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“Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” (also in the “The Sayings of Dr. Bushwhacker and Other Wise Men”) by Frederic S. Cozzens; American Book Exchange, New York; 1880; pp. 24-38.



Notables and Potables.

“M Y dear learned friend,” said Dr. Bushwhacker, putting down his half-empty goblet of claret, “that is the finest wine I ever tasted. A man, sir, should go down on his knees when he drinks such wine; it inspires me, sir, with humility and devotion. Six months’ retirement and study, with a liberal allowance of claret like that, would induce an epic poem, sir!”

“Retirement and study would do much, Doctor; but as for the claret I have my doubts. France, with all her clarets, has no great poet.”

“Sir,” replied Doctor Bushwhacker, “France has Corneille, Racine, Molière!”


“La Fontaine, Voltaire, and Boileau.”


“Jongleurs, Troubadours, Trouveres, without number, sir!”

“I know it.”

“Béranger, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and — what is the name of that barber-poet? — ah! Jasmin.”


“Yes, Jasmin.”

“And,” continued the Doctor, “there was Du Bartas, sir, who wrote the ‘Divine Week’ and the ‘Battle of Ivry,’ sir!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Claret,” said Dr. Bushwhacker significantly.

“Great thing for wit, Doctor!”

“My dear learned friend, it is,” replied the Doctor, emptying his goblet, and giving a triumphant snort, “and for poetry, too.”

“How is it then, that with all her great poets, France has not produced a great poem?”

“Sir,” asked Dr. Bushwhacker, “did you ever read the Œdipe if Corneille?”

“No, sir.”

“Then I would advise you to read it, sir.”

“My learned friend,” continued Dr. Bushwhacker, after an impressive pause, “I have a theory that certain wines produce certain effects upon the mind. I believe, sir, that if I were to come in upon a dinner-party about the time when conversation had become luminous and choral, I could easily tell whether Claret, Champagne, Sherry, Madeira, Burgundy, Port, or Punch, has been the prevailing potable. Yes, sir, and no doubt a skillful critic could determine, after a careful analysis of the subject, upon what drink, sir, a poem was written. Yes, sir, or tell a claret couplet from a sherry couplet, sir, or 26 distinguish the flavor of Port in one strain, and Madeira in another, from internal evidence, sir.”

“Suppose, Doctor, the poet were a water-drinker?”

“My dear learned friend,” replied the Doctor vehemently, “if you can find in the whole range of literature — and I will go farther than that — if you can find in the whole range of intelligence, either poet, statesman, orator, artist, hero, or divine, who was a water-drinker, and worth one (excuse me) curse! then, sir, I will renounce the practice of my profession, and occupy my time in a water-cure establishment. On the contrary, look at the illustrious writers of all ages and nations, sir; look at Homer. There is no end to the juncketings in the Iliad, sir; and the Greek heaven, sir, is pretty well supplied with every thing else but water, I believe.

                            ———‘This did to laughter cheer
White-wristed Juno, who now took a cup of him, and smiled,
The sweet peace-making draught went round, and lame Ephaistus filled
Nectar to all the other gods. A laughter never left,
Shook all the blessed deities, to see the lame so deft
At the cup service. All that day, even till the sun went down,
They banqueted; and had such cheer as did their wishes crown.’ ”

“What was Homer’s peculiar tipple, Doctor?”

“The wine of Chios, sir, undoubtedly. In this island, it is said, the first wines were made by Œnopion, son of Bacchus; and here, too, it is said Homer was born. I believe both, sir. From the island of Chios came the 27 first wine and the first epic, sir; hand in hand they came into the world, and hand in hand they will go out of it, sir!”

“The Romans, Doctor, were great wine-drinkers.”

“Yes, my learned friend. Falernian and Massic, sir, inspired Virgil and Horace, and the poets have made the wines immortal. Martial praises his native wine of Tarragonia, sir; he was an old sherry drinker. And had the Italian vine, sir, perished with the Roman Empire, I have my doubts whether Dante, Pulci, Tasso, Petrarch, Boïardo, and Ariosto would have been what they now are in the eyes of an admiring posterity. Yes, sir, and there is Redi, too! Why, the whole of Italy is in his ‘Bacco in Toscana.’ ”

“What wine do you suppose Shakspeare preferred, Doctor?”

“Sack! my learned friend — dry Sherry or Canary, sir. All the poets of the Elizabethan age, sir, were sack-drinkers — Ben Johnson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Marlowe, Raleigh, Chapman, Spencer, Sydney — so, too, was Herrick, as he says:

                                          ‘Thy Iles shall lack
Grapes, before Herrick leave Canarie Sack.’

and the other writes of his time, sir — Carew, Wither, Cowley, Waller, Crashaw, Broome —

‘All worldly care is Madness;
    But Sack and good Chear
 Will, in spite of our fear,
    Inspire our Souls with Gladness.’

That was the burthen of a song in the time of the Rump, sir! It was a ‘Rump and dozen’ in those days, my learned friend.”

“One writer of that period was an exception, Doctor.”

“What writer, sir?”


“Died of the gout, sir — died of the gout, sir. Milton, my dear friend, died of the gout.”

“Cervantes was a Sherry-drinker, Doctor?”

“Of course, my learned friend. And, no doubt, the ‘Val de Peñas’ of La Mancha was a favorite beverage with him. But, sir,” continued Dr. Bushwhacker suddenly, sitting upright and holding his head like a poised avalanche, “by speaking of Cervantes, sir, you have put a keystone into the arch of my theory, sir. The Elizabethan era should be called the age of Sack, sir. Look at those two great writers, Shakspeare and Cervantes, each a transcendent genius, sir; both living at the same time, sir; both dying on the same day sir — on the 23d of April, 1616.”

“Well, Doctor?”

“And both drinking Sack, sir, or Sherry, constantly. ‘If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations, and to addict themselves to Sack.’ Shakspeare, sir! King Henry Fourth, part second, act fourth, scene third, sir!”

“How long did this golden age of Sack continue, Doctor?”


“Until Charles the Second returned from France, and brought Claret into fashion. You can see the light, delicate, fanciful potable, sir, in the literature of this period as plain as sunlight. Next came the age of Port, sir in Queen Anne’s reign.”

“Ah! I remember, the Methuen treaty.”

“Yes, sir, the treaty of 1703. Port was encouraged by low duties, and lighter and better wines of other countries interdicted by enormous imposts, and in consequence we have a new school of literature, sir. The imaginative, the nervous, the pathetic, the humorous, and the sublime departed with the age of Sack; the gay, the witty, the amorous, and the fanciful, with the age of Claret; and the artificial, the critical, the satirical, and the commonplace arose, sir, with the age of Port! But bless my heart,” said Doctor Bushwhacker, rising and looking at his watch, “I must look after my patients. The next time we meet we will have a talk over modern wines and authors, and that will be more interesting, I dare say.”


Notables and Potables=Continued.

“The last discourse we had, my learned friend,” said Dr. Bushwhacker, “was about wine and wisdom. What shall be the next?”

“Pardon me, Doctor, we are not yet through with 30 that. We reached Port and Queen Anne; what followed after the age of Pope and Addison?”

“The prohibition of wine, sir,” replied the Doctor, solemnly, “led to the substitution of spirits. You see how Hogarth, in his immortal pictures, shows its progress in Gin Lane. Well, sir, if you wish to see how intimate are the relations between drinking and thinking, mark the host of clever literary vagabonds of this period. Genius in rags, sir; genius with immortal thoughts in his brain and no crown to his hat; Pegasus, with everything but his wings, in the pawnbroker’s shop. The long exhausting toil of literary occupation, which needs a natural stimulant, such as wine, (for men of sedentary habits must have it, sir,) was relieved by stronger stimulants, because they were cheaper. And now, sir, mark the two great geniuses of the middle of the last century, Fielding and Smollett; see the wonderful power of those writers, and observe the characteristic coarseness of their works, and what else is there to say ‘to point a moral,’ farther, than that Smollett, with a shattered constitution, went to Leghorn, to die there; and Fielding, with a shattered constitution, went to Lisbon, to die there. Fielding, at the age of 47, and Smollett at the age of 50, sir.”

“What would you infer from that, Doctor?”

“Sir,” replied the Doctor, “I leave you to draw the inference. Now, sir, we come to another epoch. A period, sir, of great mental brilliancy, and I wish you to observe that fine wine drinking had again become 31 fashionable. Claret was monstrously expensive, but claret was the mode. Now, sir, we have Fox, and Pitt, and Sheridan, and Burke, and Chesterfield, and Garrick, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Goldsmith. And among this brilliant cluster there stands out conspicuous a remarkable figure. Not that he was greater than these, not that his genius was superior, nor his wisdom more profound, yet still the most conspicuous figure in the group was ——”

“Dr. Samuel Johnson.”

“Dr. Samuel Johnson,” echoed Dr. Bushwhacker. “Did you ever know, sir, leaving out a few of our prominent hydrophobists, a man so eminent for invective, asperity, bitterness, insolence, dogmatic assumption, and gluttony, as the Ursa Major of English literature? And, sir, he was a total abstinent. To use his own words: ‘I now no more think of drinking wine than a horse does. The wine upon the table is no more for me than for the dog who is under the table.’ But he could drink, sir, twenty-three cups of tea at poor Mrs. Thrale’s table at a sitting, until four o’clock in the morning, sir, which may be set down as a fair sample of teetotal debauchery, my learned friend.”

“Dr. Johnson was a very good hearted man, I believe.”

“A good man, sir, a good man, sir. His charity, his candor, his tenderness, his attachment to his friends, his love of the poor, his rigid honesty, his piety, and his filial affection, were wonderful, sir. We all love this Samuel 32 Johnson. But, sir, there was also another character; an irritable, uncouth, imperious, ill-tempered, gluttonous, rude, prejudiced, intolerant, violent, unsparing old cynic; and this Samuel Johnson we do not love. Sir, human nature has scarcely formed a character so disproportionate. He was a great man, sir, and a great bear, sir.”

“I thought you said no water drinker ever was a great man, Doctor?”

“My learned friend,” replied the Doctor, growing slightly purple, “Dr. Samuel Johnson was a tea drinker, and used to be a wine drinker! But hand me the Madeira, if you please, and a handful of filberts. At the next dinner we will talk of the writers of this century. What is this wine?”

“Virginia Reserve, Doctor.”

“Then we will drink it, sir; Virginia is a noble State and it is full of noble men —”

“And women, Doctor.”

“God bless you, my dear friend — and women.”


Notables and Potables=Continued.

“What do you think of whisky-punch, Doctor, as a potable?”

“Bless my heart!” said the Doctor, shaking his bushy mane, “by all means; I never refuse it.”

(Enter a tray, two lemons, hot water, a silver sugar bowl, and the Islay.)


“Punch,” said Doctor Bushwhacker, “was the chief inspirer of the hearty, homely, natural, vigorous writers of this century. You see how the great Sir Walter used it, sir; there is a touch of ‘mountain dew’ in his tenderest productions, sir; the Heart of Mid-Lothian could never have been written by a cold-water drinker — no, sir; nor was it. I may even go a little further back, to a more unfortunate child of genius — Burns, sir! Robert of Ayrshire loved the barley broo — ‘not wisely, but too well’ — for himself; he was improvident; but then he made posterity rich. (A little more of the Islay; thank you.”)

“Byron, Doctor?”

“Drank gin; that we know pretty well, I believe, my learned friend. There is a touch of juniper in all Byron — a mixture of the bitter and the aromatic.”

“And Coleridge?”

“Coleridge,” said the Doctor, gravely, with a sort of emphatic spill of the hot fluid, “illustrates my theory in a remarkable manner, sir — Coleridge and de Quincey, both. What idea do you have of the Vision of Kubla Khan, and the Suspiria de Profundis, taken together? My learned friend, he begins to dream who is absorbed in the pages of either: the world, yea, the great globe itself, becomes intangible; he is floating away, on a sea of ether, in space more illimitable than human thought could scan before; his vision is dilated, yet undefined; the procession of time sweeps on, measured by centuries; 34 events accumulate with supernatural aggregation; the scenery by which he is surrounded has surpassed sublimity itself, and he listens to the river that runs

   ‘——— through caverns, measureless to man.
Down to a SUNLESS sea.’

“Well, Doctor?”

“OPIUM, sir!” replied the Doctor, with awful solemnity.

“What of Charles Lamb, Doctor?”

“Lamb? Dear Charles, has certainly lisped of hot gin and water in his inimitable letters,” replied the Doctor, “or, as he would say, ‘hot water, with a s-s-s-entiment of gin.’ ”

“That sounds Lambish, Doctor.”

“My learned friend,” replied Dr. Bushwhacker, “I know it; I have got Charles Lamb by heart, sir. By the way, a new anecdote of Elia: he had a friend one night at No. 4 Inner Temple Lane; negus was the potable of he evening, from tenderness to Mary’s feelings, who sometimes shook her sisterly head at the ‘s-s-s-entiment.’ It seems a poor cur dog had attacked the attention of the gentle-hearted Charles that day, and he had invited him in, fed him, and tied him up slightly in the little yard back of the house. Charles was talking in his phosphorescent way over the negus, when Mary interrupted him: ‘Charles, that dog yelps so.’ Elia flashed on. ‘Charles, that dog —’ ‘What i-i--is it, Mary? Oh! the dog? 35 He-he-he-he’s enjoying him-s-s-self.’ ‘Enjoying himself, Charles?’ ‘Ye-ye-yes — as well as he can with ‘whine and water.’”

“Capital story, Doctor. What of the Laureate?”

“In reading Southey,” replied Doctor Bushwhacker, “you feel the want of the rare old vinous smack peculiar to the writings of authors of eminence, sir. I may say the same, too, of Wordsworth. Both were tolerably abstinent; but Southey had his wine-cellar at Greta Hall, and Wordsworth, in celebrating his first visit to the rooms once occupied by Milton at Christ College, was a little overcome, sir, by — a — his visit, sir. Southey, in his personal character, manners, and habits, must have resembled our dear Henry Inman, sir.”

“And Hazlitt?”

“Misanthropic, cynical, Hazlitt, sir, used to drink black tea, sir, of the intensest strength. He is another illustration of my theory, sir.”

“And Keats?”

“Read Keats over, my learned friend; and if you can unlatch the tendrils of the vine from any of his super-exquisite poems, great or small, then sir, I will bury my lancet. What a delicate taste for wine he must have had!”

“And Shelley, Doctor?”

“My dear friend,” said the Doctor, rising, and upsetting his tumbler. “Shelley never understood the human aspect of existence. I fear me he was not a wine-drinker. Suppose we say, or admit he was a solitary exception?”



Notables and Potables=Continued.

“Do you know,” said Dr. Bushwhacker, as he stretched out his full glass to be touched, “how this custom originated? — this ringing of wine-bells or kissing of beakers, sir?”

We replied in the negative.

“Then, sir, I will tell you,” replied the Doctor. “It was the invention of a learned French philosopher, to illustrate the five senses. The beautiful color of wine delights the eye — seeing; the delicate bouquet gratifies the nose — smelling; the cool glass suggests a pleasure to the fingers — feeling; and, sir, by drinking it we gratify exquisitely — the taste. Now, sir, touch glasses for the finest chime in the world, that rings out good fellowship, sir, and we have the fifth sense — hearing.”

“Quite a little poem, Doctor, in five lines.”

“Put it in verse, sir, put it in verse — I give you the idea.”

Apropos, Doctor, I have a German song here, translated by a friend: Let me read it to you. (Editor reads.)


“ ‘DEAR FREDERICUS: A. Walther writ this in “quaint old sounding German.” It is done into English by your friend,



“ ‘Through the gloom of this sad life of ours,
      Three glorious planets still shine,
   Serene from the azure of heaven,
      And men call them Love, Song, and Wine.

“ ‘In the dear voice of love all the passion
      Of a trusting and earnest heart lies;
   And pleasure by love grows immortal,
      While sorrow faints, withers, and dies.

“ ‘Then wine gives a courage to passion,
      Inspires the melodious art,
   And reddens the gold of the sunlight
      That streams o’er the May of the heart,

“ ‘But song is most noble of all these;
      To morals it adds the divine;
   It thrills through our hearts like a passion,
      And glows through our senses like wine.

“ ‘Then quench all the rest of the planets,
      Bid the golden-rayed stars cease to shine;
   We’ll not miss them so long as God leaves us
      Those heart-stars of Love, Song, and Wine.’ ”

“Excellent!” said the Doctor, shaking his bushy head. “By the way, what grand old songs those Rhine songs are! And the vineyards of the Rhine are reflected in the songs as they are in the river. ‘O! the pride of the German heart is this noble River! and right it is; for of the rivers of this beautiful earth, there is none so beautiful as this. There is hardly a league of its whole course, from its cradle in the snowy Alps to its grave in the sands of Holland, which boasts not its peculiar charms. By 38 heavens! if I were a German, I would be proud of it, too; and of the clustering grapes that hang about its temples, as it reels onwards through vineyards in a triumphal march, like Bacchus, crowned and drunken.’ There, sir, what do you think of that?”

“Grand, Doctor, like the triumphant chanting of an organ. Who wrote it?”

“Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sir! Hyperion, sir! Read it over, and get it by heart.”

“The German writers all use the wines of Fatherland, Doctor.”

“Nearly all, from Martin Luther down. I say nearly all — Goethe was an exception. The courtly Goethe used to drink the fine Burgundies and Bordeaux of France. But Schiller, sir, was a Rhine-wine drinker. In fact his writing-table was always supplied with the golden potable of the Rhine. Now, sir, we see between these two men of eminent genius, two separate and distinguishing characteristics. Goethe was different from all other German poets — but Schiller was above all other German poets, including Goethe himself.”


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