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George Barrell Cheever: Deacon Giles' distillery (1844)

INTRODUCTION

In an address to the Mayor and Corporation of the town of Galway, in 1584, Sir John Perrot, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, " among other articles touching reformation in the commonwealthie," advised, " That a more straiter order be taken to bar the making of Aqua Vitae of corn than hitherto hath been used, for that the same is a coneumation of all the provision of corn in the commonwealthie :" and he said "That the Aqua Vitae that is sold in towne ought rather to be called Aqua Moktis to poyson the people, than comfort them in any good sorte, and in like manner byere and all wherein the officers in reformynge the same have nede to be more vigilant and inquisitive than they be."

Ireland, now happily regenerated, was thus cursed with distilleries, converting the staff of life into waters of death, long before the pilgrim fathers set their feet upon the rock of Plymouth. The people were "mad upon their idols." Magistrates viewed with fearful apprehensions the waste of the means of feeding the population, and the waste of public morals, public health, and human life by that bewitching beverage called Aqua Vitae, but which they even then properly denominated "poyson."

By means of the distillery, ardent spirit or alcohol, described as "a thin, colorless fluid, lighter than water, somewhat volatile, of a pungent smell and taste, readily inflaming by the application of a lighted taper, and burning with a dim blue, or purple flame vn—a fluid produced only by the decomposition of animal and vegetable productions in a state of fermentation, is separated from all other substances, passed off* in the form of vapor, and by a cooling process converted into a liquid poison. It is originally the intoxicating principle of all fermented drinks, as wine, cider, beer, &lc. ; and, as separated by the distillery, is known as alcohol, or pure spirit. Could it have remained hidden to the end of the world, in the fermented mass, happy would it have been* for the successive generations of men.



Last modified: March 4, 2013 Created by Petr Hloušek