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In Braithwait's Law of Drinking, 1617, I find the following passage, p. 9: “These cups proceed either in order or out of order. In order, when no person transgresseth or drinkes out of course, but the cup goes round according to their manner of sitting ; and this we call an health cup, because in our wishing or confirming of any one's health, bare-headed and standing, it is performed by all the company. It is drunke without order, when the course or method of order is not observed, and that the cup passeth on to whomsoever we shall appoint.” Ibid. p. 23 : “Some joyne two cups one upon another, and drink them together.' In the preface, keeping a public-house is called “the known trade of the ivy bush, or red lettice.

In Ward's Woe to Drunkards, 1636, p. 553, we read : “Abandon that foolish and vicious custome, as Ambrose and Basil call it, of drinking healths, and making that a sacrifice to God for the health of others, which is rather a sacrifice to the devill, and a bane of their owne.

It appears from the same work, p. 543, that it was a custom to drink healths at that time upon their bare knees. The author is speaking of pot-wits and spirits of the buttery, "who never bared their knees to drinke healthes, nor ever needed to wbet their wits with wine, or arme their courage with pot-harnesse.”]

In Shakerley Marmion's Antiquary, act iv., is the following passage : Why they are as jovial as twenty beggars, drink their whole cups, sixe glasses at a health.Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 67, has some curious remarks on the manner of drinking healths in England in his time.

to have been intoxicated with the fumes of a most fanatical spirit, and whom the three Anticyræ could not, it should seem, have reduced to a state of mental sobriety, concludes his Address to the Christian Reader thus: “The unfeigned well-wisher of thy spiritual and corporal, though the oppugner of thy pocular and pot-emptying health, William Prynne."

Whence can the following custom of health-drinking have taken its rise? In a Journey from London to Scarborough, 1734, p. 4, speaking of Ware, the writer says: “ The great bed here merits not half its fame, having only given rise to a fine allusion in the Recruiting Officer, of its being less than the bed of honour, where thousands may lie without touching one another. It is kept at the Old Crown Inn, and will hold a dozen people, heads and tails. They have a ceremony at showing it of drinking a small can of beer, and repeating some health, which I have already forgot."

In the Tatler, vol. i. No. 24, is an account of the origin of the word toast in its present sense, stating that it had its rise from an accident at Bath in the reign of Charles the Second. “It happened that on a public day a celebrated beauty of those times was in the Cross Bath, and one of the crowd of her admirers took a glass of the water in which the fair one stood, and drank her health to the company. There was in the place a gay fellow, half fuddled, who offered to jump in, and swore though he liked not the liquor, he would have the toast. He was opposed in his resolution ; yet this whim gave foundation to the present honour which is done to the lady we mention in our liquor, who has ever since been called a toast."! Though unable to controvert this account, I am by no means satisfied with it. The wit here is likelier to have been a consequence than the cause of this singular use of the word, and puts me in mind of the wellknown reply of a Mr. Brown (it is in some jest-book), who, on having it observed to him that he had given a certain young lady a long while for a toast, answered, “ Yes, but I have not been able to toast her brown yet.

In the Cheimonopegnion, or a Winter Song, by Raphael Thorius, newly translated, 1651 (at the end of the Hymnus Tabaci of the same date), the following passages occur :

“ Cast wood upon the fire, thy loyns gird round
With warmer clothes, and let the tosts abound

In close array, embatteld on the hearth."
So again, at p. 7:

“ And tell their hard adventures by the fire,
While their friends hear, and hear, and more desire,
And all the time the crackling chesnuts roast,

And each man hath his cup, and each his toast.From these passages it should seem to appear that the saying Who gives a toast ?is synonymous with “ Whose turn

| When the lady in Hudibras, II. i. 855, is endeavouring to persuade her lover to whip himself for her sake, she uses the following words, which intimate a different origin for the custom of toasting :

“ It is an easier way to make

Love by, than that which many take.
Who would not rather suffer whipping
Than swallow toasts of bits of ribbin ?"

is it to take up

cup and

propose a health ?” It was the practice to put toast into ale with nutmeg and sugar.

This appears from a very curious pamphlet entitled Wine, Beere, Ale, and Tobacco, contending for superiority, a dialogue, 1658. It is among Garrick's Old Plays, now in the British Museum, and has a frontispiece representing three women and a man playing with three dice. The first edition appeared in 1630. In the interlude of Like will to Like, quoth the Devill to the Collier, is a song beginning

“Troll the bole, and drink to me, and troll the bole again-a,

And put a browne tost in the pot, for Philip Flemming's brain.a." The word tost occurs in Wyther's Abuses stript and whipt, 1613, p. 174:

“Will he will drinke, yet but a draught at most,

That must be spiced with a nut-browne tost.In drinking toasts the ladies have a modest custom of excusing themselves, thus elegantly described by Goldsmith in his Deserted Village :

“Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,

Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.” In the Canting Vocabulary, “Who tosts now ?” is rendered “Who christens the health ?” and “an old tostis explained to mean “a pert pleasant old fellow.” The following passage shows plainly the etymology of toss-pot; it is extracted from the Schoolmaster, or Teacher of Table Philosophie, 1583, iv. 35, “Of merry jests of preaching friers : A certaine frier tossing the pot, and drinking very often at the table was reprehended by the priour,”' &c. I find the following anagram on a toast in the New Help to Discourse, 1684, 261 : “TOAST, anagram A SOTT. Exposition :

"A toast is like a sot; or, what is most

Comparative, a sot is like a toast ;
For when their substances in liquor sink,

Both properly are said to be in drink." Brown, Bishop of Cork, being a violent Tory, wrote a book to prove that drinking memories was a species of idolatry, in order to abolish a custom then prevalent among the Whigs of Ireland of drinking the glorious memory of King William the Third. But instead of cooling, he only inflamed the rage for

the toast, to which they afterwards tacked the following rider: “ And a f*** for the Bishop of Cork.” See the Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 421. The bishop's work was entitled Of Drinking in Remembrance of the Dead, 1715, where, in p. 54, he asserts that “an health is no other than a liquid sacrifice in the constant sense and practice of the heathen." And at p. 97, he tells us of a curious “return given by the great Lord Bacon to such as pressed him to drink the king's health ;" namely, that “he would drink for his own health, and pray for the king's.”

In the account of Edinburgh, vi. 617, of the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, after the mention of a weekly concert, 1763, 1783, and 1791-2, we read : “ The barbarous custom of saving the ladies (as it was called) after St. Cecilia's concert, by gentlemen drinking immoderately to save a favourite lady, as his toast, has been for some years given up. Indeed they got no thanks for their absurdity."


GROSE has defined this odd word to signify “good liquor, of which there is not even a drop left sufficient to wet one's nail.” To drink supernaculum was an ancient custom not only in England, but also in several other parts of Europe, of emptying the cup or glass, and then pouring the drop or two that remained at the bottom upon the person's nail that drank it, to show that he was no flincher.1

Among Ray's Proverbial Sayings, belonging to drink and drinking, occurs the following : "Make a pearl on your nail." Proverbs, 1768, p. 69. Tom Brown, in his Letters from the Dead to the Living, ii. 178, mentions a parson who had forgot even to drink over his right thumb. This must allude to some drinking custom which is now forgotten. In the British Apollo, 1708, No. 20, is the following query :

1 I have a little pleasant dissertation in Latin, entitled De Supernaculo Anglorum, 4to. Lips. 1746. In page 8 is the following passage: "Est autem Anglis supernaculum ritus in conviviis circulatim ita bibendi ut poculo exhausto, ac super unguem excusso, residuoque delincto, ne guttulam quidem superesse, compotoribus demonstretur.” In the same work, p. 6, is given the etymology of the word : “ Est autem illud vox hybrida, ex Latina præpositione 'super' et Germano 'nagel' (a nail) composita, qui mos, nova vocabula fingendi Anglis potissimum usitatus est, vocemque supernaculi apud eosdem produxit.”

" Q. Say whence, great Apollo,

The custom we follow,
When drinking brisk liquors per bumper,

In a circular pass,

We quaffe e'ry glass :
And why is it o'er the left thumb, sir ?
" A. When mortals with wine,

Make their faces to shine,
'Tis to look like Apollo in luster ;

And, circulatory,

To follow his glory,

Which over the left thumb they must, sir." In the Winchester Wedding, a popular ballad, preserved in Ritson's Ancient Songs, 1792, p. 297, is another allusion to supernaculum :

" Then Phillip began her health,

And turn'd a beer-glass on his thumb;
But Jenkin was reckon'd for drinking

The best in Christendom.”


I Know nothing of the meaning of this word. I have been told that it is a college expression, and contains a threat, in the way of pleasantry, to black the person's face with a burnt cork, should he flinch or fail to empty the bottle. Possibly it may have been derived from the German “buzzen,” sordes auferre, q. d. “Off with the lees at bottom.”

Grose explains this as signifying to challenge a person to pour out all the wine in the bottle into his glass, undertaking

· Bingham, as cited by Bourne, chap. xviii, has a quotation from St. Austin, on Superstitious Observations, among which, he says : “You are told in a fit of convulsions or shortness of breath, to hold your left thumb with your right hand.

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