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sack — “A butt of,” THE TEMPEST, ii. 2. 113 ; “hath drowned his tongue in sack,” THE TEMPEST, iii. 2. 11 ; “hath drunk so much sack,” THE TEMPEST, iii. 2. 26 ; “this can sack and drinking do,” THE TEMPEST, iii. 2. 75 ; “you love sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, ii. 1. 7 ; “burnt sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, ii. 1. 192 ; iii. 1. 100; “a morning's draught of sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, ii. 2. 132 ; “a quart of sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, iii. 5. 3 ; “pour in some sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, iii. 5. 18 ; “a pottle of sack,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, iii. 5. 25 ; “to taverns, and sack, and wine,” THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, v. 5. 152 ; “a cup of sack,” THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, Induction, 2. 2 ; 1 HENRY IV., ii. 2. 45; ii. 4. 110, 113 , 119 , 145 ,305 ; 2 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 106 ; 2 HENRY VI., ii. 3. 60; “I ne'er drank sack in my life,” THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, Induction, 2. 6 ; “burn some sack,” TWELFTH NIGHT, ii. 3. 179 ; “old sack,” 1 HENRY IV., i. 2. 3 ; 2 HENRY IV., i. 2. 186; “cups of sack,” 1 HENRY IV., i. 2. 7 ; “Sir John Sack and Sugar,” 1 HENRY IV., i. 2. 109 ; “here's lime in this sack,” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 117 ; “bombard of sack,” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 436 ; “to taste sack,” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 440 ; “sack and sugar,” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 454 ; “Sack, two gallons,” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 519 ; “this intolerable deal of sack!” 1 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 523 ; “the sack that thou hast drunk me,” 1 HENRY IV., iii. 3. 43 ; “a bottle of sack,” 1 HENRY IV., iv. 2. 2 ; v. 3. 52; “purge, and leave sack,” 1 HENRY IV., v. 4. 163 ; “steep this letter in sack,” 2 HENRY IV., ii. 2. 128 ; “give's some sack,” 2 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 170 ; “Give me some sack,” 2 HENRY IV., ii. 4. 173 ; “A good sherris-sack,” 2 HENRY IV., iv. 3. 95 ; “is nothing without sack,” 2 HENRY IV., iv. 3. 112 ; “till sack commences it,” 2 HENRY IV., iv. 3. 114 ; “addict themselves to sack,” 2 HENRY IV., iv. 3. 122 ; “drunk too much sack,” 2 HENRY IV., v. 3. 13 ; “he cried out of sack,” HENRY V., ii. 3. 27. “With respect to the wines called Sacks, which had now come into general use, much diversity of opinion has prevailed. . . . It seems, indeed, to be admitted, on all hands, that the term Sack was originally applied to certain growths of Spain. . . . Dr. Percy has the credit of restoring the original interpretation of the term. In a manuscript account of the disbursements by the chamberlain of the city of Worcester for the year 1592, he found the ancient mode of spelling to be seck (‘Item, For a gallon of clarett wyne and seck, and a pound of sugar geven to Sir John Russell, iiiis.’), and thence concluded that Sack was merely a corruption of sec, signifying a dry wine. Minshew . . . renders the term vin sec; and Cotgrave, in his Dictionary, gives the same translation. The most satisfactory evidence, however, in support of this opinion, is furnished by the French version of a proclamation for regulating the prices of wines, issued by the privy council in 1633, where the expression vins secs corresponds with the word sacks in the original copy (Rymer's Fœdera, Tom. viii. Part iv. p. 46). It may also be remarked, that the term sec is still used as a substantive by the French, to denote a Spanish wine (‘On dit aussi quelquefois absolument du sec, pour dire, du vin d'Espagne.’ Dict. de Trevoux); and that the dry wine of Xerez is distinguished at the place of its growth by the name of vino seco. These several authorities, then, appear to warrant the inference that Sack was a dry Spanish wine. But, on the other hand, numerous instances occur in which it is mentioned in conjunction with wines of the sweet class. The act of Henry VIII. speaks of ‘sakkes or other swete wynes.’ In like manner, the Mystery of Vintners, published by Dr. Merret in 1675, gives a receipt ‘to correct the rankness and eagerness of wines, as Sack and Malago, or other sweet wines.’ Glas, in his History of the Canary Islands, makes no distinction between Malmsey and Canary Sack; and Nichols, in the account which he has given of Teneriffe, expressly says, ‘that island produces three sorts of excellent wines,—Canary, Malmsey, and Verdona; which all go under the denomination of Sacks’ (Astle's Voyages, vol. i. p. 541). To get rid of the difficulty which thus arises, Mr. Nares [in his Gloss.] has recourse to the supposition, that Sack was a common name for all white wines. But it has been already shown that the appellation was originally confined to the growths of Spain; and if it had been used to designate white wines in general, there can be no reason why it should not have been applied to those of France or Candia, which were then imported in large quantity. If, again, we suppose that the name denoted a sweet wine, we shall be equally at a loss to discover the circumstances which could have given rise to such a distinction between it and the other kinds then in use; not to mention, that such an application of the term would have been wholly at variance with the etymology as above deduced. A more particular examination of the characters assigned to Sack by the few writers who have described it, will perhaps enable us to reconcile these discrepancies, and remove much of the perplexity in which the question has hitherto been involved. In the first place, we are told by Venner, that ‘Sacke is completely hot in the third degree, and of thin parts, and therefore it doth vehemently and quickly heat the body: wherfore the much and untimely use of it doth overheat the liver, inflame the blood, and exsiccate the radical humour in lean and dry bodies’ (Via Recta ad Vitam Longam, p. 22). This description accords with the epithet ‘sprightly,’ which is given to it in some verses published in 1641 (Preparative to the Study or Vertue of Sack, 4to, 1641), and sufficiently proves, that it could not have been of a thick luscious quality, like most of the dessert-wines then in vogue. That, however, it was a liquor of considerable strength and body, may be inferred from a subsequent passage of the last-mentioned work, where it is extolled as ‘the elixir of wine;’ an expression apparently borrowed from one of Ben Jonson's plays (Every Man out of his Humour, Prol. [Introductory scene]). Herrick, again, calls it a ‘frantic liquor;’ expatiating, with rapture, on its ‘witching beauties,’ ‘generous blood,’ etc. (Farewell to Sack, and Welcome to Sack, Herrick's Hesperides, pp. 48, 87); and most of the dramatic writings of the age contain frequent allusions to its enlivening virtues and other fascinating properties. Had there been nothing new or uncommon in the nature of the wine, it could hardly have excited such extravagant admiration, or come into such universal request, at a time when our countrymen were already familiar with the choicest vintages from almost all parts of the globe. The practice which prevailed of mixing sugar with Sack has been thought by most persons to indicate a dry wine, such as Rhenish or Sherry. Dr. Drake, indeed, is of a contrary opinion, alleging that there would be no humour in Falstaff's well-known jest on Sack and sugar, if the liquor had not been of the sweet kind (Shakespeare and his Times, vol. ii. p. 130). But on this point little stress can be laid; as at that time it was a general custom with the English to add sugar to their wines (See Fynes Moryson's Itinerary, Part iii. p. 152. Hentzner's Travels, etc.). The testimony of Venner, however, who has discussed the question, ‘whether Sack be best to be taken with sugar or without,’ clearly points to a dry wine. ‘Some,’ he observes, ‘affect to drinke Sacke with sugar, and some without, and upon no other ground, as I thinke, but that, as it is best pleasing to their pallates. I will speake what I deeme thereof, and I thinke I shall well satisfie such as are judicious. Sacke, taken by itself, is very hot, and very penetrative: being taken with sugar, the heat is both somewhat allayed, and the penetrative quality thereof also retardated. Wherefore let this be the conclusion: Sacke taken by itself, without any mixture of sugar, is best for them that have cold stomackes, and subject to the obstructions of it, and of the meseraicke veines. But for them that are free from such obstructions, and fear lest that the drinking of sacke, by reason of the penetrative faculty of it, might distemper the liver, it is best to drinke it with sugar; and so I leave every man that understandeth his owne state of body, to be his own director herein’ (Via Recta ad Vitam Longam, p. 23). A passage in Shakspeare (‘Fal. You rogue, here's lime in this sack too,’1 Henry IV., ii. 4. 117), which has been thought to allude merely to the adulteration of sack by the vintners, throws, in fact, much light on its genuine qualities; and proves it to be of the same nature as the wines still manufactured, in Spain and other countries, from the ripest grapes, which receive a sprinkling of burnt lime or gypsum, before they are pressed and introduced into the vat. But if any doubt remained on the subject, it would be completely removed by the account which Sir Richard Hawkins gives of these wines. ‘Since the Spanish sacks,’ he observes, ‘have been common in our taverns, which for conservation are mingled with the lime in the making, our nation complains of calentures, of the stone, the dropsy, and infinite other distempers, not heard of before this wine came into common use. Besides, there is no year that it wasteth not two millions of crowns of our substance, by conveyance into foreign countries’ (Observations on a Voyage into the South Sea, London, 1622). It thus becomes manifest, that the sacks which were first imported into England in the reign of Henry VIII., and which had come into general request before the end of the seventeenth century, belonged, as Minshew had correctly defined them, to the class of dry wines, and resembled those liquors which still pass under that denomination. If, indeed, we may credit the statement of Howell, there was one species of sack known at an earlier period, and that was the Romanie. Nor is the fact unimportant in the history of wines; for it not only affords a further explanation of the latter name, but serves to show, that the Spaniards had borrowed from the Greeks the practice of adding gypsum to the must, which they afterwards improved upon, and perfected to such a degree, as to be enabled to excel all other nations in the manufacture of dry wines. It was from the Ionian islands, as we collect from Bacci, that the Romanie originally came: and, at the present day, there is so little difference between the best white wines of Cephalonia and Zante, and some of the vintages of Spain and Portugal, which have been prepared in a similar manner, that a person not much accustomed to observe the nicer shades of distinction among wines might easily mistake the one for the other. Howell mentions a Cephalonian muscadel, that was imported into England in his time: and Fynes Moryson found an excellent white wine at Palormo, in Natolia; ‘which,’ he observes, ‘is like the Spanish sacke, but more pleasant to the taste, being not so sweete as the Canary wines, nor so harsh and strong as the Sherry sacke’ (Itinerary, Part iii. p. 130). Sack was used as a generic name for the wines in question; but occasionally the growths were particularly specified. Thus, in one of the scenes in The Second Part of K. Henry IV. we have a laboured panegyric by Falstaff on the attributes of Sherris-sack, or dry Sherry; and for a long time the words Sack and Sherry were used indiscriminately for each other (Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, act v. sc. 6 [3]; his New Inn, act i. sc. 2 [1]). In like manner we frequently read of Canary Sack, and find the latter term sometimes employed to express that particular wine (Jonson's Staple of News, act v. sc. 4 [2]; Herrick's Welcome to Sack,—Hesperides, p. 86; Heywood and W. Rowley's Fortune by Land and Sea, 1655, p. 4); although it differed materially from Sherry in quality, and scarcely came within the description of a dry wine. ‘Canarie wine,’ says Venner, ‘which beareth the name of the islands from whence it is brought, is of some termed a Sacke, with this adjunct sweete (‘An ocean of sweet Sack.’ Fletcher's Rule a Wife and have a Wife, act v. sc. 5), but yet very improperly, for it differeth not onely from Sacke in sweetnesse and pleasantnesse of taste, but also in colour and consistence: for it is not so white in colour as Sacke, nor so thin in substance; wherefore it is more nutritive than Sacke, and less penetrative. It is best agreeable to cold constitutions, and for old bodies, so that they be not too impensively cholericke: for it is a wine that will quickly enflame, and therefore very hurtfull unto hot and cholericke bodies, especially if they be young’ (Via Recta, etc., p. 24). This passage is the more deserving of attention, as it not only illustrates the nature of the Canary wine in use at the commencement of the seventeenth century, but shows that there were considerable differences in the quality of the wines which bore the general name of Sacks, and thus removes much of the confusion that has arisen from the misnomer above alluded to. Whether the Canary Islands then furnished any dry wines, similar to those which are now imported from Teneriffe, seems doubtful; but it is clear, that Canary Sack resembled the liquor which still passes under that denomination. Of the precise degree of sweetness which it possessed, we may form some idea from the observation of Howell, who informs us, that ‘Sherries and Malagas well mingled pass for Canaries in most taverns, more often than Canary itself’ (Familiar Letters, Part ii. Lett. 60). Ben Jonson mentions his receiving a present of Palm-sack, that is, sack from the island of Palma. With these decisive authorities before us, we can readily understand the description which Markham has given of the various kinds of Sack known in his time. ‘Your best Sacks,’ he observes, ‘are of Xeres, in Spain,—your smaller, of Gallicia and Portugall; your strong Sacks are of the islands of the Canaries and of Malligo; and your muskadine and malmseys are of many parts, of Italy, Greece, and some special islands’ (English Housewife, p. 118). . . . Judging from what is still observable of some of the wines of Spain, we may easily imagine, that many of the Sacks, properly so called, might, at the same time, be both dry and sweet. At all events, when new, they would belong to the class of sweetish wines; and it was only after having been kept a sufficient length of time, to ensure the decomposition of the greater part of the free saccharine matter contained in them, that they could have acquired the peculiar dryness for which they were distinguished. We find, accordingly, that they were valued in proportion to their age; and the calls for ‘old Sack,’ as Sack κατ̓ ἐζοχὴν, were very common (‘Give me Sacke, old Sacke, boys,’ Pasquil's Palinodia, 1619 [?]). We may also presume, that there would be much less difference of taste among the several species of Sack, in their recent state, than after they had been long kept; for even the sweetest wines betray at first some degree of roughness, which is gradually subdued by age; while the character of dryness, on the other hand, will hardly apply to any of the durable wines, as they come from the vat. Mountain and Canary were always sweeter than Sherry; but between the richer kinds there is often a strong resemblance in flavour, which is the less extraordinary, as they are made from the same species of grape, though growing in different soils. It was, therefore, not without reason, that they were considered as ‘near allied’
(‘Two kinsmen neare allyde to Sherry Sack,
Sweet Malligo and delicate Canary.’ Pasquil's Palinodia. The conclusion at which we thus arrive is so far satisfactory, as it proves that the wines formerly known under the name of Sacks, though they may, upon the whole, have been inferior, yet differed in no essential quality from those with which we are at present supplied by the same countries that originally produced them, and which are still held in such deserved estimation. They probably first came into favour, in consequence of their possessing greater strength and durability, and being more free from acidity, than the white wines of France and Germany; and owed their distinctive appellation to that peculiar subastringent taste which characterizes all wines prepared with gypsum.” Henderson's History of Ancient and Modern Wines, pp. 298-308 .

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