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Count the Rings

Ramble I recently read A Ramble Round the Globe Revisited , thinking I was buying the original A Ramble Round The Globe from 1894 by Tommy Dewar of Dewar's Whisky. This version, by Malcolm Greenwood, didn't add any value to the original journal that was mixed in with his commentary on how things had changed since then.

But it had one ridiculous- and naively offensive- quote from the original journal by Tommy Dewar that is too funny not to share. This was Dewar's observation in Shanghai.

By the way, a wholesale wine merchant in the English settlement told me that a Chinaman made the best of all warehousemen in a wine merchant's establishment, not only because they did not drink very much, but that if they did, anyone could always tell, for half a glass of wine, or anything intoxicating, caused a large red ring to appear round his eyes, and by looking at him and counting the rings, it was possible to find out just exactly how much he had imbibed. Very ingenious this! I had never heard of it before; but I suppose it's true. I know that the age of a tree or a cow can be told by looking at the rings of the trunk or the horn, but this way of telling how much a man has had to drink was quite new to me. It would be a good thing sometimes if this were the case with Englishmen, and would assist most materially in 'drunk and disorderly' cases. Imagine a man denying before a magistrate at Bow Street that he had been drunk; how easy it would be for His Worship to say, 'Constable, did you examine his eyes?' 'Yes, your wusship; but the rings all round each eye were so mixed up over 'is nose, and went right under the 'air of 'is 'ead, we couldn't count how many there really was!' 'Ten shillings or seven days!' Why the whole thing would be as easy as ABC.


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