"was swete as braket or the meth, Or hord of apples, laid in hay or heth."
1 Another description is, "Ale mixed with pepper and honey."
And in Beaumont and Fletcher's Little Thief, or the Night-Walker, Jack Wildbrain speaks with contempt of "One that knows not neck-beef from a pheasant, Nor cannot relish braggat from ambrosia."
The opponents of alcoholic drinks are often met by the objection that some of the drinks recommended by themselves are alcoholic, as indeed they often are. Even water appears to possess, in some cases, an intoxicating property. Pliny (Nat. Hist., ii. cvi.) speaks of a Lyncestis aqtia, 1 of a certain acidity, which makes men drunken. The celebrated Ballston waters in the State of New York, are said to be affected with qualities "highly exhilarating," sometimes producing vertigo, which has been followed by drowsiness; in other words, they who drink them exhibit the usual symptoms of drunkenness.
Timothy Dwight, in his Travels in New England and New York, says that these waters are considered by the farmers of the neighbourhood as an excellent beverage, and are sent for from a considerable distance for drink to labourers during haymaking and harvesting, a time well known to be full of desire on the part of country people employed in these agricultural pursuits, for alcoholic refreshment. "They supersede," says Dwight, "in a great measure the use of any ardent spirits. But since the result of drinking these waters seems precisely the same, as far as regards
- Ovid, Metam., xv. 329. inebriation, as that of drinking beer or other alcoholic liquor, it is questionable whether any advantage is gained by this supersession.
1 Quem quicunque parum moderato gutture traxit, Haud aliter turbat quam si mera vina bibisset.
The properties of the Saratoga water, situated some seven miles from that of Ballston, are also of a very remarkable nature. They abound to such an extent in a species of gas, that we are told a very nice sort of breakfast bread is baked from them instead of yeast.
The Romans considered warm water an agreeable drink at the conclusion of the chief repast of the day. This may explain why Julius Caesar was always taken ill after dinner.
Many drinks are derived from animals, either wholly as milk and blood, or from animals and vegetables in common, as oil.
It is said that there are people here in England who like - so strange is the diversity of tastes - a draught of oil from the liver of a cod as much as an Esquimaux approves of a draught of the oil of a porpoise or a seal.
Of milk a large catalogue of drinks can be reckoned. First, there are the different kinds of milk of different animals, as the milk of asses, of women, of goats, of cows, of sheep, of reindeers, of camels, of sows, and of mares. Then it may be swallowed as it is drawn, or in the form of whey, or curdled. Ghee is a common favourite throughout all India. It is a stale butter clarified by boiling and straining, and then set to cool, when it remains in a semi-liquid or oily state, and is used in cooking, or is drunk by the natives.
In milk-beer, milk is substituted for water. Kef is a kind of effervescing fermented milk, much resembling Koumiss (or rather Kumyss), of which the best is probably to be obtained in Samara. Youourt1 is a favourite drink at Constantinople, made of milk curdled after a peculiar fashion. Syra, a form allied with the German Saure, a sour whey, was used for drink like small beer in Norway and Iceland. Aizen and Leban are both sorts of Kumyss, one of the Tartars, the other of the Arabs. The latter have also an intoxicating liquor Sabzi, made of Bhang, a species of hemp. The green leaf from which the drink derives its name is pounded and diluted with sugared water.
Even the warm blood of living animals has been considered suitable for a drink. In the book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian, concerning the marvels of the East, we are told, - the Tartar will sustain himself in an economical manner, by opening a vein in the neck of the horse upon which he rides, and having taken a sufficient drink will close the aperture, and ride on as before. Carpini says much the same of the Mongols. This appears indeed to have been a time-honoured institution.
Dionysius Periegetes, in the nineteenth chapter of his Description of the World, treating of Scythia and other ancient nations situated in what is now known as Great Tartary, says of the Massagetae that they have no eating of bread nor any native wine, but from the Sanskrit , Bengali Marathi, a corruption of the Turkish Yughurt.
1 The Hindustani
"Or with horses blood, And white milk mingled set their banquets forth,"
Orbis Desc, 578.
And Sidonius, to the same effect,
"solitosque cruentum Lac potare Getas, et pocula tingere venas."
Parag. ad Avitum.
Another strange variety of drink is made by the Peruvians. The ordinary chica is mixed with the bloody garments of a slain warrior. Temple (Travels, ii. 311).
According to Lobo, the Abyssinians esteem the gall one of the most delicious parts of a beast, and drink glasses of it, as epicures with us drink Chateau Lafitte. Pearce (Adventures in Abyssinia, i. 95) says that they also drink blood warm from the animal with an extraordinary relish.
The Mantchoos, the conquerors of China, prepare a wine of a peculiar mixture from the flesh of lambs, either by fermenting it reduced to a kind of paste with the milk of their domestic animals, or by bruising it to a pulp with rice. When properly matured, it is put into jars and drawn as occasion requires. It is said to be strong and nutritious, and the most voluptuous orgies of the Tartars are the result of an intoxication from lamb wine. Abbe Rickard, History of Tonquin.