to pass wine over the waterpitcher

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Senior Member
Dear all
Any idea what's meant by "passing wineglasses over the waterpitcher when drinking to the king" in the following context, chosen from "The 42nd Parallel" by John Dos Passos:
Miss Oliphant's parents had been Catholics and had considered the Stuarts the rightful heirs to the British throne, and used to pass their wineglasses over the waterpitcher when they drank to the king.
I assume it must be a tradition but what's behind it?
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    After the Hanoverians under George I came to the throne, the Stuarts considered their exiled pretender Charles Stuart to be 'the king over the water' (living in continental Europe).
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