Art of Toasting
|Here's to our ancestors! Without them
where would we be?
Flagon and Trencher Traditional Toast
To the old, long life and treasure;
-- Ben Jonson
A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry. Ecclesiastes 10:19
Here's sham pain (champagne) for our real friends and real pain for our sham friends. -- A bad pun
To the militia: Invincible in peace; invisible in war.
Good company, good wine, good welcome, and make good people. -- Shakespeare
Drink down all unkindness. -- Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 1
Better to pay the tavern keeper than the druggist. -- Spanish proverb
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards. There it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. -- Benjamin Franklin
Wine is sunlight held together by water. -- Galileo Gallilei
photo from: http://www.goodlibationswineandspirits.com/
A Toast or Sentiment very frequently excites good humor, and revives lanquid conversation; often does it, when properly applied, cool the heat of resentment, and blunt the edge of animosity. A well-applied Toast is acknowledged, universally, to sooth the flame of acrimony, when season and reason oft used their efforts to no purpose.
One activity that certainly occurred in every colonial tavern was toasting. "To the King!" Was probably the most common. Here we present some old toasts that our ancestors probaobly well have uttered.
First let us digress into the history the practice. The following is taken mainly from the delightful book Toasts: Over 1,500 of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings and Graces by Paul Dickson (New York: Crown Publishers, 1991). In addition to the history and examples of the practice, the book has a lengthy bibliography for further research.
In ancient Rome, Emperor Fabius Maximus declared that no man should eat or drink before he had prayed for him and had drunk to his health. The first recorded instance of a toast being offered in England occurred in 450 AD using wæs hæl "be in health," the origin of our word "wassail."
Dickson quotes an unnamed Englishman as writing, "To drink at table without drinking to the health of someone special would be considered drinking on the sly, and as an act of incivility."
He goes on to give several pages of advice for effective toasting, the most cogent of which is to be well prepared if you plan to be in an appropriate setting. An old toast well memorized or a newly crafted sentiment is much better than an ineffective and token "Cheers!"
So here we give a small sampling of a large field of study and propose a toast to you!
May you learn to toast graciously and with good whit!