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i ustially made to answer whatever is published by " the other; the wits of that place, like too many of "Our own country, take pleasure by setting innocent “peopatashether by the ears. The mentioning of * this person, who is a great wit, and a great cripple, “put me in mind of Mr. Eastcourt, who is under the
same circumstances. He was formerly my apothe“cary, and being at present disabled by the gout and 66 stone, I must recommend him to the public on Thurs“ day next; that admirable play of Ben Jonson's, cal“ led the Silent Woman, being appointed to be acted * for his benefit. It would be indecent for me to ap“pear twice in a season at these ludicrous diversions; “ but as I always give my man and my maid one day " in the year, I shall allow them this, and am promis"ed by Mr. Eastcourt, my ingenious apothecary, that “they shall have a place kept for them in the first row " of the middle gallery.”
No. CXXXI. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9.
........Scelus est jugulare falernum;
Sheer-lane, February 8. THERE is in this city a certain fraternity of chemical operators, who work under ground in holes, cavers, and dark retirements, to conceal their mysteries from the eyes and observations of mankind. These subterraneous philosophers are daily employed in the transmutation of liquors, and, by the power of magical drugs and incantations, raising under the streets of London the choicest products of the hills, and valleys of France. They can squeeze Bourdeaux out of the
Sloe, and draw Champaigne from an apple. Virgil in that remarkable prophecy,
Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus ha;'
The rip'ning grape shall hang en ev'ry thorn,
seems to have hinted at this art, which can turn a plantation of northern hedges into a vineyard. These adepts are known among one another by the name of wine-brewers, and I am afraid do great injury, not only to her majesty's customs, but to the bodies of many of her good subjects.
Having received sundry complaints against these invisible workmen, I ordered the proper officer of my court to ferret them out of their respective caves, and bring them before me, which was yesterday executed accordingly.
The person who appeared against them, was a merchant, who had by him a great magazine of wines, that he had laid in before the war; but these gentlemen (as he said) had so vitiated the nation's palate, that no man could believe his to be French, because it did not taste like what they sold for such. As a man ever pleads better than where his own personal interest is concerned, he exhibited to the court, with great eloquence, that this new corporation of druggists had inflamed the bills of mortality, and puzzled the college of physicians with diseases, for which they neither knew a name or cure. He accused some of giving all their customers cholics and megrims; and mentioned one who had boasted, he had a tun of claret by him, that in a fortnight's time should give the gout to a dozen of the healthfullest men in the city, provided that their constitutions were prepared for it by wealth and idleness. He then enlarged, with a great shew of reason, upon the prejudice, which these mixtures and compositions had done to the brains of
the English nation ;. as is too visible (said he) from many late pamphlets, speeches, and sermons, as well as from the ordinary conversations of the youth of this age. He then quoted an ingenious person, who would undertake to know by a man's writings, the wine he most delighted in; and on that occasion named a certain satyrist, whom he had discovered to be the author of a lampoon, by the manifest taste of the sloe, which shewed itself in it by much roughness and little spirit.
In the last place he ascribed to the unnatural tiimults and fermentations, which these mixtures raise in our blood, the heats, divisions, and animosities, that reign among us; and, in particular, asserted most of the modern enthusiasms and agitations to be nothing else, but the effects of adulterated Port.
The counsel for the brewers had a face so extremely iniamed and illuminated with carbuncles, that I did not wonder to see him an advocate for these sophistications. His rhetoric was likewise such as I should have expected from the common draught, which I found he often drank to a great excess. Indeed, I was so surprised at his figure and parts, that I ordered him to give me a taste of his usual liquor; which I had no sooner drank, but I found a pimple rising in my forehead; and felt such a sensible decay in my underslanding, that I would not proceed in the trial until the fume of it was entirely dissipated.
This notable advocate had little to say in the defence of his clients, but that they were under a necessity of making claret, if they would keep open their doors, it being the nature of mankind to love every thing, that is prohibited. He further pretended to reason, that it might be as profitable to the nation to make French wine as French hats, and concluded with the great advantage, that this had already brought to part of the kingdom. Upon which he informed the court,
that the lands in Herefordshire were raised two years purchase since the beginning of the war.
When I had sent out my summons to these people, I gave at the same time orders to each of them to bring the several ingredients he made use of in distinct phials, which they had done accordingly, and ranged them into two rows on each side of the court. The workmen were drawn up in ranks behind them. The inerchant informed me, that in one row of phials were the several colours they dealt in, and in the other the tastes. He then shewed me on the right hand, one, who went by the name of Tom Tintoret, who (as he told me) was the greatest master in his colouring of any vintner in London. To give me a proof of his art, he took a glass of fair water; and, by the infusion of three drops out of one of his phials, converted it into a most beautiful pale Burgundy. Two more of the same kind heightened it into a perfect Langue. doc: from thence it passed into a florid Hermitage : and after having gone through two or three other changes, by the addition of a single drop, ended in a very deep Pontack. This ingenious virtuoso, seeing me very much surprised at his art, told me, that he had not an opportunity of shewing it in perfection, having only made use of water for the ground-work of his colouring: but that if I were to see an operation upon liquors of stronger bodies, the art would appear to a much greater advantage. He added, that he doubted not but it would please my curiosity to see the cyder of one apple take only a vermillion, when another, with a less quantity of the same infusion, would rise into a dark purple, according to the different texture of parts in the liquor. He informed me also, that he could hit the different shades and degrees of red, as they appear in the pink and the rose, the clove and the carnation, as he had Rhenish or Moselle, Perry or White Port to work in.
I was so satisfied with the ingenuity of this virtuoso, that, after having advised him to quit so dishonest a profession, I promised him, in consideration of his great genius, to recommend him as a partner to a friend of mine, who has heaped up great riches, and is a scarlet dyer.
The artists on my other hand were ordered in the second place to make some experiments of their skill before me: upon which the famous Harry Sippet stepped out, and asked me, what I would be pleased to drink? At the same time he filled out three or four white liquors, in a glass, and told me that it should be what I pleased to call for; adding very learnedly, that the liquor before him was as the naked substance, or first matter of his compound, to which he and his friend, who stood over against him, could give what accidents or form they pleased. Finding him so great a philosopher, I desired he would convey into it the qualities and essence of right Bourdeaux. Coming, coming, Sir, (said he) with the air of a drawer; and after having cast his eye on the several tastes andi flavours that stood before him, he took up a little cruet, that was filled with a kind of inky juice, and pouring some of it out into the glass of white-wise, presented it to me, and told me, this was the wine, over which most of the business of the last term had been dispatched. I must confess, I looked upon that sooty drug, which he held up in his cruet, as the quintessence of English Bourdeaux, and therefore desired him to give me a glass of it by itself, which he did with great unwillingness. My cat at that time sat by me upon the elbow of my chair; and as I did not care for making the experiment upon myself, I reached it to her to sip of it, which bad like to have cost her her life; for notwithstancing it flung her at first into freakish tricks, quite contrary to her visual gravity, in less than a quarter of an hour she fell into convulsions; and had it :