PUNCH, s. This beverage, according to the received etymology, was named from the Pers. panj, or Hind. and Mahr. panch, both meaning ‘five’; because composed of five ingredients, viz. arrack, sugar, lime-juice, spice, and water. Fryer may be considered to give something like historical evidence of its origin; but there is also something of Indian idiom in the suggestion. Thus a famous horse-medicine in Upper India is known as battisi, because it is supposed to contain 32 (‘battis’) ingredients. Schiller, in his Punschlied, sacrificing truth to trope, omits the spice and makes the ingredients only 4: “Vier Elemente Innig gesellt, Bilden das Leben, Bauen die Welt.”

The Greeks also had a “Punch,” [Greek Text] pentaploa, as is shown in the quotation from Athenaeus. Their mixture does not sound inviting. Littré gives the etymology correctly from the Pers. panj, but the 5 elements à la française, as tea, sugar, spirit, cinnamon, and lemon-peel,—no water therefore!

Some such compound appears to have been in use at the beginning of the 17th century under the name of Larkin (q.v.). Both Dutch and French travellers in the East during that century celebrate the beverage under a variety of names which amalgamate the drink curiously with the vessel in which it was brewed. And this combination in the form of Bole-ponjis was adopted as the title of a Miscellany published in 1851, by H. Meredith Parker, a Bengal civilian, of local repute for his literary and dramatic tastes. He had lost sight of the original authorities for the term, and his quotation is far astray. We give them correctly below.

c. 210.—“On the feast of the Scirrha at Athens he (Aristodemus on Pindar) says a race was run by the young men. They ran this race carrying each a vine-branch laden with grapes, such as is called oschus; and they ran from the temple of Dionysus to that of Athena Sciras. And the winner receives a cup such as is called ‘Five-fold,’ and of this he partakes joyously with the band of his comrades. But the cup is called [Greek Text] pentaploa because it contains wine and honey and cheese and flour, and a little oil.”—Athenaeus, XI. xcii.

1638.—“This voyage (Gombroon to Surat) … we accomplished in 19 days. … We drank English beer, Spanish sack, French wine, Indian spirit, and good English water, and made good Palepunzen.”—Mandelslo, (Dutch ed. 1658), p. 24. The word Palepunzen seems to have puzzled the English translator (John Davis, 2nd ed. 1669), who has “excellent good sack, English beer, French wines, Arak, and other refreshments.” (p. 10).

1653.—“Bolleponge est vn mot Anglois, qui signifie vne boisson dont les Anglois vsent aux Indes faite de sucre, suc de limon, eau de vie, fleur de muscade, et biscuit roty.”—De la Boullaye-le-Gouz, ed. 1657, p. 534.

[1658.—“Arriued this place where found the Bezar almost Burnt and many of the People almost starued for want of Foode which caused much Sadnes in Mr. Charnock and my Selfe, but not soe much as the absence of your Company, which wee haue often remembered in a bowle of the cleerest Punch, hauing noe better Liquor.”—Hedges, Diary, Hak. Soc. iii. cxiv.]

1659.—“Fürs Dritte, Pale bunze getituliret, von halb Wasser, halb Brantwein, dreyssig, vierzig Limonien, deren Körnlein ausgespeyet werden, und ein wenig Zucker eingeworfen; wie dem Geschmack so angenehm nicht, also auch der Gesundheit nicht.”—Saar, ed. 1672, 60.

[1662.—“Amongst other spirituous drinks, as Punch, &c., they gave us Canarie that had been carried to and fro from the Indies, which was indeed incomparably good.”—Evelyn, Diary, Jan. 16.]

c. 1666.—“Neánmoins depuis qu’ils (les Anglois) ont donné ordre, aussi bien que les Hollandois, que leurs equipages ne boivent point tant de Bouleponges … il n’y a pas tant de maladies, et il ne leur meurt plus tant de monde. Bouleponge est un certain breuvage composé d’arac … avec du suc de limons, de l’eau, et un peu de muscade rapée dessus: il est assez agréable au gout, mais c’est la peste du corps et de la santé.”—Bernier, ed. 1723, ii. 335 (Eng. Tr. p. 141); [ed. Constable, 441].

1670.—“Doch als men zekere andere drank, die zij Paleponts noemen, daartusschen drinkt, zo word het quaat enigsins geweert.”—Andriesz, 9. Also at p. 27, “Palepunts.”
We find this blunder of the compound word transported again to England, and explained as a ‘hard word.’

1672.—Padre Vincenzo Maria describes the thing, but without a name:

“There are many fruites to which the Hollanders and the English add a certain beverage that they compound of lemon-juice, aqua-vitae, sugar, and nutmegs, to quench their thirst, and this, in my belief, augments not a little the evil influence.”—Viaggio, p. 103.

1673.—“At Nerule is the best Arach or Nepa (see NIPA) de Goa, with which the English on this Coast make that enervating Liquor called Paunch (which is Indostan for Five), from Five Ingredients; as

  By PanEris using Melati.

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