The ninth of September, 2011: breeding salamanders

As a heavy weekend hoves monstrously into view, I am going to launch a pre-emptive jinx or hex on the inevitable Sunday-morning unpleasantness.

This is from 1700, the pre-dawn of the Geneva Age (also known as the 18th-century gin craze). It describes a gin hangover.

His stomach doesn’t concoct, but bake his food,

His liver even vitrefies his blood;

His trembling hand scarce heaves his liquor in,

His nerves all crackle under parchment’s skin;

His guts from nature’s drudgery are freed,

And in his bowels salamanders breed.

That may be my favourite last line in all English poetry. That’s from an anonymous ‘Satyr Upon Brandy’ (‘brandy’ then being a catch-all term for spirituous distillations), quoted in Patrick Dillon’s excellent Gin: The Much-lamented Death of Madam Geneva (Justin, Charles & Co, 2003).

Bottoms up.



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