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WAGES AND DRINK IN CHINA.
do to feed his family, which consists not only of his wife and children but his parents also; and he has besides to provide a supply of rice for uncles, cousins, &c.; hence it follows that every cash earned either by the man or woman goes towards procuring food and clothing instead of enriching the keepers of grogshops." This is an important consideration, and one that should not be lost sight of, when we look at the relations between the earnings of working people and their expenditure on drink. China, like many other countries in which wealth is unequally distributed, may at some future time, when her working classes are more prosperous, have to contend again with the national vice which was so prevalent during her early civilisation.
1 Chinese Sketches, p. 12.
THE DRINKING HABITS OF THE ARYAN RACES OF INDIA-THE VEDAS AND BRAHMINICAL LITERATURE-MODERN INDIA.
WE are now about to consider the drinking propensities of our own remote ancestry-of those from whom most of the inhabitants of modern Europe and the Transatlantic continents are descended; and should there exist in the mind of any of our readers a doubt as to the enormous advances that have been made in civilisation since the earliest historic period, we think that doubt will be dispelled for ever.
The religious and moral condition of the Aryan races of India is to be found impressed upon the sacred writings of the ancient Brahmans, for a knowledge of which we are largely indebted to that industrious student of Sanskrit, Professor Max Müller of Oxford, who considers that the period embraced by the Rig-Veda or Sacred Books extended back indefinitely from 1200 B.C., and that the hymns which they contain were first committed to writing between 600 and 200 B.C.,1 about the same time, therefore, as the writings of Confucius and Mencius were published in China.
1 History of the Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 523, 572. Williams & Norgate.
THE VEDIC "SOMA" SACRIFICE.
And what can these Brahminical writings teach us concerning the drinking customs of the people? the reader may inquire. At the risk of offending his susceptibilities, and even of laying ourselves open to the charge of irreverence, we will ask him what he would. think of a body of worshippers in our day, who, instead of addressing their hymns and prayers to the Almighty Father and Ruler of the universe, the One ineffably good, and wise, and holy, were to appeal to Him as a mighty Ruler in heaven who was to be propitiated and bribed with unlimited offerings of brandy, and who, until he became completely intoxicated, was incapable of performing any great or benevolent act? And yet this, or even lower than this, was the estimate which the Aryan people had formed of their god Indra, as well as of his less powerful companions in heaven; and the only inference we are able to draw-one that we are sure the reader would extract from the study of those so-called hymns-is that the nature of the Deity was but a reflex of the character of his worshipping multitudes.
The chief sacrificial ceremony of the ancient Brahmans was called "soma," after an intoxicating drink to be described presently; and the deity to whom this drink was believed to be the most acceptable was Indra. The soma" sacrifice was and is still performed by the Brahmans as follows:-A certain quantity of the intoxicating juice is offered as a libation to the different deities by pouring it from variously shaped wooden vessels upon the sacred fire. the gods are supposed to drink. Then the priests themselves drink, sometimes very copiously; also the sacri
ficer. The drink itself is believed to have been prepared with the juice of a creeper (Asclepias). After being cleaned and macerated in water, the plant was pressed between two stones, and the juice which flowed from it was diluted with water, and strained through ram's wool. This juice was then mixed with malt and warm milk or clarified butter, and was allowed to ferment. M. Haug, who witnessed the sacrifices of the modern Brahmans, tasted the "soma" as at present prepared, and describes it as whitish, very astringent and bitter, with some intoxicating properties. He says it had a most disagreeable taste, and he could only drink a few spoonfuls of it. The plant used in the present day is, however, not that employed by the ancient Brahmans. "Soma," it should be added, was not only a drink, but is frequently addressed in the Vedas as a deity; and, by priestly incantations, the liquor was believed to be miraculously transformed into the god himself. It is not unlikely that this was the origin of the modern doctrine of transubstantiation, or the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, through priestly consecration, in the bread and wine of the Eucharist; and it is strange how universal has been the practice of combining the use of intoxicating drink with religious worship throughout all ages. It is first found in connection with the early religious observances of the Persian, Brahminical, and Chinese faiths. It was forbidden by the Buddhists. Commencing with the Semitic sacrifices, it has retained its place in the ceremonies of the modern Jews, and has found its way into the worship of every denomination of Christians,
1 Haug's Essays on the Religion, &c., of the Parsees, pp. 280-283. Trübner & Co.
WINE AND RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES.
from the Unitarians to the Roman Catholics. Without attempting to discuss the proposition of some total abstainers that the wine used at the Lord's Supper was not an intoxicating drink,1 we cannot help remarking that until the custom, however nominal, ceases to receive the highest possible sanction-the approval of the Church and the priesthood-it seems idle to attempt to suppress or discountenance the use of alcohol by coercive measures amongst the lay members of society.
But to proceed. The Rig-Veda from beginning to end abounds with references to the supposed drinking proclivities of the deities, especially of Indra. To the effect of the libations poured out to him by his worshippers all his gifts are attributed. "Come hither, O Indra, to our sacrifice. Drink of the soma, O somadrinker; thine intoxication is that which gives us abundance of cows."2 "Come hither, O Indra, and intoxicate thyself."3 Indra was not believed to be capable of accomplishing any heroic deed unless he was intoxicated. For example, "When he (Indra) combated against the withholder of rain (Vritra), in his inebriation, the refreshing rain rushed down the declivity like rivers." 4 "When Indra, animated by
The Bases of Temperance Reform, p. 113. Rev. D. Burns, M.A. London: Tweedie & Co.
2 Rig-Veda, 1. 4. 2. Most of these extracts from the Rig-Veda have been translated for this work from the original Sanskrit by Dr. Myriantheus, an able Sanskrit scholar, and compared by the author where it was possible with Wilson's and Langlois' translations of the Rig-Veda. With respect to the foregoing quotation, Dr. Max Müller translates it (in a letter to the author): "The intoxication of a wealthy man bestows wealth;" that is, a wealthy man when intoxicated is generous. Nothing can be more convincing than this rendering that the Aryan conception of the gods was but a reflection of the character of the people themselves.
3 Rig-Veda, I. 9. I.
4 Ibid., I. 52. 5.