London, Volume 4

Knight, Charles

1843

LXXVI.-Beer.

LXXVI.-Beer.

 

 

Hogarth blundered when he introduced the brewer's drayman as a type of the

progress of cruelty.

The man is asleep: he would not willingly hurt a fly, to say nothing of a child, but,

much bemused with beer,

he knows not the mischief his wheels are doing. He can scarcely even be accused of carelessness, for how could he expect a,child to be there unguarded? It is the nurse or mother that is to blame. Nobody who has to do with beer is inhumane. Beer cannot make a rogue an honest man--even the ale of Lichfield could not work that miracle upon Boniface-but it mollifies his temper.

I have much to say in behalf of that Falstaff,

and, though scarcely so near akin, we have much to say in behalf of that brewer's drayman. Look at his smock-frock, his hat, his gracefully-curving, ponderous whip: beside the sceptre of an Ulysses or Agamemnon it would show like the pendent birch beside a bare hop-pole, and yet would crush a Thersites more effectually. When cracked in the horses' ears it knells like a piece of artillery. And so accoutred as the brewer's drayman was in the days of Hogarth, so may he still be seen in the streets of London, perched upon or striding beside his stately dray. He is of the unchanged, unchangeable monuments which live on through all transmutations, telling a story of forgotten generations to a race which remembers them not-like the circle of grey stones which beneath a grove of embowering oaks witnessed the inhuman rites of the Druid, and now obstruct the reaper's sickle amid the golden grain-like the little drummer-boys, all so like each other that the man in his grand climacteric could fancy them the same he gazed after in his childhood, and take the elf, at this moment loitering before the guardhouse in , for the identical to whom the

friend of humanity

gave sixpence, and

nice clever books by Tom Paine the philanthropist.

The brewer's dray is worthy of such an ancient pillar of the constitution. Benjamin the Waggoner and his poet are both right eloquent in praise of their

lordly wain.

Nor need it be denied that it had a stately and imposing presence of its own, alike amid the thunder-storm in the mountain gap, or

2

With a milder grace adorning

The landscape of a summer morning,

While Grassmere smoothed its liquid plain

The moving image to detain;

And merry Fairfield, with a chime

Of echoes, to its march kept time,

When little other sound was heard,

And little other bus'ness stirr'd,

In that delightful hour of balm,

Stillness, solitude, and calm.

But every must feel that half of the beauty of the Westmoreland waggon is owing to the associations that cluster around it; whereas the brewer's dray suffices in itself. When the head of the foremost of its colossal horses is seen emerging from of those steep, narrow lanes ascending from the river side to , (sometimes is it there seen, though the coal-waggon has pre-eminence in that locality of dark arches looking like the entrance to the Pit of Acheron,) there is a general pause in the full tide of human life that flows along the thoroughfare. Heavily, as though they would plant themselves into the earth, the huge hoofs, with the redundant locks dependent from the fetlocks circumfused, are set down, clattering and scraping as they slip on the steep ascent; the huge bodies of the steeds, thrown forward, drag upward the load attached to them by their weight alone; in a long chain they form a curve quite across the street, till at last the dray, high-piled with barrels, emerges from the narrow way like a reel issuing from a bottle, and, the strain over, the long line of steeds and the massive structure, beside which the car of Juggernaut might dwindle into insignificance, pass smoothly onwards.

It is no unimportant element of London life that is launched with all this pomp and circumstance into its great thoroughfares. There is a-system organised, by which the contents of these huge emissaries from the reservoirs of the breweries are diverted into a multiplicity of minor pipes and strainers which penetrate and moisten the clay of the whole population. From

morn till dewy eve

the huge, high-piled dray may be seen issuing from the brewery gates to convey barrels to the tap-houses, and -gallon casks, the weekly or fortnightly allowance of private families. At noon and night the pot-boys of the innumerable beer-shops may be seen carrying out the quarts and pints duly received at those hours by families who do not choose to lay in a stock of their own; or the mothers and children of families, to whom the saving of a halfpenny is a matter of some consequence, may be seen repairing with their own jugs to these beer-conduits. You may know when it is noon in any street in London by the circulation of beer-jugs, as surely as you may know when it is A.M. by seeing housekeepers with their everlasting straw reticules and umbrellas. And in addition to these periodical flowings of the fountains must be taken into the account the

bye-drinkings

of carmen, coal-whippers, paviours, &c. at all hours of the day--of artisans at their

dry skittle-grounds,

and of medical students and other

swells

at taverns.

It is not easy to form an estimate of the quantity of beer annually strained through these alembics, but we may venture upon what Sir Thomas Browne would have called

a wide guess.

In the principal brewers in London brewed no less than barrels of beer. The quantity of malt

3

wetted by all the brewers in London in that year was quarters; the quantity wetted by the illustrious , quarters. According to this proportion, the number of barrels of beer brewed in London, in , could not fall far short of . The beer manufactured for exportation and country consumption may be assumed, in the mean time, to have been balanced by the importation of Edinburgh and country ales, and Guinness's stout. In the population of the metropolis was estimated at . This would give, hand over head, an allowance of barrels (or gallons) of beer per annum for every inhabitant of the metropolis-man, woman, and child. This is of course beyond the mark, but perhaps not so much so as would at imagine. At all events, these numbers show that beer is an important article of London consumption: thus corroborating the inference naturally drawn from the high state of perfection to which we find the arrangements for injecting it into all the veins and arteries of the body corporate have been brought.

There is a passage in Franklin's which illustrates the minuter details of the injecting process in his day :--

I drank only water: the other workmen, near

fifty

in number, were great drinkers of beer. ...... We had an alehouse boy, who attended always in the house to supply the workmen. My companion at the press drank every day a pint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast, with his bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about

six

o'clock, and another when he had done with his day's work. I thought it a detestable custom; but it was necessary, he supposed, to drink

strong

beer that he might be

strong

himself. ..... He had

four

or

five shillings

to pay out of his wages every week for that vile liquor.

The pressman whose bibbing feats are here recorded, it must be admitted, rather verged towards excess in his potations: he did not administer the malt in homoeopathic doses; but his lack of moderation conferred no right upon

the water-drinking American

(as the

chapel

christened Franklin) to vilify

the good creature Beer

by the epithet

Vile liquor.

Beer is to the London citizen what the water in the reservoirs of the plain of Lombardy, or the kahvreez of Persia (which is permitted to flow into the runnels of the landowners so many hours per diem), is to the village peasantry of those countries. It is of those commonplaces of life-those daily-expected and daily-enjoyed simple pleasures which give man's life its local colouring. The penning of the sheep in a pastoral country-

the ewe-bughts, Marion

of Scottish song--is poetical, because the bare mention of it calls up all the old accustomed faces, and sayings and doings, that make home delightful. In London it is our beer that stands foremost in the ranks of these suggestions of pleasant thoughts. Therefore it is that a halo dwells around the silver-bright pewter pots of the potboy, and plays, like the lightning of St. John, about the curved and tapering rod of office of the brewer's drayman. Therefore is it that the cry of

Beer!

falls like music on the ear; and therefore it is that in the song of the jolly companion, in the gibe of the theatrical droll, in the slang of him who lives

on the step

(of the 'bus), in the scratching of the caricaturist, the bare mention of beer is at any time a sufficient substitute for wit. It needs but to name it, and we are all on the broad grin.

Beer overflows in almost every volume of Fielding and Smollett. There never

4

was hero who had a more healthy relish for a cool tankard than Tom Jones. There is an incident which all our readers must recollect in the story of Booth's Amelia, that positively elevates brown stout into the region of the pathetic. As for Smollett, the score which Roderick Random and Strap run up with the plausible old schoolmaster, fancying all the while he is teaching them, is perhaps too rural an incident for our present purpose; but the pot of beer with which Strap made up the quarrel with the soldier, after the misadventure which attended his attempt to dive for a dinner, was of genuine London: brewing.

Goldsmith appreciated the capabilities of beer in an artistical point of view: how could the author of Tony Lumpkin fail? He has immortalised it both in prose and verse. The story of the Merry-Andrew out of employment, whom he picked up in the , would have lost great part of its zest had it not been told over

a frothing tankard and a smoking steak.

Who does not feel that the conversation of the imprisoned debtor, porter, and soldier, about an apprehended French invasion, is rendered more pointed by the good malt liquor that takes a part in it?--

For my part,

cries the prisoner,

the greatest of my apprehensions is for our freedom. If the French should conquer, what would become of English liberty? My dear friends, liberty is the Englishman's prerogative; we must preserve that at the expense of our lives; of that the French shall never deprive us. It is not to be expected that men who are slaves themselves would preserve our freedom, should they happen to conquer.

Ay, slaves,

cries the porter,

they are all slaves, fit only to carry burthens, every one of them. Before I would stoop to slavery, may this be my poison,

and he held the goblet in his hand,

may this be my poison-but I would sooner list for a soldier.

The soldier, taking the goblet from his friend, with much awe, fervently cried out,

It is not so much our liberties as our religion that would suffer from such a change: ay, our religion, my lads. May the devil sink me into flames,

such was the solemnity of his adjuration,

if the French should come over, but our religion would be utterly undone.

So saying, instead of a libation, he applied the goblet to his lips, and confirmed his sentiments with a ceremony of most persevering devotion.

And, without the allusion to beer, how dry would have been his description of the region where authors most abound!-

Where the Red Lion, staring o'er the way,

Invites each passing stranger that can pay;

Where Calvert's butt, and Parson's black champagne,

Regale the drabs and bloods of Drury Lane;

There, in a lonely room from bailiffs snug,

The Muse found Scroggen stretch'd beneath a rug.

To a poet of a later day than poor Goldy it was given to sing a royal visitation to a London brewhouse; and as our readers may expect us, while upon this subject, to introduce them to the interior of of these great establishments, they may prefer visiting it while a king is there. The hurry of preparation to receive the illustrious guest was spiritedly sung by the modern Pindar:--

Muse, sing the stir that Mister Whitbread made,

Poor gentleman, most terribly afraid

He should not charm enough his guests divine,

He gave his Maids new aprons, gowns, and smocks;

And, lo! two hundred pounds were spent in frocks

To make the Apprentices and Draymen fine.

Busy as horses in a field of clover,

Dogs, cats, and stools and chairs, were tumbled over,

Amid the Whitbread rout of preparation

To treat the lofty ruler of the nation.

The irreverend manner in which the poet describes the rapidity with which the royal questions were huddled on each other may be passed over. Suffice it to say, that, by the clack of interrogatories,--

Thus was the Brewhouse fill'd with gabbling noise,

While Draymen and the Brewer's Boys

Devour'd the questions that the King did ask:

In different parties were they staring seen,

Wondering to think they saw a King and Queen;

Behind a tub were some, and some behind a cask.

Some Draymen forced themselves (a pretty luncheon!)

Into the mouth of many a gaping puncheon;

And through the bung-hole wink'd, with cunning eye,

To view, and be assured what sort of things

Were Princesses, and Queens, and Kings,

For whose most lofty stations thousands sigh.

And, lo! of all the gaping Puncheon clan,

Few were the mouths that had not got a man.

The picture of Majesty examining

a pump so deep

with an opera-glass of Dollond is good, but we hasten to the

useful knowledge

elicited on the occasion :

Now Mister Whitbread serious did declare,

To make the Majesty of England stare,

That he had butts enough, he knew,

Placed side by side to reach along to Kew.

On which the King with wonder swiftly cried, What, if they reach to Kew, then, side by side, What would they do, what, what, placed end to end? To whom with knitted, calculating brow, The man of beer most solemnly did vow Almost to Windsor that they would extend. On which the King, with wondering mien, Repeated it unto the wondering Queen. On which, quick turning round his halter'd head, The Brewer's horse, with face astonish'd, neigh'd: The Brewer's dog, too, pour'd a note of thunder, Rattled his chain, and wagg'd his tail for wonder. Now did the King for other Beers inquire, For Calvert's, Jordan's, Thrale's entire; And, after talking of their different Beers, Ask'd Whitbread if his Porter equall'd theirs.

The Muse of Painting, at least the Muse of Engraving, was equally assiduous with the Muse of rhythmic words in its attention to--the staple liquor of London. Hogarth has immortalised its domestic, and Gilray its political history. In his engraving of Hogarth has been rapt beyond himself. There is a genuine

tipsy jollity

breathed over all the groups. The key-note is struck by the refreshing draughts of the tailors in the garret; it rises to a higher pitch in the chairmen, of whom wipes his bald head while the other drinks; it becomes exuberant in the lusty blacksmith brandishing the astonished French

6

porter in hand and his pewter-pot in the other ; and it soars to genuine poetic inspiration in the ingenious artist who is painting with such unutterable gusto,

Health to the Barley Mow.

Gilray, under the inspiration of good ale, became classical and allegorical. The Castor and Pollux of his are lusty brewers of his day-incarnations of strong beer. His are bold and grotesque in conception, yet executed in conformity to the severest rules of sculptural grouping. His

Triumph of Quassia

is worthy of Poussin.

This union between beer on the hand and art and literature on the other was not a mere playful fiction of the imagination. The fine spirits of London loved good ale as Burns loved his

bonny Jean,

whom he not only be-rhymed but took unto his wife. It was no mere Platonic flirtation that they kept up with the beer-barrel. The brows of Whitbread were bound with the triple wreath of brewery, the drama, and senatorial oratory; his own brewhouse, , and were rivals in his affections. The names of Thrale and Johnson must go down to posterity together. We have often had occasion to sigh over the poverty of London in the article of genuine popular legends-- brewhouse is among the exceptions. The workmen at Barclay and Perkins's will show you a little apartment in which, according to the tradition of the place, Johnson wrote his dictionary. Now this story has feature of a genuine legend--it sets chronology at defiance. It is no invention of a bookman, but the unsophisticated belief of those who know books less from personal inspection than by report, as something the knowledge of which makes a learned man.

Before Johnson made his acquaintance with the Thrales, men eminent in their way in literature, the belonging to the generation of authors who preceded the Doctor, the other destined to earn his full harvest of praise after the lexicographer had retired upon his pension, shook hands over a cup of good ale. Mandeville and Franklin had a meeting when the former visited London in

7

early life, which is thus noticed by the latter in his Autobiography :--

My pamphlet by some means falling into the hands of

one

Lyons, a surgeon, author of a book entitled;

The Infallibility of Human Judgment,

it occasioned an acquaintance between us: he took great notice of me, called on me often to converse on these subjects, carried me to the Horns, a pale-ale house in--Lane,

Cheapside

, and introduced me to Doctor Mandeville, author of the

Fable of the Bees,

who had a club there, of which he was the soul, being a most facetious, entertaining companion.

It is worthy of remark that Franklin has not a word to say against: the

vile liquor

when it was imbibed by he felt flattered by being introduced to; and it may also be observed in passing, that we are here introduced to the out-spoken sceptics of London, with whom Franklin sympathised as completely in his youth as he did with those of Paris in his advanced years. The former he found in pot-houses. Mandeville was a gentleman, but Chubb and the others always look like the arguers of some cobblers' debating society. The French wits, on the contrary, were men of fashion; and yet it may be doubted whether there were not more nerve and shrewdness in their homely English predecessors. The difference is illustrative of the varied characters of the cities as well as of the individuals.

This

exaletation of ale

scarcely belongs to the very oldest period of our literature. Chaucer gets eloquent at times upon the subject of

a draught of moist and corny ale,

and Skelton has sung its praises; but the dramatists of the Elizabethan age made little account of it.

Our ancestors drank sack, Mrs. Quickly.

Shakspere speaks rather compassionately of that

poor creature small beer.

Nor was it altogether an affectation of being more in their drink: the ale of the olden time must have been at best but a sorry tipple. Hops only came into cultivation in England about ; before that time brewers made a shift with broom, bay-berries, and ivy-berries-sorry enough substitutes. Ale was almost certain to get

eager

before it was ripe. Nor was this all: in the minute and specific directions for brewing which are to be found in Holinshed it may be seen that it was the custom to eke out the malt with a liberal admixture of unmalted oats. From the trial of Beau Fielding, quoted in a former paper, it would appear that an inferior sort of liquor called oat ale was in use in families.

The truth is, that they were only learning to brew drinkable beer in London about the time of Shakspere. It appears from the information collected by Stow that in the year there were about brewers in the City, suburbs, and ,

whereof the

one

-half of them strangers, the other English.

Hops appear to have been grown in great quantities in the vicinity of the Pomeranian Hanse Towns as early as the century, and beer to have been of the staple articles of export from these great trading communities. The circumstance of so many of the London brewers in the century being foreigners seems to point to the conclusion that hops, and persons capable of teaching the right way to use them, had been imported about the same time.

The London Company of Brewers was incorporated, it is true, in , and bore for a time their coat of arms impaled with that of Thomas a Becket. The Company, however, and its trade, do not appear to have emerged

8

into consequence until the confirmation of their charter in , the of Elizabeth. That there had been songs in praise of ale before this time argues nothing for its goodness. The decoction of malt and oats, bittered by ivy berries, must have been much such a mess as the

boosa

of the Upper Nile and the Niger: it made men tipsy, and when tipsy they bestowed exaggerated praises on the cause of their exhilaration. This is the utmost that Chaucer finds to say for

the ale of

Southwark

in his time. The symptoms of his Miller, by which the host saw that he

was dronken of ale,

are those of a man who drinks to get drunk, not because the liquor is palatable. His very gestures show it :

The Miller that for-dronken was all pale,

So that unethes upon his hors he sat,

He n' old avalen neither hood ne hat,

Ne abiden no man for his curtesie,

But in Pilate's vois he gan to crie,

And swore by armes and by blood and bones.

The delicious rapidity and incongruity with which his images crowd upon each other in the prefatory speech he delivers show the state he was in, and, what is more to the purpose, his boasts show that he is proud of his condition:--

Now herkeneth, quoth the Miller, all and some;

But first I make a protestatioun

That I am dronke, I know it my soune.

This is the full amount of the spirited eulogy:--

Back and side go bare, go bare,

Both feet and hand go cold;

But belly, God send thee good ale enough,

Whether it be new or old.

In Elizabeth's day beer was rising in estimation: alarmed by the increase of alehouses, the Lord Mayor, aided by the magistrates of and , suppressed above of them within their jurisdictions in , and the example was followed in and other places round London. It was about this time, or perhaps later, that the saying,

Blessed be her heart, for she brewed good ale,

came up. Launce, in the

Two

Gentlemen of Verona,

speaks of it as quite of recent origin. But as yet beer (the name is said to have come in with hops, to distinguish the improved liquor from the old-fashioned ale) seems to have been chiefly in request with those who could not afford wine. Prince Hal apologises for longing for it; Falstaff never tasted it; it was the most raffish of all his followers, Bardolph, whose meteor nose glared through the alehouse window, undistinguishable from its red lattice blinds.

The years and are the earliest for which we have found any statistics of the beer trade of London. The brewers in brewed among them barrels of beer. This they sent to their customers in open barrels before the process of fermentation was completed; at least it is to the loss occasioned by its being transmitted in that state that, in their answer to a complaint against them made to the Chancellor, they attribute the enormous deficiency of gallon in . In the

twenty

great brewhouses, situate on the Thames side from Milford Stairs in

Fleet Street

till below St.

Catherine's,

brewed yearly the quantity of or brewings of sweet beer or strong beer for exportation to Embden, the Low Countries, Dieppe, &c. The produce of all these brewings might amount, year with another, to barrels. This trade was often interrupted; for as soon as corn began to rise in price, the exporting brewers were complained of as the cause, and a proclamation issued to

restrain from brewing any sweet or strong beer to be transported by casks as merchandise,

or what was called . The apprehensions were probably unfounded, for the foreign beer trade seems to have been little more than a cloak for the smuggling of very different commodities.--A complaint was made to the treasurer of England in , that

There was deceit in the vessels of beer that were transported; that under the name of these passed many barrels stuffed with prohibited goods, as pike-heads, halberd-heads, pistols and match, candles, and soles of shoes of new leather, cut out in pairs of all sizes, and the like, the bungs of the barrels being besmeared with a little yeast, to the hindrance of the Commonwealth and the profit of enemies.

Falstaff made bitter complaints, and swore there was no faith in villanous man, because he found a little lime in his sack: had he been a beer-drinker, how he would have grumbled at such a dainty mixture as is here described! The return barrels were employed in the conveyance of more delicate wares :--

Another deceit that the strangers, foreigners, and others practised with the brewers and their servants was packing up cases and pieces of silk, and delivering them as empty barrels on the brewer's wharf. The brewers straight besmeared them with yeast, and so sent them to the merchants' houses, as barrels of beer for the household, to the hindrance of the Queen's customs.

Some notice was taken, in--the paper on , ancient and modern, of the persecution of the alehouse-keepers under the Long Parliament. Enough was said then to show that ale, as a drink, had become a popular favourite. That the excise imposed upon beer, in , was found worth the continuing, may be taken as a proof that the liquor was improving.

Muddy ale

would have been driven out of the market by such an increase of price. Down to the time of the Revolution, however, although good ale might be met with in wealthy families who could afford the expense of making it-or in corn districts, which, in that age of bad or no roads, enjoyed no facilities for conveying their surplus grain into more sterile districts (which may account for the high terms in which Boniface speaks of his ale in the )-English beer seems to have been rather an indifferent liquor. The ecstacies in which lamb's-wool, and other ways of disguising it, are spoken of, show that it was taken merely for its intoxicating effects, and that its taste required to be disguised. Who would think of spoiling the XXX of Barclay or Goding with foreign admixtures?

An anonymous writer in the

Annual Register for

1760

enables us to trace the progress of the London beer-trade from the Revolution down to the accession of George III. In the beginning of King William's reign, the brewer sold his brown ale for per barrel; and the small beer, which :was made from the same grains, at per barrel. The customers paid for their beer in ready money, and fetched it from the brewhouse themselves. The strong beer was a heavy sweet beer: the small, with reverence be it spoken, was little better than the washings of the tubs, and had about as much of the extract of malt in it as the

10

last cup of tea which an economical housewife pours out to her guests has of the China herb.

A change came over the character of London beer in the reign of Queen Anne, owing to very different causes: the duty imposed upon malt and hops, and taxes, on account of the war with France, on the hand, and the more frequent residence of the gentry in London on the other. The duty on malt exceeding that on hops, the brewers endeavoured at a liquor in which more of the latter should be used. The people, not easily weaned from the sweet clammy drink to which they had been accustomed, drank ale, mixed with the new-fashioned bitter beer, which they got from the victualler. This is the earliest trace our antiquarian researches have enabled us to detect of the very palatable beverage

half-and-half.

The gentry introduced the pale ale, and the pale small beer, which prevailed in the country; and either engaged some of their friends, or some of the London trade, to brew their liquors for them. The pale beers being originally intended for a more affluent and luxurious class, the brewers who engaged in this new branch of the business paid more attention to the condition in which it was delivered, increased their store of casks, and kept them in better order. The pale ale was more expensive than the old London beers: its price was a barrel, while the brown ale was selling at or , and the bitter beer at But the spreading of a taste for the new drink, and the establishment of

pale-ale houses,

such as. that in which Franklin met Mandeville, stimulated the brown beer trade to produce a better article than they had hitherto made.

They began,

says the writer before alluded to,

to hop their mild beer more; and the publican started

three

,

four

, sometimes

six

butts at a time; but so little idea had the brewer or his customer of being at the charge of large stocks of beer, that it gave room to a set of moneyed people to make a trade, by buying these beers from brewers, keeping them some time, and selling them, when stale, to publicans for

25s.

or

26s.

Our tastes but slowly alter or reform: some drank mild beer and stale; others what was then called

three-threads,

at

3d.

a quart, but many used all stale, at

4d.

a pot.

This we may imagine to have been the state of the beer-trade when Sir Harry Quickset, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow, Knt., and company, accompanied Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., to Dick's Coffeehouse :--

Sir Harry called for a mug of ale, and Dyer's Letter. The boy brought the ale in an instant, but said they did not take in the Letter.

No! says Sir Harry. Then take back your mug: we are like, indeed, to have good liquor at this house. . . . . I observed, after a long pause, that the gentlemen did not care to enter upon business till after their morning draught, for which reason I called for a bottle of mum; and finding that had no effect upon them, I ordered a second and a third: after which Sir Harry reached over to me, and told me, in a low voice, that the place was too public for business; but he would call upon me again to-morrow morning at my own lodgings, and bring some more friends with him.

About the year a bright thought, we are told, occurred to the brewers--that they might improve their trade by improving their liquor; at least such is the only meaning we can attach to this oracular passage :--

The brewers conceived there was a mean to be found preferable to any of those extremes, which was, that beer well brewed, from being kept its proper time, becoming mellow,

that is, neither new nor stale, would recommend itself to the public.

The author proceeds:--

This they ventured to sell at

23s.

a barrel, that the victualler might retail at

3d.

a quart. Though it was slow at

first

in making its way, yet, as it certainly was right, in the end the experiment succeeded beyond expectation. The labouring people, porters, &c., found its utility; from whence came its appellation of porter or entire butt. As yet, however, it was far from the perfection in which we have since had it. For many years it was an established maxim in the trade that porter could not be made fine or bright, and

four

or

five

months was deemed the age for it to be drunk at. The improvement of brightness has since been added, by means of more age, better malt, better hops, and the use of isinglass.

Thus auspiciously commenced the high and palmy age of London's beer, which has ever since gone on improving in quality and estimation. Thus commenced the age in which it was to become the favourite beverage of a succession of racy thinkers and learned men, from Mandeville to Dr. Parr and Charles Lamb. Thus commenced the age in which it was to prove a Helicon to a peculiar and unrivalled race of artists and poets in prose and verse--of Hogarth and Fielding, of Smollett, of Goldsmith, of Gilray. Thus commenced an age in which it was to become a word of household love throughout the busy and hearty land of Cockaigne-itself a familiar and cherished friend, known in the playful moods of affection as

porter,

stout,

brown stout,

double stout,

entire,

heavy wet,

lush,

beer,

and all the varieties of X's.

It was beer that kept the race of Brunswick on the throne in the days while

pretenders

were still alive. The

mug-houses

were seminaries of true Protestant and revolution principles. There were the adult adherents of the new dynasty to be found-

their custom ever of an afternoon,

--when their leaders wanted to get up an anti-popery panic and row; and there did the apprentices bold of London imbibe the principles of their seniors, not diluted, but rendered palatable, by the liquid in which they were administered. More anxious and watchful for the interests of the established government than that government itself, they nosed out Jacobite plots before they were concocted, and not unfrequently drubbed the civil and military servants of the powers that were, because their efforts came short of the exorbitant demands of their own beer-blown zeal. Often were the authorities obliged to repel the furious love of these idolaters, lest they should be killed with kindness; and hard knocks seem to have had no effect in rendering them less loving. They were as ardent Hanoverians after a score of them had been knocked on the head for a row as before. They were the mob of the corporations, for the unincorporated mob of London--a much more numerous but less disciplined body-owned a divided allegiance to the prize-fighters and pickpockets on the hand, and to the Jacobites on the other--both parties in general uniting against the heroes of the

mug-houses,

yet unable, with all their superiority of numbers, to make head against them. Gin was the liquor of this less reputable rabble; but gin only gave courage, not thewes and sinews; beer gave both, and therefore the mug-houses triumphed; These are tales of the times of old, for both mug-houses and their frequenters have been long extinct. Their last warlike display was in setting on foot Lord George Gordon's anti-popery riots. Gilray drew upon his antiquarian lore when

12

he portrayed Charles James Fox conciliating the pot-boys of , and his enraptured auditors bellowing

A mug! a mug!

The wonderful magnitude of the great London breweries is a familiar source of wonderment. The stacks of casks that might reach, placed side by side, from London to Eton--the vats in which parties could dine and have dined-the colossal machinery which performs the functions discharged by men and women in the puny brewages of domestic and antique beer-making--the floods of brown stout accumulated in the huge receptacles, large enough to be the reservoirs of the water companies of moderate towns--the coopers, smiths, sign-board painters, and other artisans, who lend to the interiors of the great breweries the appearance of small towns-all these matters are familiar to the flying visitors of London and their home-keeping cousins, who listen with wonderment to their tales of the metropolis. Is any man ignorant of these things?-he may find them written in the thus:--

Sunk in the floor of the tun-room, beneath the rounds, is an oblong tank lined throughout with white Dutch tiles, and intended for the occasional reception of beer. This tank would float a barge of no mean size, being about a hundred feet in length, and twenty in breadth.

On proceeding westward through the brewery from the main entrance, all the buildings which we have yet described are situated at the right hand; but we have now to cross to the southern range, separated from the other by an avenue, over which a large pipe crosses to convey the beer from the rounds to the storevats. These vats are contained in a series of store-rooms, apparently almost interminable: indeed, all that we have hitherto said as to vastness is much exceeded by the array which here meets the eye. On entering the store-buildings, we were struck with the silence which reigned throughout, so different from the bustle of the manufacturing departments. Ranges of buildings, branching out north, south, east, and west, are crammed as full of vats as the circular form of the vessels will permit: some larger than others, but all of such dimensions as to baffle one's common notions of great and small. Sometimes, walking on the earthen floor, we pass immediately under the ranges of vats (for none of them rest on the ground), and might then be said to have a stratum of beer twenty or thirty feet in thickness over our heads; at another, we walk on a platform level with the bottom of the vats; or, by ascending steep ladders, we mount to the top, and obtain a kind of bird's-eye view of these mighty monsters. Without a guide, it would be impossible to tell which way we are trending, through the labyrinth of buildings and lofts, surrounded on all sides by vats. At one small window we caught a glimpse of a churchyard, close without the wall of the storehouse; and, on further examination, we found that the buildings belonging to the brewery, principally the store-rooms, have gradually but completely enclosed a small antique-looking churchyard, or rather burial-ground (for it does not belong to any parochial church). In this spot many of the old hands belonging to the establishment have found their last resting-place, literally surrounded by the buildings in which they were employed when living.

The space occupied as store-rooms may in some measure be judged, when we .state that there are one hundred and fifty vats, the average capacity of each of which, large and small together, is upwards of thirty thousand gallons. The town of Heidelberg, in Germany, has gained a sort of celebrity for possessing a tun of vast dimensions, capable of holding seven hundred hogsheads of wine; but there are several vats among those here mentioned, in each of which the Heidelberg tun would have ample verge and space to swim about. Subjoined is a sketch of one of these large vats, each of which contains about three thousand barrels, of thirty-six gallons each, and weighs, when full of porter, about five hundred tons.

With other matters to a similar purport.

In Murray's edition of the curious reader will find an estimate of the immense profits which have been made by brewers; and from the records of the Bankruptcy Court he will learn with what ease and in how short a time large fortunes have been sunk in that branch of business. Generally speaking, however, brewers appear, like their horses and draymen, to be a substantial race. They belong, many of them, to the old city families: the names of the leading brewers at the beginning of the reign of George III. are, in not a few instances, the names of the leading brewers of our own day; and in some cases the

company

is, properly speaking, the same, though the names have been changed. The increase of brewers has kept pace with London's increase in other respects. The brewhouses of the reign of Elizabeth had become about in -, and upwards of in . The number of barrels of beer brewed by the principal brewers in London was- in ; in ; and in .

The genuine London beer (although we learn from the that there are only brewers in London-Reid, Meux, and Courage--who do not brew pale ale, and that there are a few who brew nothing else) is the brown stout. It is the perfection--the ideal of the

berry-brown ale

and the

nut-brown ale

of the old songs. It is what the poet of those antediluvian days fancied, or a

14

lucky accident enabled their brewers at times to approach. No disparagement to the pale and amber ales, infinite in name as in variety; to the delicious Winchester; to the Burton, which, like Sancho's sleep,

wraps

one

all round like a blanket;

to Hodgson's pale India ale, so grateful at tiffin when the thermometer is upwards of , and the monotonousness-creating punkah pours only a stream of heated air on the guests; to the Edinburgh (we mean the Edinburgh as it is to be had in London[n.14.1] ) ;

London particular

is the perfection of malt liquor. As Horace says of Jupiter, there is nothing

similar or

second

to it

--not even among liquors of its own complexion. Guinness is a respectable enough drink, but we must say that the ascendancy it has gained in many coffee-houses and taverns of London is anything but creditable to the taste of their frequenters. Its sub-acidity and soda-water briskness, when compared with the balmy character of London bottled stout from a crack brewery, are like the strained and shallow efforts of a professed joker compared with the unctuous, full-bodied wit of Shakspere. As for the mum of Brunswick, which enjoys a traditional reputation on this side of the water, because it has. had the good luck to be shut out by high duties, and has thus escaped detection, it is a villainous compound, somewhat of the colour and consistence of tar--a thing to be eaten with a knife and fork. We will be judged by any man who knows what good liquor is-by a jury selected from the musical amateurs of the

Coal-hole,

the penny-a-liners who frequent the

Cock

near , and the more sedate but not less judicious tasters who dine or lunch daily at

Campbell's

in Pope's Head Alley. Should it be objected that such a tribunal, composed exclusively of Londoners, might be suspected of partiality, let it be a jury half composed of foreigners--Lübeck, Goslar in Saxony, and any town in Bavaria can furnish competent persons to decide such a question. The German students are in general (at least in the north) devout beer-drinkers, but they are of the class who love

not wisely but too well

--they drink without discrimination. It is among the of Germany that you must look for connoisseurs in beer.

But the favour in which London beer stands in so many and various regions of the earth may be received as the verdict of a grand jury of nations in its favour. Byron sings-

Sublime tobacco, that from East to West

Cheers the tar's labours and the Turkman's rest ;

and he might have added that wherever tobacco is known and appreciated, there too have the merits of London porter been acknowledged. The learned Meibomius, [n.14.2]  who, in a Latin quarto, has dilated upon the subject of

beer, tipple, and all other intoxicating liquors except wine,

with the completeness and minuteness of a true German naturalist, and with that placid seriousness which might make what he says pass for a joke if there were only wit in it, or for

15

learning if it contained anything worth knowing, has judiciously remarked that smoke-drinking and beer-drinking are natural and necessary complements of each other. The mucilaginous properties of the beer are required to neutralise the narcotic adustness of the Nicotian weed; and London beer, being the perfection of its kind, naturally takes the lead of all other kinds of beer. Accordingly we find it not only on the shores of the Baltic, where the habit of swilling their own indigenous malt liquors might be understood to have predisposed the natives to its use, but under tropical skies, and among the disciples of the great teetotaller, Mahomet.

On the Nile and Niger, as has above been hinted, this is not so astonishing. There the natives had already a kind of beer of their own; and where once a taste for malt has taken root, it would take a cleverer fellow than Mahomet to eradicate it. Burckhardt, in his Nubian travels, gives us a tolerable notion of how vainly the Faquirs and Santons preach against indulgence in boosa; and the last letter from poor Anderson, the only of Park's European companions who survived to perish with his leader, boasts of having got drunk upon boosa with a Moor, and licked his boon companion in his cups. That people accustomed to put up with bad liquor should take kindly to good when it came within their reach is quite natural.

It is among the Osmanli, and the Arabs, and the multiform sects of Hindustan, that we are to look for the real triumph of London beer. In the country last mentioned it is true the high-hopped pale ale of Hodgson, Bass, and others famous in that line, appears to be in greater demand; yet the genuine brown stout will be found in a respectable minority. Probably, too, a minute examination would show that it is only at the tiffins of the Europeans that Hodgson's beer is most run upon, and that the dusky natives do more affect the generous liquor that comes nearer to their own complexion. In the tropical climates of the West, among the fiery aristocracy of Barbadoes, the shrewd hard-headed book-keepers of Jamaica, the alternate votaries of the gaming-table and the languishing Quadroons of New Orleans, bottled porter reigns supreme.

Pale ale is a favourite of long-standing in India. It and the darker kinds of beer crept into Arabia, through the English merchants trading to the Red Sea, at least as early as the time of Niebuhr. That traveller saw a serious elderly Mussulman tipple down repeated glasses of Mr. Scott's beer; gravely remarking

that Mahomet had only forbidden drinking to intoxication, but that as the vulgar did not know when to hold their hands, it was necessary to make them take the total abstinence pledge; that he, it might appear to his respected entertainers, although a learned man, and an aged man to boot, drained no moderate draughts of their beer, but that he did so solely because he knew that it did not intoxicate.

The Scheich must either have been a notorious old humbug, or profoundly simple, to say of good London beer that it did not intoxicate.

The Turks, of whom Dr. Clarke tells us in his voyages about the Dardanelles and Egypt, were scarcely more candid, but considerably more ingenious. After the French had been driven out of Egypt, a British trading vessel, which had been fitted out to Alexandria by a speculative dealer in beer counting upon the thirst of a British army in a hot climate, arrived just too late for the market it had counted upon. This was a black look-out for the poor fellow who united in

16

his person the responsibilities of skipper and supercargo; but by good luck there were then, as now (though not to the same extent), some of those questionable characters called antiquaries and the like prowling about Egypt, who were on a convivial footing with some of the laxer sort of Turks. The Osmanli tasted the porter at the houses of their Frank friends, and, rather liking it, were not slow to discover that Mahomet could not possibly have prohibited a liquor of which he had never heard, and, without effecting, like Niebuhr's friend, to believe that it did not intoxicate, drank copiously. The skipper found the Turks better customers than the Franks; and we believe the sale of the article has continued to increase both at Alexandria and Constantinople.

Porter-drinking needs but a beginning; wherever the habit has once been acquired it is sure to be kept up. London is a name pretty widely known in the world: some nations know it for thing, and some for another. In the regions of the East India Company, where missionary exertions are not much favoured, it is known as the residence of

Company Sahib ;

in the islands of ocean it is known as the place whence the missionaries come; the natives of New Holland naturally regard it as a great manufactory of thieves the inhabitants of Spanish America once looked upon it as the mother of pirates. But all nations know that London is the place where porter was invented; and Jews, Turks, Germans, Negroes, Persians, Chinese, New Zealanders, Esquimaux, Copper Indians, Yankees, and Spanish Americans, are united in feeling of respect for the native city of the most universally favourite liquor the world has ever known.

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[n.14.1] Good Edinburgh ale must be allowed time to ripen into excellence. When bottled, it ought to be cloyingly sweet, and so glutinous that when some is poured upon the palm, and the hand held closed for five minutes, immersion in warm water is required before it can be opened again. After bottling, the ale ought to stand five years in a cool dry cellar, and four months near a Dutch oven in frequent use. It is then at its best; but even then it is more like a liqueur to be sipped than a liquor to be drunk.

[n.14.2] Joan. Henrici Meibomii de Cervisiis Potibusque et Ebriaminibus extra Vinum aliis Commentarius: Helmestadii, 1668. 4to.