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RUM and Drinking  


John Nickinson's letters to EJ Phillips have several references to drinking  Was he an alcoholic?  He certainly seems to have had a drinking problem at some point, judging from these letters. (We do know that EJ Phillips didn't drink.)

Toronto, Sept 16, 1859  "I have not & will not touch liquor, wine or even beer for I now have something to do & am freed from a very great trouble in getting [son] John [aged 15] provided for." 

Rochester NY, October 5, 1859 "I am a good boy & God willing will try to keep so for your sake.  I don't think there is much danger for happily the people here are not so fond of the Damned Liquor as in Canada."

Rochester,  Oct 7, 1859 "this is the first anniversary, but month anniversary of my teetotality, thank God -- and I pray it may not be the last.  I have altogether lost any desire or thought about it, except when I read your blessed admonitions, for which dearest, accept my thanks.  They do no harm and only serve to remind me that you have had sufficient reason to fear a relapse. May the good God forbid. ...Wallack, like myself, on the "sober tack -- all right "  

Did John Nickinson drink with Edgar Allen Poe?  "A little store in Nassau Street, between Ann and Beekman, where gathered a few elevated literary minds, reinforced by a sprinkling of actors like Peter Cunningham, John Brougham, Oliver Raymond, Tom Johnston and John Nickinson. It was not a dramshop, but it dispensed various kinds of nervine, and it had facilities for adding emphasis to what ‘the Governor of North Carolina once said to the Governor of South Carolina.’" *

*And what did the governors say?  Apparently "it's a long time between drinks."    
John Nickinson's New York

Drinking at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Toronto
Another consistent complaint labelled against Nickinson's theatre, decried the continual noise created by audience members in the lobby. In the Daily Leader of 7 October 1856, the editor noted that although Nickinson stationed policemen in the pit to maintain order, perhaps he ought also to obtain "the services of a constable in the boxes."160 The review suggested that patrons partook of intoxicating beverages before and during the performances, and the editor commented that those who could not maintain the requisite of good breeding while in their cups, ought not to indulge. O'Neill, PB Anthony, A History of Theatrical Activity in Toronto, Canada, from its beginning to  1858, Louisiana State University dissertation, 1973 

In search of John Nickinsons "not a dramshop" 

Bob Osborne and Mary Glen on Nassau St. between Ann and Beekman, March 2005 

Ad from Madison Square Theatre program March 26, 1888 

Recommended by eminent physicians

Salt Lake City, Sept. 15, 1886  EJ Phillips writes " [Walden] Ramseyis ill - and is going back to San F'co.  He is suffering from the effects of what I warned him against seven years ago.  RUM. "

EJ Phillips makes only a few other references to drinking.  After Christmas dinner at the Harrisons (New York, Dec 26, 1890) she states "I did not partake of the wine and cannot tell how good it was".  

New York, Dec. 3, 1891  Katie is a widow.  Obtained a divorce from Homer and a month after it was granted Homer died of pneumonia, superinduced by delirium tremens at a hospital in Flatbush.

Milwaukee  Feby 17th 1893  Yes, I am afraid Mr. [Edward M.] Bell has at last become weaker than Barley Corn, but like many thousands he would not believe anyone that the latter could ever overmaster him.  I am very sorry indeed, for he is a very gentlemanly fellow, only about 36 years of age.

Odell reported that "in the second week of the run of the Wilde play [Lady Windermere's Fan] I was shocked to learn from the Herald that Edward Bell had been discharged from the company for some-thing he had done (I know not what) during a performance.  Walden Ramsey took his role... Bell returned on Feb 21st."  (Though a biographical reference book cross referencesMaud Harrison as Mrs. Edward M Bell, her NY Times obituary (April 29, 1907) makes no reference to any husband). 

In a review of Aunt Jack (NY Times Oct 31 1889) Edward Bell is noted as a newcomer who "made a very pleasing impression, although he is not likely to be seen at his best in [illegible] farce to which his talents are at present confined, he is sure to become a popular member of Mr. Palmer'sCompany.    

New York, Sept. 11, 1895 I suppose by this time you have heard of the dreadful fate of Mr. Wm. Palmer.  I am very sorry.  He was always very kind to me!  Everybody liked "Willie", but they couldn't keep him from the cup and dissolute companions.  Too bad!  Too bad!  

NY Times Sept 11 1895   Will Palmer Commits Suicide  The Brother of AM Palmer kills himself in St. Louis after a long carouse  St. Louis, Mo.  "William R Palmer, traveling manager of AM Palmer's "Trilby" company committed suicide early this morning in his room at the Southern Hotel by shooting himself through the head ... He was about forty-five years old, a very brainy man, but troubled with an inclination to dissipate."
New York Tribunehttps://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1895-09-11/ed-1/seq-1/

Temperance songs, Library of Congress   http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/smhtml/smessay3.html

Charlotte Cushman, MacBeth and drinking

Booths and alcohol
Juniur Brutus Booth Sr.  was an alcoholic, "He drank heavily. He was a notorious drunk" and recruited son Edwin to accompany him to California aged 12,  "When the time comes for them to end their California tour, Edwin says to his father, "Go back alone. I want to stay here and try to be a leading man in San Francisco in my own right.” Of course, Junius Brutus Booth is too proud to argue; he packs his bags full of gold dust, he gets on a steamboat, makes the journey back across the isthmus of Panama. Without his watchdog and guardian, Edwin, he falls into trouble, all of his profits from California are stolen, and he dies on a steamboat. ....Edwin. After his father's death, he blames himself for the death, but he kind of goes off. He doesn't even know about it for months, because he's in a traveling troupe and he's finally free. It's his great moment, actually. But later, he really torments himself, and it becomes part of his great burden to carry, and perhaps contributes later to his becoming an alcoholic.  The actor and the assassin: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, Folger LIbrary, 2019 https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited/edwin-john-wilkes-booth

In 1863, when Mary [Devlin Booth] was only 22, she became incredibly ill. Edwin was in New York, and was sent urgent telegrams regarding her condition. However, like his father, Edwin was an alcoholic and was too inebriated to even read the telegrams. By the time he was sober enough to reach Mary in Boston, she had already passed. The death of his young wife sent Edwin into a tailspin. He swore off drinking and threw himself into his work. Why Edwin Booth is the saddest man to ever exist 2013https://betterthanatextbook.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/reasons-why-edwin-booth-is-the-saddest-man-to-ever-exist/

Older bars in New York Established 1854.
McSorley's Ale house 1854 15 East 7th Street, East Village between Bowery and Second Ave.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McSorley%27s_Old_Ale_House  Established 1854.  Didn't admit women until 1970.  Don't think that EJ Phillips spent much times in bars -- but suspect John Nickinson did. 
Pete's Tavern 1864 129 East 18th Streethttp://www.petestavern.com/  Established 1864.
Blasts from the past, New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/barbuzz/11924/  Five old bars in New York

 "long time between drinks" "Long time between drinks" is one of the most famous of American drinking phrases. Allegedly, this occurred in a conversation between the governors of North and South Carolina. As usual, no one has a citation. http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2003-September/033567.html  

See alsohttps://www.ncpedia.org/its-damn-long-time-between-drinks which has more about history and provenance.
EJ Phillips used to be the fourth citation, but does not appear until the third page of results now.

Alcohol was not the only temptation in the 19th century - Mental Health Blues and nervousness   and opiates

'Last updated August 17, 2021

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