صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

these drinks, the wines could merely have given a little of their taste to the water. How much such wine must have differed from modern port or sherry! they were inspissated by boiling, and when diluted in water, formed a pleasant beverage. Still the taste of the people of that age must have differed greatly from that of our own day; for what modern wine-bibber would think of diluting even the strongest port with five parts water?

The fact stated by Polybius, that Roman women were prohibited from inebriating wine, is fully borne out by the testimony of Pliny; the latter writer says, "in the days of Romulus a Roman slew his wife with a club for drinking wine, and was absolved from the charge of murder;" and afterwards that " a Roman matron, for opening the drawers in which the keys of the wine store were, was starved to death by her own family." These punishments were severe, but the prudent Romans seemed to foresee the scourge that wine-bibbing mothers or females would become to their country: and rather than let their females degrade themselves and their offspring by drinking, doomed them to death, deeming the latter the lighter of the two evils. We have already seen the curse that drunken women can inflict upon the country; and were we faithfully to enumerate all the fatal consequences of what is called a moderate use of wine and strong drink, it could be demonstrated that if intoxication hath slain its thousands, the moderation of Christian females hath slain its ten thousands.

It may seem strange to our vitiated taste, that any other people should ever have existed that preferred wines destitute of spirit or strength; and yet we find that this was the case, both in Greece and Rome, and with the generality of persons in other ancient nations.

All writers seem to agree that the Greek wines were lusciously sweet. Mr. Buckingham says that "the wine of Cyprus is, at this day, sweet and as thick as oil, and in consequence of this will keep very well in the shade." The Chiarn wine was highly esteemed, but was a sweet wine; for Horace speaks of mixing it with Falernian, to sweeten the bitterness of the latter. Lesbian was also very sweet, and is said to have been destitute of any intoxicating power.

"Hic innocentis pocula Lesbii
Duces sub umbra; nec Semelius

Cum Marte confundet Thyoneus

In another ode, Horace tells his friend Macænas that he might drink" a hundred glasses" of this "innocent Lesbian," without any danger to his head or senses. In the Delphin edition of Horace we are told that "Lesbian wine could injure no one; that, as it would neither affect the head nor inflame the passions, there was no fear that those who drank it would become quarrelsome." It is added, that "there is no wine sweeter to drink than Lesbian; that it was like nectar, and more resembled ambrosia than wine; that it was perfectly harmless, and would not produce intoxication."

We might dwell upon the wines of Corcyra, Crete, Cnidos, Rhodes; upon the Thasian, Clazomenian, Phaanian, Mendean, &c., all of which are mentioned by ancient writers as deliciously sweet. The Corinthian seems to have been a wine of a different character; for Alexis, in Athenæus, says that it “was actual torture to drink it." The Pramnian is spoken of by Aristophanes as abominably harsh; hence we may see why most of these beverages were diluted to so great an extent with water; they were of themselves so sweet, or so bitter by drugs, that it would have been difficult to drink them without dilution. All these wines seem to have been boiled, and concentrated into a sirup, or embittered by drugs; it is therefore certain that they contained little or no alcohol.


The Roman wines also were very different from ours; the celebrated "wines of the Opimian vintage were thick, bitter, viscid, sirups of little value, except for the renown attached to their great age." Pliny says, that they were as thick as honey." This wine is said by some to have been kept until it was a hundred and fifty years old. Falernian wine appears to have been in high repute; it was called by the poet "vinum amarum," ,” “bitter wine.”* Pliny says that " Falernian was the only wine of his day from which a flame could be kindled; "solo vinorum flamma accenditur," a striking proof that the other Ro† Lib. 14, cap. 4.

* See Juvenal.


man wines were not charged with alcohol.

Elder wine, in our

day, is among the weakest of home-made wines, and yet how easy it is to set it on fire; our stronger British and foreign wines will burn most freely; but the only wine among the Romans that would burn was the Falernian; yet they had, according to Pliny, three hundred and ninety different species of wine, or, according to Virgil, wines without number. Here then we have the most remarkable evidence that the Latin wines were not alcoholic, or at least contained so little spirit, that only one out of three hundred and ninety would emit a flame; this wine also was "bitter," and, according to Horace, was mixed with the sweet wine of Chios, to render it palatable, but which at the same time, lessened its potency. Albanian wine, Pliny says, was prædulces* 66 very sweet or luscious," and therefore must have been weak in proportion, unless mixed with intoxicating drugs; yet to this very wine the third rank† was assigned among the Latin wines. The same author tells us that there was a Spanish wine of his day called "inerticulam," justius sobriam, " viribus innoxiam, siquidem temulentiam sola non facit: " a wine which would. not intoxicate,” “iners," without spirit, more properly termed “ sober wine" " harmless,' and which of itself would not inebriate. "Columella, lib. 3. cap 2, says that the Greeks called it Amethyston," from " a, not," and "μεvots, intoxication," "a wine which would not intoxicate; "he also adds that it was a good wine," "harmless," and called "iners," because it would not affect the nerves, but at the same time it was not deficient in flavor.



[ocr errors]


The following is Cato's recipe for making "vinum familiæ," family wine, which might be used through the winter." "Put eighty gallons of must into a vessel, and sixteen gallons of sharp vinegar; pour into the vessel at the same time sixteen gallons of sapa (wine boiled down to one-third), and four hundred gallons of pure water; let these be well mixed for five days successively; to these ingredients add eight gallons of old seawater; put the cover on the vessel, and close it up firmly for ten days. This wine will keep until the solstice of the following Ibid. Lib. 14, cap. 2.

Lib. 14, cap. 4.

+ Ibid.

year, and if any of it remain after that period it will be very acid and very beautiful."* Every reader who has the least knowledge of fermentation must be aware that this could not be a strong alcoholic wine. The quantity of water added to the must, or unfermented juice of the grape, actually amounted to five times more than the latter; and, if we add to this the vinegar and the 66 sea-water, we must perceive that from such materials a potent intoxicating drink never could have been produced; yet this was a family drink."

Pliny and Varro mention a wine called "murrina,” “ a wine not mixed with myrrh, but a very sweet aromatic drink, much approved of by Roman ladies, and conceded to them because it would not inebriate." "Dulcis nec inebrians," are the words of Varro. Pliny particularly notices that it was called "wine,"t and yet it would not intoxicate; a plain proof that they had wines which were not poisoned with alcohol.

As an additional proof that the taste of the ancients very greatly differed from our modern appetite for strong drinks, we are told, on the best authority, that, in former times, they adopted means to deprive their wines of all strength or spirit. It seems that these philosophical men considered that drunkenness, by robbing them of their reason and senses, deprived them both of the pleasures of drinking and of social intercourse; and, therefore, that they might enjoy the gust of their wine and the feast of reason at the same time, they endeavored by various means to abstract from their liquors either the spirit that had been produced, or the material that would have produced it. The following quotations on this subject will be conclusive.

"Ut plus Capiamus sacco franguntur vires; et alia irritamenta excogitantur; ac bibendi causa etiam venena conficiuntur. Aliis cicutam præsumentibus, aut bibere mors cogat; aliis pumicis farinam; et quæ referendo pudet docere." "That we may be able to drink a greater quantity of wine, we break or deprive it of all its strength or spirit, by the filter, and various incentives to thirst are invented; and even poisons are chewed for the sake of drinking. Some take hemlock before they go to their cups, or death (a deadly poison) may compel them to *Cato de re rustica. Ibid. lib. 14, cap 22.

+ Pliny, lib. 14, cap. 13.

drink; others swallow powdered pumice-stone, and such things as we blush to mention." In the same chapter, whence these words are quoted, he enumerates various arts which were resorted to for the purpose of enabling wine-bibbers to drink an immense quantity of liquor. Still it is evident, from all that he says, that intoxication was not the end at which tipplers aimed by their large potations. What they were anxious to perform was to drink gallon after gallon without being drunk; and therefore, instead of procuring strong wines, the wine-merchants had to use various arts to break or destroy the strength of these beverages. Both Greek and Hebrew lexicographers are agreed that the verb a shacar, in Hebrew, and peow in Greek, in their primary signification, mean " to be full," "satisfied," or saturated," rather than to be drunk; and these interpretations exactly accord with the drinking habits of former ages: a drunkard in those periods did not generally mean a man whose reason was lost by drinking, but one who drenched himself with liquor. But we have other quotations to establish this fact.

[ocr errors]

"Utilissimum vinum omnibus sacco viribus fractis."* The most useful wine is that which has all its strength broken or destroyed by the filter. The same author says, "inveterari vina saccisque castrari," and again, "Minus infestat nervos quod vetustate dulcescit." "Wines which become sweet by age are less injurious to the nerves." "Wines were rendered old, and were deprived of all their vigor, by filtering." In order that they might be sweetened by age, they placed them in ovens or other warm places; by which means they concentrated the sugar to a greater extent and consequently increased the sweetness of the wine. There is reason to believe that wines which became sweet by age, were such as had not previously fermented. Plutarch, in his Sympos., says, "Wine is rendered old or feeble in strength when it is frequently filtered; this percolation makes it more pleasant to the palate; the strength of the wine is thus The taken away without any injury to its pleasing flavor. strength or spirit being thus withdrawn or excluded, the wine neither inflames the head nor infests the mind and the passions, but is much more pleasant to drink. Doubtless defœcation takes

* Pliny, lib. 23, cap 1.

« السابقةمتابعة »