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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

No toast can better coincide than this


They

have rejected it first, because, however desirable it may be that Christians should follow the best customs of the heathens, it would be a reproach to them to follow the worst. Or, in other words, it would be improper for men, whose religion required spirituality of thought and feeling, to imitate the heathens in the manner of their enjoyment of sensual pleasures. The laws and customs of drinking, the Quakers observe, are all of heathen origin. The similitude between these and those of modern tunes is too remarkable to be overlooked; and too striking not to warrant them in concluding, that christens have taken their model on this subject from Pagan practice.

In every Grecian family, where company was invited, the master of it was considered to be the king or president of the feast, in his own house. He was usually denominated the eye of the company. It was one of his offices to look about and to see that his guests drank their proper portions of the wine. It was another to keep peace and harmony among them. For these purposes his word was law. At entertainments at the public expence the same office existed, but the person, then appointed to it, was nominated either by lot, or by the votes of the persons present.--This custom obtains among the moderns. The master of every family at the present day presides at his own table for the same purposes. And at great and public dinners at taverns, a similar officer is appointed, who is generally chosen

by the committee, who first meet for the proposal of the feast.

One of the first toasts, that were usually drank among the ancient Greeks, was to the "gods." This entirely corresponds with the modern idea of church; and if the government had been only coupled with the gods in these ancient times, it would have precisely answered to the modern toast of church and state.

It was also usual at the entertainments, given by Grecian families, to drink the prosperity of those persons, for whom they entertained a friendship, but who happened to be absent. No toast can better coincide than this, with that, which is so frequently given, of our absent friends.

It was also a Grecian practice for each of the guests to name his particular friend, and sometimes also his particular mistress. The moderns have also a parallel for this. Every person gives (to use the common phrase) his gentleman, and his lady, in his turn.

It is well known to have been the usage of the ancient Greeks, at their entertainments, either to fill or to have had their cups filled for them to the brim. The moderns do precisely the same thing. Glasses so filled, have the particular name of bumpers: and however vigilantly an ancient Greek might have looked after his guests, and made them drink their glasses filled in this manner, the presidents of modern times are equally vigilant in enforcing adherence to the same custom.

It was an ancient practice also with the same people to drink three glasses when the graces, and nine when the muses were named: and three and three times three were drank on particular occasions. This barbarous practice has fortunately not come down to the moderns to its full extent, but they have retained the remembrance of it, and celebrated it in part, by following up their toasts, on any extraordinary occasion, not with three or nine glasses of wine, but with three or nine cheers.


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