A Warning-Piece To All Drunkards

These snippets come from a 1682 publication warning readers of the dangers of excessive boozing. As well as a general admonition against the bewitching nature of drunkenness, the authors provide plenty of examples of the worst kinds of fate met by irresponsible imbibers.

The bewitching, besotting nature of Drunkenness: It doth not turn men into Beasts, as some think, for a Beast scorns it: I do not know that ever I saw a Beast drunk (unless it were a Swine) in my life. But it turns them into Fools and Sots, dehuminates them, turns them out of their own Essences. Drunkenness is the general Rendezvouz of all sin, the common Parent of the greatest Provocations. Even the worst of men when they are drunk, do that which if they were sober they would blush to be found guilty of. Men naturally quiet, good humor’d, moderate in sinning, as one may say, when they are themselves; are by Drunkenness metamorphos’d into such Extravagancies, you would not think them to be the same men.

Two Servants of a Brewer in Ipswich, drinking for a Rump of a Turkey, struggling in their drink for it, fell into a scalding Cauldron backwards; whereof the one died presently, the other lingringly and painfully, since my coming to Ipswich.

A man eighty five years old, or thereabout, in Suffolk, overtaken with Wine, (though never in all his Life before, as he himself said a little before his fall, seeming to bewail his present condition, and others that knew him, so say of him) yet going down a pair of stairs (against the perswasion of a woman sitting by him in his Chamber) fell, and was so dangerously hurt, as he died soon after, not being able to speak from the time of his fall to his death.

At Tenby in Pembrokeshire, a Drunkard being exceeding drunk, broke himself all to pieces off an high and steep Rock, in a most fearful manner; and yet the occasion and circumstances of his fall were so ridiculous, as I think not fit to relate, lest, in so serious a Judgement, I should move Laughter to the Reader.

At Bungey in Norfolk, three coming out of an Ale-house in a very dark Evening, swore they thought it was not darker in Hell it self: One of them fell off the Bridge into the water, and was drowned: the second fell off his Horse, the third sleeping on the Ground by the Rivers-side, was frozen to death: This have I often heard, but have no certain ground for the Truth of it.

One T. A. of Godmanchester, being a common Drunkard, was intreated by a Neighbour to unpitch a Load of Hay: And being at that time drunk, the Pitchfork slipt out of his hand, which he stooping to take up again, fell from the Cart with his head downward; and the Fork standing with the Tines upward, he fell directly upon them, which striking to his heart killed him immediately.

A Vintner that accustomed himself to swearing and drunkenness, as he was upon the Lords day standing in his door with a pot in his hand to invite guests, there came suddenly such a violent Whirlewind as carryed him up into the Air, after which he was never more seen.

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  • January 11, 2012 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    @Dainty Ballerina: Extraordinary rendition, I say!

  • January 11, 2012 - 4:00 am | Permalink

    I very much wish animals, on occasion, could speak.
    For I would really like to hear his thoughts while “standing by” as his rider drowned in a shallow brook.
    would it mimic our own thoughts.
    Perhaps: Does this mean I may leave now?

  • January 9, 2012 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I love the phrase ‘overtaken with wine’. I’ll need to remember and use that as my excuse the next time I’m suffering after a night of too much wine! it makes it sound like the wine’s fault rather than the individual doing the imbibing.

  • January 20, 2010 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious about the man who was carried off in a whirlwind. It renders beer gardens positively dangerous places!

  • January 20, 2010 - 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh I do wish we knew of the circumstances that led to the drunkard of Tenby falling and breaking himself all to pieces.

    Nothing changes.

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