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PRINTED BY CHARLES WIITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND.
THE EASTERN QUESTION.
J. W. HENGISTON, Esq.
*** REJECTED ARTICLES CANNOT BE RETURNED.
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE BOWL AND THE DUTY.
BY CYRUS REDDING. WHERE is our national symposiarchos, our wine-master of the ceremonies? We are still far from thinking we shall not soon require such an official. Our ministers are not men of taste, or they would have given us the opportunity of electing such an officer long ago. They are teasops, and make the land nervous with Hong-Kong decoctions. We thought to have had wine at a more reasonable rate this session ; but we languish still under the want of the “universal panacea,” or as a great physician styled it," that to the body which manure is to trees.” The ancient Greek chiefs secured their wine, not as Solomon is said to have dope his temple, with Bramah's patent lock, but with a trusty sentinel of Milesian origin, who introduced whisky into the court of the Pharaohs, according to Vallancy in his history of Irish civilisation. The Customs keep ours for us.
Commend us to Pitt, who, though not a jester nor a wit, did honour to the elixir of life. Let it be poured over his ashes with an “ Ave! vale!” What else could have enabled him “ to speak off a king's speech ?” as Windham said he could have done-what but his libations with his friend Lord Melville. To this the different state of eloquence in the House of Commons in his time and our own is mainly owing. Wine cherishes eloquence in politics as well as in divinity. In proof of the latter observation, a great clerical authority asserts that it maketh sermons to abound for edification;" gives "visions of poetic zeal.".
Lord Aberdeen may be assured that no purple clusters will rise to grace his tomb, unless he thinks of moving a little faster upon this matter. While the Russian bear hungers for the flesh-pots of Constantinople to accompany his rye-meal and water, his sour quass, the Porte may become more cordial in its alliance with France. Sultan Mustapha told Cromwell's ambassador that if he ever changed his religion he should turn Catholic, “because there was no good wine in any Protestant country.” Who can believe, judging from the wisdom of his ancestorthat most convincing species of evidence--that his present Turkish Sublimity will prefer gin and whisky to Burgundy, Champagne, and claret ?
Why, then, are we denied the use of good wine? The adulteration of our port wine has just been sanctioned by the Treasury. Gerupiga is permitted to be introduced into wine in the docks in certain proportions. Verily we retrograde. Shame to the land of our fathers.
Why are we denied cheap wine? The enormous duty of six hundred Sept.- VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCIII.
per cent. is a denial—a prohibition to nine-tenths of the people of England, and prevents an access of revenue to the Exchequer. All other nations enjoy wine at a reasonable cost. " The public do not agitate about it." How should it do so, when the mass of the people know no more about wine than the public did of tea in the reign of King John, when wine was three-halfpence per quart ? Adam did not trouble himself about his own character in Paradise Lost,
We stand in need of something to stimulate us in conversation. What are modern dinings-out compared to the old conversational times of Johnson, Reynolds, and Burke ? All dinner-parties now are lifeless things—" weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.” A tolerable allowance of wine is swallowed with dinner at wealthy tables-wasted; but there is no more conversational wit, none of the seasoning of the past time. We are a dull people now, mere money-grubbers; what has wit, hilarity, good fellowship to do with such ? Hence the need of cheap good wine in place of stomach-burning brandy-wine and spirits. We do not want heaviness over the eyebrows, but liveliness to counteract our cares.
Wine was once accessible to all here, as it has been to other nations in all times. We find corn, wine, and oil, terms used to designate fertility in the first ages of the world. From the deluge from the Egyptian captivity of the Israelites to the reign of the wisest of men, we find mention of it. Sculptures of the expression of the juice of the grape may yet be seen upon the walls of the great temple of Karnac in the Thebaid, emblematic, it is probable, of the wine of Meröe, which has caused disputes in relation to the wine-wisdom of antiquity among learned pundits; some denying the existence of any wine in that climate where it was known twenty centuries before the Christian era. The young captive Joseph, interpreting the dream of the chief butler of Pharaoh, represents him as squeezing the juice of the grapes into the goblet of his royal master, the representation still to be seen on the temple of Karnac thus corresponding in a singular manner with the custom described by the sacred historian. These delineations can only be understood as emblematic of wine. The must of the grape taken in that climate, sweet, cloying, and warm, could hardly be intended. To make wine that will keep well, fermentation is necessary, and that this process was known in the early ages, is evident from the account of Noah's inebriety. The institutes of Moses, and the customs of contemporary nations, show that wine was common to them all, and was considered one of Heaven's choicest gifts. Sacred and profane writers laud it alike. Amphoræ have been recently discovered by Layard in the mounds time has accumulated over the ruined palaces of the luxurious Sardanapalus, after twenty-seven centuries of inhumation. The excavations amidst the indurated lava of Vesuvius afford similar evidence of the abundance and care bestowed upon that which “makes glad the heart of man." Pure wine has a very distinctive character, through its effect on the animal economy; but in this country the unadulterated juice of the grape is met with only at the tables of the fashionable and opulent. The wines introduced early into England were of a less artificial character than in later times. France, Spain, and the Levant, were formerly all laid under contribution by British merchants. It appears that as far back as the reign