Wednesday’s ad is for “Miller Lite,” from 1979. This ad was made for the Miller Brewing Co., and was part of their long-running “Tastes Great!…Less Filling!” advertising campaign. It was created in 1973 by the McCann-Erickson Worldwide ad agency and was ranked by Advertising Age magazine as the eighth best advertising campaign in history. They were primarily television commercials but they did create print ads to support the TV spots. They began with a trend of using former athletes along with a few notable celebrities that continued throughout the campaign. This one features American actor and police detective Eddie “Popeye” Egan, whose famous case was chronicled in a 1969 book, The French Connection, by Robin Moore, which used his actual nickname for title character, Popeye Doyle.
Tuesday’s ad is for “Miller Lite,” from 1981. This ad was made for the Miller Brewing Co., and was part of their long-running “Tastes Great!…Less Filling!” advertising campaign. It was created in 1973 by the McCann-Erickson Worldwide ad agency and was ranked by Advertising Age magazine as the eighth best advertising campaign in history. They were primarily television commercials but they did create print ads to support the TV spots. They began with a trend of using former athletes along with a few notable celebrities that continued throughout the campaign. This one features American crime novelist Mickey Spillane, whose stories often featured his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. As it happens, today is Spillane’s birthday.
Today is the birthday of Ludwig Thoma (January 21, 1867-August 26, 1921). If his name is not familiar to you, that’s not a surprise. He was a German author, publisher and editor, who gained popularity through his partially exaggerated description of everyday Bavarian life,” but he’s largely unknown outside of his native Germany.
One of his best-known works is Der Münchner im Himmel (or The Municher in Heaven), which in 1962 was made into a short animated cartoon directed by Walter Reiner for BR, the German equivalent of PBS. And it was based on Ludwig Thoma’s story of the same name.
Here’s a description of the story, translated by Google, so you can make sense of the cartoon since it’s in German:
Alois Hingerl, clerk no. 172 from Munich Central Station, goes to heaven. Peter reveals to him the heavenly house rules: “Rejoice and sing Hallelujah”. The “Angel Aloisius” is not particularly impressed by this, especially since he is supposed to get “heavenly manna” instead of the Munich beer. Angry, he sits down on a cloud to rejoice and sing hallelujah. It sounds like the hair of the heavenly ones stand on end. The good Lord has an understanding and instructs Aloisius to convey the divine inspirations to the Bavarian government. He also sends it to Munich with a corresponding letter. When the “Angel Aloisius” steps back on Munich soil, and when he finally – following an old custom – ends up in the Hofbräuhaus again, he forgets the divine mandate and the Bavarian State Government with a “Maß” and another Maß …
The short story is about Alois Hingerl, clerk number 172 at Munich Central Station . This one does a job with such a hurry that he from the blow falls taken to the ground and dies. Two angels drag him laboriously to heaven , where he is given his otherworldly name “Angel Aloisius” by Peter , a harp and a cloud on which, according to the “heavenly house rules”, he is to rejoice and sing Hosanna according to a fixed schedule . When he asked when he would finally get something to drink, Peter replied to Aloisius with the words: “You will get your manna.”
In view of the prospect of manna instead of the beer he loves, Aloisius suspects something bad, at the same time there will be fights with a heavenly red shandy angel, his hated competition on earth. Frustrated, he begins to rejoice on his cloud. When a “spiritualized angel” flying past answers his request for “am Schmaizla” (a pinch of snuff ) with an incomprehensible, lisped “Hosanna!”, His anger rises, whereupon Aloisius begins to rant and curse, which also changes in his way rejoicing is reflected. Through his scolding, cursing and loud rejoicing (“ Ha-ha-lä-lä-lu-u-uh – – Himmi Lord God – Erdäpfi – Saggerament – – lu – uuu – iah!“) God becomes aware of him. After a brief appraisal of the delinquent and consultation with Peter, he comes after the words “Aha! A Munich resident! ”To the conclusion that Aloisius is of no use for heaven. That is why he has a different task: He is supposed to convey divine advice to the Bavarian government (in the original from Thoma the Bavarian State Minister of the Interior for Church and School Affairs Anton von Wehner ); as a result, the Munich resident comes to Munich a few times a week and the dear soul has its peace.
Alois is very happy about this assignment, takes divine advice and flies away. As usual, he first goes to the Hofbräuhaus with his message , where he orders one beer after the other, then forgets his order and sits there to this day. Meanwhile, the Bavarian government (or the Bavarian Minister of Education) is still waiting for divine advice (or divine inspiration).
Below are some images of Aloisius from various sources. As far as I can tell, he remains a well-known literary figure throughout Germany.
The Pennsylvania Gazette “was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728, before the time period of the American Revolution, until 1800.” In 1729, Benjamin Franklin, and a partner (Hugh Meredith), bought the paper. “Franklin not only printed the paper but also often contributed pieces to the paper under aliases. His newspaper soon became the most successful in the colonies.”
On July 19, 1733, they published a piece entitled “A Meditation on a Quart Mugg.” It was generally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and for years was published among collections of his writings. However, the current editors of the National Archives are not convinced that it was indeed written by Franklin, and “believe that the essay is not sufficiently characteristic of Franklin’s style to be attributed to him.” Plus, apparently “no external evidence of authorship has been found.” Despite the uncertainty of who wrote it, it remain an interesting, if odd, piece written from the point of view of the mug. It has held beer, among much else, but had more feelings and experienced more humiliations and bad treatment than I had ever thought about before. I must remember to thank my glassware for its service on a more regular basis.
A Meditation on a Quart Mugg
Wretched, miserable, and unhappy Mug! I pity thy luckless Lot, I commiserate thy Misfortunes, thy Griefs fill me with Compassion, and because of thee are Tears made frequently to burst from my Eyes.
How often have I seen him compell’d to hold up his Handle at the Bar, for no other Crime than that of being empty; then snatch’d away by a surly Officer, and plung’d suddenly into a Tub of cold Water: Sad Spectacle, and Emblem of human Penury, oppress’d by arbitrary Power! How often is he hurry’d down into a dismal Vault, sent up fully laden in a cold Sweat, and by a rude Hand thrust into the Fire! How often have I seen it obliged to undergo the Indignities of a dirty Wench; to have melting Candles dropt on its naked Sides, and sometimes in its Mouth, to risque being broken into a thousand Pieces, for Actions which itself was not guilty of! How often is he forced into the Company of boisterous Sots, who say all their Nonsence, Noise, profane Swearing, Cursing, and Quarreling, on the harmless Mug, which speaks not a Word! They overset him, maim him, and sometimes turn him to Arms offensive or defensive, as they please; when of himself he would not be of either Party, but would as willingly stand still. Alas! what Power, or Place, is provided, where this poor Mug, this unpitied Slave, can have Redress of his Wrongs and Sufferings? Or where shall he have a Word of Praise bestow’d on him for his Well-doings, and faithful Services? If he prove of a large size, his Owner curses him, and says he will devour more than he’ll earn: If his Size be small, those whom his Master appoints him to serve will curse him as much, and perhaps threaten him with the Inquisition of the Standard. Poor Mug, unfortunate is thy Condition! Of thy self thou wouldst do no Harm, but much Harm is done with thee! Thou art accused of many Mischiefs; thou art said to administer Drunkenness, Poison, and broken Heads: But none praise thee for the good Things thou yieldest! Shouldest thou produce double Beer, nappy Ale, stallcop Cyder, or Cyder mull’d, fine Punch, or cordial Tiff; yet for all these shouldst thou not be prais’d, but the rich Liquors themselves, which tho’ within thee, twill be said to be foreign to thee! And yet, so unhappy is thy Destiny, thou must bear all their Faults and Abominations! Hast thou been industriously serving thy Employers with Tiff or Punch, and instantly they dispatch thee for Cyder, then must thou be abused for smelling of Rum. Hast thou been steaming their Noses gratefully, with mull’d Cyder or butter’d Ale, and then offerest to refresh their Palates with the best of Beer, they will curse thee for thy Greasiness. And how, alas! can thy Service be rendered more tolerable to thee? If thou submittest thy self to a Scouring in the Kitchen, what must thou undergo from sharp Sand, hot Ashes, and a coarse Dishclout; besides the Danger of having thy Lips rudely torn, thy Countenance disfigured, thy Arms dismantled, and thy whole Frame shatter’d, with violent Concussions in an Iron Pot or Brass Kettle! And yet, O Mug! if these Dangers thou escapest, with little Injury, thou must at last untimely fall, be broken to Pieces, and cast away, never more to be recollected and form’d into a Quart Mug. Whether by the Fire, or in a Battle, or choak’d with a Dishclout, or by a Stroke against a Stone, thy Dissolution happens; ’tis all alike to thy avaritious Owner; he grieves not for thee, but for the Shilling with which he purchased thee! If thy Bottom-Part should chance to survive, it may be preserv’d to hold Bits of Candles, or Blacking for Shoes, or Salve for kibed Heels; but all thy other Members will be for ever buried in some miry Hole; or less carefully disposed of, so that little Children, who have not yet arrived to Acts of Cruelty, may gather them up to furnish out their Baby-Houses: Or, being cast upon the Dunghill, they will therewith be carted into Meadow Grounds; where, being spread abroad and discovered, they must be thrown to the Heap of Stones, Bones, and Rubbish; or being left until the Mower finds them with his Scythe, they will with bitter Curses be tossed over the Hedge; and so serve for unlucky Boys to throw at Birds and Dogs; until by Length of Time and numerous Casualties, they shall be press’d into their Mother Earth, and be converted to their original Principles.
Today is the birthday of English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet Edward Lear (May 12, 1812–January 29, 1888). He is “known mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularised. His principal areas of work as an artist were threefold: as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals; making coloured drawings during his journeys, which he reworked later, sometimes as plates for his travel books; as a (minor) illustrator of Alfred, Lord Tennyson‘s poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense collections of poems, songs, short stories, botanical drawings, recipes, and alphabets. He also composed and published twelve musical settings of Tennyson’s poetry.”
Given the time he lived, not to mention the place, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that beer and ale come up in his work from time to time. Here are a few examples of that from his nonsense books.
Today is the birthday of German humorist, poet, illustrator and painter Wilhelm Busch. “He published comic illustrated cautionary tales from 1859, achieving his most notable works in the 1870s. Busch’s illustrations used wood engraving, and later, zincography.
Busch drew on contemporary parochial and city life, satirizing Catholicism, Philistinism, strict religious morality and bigotry. His comic text was colourful and entertaining, using onomatopoeia, neologisms and other figures of speech, and led to some work being banned by the authorities.
Busch was influential in both poetry and illustration, and became a source for future generations of comic artists. The Katzenjammer Kids was inspired by Busch’s Max and Moritz, one of a number of imitations produced in Germany and the United States. The Wilhelm Busch Prize and the Wilhelm Busch Museum help maintain his legacy. His 175th anniversary in 2007 was celebrated throughout Germany. Busch remains one of the most influential poets and artists in Western Europe.”
One of his many books was “Buzz A Buzz; or, The Bees,” first published in 1872, as far as I can tell.
Despite many of his works being for children, there is some mention of beer, of course. At the end of the book, Pegasus, who is a hobby horse with wings, gets a reward of a trough filled with beer.
The 1872 edition includes Notes on Buzz-a-Buzz at the end, and give some additional insight into the beer.
“And order Pegasus—HIS BEER.”— Page 72.
Baierische Bier is infinitely superior to any Hippocrene. But no drink in the world can hold a candle to genuine “Wienische Bier,” as it comes cool drawn from the cellar. The Romans knew not beer, and so had to put up with “Falernian,” or even the “vile Cœcubum.” I say put up, for the wine that now goes by the name of Falernian is detestable. I suppose, however, that two thousand years ago it was far more carefully made, as I trust it may again be in “Italia Unita.” The Romans, knew not beer, but the Greeks had tasted it, though brewed by the hands of barbarians. In Xenophon’s Retreat of the Ten Thousand we are told that they came upon a race of people from whom they got
Ἐκ κριθῶν μέθυ.
Let us then leave Pegasus to enjoy his drink of barley wine, though like Baron Munchausen’s famous steed, he hath not the wherewithal to stow away his beer. My dear old Peggy, alluded to in the first of this series of notes, and therefore the fittest subject for a wind up, was, when hard worked, very fond of a quart of good ale, with half a quartern loaf broken into it; she would drink up the ale at a draught, then quickly munch the sop, and start with fresh vigour for another ten-mile trot.
And this colored illustration is from an 1873 edition.
In that edition, Busch also mentions beer in Chapter 1:
Christopher Smart was an English poet (April 11, 1722–May 21, 1771). He “was a major contributor to two popular magazines and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout London.” He had some goofy nicknames, such as “Kit Smart”, “Kitty Smart”, and “Jack Smart.”
Here’s some basic info about him from Wikipedia:
Smart was infamous as the pseudonymous midwife “Mrs. Mary Midnight” and widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart’s supposed religious “mania”. Even after Smart’s eventual release, a negative reputation continued to pursue him as he was known for incurring more debt than he could repay; this ultimately led to his confinement in debtors’ prison until his death.
Smart’s two most widely known works are A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both at least partly written during his confinement in asylum. However, Jubilate Agno was not published until 1939 and A Song to David received mixed reviews until the 19th century. To his contemporaries, Smart was known mainly for his many contributions in the journals The Midwife and The Student, along with his famous Seaton Prize poems and his mock epic The Hilliad. Although he is primarily recognised as a religious poet, his poetry includes various other themes, such as his theories on nature and his promotion of English nationalism.
One of his longer poems was called “The Hop-Garden” and was first published in 1752. It was originally part of Poems on Several Occasions, an early collection of Smart’s poems. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it:
The poem is rooted the Virgilian georgic and Augustan literature; it is one of the first long poems published by Smart. The poem is literally about a hop garden, and, in the Virgilian tradition, attempts to instruct the audience in how to farm hops properly.
While the poem deals with natural and scientific principles, there is a strong autobiographical tendency. While the poem marks Smart’s classical and Latin influences, it also reveals Smart’s close association and influence with Miltonic poetic form, especially with the reliance on Miltonic blank verse.
The poem is divided into two books.
BOOK the FIRST.
THE land that answers best the farmer’s care,
And silvers to maturity the Hop:
When to inhume the plants; to turn the glebe;
And wed the tendrils to th’ aspiring poles:
Under what sign to pluck the crop, and how
To cure, and in capacious sacks infold,
I teach in verse Miltonian. Smile the muse,
And meditate an honour to that land
Where first I breath’d, and struggled into life
Impatient, Cantium, to be call’d thy son.
Oh! cou’d I emulate Dan Sydney’s muse,
Thy Sydney, Cantium—He from court retir’d
In Penshurst’s sweet elysium sung delight,
Sung transport to the soft-responding streams
Of Medway, and enliven’d all her groves:
While ever near him, goddess of the green,
Fair Pembroke [sister to Sir Philip Sydney] sat, and smil’d immense applause.
With vocal fascination charm’d the Hours
Unguarded left Heav’ns adamantine gate,
And to his lyre, swift as the winged sounds
That skim the air, danc’d unperceiv’d away.
Had I such pow’r, no peasants toil, no hops
Shou’d e’er debase my lay: far nobler themes,
The high atchievements of thy warrior kings
Shou’d raise my thoughts, and dignify my song.
But I, young rustic, dare not leave my cot,
For so enlarg’d a sphere—ah! muse beware,
Lest the loud larums of the braying trump,
Lest the deep drum shou’d drown thy tender reed,
And mar its puny joints: me, lowly swain,
Every unshaven arboret, me the lawns,
Me the voluminous Medway’s silver wave,
Content inglorious, and the hopland shades!
Yeomen, and countrymen attend my song:
Whether you shiver in the marshy Weald [commonly, but improperly call’d, the Wild],
Egregious shepherds of unnumber’d flocks,
Whose fleeces, poison’d into purple, deck
All Europe’s kings: or in fair Madum’s [Maidstone] vale
Imparadis’d, blest denizons, ye dwell;
Or Dorovernia’s [Canterbury] awful tow’rs ye love:
Or plough Tunbridgia’s salutiferous hills
Industrious, and with draughts chalybiate heal’d,
Confess divine Hygeia’s blissful seat;
The muse demands your presence, ere she tune
Her monitory voice; observe her well,
And catch the wholesome dictates as they fall.
‘Midst thy paternal acres, Farmer, say
Has gracious heav’n bestow’d one field, that basks
Its loamy bosom in the mid-day sun,
Emerging gently from the abject vale,
Nor yet obnoxious to the wind, secure
There shall thou plant thy hop. This soil, perhaps,
Thou’lt say, will fill my garners. Be it so.
But Ceres, rural goddess, at the best
Meanly supports her vot’ry’, enough for her,
If ill-persuading hunger she repell,
And keep the soul from fainting: to enlarge,
To glad the heart, to sublimate the mind,
And wing the flagging spirits to the sky,
Require th’ united influence and aid
Of Bacchus, God of hops, with Ceres join’d
‘Tis he shall gen’rate the buxom beer.
Then on one pedestal, and hand in hand,
Sculptur’d in Parian stone (so gratitude
Indites) let the divine co-part’ners rise.
Stands eastward in thy field a wood? ’tis well.
Esteem it as a bulwark of thy wealth,
And cherish all its branches; tho’ we’ll grant,
Its leaves umbrageous may intercept
The morning rays, and envy some small share
Of Sol’s beneficence to the infant germ.
Yet grutch not that: when whistling Eurus comes,
With all his worlds of insects in thy lands
To hyemate, and monarchize o’er all
Thy vegetable riches, then thy wood
Shall ope it’s arms expansive, and embrace
The storm reluctant, and divert its rage.
Armies of animalc’les urge their way
In vain: the ventilating trees oppose
Their airy march. They blacken distant plains.
This site for thy young nursery obtain’d,
Thou hast begun auspicious, if the soil
(As sung before) be loamy; this the hop
Loves above others, this is rich, is deep,
Is viscous, and tenacious of the pole.
Yet maugre all its native worth, it may
Be meliorated with warm compost. See!
Yon craggy mountain [Boxley-Hill, which extends through great part of Kent], whose fastidious head,
Divides the star-set hemisphere above,
And Cantium’s plains beneath; the Appennine
Of a free Italy, whose chalky sides
With verdant shrubs dissimilarly gay,
Still captivate the eye, while at his feet
The silver Medway glides, and in her breast
Views the reflected landskip, charm’d she views
And murmurs louder ectasy below.
Here let us rest awhile, pleas’d to behold
Th’ all-beautiful horizon’s wide expanse,
Far as the eagle’s ken. Here tow’ring spires
First catch the eye, and turn the thoughts to heav’n.
The lofty elms in humble majesty
Bend with the breeze to shade the solemn groves,
And spread an holy darkness; Ceres there
Shines in her golden vesture. Here the meads
Enrich’d by Flora’s daedal hand, with pride
Expose their spotted verdure. Nor are you
Pomona absent; you ‘midst th’ hoary leaves
Swell the vermilion cherry; and on you trees
Suspend the pippen’s palatable gold.
There old Sylvanus in that moss-grown grot
Dwells with his wood-nymphs: they with chaplets green
And russet mantles oft bedight, aloft
From yon bent oaks, in Medway’s bosom fair
Wonder at silver bleak, and prickly pearch,
That swiftly thro’ their floating forests glide.
Yet not even these—these ever-varied scenes
Of wealth and pleasure can engage my eyes
T’ o’erlook the lowly hawthorn, if from thence
The thrush, sweet warbler, chants th’ unstudied lays
Which Phoebus’ self vaulting from yonder cloud
Refulgent, with enliv’ning ray inspires.
But neither tow’ring spires, nor lofty elms,
Nor golden Ceres, nor the meadows green,
Nor orchats, nor the russet-mantled nymphs,
Which to the murmurs of the Medway dance,
Nor sweetly warbling thrush, with half those charms
Attract my eyes, as yonder hop-land close,
Joint-work of art and nature, which reminds
The muse, and to her theme the wand’rer calls.
Here then with pond’rous vehicles and teams
Thy rustics send, and from the caverns deep
Command them bring the chalk: thence to the kiln
Convey, and temper with Vulcanian fires.
Soon as ’tis form’d, thy lime with bounteous hand
O’er all thy lands disseminate; thy lands
Which first have felt the soft’ning spade, and drank
The strength’ning vapours from nutricious marl.
This done, select the choicest hop, t’ insert
Fresh in the opening glebe. Say then, my muse,
Its various kinds, and from th’ effete and vile,
The eligible separate with care.
The noblest species is by Kentish wights
The Master-hop yclep’d. Nature to him
Has giv’n a stouter stalk, patient of cold,
Or Phoebus ev’n in youth, his verdant blood
In brisk saltation circulates and flows
Indesinently vigorous: the next
Is arid, fetid, infecund, and gross
Significantly styl’d the Fryar: the last
Is call’d the Savage, who in ev’ry wood,
And ev’ry hedge unintroduc’d intrudes.
When such the merit of the candidates,
Easy is the election; but, my friend
Would’st thou ne’er fail, to Kent direct thy way,
Where no one shall be frustrated that seeks
Ought that is great or good. Hail, Cantium, hail!
Illustrious parent of the finest fruits,
Illustrious parent of the best of men!
For thee Antiquity’s thrice sacred springs
Placidly stagnant at their fountain head,
I rashly dare to trouble (if from thence,
If ought for thy util’ty I can drain)
And in thy towns adopt th’ Ascraean muse.
Hail heroes, hail invaluable gems,
Splendidly rough within your native mines,
To luxury unrefined, better far
To shake with unbought agues in your weald,
Than dwell a slave to passion and to wealth,
Politely paralytic in the town!
Fav’rites of heav’n! to whom the general doom
Is all remitted, who alone possess
Of Adam’s sons fair Eden—rest ye here,
Nor seek an earthly good above the hop;
A good! untasted by your ancient kings,
And almost to your very sires unknown.
In those blest days when great Eliza reign’d
O’er the adoring nation, when fair peace
Or spread an unstain’d olive round the land,
Or laurell’d war did teach our winged fleets
To lord it o’er the world, when our brave sires
Drank valour from uncauponated beer;
Then th’ hop (before an interdicted plant,
Shun’d like fell aconite) began to hang
Its folded floscles from the golden vine,
And bloom’d a shade to Cantium’s sunny shores
Delightsome, and in chearful goblets laught
Potent, what time Aquarius’ urn impends
To kill the dulsome day—potent to quench
The Syrian ardour, and autumnal ills
To heal with mild potations; sweeter far
Than those which erst the subtile Hengist mix’d
T’ inthral voluptuous Vortigern. He, with love
Emasculate and wine, the toils of war,
Neglected, and to dalliance vile and sloth
Emancipated, saw th’ incroaching Saxons
With unaffected eyes; his hand which ought
T’ have shook the spear of justice, soft and smooth,
Play’d ravishing divisions on the lyre:
This Hengist mark’d, and (for curs’d insolence
Soon fattens on impunity! and becomes
Briareus from a dwarf) fair Thanet gain’d.
Nor stopt he here; but to immense attempts
Ambition sky-aspiring led him on
Adventrous. He an only daughter rear’d,
Roxena, matchless maid! nor rear’d in vain.
Her eagle-ey’d callidity, grave deceit,
And fairy fiction rais’d above her sex,
And furnish’d her with thousand various wiles
Preposterous, more than female; wondrous fair
She was, and docile, which her pious nurse
Observ’d, and early in each female fraud
Her ‘gan initiate: well she knew to smile,
Whene’er vexation gall’d her; did she weep?
‘Twas not sincere, the fountains of her eyes
Play’d artificial streams, yet so well forc’d
They look’d like nature; for ev’n art to her
Was natural, and contrarieties
Seem’d in Roxena congruous and allied.
Such was she, when brisk Vortigern beheld,
Ill-fated prince! and lov’d her. She perceiv’d,
Soon she perceiv’d her conquest; soon she told,
With hasty joy transported, her old sire.
The Saxon inly smil’d, and to his isle
The willing prince invited, but first bad
The nymph prepare the potions; such as fire
The blood’s meand’ring rivulets, and depress
To love the soul. Lo! at the noon of night
Thrice Hecate invok’d the maid—and thrice
The goddess stoop’d assent; forth from a cloud
She stoop’d, and gave the philters pow’r to charm.
These in a splendid cup of burnish’d gold
The lovely sorceress mix’d, and to the prince
Health, peace, and joy propin’d, but to herself
Mutter’d dire exorcisms, and wish’d effect
To th’ love-creating draught: lowly she bow’d
Fawning insinuation bland, that might
Deceive Laertes’ son; her lucid orbs
Shed copiously the oblique rays; her face
Like modest Luna’s shone, but not so pale,
And with no borrow’d lustre; on her brow
Smil’d Fallacy, while summoning each grace,
Kneeling she gave the cup. The prince (for who!
Who cou’d have spurn’d a suppliant so divine?)
Drank eager, and in ecstasy devour’d
Th’ ambrosial perturbation; mad with love
He clasp’d her, and in Hymeneal bands
At once the nymph demanded and obtain’d.
Now Hengist, all his ample wish fulfill’d,
Exulted; and from Kent th’ uxorious prince
Exterminated, and usurp’d his seat.
Long did he reign; but all-devouring time
Has raz’d his palace walls—Perchance on them
Grows the green hop, and o’er his crumbled bust
In spiral twines ascends the scancile pole.—
But now to plant, to dig, to dung, to weed;
Tasks how indelicate? demand the muse.
Come, fair magician, sportive Fancy come,
With thy unbounded imagery; child of thought,
From thy aeriel citadel descend,
And (for thou canst) assist me. Bring with thee
Thy all-creative Talisman; with thee
The active spirits ideal, tow’ring flights,
That hover o’er the muse-resounding groves,
And all thy colourings, all thy shapes display.
Thou to be here, Experience, so shall I
My rules nor in low prose jejunely say,
Nor in smooth numbers musically err;
But vain is Fancy and Experience vain,
If thou, O Hesiod! Virgil of our land,
Or hear’st thou rather, Milton, bard divine,
Whose greatness who shall imitate, save thee?
If thou O Philips [Mr. John Philips, author of Cyder, a poem] fav’ring dost not hear
Me, inexpert of verse; with gentle hand
Uprear the unpinion’d muse, high on the top
Of that immeasurable mount, that far
Exceeds thine own Plinlimmon, where thou tun’st
With Phoebus’ self thy lyre. Give me to turn
Th’ unwieldly subject with thy graceful ease,
Extol its baseness with thy art; but chief
Illumine, and invigorate with thy fire.
When Phoebus looks thro’ Aries on the spring,
And vernal flow’rs promise the dulcet fruit,
Autumnal pride! delay not then thy setts
In Tellus’ facile bosom to depose
Timely: if thou art wise the bulkiest chuse:
To every root three joints indulge, and form
The Quincunx with well regulated hills.
Soon from the dung-enriched earth, their heads
Thy young plants will uplift their virgin arms,
They’ll stretch, and marriageable claim the pole.
Nor frustrate thou their wishes, so thou may’st
Expect an hopeful issue, jolly Mirth,
Sister of taleful Jocus, tuneful Song,
And fat Good-nature with her honest face.
But yet in the novitiate of their love,
And tenderness of youth suffice small shoots
Cut from the widow’d willow, nor provide
Poles insurmountable as yet. ‘Tis then
When twice bright Phoebus’ vivifying ray,
Twice the cold touch of winter’s icy hand,
They’ve felt; ’tis then we fell sublimer props.
‘Tis then the sturdy woodman’s axe from far
Resounds, resounds, and hark! with hollow groans
Down tumble the big trees, and rushing roll
O’er the crush’d crackling brake, while in his cave
Forlorn, dejected, ‘midst the weeping dryads
Laments Sylvanus for his verdant care.
The ash, or willow for thy use select,
Or storm-enduring chesnut; but the oak
Unfit for this employ, for nobler ends
Reserve untouch’d; she when by time matur’d,
Capacious, of fome British demi-god,
Vernon, or Warren, shall with rapid wing
Infuriate, like Jove’s armour-bearing bird,
Fly on thy foes; They, like the parted waves,
Which to the brazen beak murmuring give way
Amaz’d, and roaring from the fight recede.—
In that sweet month, when to the list’ning swains
Fair Philomel fings love, and every cot
With garlands blooms bedight, with bandage meet
The tendrils bind, and to the tall pole tie,
Else soon, too soon their meretricious arms
Round each ignoble clod they’ll fold, and leave
Averse the lordly prop. Thus, have I heard
Where there’s no mutual tye, no strong connection
Of love-conspiring hearts, oft the young bride
Has prostituted to her slaves her charms,
While the infatuated lord admires
Fresh-budding sprouts, and issue not his own.
Now turn the glebe: soon with correcting hand
When smiling June in jocund dance leads on
Long days and happy hours, from ev’ry vine
Dock the redundant branches, and once more
With the sharp spade thy numerous acres till.
The shovel next must lend its aid, enlarge
The little hillocks, and erase the weeds.
This in that month its title which derives
From great Augustus’ ever sacred name!
Sovereign of Science! master of the Muse!
Neglected Genius’ firm ally! Of worth
Best judge, and best rewarder, whose applause
To bards was fame and fortune! O! ’twas well,
Well did you too in this, all glorious heroes!
Ye Romans!—on Time’s wing you’ve stamp’d his praise,
And time shall bear it to eternity.
Now are our lab’rours crown’d with their reward,
Now bloom the florid hops, and in the stream
Shine in their floating silver, while above
T’embow’ring branches culminate, and form
A walk impervious to the sun; the poles
In comely order stand; and while you cleave
With the small skiff the Medway’s lucid wave,
In comely order still their ranks preserve,
And seem to march along th’ extensive plain.
In neat arrangement thus the men of Kent,
With native oak at once adorn’d and arm’d,
Intrepid march’d; for well they knew the cries
Of dying Liberty, and Astraea’s voice,
Who as she fled, to echoing woods complain’d
Of tyranny, and William; like a god,
Refulgent stood the conqueror, on his troops
He sent his looks enliv’ning as the sun’s,
But on his foes frown’d agony, frown’d death.
On his left side in bright emblazonry
His falchion burn’d; forth from his sevenfold shield
A basilisk shot adamant; his brow
Wore clouds of fury!—on that with plumage crown’d
Of various hue sat a tremendous cone:
Thus sits high-canopied above the clouds,
Terrific beauty of nocturnal skies,
Northern Aurora [Aurora Borealis, or lights in the air; a phoenomenon which of late years has been very frequent here, and in all the more northern countries]; she thro’ th’ azure air
Shoots, shoots her trem’lous rays in painted streaks
Continual, while waving to the wind
O’er Night’s dark veil her lucid tresses flow.
The trav’ler views th’ unseasonable day
Astound, the proud bend lowly to the earth,
The pious matrons tremble for the world.
But what can daunt th’ insuperable souls
Of Cantium’s matchless sons? On they proceed,
All innocent of fear; each face express’d
Contemptuous admiration, while they view’d
The well-fed brigades of embroider’d slaves
That drew the sword for gain. First of the van,
With an enormous bough, a shepherd swain
Whistled with rustic notes; but such as show’d
A heart magnanimous: The men of Kent
Follow the tuneful swain, while o’er their heads
The green leaves whisper, and the big boughs bend.
‘Twas thus the Thracian, whose all-quick’ning lyre
The floods inspir’d, and taught the rocks to feel,
Play’d before dancing Haemus, to the tune,
The lute’s soft tune! The flutt’ring branches wave,
The rocks enjoy it, and the rivulets hear,
The hillocks skip, emerge the humble vales,
And all the mighty mountain nods applause.
The conqueror view’d them, and as one that sees
The vast abrupt of Scylla, or as one
That from th’ oblivious Lethaean streams
Has drank eternal apathy, he stood.
His host an universal panic seiz’d
Prodigious, inopine; their armour shook,
And clatter’d to the trembling of their limbs;
Some to the walking wilderness gan run
Confus’d, and in th’ inhospitable shade
For shelter sought—Wretches! they shelter find,
Eternal shelter in the arms of death!
Thus when Aquarius pours out all his urn
Down on some lonesome heath, the traveller
That wanders o’er the wint’ry waste, accepts
The invitation of some spreading beech
Joyous; but soon the treach’rous gloom betrays
Th’ unwary visitor, while on his head
Th’ inlarging drops in double show’rs descend.
And now no longer in disguise the men
Of Kent appear; down they all drop their boughs,
And shine in brazen panoply divine.
Enough—Great William (for full well he knew
How vain would be the contest) to the sons
Of glorious Cantium, gave their lives, and laws,
And liberties secure, and to the prowess
Of Kentish wights, like Caesar, deign’d to yield.
Caesar and William! Hail immortal worthies,
Illustrious vanquish’d! Cantium, if to them,
Posterity will all her chiefs unborn,
Ought similar, ought second has to boast.
Once more (so prophecies the Muse) thy sons
Shall triumph, emulous of their sires—till then
With olive, and with hop-land garlands crown’d,
O’er all thy land reign Plenty, reign fair Peace.
This illustration accompanied the second book. The British Museum has it in their collection, and they describe it as “a woman sitting in a vat, two others lifting a man in to join her, an amused crowd looking on.” Interestingly enough, the illustration appears to show an old ritual associated with hop-picking. According to the poem, it seems to involve a “festive ritual that played a part in the annual hop harvest, where a young woman, and a young man, are placed in a container of hops and covered up by it.”
Many years later, in 1931, George Orwell went hop-picking and made the following entry in his diary for September 19, 1931:
On the last morning, when we had picked the last field, there was a queer game of catching the women and putting them in the bins. Very likely there will be something about this in the Golden Bough. It is evidently an old custom, and all harvests have some custom of this kind attached to them.
The only reference I could find in the Golden Bough was this. “In hop-picking, if a well-dressed stranger passes the hop-yard, he is seized by the women, tumbled into the bin, covered with leaves, and not released till he has paid a fine.” One scholar speculates:
In any case, the ritual in the oldest version – Smart’s – seems to be some kind of fertility ritual: a male and a female hop picker are submerged together in a container of hops, which are the bounty of the harvest. It also seems to include some kind of wealth-redistribution element, where the other pickers claim a “largesse” or “fine” from those submerged. Whether it was for the honor, or just because they were the most efficient pickers, I don’t know, but it’s interesting either way. Ron Bateman notes that at least in Orwell’s day, the ritual took place on the last day of hop-picking, which I think strongly supports the idea of it being some vestige of a pagan fertility rite (or, even, the whole of the rite, with its purpose forgotten): having completed the harvest, the rite would help appease the field, its spirits, the gods, etc. to ensure the next year’s harvest would also be plentiful.
Anyway, here’s the second part of the poem.
BOOK the SECOND.
AT length the Muse her destin’d task resumes
With joy; agen o’er all her hop-land groves
She longs t’ expatiate free of wing. Long while
For a much-loving, much-lov’d youth she wept,
And sorrow’d silence o’er th’ untimely urn.
Hush then, effeminate sobs; and thou, my heart,
Rebel to grief no more—And yet a while,
A little while, indulge the friendly tears.
O’er the wild world, like Noah’s dove, in vain
I seek the olive peace, around me wide
See! see! the wat’ry waste—In vain, forlorn
I call the Phoenix fair Sincerity;
Alas!—extinguish’d to the skies she fled,
And left no heir behind her. Where is now
Th’ eternal smile of goodness? Where is now
That all-extensive charity of soul,
So rich in sweetness, that the classic sounds
In elegance Augustan cloath’d, the wit
That flow’d perennial, hardly were observ’d,
Or, if observ’d, set off a brighter gem.
How oft, and yet how seldom did it seem!
Have I enjoy’d his converse?—When we met,
The hours how swift they sweetly fled, and till
Agen I saw him, how they loiter’d. Oh!
THEOPHILUS [Mr. Theophilus Wheeler, of Christ-College, Cambridge], thou dear departed soul,
What flattering tales thou told’st me? How thou’dst hail
My Muse, and took’st imaginary walks
All in my hopland groves! Stay yet, oh stay!
Thou dear deluder, thou hast seen but half—
He’s gone! and ought that’s equal to his praise
Fame has not for me, tho’ she prove most kind.
Howe’er this verse be sacred to thy name,
These tears, the last sad duty of a friend.
Oft i’ll indulge the pleasurable pain
Of recollection; oft on Medway’s banks
I’ll muse on thee full pensive; while her streams
Regardful ever of my grief, shall flow
In sullen silence silverly along
The weeping shores—or else accordant with
My loud laments, shall ever and anon
Make melancholy music to the shades,
The hopland shades, that on her banks expose
Serpentine vines and flowing locks of gold.
Ye smiling nymphs, th’ inseparable train
Of saffron Ceres; ye, that gamesome dance,
And sing to jolly Autumn, while he stands
With his right hand poizing the scales of heav’n,
And with his left grasps Amalthea’s horn:
Young chorus of fair bacchanals, descend,
And leave a while the sickle; yonder hill,
Where stand the loaded hop-poles, claims your care.
There mighty Bacchus stradling cross the bin,
Waits your attendance—There he glad reviews
His paunch, approaching to immensity
Still nearer, and with pride of heart surveys
Obedient mortals, and the world his own.
See! from the great metropolis they rush,
Th’ industrious vulgar. They, like prudent bees,
In Kent’s wide garden roam, expert to crop
The flow’ry hop, and provident to work,
Ere winter numb their sunburnt hands, and winds
Engoal them, murmuring in their gloomy cells.
From these, such as appear the rest t’ excell
In strength and young agility, select.
These shall support with vigour and address
The bin-man’s weighty office; now extract
From the sequacious earth the pole, and now
Unmarry from the closely clinging vine.
O’er twice three pickers, and no more, extend
The bin-man’s sway; unless thy ears can bear
The crack of poles continual, and thine eyes
Behold unmoved the hurrying peasant tear
Thy wealth, and throw it on the thankless ground.
But first the careful planter will consult
His quantity of acres, and his crop,
How many and how large his kilns; and then
Proportion’d to his wants the hands provide.
But yet, of greater consequence and cost,
One thing remains unsung, a man of faith
And long experience, in whose thund’ring voice
Lives hoarse authority, potent to quell
The frequent frays of the tumultuous crew.
He shall preside o’er all thy hop-land store,
Severe dictator! His unerring hand,
And eye inquisitive, in heedful guise,
Shall to the brink the measure fill, and fair
On the twin registers the work record.
And yet I’ve known them own a female reign,
And gentle Marianne’s [the author’s youngest Sister] soft Orphean voice
Has hymn’d sweet lessons of humanity
To the wild brutal crew. Oft her command
Has sav’d the pillars of the hopland state,
The lofty poles from ruin, and sustain’d,
Like ANNA, or ELIZA, her domain,
With more than manly dignity. Oft I’ve seen,
Ev’n at her frown the boist’rous uproar cease,
And the mad pickers, tam’d to diligence,
Cull from the bin the sprawling sprigs, and leaves
That stain the sample, and its worth debase.
All things thus settled and prepared, what now
Can let the planters purposes? Unless
The Heav’ns frown dissent, and ominous winds
Howl thro’ the concave of the troubled sky.
And oft, alas! the long experienc’d wights
(Oh! could they too prevent them) storms foresee.
For, as the storm rides on the rising clouds,
Fly the fleet wild-geese far away, or else
The heifer towards the zeinth rears her head,
And with expanded nostrils snuffs the air:
The swallows too their airy circuits weave,
And screaming skim the brook; and fen-bred frogs
Forth from their hoarse throats their old grutch recite:
Or from her earthly coverlets the ant
Heaves her huge eggs along the narrow way:
Or bends Thaumantia’s variegated bow
Athwart the cope of heav’n: or sable crows
Obstreperous of wing, in crouds combine:
Besides, unnumber’d troops of birds marine,
And Asia’s feather’d flocks, that in the muds
Of flow’ry-edg’d Cayster wont to prey,
Now in the shallows duck their speckled heads,
And lust to lave in vain, their unctious plumes
Repulsive baffle their efforts: Next hark
How the curs’d raven, with her harmful voice,
Invokes the rain, ahd croaking to herself,
Struts on some spacious solitary shore.
Nor want thy servants and thy wife at home
Signs to presage the show’r; for in the hall
Sheds Niobe her prescious tears, and warns
Beneath thy leaden tubes to fix the vase,
And catch the falling dew-drops, which supply
Soft water and salubrious, far the best
To soak thy hops, and brew thy generous beer.
But tho’ bright Phoebus smile, and in the skies
The purple-rob’d serenity appear;
Tho’ every cloud be fled, yet if the rage
Of Boreas, or the blasting East prevail,
The planter has enough to check his hopes,
And in due bounds confine his joy; for see
The ruffian winds, in their abrupt career,
Leave not a hop behind, or at the best
Mangle the circling vine, and intercept
The juice nutricious: Fatal means, alas!
Their colour and condition to destroy.
Haste then, ye peasants; pull the poles, the hops;
Where are the bins? Run, run, ye nimble maids,
Move ev’ry muscle, ev’ry nerve extend,
To save our crop from ruin, and ourselves.
Soon as bright Chanticleer explodes the night
With flutt’ring wings, and hymns the new-born day,
The bugle-horn inspire, whose clam’rous bray
Shall rouse from sleep the rebel rout, and tune
To temper for the labours of the day.
Wisely the several stations of the bins
By lot determine. Justice this, and this
Fair Prudence does demand; for not without
A certain method cou’dst thou rule the mob
Irrational, nor every where alike
Fair hangs the hop to tempt the picker’s hand.
Now see the crew mechanic might and main
Labour with lively diligence, inspir’d
By appetie of gain and lust of praise:
What mind so petty, servile, and debas’d,
As not to know ambition? Her great sway
From Colin Clout to Emperors she exerts.
To err is human, human to be vain.
‘Tis vanity, and mock desire of fame,
That prompts the rustic, on the steeple top
Sublime, to mark the outlines of his shoe,
And in the area to engrave his name.
With pride of heart the churchwarden surveys,
High o’er the bellfry, girt with birds and flow’rs,
His story wrote in capitals: “‘Twas I
“That bought the font; and I repair’d the pews.”
With pride like this the emulating mob
Strive for the mastery—who first may fill
The bellying bin, and cleanest cull the hops.
Nor ought retards, unless invited out
By Sol’s declining, and the evening’s calm,
Leander leads Laetitia to the scene
Of shade and fragrance—Then th’ exulting band
Of pickers male and female, seize the fair
Reluctant, and with boist’rous force and brute,
By cries unmov’d, they bury her in the bin.
Nor does the youth escape—him too they seize,
And in such posture place as best may serve
To hide his charmer’s blushes. Then with shouts
They rend the echoing air, and from them both
(So custom has ordain’d) a largess claim.
Thus much be sung of picking—next succeeds
Th’ important care of curing—Quit the field,
And at the kiln th’ instructive muse attend.
On your hair-cloth eight inches deep, nor more,
Let the green hops lie lightly; next expand
The smoothest surface with the toothy rake.
Thus for is just above; but more it boots
That charcoal flames burn equably below,
The charcoal flames, which from thy corded wood,
Or antiquated poles, with wond’rous skill,
The sable priests of Vulcan shall prepare.
Constant and moderate let the heat ascend;
Which to effect, there are, who with success
Place in the kiln the ventilating fan.
Hail, learned, useful man! [Dr. Hales] whose head and heart
Conspire to make us happy, deign t’ accept
One honest verse; and if thy industry
Has serv’d the hopland cause, the Muse forebodes
This sole invention, both in use and fame,
The mystic fan of Bacchus shall exceed.
When the fourth hour expires, with careful hand
The half-bak’d hops turn over. Soon as time
Has well exhausted twice two glasses more,
They’ll leap and crackle with their bursting seeds,
For use domestic, or for sale mature.
There are, who in the choice of cloth t’enfold
Their wealthy crop, the viler, coarser sort,
With prodigal oeconomy prefer:
All that is good is cheap, all dear that’s base.
Besides, the planter shou’d a bait prepare,
T’ intrap the chapman’s notice, and divert
Shrewd Observation from her busy pry.
When in the bag thy hops the rustic treads,
Let him wear heel-less sandals; nor presume
Their fragrancy barefooted to defile:
Such filthy ways for slaves in Malaga
Leave we to practise—Whence I’ve often seen,
When beautiful Dorinda’s iv’ry hands
Had built the pastry-fabric (food divine
For Christmas gambols and the hour of mirth)
As the dry’d foreign fruit, with piercing eye,
She cull’d suspicious—lo! she starts, she frowns
With indignation at a negro’s nail.
Should’st thou thy harvest for the mart design,
Be thine own factor; nor employ those drones
Who’ve stings, but make no honey, felfish slaves!
That thrive and fatten on the planter’s toil.
What then remains unsung? unless the care
To stack thy poles oblique in comely cones,
Lest rot or rain destroy them—’Tis a sight
Most seemly to behold, and gives, O Winter!
A landskip not unpleasing ev’n to thee.
And now, ye rivals of the hopland state,
Madum and Dorovernia rejoice,
How great amidst such rivals to excel!
Let Grenovicum [Greenwich, where Queen Elizabeth was born] boast (for boast she may)
The birth of great Eliza.—Hail, my queen!
And yet I’ll call thee by a dearer name,
My countrywoman, hail! Thy worth alone
Gives fame to worlds, and makes whole ages glorious!
Let Sevenoaks vaunt the hospitable seat
Of Knoll [the seat of the Duke of Dorset] most ancient: Awefully, my Muse,
These social scenes of grandeur and delight,
Of love and veneration, let me tread.
How oft beneath you oak has amorous Prior
Awaken’d Echo with sweet Chloe’s name!
While noble Sackville heard, hearing approv’d,
Approving, greatly recompens’d. But he,
Alas! has number’d with th’ illustrious dead,
And orphan merit has no guardian now!
Next Shipbourne, tho’ her precincts are confin’d
To narrow limits, yet can shew a train
Of village beauties, pastorally sweet,
And rurally magnificent. Here Fairlawn [the seat of Lord Vane]
Opes her delightful prospects: Dear Fairlawn
There, where at once at variance and agreed,
Nature and art hold dalliance. There where rills
Kiss the green drooping herbage, there where trees,
The tall trees-tremble at th’ approach of heav’n,
And bow their salutation to the sun,
Who fosters all their foliage—These are thine,
Yes, little Shipbourne, boast that these are thine—
And if—But oh!—and if ’tis no disgrace,
The birth of him who now records thy praise.
Nor shalt thou, Mereworth, remain unsung,
Where noble Westmoreland, his country’s friend,
Bids British greatness love the silent shade,
Where piles superb, in classic elegance,
Arise, and all is Roman, like his heart.
Nor Chatham, tho’ it is not thine to shew
The lofty forest or the verdant lawns,
Yet niggard silence shall not grutch thee praise.
The lofty forests by thy sons prepar’d
Becomes the warlike navy, braves the floods,
And gives Sylvanus empire in the main.
Oh that Britannia, in the day of war,
Wou’d not alone Minerva’s valour trust,
But also hear her wisdom! Then her oaks
Shap’d by her own mechanics, wou’d alone
Her island fortify, and fix her fame;
Nor wou’d she weep, like Rachael, for her sons,
Whose glorious blood, in mad profusion,
In foreign lands is shed—and shed in vain.
Now on fair Dover’s topmost cliff I’ll stand,
And look with scorn and triumph on proud France.
Of yore an isthmus jutting from this coast,
Join’d the Britannic to the Gallic shore;
But Neptune on a day, with fury fir’d,
Rear’d his tremendous trident, smote the earth,
And broke th’ unnatural union at a blow.—
“‘Twixt you and you, my servants and my sons,
“Be there (he cried) eternal discord—France
“Shall bow the neck to Cantium’s peerless offspring,
“And as the oak reigns lordly o’er the shrub,
“So shall the hop have homage from the vine.”
Today is the birthday of English poet, novelist, and garden designer Vita Sackville-West. “She was a successful novelist, poet, and journalist, as well as a prolific letter writer and diarist. She published more than a dozen collections of poetry during her lifetime and 13 novels. She was twice awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature: in 1927 for her pastoral epic, The Land, and in 1933 for her Collected Poems. She was the inspiration for the androgynous protagonist of Orlando: A Biography, by her famous friend and lover, Virginia Woolf.”
She wrote seventeen novels and a dozen collections of poetry, along with several biographies and works of non-fiction. But she was also well-known for her garden at Sissinghurst created with her husband, Sir Harold Nicolson. It was located in the Weald of Kent in
The Kentish Landscape
At the moment of writing these words, Kent is looking absurdly like itself. Cherry, plum, pear, and thorn whiten the orchards and the hedgerows; lambs frolic; the banks are full of violets and primroses; the whole landscape displays itself as an epitome of everything fresh and innocent which has drawn ridicule upon the so-called school of Georgian poets. It is a simple delight which pleases everyone, from the unsophisticated to the sophisticated. Why affect to despise it? Year after year I enjoy it more, and reflect with pride that my own county offers a fair presentment of the English scene to the foreigner travelling in his Pullman between Dover and London.
He, of course, cannot know it as we know it, though on his way up to London he is accorded a generous glimpse of the valleys of the Beult and the Medway. He sees the orchards and the hop-gardens; orchards he has seen before in his own Normandy, but the hop-gardens strike him as very peculiar and individual, opening and shutting as they do while the train flashes past. If he does not already know what they are, he is reduced to asking an obliging stranger for the explanation. Those tall bare poles, that elaborately knotted string, those ploughed acres—what does it all mean? The explanation is forthcoming: it is English beer. Of course: this is Kent. He looks out again with renewed interest, he remembers that this is called the garden of England.
I went on such an expedition recently with two friends. We did not find much, it is true; or, rather, we found none of the real rarities. That, however, never matters, for the compensations are so rich: the small, lost, down-land churches, miles from the villages they are supposed to serve; the wide windy skies, the grassy slopes, the deep valleys with farm-buildings exquisitely composed into the group of barns, house, and oasts with steep brown roofs. I heard someone say the other day that when he saw or read about such things, nothing else seemed to matter, neither European complications, nor wars, nor threats of wars—they were all forgotten. I felt the same myself, when eventually we found the Bee orchis growing beside a partridge’s nest.
The Hop-picking Season
The hoppers are arriving in Kent. It is curious to observe that the moment the East-ender leaves his slum in Bermondsey or Rotherhithe for this annual expedition, he starts to cut quite a different figure in the public mind, ceases to be a mere and rather vulgar Cockney, and is instantly invested with all the attributes of romance. For three weeks in his drab
yearhe is allowed to rank in picturesqueness with the gipsy. Why this should be so is a little difficult to explain. He dresses in the same way as he does in London, yet there is a difference between the Cockney and the hopper; perhaps the red handkerchief knotted roundthe throat looks better in a field than in the slum. The tawdry muslins of his women make a bright and oddly foreign effect among the bines. The presence of many children turns the serious business of picking into something like a pagan festival, reminding me of the Neopolitan celebration when the local little boys spray their naked sunburnt bodies with the copper-sulphateused for the prevention of Phylloxera and prance about stained in turquoise blue between the olives and the vines at dawn, a scene which Leonardo might have found it in his taste to record in paint. The Londoners’ children are neither so gay nor so pagan, but stilla certain light-heartedness descends on all. It is very un-English in spite of being so essentially English. The hop-garden is a fair substitute for the vineyard, with its swags of green bunches so like the white muscat, its long leafy tunnels dappled with light, its brown canvas troughs filled with the pale flowers. Colour and gaiety reign in a way they never do at the other great country events such as hay-making or harvest . This gaiety is reflected also in the trouble that the Cockney family takes to make its temporary home as lively as possible. The sleeping quarters provided are usually no better than a range of wooden huts—sometimes even an old railway coach—lime-washed inside, and supplied with a wooden bench and a couple of trusses of straw for bedding. Nothing more. It is all very clean, bare, and hard. Little can be said for it save that it is clean and (one hopes) weather-proof. Fortunatelythe families who have descended yearly upon the same hop-garden for several generations, grandmother, mother, and child, know exactly what to bring with them in order to turn the hut into a home. They bring colouredlithographs and lace curtains; bedspreads and china ornaments, and by the time they have set out their treasures their little hovel looks as attractive as a Dutch interior. Then when the working day is over they gather roundbonfires and rouse the quiet night with songs and piano-accordions.
In damp sunless
weatherthe picture is different. We remember then that perhaps thanks to our climate we are a glum race. A peddler comes round crying mackerel at five a shilling; alive they were, and swimming, this morning at sunrise, for the sea is not so very far away, but now the dead protruding eyes of fish stareat the pickers over the edge of the basket; this has to do duty for song and sunburnt mirth. The pickers then contribute nothing of jollity. Sordid, pasty bundles, sitting on camp stools or wooden boxes, their muslins hiddenaway beneath their mackintoshes, their babies uncomfortably asleep in go-carts beside them, they strip the bines in gloomy silence, preoccupied solely with the completion of their tally. A tally to a family; a big thing to fill, and only 1s. 5d. when you have done it. No wonder they are sometimes gloomy, especially when it rains. The grape is a fruit, the hop only a flower; perhaps that makes all the difference.
It appears also that they do not wholly like being in the country. So long as the weather is fine they make the best of it, regarding it as a holiday to be enjoyed, almost an obligation, but then as day dies a certain alarm disquiets their souls. Away from traffic and street lights, they are frightened. The silence and the darkness of the fields
perplexesthem. They will not go about after dusk except in little bands. Toughs though they may be at home, they are not tough enough to stand the desolation of the darkened country-side. On the wholethey feel rather relieved when the moment comes for them to climb into their charabancs or cars again and return to a mode of life they understand.
Perhaps, however, they will not much longer be called upon to add their picturesque touch to the country year. The bines, it is said, will soon be stripped by machinery. Oh, brave new world!
The Garden and the Oast
It is the annual outing of the East End, but the East End cannot be expected to take any affectionate interest in our peculiarly local crops. These acres, representing several thousands of pounds, tended all the year by expert, almost instinctive, country hands, from the first training of the bine to the last fingering of the swollen flower, are turned over in the height of their fulfilment to the unskilled, unsympathetic mercies of the Cockney. Consider for a moment the care and vigilance which throughout the months of winter, spring, and summer have brought the gardens to their autumn state of fecundity. First, after the harvesting, the old bines must be cleared away; then the pruning-knife must sever and select; then, with the shooting of the new bine, up go the strings—strings reckoned by the ton; six hundred miles of string, fixed to the ground at the bottom by women and boys, and to the permanent wires overhead by men on stilts, giant figures stalking between the poles in the bleak spring day. The bine begins to grow; heavily fed, it will grow as much as two feet in a night, twining round the strings from right to left, for the hop cannot be persuaded to grow widdershins. You may think that a plant with so much energy might now be left for a little to its own devices. Make no such mistake. It has its enemies: mould and insects; it has its remedies: wash and powder; the enemy must be looked for, and the remedy applied unsparingly, even though the men with knapsacks blow hundreds of pounds sterling in fine sulphur dust into the air. The wind, too—a proper gale will do grand damage in the hop-garden. But the garden survives these dangers, and towards the end of August you are rewarded by the pale, imponderable clusters, well grown out, as you walk down the green, lovely aisles or mount your fixed ladders for a final inspection. It is then, when your expert judgment decides that the flower is ripe for picking, that London lets loose its hordes and the garden is profaned by the presence of these philistines, and the fish-peddler cries his mackerel at five a shilling.
The profanation, however, marks but a brief stage in the history of the hop from bine to bottle. At the sole moment of its picking is the hop subjected to the hands that neither love, hate, nor understand it. Once picked into the pokes, when the garden begins to assume a dirty, dejected air, with the cut bines withering in their fallen heaps, the poles sticking up gaunt and useless, the wires overhead fluffy with the fringe of cut strings—once picked, the flower is hurried to the oasts, where skilled driers receive it. These are men who have been for thirty, forty, fifty years at their job. They handle their material and their implements as though they knew what they were about. Indeed, they disregard some of their implements, with a sort of contempt, such as the thermometer and the weighing-machine, referring to them only as a concession to convention, to corroborate their human judgment, or to satisfy the overseer, when their instinct is rarely proved at fault. This is pleasing, and as it should be. The hop is once more in hands that have the mastery over it.
All day the chimneys of the kilns have been smoking blue, but the life of the kiln does not slacken with dusk, when the pickers go home to their camp; all night the process of drying goes on, to keep pace with the supply that has been pouring in from the garden. Inside the oast, we choke and cough with the sulphur; the doors of the furnaces stand open for a fresh stoking, like the entrails of a ship, the pan of sulphur blue in the midst of the fire; the men, demoniacal figures redly lit, shovel on the coal, slam the doors, throw down their shovels with horrible clang; this ground-level of the oast is a place of violence. Propped against the wall, too, are brutal shapes, sacks as big as bullocks, with the white horse of Kent prancing painted across them, and their corners tied into ears like the ears of killed beasts.
But on the upper story the hop reassumes its character of pale colour and feather weight. In the long, low, raftered loft, where everything is whitewashed, the lanterns swing from the beams above mountains of dried flowers on the floor, billowing heaps of a ghostly pallor, an exquisite imponderability. Impossible to give a name to their colour. It is a cross between ash and gold; the colour of dust-motes, of corn in moonlight, of fair hair under a lamp. All the green has been taken from them in the drying; they are crisp and airy; everything you touch is sticky with resin, even the bristles of the brooms are knobby with resin gathered in sweeping up the floor; the pungent smell is in the air. The lanterns throw the shadows of the rafters in sharp designs on roof and floor. The men, dressed in white overalls, pile the heaps higher with rake and scupper—huge scoops made of white canvas. In one corner, where a hole gapes in the boards, two men shovel the hops down the hole into the mouth of the sack which hangs below, out of sight; a great wheel spins round, the shadow of its spokes whirling over the whitewashed wall, and the weight descends into the sack, pressing, packing, till the flowers are squeezed into solidity, and one believes at last what had always seemed so unconvincing, that a ton of feathers weighs as much as a ton of lead.
This is all activity; but the hops at their drying are quiet and private. Doors along one side of the loft open on to the upper chambers of the kilns, white, circular, the roof rising to a point. The hops are spread knee-deep upon the floor. They are green still, and a faint blue smoke rises through them. It is very quiet in there, with a quality of solitude and vigil; very warm too, and heavily scented, inside the circular oast. The drier steps into the sea of hops, and slouches through them, kicking them up. Especially on the outside edges is it necessary to see that they shall be evenly dried; so he slouches round the wall, an old man in white corduroys, travelling against the white wall, stealthily as it seems, kicking up the pale green sea that faintly rustles, disturbing the smoke into little wreaths and eddies. There is a medieval flavour about it: the round chamber, the roof pointed like a witch’s hat, the white and green, the warmth, the smoke, the ancient man, the smell that creeps so soporifically over the senses. Out in the yard, as you come away, the shafts of the waggons stick up at the stars, and the cowled chimneys point in a blacker darkness at the darkness of the sky. To the left lies the ruined garden, with aisles of bare poles waiting for next year’s bine. You stumble down the lane, and at the corner turn to throw a glance at the group of kilns. A light appears in a little window, high up. You know then that the old drier has taken his lantern into the oast, and is slouching the hops, round and round the wall, in that furtive way, a mysterious rite, while in the loft the weight sinks rhythmically into the filling sack, and the overseer scribbles another ton upon his slate. There is no sleep for the men, and to-morrow the carts will come creaking up the lane with new loads from the gardens.
The history of the hop is not uninteresting. Guinness is good for you; but in the reign of Henry VI popular opinion took a different view, and the hop was condemned as ‘a wicked weed’. By the time of Henry VIII the wicked weed had attained quite another status, having been officially introduced from Flanders for cultivation in Kent and two or three other counties. Even so, Henry VIII ruled that the brewer should not put any hops into the ale, since this addition would ‘dry up the body and increase melancholy’. This ruling of an autocratic King did not prevent an irreverent subject of the Crown from writing, perhaps rather inaccurately,
Hops, Reformation, Bays, and Beer
Came into England all in one year.
The overwhelming proportion of those hops which came into England, never to depart, is grown in
Kent,and has had its effect upon the landscape of the county in those characteristicpointed oast-houses, with their white vanes swinging to the wind. Most people must be strangely incurious. Nearly everybody must surely have seen oasts dozens of time, if only from the window of a train, yet if one lives near a group of them one is constantly asked what ‘those odd-looking buildings’ are for. During the first weeks of September, anyone can see for himself what they are for. He can climb up into the upper loft and glance into the round turret where the deep green carpet of cones is spread drying in the hot fumes. He can watch the men shovellingthe dried heaps through a hole in the floor, packing them tightly into the great sacks called pockets in which they are to be driven away to the brewer—the last stage in the endlessly complicated process of the hop-grower’syear.
The pickers have nearly finished their job and will be leaving us at the end of this week. No longer shall we see the red light of their fires burning in the distance, nor, on a Saturday night, shall I be able to walk down to their huts, sit with them round the brushwood fire, and listen to their jokes and their songs. It is a scene which, with a difference, always carries me back to a ranch in California, where under the shelter of a great rock the cowboys would light their bonfire and sit round chanting endless sagas of the trail. There is no great rock here, and the stars are less enormous, but even in the lameness of my own familiar fields the sole illumination of the flames casts a wild beauty over the rough faces and the coloured scarves. The doors of the huts stand open, a little oil-lamp revealing each miniature interior; the head of a sleepy child droops suddenly; an armful of fresh brushwood makes the embers flare; the plaintive notes of the accordion continue to rise and fall. It is nearly two o’clock in the morning; the jokes, the dancing, and the ribald songs have ceased; they have stopped dancing the Lambeth Walk; the songs are all sentimental now—eternal Sehnsucht and eternal pain.
I shall miss the hoppers.
Today is the birthday of Charles Lamb, who “was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children’s book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb.” In addition to his own works, and adapting others, he also collected works of earlier authors. One such work was entitled “Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, Selected by Charles Lamb,” published in 1803.
One of his choices has an anonymous author, and is ascribed to the London Chanticleers, and is characterized as “a rude sketch of a play, printed 1659, but evidently much older.” It’s entitled “Song in praise of Ale.”
Song in praise of Ale
Submit, bunch of Grapes,
To the strong Barley ear;
The weak Vine no longer,
The Laurel shall wear.
Sack and drinks else,
Desist from the strife,
Ale’s th’ only Aqua vitae,
And liquor of life.
Then come my boon fellows,
Let’s drink it around;
It keeps us from th’ grave,
Though it lays us o’ th’ ground.
Ale’s a Physcian,
No Mountebank bragger,
Can cure the chill ague,
Though ’t be with the stagger.
Ale’s a strong wrestler,
Flings all it hath met;
And makes the ground slippery,
Though ’t be not wet.
Ale is both Ceres,
And good Neptune too,
Ale’s froth was the Sea,
From whence Venus grew.
Ale is immortal:
And be there no stops,
In bonny Lads’ quaffing,
Can live without hops.
Then come my boon fellows,
Let’s drink it around;
It keeps us from the grave,
Though it lays us o’ th’ ground.
Today is the birthday of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. He was “an English writer of world-famous children’s fiction, notably Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility at word play, logic and fantasy. The poems Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark are classified in the genre of literary nonsense. He was also a mathematician, photographer, and Anglican deacon.” One of his
In the latter, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Carroll writes about his idea on how to keep drunkards at home, drinking their beer there and not throwing away the family’s money, all to the betterment of society. It begins in Chapter V: Mathilda Jane.
When the full stream of loving memories had nearly run itself out, I began to question her about the working men of that
neighbourhood, and speciallythe ‘Willie,’ whom we had heard of at his cottage. “He was a good fellow once,” said my kind hostess: “but it’s the drink has ruined him! Not that I’d rob them of the drink—it’s good for the most of them—but there’s some as is too weak to stand agin’ temptations: it’s a thousand pities, for them, as they ever built the Golden Lion at the corner there!”
“The Golden Lion?” I repeated.
“It’s the new Public,” my hostess explained. “And it stands right in the way, and handy for the workmen, as they come back from the brickfields, as it might be
to-day, with their week’s wages. A deal of money gets wasted that way. And some of ’em gets drunk.”
“If only they could have it in their own houses—” I mused, hardly knowing I had said the words out loud.
“That’s it!” she eagerly exclaimed. It was evidently a solution, of the problem, that she had already thought out. “If only you could manage, so’s each man to have his own little barrel in his own house—there’d hardly be a drunken man in the length and breadth of the land!”
And then I told her the old story—about a certain cottager who bought himself a little barrel of beer, and installed his wife as bar-keeper: and how, every time he wanted his mug of beer, he regularly paid her over the counter for it: and how she never would let him go on ‘tick,’ and was a perfectly inflexible bar-keeper in never letting him have more than his proper allowance: and how, every time the barrel needed refilling, she had plenty to do it with, and something over for her money-box: and how, at the end of the year, he not only found himself in first-rate health and spirits, with that undefinable but quite unmistakeable air which always distinguishes the sober man from the one who takes ‘a drop too much,’ but had quite a box full of money, all saved out of his own pence!
“If only they’d all do like that!” said the good woman, wiping her eyes, which were overflowing with kindly sympathy. “Drink hadn’t need to be the curse it is to some——”
“Only a curse,” I said, “when it is used wrongly. Any of God’s gifts may be turned into a curse, unless we use it wisely. But we must be getting home. Would you call the little girls? Matilda Jane has seen enough of
company, for one day, I’m sure!”
So Carroll insists that it’s not beer or drink that’s bad for them, it’s over-indulging in it. That seems a rather progressive idea for 1893, especially in the face of temperance movements of the day.
But his solution is sublime. To avoid so many people wasting their wages down at the pub, just give every household its own Kegerator and barrel of beer so they’ll instead come home most nights and drink their beer there with their family. Genius.
Later in the chapter, Sylvie and Bruno find themselves outside The Golden Lion.
“And that’s the new public-house that we were talking about, I suppose?” I
said,as we came in sight of a long low building, with the words ‘The Golden Lion’ over the door.
“Yes, that’s it,” said Sylvie. “I wonder if her Willie’s inside? Run in, Bruno, and see if he’s there.”
I interposed, feeling that Bruno was, in a sort of way, in my care. “That’s not a place to send a child into.” For already the revelers were getting noisy: and a wild discord of singing, shouting, and meaningless laughter came to us through the open windows.
wo’n’tsee him, you know,” Sylvie explained. “Wait a minute, Bruno!” She clasped the jewel, that always hung roundher neck, between the palms of her hands, and muttered a few words to herself. What they were I could not at all make out, but some mysterious change seemed instantly to pass over us. My feet seemed to meno longer to press the ground, and the dream-like feeling came upon me, that I was suddenly endowed with the power of floating in the air. I could still just see the children: but their forms were shadowy and unsubstantial, and their voices sounded as if they came from some distant place and time, they were so unreal. However, I offered no further opposition to Bruno’s going into the house. He was back again in a few moments. “No, he isn’t come yet,” he said. “They’re talking about him inside, and saying how drunk he was last week.”
While he was speaking, one of the men lounged out through the door, a pipe in one hand and a mug of beer in the other, and crossed to where we were standing, so as to get a better view along the road. Two or three others leaned out through the open window, each holding his mug of beer, with red faces and sleepy eyes. “Canst see him, lad?” one of them asked.
dunnotknow,” the man said, taking a step forwards, which brought us nearly face to face. Sylvie hastily pulled me out of his way. “Thanks, child,” I said. “I had forgotten he couldn’t see us. What would have happened if I had staid in his way?”
In Chapter VI, they decide to rescue Willie from his pub crawling ways.
He made for the door of the public-house, but the children intercepted him. Sylvie clung to one arm; while Bruno, on the opposite side, was pushing him with all his strength, with many inarticulate cries of “Gee-up! Gee-back! Woah then!” which he had picked up from the waggoners.
‘Willie’ took not the least notice of them: he was simply conscious that something had checked him: and, for want of any other way of accounting for it, he seemed to regard it as his own act.
“I wunnut coom in,” he said: “not to-day.”
“A mug o’ beer wunnut hurt ’ee!” his friends shouted in chorus. “Two mugs wunnut hurt ’ee! Nor a dozen mugs!”84
“Nay,” said Willie. “I’m agoan whoam.”
“What, withouten thy drink, Willie man?” shouted the others. But ‘Willie man’ would have no more discussion, and turned doggedly away, the children keeping one on each side of him, to guard him against any change in his sudden resolution.
Willie went home and gave all his wages to his wife, and she was pretty happy, as were his children. The only thing that would have made the ending better is if his wife had installed a barrel of beer so he could come home every day after work and have a drink of beer there, as was the earlier suggestion Carroll made.