Negus (drink)

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For the main but unrelated use, as an Ethiopian title, see negus.

Negus is the name of a drink made of wine, most commonly port, mixed with hot water, spiced and sugared.


According to Malone (Life of Dryden, Prose Work. i - p. 484) this drink was invented by Col. Francis Negus (d.1732), a British courtier (commissioner for executing the office of Master of the Horse from 1717 to 1727, then Master of the Buckhounds). In

Negus is referred to in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, when Jane drinks it on arrival at Thornfield Hall; in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, when Catherine is given it at Thrushcross Grange by the Lintons; in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol during the party at Fezziwig's, in David Copperfield, "Dombey and Son", The Pickwick Papers and Bleak House; and in Harriette Wilson's Memoirs and Grace Dalrymple Elliott's Journal of My Life During the French Revolution. Anthony Trollope in The Small House at Allington portrays the rustic Earl de Guest's violent disgust at the thought of the drink. Negus makes a number of appearances as a tonic in The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels, and Boswell refers to it repeatedly in his London Journal. It is said to be added to a white soup in P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley. In A Death in the Small Hours by Charles Finch, the character Frederick Ponsonby claims that a glass of hot negus "settles the stomach wonderfully." In W.M. Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Ensign Stubble "never took his eyes off her except when the negus came in". In Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Heart's Own Blood Young Mr. Bartram to Clare (Beauchamp) Fraser (Grey) "May I offer you some refreshment Lady John? I have some iced negus in the house." Arthur Conan Doyle has John give some negus to his sister Esther to quiet her in chapter 5 of 'The Mystery of Cloomber Hall'.

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