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Introduction Of Tea, Coffee, And Chocolate
by [?]

Other complaints arose from the mixture of the company in the first coffee-houses. In “A Broadside against Coffee, or the Marriage of the Turk,” 1672, the writer indicates the growth of the fashion:–

Confusion huddles all into one scene,
Like Noah’s ark, the clean and the unclean;
For now, alas! the drench has credit got,
And he’s no gentleman who drinks it not.
That such a dwarf should rise to such a stature!
But custom is but a remove from nature.

In “The Women’s Petition against Coffee,” 1674, they complained that “it made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought; that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies; and on a domestic message, a husband would stop by the way to drink a couple of cups of coffee.” It was now sold in convenient penny-worths; for in another poem in praise of a coffee-house, for the variety of information obtained there, it is called “a penny university.”

Amidst these contests of popular prejudices, between the lovers of forsaken Canary, and the terrors of our females at the barrenness of an Arabian desert, which lasted for twenty years, at length the custom was universally established; nor were there wanting some reflecting minds desirous of introducing the use of this liquid among the labouring classes of society, to wean them from strong liquors. Howell, in noticing that curious philosophical traveller, Sir Henry Blount’s “Organon Salutis,” 1659, observed that “this coffa-drink hath caused a great sobriety among all nations: formerly apprentices, clerks, etc., used to take their morning draughts in ale, beer, or wine, which often made them unfit for business. Now they play the good-fellows in this wakeful and civil drink. The worthy gentleman, Sir James Muddiford, who introduced the practice hereof first in London, deserves much respect of the whole nation.” Here it appears, what is most probable, that the use of this berry was introduced by other Turkish merchants, besides Edwards and his servant Pasqua. But the custom of drinking coffee among the labouring classes does not appear to have lasted; and when it was recently even the cheapest beverage, the popular prejudices prevailed against it, and ran in favour of tea. The contrary practice prevails on the continent, where beggars are viewed making their coffee in the street. I remember seeing the large body of shipwrights at Helvoetsluys summoned by a bell, to take their regular refreshment of coffee; and the fleets of Holland were not then built by arms less robust than the fleets of Britain.

The frequenting of coffee-houses is a custom which has declined within our recollection, since institutions of a higher character, and society itself, have so much improved within late years. These were, however, the common assemblies of all classes of society. The mercantile man, the man of letters, and the man of fashion, had their appropriate coffee-houses. The Tatler dates from either to convey a character of his subject. In the reign of Charles the Second, 1675, a proclamation for some time shut them all up, having become the rendezvous of the politicians of that day. Roger North has given, in his Examen, a full account of this bold stroke: it was not done without some apparent respect to the British constitution, the court affecting not to act against law, for the judges were summoned to a consultation, when, it seems, the five who met did not agree in opinion. But a decision was contrived that “the retailing of coffee and tea might be an innocent trade; but as it was said to nourish sedition, spread lies, and scandalise great men, it might also be a common nuisance.” A general discontent, in consequence, as North acknowledges, took place, and emboldened the merchants and retailers of coffee and tea to petition; and permission was soon granted to open the houses to a certain period, under a severe admonition, that the masters should prevent all scandalous papers, books, and libels from being read in them; and hinder every person from spreading scandalous reports against the government. It must be confessed, all this must have frequently puzzled the coffee-house master to decide what was scandalous, what book was fit to be licensed to be read, and what political intelligence might be allowed to be communicated. The object of the government was, probably, to intimidate, rather than to persecute, at that moment.