I pledge you in this wine- i.e. I drink to your health or
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine.
Ben Jonson (translated from Philostratus) second century.
To guarantee. Pledging a drinker's security arose in the tenth
century, when it was thought necessary for one person to watch over the
safety of a companion while in the act of drinking. It was by no means
unusual with the fierce Danes to stab a person under such
Were a huge man,
I should fear to drink at meals,
Lest they should spy my windpipe's dangerous notes.
Great men should drink with harness on their throats.
Timon of Athens, i.2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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