A name given, to which guests are invited to drink in compliment. The name at one time was that of a lady. The word is taken from the toast which used at one time to be put into the tankard, and which still floats in the loving-cup, and also the cups called copus, bishop, and cardinal, at the Universities. Hence the lady named was the toast or savour of the wine- that which gave the draught piquancy and merit. The story goes that a certain beau, in the reign of Charles II., being at Bath, pledged a noted beauty in a glass of water taken from her bath; whereupon another roysterer cried out he would have nothing to do with the liquor, but would have the toast—i.e. the lady herself. (Rambler, No. 24.)
“Let the toast pass, drink to the lass.” —
Say, why are beauties praised and honoured most, The wise man's passion and the vain man's toast.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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