable; not but that it might have frothed, too, when poured into the bowl, as any liquor would do, if poured from a little height. In fact, the passage has no reference to effervescing wine at all, unless it were

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »