Date: circa 1750 – 1755
“Wine will make us Red as Roses
& our sorrows Quite forgett
come let us Fudell all our
Noses and Drink our Selves
Til out of Debt”
Source: Flyleaf inscription and signature in Massachusetts Historical Society’s copy of: Bailey, N[athan]. English and Latine Exercises for School-Boys, Fifth edition, Boston: T. Fleet, for Samuel Phillips, 1720.
Commentary: A young Joseph Warren reveals a playful and rambunctious side in his defacement of one of his Roxbury Latin School textbooks. To a modern observer Warren, who was about twelve years old when he wrote this, comes across as something of a delinquent in composing a drinking song at this age.
It is perhaps more understandable when considering that Warren russet apples, the variety developed by Warren’s father and possibly grandfather for their Roxbury orchards, had an unusually sweet taste and high sugar content that yielded a whopping 9% alcohol hard cider. Warren russets matured late and lasted throughout the winter, making them desirable goods for local trade and export to the Caribbean.
Warren russets are still grown as a heritage breed. They can be purchased at a few farmers markets in the late fall. The variety is sometimes called Roxbury russets, Boston russets, or Warren pippins.