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The way we were: Great British sybarites

Four extracts from letters, memoir and diaries on the powers of drink

By Ian Irvine   December 2010

Johnny Depp as bon vivant Lord Rochester

Lord Rochester writes to his friend, Henry Savile, 22nd June 1674

Oh! That second bottle, Harry, is the sincerest, wisest and most impartial, downright friend we have; tells us truth of ourselves, and forces us to speak truth of others; banishes flattery from our tongues, and distrust from our hearts; sets us above the mean policy of court prudence, which makes us lie to one another all day, for fear of being betrayed by each other at night. And I believe, the errantest villain breathing is honest as long as the bottle lives…

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