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On Afternoon Tea
by [?]

“The Muses’ friend, Tea, does our fancy aid,
Repress the vapors which the head invade,
And keeps the palace of the soul serene.”

How I do love tea! I don’t deny it, it is as necessary to me as smoking is to men.

I have heard a lady accused by her doctor of being a “tea-drunkard”! “Tea picks you up for a little time,” he said, “and you feel a great deal better after you have had a cup. But it is a stimulant, the effect of which does not last very long, and all the while it is ruining your nerves and constitution. I daresay it is difficult to give up–the poor man finds the same with his spirits. You are no better than he!”

It is rather a come down, is it not? Somehow, when you are drinking tea, you feel so very temperate. Well, at least, the above reflection makes you sympathize with the inebriates, if it does nothing else; and I am afraid it does nothing else with me. In spite of the warning, I continue to take my favorite beverage as strong and as frequently as ever, and so I suppose must look forward to a cranky nervous old age.

It is curious to notice how men are invading our precincts now-a-days. They used to scoff at such a meal as afternoon tea, and now most of them take it as regularly as they stream out of the trains on Saturday afternoons with pink papers under their arms–such elevating literature! Indeed there is quite a fuss if they have to go without it–the tea I mean, not the paper.

It is strange too, because they dislike it so, if we trespass on their preserves, e.g., their outcry on ladies smoking: which is exceedingly unfair, for we have no equivalent for the fragrant weed. Still I agree with the men in a way, for nothing looks worse than a girl smoking in public, though a cigarette now and then with a brother does, I think, no harm, provided it does not grow into a habit.

My brother once gave me a cigarette and bet me a shilling that I would not smoke it through. It was so hard that if I had bent it, it would have snapped in two. He had only just found it in a corner of a cupboard where it had lain for years and years. But oh, the strength of that cigarette! It took me hours to get through, for it would not draw a bit. Nevertheless, with the incentive of a shilling to urge me on, I continued “faint but pursuing” and eventually won the bet. I would not do it again for ten times the amount.

But I should be talking about tea, not smoking; and tea has other baneful influences besides destroying the digestion. I think that afternoon tea is the time that breeds more gossip and scandal than any other hour in the day.

As Young exclaims:–

“Tea! How I tremble at thy fatal stream!
As Lethe dreadful to the love of fame.
What devastations on thy bank are seen,
What shades of mighty names that once have been!
A hecatomb of characters supplies
Thy painted alters’ daily sacrifice!”

Acquaintances drop in. They have all the latest doings of the neighborhood at their fingers’ ends, and in a quarter of an hour have picked everyone of their most intimate friends to pieces, nor do they leave them a shred of character.

Why do we feel such a relish in running down our friends and relations–the latter especially? I quite enjoy it, though I should never do so outside my own family; thus my words never come round to their ears. It is a necessity to relieve your feelings occasionally, and your family is a good, safe receptacle.