History, Medicine, Ultimate Honey Primer

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Got a lot of great information from Honey-Health which is a great read! -- recommended.

Any Mead maker should have this as part of their honey background reading :p


TO SUBDIVIDE the dietetic and medicinal values of honey Tis rather a difficult task. Wholesome food preserves health and likewise prevents or aids the cure of a disease. The advantages attributed to honey as an aliment apply as well to its medicinal properties. The rapid assimilation of invert sugars which honey contains makes it, for instance, a desirable source of quick energy, a practical food and, at the same time, an effective heart stimulant.

The use of honey as an internal and external remedial agent must be much older than the history of medicine itself; it is, beyond doubt, the oldest panacea. While primeval man had to search first and probe the curative effects of the various organic and inorganic substances, honey, the greatest delicacy of Nature within his easy reach, surely could not have escaped his attention very long and he must soon have become convinced of its supreme curative value.

In the most ancient scripts we already find references to honey as a glorified food, an ingredient of favored drinks, a popular medicine and the principal component of liniments and plasters. The oldest mythologies praised the invigorating and health-giving qualities of honey. Many allusions were made to its magic healing power.

The Bible (both the Old and New Testaments), the Talmud, the Koran, the sacred books of India, China, Persia and Egypt, all speak of honey in laudatory terms, as a food, beverage and medicine.

Honey is frequently mentioned in the Bible. Solomon in his Proverbs (24:13) advises: "My son, eat thou honey, for it is good." The Jews advocated honey as a producer of wit and intellect; it was supposed to make one "mentally keen." Moses, when exposed in the fields, sucked honey from a pebble (Exod. R. 23:8). The resuscitating and invigorating effects of honey are disclosed in the Bible. Jonathan, the son of Saul, had his eyes enlightened with the aid of honey, after which he had a better understanding of the people than his father had. While Jonathan was passing through the woods during the war against the Philistines, he found honey dripping on the ground; he plunged his spear into it, and ate enough to restore his lost strength. He was, however, sentenced to death because he ate honey on a day of abstinence.

Honey was referred to in most ancient writings as a gift of God. St. Ambrose said: "The fruit of the Bees is desired of all, and is equally sweet to Kings and Beggars and it is not only pleasing but profitable and healthful, it sweetens their mouthes, cures their wounds and convaies remedies to inward Ulcers."

The Koran, the Code of Islam, recommended honey as a wholesome food and excellent medicine. In the XVIth Chapter of the Koran, entitled The Bee, we find: "There proceedeth from their bellies a liquor of various colour, wherein is medicine for men." The "various colour" refers to the diversified colors of honeys. Mohammed pronounced: "Honey is a remedy for all dis-eases." The Prophet ordered the eating of honey not only because it was an exquisite food and an important healing substance but because it brought one good luck. The followers of Islam looked upon honey as a talisman. The Mohammedans, to whom alcoholic fermented drinks were prohibited, drank their water with honey, which habit still prevails among the African Mohammedan negroes. Ismael Abulfeda, the thirteenth century historian, relates how Mohammed, on the day after his wedding to Safiya Hoya, a Jewess of Aaron's tribe, celebrated the occasion with a luxurious meal. Among the main delicacies, he mentions honey, dates and cream. When Mohammed reached the seventh heaven he found Christ, Who ordered Archangel Gabriel to offer Mohammed a cup filled with honey. The Mohammedan conception of Paradise was "rivers flowing with honey."

According to a Mohammedan legend, young Abraham (Abu-ram), who lived about 2000 B.C. spent fifteen months in a cave. On Allah's order, he obtained water from his thumb, milk from his index finger, honey from the middle one, date juice from the fourth, and butter from his little finger.

There is a story that a man once went to Mohammed and told him that his brother was afflicted with violent pains in his belly and with diarrhea, upon which the prophet bade him give his brother honey. He heeded the prophet's advice, but soon returned and reported to Mohammed that the medicine had not done his brother any good. Mohammed exclaimed: "Go and give him more honey, for God speaks true, and thy brother's belly lies." The dose being repeated, the man, by God's mercy and the salutary effect of honey, was cured. The Koran repeatedly mentions the technical skill of the bees in producing sweet honey from the bitter juices of plants. Mohammed maintained that medicines administered by physicians are bitter but those given by God are as sweet as honey. (The moderns believe that the more bitter the medicine the better the doctor.) An Arabic writer (Ibn Magih) quotes the words of the Prophet: "Honey is a medicine for the body and the Koran is medicine for the soul; benefit yourselves by the use of the Koran and of honey." The Arabs, before they ate honey, exclaimed: "Bism Allah" (in the name of Allah) or "Allah Akbar" (Allah the greatest). The Arabic name of the bee is nahlat, which means a giftof courseof Allah, and han means honey. Apparently it was the root of the German "honig" and English "honey." Arabia was the last stepping stone before honey invaded Europe from the East.

Honey must have been abundant in ancient Egypt. The He-brews referred to it as "a land flowing with milk and honey." The Egyptian papyri are full of praise about the curative properties of honey. The Papyrus Ebers especially praised its medicinal value. According to this most ancient source of knowledge, honey was not only a staple commodity but a popular medicine, extensively used internally, and also externally in surgical dressings for burns, ulcers and preeminently for weakness and inflammation of the eyes. Laxative and worm remedies of ancient Egypt without exception contained honey. Milk and honey was their choice for infant feeding. There were only a few medicines in ancient Egypt which did not contain honey. The bee, its producer, occupies a prominent place in all hieroglyphic writings. Most prescriptions of the papyri were taken to Greece and the Greeks introduced them to Europe where they are still used today.

In ancient China honey was used only as a component of diets and as a medicine. The Chinese never utilized honey as a sweetening substance. China is the native land of the sugar cane, and for this reason bees were rarely cultivated. Even today in the interior of China, honey can be obtained only in the old-style medicine shops.

In India, Persia, Arabia, Assyria, Greece and in the Roman Empire, honey was much in demand as a remedial agent for internal and external use. On the entire European Continent it was in popular use, especially among the Slavic and Nordic races. In the Eddas we find that the life of Liafsburg, the mother of Saint Lindgar, was saved with a spoonful of honey.

If we review the therapeutic field in which honey was used by the ancients, we find that its main employment was as a helpful remedy for gastric and intestinal disorders, especially as a pleasant laxative. Respiratory troubles were next in order. The sedative and soporific power of honey is often emphasized. The diuretic effect of honey was well known and it was a favored remedy for all kinds of inflammation of the kidneys, for gravel and stones. The antiseptic property of honey made it a desirable gargle, expectorant and a valuable adjunct in mouth hygiene. In inflammation of the eyes and eyelids honey was extensively used. Attic honey had a special reputation as a curative substance for eye disorders. The Egyptians carried its fame with them to their country. In one of the Egyptian papyri it is mentioned that a man begged that they fetch him some honey from Attica which he needed for his eyes. In surgical dressings and skin diseases it was a remedy of first choice. The smallpox patients were anointed with honey. It was also employed as a vehicle for nauseous or bitter medicines. Lucretius referred to it 2000 years ago:

"Physician-like, who when a bitter draught
Of wormwood is disgusted by a child
To cheat his taste, he brims the nauseous cup
With the sweet lure of honey."

Hippocrates was a great believer in honey. He considered it a very good expectorant. According to Hippocrates, the physical virtues of honey were: "It causes heat, cleans sores and ulcers, softens hard ulcers of the lips, heals carbuncles and running sores." (Hippocrates alleged that if the seeds of cucumbers and other plants are first soaked in honey and then planted, "the fruit that groweth of them will taste sweeter.") He recommended honey for difficulty in breathing because "it causes spitting." Hippocrates believed that honey "with other things" is nourishing and induces a good complexion but eaten alone it attenuates rather than refreshes because it provokes urine and purges too much. According to the legend (Samuel Purchas, A Theatre of Politicall Flying Insects, 1657, p. 163), a swarm of bees lived for a long time in the sepulcher of Hippocrates, the prince of physicians, and produced honey there. Nurses carried children to the grave and anointed their lips with this magic honey which easily cured them. Dioscorides, the Greek physician (first century A.D.), whose Materia Medica is one of the oldest sources of medical knowledge, often mentions honey as an excellent medicine. He also praises the medicinal value of wax, propolis and honey-wine.

Cornelius Celsus remarked in De Medicina (first half of the first century A.D.) that a physician must heal in a safe, quick and pleasing manner (tuto, cito et jucunde), and all this could be best accomplished with honey.

Galen recommended the mixing of four parts of honey with one part of gall of the sea-tortoise which, when dropped into the eyes, would improve the sight. To quote Marcellus: "The honey pure and neat wherein the Bees are dead, let that drop into the eyes; or honey mixt with the ashes of the heads of Bees, makes the eyes very clear." Pliny also credited honey in which bees have died with the faculty of relieving dullness of sight and hearing. In antiquity, honey had a great reputation in producing clearer vision, which may be the reason for its reputation of endowing the power of divination, improving thus not only the physical but also the spiritual sight. Some historians believe that when Jeroboam sent his wife with a cruse of honey to the prophet Ahijah it was meant as a remedy for the prophet's blindness.

Honey and dead bees were used by Galen for growing hair. "Take Bees dead in combs, and when they are through dry make them into powder, mingle them with the honey in which they died and anoint the parts of the Head that are bald and thin-haired, and you shall see them grow again." The Syriac Book of Medicines recommends a handful of bees roasted in oil as a remedy to turn gray hair black. This ancient book of medical knowledge contains three hundred recipes in which honey is an important ingredient (over fifty of them contain wax).

Celsus recommended raw honey as a laxative and boiled honey as a cure for diarrhea. The reason, he thought, was because "the acrimony is taken away by boyling which wont to move the belly and to diminish the virtue of the food" (Libr. 3 C. 3). Galen recommended boiled and only seldom raw honey but forbids long or too intensive heating because this would make honey bitter. The Hindu physicians assumed that fresh honey was a laxative and honey which was over a year old, an astringent. Pliny burned the bees, mixed their ashes with honey and used the substance for all kinds of ailments: "Powdered bees with milk, wine or honey will surely cure dropsy, dissolve gravel and stones, will open all passages of urine and cure the stopping of the bladder. Bees pounded with honey cure griping of the belly." Muffet also had faith in honey with dead bees. "Honey wherein is found dead Bees is a very wholesome medicine, serving for all diseases." Aelian reported that honey from Pontus cured epilepsy.

Porphyry thought that honey had four excellent qualities: first, it is a nourishing food; second, a good cleanser; third, it has healing power; and fourth, it is pleasant on account of its sweetness. According to Aristoxenus (320 B.C.), anyone who eats honey, spring onions and bread for his daily breakfast will be free from all diseases throughout his lifetime. The ancient Hindus had great faith in the medicinal virtues and magic properties of honey, especially of aged honey. They used it mainly for coughs, pulmonary troubles, gastric and bilious disorders. The famous Arab physicians, such as El Mad joussy and El Basry, all spoke in laudatory terms of the curative power of honey and liberally used it in their professions for a variety of ailments. Arab physicians were reputed to cure tuberculosis with an extract made from the petals of roses and honey. The efficacy of this medicine was recognized for many centuries. Rosed honey is yet an official remedy in most modern pharmacopoeias. Paul of Aegina, Aetius, Oribasius were other honey enthusiasts.

The Koran recommended honey not only as a wholesome food, but as a useful diuretic, a laxative, an excellent remedy for various distempers, particularly those occasioned by phlegm, and also as a substance greatly assisting labor pains.

Norman Douglas decribes in his Paneros the love-philters of antiquity and the value of honey in the preparations of amative elixirs. Besides honey, according to Douglas, the wings of bees have been used.

Honey was an important ingredient of all ancient satyriaca (ad coitum irritantia tentaginem facientia). The ancients had implicit faith in the power of honey to increase strength and virility. (The French consider not only honey but also the sting of the bee a powerful aphrodisiac.) The Hindu novices for priesthood had to abstain from meat, women, perfumes and . . . honey.

The ancients believed that people who fared freely on honey became more congenial and affectionate. They considered honey a cure for a sour disposition and bitter feelings. Pliny said: "All acrimony of the mind is pacified with sweet liquers, the spirits are made peaceable, the passages made softer and fitter for transpiration; and they are also good physick for manners." Pythagoras thought that body and soul function in harmony and that no food could be considered beneficial to one without being subservient to the other. He believed, for instance, that music was food for the soul and likewise conducive to good health. David played the harp before King Saul to cure his melancholy.

Eucalyptus Honey

The cultivation of Eucalyptus trees in malaria-infested regions proved to be instrumental in eradicating this dreadful disease. In certain parts of Australia, malaria entirely disappeared after these fast growing fever-trees had been planted. Important medicinal values were always attributed to the sap of these trees. Their blooms are rich in pollen and nectar.

The Trappist monastery of Tre Fontane, near Rome, was built by the monks on soil which was infested with malaria. (The name originated from the legend which relates that when St. Paul was decapitated there by a powerful blow, his head rolled along with great force and from three places, where it touched the ground, wells issued.) After the monks had planted forests of Eucalyptus trees, the region became habitable. The Trappist monks conduct extensive apiaries there with two honey harvests, in May and in October. Some hives produce yearly as much as 120 pounds of honey (H. Reepen). On account of the consider-able demand, Eucalyptus honey is high-priced and it affords a fair income to the priests.

Eucalyptus honey is dark in color, with a rather unpleasant taste and a strong aromatic odor. Australia supplies the largest part of the demand. In Germany they pay three to four marks a pound for such imported honeys. Dr. Ullersberger of Strasbourg thought that genuine Eucalyptus honey is an unparalleled substance; it is strengthening, blood-forming, blood-purifying, nourishing, and besides, produces appetite. He advised adding, on account of its reconstructive power, one to three tablespoonfuls to any diet.

The Trappist Liqueur de Tre Fontane is also popular. The monks prepare the extract, with the aid of the most modern distilling apparatus, from the leaves of the Eucalyptus trees.

Honey - In Longevity

"Father Time, though he tarries for none, often lays his hands lightly on those who have used him well." Charles Dickens

To prolong life has been at all times the chief desire and principal object of mankind. Man always has done his utmost to reach old age. The expediency and value of this tendency is, however, somewhat disputed. Philosophers, economists and students of eugenics are not in accord about its practicability. There is even an old charge against medicine and hygiene that by preserving life they often tend to weaken the human race. Unhealthy people give birth to weak offspring. Haeckel called it "medical selection," and thought that humanity degenerates because of the influence of medical science. Others oppose longevity from the psychological standpoint. Edmund Goldsmid (Introduction to Cohausen's Hermippus Redivivus) thought that it is not the length of the day which makes us love the summer but its brightness, the beauty of flowers and the singing of birds. "Ask the man whose sun of ambition has passed its zenith, who has gathered the flowers of love and friendship and found that they sometimes wither and die while he yet held them in his grasp, for whom voices he loved best have ceased to resound; ask such a man whether life is a blessing as the ignorants imagine it . . . and you will receive for reply the words so old and yet so true: Vanitas, omnia vanitas."

Yet innumerable attempts have been made before and after Ponce de Leonto discover the secret of eternal youth and the deferment of old age. The Elixir Vitae was a problem of all times and still is today. If we scan ancient records we find an infinite list of tricks, schemes, suggestions, dietetic regimens and substances from the mineral, plant and animal worlds employed to preserve and regain youth or to stave off old age. Long life has been considered, in all ages, a blessing from Heaven. To cling to life is an inherent longing not only of man but of all living creatures.

Life, a physico-chemical phenomenon, has certain laws which must be understood. Accordingly, man, the last object of creation and likewise the most perfect, should be competent to comprehend and respect the rules which were enacted to make the "living engine" more durable and to extend the limit of its usefulness, respectively, its existence. If the organs do not function normally life is more a curse than a gratification. To understand the normal functioning of the body requires knowledge and experience. To enforce the laws of health is man's responsibility to Nature, be-cause he is supposed to be the acknowledged (by himself, at least) masterpiece of creation.

It is disappointing that this is not the case. Animals far excel man in obedience to moral and hygienic laws. So-called civilization has made us forget the experience which primitive man and our ancient or even medieval ancestors acquired. Our present-day civilization, often enough, prefers material possessions to the enjoyment of health and life and when man loses his gains, the sole object of his existence, in despair he destroys life, an act which other creatures never do.

The art of prolonging life, of course, does not entirely depend on our will and intelligence. Part of our existence, as a matter of fact an essential portion of it, is beyond our control. For our con-genital traits, for our conduct during infancy and childhood, and for our early environment we are not responsible; they are mere accidents which we may call luck or misfortune. Our intelligence regarding the physical and moral comportment of life, which we subsequently acquire through education or by our own efforts, can guide us only afterwards.

Spiritual and moral principles in the management of life, in its enjoyment and extension to the farthest possible limits, are just as essential as physiological laws. To discuss the value, benefits and the necessity of the first two mentioned requirements is much beyond the scope of our purpose. With regard to the rules which we must know and obey to secure physical and mental health, to preserve life and delay its termination, they are only the Laws of Nature. Science, in spite of all its wonderful achievements, is not as dependable, due to our limited faculties. It is difficult to intrude into the sancta sanctorum of Nature. Haller exclaimed:

"No mortal being, howe'er keen his eye,
Can into Nature's deepest secrets pry."

What was considered a verity yesterday, is a fallacy today. Our present-day science will suffer even more reversals than that of the days of old; it has grown too materialistic, and our near and far scientists are frequently nothing more than the employed but well-disguised agents of certain interests. Nature, on the other hand, is always absolute, constant, sincere, trustworthy and dependable. Obey the laws of Nature, because if you violate them you betray yourself and pare down your life. The further you deviate from them, the shorter will be your existence.

One of the cardinal laws of Nature is economy. Applying this law to the nourishment of our body, which is one of the principal and vital functions for maintenance of life, we must study the proper requirements of the complex physico-chemical engine and practice economy according to Nature. Enough or sufficient de-notes a supply equal to the demand, not too little, not too much. To choke the engine is just as disastrous as no fuel at all. Primitive man observed this rule of Nature, consumed simple food and lived longer, but civilized man plunged into luxury and corruption and confused the appetite of the palate with that of the stomach; the result is shorter life with innumerable "engine troubles" which finally lead to destruction. These are complications unknown to the "children" of Nature. Meticulous care of the stomach by selecting proper fuel, both with regard to quality and quantity, is one of the most important considerations for pre-serving health; without it the attainment to a great age is impossible.

There are many instances in history which confirm the belief that a liberal consumption of honey is conducive to prolongation of life. Anacreon, who died at the age of 115, attributed his long life to the daily use of honey. Pythagoras, who lived exclusively on honey and bread, was convinced that it was due to this routine that he reached the age of ninety, otherwise he would surely have died forty years earlier. His followers, the Pythagoreans, lived on the same diet. "Bread and honey was the Pythagorean's meat." Apollonius, a disciple of Pythagoras, lived to the age of 130 (died in 95 A.D.). Bread and honey is mentioned in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament: "I have eaten my bread with honey." Occasionally this combination serves also as a regal food. In the nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, from Mother Goose:

"The King was in the counting house, counting out his money,
The Queen was in the pantry, eating bread and honey."

Pliny mentioned (Book II, Ch. 14) that the Pythagoreans believed that the absence of blindness and of eye troubles in general was attributable to the daily consumption of honey. Antichus, the physician, and Telephus, the grammarian, lived on Attic honey and bread, to which their old age was ascribed. Epaminondas, the statesman and general, is said to have rarely eaten any-thing else but bread and honey. Hippocrates prescribed honey to those who "wished" to live long; he himself reached the age of 109 years. When one of Augustus Caesar's guests, Pollio Rumilius, 100 years old, was asked by the Emperor how he preserved the natural vigor of his body and mind, he answered: Intus mulso, foris oleo (Honey within, and oil without). This old gentleman was very fond of dipping his bread into honied wine. Pliny, and also Lycus, often refer to the long lives of the Cyrneans (inhabit-ants of Sardinia) who "continually" ate honey, of which there was an abundance on the island.

Democritus was convinced that even the odor and emanation of honey helped to prolong life. Athenaeus described (II, 177) how Democritus (470 B.C.) in his old age, when he wished to hasten his approaching end, decided to abstain from all food and to starve himself to death. The female members of his family, who were eager to celebrate the impending rituals of Thesmophoria, a three-day autumn feast attended only by women, implored him to survive the festivals at least. To this he agreed; and though he did not eathe ordered a jar of warm honey and by inhaling its aroma kept himself alive during the holidays, soon after which he died at the age of 109. This was the same Democritus, commonly called the "laughing philosopher," who laughed at the follies of men even in his dreams, and who, not to be disturbed in his deep philosophical reflections, blinded himself be-cause he was not able to look at a woman without a craving to possess her. They say that Diophanes, when he was I lo years old, also tried to prolong his life by inhaling the balmy odor of honey.

It was a wide-spread belief among the ancients that inhalations, not only of honey, but of all sweet emanations, benefit life and retard old age. This principle was extolled by Galen and later by Roger Bacon, Hufeland and others. Healthy, vigorous young peoplealso animalswere supposed to comfort and revive old men by emanating health-giving vapors. This influence had also a distinctly opposite effect, namely that the contact debilitated youth. The faith prevailed for thousands of years and still exists today. Borelli and others quoted names of dying persons who recovered by prolonged blowing of the breath of healthy friends into their mouths. Cornaro attributed his old age to youthful environment. When he became old and was at the point of death, he gathered eleven of his grandchildren round him to renew his vital forces. To quote him: "I often sing myself with them, for my voice is now clearer and stronger than it ever was in my youth; and I am a stranger to those peevish and morose humors which fall so often to the lot of old age." Marriages between persons of widely differing ages seem to confirm the theory. Hufeland comments thus upon the subject: "We cannot refuse our approval of the method if it be remembered how the exhalations from newly opened animals stimulate paralyzed limbs, and how the application of living animals also soothes a violent pain." This probably led to the first blood transfusion which was per-formed on animals. In the seventeenth century (1666) it was already accomplished on human beings. Blood transfusion was prohibited in England by the Parliament and in Italy by the Pope.

We all know the story of King David, when he became old and stricken in years. The Bible tells us (Kings 1: 1) that they covered him with clothes but "he gat no heat." "Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my Lord the King a young virgin: . . . and let her lie in thy bosom that my Lord the King may get heat." And they sent for the beautiful Abishag, the Shunammite virgin, who slept by the king and served and leftas a virgin. Boerhaave, the famous Dutch physician of the seventeenth century, recommended an old burgomaster of Amster-dam to lie between two young girls, assuring him that he would thus recover strength and spirits.

Hermippus, a teacher of a girls' school, lived to the age of 155 and, according to his own statement, was kept young by the breath of young girls. Quoting from Hermippus: "When Thisbe, in the blooming flower of her age, decked by the Graces, taught by the Muses, converses with old Hermippus, her youth reanimates his age, and the clear flame with which her young heart glows lends its heat to that of the old man. Each time that the lovely virgin breathes, the sweet vapour which escapes from her breath is full of vivifying spirits which swim in her purple veins. And even as spirits attract spirits, so these same vapours mingle themselves on the instant with the blood of old Hermippus. From thence, passing through his body, they fill that same blood, so that we may say, almost without metaphor, that the spirit of Thisbe brings life to this old man."

Rudolph I, one of the greatest admirers of women, also believed that "the breath of a beautiful young girl is the best medicine in the world." When the king was 66 years old he married the glorious Agnes of Burgundy. During the wedding ceremonies the Bishop of Speyer assisted the bride from her carriage. The prelate was so struck by her dazzling beauty that he could not abstain from kissing the bride. His Majesty forbade the Bishop, after that, to visit the court, advising him to remain at home and kissinstead of Agnesthe Agnus Dei (the Lamb of God). Even old Socrates reported that his shoulder, where a beautiful young girl had touched him, itched for five days. (St. Hieronymus suggested that the strength of the Devil was in his loins. Diaboli virtus in lumbis.)

The French Count de Montlosier, a man who was reputed for his great originality and force of character, kept thirty cows in each wing of his house which communicated with its interior. The rooms were filled with the "sweet breath" of the animals and the Count attributed his physical power and old age to this contingency. When he had passed 8o, his hearing and eyesight were perfect, he could read any type without glasses and retained his thirty-two teeth without decay.

To retrace our lost steps to "real" honey, it is not surprising that beekeepers who, as a rule, consume (and also inhale) great quantities of honey and only rarely indulge in sugar, reach a ripe old age. This belief is very prevalent. The list of famous apiarians who passed eighty and even ninety years of age is almost endless. Franois Huber, Dzierzon, Langstroth, Dr. C. C. Miller, A. I. Root, Charles Dadant, Thomas W. Cowan, for fifty years Editor of the British Bee Journal, are typical examples. John Anderson, lecturer on bee keeping at the University of Aberdeen, remarked: "There is nothing in the world that could beat honey as an aid to defy old age. Keep bees and eat honey if you want to live long. Beekeepers live longer than anybody else." Many old life-elixirs of great reputation contained honey. Parcelsus Bombastus ab Hohenheim, who traveled over half the world and collected wonder-working medicines from all quarters, was a great believer in the health-giving power of honey.

Father Sebastian Kneipp, of "dew-walking" fame, mentioned that he knew a man, well over eighty, who prepared daily a drink at his dinner table, consisting of a tablespoonful of good ripe honey in a glassful of boiling water. "In my advanced age"the man used to say"I am thankful for my health and strength, which I attribute to this drink." Father Kneipp was one of the greatest propagandists of honey. He thought honey "a dissolving, purifying, nourishing and strengthening substance," and freely dispensed it to patients who made pilgrimages to his sanitarium from all over the world. Bernarr Macfadden's honey-grape fruit juice-water mixture, of which people drink several quarts daily without any other nourishment, is well known.

On account of the author's known interest in honey, he is deluged with letters from all quarters praising the salubrious effects of the substance. R. D. Horton, of Blossburg, Pa., wrote recently (in his own good handwriting) as follows: "Although ninety-one years old I cannot see any reason why I should not add some more years to my life if I continue the daily use of ripe honey (extracted) of which I have consumed for the last eleven years three pounds per week and a little more for supper (in combs). I cured myself from a heart disease when eighty years old, of which I suffered for five years. I am not a doctor or a chemist but a farmer and have kept bees for the last 57 years which was my hobby since boyhood. Some people call me a doctor because I helped and cured so many heart diseases, stomach ulcers and coughs with honey. I give bloated babies a spoonful of heated honey in warm milk, which does the trick."

During his nearly half a century long medical practice the author has met many surprisingly energetic folk of advanced age with remarkably healthy complexions. In taking their histories, the report of a liberal daily dose of honey was seldom missing. About two years ago, a patient of his, a former Mayor of Kansas City, eighty years old, stepped into the office without an overcoat. The thermometer registered 14 below zero, besides, a blustering north wind was howling. When the patient was scolded for his recklessness, and at the same time was reminded of his age, he nonchalantly explained, "All my life I have been taking a goodly portion of honey for breakfast and I am not afraid of catching cold." Similar reports are not few and far between. A publisher consulted the writer last summer and he was impressed by the patient's ruddy cheeks, youthful expression and sparkling eyes. He did not look a day older than fifty. When asked about his age, the reply was, seventy-four. Further information about his mode of living revealed the same account, "a goodly portion of honey every morning for breakfast."

It is a professional pleasure to chat with octogenarians, nonagenarians and centenarians and gather their secrets of physiological and mental longevity. They all seem to have had simple rules, consisting of regularity and moderation and a decided repudiation of most modern scientific principles. Metabolism did not seem to interest them. One "baby" in fact referred to metabolic diet as diabolic diet; and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

It is true that the span of life has been increased in the last half century or so, mainly as the result of the reduction in child mortality. People, however, do not reach such an advanced age as in bygone days. No other factor could better explain the reason for the comparatively few veterans of the passing centuries than the quality and quantity of food and drink consumed.

From the history of the Jews, we learn that Moses, who during his life was exposed to ordeals and fatigue, lived to the age of 110; Abraham attained to the age of 175; his son, the peaceable Isaac, to 18o; Jacob, who possessed more cunning, lived only to 147; Ishmael, the warrior, to 137; the ever-active Joshua to 1 Io; Sarah to 127; and Joseph, much afflicted in his youth, to 110. Josephus, the historian, commented on the advanced ages of ancient Jews: "Their food was fitted for the prolongation of life; and, besides, God afforded them a longer life on account of their virtue." The secrets of food seem to have been lost and the cultivation of virtues forgotten.

The Essenes (Essenos in Greek means king bee, the epithet of Zeus), a tribe among the Hebrews whose occupation was bee-keeping, enjoyed health and life much longer than other people. Many of them passed the hundred-year mark. Josephus thought that it was due to their "slender" diet. Honey surely was not missing from their bill of fare.

Pliny mentions in his Natural History the traditional manner in which the inhabitants in the Po district placed their bee hives on floats and drifted along the river to supply their bees with new pastures. Apiculture must have been far advanced to furnish the great demand for honey. This was nearly twenty centuries ago, at the time of the birth of Christ. People in the olden days did not have sugar and, as they required and desired sweets, it is logical to surmise that they must have indulged in the sweetest of all, honey. Historical records amply confirm the supposition.

In the seventh book of Pliny's work we find the following passage:

"The year of our Lord seventy-six, falling into the time of Vespasian, is memorable: in which we shall find, as it were, a kalendar of long-lived men; for that year there was a taxing (now a taxing is the most authentical and truest informer touching the ages of men), and in that part of Italy which lieth between the Apennine mountains and the river Po, there were found 124 persons that either equalled or exceeded a hundred years of age, namely,

Fifty-four of 100 years each
Fifty-seven 100
Two 125
Four 130
Four 135 or 137
Three 140

Besides these, Parma, in particular, afforded five, whereof

Three were 120 years each
Two 130
One in Bruxelles 125
One in Placentia 131
One in Faventia 132

A certain town, then called the Velleiatium, situated in the hills about Placentia, afforded ten, whereof

Six were 110 years each
Four 120
One in Rimino, whose name was Marcus Aponius 150."

Pliny quotes from Alexander Cornelius that an Illyrian, named Daudon, lived for 500 years. According to Lucian, Tiresias lived for six centuries. Epimenides of Crete had seen three centuries succeed each other. Onomocritus, the Athenian, reports that certain men in Greece and their families enjoyed perpetual youth.

Pliny has written more about the nutritional and medicinal value of honey than any other ancient author. In his day, honey was an important food and a component of most popular drinks. Pliny's frequent eulogy of honey and the above statistics must have some correlation.

Honey was an important food, medicine and a principal commodity, and mead the universal drink also among the ancient Britons. The bardic name of Great Britain was, THE HONEY ISLE OF BELI." There is not a shadow of a doubt but that the inhabitants of the British Isles freely indulged in honey. Pliny re-ported that these "Islanders" consumed a great quantity of honey-brew. Tickner Edwardes remarks, "among the Anglo-Saxons the beehives supplied the whole nation, from the King down to the poorest serf, not only with an important part of their food but with drink and light as well." It is not surprising that the old Britons reached a ripe old age. Plutarch remarked, "the ancient Britons only begin to grow old at 12o years." The following documentary evidences may be of interest:

Thomas Carn, according to the parish register of the church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, died on January 28, 1588, aged 207 years. He was born under the reign of Richard II (1381 A.D.) and lived through the reigns of twelve kings and queens of England.

Thomas Parr, a native of Shropshire, died on the 16th day of November, 1635, at the age of 152. There is a story about Parr that he was asked by his sovereign Charles I. what he had done in his long life that other people could not accomplish. He answered that the Church had ordered him, when he was 102, to do penance. Thomas Parr at that age fell in love with Catherine Milton and had a child by her. Later, at the age of 12o, he married a widow. Shortly before his death Parr was invited to London by the Earl of Arundel, where he was introduced to his monarch and royally feasted. The rich food he indulged in, did not agree with him and he died soon after-ward. An autopsy was performed which revealed a congestion (plethora) of his viscera, otherwise the doctor who made the postmortem found his internal organs in perfect condition and believed that Parr could have lived for many more years if it had not been for his visit to London. Parr's maxim was, to keep one's head cool by temperance and the feet warm by exercise; to go to bed early and to rise early; and if one were inclined to become fat, he should keep his eyes open and his mouth shut. Parr's grandfather, a native of Bedfordshire, died in his 100th year. At the age of 85, he had a complete set of new teeth and his snowy hair became darker (Philosophical Transactions, Vol. XXIII). It was recorded of Parr that he was very fond of metheglin (honey wine).

Henry Jenkins, a native of Yorkshire, lived to the age of 169 years and died on the 8th day of December, 1670, as a result of a chill. It is said about Fisherman Jenkins that shortly be-fore his death he was still swimming like a fish. He left one son 102 and another 100 years old.

Catherine, the Countess of Desmond, died in Ireland in 1612 and saw her 148th year. She renewed her teeth thrice during her life, according to Lord Bacon.

Thomas Damme died in 1648 at the age of 154.

James Bowels, aged 152, lived in Killingworth and died on the 15th day of August, 1656.

Mr. Eccleston, a native of Ireland, lived to the age of 143, died in the year 1691.

Peter Torton died in 1724 at the age of 185.

John Ronsey, Esq., of the island of Distrey, Scotland, died in 1738, aged 137. He had a son one hundred years old, who inherited his estate.

Margaret Patten, a Scotch woman, died in 1739 at the age of 137. Colonel Thomas Winsloe, a native of Ireland, aged 146, died on the 22nd day of August, 1766.

Francis Consist, a native of Yorkshire, aged 150, died January, 1768.

William Ellis, of Liverpool, died on the 16th day of August, 178o, at the age of 130.

Kentigern, the Bishop of Glasgow, called also St. Monagh, lived to the age of 185, which is certified on his monument, erected in 1781.

Margaret Foster, aged 136, and her daughter, aged 104, natives of Cumberland, were both alive in the year 1771.

John Mount, a native of Scotland, who saw his 136th year, died on the 27th day of February, 1776.

William Evans, of Carnarvon, aged 145, still existed in 1782. Dumiter Radaloy, aged 140, who lived in Harmenstead, died on the 16th day of January, 1782.

Sir Owen of Scotland died at the age of 124; he left a natural son, born to him when he was 98. Sir Owen lived on milk, honey, vegetables, water and wine, and during the last year of his life he walked 74 miles in 6 days.

Peter Garden, a Scotchman, died at the age of 131. He was a tall and lean person and kept the appearance of the freshness of youth until his very end.

John Taylor, a Scotch miner, lived to 132; always smoked and kept his teeth sound until his death.

James Sands, an Englishman of the sixteenth century, died when 140; his wife, at the age of 120.

Lawrence Hutland, of the Orkney Islands, reached the age of 170.

Almost all these people came from a low station of life, except the Countess of Desmond. Their diets were, without exception, moderate, and in some instances, abstemious. Sir William Temple (the author of Health and Long Life), who also reached an old age, remarked, with respect to moderation in alcoholic drinks, "The first glass I drink for myself; the second for my friends; the third for good humor; and the fourth for my enemies." Sir William thought that "health and long life are usually the blessings of the poor." With regard to the influence of sex functions on longevity, it is remarkable that most men who reached an extreme age were "much" married and at a very late period of their lives. De Longueville, who lived to the age of 110, had ten wives and married again when 99. He had a son when he was roi years old. Great corporeal strength, acquired by labor or athletics, does not favor longevity. Few people with great physical prowess arrive at a great age.

Piast, the beekeeper, who was elected King of Poland in 824 A.D. and whose family ruled Poland for several centuries with the greatest glory, lived to the age of 120. That he indulged in honey and mead is proven by the contemporary legends.

These are all authentic records. If we also accept the reports about abnormally advanced ages mentioned in the Bible, like that of Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah (Genesis 5:27), who is believed to have lived to the age of 969 years, we must admit that during bygone generations longevity far exceeded that of the present times. They say that at the time of the patriarchs the years were shorter than they are at present, according to some historians, one-fourth of our calculation. Each season was supposed to have represented a year. Even so Methuselah would have lived 242 years. We call our modern patriarchs old at 90.

St. Patrick died in 491 A.D. at the age of 122. St. David lived to the age of 146, St. Simon was martyred at the age of 107. St. Narcissus died at the age of 165 and St. Anthony at 105, and Paul, the Hermit, at the age of 113. Several monks of Mt. Athos reached the age of 150. Albuna, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, lived beyond the century and a half mark. Attila, who reigned over the Huns in the fifth century, was supposed to have died during his wedding festivities (not the first either) at the age of 124 years. The Chaldean, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek and Roman writers often mention very advanced ages. Asclepiades, the Persian physician, died at the age of 150, Galen at 140, Sophocles at the age of 130. Hirpanus, according to Pliny, lived 155 years and 5 days. (Some historians are convinced that he referred to Hermippus.)

Among the Slavic races, we also find parallel instances. Old records mention that Peter Czartan, a peasant, died in 1724 in Belgrade when he was 185 years old and was still engaged in begging, a few days before his death. He left behind a son 155 years old, and another 97 years old. A Russian of Polozk, hale and hearty in 1796, was supposed to have married the third time when 93 years old, and to have lived to the age of 163. He had. 138 descendants; at the time of his death his youngest son was 62. John Rovin, of the town of Temesvr, formerly in Hungary, reached, according to records, the age of 172 and his wife, Sarah Rovin, the age of 164. They were married for 148 years and they had a 116-year-old son. Hungary was a well-known Eldorado of bee keeping and honey always was and still is in great favor. Humboldt assures us that he became personally acquainted there with a peasant, aged 143, whose wife was. 117.

We find many similar reports among African and Asiatic tribes. A peasant of Bengal, named Numas de Cugna, is alleged to have reached the age of 370 years., He died in 1566. Cugna grew four new sets of teeth and the color of his hair frequently changed from gray to black and the reverse. Roger Bacon refers to Papalius, of German origin, a prisoner of the Saracens, who lived to 500 years. M. Solarville, in 1870, computed that there were 62,503 people in Europe above the age of l00.

All this plainly demonstrates that science, civilization and our present regimen of food not only do not contribute to longevity but the reverse. Culture and art, in general, seem to have cur-tailed life. There must be some confusion between the discovery and the application of the fundamental principles of Nature.

Most authors who pointed the way to longevity, failed to attain to the aim of long life. Sir Francis Bacon, who wrote the famous treatise, History of Life and Death, died at sixty-five. Medical men, especially those who have written a great deal on the subject, died far below the average of standard life. Hippo-crates, who lived to the age of 109, was one of the few exceptions but he was also a student of Nature and had spent his life in the country, calling on patients, very probably, on foot.

The golden rule of longevity seems to be moderation and simple, natural food. Every animal, but man, keeps to one dish. Pythagoras, who was a great philosopher and also a physician, laid down the principle that simple food is the best means to sustain life. He went even further when he made the statement that there is no disorder to which human nature is incident that could not be cured by such simple things as the Almighty Creator has provided. Honey was for Pythagoras No. 1 on the list. His disciples all reached an advanced age. Benjamin Franklin also emphasized that "against diseases known, the strongest fence is the defensive virtue, abstinence." Hufeland believed that it is within man's power to extend his existence to at least two hundred years. Buffon was a little more conservative; he thought the natural length of human life should be one hundred years.

Simple life and nature cures had many enthusiastic advocates during the Middle Ages. A book, edited by a Lover of Mankind, Nature, the Best Physician or Every Man, His Own Doctor (printed at Shakespeare's Head, 17 Paternoster Row, 1745), suggests remedies for all ailments consisting of products collected from Nature's fields and gardens. Honey was a component of many of his remedies.

Thuanis, in the Third Book of his Historia Sui Temporis de-scribes an incident which occurred in 1540. There was a "Cause" tried before the Parliament of Dijon. Thuanis' father was the presiding judge. Among the witnesses examined was Peter L'Marr, aged 40, who was so infirm that he was scarcely able to deliver his evidence. When asked by the President the nature of his illness, he answered that a great part of his life had been spent in tampering with medicines which reduced him to the miserable state in which he appeared. Thuanis explains that the processes of Equity were "rather" slow those days in France and the same "Cause" was submitted again for decision before the Parliament of Paris in 1590. Thuanis was appointed advocate for the plaintiff. One of the witnesses was Jean L'Marr, aged 90. When the evidence was read of the first trial (5o years before) the name of Peter L'Marr came up and Jean was asked whether he was related to the other L'Marr he answered, "Yes, I am the twin brother of Peter who died about 49 years ago, a short time after he gave testimony at the first trial." Thuanis, himself much advanced in age, remembered that trial which occurred during his student days. Curious to know how Jean had preserved his health so well, he asked him about his mode of living. The answer was, "I live regularly and frugally and when I am ill I never consult the Faculty but take only remedies which Nature's gardens provide (honey among them), with the consequence that I soon recover without being obliged to swallow `nauseous loads of physics'." Jean L'Marr lived for many years afterwards and died after a short illness.


Speaking of abstinence, we cannot fail to mention the life of Luigi Cornaro (1464 to 1566), a wealthy Venetian noble-man, the most famous valetudinarian and the immortal prototype of abstemious living. His experience is a remarkable in-stance of the efficacy of temperance toward procuring long life. Up to his thirty-fifth year Cornaro had led a life of dissipation, so much so that he was deprived of all honors and privileges to which he was entitled on account of noble birth. A descendant of a family of many Doges (Duce) of Venice and of ancestors who rivaled with kings, he was not even permitted to occupy a State position. His health was so far gone under the weight of infirmities that physicians assured him that he could not live longer than two months and that all medicines were useless. One physician, however, suggested the observance of a most meager diet as the only hope. Cornaro followed the advice and rapidly improved. He became active and happy and healthier than he ever had been before, and he also regained the respect and affection of his fellow-citizens in spite of all disadvantages of his early life. They soon conferred upon him the epithet, "The Temper-ate." Later he married and had a daughter. The fact alone that he had a female descendant proved that constitutionally he was stronger than his wife because Nature, infallibly, favors the weaker sex.

Cornaro's diet consisted of bread, light broth, eggs, veal, mutton, fowl, birds, such as partridge or thrush, and occasionally fish. The only sweet he indulged in was honey. He lived on this diet during all his remaining years; consuming daily not more than twelve ounces of solid food and thirteen ounces of liquid. The quantity and variety fully satisfied him. When seventy years old, he suffered an accident and was seriously injured. His horses bolted, upset the carriage and dragged him along the road. Physicians gave up hope for his life. They suggested blood-letting and a strong physic but he refused both. Cornaro, in spite of all, quickly recovered without complication.

When eighty years old, his friends prevailed on him to make a slight addition to his meals. On their persuasion he increased the solid food to fourteen ounces and drinks to sixteen. Ten days later he became uneasy, dejected and choleric, a burden, as he remarked, to himself and others. He resumed his former regimen and immediately felt better.

Cornaro wrote his autobiography, The Temperate Life, in four discourses with the intent of glorifying "divine sobriety." To quote him: "Divine Sobriety, pleasing to God, the friend of Nature, the daughter of reason, the sister of virtue, the companion of temperate living, . . . the loving mother of human life, the true medicine both of the soul and of the body; how much should men praise and thank thee for thy courteous gifts! for thou givest them the means of preserving life in health, that blessing than which it did not please God we should have a greater in this worldlife and existence, so naturally prized, so willingly guarded by every living creature!" The respective parts were published in the 83rd, 86th, 91st, and 95th years of his life. These treatises, which ought to be important contributions to medical literature, gave inspiration to many in the pursuit of a temperate life.

The life of Cornaro is remarkable in every respect. He had a happy disposition considering his advanced age. "I never knew the world was so beautiful until I reached old age," he used to say. Cornaro was devoid of peevishness and morosity, altogether too often the lot of old age. After meals he felt he had to sing and often commented on the good quality of his voice; after singing he wrote eight hours daily, for the benefit of humanity. When eighty-three he climbed steep hills and walked a great deal. Hunting was his favorite sport. Cornaro's memory, intellect and senses were unaffected. He died peacefully in his one hundred and third year as one who falls asleep, all but pen in hand.

Cornaro's favorite sayings were:

To eat nothing but what is necessary to sustain life.

The food from which one abstains is more beneficial than that which is eaten.

A man cannot be a perfect physician to anyone, except to himself. As you grow older, eat less.

An old man who lives regularly and temperately, even though he is of poor constitution, is more likely to live than a young man in perfect health if addicted to disorderly habits.

His aphorisms on longevity were often repeated by Francis Bacon, Sir William Temple and others who have written on life and death.

Cornaro's portrait by Tintoretto in the Pitti Palace, Florence (No. 83), and his beautiful palace in Padua, one of the most remarkable buildings in Italy, with its magnificent loggia, are often pointed out and remain monuments to Divine Sobriety and Longevity. He was a friend of reason and an enemy of gluttony, intemperance and sensuality.

Horace Fletcher, the advocator of famous "fletcherizing", suggested eating when hungry and swallowing only well-chewed food. Mahatma Gandhi lives on goat's milk and simple sugars, such as honey and dates. He firmly believes that by regulating what enters the stomach we control what enters the brain.


"... Valhall's blushing maids round-proffer
the Mead-Horns, rich with foam of gold, . . ."

Frithiof's Saga

HONEY and water, called hydromel, is one of the oldest HONEY known. It was later called mead, meth, or metheglin.

There are three distinct kinds of mead, the simple, the compound and the vinous. Simple mead is made of water and honey which does not undergo fermentation. It is made by boiling about three parts of water to one part of honey; the honey may be increased or diminished according to taste. The boiling is done over a slow fire until one third has evaporated, then the remainder is skimmed and put into a cask, until the cask is full. In three or four days it will be fit for use. Simple mead is a favorite drink of the Mohammedans who are forbidden alcoholic beverages.

Compound mead is made in the following manner: While the simple mead is boiling, some raisins, cut in two, are cooked separately, allowing one-half pound of raisins to six pounds of honey. During the time while the boiling mead is diminishing, the liquefied raisins are added through a coarse linen filter and the mixture is boiled together for a short time; a toasted crust of bread, steeped in beer, is then put into it and after the scum, which forms afresh, has been removed the liquid is soon taken off the fire and allowed to settle. After it has been poured into a barrel (new barrels must be rinsed with brandy), an ounce of salt of tartar, dissolved in a glass of brandy is added. Kept in a warm room or exposed to the sun, with the barrel open, it will commence to ferment. Some pieces of lemon peel, a few drops of essence of cinnamon and some syrup of gooseberries, cherries, strawberries and aromatic flowers may be mixed with the concoction to suit individual taste. The froth must always be replaced with some of the remaining stock and the barrel kept continually filled. Compound mead ferments a considerable time, usually about two months. After the fermentation has ceased, the bung-hole is closed. The longer the mead is aged the better and more potent will it be. After several years in a cask it may be put, with the addition of a lump of sugar, into bottles which then must be well corked.

For the preparation of Vinous mead there are more diversified instructions, rules and procedures than for all other alcoholic liquors combined. Every nation, every class and age has had a different method of mead-making. The component parts, the technic and innumerable other considerations, had to be carefully bethought to produce an excellent mead. One Greek mead contained thirty-six ingredients and was called "true nectar." The ancients depended even on the constellations of stars to select the best time for preparing this favorite drink. The fermentation period of mead was of such vital importance with some races that during that time sexual abstinence had to be observed, otherwise it was believed the mead would spoil. The number of ingredients which were selected is simply amazing. Thyme, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, sesame flour, sweet marjoram, rosemary, even whites of eggs, were added. In later centuries whisky, brandy and gin were used to strengthen and flavor it. Even the water was of consequence. Pliny, for instance, advised (Libr. XIV. ch. 20) in making hydromel the use of rain water which had to be at least five years old. The thalassiomel of the Greeks was prepared with sea-water.

The pervading principle in the innumerable orthodox procedures of mead making was to determine first the correct proportion of honey, water and other ingredients; the period of time and the slowness of boiling; the vessel (copper, glass or earthenware) ; the proper scumming of the froth; the time and manner of fermentation and stirring; and finally how long to let it stand until it had aged enough and was fit to drink (Saxon quality).

Dr. Bevan's recipe for making mead was a typical modus operandi: "Dissolve an ounce of cream of tartar in five gallons of boiling water, pour the solution off clear upon twenty pounds of fine honey, boil them together, and remove the scum as it rises. Towards the end of the boiling add an ounce of fine hops; about ten minutes afterwards put the liquor into a tub to cool. When reduced to a temperature of 700 or 80 Fahrenheit, according to the season, add a slice of toasted bread smeared over with a little yeast, the less the better because yeast invariably spoils the flavor of wines. If there is a sufficiency of extractive matter among the ingredients employed, yeast should not be introduced; nor if it is fermented in wooden vessels. The liquors should now stand in a warm room, and be stirred occasionally. As soon as it begins to carry a bead it should be tunned and the cask filled up from time to time from the reserve, till the fermentation has subsided. It should now be bunged down, leaving open a small peghole; in a few days this may also be closed and in about twelve months the wine will be fit to bottle."

The invert sugars, dextrose and levulose, which honeys contain, readily produce alcohol by fermentation. Saccharose (sucrose), the main component of cane-sugar, must first be inverted before it ferments.

The celestial nectar, the drink of the gods, was really fermented hydromel, that is, honey-wine, which was only later called mead or meth. Mead is often mentioned in the Bible and in the sacred books of India. Abraham Santa Clara called the bees ( Judas IV. 14) the "little mead-brewers." The wide-spread popularity of mead is best proven by the philologists. In Scythia it was called medos; in Greece, methu; in India, madhu; in England, mead; in Old Irish, mid; in German, meth; in the Slavic countries, medu; in Lithuanian, medus; etc.

Previous to the introduction of grape wine and malt liquors, mead was a universal drink the world over. It was prized in the remote past as good wine, beer, whisky and cordials are today.

Mead preceded in Greece the wine-era by many long centuries. Aristotle remarks: "When the honey is squeezed out of the combs an agreeable strong drink, like wine, is produced." Beer drinking among the ancient Greeks was considered a barbaric custom. Apollonius Rhodius (235 B.C.) related that the Argonauts kept vast stores of food and mead which the cup-bearers drew forth in beakers and described how the heroes grasped the full goblet in both hands and relished it, pouring also a cup of mead upon the seas before lifting their anchors. The Nordic races highly valued mead and it was the drink of their heroes. The Niebelungen heroes drank meth out of golden goblets and ox-horns. The high halls of Valhalla flowed with mead and the dead warriors freely drank from the inexhaustible supply. The intrepid Goth, Beowulf, was offered mead by the bracelet-covered queen at the court of Hrothgar who made the hall the greatest mead-house ever known. Mead was the "nectar" of all Scandinavian countries. It was their national drink. On an ancient Runic calendar, found in Scandinavia, consisting of pictorial symbols, two of the twelve months of the year bear witness to the popularity of mead. January first, the day of Yuletide festivities, was represented by two crossed ornamental meadhorns (these embellished horns look very much like those from which visitors in Upsala (Sweden) drink mead today (for a good price) at the "Barrow of Odin"), and the month of September, by a beehive and a swarm of bees, a reminder to collect the honey which is so necessary for brewing mead. In the Eddas, mead is often mentioned. Speaking of heroes: "Blue mead was their liquor, and it proved their poison; they marched to Cattraeth filled with mead and drunk." In the early Christian era mead still was a favorite drink. In the "Legends of the Holy Rood," mead is also mentioned. Chaucer alludes to "meth" as a common drink (Knight's Tale; Miller's Tale). Shakespeare alludes to metheglin when he suggests something sweet (Love's Labour's Lost; The Merry Wives of Windsor).

It seems rather remarkable how mead, the first fermented drink known, was ousted by the fermented produce of grapes, namely, wine. It suffered the same fate as honey as a food and sweetening substance. Wine prepared from grapes came into vogue comparatively late. Grapes came from China to Greece and Sicily; the Phoenicians carried them to the South of France, and the Romans to the Rhine and Danube. The first grape vines were planted on the Rhine in Ludwigsau by King Ludwig, "The Ger-man," in 842 A.D. But it required many centuries before mead was entirely "dethroned."

Among primitive races, especially the African tribes, mead has remained, up to this day, the popular drink. The East-African nomadic races not only eat the wild honey but they dilute it with water and let it ferment into wine or beer called tetsch, which is their favorite drink. The African soothsayers and prophets intoxicate themselves with this honey-wine. During ceremonials and magical practices it is liberally used. They drink it from horns, like the Niebelungen used to do, and also distil it for brandy.

In Africa honey is found in huge quantities; in some places the bees are so numerous, as Seyffert-Dresden describes it, that they even obstruct the passage of travelers and the air is filled with the odor of honey and the continuous buzzing of bees. The African races, without exception, are fond of honey. They mix it with flour, cereals, butter, milk and bake pastries with it; they even knead their tobacco with honey, making dry cubes for chewing-tobacco which they call Latuka.

The Boros and the American Indians of the Western Amazon forests are also fond of honey. They use it for food and prepare their beverages from it, which they drink in excess during festive occasions. The wild honey is collected from the cavities of dead trees or from the hollow tree-trunks which the natives set up in the thatch of their houses for the new swarms to nest in.

In India, honey is an important article in the preparation of foods and drinks, especially in the manufacture of alcoholic liquors. The Himalayan mead has an unusual potency; one cup is sufficiently intoxicating. In ancient Babylon, date and honey-wine, called sikaru, was a powerful alcoholic drink. The misshu of the Koreans is a brandy with a high percentage of alcohol. It is a distilled honey-wine. Some Persians have a tube gently inserted between their teeth while still asleep, and have a mixture of warm milk, whisky and honey poured into their mouths so that the taste of "nectar" should be their first conscious sensation each day (Patrick Balfour, Grand Tour).

According to ancient Anglo-Saxon history, the beehive supplied the whole population, from the king down to the poorest subject, with food, drink and light. Mead was served at the royal tables, in monasteries and in the houses of the poor. During royal festivities, mead was served in horns. English history mentions how Ethelstan, the subordinate King of Kent (Xth Century), ex-pressed his delight, when visiting his relative, that there was "no deficiency of mead." The affluent supply of mead in medieval Germany is proven by the fact that when hostile tribes tried to burn the town of Meissen, on the Upper-Elbe, in the year 1015, its population, owing to shortage of water, extinguished the flames with their reserve stock of mead.

J. Magnus, in the Historia Sueonum (The History of Swedes), describes how Hunding, the 23rd King of Sweadland, upon a false report of the death of his brother-in-law, Hading, King of Denmark, invited all his nobility to a sumptuous feast and provided a large vessel of mead. After they had become drunk, as a token of friendship for his supposedly dead friend, Hunding plunged into the vessel and willingly drowned himself. The Swedes considered him immortal and superior in courage to the Greek and Roman heroes.

Many varieties of honey-brew were used during the Middle Ages. Frequently the crushed combs were steeped in water, strained, and then put into earthen vessels until the liquid fermented and became mead. It was preferably kept in wooden barrels, and the longer it aged the more it gained in flavor and strength. This was the most common procedure. The stronger and "more generous" kind of mead was called metheglin. In its preparation spices, like thyme, sweet marjoram, rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and pepper were used in liberal proportions. Sometimes sweet apples, pears and quinces were added. In some parts of Wales, the refuse-combs were brewed with malt or spices. The drink was called braggots, derived from the old English brag, meaning malt, and gots, honeycomb. This was later corrupted to brackets. The Irish had a honey-wine called usquebaugh. In Ireland mead was often mixed with the "milk" of the hazel nut. Mullet alluded to this beverage, made of honey, wine and herbs, as "not unfit for a nation that feeds on flesh raw, or but half sod."

Charles Butler gave long and detailed directions about how to make the best meadQueen Elizabeth's Metheglin. Queen Elizabeth was extremely fond of mead. She had her own formulas for its preparation and mellowing, and it was specially pre-pared for her. Let Butler tell all about this Royal drink:

"He who liketh to know the many and sundry makings of this wholesome drink must learn it of the ancient Britains: who therein do pass all other people. One excellent receipt I will here recite: and it is of that which our renowned Queen Elizabeth, of happy memory, did so well like, that she would every year have a vesel of it.

"The Queen's Metheglin. First, gather a bushel of sweetbriar leaves, and a bushel of thyme, half a bushel of rosemary, and a peck of bay-leaves. Seethe all these (being well washed) in a furnace (not less than 120 gallons) of fair water; let them boil the space of half an hour, or better: and then pour out all the water and herbs into a vat, and let it stand until it be but milk warm: then strain the water from the herbs, and take to every six gallons of water one gallon of the finest honey, and put it into the boorne, and labor it together half an hour: then let it stand two days, stirring it well twice or thrice each day. Then take the liquor and boil it anew: and when it doth seeth, skim it as long as there remaineth any dross. When it is clear, put it into the vat as before, and there let it be cooled. You must then have in readiness a kiv(e) of new ale or beer, which as soon as you have emptied, suddenly whelm it upside down, and set it up again, and presently put in the metheglin, and let it stand three days a-working. And then tun it up in barrels, tying at every taphole (by a pack thread) a little bag of beaten cloves and mace, to the value of an ounce. Such was the mead of good Queen Bess." N.B. "It must stand half a year before it is drunk."

Honey-brew mixed with mulberry juice was called, among the Britons, morat. This was the drink of the better classes. Another beverage, called pigment, brewed from the purest honey, flavored with spices, like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, etc., mixed sometimes with wine, was the drink of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs during their customary four daily feasts. William I reduced the number of daily court orgies to a single state banquet. The English monks were allowed for dinner one sextarium of mead (in modern measure this would amount to several gallons) among six of them, and half the quantity for supper. The Polish monks of St. Basil were experts in making miodomel, a species of mead flavored with hops. It was considered an excellent digestive and a remedy for gout and rheumatism. Krupnik was another Polish drink, made from good whisky boiled with honey, which had to be drunk hot during the cold winter. The order of Cluny called mead bochet and designated it as "potus dulcissimus" (sweetest beverage), agreeable to the taste and smell. It was ever so much favored by these monks during great church festivities. The Russians brewed mead with a decoction of hops and barley. The Russian lipez was brewed from delicious linden-honey.

Edwardes describes, in The Lore of the Honey-Bee, how, during the Norman invasion, the "outlandish liquor of grape" was brought in and took the place of the good old English honey-brew, the Saxon mead. From that time on, he relates, mead has steadily declined in vogue until it has become an almost lost art, practiced only by some old-fashioned folks in remote country places. Those who have had the good fortune to taste the old mead, well matured in wood, are sure to feel regret that no deter-mined effort is made to rehabilitate it in national favor. There is no more wholesome drink in the world, and certainly none requiring less technical skill in the making. All ancient books on bee keeping give directions for its manufacture, differing only in the variety of ingredients which were added for its improvement, or rather, for its degradation. The finest mead can be brewed from pure honey and water alone. Any addition of spices or other material serves to destroy its unique flavor.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, certain bee-masters were renowned in their day for mead brewing. One of the best mead-brewers claimed that his potion was absolutely indistinguishable, even by the most competent judges, from old Canary Sack (sack, a kind of wine, was a popular drink in Shakespeare's days). This authority gave careful directions for the manufacture of mead. If kept for a number of years, such mead, when poured into a glass, frothed like champagne, stilling soon, leaving the glass lined with sparkling air bubbles. It was of a pale golden color and had a bouquet like old cider, but its delicate taste was hardly comparable with any other known liquor. Dryden suggested diluting stronger wines with mead:

T' allay the strength and hardness of the wine,
Let with old Bacchus, new Metheglin join.

In the courts of the Princes of Wales, the Mead-Maker was the eleventh dignitary, preceding even the court physician. He received his land and horses free; the Queen supplied him with linen and the King, with woolen clothing. A certain amount of mead was his allotted share. In the principality of Wales, "the spacious halls of the Princes resounded, accompanied by the lyre, with the praises of mead." Mead-hall and mead-bench are often mentioned in songs of the Druid bards. There were three things in Court which had to be communicated to the king before they were made known to any other person:

"1st, Every sentence of the judge;
2nd, Every new song; and
3rd, Every cask of mead."

Innumerable drinks were prepared from honey and wine. The famous old athole brose consisted of equal parts of honey and cream, to which mature Scotch whisky was added. (This was sup-posed to cure all illseven without faith.) Boswell, in The Life of Johnson, mentioned a drink, "a curious liquor peculiar to his country," which the Cornish fishermen drank. They called it mahogany. It consisted of two parts of gin and one part of treacle, well beaten together. Johnson begged Mr. Eliot to have some made, which was done with proper skill. Johnson thought it a very good beverage, a counterpart of what was called athol porridge in the Highlands of Scotland, a mixture of whisky and honey, but he considered the latter a better liquor than that of the folks of Cornish, because "both of its component parts were bet-ter." (It is not surprising that Johnson suffered from bad gout.) Johnson remarked that "mahogany must be a modern name, for it is not long since the wood called mahogany was known in this country." Johnson also had the bees in mind when he remarked that "Tom Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation."

Edwardes quotes the old bee-master: "But of all the good things given us by the wise physician of the hive, there is nothing so good as well-brewed metheglin. This is just as I have made it for forty years, and as my father made it long before that. Between us we have been brewing mead for more than a century. It is almost a lost art now; but here in Sussex there are still a few antiquated folks who make it, and some even remember the old `methers,' the ancient cups, it used to be quaffed from. As an everyday drink for working-men, wholesome, nourishing and cheering, there is nothing like it in or out of the Empire." Joseph Warder, a physician, (1726) dedicating a book about bees to his ruler, Queen Anne, refers to mead as a "liquor no ways inferior to the best of Wines coming either from France or Spain," and suggests a toast to her Majesty's health "not with the expensive wine of our enemies but with a glass such as our Bees can procure us." Rev. Thorley also thought mead "not inferior to the `Best' of foreign Wines." Honey-beer was very popular with the ancient Gauls. They had two kinds, zythus prepared with pure honey for the rich, and corma, made from the combs after the honey had been extracted, for consumption by the poor. The Russian mod is an old-fashioned honey-drink, of the same strength as beer.

The French being ardent wine growers, despised mead. It was never sold under that name. Nonetheless, much mead was sold in France under fictitious names like Rota, Madeira, Malmsey, etc. The Bavarian meth was the precursor of the beer industry of Munich. The use of hops in beer-making originated in Russia.

Brewer Pete

Way to much time on your hands.... LoL

Nah, just trying to get Pumpy some good bedtime reading when he's snuggled up with the Frenchie from next door ;)

Brewer Pete

Seriously. A link would have worked, no?

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