What subject is so suitable for early summer ? Who has not at times experienced that strange and almost painful feeling that must exist in the throat in order that the sensation may be worthy of the name of "thirst?" I recollect many years ago either hearing or reading a horrible story of the refinement of cruelty. A prisoner is supposed to have been lowered into a deep dungeon, and to have been left for a whole day without food. Ravenous with hunger, what are his feelings on seeing the dungeon-top unclosed, and slowly lowered a silver dish containing probably food. The dish is at length grasped and uncovered, and is found to contain some bread and nicely cooked salt fish, both of which are eagerly devoured. The dish is slowly drawn up, and the prisoner left alone. What, however, were the pains of hunger that he felt, compared to the raging thirst he now experiences, a thirst greatly increased by the nature of the food he has eaten—viz., salt fish ! Another twenty-four hours of agony, tenfold greater than he experienced before, pass heavily away, and again the dungeon opens, and a large and beautiful silver goblet is seen slowly to descend, and sends a quiver of hope through the frame of the poor agonised wretch, almost raving. The goblet is at length clutched, somewhat like a drowning man would clutch a straw. Alas ! the goblet is found to be empty, and he is left to Death, more merciful than his gaolers.
Horrible stories, too, have been told of travellers in the desert, who, in their death-agony, have ripped open and ladled out a spoonful or two of water from their camel's stomach.
However, we live in a happier clime; certain is it that should any one experience thirst in this country, it is not for want of opportunities to drink.
Before, however, we proceed to discuss the various methods and recipes for cooling drinks, such as claret-cup, champagne-cup, as well as home-made lemonade, lemon-smash, etc, it will not be out of place to compare (as we have already done in cooking) France and England, in regard to drinking. If it is urged there is a good old saying that "comparisons are odious," we would add, so also is drunkenness. That this latter vice is the curse of the country, and has been for many years, no one will deny. That of late private tippling in families far above the lower orders is also on the increase, is a fact so patent that it deserves more notice than that it has hitherto met with in purely medical journals.
Perhaps one of the simplest and most effective cures for the dangerous habit we speak of is the substitution of some agreeable but at the same time harmless drink, for the usual stimulant.
We believe that this point has not met with the attention it deserves. The public-houses of London are essentially drinking-houses. A poor man, to whom every penny is an object, is almost driven when thirsty to take beer—too often, unfortunately, the beer in question being so adulterated that it helps in the end to increase rather than alleviate thirst. On the other hand, a Paris cafe contains a choice of drinks almost unknown in London, many of which combine a delicious flavour with the advantage of being non-intoxicating. I have known several cases of English lads who, when in England, invariably took beer, who looked forward with pleasure to the equally cheap glass of groseille and water when abroad. These to whom I refer were in charge of some race-horses, had been educated at Newmarket, and were constantly in the habit of travelling between that place and Paris.
Young lads at the dangerous and susceptible age of seventeen too often take to drinking more beer than is good for them, just in the same way that they take to smoking—viz., because they think it will look manly, and not because they really like it. The habit once formed, in nine cases out of ten probably lasts a lifetime ; but the good old saying, that " prevention is better than cure," was never more applicable than in the case in point.
We could recommend some enterprising grocers during the present summer to offer for sale glasses of syrup and water—say groseille—with a small piece of ice in each glass, for a penny; the profit would be considerable. Were every grocer's shop in London to adopt this suggestion, I believe more would be done towards checking intemperance than all the efforts of the teetotal societies have done for years.
There are several ways of making claret-cup, and many persons have their own private recipe. It will also invariably be found that each person thinks his own recipe the best. In this respect claret-cup may be said to have taken the place of punch, disputes about the best method of brewing a bowl of which are said in days of old to have even led to duels being fought between the rival brewers.
I will give two recipes for making claret-cup—one, which may be called strong cup, suitable for dinner, and another weaker cup, more adapted to be drunk after cricket or rowing. There are, perhaps, few occasions when a deep draught of a cool fluid is more grateful than after a long pull on the river on a hot day.
Of course the basis of claret-cup is claret; but one word of warning somewhat similar to that we gave in connection with turtle soup. It is impossible to make a good cup out of really bad claret. I do not mean cheap claret, but sour. It is quite possible to get a good sound wine for twenty-four shillings a dozen, or even less ; but at the same time it is quite possible to pay more, and get a sour compound that would be unfit for cup or any other purpose. On the other hand, to use really good claret, such as Chateau Margaux or Chateau Latour, for making cup, would be as bad as using 1834 port to make negus.
Perhaps the most difficult point to determine in making claret-cup is its sweetness. Now, as this is purely a matter of taste, I would recommend persons to err on the side of too little sugar rather than too much, as it is always easy to add, but impossible to take away.