Tea Versus Cider Drinking

This is some more from Cecil Torr’s Small Talk at Wreyland:

“cider used always to be made from apples, but I fear that it is very often made of other things now. However, the name does not imply that it is made of apples, but only means that it is strong. and in that sense Wyclif has “wyn and sydie” in Luke, 1. 15, where later versions say “strong drink”. Non-alcoholic cider is a contradiction in terms.

Men can easily get drunk on cider; but they do not suffer for it next day., if they have had pure cider of fermented apple-juice and nothing else. Unhappily, this wholesome drink has given way to other drinks that are less wholesome. A shrewd observer said to me:- “When each man had 3 pints of cider every day, there was not half this bickering and quarrelling that goes on now.” and that, I think, is true. They were always in the genial stage of drunkenness, and seldom had the means of going beyond that. A few, however, very often went beyond; and they have been described to me as “never proper drunk, nor proper sober neither, but always a-muddled and a-mazed. ”

This failing was not confined to Devonshire. My father notes in his diary, 7 August 1847, at Dinan in Brittany:-“The apples thick beyond conception, and the priests already praying to avert the evil consequences they apprehend from the plenty and cheapness of cider.” He writes to my grandmother from Dinan, 15 august 1847:- “The apples are so abundant this year that the country will almost be drowned in cider. How they will consume it all, is a wonder, for they export none. the lower orders are dunk, it seems, a great deal of the time. The priests always pray for a bad apple crop as the only hope of saving people from perpetual drunkenness.”

A former rector of Lustleigh was remonstrating with a man one afternoon for reeling through the village very drunk. But the man had his reply:- “Ay, ‘tbe all very fine for you to talk, but you goes home to dinner late, and us doesn’t see you after.”

On the whole, less harm is done by cider than by tea; but cider gets more blame, as its ill effects are visible at once, whereas tea works its mischief slowly. Nobody says anything against tea drinking now; but Parson Davy in his System of Divinity, vol xix, page 235, which he printed at Lustleigh in 1803, spoke with indignation of “the immeasurable use of that too fashionable and pernicious plant, which weakens the stomach, unbraces the nerves, and drains the very vitals of our national wealth; to which nevertheless our children are as early and as carefully enured, from the very breast, as if the daily use of it were an indispensable duty which they owed to God and their country.” And In his Letter to A Friend Concerning Tea, published in 1748, John Wesley spoke of tea-drinkers speak of drinking alcohol now:- “wasteful, unhealthy, self-indulgence” – “no other than a slow poison” – “abhor it as a deadly poison, and renounce it from this very hour.”


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