The Chinese, tor the last few thousand years, have had a wine; and, since the Mongol dynasty in the 13th century, when distillation became known to them, have possessed a spirit. Not a few of our sinologues, however, in their translation of the term tsieu in the Chinese Classics, have rendered it, in my view, incorrectly, by spirits. Dr. Legge, for example, at first translated the word by wine; but he says there can be no doubt the term, in the ancient books, signifies "spirits distilled from rice," equal to our "ardent spirits." The term "wine" seems to him inappropriate because, quoting from Gaubil, the grape has only been known to the Chinese since the First Han dynasty Wines And Spirits 57 (202 B.C. - 25 A.D.). But, in all languages, the term " wine' is applied to the fermentation of fruits, whether these be grapes or not. We must understand, therefore, that the ancient Chinese had a fermented liquor prepared from rice, the staple food of the people. The art of distillation was certainly unknown at that time. The word tsieu is now used generically; and, when the fermented or distilled product is meant, a qualifying adjective is added, such as shao (burnt) for spirit, and yellow or Shao-hsing (the name of a city in the province of Cheh-kiang, about 70 miles from Ningpo, * where the most celebrated wine is manufactured) for wine. In Japanese, the spirit is termed sho-chu, which is identical with the Chinese expression of which sam-shoo (thrice fired) is the foreign-coined equivalent, and the fermented wine from the rice is teimed sake, which is just the Chinese tsieu.

Fermented liquors were known in ancient times. Wine is mentioned both in Homer and in the Old Testament; and the Egyptians, Gauls, Germans, and other ancient nations understood the art of brewing beer from malted grain. They understood the preparation of wine from grape juice. The Alexandrians were the first to perfect the exceedingly rough methods of distillation, which had previously existed. Aristotle knew that sea-water by evaporation could be made drinkable, although he does not describe the method. In the Chinese dictionaries, under tsieu, it is simply said - Take chu mi Wines And Spirits 58 that is leaven and rice, and so obtain the jang tsieu or fermented wine (not spirits, as Giles renders it). From the definition of the jang tsieu, it is evident that a fermented liquor is intended, not a distilled one. Williams says that - "Samshoo is the general name for distilled and fermented liquors. The art of distillation has been known among them (the Chinese) from remote times, and rice and millet have been chiefly used by the distillers." Doolittle says - "Ardent spirits among foreigners in China are called samshoo, or Chinese wine. This wine is always a distilled liquor, a kind of whisky."

* Said by Du Halde to resemble Venice, although preferable to it, because the canals in the Chinese city are filled with running water.

From the above extracts, it is evident that some confusion exists as to fermentation and distillation. I hope I shall be excused from dwelling so particularly on the meaning of the Chinese term tsieu, as it involves an earlier knowledge of distillation than the Chinese possessed. It favours an antiquity to which spirits cannot lay claim, and more particularly as all our sinologues have been carrried away with the idea that ardent or distilled spirits is the liquor denoted by this term in the ancient books. I regret to be obliged to differ from so many high authorities. I appeal to the proofs adduced in support of the view here advocated. Not to multiply examples, take the following merely: -

In the Shih Ching Wines And Spirits 60 occurs the expression Cho i ta tou to pour out (for use) a large tou. This expression goes back to the time of the Lieh kingdom, before the Han dynasty.

Or, take the expression - Li Pai tou tsieu shih pai pica Wines And Spirits 62 - "Li Pai (Tai-po), the poet, drank his ton of wine, and wrote his hundred verses." Although the measures of capacity may have altered, the ton, or ten pints, was at that time by no means a small quantity. Can we concieve of the poet drinking a ton of ardent spirits, and inditing his celebrated verses afterwards? The reference is undoubtedly to the yellow wine. Again, a writer in the T'ang dynasty has a couplet referring to the period of the Han dynasty, the first line of which reads - P'u t'ao mei tsieu yeh kwang pel - "Good grape wine is a cup bright at night."

As we have done with tea in the investigation of its origin and the Chinese ideas of its effects on the system, so it may be deemed advisable here to lay before the Society similar investigations with regard to the grape, wine, and spirits, chiefly drawn from the same work on Dietetics.