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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

Thus toast being urged after toast


the ancients beforementioned, if any of the persons present were found deficient in drinking their proper portions, they were ordered by the president either to drink them or to leave the room. This usage has been a little altered by the moderns. They do not order those persons to leave the company, who do not comply with the same rules of drinking as the rest, but they subject them to be fined, as it is termed, that is, they oblige them to drink double portions for their deficiency, or punish them in some other manner.

From hence it will be obvious that the laws of drinking are of heathen origin; that is, the custom of drinking toasts originated, as the Quakers contend, with men of heathen minds and affections for a sensual purpose; and it is therefore a custom, they believe; which men of christian minds and affections should never follow.

The Quakers have rejected the custom again, because they consider it to be inconsistent with their christian character in other respects. They consider it as morally injurious; for toasts frequently excite and promote indelicate ideas, and thus sometimes interrupt the innocence of conversation.

They consider it as morally injurious again, because the drinking of toasts has a direct tendency to promote drunkenness.

They, who have been much in company, must have had repeated opportunities of witnessing, that

this idea of the Quakers is founded in truth, men are undoubtedly stimulated to drink more than they like, and to become intoxicated in consequence of the use of toasts. If a man has no objection to drink toasts at all, he must drink that which the master of the house proposes, and it is usual in this case to fill a bumper. Respect to his host is considered as demanding this. Thus one full glass is secured to him at the outset. He must also drink a bumper to the king, another to church and state, and another to the army and navy. He would, in many companies, be thought hostile to government, if, in the habit of drinking toasts, he were to refuse to drink these, or to honour these in the same manner. Thus three additional glasses are entailed upon him. He must also drink a bumper to his own toast. He would be thought to dishonour the person, whose health he had given, if he were to fail in this. Thus a fifth glass is added to his share. He must fill a little besides to every other toast, or he is considered as deficient in respect to the person, who has proposed it. Thus many additional glasses are forced upon him. By this time the wine begins to act, when new toasts, of a new nature assail his ear, and he is stimulated to new potions. There are many toasts of so patriotic, and others of so generous and convivial a nature that a man is looked upon as disaffected, or as devoid of sentiment, who refuses them. Add to this, that there is a sort of shame, which the young and generous in particular feel in being outdone, and in not keeping pace with the rest, on such occasions. Thus toast being urged after toast, and shame acting upon shame, a variety of causes conspires at the same moment to drive him on, till the liquor at length overcomes him and he falls eventually a victim to its power.

It will be manifest from this account that the laws of drinking, by which the necessity of drinking a certain number of toasts is enjoined, by which bumpers are attached to certain classes of toasts, by which a stigma is affixed to a non-compliance with the terms, by which in fact a regular system of etiquette is established, cannot but lead, except a man is uncommonly resolute or particularly on his guard, to intoxication. We see indeed instances of men drinking glass after glass, because stimulated in this manner, even against their own inclination, nay even against the determination they had made before they went into company, till they have made themselves quite drunk. But had there been no laws of drinking, or no toasts, we cannot see any reason why the same persons should not have returned sober to their respective homes.

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