Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK Statement of John Gordon, Old Bailey Sessions Papers, September 15–20, 1756. See also, for example,  Edward Ward, Miscellaneous Writings, in Verse and Poetry . . . (London, 1712), 89; "To the Editor," British Chronicle (London), February 2, 1763; "T.C.," Public Ledger (London), December 5, 1765. In truth, only sleep's first hours are enhanced by alcohol; thereafter, people grow very restless. Coren, Sleep Thieves, 138. Statement of John Gordon, Old Bailey Sessions Papers, September 15–20, 1756. here “I happen'd to come to this house about nine o'clock, and call'd for half a pint of wine, in order to sleep all night (I came from Bristol.) The landlord said I might have a bed. Then I call'd for another half pint of wine, supper and beer; and when I wanted to go to bed I tap'd with my foot, but nobody came. Then I took the pot with me to drink when I was in bed; and going for them to shew me the way to my bed they stop'd me.”  Notice he wanted to “sleep all night”, this is contrary to Ekirch’s assertion that “Until the close of the early modern era, Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major intervals of sleep bridged by up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness.” Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary Containing His Ten Yeeres Travell . . . , 4 vols. (Glasgow, 1907), 4: 44; here seems to be concerned merely with the drinking customs of the Germans rather than a description of using alcohol to help sleep. “It remaines that I should enforme passengers how to apply themselves to the Germans in this drinking custome, so as at least with lesse hurt or offence, they may passe through their territories. For those who passe suddenly through the same without long abode in any place, nothing is more easie then to shunne all participation of this vice, by consorting themselves with fit companions in their journey, so as they being the greater part as well in the Coach, as at the Table, may rather draw the lesser part to sobriety, then be induced by them to excesse. But they who desire to converse with the Germans, and to learne their language, cannot possibly keepe within the bounds of temperance and must use art to shunne great or daily excesse. Such a passenger sitting downe at Table, must not presently drinke of all the Cups begunne to him from others: for the Germans are so exceeding charitable to all Men, as they will furnish him presently with new Cuppes on all hands for feare that hee should suffer thirst. He shall doe better to set the cups in order before his trencher, and first to drinke of, those of lesser quantity, but ever to keepe one or two of the greatest to returne in exchange to him that drinkes to him. For this kind of revenge (as I may terme it) the Germans feare, more then the Irish doe great gunnes, and to avoide the same, will forbeare to provoke him with garausses. For they love not healths in great measures( which they call In floribus), but had much rather sip then swallow. In this kinde I remember a pleasant French Gentleman much distasted them, who invited to a feast, and admonished that hee could not possibly returne sober, did at the very beginning of supper drinke great garausses of himself calling for them, besides the small healths commended to him from others, which unwonted kind of skirmishing when they disliked, he presently replied: Why should we leese time ? since we must be drunken let us doe it quickly, the sooner, the better; and therewith hee so tyred those at the table, as hee found no man would in that kind contend with him. But to the purpose. If the cuppes set about his trencher increase in number, he may easily finde occasion (as when his consorts goe out to make water) either to convey some of them to their trenchers, or to give them to the servant to set away: After supper he may nod and sleepe, as if he were drunken, for, Stultitiam simulare loco prudentia summa. Sometimes the foole to play, Is wisdome great they say. And so hee shall bee led to a bed, which they have in  all their stoves, and call the Faulbett, that is, the slothfull bed. Otherwise hee may faine head-ach,or feare of an ague; or if these excuses prevaile not, as seldom they doe while hee staies in the roome, because they cannot indure to have a sober man behold them drinking, then as if hee went out to make water, or speake with some friend, hee shall doe best to steale away, and howsoever hee have confidently promised to returne, yet to come no more that night, no not to fetch his cloake or hat, which are always laid up safely for him, especially if hee foresee the skirmish like to bee hot. But above all, let him take heede of the old fashion to take leave of his companions and bid them good night, for the Germans upon no intreaty or excuse will suffer any man to goe to bed so sober. If there bee musicke and dancing, their dances being of no Art and small toyle, hee had much better daunce with the women till midnight, then returne to the table among the drinkers, for one of these foure he must doe, drinke, sleepe, daunce,o r stealea way, no fifth course remaines. Lastly, let him warily chuse his companions of that Nation, with good triall of their honest dispositions. But with strangers, as English, French and Polakes, let him carefully eschewe excesse of drinking. For these, and especially the English, when they are heated with drinke, are observed to bee mad in taking exceptions, and in the ill effects of fury, being more prone to quarrels then the Dutch, and having no meane in imitating forraigne vices or vertues, but with Brutus, that they will, they will too much.” Edward Ward, Miscellaneous Writings, in Verse and Poetry . . . (London, 1712), 89;  The  actual title is “Miscellaneous Writings, in Verse and Prose”, published in 6 volumes.  There is an edition of Volume 3 that was published in 1712 but there appears nothing relevant in that book, certainly not on page 89. I have trawled other works by Ward and found a poem from 1712 which contains the following Poyfon’d with Wine o’er Nihght, as I next Day Sorching and raving in Fever lay, A Grave Phyfician did his Vifit pay. Doctor, Avaunt, bring me a Tun, faid I, Of good Small-Beer, I am not fick, but dry, And whilft that lafts, i’m fure cannot die. He felt my Pulfe, then fhook his Head, You’re dangerous Ill, faid he, and muft be bled Give me Small-Beer, faid I, or I am dead Then nofing of his Cane, he paus’d a while; Small-Beer, cry’d he, Come, come, it cannot kill; Nurfe, brimg a Jug-ful, let hime Drink his Fill Blefs me, thought I, what Comfort do I hear, Who can the ill Effects of Claret fear, That in a Fever is allow’d Small-Beer? One hearty Guzzel did my Body heal In e’ery Gulp, I did fuch Pleafures feel, I drank a Gallon, flept, and so grew well "To the Editor," British Chronicle (London), February 2, 1763; This is one of Ekirch’s misleading references, the actual title of the newspaper is it is ‘Lloyd’s Evening Post and British Chronicle’  (this should perhaps be obvious given the passage referenced is entitled. ‘To the Editor of Lloyd’s Evening Post’ Content to earn ere eat his bread, The peasant labours without care: When work is done, his ev’ning fare, A pitcher, pipe, and so to bed The OED gives ‘Pitcher -A large (often ceramic) vessel with one or two handles and usually a lip, for holding and pouring out liquids; a jug’. So there is nothing specific in this passage that necessarily means that the peasant was consuming alcohol.  "T.C.," Public Ledger (London), December 5, 1765. This reference can only refer to this advertisement and while a tincture is made using alcohol, this hardly supports Ekirch’s point about taking alcohol to help sleep, certainly at a dose of 1 “tea Spoonful” “in a Wine Glafs of cold Water.” TINCTURE of CENTAURY; the great STOMACHIC bitter, that gives a healthy appetite and found digestion, invented by Dr. HILL. It ftrenghtens a weak Stomach, prevents Wind and Swelling, and never fails to cure Reachings, Loathings and Sicknefs after Meals. It takes off that Faintnefs, Weaknefs, and Wearinefs which proceed from Indigestio; and gives in their Place, Strength, Spirits and Chearfulnefs. The Heart-burn never troubles thofe who take this Medicine; and fuch as are accuftomed to bad Nights, with Drynefs and an ill Taste in the Mouth in a Morning, or an offenfive Breath, will always be relieved by it. Many are subject to a Rifing in the Stomach after Meals, amounting aloft to Suffocation, with Heavinefs of teh Head and Flufhings in the Face; thefe may be affured of a Cure from this eafy Remedy. It relieves inftantly in the moft difmal Oppreffions, prevents all the Train of Difeafes which arife from bad Digeftion, and gives every Day of Life, that Health and Eafe- without which we can tafte no other Satisfaction. Who, ever would fit down with an Appetite, and rife without Sicknefs, let him take Centaury. The dose is a Tea Spoonful, to be taken an Hour before Dinner, and a Night going to Bed, in a Wine Glafs of cold Water. Coren, Sleep Thieves, 138. Ekirch states that “In truth, only sleep's first hours are enhanced by alcohol; thereafter, people grow very restless”., 138. However the actual passage is slightly different “Taking alcohol makes you feel sleepy and reduces the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Its beneficial effects, however, only last for the first half of the nigh. During the early part of the night you have a lot of slow- wave deep sleep, but your rapid eye movement dreaming periods are greatly reduced in length or eliminated. in the second half of the night, people who take alcohol actually have poorer sleep and are far more restless” BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018