Thursday, 21 May 2009

A brewing fairy tale

I just stumbled across this story, told in Parliament in 1851. I found it amusing. But, if you've read any of my jokes, you'll know that I'm easily amused.

It was part of a debate about transportation. Not transport, but transportation: shipping convicts to Australia. I would explain. I would. But pressing prior engagements and all that.

Once upon a time—no matter when—and in a place—no matter where—there lived an old rogue of a brewer, who, from neglect and mismanagement, had a large quantity of very bad beer on his hands. It was about as sour as vinegar, and totally unfit for home consumption or domestic use; in fact, it was something worse than useless, entailing only trouble and expense on its unfortunate owner. What to do the old brewer knew not; so he consulted his friends and retainers. They generally agreed that the best thing would be to send it abroad—just the thing for the colonies. Ah ! said the brewer, 1 have for a long time shipped large quantities under the name of single X ale, but the buyers have found out they have had a bad bargain, though I sold the article dirt-cheap. I then doctored it up a bit, changed the name to XX, and raised the price, to make my customers believe they were getting something of the right sort; but some of them denounced the trick, grumbled sadly, and complained that I had made bad worse. As a last resource, I altered the colour, clarified the liquor, popped in a little sugar, and again changed the name to XXX, so that the people might believe they were getting a real genuine article—true malt and hops; and to make all sure, by way of experiment, I sent my ale to a new market. I knew the people of the Cape manufactured shocking bad wine, so I thought they would not be over particular in taking a little bad beer. Confound the fellows! you wouldn't believe what a row they kicked up. They roared out as though they were going to be poisoned, and would not even allow the liquor to be landed; so I was obliged to ship it off to the old market, where the people have become so accustomed to the ale, bad as it is, that, goodnatured souls ! they will swallow anything; and besides, between ourselves, I have a first-rate agent there who passes it off admirably; but my last accounts, I am sorry to say, advise me that my customers even there are getting sick of it, and if so, my trade is done up. What am I to do ? One man, more honest than the rest, said, " Why, old gentleman, you must take more pains in the manufacture of your beer; and if a little should still spoil on your hands, you must, bear the loss and inconvenience yourself, and not pour your trash down the throats of others."
Parliamentary papers, Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, Published by HMSO, 1851, page 84.

Makes a change from Booth though, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Somebloke said...

I though the punchline was going to be, "Send it to Oz and call it XXXX".