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to drink it, should it prove more than the glass would hold.1 It is commonly said to one who hesitates to empty a bottle that is nearly out.
I find the subsequent dissuasive from drunkenness, a vice to which it must be confessed the drinking of healths, and especially in full bumpers, does but too naturally tend, in Ch. Johnson's Wife's Relief :
“Oh when we swallow down
Till gentle sleep exhales the boiling surfeit.” That it is good to be drunk once a month, says the learned author of the Vulgar Errors, is a common flattery of sensuality, supporting itself upon physic and the healthful effects of inebriation. It is a striking instance of “the doing ill,” as we say, “that good may come out of it.” It may happen that inebriation, by causing vomiting, may cleanse the stomach, &c. ; but it seems a very dangerous kind of dose, and of which the “repetatur haustus,” too quickly repeated, will prove that men may pervert that which Nature intended for à cordial into the most baneful of all poisons. It has been vulgarly called “giving a fillip to Nature.”
In Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, i. 59, the minister of Kirkmichael tells us : “In extraordinary cases of distress, we have a custom which deserves to be taken notice of; and that is, when any of the lower people happen to be reduced by sicknesses, losses, or misfortunes of any kind, a friend is sent to as many of their neighbours as they think needful, to invite them to what they call a drinking. This drinking consists in a little small beer, with a bit of
| Bumpers are of great antiquity. Thus Paulus Warnefridus is cited in Du Cange's Glossary, telling us, in lib. v. de Gestis Langobard. cap. 2: “ Cumque ii qui diversi generis potiones ei a rege deferebant, de verbo regis eum rogarent, ut totam fialam biberet, ille in honorem regis se totam bibere promittens, parum aquæ libabat de argenteo calice." Vide Martial, lib. i. Ep. 72, lib. viii. 51, &c.
bread and cheese, and sometimes a small glass of brandy or whisky, previously provided by the needy persons or their friends. The guests convene at the time appointed, and after collecting a shilling a-piece, and sometimes more, they divert themselves for about a couple of hours with music and dancing, and then go home. Such as cannot attend themselves, usually send their charitable contribution by any neighbour that chooses to go. These meetings sometimes produce five, six, and seven pounds to the needy person or family.” Ibid. xviii. 123, parish of Gargunnock, co. Stirling : “There is one prevailing custom among our country people, which is sometimes productive of much evil. Everything is bought and sold over a bottle. The people who go to the fair in the full possession of their faculties, do not always transact their business, or return to their homes, in the same state.”
UNDER THE ROSE.
The vulgar saying Under the Rose is said to have taken its rise from convivial entertainments, where it was an ancient custom to wear chaplets of roses about the head, on which occasions, when persons desired to confine their words to the company present, that they "might go no farther,” they commonly said “they are spoken under the rose.” The Germans have hence a custom of describing a rose in the ceiling over the table.
In the comedy of Lingua, 1657, act ii. sc. 1, Appetitus says : “ Crown me no crowns but Bacchus' crown of roses.”
Nazianzen, according to Sir Thomas Browne, seems to imply, in the following verse, that the rose, from a natural property, has been made the symbol of silence :
“ Utque latet rosa verna suo putamine clausa,
Sic os vincla ferat, validisque arctetur habenis,
Indicatque suis prolixa silentia labris.” Lempius and others have traced this saying to another origin. The rose, say they, was the flower of Venus, which Cupid consecrated to Harpocrates, the god of Silence : and
it was therefore the emblem of it, to conceal the mysteries of Venus.
Warburton, commenting on that passage in the first part of Shakespeare's Henry VI.,
“ From off this brier pluck a white rose with me,” says: “This is given as the original of the two badges of the houses of York and Lancaster, whether truly or not, is no great matter. But the proverbial expression of saying a thing under the rose, I am persuaded came from thence. When the nation had ranged itself into two great factions, under the white and red rose, and were perpetually plotting and counterplotting against one another, then when a matter of faction was communicated by either party to his friend in the same quarrel, it was natural for him to add, that he said it under the rose ; meaning that, as it concerned the faction, it was religiously to be kept secret.”
It is observable that it was anciently a fashion to stick & rose in the ear. At Kirtling, in Cambridgeshire, the magnificent residence of the first Lord North, there is a juvenile portrait (supposed to be of Queen Elizabeth), with a red rose sticking in her ear.
Newton, in his Herball to the Bible, 1587, pp. 223-4, says: “I will heere addė a common country custome that is used to be done with the rose. When pleasaunt and merry companions doe friendly meete together to make goode cheere, as soone as their feast or banket is ended, they give faithfull promise mutually one to another, that whatsoever hath been merrily
i Upton gives us the following remarks on the bishop's criticism : “ This is ingenious! What pity that it is not learned too! The rose (as the fables say) was the symbol of silence, and consecrated by Cupid to Harpocrates, to conceal the lewd pranks of his mother. So common a book as Lloyd's Dictionary might have instructed Dr. Warburton in this: • Huic Harpocrati Cupido Veneris filius parentis suæ rosam dedit in munus, ut scilicet, si quid licentius dictum, vel actum sit in convivio, sciant tacenda esse omnia. Atque idcirco veteres ad finem convivii sub rosa, Anglice under the rose, transacta esse omnia ante digressum contestabantur; cujus formæ vis eadem esset, atque ista Miovu våuova ovunorav. Probant hanc rem versus qui reperiuntur in marmore:
• Est rosa flos Veneris, cujus quo furta laterent
Harpocrati matris dona dicavit amor.
Convivæ ut sub ea dicta tacenda sciat.'"
spoken by any in that assembly, should be wrapped up in silence, and not to be carried out of the doores. For the assurance and performance whereof, the tearme which they use is, that all things there saide must be taken as spoken under the rose. Whereupon they use in their parlours and dining roomes to hang roses over their tables, to put the companie in memorie of secresie, and not rashly or indiscreetly to clatter and blab out what they heare. Likewise, if they chaunce to shew any tricks of wanton, unshamefast, immodest, or irreverent behaviour either by word or deed, they protesting that all was spoken under the rose, do give a strait charge and pass a covenant of silence and secrecy with the hearers, that the same shall not be blowne abroad, nor tatled in the streetes among any others.”
So Peacham, in the Truth of our Times, 1638, p. 173 : “In many places, as well in England as in the Low Countries, they have over their tables a rose painted, and what is spoken under the rose must not be revealed. The reason is this ; the rose being sacred to Venus, whose amorous and stolen sports, that they might never be revealed, her sonne Cupid would needes dedicate to Harpocrates, the God of Silence.”
I know not whence the saying, that needs not to be explained, of “plucking a rose,” has originated, if it had not its rise in some modest excuse for absence in the garden, dictated by feminine bashfulness. Perhaps the passage already quoted from Newton's Herball to the Bible may explain it.
Speaking of the sex reminds me of a remarkable saying, now pretty much forgotten, though noticed by Sir Thomas Browne, i. e. that “ Smoak doth follow the fairest,” as usual in his time in England, and it may be in all Europe. “Whereof,” he says, “although there seem no natural ground, yet it is the continuation of a very antient opinion, as Petrus Victorius and Casaubon have observed from a passage in Athenæus, wherein a parasite thus describes himself :
“ To every table first I come,
HOB OR NOB. GROSE, in his Provincial Glossary, explains hob-nob (sometimes pronounced hab-nab) as a north-country word, signifying, At a venture, rashly. He tells us, also, that hob or hub is the north-country name for the back of the chimney. We find the following in his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “Will you hob or nob with me? a question formerly in fashion at polite tables, signifying a request or challenge to drink a glass of wine with the proposer : if the party chal. lenged answered Nob, they were to chuse whether white or red.” His explanation of the origin of this custom is extremely improbable.1
The exposition modestly hinted at in Reed's edition of Shakespeare, v. 369, seems much more consonant with truth. It occurs in a note upon that passage in Twelfth-Night, or What You Will,? where a character speaking of a duellist says, “ His incensement at this moment is so implacable, that satisfaction can be none but by pangs of death and sepulchre : hob, nob, is his word; give't or take't.” In Anglo-Saxon, habban is to have, and næbban to want. May it not therefore be explained in this sense, as signifying, “Do you choose a glass of wine, or would you rather let it alone?" 3
I found the following, which had been cut out of some
į It is, “ This foolish custom is said to have originated in the days of good Queen Bess, thus : When great chimneys were in fashion, there was, at each corner of the hearth or grate, a small elevated projection called the hob, and behind it a seat. In winter time the beer was placed on the hob to warm, and the cold beer was set on a small table, said to have been called the nob: so that the question Will you have hob or nob!' seems only to have meant, “Will you have warm or cold beer?' i. e. beer from the hob, or beer from the nob."
2 Steevens thinks the word derived from hap ne hap.
3 M. Mason asks in a note, “ Is not this the original of our hob nob, or challenge to drink a glass of wine at dinner? The phrase occurs in Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub:
• I put it
I shall have a chance o' the dice for't, I hope;'” and Malone adds a passage from Holinshed's History of Ireland : “ The citizens in their rage shot habbe or nabbe at random."