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Then said my brother cunningly: And do you imagine that any, upon a sudden, can produce any probable reasons? And Nicostratus replying, Yes, no doubt, there being so many learned men and good drinkers in company; he with a smile continued: Do you think, sir, you are fit to treat of these matters, when wine hath disabled you to discourse politics and state affairs? Or is not this all the same as to think that a man in his liquor doth not see [p. 397] very well nor understand those that talk and discourse with him, yet hears the music and the pipers very well? For as it is likely that useful and profitable things draw and affect the sense more than fine and gaudy; so likewise they do the mind. And I shall not wonder that the nice philosophical speculation should escape a man who hath drunk freely; but yet, I think, if he were called to political debates, his wisdom would become more strong and vigorous. Thus Philip at Chaeronea, being well heated, talked very foolishly, and was the sport of the whole company; but as soon as they began to discourse of a truce and peace, he composed his countenance, contracted his brows, and dismissing all vain, empty, and dissolute thoughts, gave an excellent, wise, and sober answer to the Athenians. To drink freely is different from being drunk, and those that drink till they grow foolish ought to retire to bed. But as for those that drink freely and are otherwise men of sense, why should we fear that they will fail in their understanding or lose their skill, when we see that musicians play as well at a feast as in a theatre? For when skill and art are in the soul, they make the body correct and proper in its operations, and obedient to the motions of the mind. Besides, wine inspirits some men, and raises a confidence and assurance in them, but not such as is haughty and odious, but pleasing and agreeable. Thus they say that Aeschylus wrote his tragedies over a bottle; and that all his plays (though Gorgias thought that one of them, the Seven against Thebes, was full of Mars) were Bacchus's. For wine (according to Plato), heating the soul together with the body, makes the body pliable, quick, and active, and opens the passages; while the fancies draw in discourse with boldness and daring. For some have a good natural invention, yet whilst they are sober are too diffident and too close, but midst their wine, like frankincense, exhale and open at the heat. Besides, [p. 398] wine expels all fear, which is the greatest hindrance to all consultations, and quencheth many other degenerate and lazy passions; it opens the rancor and malice, as it were, the two-leaved doors of the soul, and displays the whole disposition and qualities of any person in his discourse. Freedom of speech, and, through that, truth it principally produceth; which once wanting, neither quickness of wit nor experience availeth any thing; and many proposing that which comes next rather hit the matter, than if they warily and designedly conceal their present sentiments. Therefore there is no reason to fear that wine will stir up our affections; for it never stirs up the bad, unless in the worst men, whose judgment is never sober. But as Theophrastus used to call the barbers' shops wineless entertainments; so there is a kind of an uncouth wineless drunkenness always excited either by anger, malice, emulation, or clownishness in the souls of the unlearned. Now wine, blunting rather than sharpening many of these passions, doth not make them sots and foolish, but simple and guileless ; not negligent of what is profitable, but desirous of what is good and honest. Now those that think craft to be cunning, and vanity or closeness to be wisdom, have reason to think those that over a glass of wine plainly and ingenuously deliver their opinions to be fools. But on the contrary, the ancients called the God the Freer and Loosener, and thought him considerable in divination; not, as Euripides says, because he makes men raging mad, but because he looseth and frees the soul from all base distrustfull fear, and puts them in a condition to speak truth fully and freely to one another.
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