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ROM the Cradle
to the Grave we need DRINK, and we have not far to look for the reason, when we consider that at least seventy per cent of the human body is composed of water, to com
pensate the perpetual waste of which, a fresh supply is, of course, absolutely necessary.
This is taken with our food (ali solid nutriment containing some water), and by the drink we consume. But, as the largest constituent part of the body is fluid, so, naturally, its waste is larger than that of the solid ; this fluid waste being enormous. Besides the natural losses, every breath we exhale is heavily laden with moisture, as breathing on a cold polished surface, or a cold day by condensing the breath, will show; whilst the twentyeight miles of tubing disposed over the surface of the human body will evaporate, invisibly, two or three pounds of water daily. Of
weather, or after extreme exertion, this perspiration is much more, and is visible.
To remedy this loss we must DRINK, as a stoppage of the supply would kill sooner than if solid food were withheld, for then the body would, for a time, live upon its own substance, as in the cases of the fasting men of the last two years; but few people can live longer than three days without drinking, and death by thirst is looked
upon as one of the most cruel forms of dissolution. To palliate thirst, however, it is not absolutely necessary to drink, as a moist atmosphere or copious bathing will do much towards allaying it,—the one by introducing moisture into the system by means of the lungs, the other through the medium of the skin.
Thirst is the notice given by Nature that liquid aliment is required to repair the waste of the body; and, as in the case of Hunger, she has kindly provided that supplying the deficiency shall be a pleasant sensation, and one calculated to call up a feeling of gratitude for the means of allaying the want. Indeed, no man knows the real pleasures of eating and drinking, until he has suffered both hunger and thirst.
Water, as a means of slaking man's thirst, has been provided for him in abundance from the time of Father Adam, whose “Ale” is so vaunted by abstainers from alcoholic liquors. But Water, unless charged with Carbonic Acid gas, or containing some mineral in solution, is considered by some, as a constant drink, rather vapid ; and Man, as he became civilized, has made himself other beverages, more or less tasty, and provocative of excess, and also more or less deleterious to his internal economy. The juice of luscious fruits was expressed, the vine was made to give up its life blood ; and, probably through accident, alcoholic fermentation was discovered, and a new zest was given to drinking. A good servant, Alcohol is a bad master ; but that it satisfies a widely felt craving, probably induced by civilization, is certain, for most savage tribes, emerging from their primitive and natural state, manufacture drinks from divers vegetable substances, more or less alcoholic.
The present volume is intended for that class of the public which is known as “the general reader”; and its object is to interest rather than to inform. Therefore it deals at no great length with what may be termed the caviare of the subject, as, for instance, the varied opinions of the medical faculty with respect to the hygienic value of drinks, their supposed uses in health and disease, and their chemical constituents, or analyses. Nor is the question of price discussed, nor long lists of vineyard proprietors given, nor the names of the brewers, nor the number of casks of beer brewed. In short, as few statistics have been introduced as possible. In deference to a maxim not always remembered in books on beverages, “De gustibus non est disputandum,” or its English equivalent, abhorred of Chesterfield, “What is one man's meat is another man's poison," the verdicts of enthusiasts and vendors have been, except in rare instances, alike rejected.
Nor has very much been said on the inviting topic of adulteration. It would be almost cruel to disturb the credulity of the good people who drink and pay for gooseberry as Champagne, or Val de peñas as curious old Port. It is a pretty comedy to watch the soi-disant connoisseur drinking a wine fully accredited with crust, out of a bottle ornamented with fungus and cobwebs of proper consistency—a wine flavoured with essence at so much a pound, and stained with colouri at so much per gallon. There is no need to proclaim upon the housetops the constituents of Hamburg sherry, nor how the best rum is flavoured with “R.E., or brandy with “ Caramel ” or “Cognacine.”
We have generally avoided the profane use of trade or professional jargon, too often the outcome of ignorance, pretence, and affectation, such as “full," "fruity,” "smooth on palate,” “ round in the mouth,” “full of body,” “ wing,” “ character,” etc. ; nor have we touched, or desired to touch, on the influence of alcohol on man's social or other well-being. Peter the Hermit is fully represented already, and we have no mission to call upon our fellow-countrymen to “ rise to the dignity of manhood,” and never touch another glass of Madeira.
The authors have followed the example of the illustrious Molière in taking their matter wherever they could find it. The information contained in this work is derived either from other books, oral information, or personal experience. “ The sun robs the sea, the moon robs the sun, the sea robs the moon,” says Timon of Athens, repeating Anacreon, who adds that the earth robs them all. So preceding authors are indebted to one another, and the present volume to them all. It has been written, it is hoped, without bias or prejudice of any kind ; but, as the drinks containing Alcohol are many more than those in which it is absent, more have been mentioned. That a full record of all drinks should appear, is impossible ; 'nor could any critic expect it; but an attempt has been made to give a fairly full list, and to render it as pleasant reading as the subject admits.
1 These essences and colours are no new thing. Addison spoke of them nearly two hundred years ago in his “Trial of the Wine Brewers" in the Tatler. Tom Tintoret and Harry Sippet have left a large family behind them.