Sack hath the power to make me mad

These snippets come from a very entertaining text entitled Historie of the most part of drinks, in use now in the kingdomes of Great Brittaine and Ireland, dated 1637.


Syder (whose Anagram is Desyr) desires and deserves the first place, as being the most ancient: it is made of Apples, and is of that antiquity, that it is thought by some to have beene invented and made by Eve, and afterwards practised by Cain, who by the making of it in the time of his vagrancy, got a very competent estate. Certainely it was a most frequent and usuall drinke amongst the Trojans, and was with the remainder of that Nation, first brought into this land. It is called Syder (as the Dictionary tells me) of the Starres, whose influence in those Heathenish times was much invoked in the composure of that most excellent liquor, whereof my native Country of the County of Glocestershire most plentifully flowes. It doth much refrigerate and qualifie the inward heat of man, it is also very purgative, and cleanseth the small guts of all viscous humours, and is much meliorated by the addition of Sugar.


Perry is more Aromaticke, being made of Peares, from whence it seemes to have its Appellation. There is much disagreement amongst ancient and moderne Writers about the antiquity, originall, and derivation of the name of it. Worcestershire is our Brittish Maggazin, or plentifull store-house for Perry; nor will I seeke further to dispute the poynt, the drinke being usuall and equall with what hath beene said before of Syder. It is very availeable in quenching of thirst, good against obstructions of the liver and spleene, and most effectuall against contagious diseases, by the opinion of the Brittish Doctors


A drinke in my opinion, not much beholding to antiquity, although some extant writings of the Barley avouch the receipt for the making of it to be sent over from the Emperour of the East, to Liolin the great Prince of Wales. This drinke is of a most hot nature, as being compos’d of Spices, and if it once scale the sconce, and enter within the circumclusion of the Perricranion, it doth much accelerate nature, by whose forcible attraction and operation, the drinker (by way of distribution) is easily enabled to afford blowes to his brother. It is hot in the third degree, in which respect it is held medicinable, against all cold diseases of the Stomacke.


The sixt sort of Brittish drinkes is Pomperkin, a drinke whose originall was from Pomeranea (a Province in Germany) as some writers relate. Some derive it from the Pomponii (a Noble Roman family) however Authors differ about it. It is not much materiall; most certaine it is that it is made of Apples, as the name of it imports; being nothing but the Apples bruised and beaten to mash, with water put to them, which is a drinke of so weake a condition that it is no where acceptable but amongst the Rusticks and Plebeyans, being a heartlesse liquor much of the nature of Swillons in Scotland, or small Beere in England, such as is said to be made of the washings of the Brewers legges and aprons. And I doe most yeeld to their opinions that the first Authour of Pomperkin was Perkin Warbecke in the raigne of Henry the seventh, who in his private retirements and lurking holes, had occasion to practise the thrifty making of this infusion.


I have no reason to love Sack, for it made me twice a Rat in Woodstreet Counter-trap: besides where other wines have scarce strength to make me drunke (as I may take them) Sack hath the power to make me mad, which makes me leave it.


Some there are that affirme that Ale was first invented by Alexander the Great, and that in his conquests this liquor did infuse much vigour and valour into his souldiers. Others say that famous Physician of Piemont (named Don Alexis) was the founder of it. But it is knowne that it was of that singular use in the time of the Saxons. First then, it is a singular remedy against all melancholick diseases, Tremor cordis, and Maladies of the spleene. It is purgative and of great operation against all gripings of the small guts. It cures the stone in the Bladder, or Kidneyes, and provokes Urine wonderfully. It mollifies Tumors and swellings in the body, and is very predominant in opening the obstructions of the Liver. It is most effectuall for clearing of the sight, being applied outwardly. It asswageth the unsufferable paine of the Gowt.  Ale was famous amongst the Trojans, Brittaines, Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, English men, Welsh, besides in Scotland, from the highest and Noblest Palace to the poorest or meanest Cottage. Ale is universall, and for Vertue it stands allowable with the best receipts of the most Antientest Physitians.  Ale is rightly called Nappy, for it will set a nap upon a mans thred bare eyes when he is sleepy. It is called Merry-goe-downe, for it slides downe merrily.  It is such a nourisher of Mankinde, that if my mouth were as bigge as Bishopsgate, my Pen as long as a Maypole, and my Inke a flowing spring, or a standing fishpond, yet I could not with Mouth, Pen, or Inke, speake or write the true worth and worthinesse of Ale.

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One comment

  • October 1, 2010 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I included this piece in the October history carnival here

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