The Royal Toastmaster? Supporters of U.S. President George Washington? Francis Bacon? Randall Munroe? An Anonymous Wit?
Dear Quote investigator: A brilliant toast uses antimetabole and a pun. Here are two versions:
- Champagne to our real friends, and real pain to our sham friends.
- Pain to our sham friends, and Champagne to our real friends.
Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?
Dear Quote investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in a 1793 collection titled “The Royal Toastmaster: Containing Many Thousands of the Best Toasts Old and New” published in London. The following four examples occurred on the same page. The term “laurel water” referred to a concoction that could be used as a poison. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
- May avarice lose his purse, and benevolence find it.
- May reason be the pilot when passion blows the gale.
- Laurel water to the secret enemies of our glorious constitution.
- Champaign to our real friends, and real pain to our sham ones.
QI believes that it was unlikely that the compiler of “The Royal Toastmaster” crafted the statement under examination; hence, it was probably already in circulation in 1793. The compilation was a third edition, so the toast may have appeared in the first or second edition which QI has not yet seen.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.