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Now that’s what I call a proper Friday night drink – Boswell entertains at home

November 29th, 2013

On October 13, 1783 there were three men at dinner at Auchinleck, and between them they polished off three bottles of claret, two bottles of port, two bottles of Lisbon, three bottles of Mountain and one bottle of rum. Three days later six men sat down to dinner, but did not rise until they had emptied seven bottles of claret, two “Scotch pints” of claret (each of which was equivalent to three English pints, and thus to approximately two normal bottles), three bottles of port, one bottle of Lisbon, two bottles of Madeira, one bottle of Mountain and one bottle of rum.

You might think that, after such indulgence, a day or so of dry toast and herbal tea might be just the thing. But the following day seven men were at table, and if anything they exceeded the potations of the previous evening. They again drank seven bottles of claret, two Scotch pints of claret, and three bottles of port, before varying the conclusion of the entertainment with two bottles of Lisbon, one bottle of Madeira and no fewer than three bottles of rum. Boswell’s journal entry after this debauch says something for his stamina:

I drank a great deal of wine without feeling any bad effect…While I kept the highest pitch of jollity, I at the same time maintained the peculiar decorum of the family of Auchinleck.

From Boswell’s Life of Dissipation  – the latest column delving into matters alcoholic by Saintsbury in Standpoint that looks back into the cache of Boswell papers which surfaced during the last century at Malahide Castle in Ireland that includes the manuscript book in which Boswell kept a record of the guests he entertained at Auchinleck, and of what they drank on each evening.

A columnist worthy of putting on your “must follow” list.


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