1948 The Bon Vivant's Companion by George A Zabriskie (2nd edition)

The BonVivant's Companion


DANIEL WEBSTER Websterwas majesticin his consumptionof liquor as in every thingelse. Parton in his Essay speaks of seeing Webster at a public dinner, "with a bottle of Madeira under his yellowwaistcoat, and looking like Jove." Josiah Quincy describes Webster's grief at the burning of his house because of the loss of half a pipe of Madeira. It is said that Websterwent fishing the day before hewas to deliverhiswelcome to Lafayette, and got drunk. As he sat on the bank, he suddenly drew from the water a large fish, and in his majestic voice said: "Welcome, illustrious stranger, to our shores." The next day his friends who went fishing with him were electrified to hear him begin his speech to Lafayette with the same words. The history of rum and its byproducts—politics, piracy, romance, revolution and the introduction of slavery to North America—is prac tically the history of any West Indian island. Rum is made from molasses, a canesugar product, or directly from the sugar (as in Cuba and SantoDomingo) and is a species of molasses brandy, pure white until it achieves a goldencolor from beingagedin charred barrels, like Scotchwhiskey. In the old days, they used to chuck in bits of rawmeat, old shoe leather, and practically anything else that was handy, to give the rum a richer flavor (this practice, fortunately, has been discon tinued, though in Jamaica, where they like their rum heavy, they still use the old iron pots and the "wild fermentation," long since discon tinued elsewhere). Nobody canbequite sureof the originof the name; the most plausible suggestion is that it derives from the last syllable of the Latinword "saccharum," or sugar, fromwhich the articleismade. In "Treasure Island," you remember, the "seafaring manwith oneleg" was always singing a songbeginning "Fifteen men on the dead man's [35]

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