The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current, August 03, 1919, Magazine Section, Page 5, Image 91

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Joy and Merrymaking of Vintage Season Often Marred by Drunkenness and Deeds of Violence.
FRANCE has Ions' been, in every
way. the leading1 wine-producing
country of the -world. The people
make more wine and consume more
than the people of any other country.
There have been bad years when the
total French production has been sur
passed by that of Italy, but these have
been rare. In quality of wine pro
duced, France is also far in the van
Certain districts in Germany, Hungary,
Portugal, Spain, and other countries
make wines that are highly prized and
eagerly bought at high prices, but the
general superiority of French wines Is
almost everywhere acknowledged.
The scenes in the wine-producing
districts at the vintage season are at
tractive. The gray groups of laughing
girls who pass along the rows of vines
gathering the great bunches of grapes
make an animated picture. Quaint
customs that originated centuries ago
have been jealously preserved proces
sions, dances, observances that can
sometimes be traced back to the an
cient rites of the vintage season, in
Greece and Rome.
There is, however, a dark season to
all this gaiety and happiness. Some of
the French wine-growing districts are
very much affected by drunkenness.
The peasants' of certain sections have
been degenerated by wine drinking
through generations. They are sullen,
resentful, ctwif t to quarrel. The Joy
and innocent merrymaking of the vin
tage season is often marred by deeds
of violence. It is impossible to general
ize upon drinking in France. One can
go into certain sections and almost
never see a drunken man or woman.
And yet everyone seems to drink. A
few miles away one may find a village
where brawls and reeling vintagers are
the rule rather than the exception.
So many more people in France are
dependent upon win making than peo
ples of other lands and the French have
such a different attitude toward intox
icating liquors than Americans that
prohibition does not seem probable
there in the near future. France might
agree to close her distilleries and to
forbid the importation of hard liquor,
but it is doubtful if the people will be
willing: in the near future to put a ban
upon wine.
More than 1,000,000,000 gallons are
made annually. This has not, of course,
held true through the war, but it was
considerably over this figure when the
war opened, so that it is probable that
the billion-gallon mark will soon be
reached again. In the United States,
with its tremendously greater extent of
territory and its much greater popu
lation, the production of wine in nor
mal times is hardly more than a 20th
of the French figures. Even little Por
tugal produces twice as much wine an
nually as does this country.
In consumption the figures are even
more startling. In this country very
little wine is used. The average con
sumption per head is less than half a
gallon in a year. In France the aver
age consumption is more than 30 gal
lons per year to each individual.
Jealous producers in other districts
circulated stories that champagne pro
duced all sorts of terrible diseases and
that it could not be made without the
assistance of the devil. These tales
were widely believed and, for a con
siderable period, champagne went into
eclipse. Most people were afraid to
drink it and bottles could be bought at
ridiculously low prices. But when
other growers found out how to make
bubbling wine, the prejudice disap
peared and champagne came back into
There are almost countless districts
and separate vineyards in France that
have as much reputation with epicures
as the champagne country. The re
gion about Bordeaux is said to have
the finest soil and the best climatic
conditions in France. About 500,000
acres of this Gironde country, a fifth
of the total acreage, is given over to
vineyards. For average excellence,
the Gironde wines rank first among
ail the wines or l? ranee. From one
comparatively small vineyard in the
Gironde comes the St. Kim lion wine
ko highly regarded by connoisseurs
that only those with the incdmes of
millionaires can have many bottles in
their cellars.
Among wine lovers the Burgundy
vintages are almost as renowned as
those- of the Champagne and Gironde
districts. Then there are he sparkling
wines of the Saumur country on the
Loire and the wines from the Midi in
the south of France, where a quarter
of all the French wines is made. And
there are almost countless other dis
tricts that might be mentioned where
mo.'-t of the wine made goes down the
throats of the French themselves, but
where come prized vintages fox expor
uuoii axe alo bouK-tl,
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Shakespeare's England a
Drunken One.
Wars In Holland Blamed for Habit
of Inebriety.
LOOKING' backward from rural
France of today to Elizabethan
England, the change is not one toward
sobriety. It is not exaggerated to say
that Shakespeare's England was a
drunken England. The contemporary
drawing reproduced above shows how
the inns were crowded about the South
wark entrance to London bridge. Al
most everywhere along the London
water front were clustered these Inns
and taverns, and a great many of them
were places ot evil resort. In town
and country, on city streets and on
slightly frequented lanes in rural dis
tricts, one had not far to travel to
find a place where alcoholic drinks
could be bought.
Camden, a trustworthy chronicler of
the period, says that there had been
an age when Englishmen were more
sober than all other peoples of the
north. By the time of Elizabeth, how
ever, drunkenness was common. Cam
den thought the habit was fastened on
England by the wars in Holland where
the soldiers "first learned to drown
themselves with immoderate drinking,
and by drinking others' health to im
pair their own." Philip Stubbes, an
other writer about thing that he him
self saw, declared that all the inns in
London were crowded from morn to
night with determined drinkers.
If the Englishman was slow in
learning how to drink as deeply as
other peoples of northern Europe, he
seems to have caught up quickly to
his competitors. Massinger, one of tjhe
dramatists of the age. says that an
Englishman of his tim was able to
"drink more in two hours than the
Dutchman or the Dane in four and
twenty." And when Rabelais wanted
to find a fit expression for a man hope
lessly intoxicated, he said that he "was
drunk as an Englishman."
In the reign of Henry VIII drunken
ness and dissipation were so popular
at court that even the Germans, who
hail an uaple a .sn n t. reputation, for hard
drinking, confessed that they could
not compete with the English. An
official of the German court who be
longed to a temperance society was
sent as envoy to London and Henry
VIII did not rest content until he had
made the envoy break his vows of
sobriety. Throughout Elizabeth's reign
hard drinking was just as popular.
James I, who succeeded Elizabeth,
was not so passionate a person as the
robust Henry VIII and the quick-tempered
Elizabeth, but conditions did not
improve. We have a very detailed
account of an entertainment given at
this time by the earl of Salisbury in
honor of King Christian of Denmark,
and there is nothing in the worst
periods of Rome to match it. The
women at this reception drank as
heavily as the men, and soon the whole
assemblage was reeling about in a dis
gusting condition.
One noble lady, playing the part of
the queen of Sheba in a representation
of her visit to King Solomon, Btepped
forward with presents for the Danish
and English kings. Unfortunately she
had imbibed too freely, tripped over
some steps and pitched her presents
into the lap of the surprised Danish
monarch. In an effort to show that he
forgave her, the king gallantly arose
and offered to dance with the lady, but
he, too, had poured so much wine down
his throat that he could not stand and
had to be carried away to bed.
After this intermission an attempt
was made to carry on with the fes
tivities, but they broke down disas
trously when three ladies impersonat
ing Faith, Hope and Charity proved
unable to speak or to keep their feet
moving in straight lines.
Herrick' Poems Depict
Riotous Scenes.
Descriptions of Festivities Mention
Heavy Drinking.
TTT ITHIX recent years open air festi.
V V vals and entertainments have been
gaining favor in America. In Shakes
peare's time they were even more com
mon. Merry-makings on holidays were
observed in all tbe town and villages.
Dincing was much indulsed, in and on
these occasions it must be recorded that
the men drank as freely as they did in
doors. But these festivities were not
new to Shakespeare's time. From time
immemorial the English had held all
sorts of merry-makings in the open.
"England had adored mummings, pag
eants and interludes for generations
when Elizabeth came to her throne,"
says one historian. There had been
time out of mind, disguisings and mas
querading on high days and holidays.
puppets in booths at fairs, and bride-
ales,' as the commoner wedding festiv
ities were called, theatricals in barns,
inn yards and on London streets."
One reason for the popularity of
these out-of-doors fetes was because
suitable indoor accommodations were
not so available. Another was perhaps
because the population was much
smaller and strangers were not so apt
to join or to look on.
Robert Herrick, exiled from his be
loved London to a small parish In
Devonshire, is the laureate of these
curious open-air observances of the ru
ral population. And It is significant
that in nearly all of his poems describ
ing wakes and other festivities, there
is always mention of the heavy drink
ing indulged In. Here are the closing
lines to "The Wake," which apparently
depicts the riotous scenes in scores ot
English villages in Shakespeare's time:
Near the dying- of the day.
There will be a cudgel-play.
Where a coxcomb will be broke.
Ere a good word can be spoke;
But the anrer ends all here,
Drenched In ale or drowned in beer.
Happy rustics, best content
With the cheapest merriment:
And possess no other fear.
Than to want the wake next year.
At these fetes there was probably
wine for the aristocrats present, but
the majority of the people drank ale
and beer. They put many things into
these, however, to make various drinks
that do not seem especially palatable
to us, but which found great favor.
One- drink, popularly known as lamb's
wool, was ale to which had been add
ed toasts, nutmeg, roasted crab apples
and sugar. This was comparatively
simple as contrasted with the fear
some liquor called egg ale.
The maker of this drew 13 callons
of ale to which he added the juice
from eight pounds of beef, a pound of
raisins, oranges and spice. Then a
dozen eggs and the beef were put into
a bag and left in the barrel until the
ale had stopped fermenting. Then two
quarts of Malaga sack, a sweet wine.
were added, the ale was bottled and
was soon ready for use.
The country people also made intox
icating drinks from many growing
things in the gardens and woods.
Some of these included blackberry ale,
cowslip ale, horseradish ale, apricot
ale and elderberry beer.
The curiosities of Elizabethan drink
ing were not confined to the drinks
themselves. Mention must be made of
the 'ale-yard." a drinking vessel. This
was 'made of glass and was just a
yard In length. It was slender, hold
ing little more than a pint, and the
closed end terminated in a ball. Good
drinkers were supposed to empty these
without taking the glass from their
mouths. I? was not a difficult task
while the tube was filled with the ale,
but when air reached the expanded
bulb at the end, the liquor came out
with a splash, and usually gave the
drinker a shower bath, very much to
the delight of the onlookers.
Drinking Scenes Abound In
Shakespeare Plays.
John Falfttaff Representative
Character of the Time.
THERE are many drinking scenes in
Shakespeare's plays that prove how
much In favor alcoholic drinks were
In the Elizabethan period. Drunken
mirth rings through the pages of "An
tony and Cleopatra," some of It taken
from Plutarch, but a good deal of it
probably observed by the dramatist in
London taverns. There is a tragic
drinking bout in "Othello" and
"Twelfth Night" is Jubilant in its
praise of alcohol. The joke that is
played on Sly in "The Taming of the
Shrew" had its origin In drink. And
there are other scenes that might be
mentioned, but it is time to notice Sir
John Falstaff in the two parts of
"King Henry IV," Shakespeare's great
est comic character.
Sir John is so complete In all ways
that it Is probable that Shakespeare
must have known people like him. And
the dramatist gives us so much Infor
mation in these plays about tavern life
that he must have pictured scenes that
he knew.
We know, from countless 'books' of
the period that the young aristocrats
were much less exclusive ithan youtli
of the same relative station are today.
They did not patronize hotels or clubs
where they met only men and women
of their own worlo. They wandered
gayly through the most disreputable
haunts ' of London and they made
friends there among the lowly born,
not mere friends of a night, but bril
liant dramatists and merry rogues with
whom they were glad to frolic when
they were sober.
At the more famous taverns, at places
like the Mitre, the Falcon, the Boar's
Head, and especially at me
the nightly gathering was a brilliant
and democratic one. Aristocrats of
the bluest blood sat shoulder to shoul
der with play-writers and actors, poets
and hangers-on. whose skill at repartee
made them welcome. There was much
less family life than today. Women
attended the play, but they then went
home f they belonged to good families.
Th.v afl not exoect to be taken with
their husbands 'or' fathers to the
At these assemblages money or birth
counted for less than a nimble wit.
When Shakespeare and Ben Jonson
crossed swords In debate, the young
noblemen kept silent. One of the needy
and out-of-elbows dramatists of the
period who was a great frequenter of
taverns was Henry Chettle. a hack
writer who was always ready to write
a play at order or to collaborate with
better-known author wno wanted
some one else to do the hard work. In
a pamphlet of the period Chettle Is
thus described: "In comes Chettle
sweating and blowing, by reason of his
fatness; to welcome whom, because he
was of old acquaintance, all rose up,
and fell presently on their knees, to
drink a health to all the lovers of
Hellcan." It is credible that Shakes
peare, seeing this puffing fat man
waddle into a tavern, might well have
had the picture in his mind when he
brought Falstaff to the Boar's Head
and had him welcomed there by merry
Falstaff has been called "the wine
god of merry England." He certainly
resembles the Greek SUenus. the fat
old man who always accompanied
Bacchus. And Falstaff, like Silenus,
cared much more for quantity in his
drinks than he did for quality. The
sack that he loved so much was a
Wine Regarded Just as
Americans Do Coffee.
Recent Novel Portrays Rllchted Com
munities Due to Drinking.
THIS painting of a rural drinking
scene in France by a well-known
artist is a depiction of wine in its most
pleasant aspect. Such a picture might
be duplicated in all parts of the coun
try. The people drink a great deal.
but seldom to excess. They look upoD
wine almost as Americans do upon cof
fee. The native products that are not
highly prized and that are sold at hun
dreds of little inns or taverns are pure
but rough, Intoxicating but not high
ly so.
The other side of thfl picture, how
ever, should not be overlooked. It is
possible to find almost countless rural
places where wine is constantly abused.
"Xono," a French novel recently trans
lated into English, is an unflinching
portrayal of one of these blighted com
munities where wine has wrought evil
to a whole countryside.
Americans who seldom drink wine
always think of champagne when they
feel opulent enough to buy French
wine. It is the most famous of all the
French vineyard products, but rhe in
dustry of wine making in France would
not be very Important If champagne
were the only variety made. Every
one knows now. if they did not beore
1914. that the champagne district ex
tends for miles about Kheims and Eper
ney. The vineyards along both banks
of the Marne and in what Is known afi
the mountain district are attractive
places when the grapes are hanging In
great bunches to the green vines, but
the natural scenery is not so pic
turesque as In many other French
wine-growing districts.
Champagne is a very moflirrn wine,
the secret of making srmxkling drirsks
having been discovered in the crMm
pagne country a year or two before
1700. A monk named Dom Perlgord is
regarded as the first maker of this
wine that Is so famous today, but not
much Is known of the discovery. It is
generally thought that he probably
came upon the secret by accident, hav
ing corked some bottles filled with
sweet wine,' but he put more sugar in j partly fermented wine which bubbled
It. Sometimes he liked a toast added.
But he did not want anything in it that
made it weaker. ; He would not have
it mulled with eggs nor would he have
lime added.
readily when opened. The new wine
became popular at once and for a long
time only the growers in the cham
pagne country were able to furnish this
product- -.'-'-