Thus of Ould

Samuel Ward was a 16th-17th century Puritan preacher, and therefore generally an unlikable guy all around. He is most famous for complaining loudly about silly things threatening Christian institutions. Mainly, I think that the caricature from this printing of his sermon Woe to Drunkards is hilarious.  Why is “O MANERS. O TYMES.” upside down? I have no fucking clue, but it’s great.

The sermon is not really too incredible. The worst parts are long-winded and come to no real point, and in all honesty you can absolutely skip this entire paragraph:

To whom is woe! To whom is sorrow! To whom is strife! dc. In the end it will bite like a serpent, and sting like a cockatrice.—Prov. [Proverbs] XXIII. 29, 32.

SEER, art thou also blind ? Watchman, art thou also drunk or asleep? Isa. [Isaiah] xxi. ; or hath a spirit of slumber put out thine eyes ? Up to thy watch-tower; what descries thou ? Ah, Lord ! what end or number is there of the vanities which mine eyes are weary of beholding ? But what seest thou ? I see men walking like the tops of trees shaken with the wind, like masts of ships reeling on the tempestuous seas. Drunkenness I mean, that hateful night-bird, which was wont to wait for the twilight, to seek nooks and corners, to avoid the hooting and wonderment of boys and girls. Now, as it were some eaglet, to dare the sunlight, to fly abroad at high noon in every street, in open markets and fairs, without fear or shame, without control or punishment, to the disgrace of the nation, the outfacing of magistracy ministry, the utter undoing (without timely prevention) of health and wealth, piety and virtue, town and country, church and commonwealth. And dost thou, like a dumb dog, hold thy peace at these things? Dost thou, with Solomon’s sluggard, fold thine hands in thy bosom, and give thyself to ease and drowsiness, while the envious man causeth the noisomest and basest of weeds to overrun the choicest Eden of God ? Up and arise, lift up thy voice, spare not, and cry aloud. What shall I cry ? Cry woe, and woe again, unto the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim. Take up a parable, and tell them how it stingeth like the cockatrice, declare unto them the deadly poison of this odious sin. Shew them also the sovereign antidote and cure of it, in the cup that was drunk off by him that was able to overcome it. Cause them to behold the brazen serpent, and be healed. And what though some of these deaf adders will not be charmed nor cured, yea, though few or none of these swinish herd of habitual drunkards, accustomed to wallow in their mire, yea, deeply and irrecoverably plunged by legions of devils into the dead sea of their filthiness, what if not one of them will be washed and made clean, but turn again to their vomit, and trample the pearls of all admonition under feet, yea, turn again, and rend their reprovers with scoffs and scorns, making jests and songs on their ale-bench ; yet may some young ones be deterred, and some novices reclaimed, some parents and magistrates awakened to prevent and suppress the spreading of this gangrene, and God have his work in such as belong to his grace. And what is impossible to the work of his grace ? Go to then now, ye drunkards, listen not what I, or any ordinary hedge-priest (as you style us), but that most wise and experienced royal preacher, hath to say unto you. And because you are a dull and thick-eared generation, he first deals with you by way of question, a figure of force and impression. ‘ To whom is woe, ’ &c. You use to say, Woe be to hypocrites. It is true woe be to such, and all other witting and willing sinners ; but there are no kind of offenders on whom woe doth so palpably, inevitably attend as to you drunkards. You promise yourselves mirth, pleasure, and jollity in your cups ; but for one drop of your mad mirth be sure of gallons and tuns of woe, gall, wormwood, and bitterness here and hereafter. Other sinners shall taste of the cup, but you shall drink of the dregs of God’s wrath and displeasure. ‘ To whom is strife ? ‘ You talk of good fellowship and friendship, but wine is a rager and tumultuous make-bate, and sets you a quarrelling and meddling. When wit is out of the head, and strength out of the body, it thrusts even cowards and dastards, unfenced and unarmed, into needless frays and combats. And then to whom are wounds, broken heads, blue eyes, maimed limbs ? You have a drunken by-word, ‘ Drunkards take no harm ; ‘ but how many are the mishaps and untimely misfortunes that betide such, which, though they feel not in drink, they carry as marks and brands to their grave ? You pretend you drink healths, and for healths ; but to whom are all kind of diseases, infirmities, deformities, pearled faces, palsies, dropsies, headaches, if not to drunkards ?

Of more interest, because it’s plainly more interesting, is the (also lengthy) section where Ward simply rambles off a long series of different stories about alcoholics dying due to drink. The idea put across is very, very literal here: “If you drunkards hadn’t been drinking, God would never have killed you!” I would offer in-depth commentary on the individual stories, but I’m no specialist in early modern history. Still, a few things are noteworthy: aside from the fantastical nature of some of these stories, several of them are purely hearsay, which puts some doubt on their historicity. They can, however, be organized by reported source, i.e. personal inquiry, print, things reported “by sundry,” the testimony of eyewitnesses or local notables (including legal and government authorities). Notably, he admits to lacking certainty for several of the accounts given.

…How terrible a theatre of God’s judgments against drunkards, such as might make their hearts to bleed and relent, if not their ears to tingle, to hear of a taste of some few such noted and remarkable examples of God’s justice, as have come to within the compass of mine own notice and certain knowledge ; I think I should offend to conceal them from the world, whom they may happily keep from being the like to others, themselves.

                An alewife in Kesgrave, who would needs force three serving-men (that had been drinking in her house, and were taking their leaves), to stay and drink the first three outs first (that is, wit out of the head, money out of the purse, ale out of the pot), as she was coming towards them with the pot in her hand, was suddenly taken speechless and sick, her tongue swollen in her mouth, never recovered speech, the third day after died. This Sir Anthony Felton, the next gentleman and justice, with divers other eye-witnesses of her in sickness, related to me ; whereupon I went to the house with two or three witnesses, inquired the truth of it.

                Two servants of a brewer in Ipswich, drinking for a rump of a turkey, struggling in their drink for it, fell into a scalding caldron backwards ; whereof the one died presently, the other lingeringly and painfully, since my coming to Ipswich.

                Anno 1619. A miller in Bromeswell coming home drunk from Woodbridge (as he oft did), would needs go and swim in the mill-pond. His wife and servants, knowing he could not swim, dissuaded him, once by entreaty got him out of the water, but in he would needs go again, and there he drowned. I was at the house to inquire of this, and found it to be true.

                In Barnwell, near to Cambridge, one at the sign of the plough, a lusty young man, with two of his neighbours, and one woman in their company, agreed to drink a barrel of strong beer. They drunk up the vessel. Three of them died within four and twenty hours, the fourth hardly escaped, after great sickness. This I have under a justice of peace’s hand, near dwelling, besides the common fame.

                A butcher in Haslingfield, bearing the minister inveigh against drunkenness, being at his cups in the alehouse, fell a jesting and scoffing at the minister and his sermons. As he was drinking, the drink, or something in the cup, quackled him, stuck so in his throat that he could not get it up nor down, but strangled him presently.

At Tillingham, in Dengy Hundred, in Essex, three young men meeting to drink strong waters, fell by degrees to half pints. One fell dead in the room, and the other, prevented by company coming in, escaped without much sickness.

                At Bungey, in Norfolk, three coming out of an alehouse in a very dark evening, swore they thought it was not darker in hell itself. One of them fell off the bridge into the water, and was drowned. The second fell off his horse. The third, sleeping on the ground by the river’s side, was frozen to death. This have I often heard, but have no certain grounds for the truth of it.

                A bailiff of Hadly, upon the Lord’s day, being drunk at Melford, would needs get upon his mare to ride through the street, affirming (as the report goes) that his mare would carry him to the devil. His mare casts him off, and broke his neck instantly. Reported by sundry sufficient witnesses.

                Company drinking in an alehouse at Harwich in the night, over against one Mr Russel’s, and by him, out of his window, once or twice willed to depart. At length he came down, and took one of them, and made as if he would carry him to prison, who, drawing his knife, fled from him, and was, three days after, taken out of the sea, with the knife in his hand. Related to me by Mr Russel himself, mayor of the town.

                At Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, a drunkard being exceeding drunk, broke himself all to pieces off an high and steep rock in a most fearful manner, and yet the occasion and circumstances of his fall so ridiculous as I think not fit to relate, lest in so serious a judgment I should move laughter to the reader.

                A glazier in Chancery Lane, in London, noted formerly for profession, fell to a common course of drinking, whereof, being oft by his wife and many Christian friends admonished, yet presuming much of God’s mercy to himself, continued therein, till upon a time, having surcharged his stomach with drink, he fell a vomiting, broke a vein, lay two days in his extreme pain of body and distress of mind, till in the end, recovering a little comfort, he died. Both these examples related to me by a gentleman of worth, upon his own knowledge.

                Four sundry instances of drunkards, wallowing and tumbling in their drink, slain by carts, I forbear to mention, because such examples are so common and ordinary. [Hahaha, this is victim blaming.]

                A yeoman’s son, in Northamptonshire, being drunk at Wellingborough on a market-day, would needs ride his horse in a bravery over the ploughed lands, fell from his horse, and brake his neck. Reported to me by a kinsman of his own.

                A knight notoriously given to drunkenness, carrying sometimes pails of drink into the open field to make people drunk withal, being upon a time drinking with company, a woman comes in, delivering him a ring with this poesy, ‘ Drink and die,’ saying to him, This is for you, which he took and wore, and within a week after came to his end by drinking. Reported by sundry, and justified by a minister dwelling within a mile of the place.

                Two examples I have known of children that murdered their own mothers in drink, and one notorious drunkard that attempted to kill his father, of which being hindered, he fired his barn, and was afterward executed. One of these formerly in print.

                At a tavern in Bread Street, in London, certain gentlemen drinking health to their lords on whom they had a dependence, one desperate wretch steps to the table’s end, lays hold on a pottle pot full of Canary sacks, swears a deep oath, What ! will none here drink a health to my noble lord and master ? and so setting the pottle pot to his mouth, drinks it off to the bottom ; was not able to rise up or to speak when he had done, but fell into a deep snoring sleep, and being removed, laid aside, and covered by one of the servants of the house, attending the time of the drinking, was within the space of two hours irrecoverably dead. Witnessed at the time of the printing hereof, by the same servant that stood by him in the set, and helped to remove him.

                In Dengy Hundred, near Maldon, about the beginning of his majesty’s reign, there fell out an extraordinary judgment upon five or six that plotted a solemn drinking at one of their houses ; laid in beer for the once, drunk healths in a strange manner, and died thereof within a few weeks, some sooner, and some later. Witnessed to me by one that was with one of them on his deathbed, to demand a debt, and often spoken of by Mr Heydon, late preacher of Maldon, in the hearing of many. The particular circumstances where exceeding remarkable, but having not sufficient proof for the particulars, I will not report them.

                One of Aylesham, in Norfolk, a notorious drunkard, drowned in a shallow brook of water, with his horse by him.

                Whilst this was at the press, a man eighty-five years old or thereabout, in Suffolk, overtaken with win (though never in all his life before, as he himself said a little before his fall, seeming to bewail his present condition, and others that knew him say so of him), yet, going down a pair of stairs, against the persuasion of a woman sitting by him in his chamber, fell, and was so dangerously hurt, as he died soon after, not being able to speak from the time of his fall to his death.

The names of the parties thus punished, I forbear, for the kindred’s sake yet living.


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