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While today, tea is the drink most associated with the English, from the mid 1600s until the late 1700s hot chocolate and coffee were the more popular drinks. Newly imported from Africa and South America, the drinks became fashionable novelties in the 1660s. Coffee houses were hubs of social activity, particularly popular with businessmen, politicians, stock market traders and intellectuals. In this poem of 1665, a variety of characters sit within a coffee house, the poet describing the diversity of the scene:
'Here you’re not thrust into a Box
As Taverns do to catch the Fox
But as from the top of Paul’s high steeple,
The whole City’s viewed, even so all people
May be seen.’
The Character of a Coffee-House
THE DERIVATION OF A COFFEE-HOUSE
A Coffee-house, the learned hold
It is a place where Coffee's sold;
This derivation cannot fail us,
For where Ale's vended, that's an Ale-house.
This being granted to be true,
'Tis meet that next the Signs we shew
Both where and how to find this house
Where men such cordial broth carowse.
And if Culpepper woon some glory
In turning the Dispensatory
From Latin into English;
then Why should not all good English men
Give him much thanks who shews a cure
For all diseases men endure?
SIGNS: HOW TO FIND IT OUT
As you along the streets do trudge,
To take the pains you must not grudge,
To view the Posts or Broomsticks where
The Signs of Liquors hanged are.
And if you see the great Morat
With Shash on's head instead of hat,
Or any Sultan in his dress,
Or picture of a Sultaness,
Or John's admir'd curled pate,
Or th' great Mogul in's Chair of State,
Or Constantine the Grecian,
Who fourteen years was th' onely man
That made Coffee for th' great Bashaw,
Although the man he never saw;
Or if you see a Coffee-cup
Fil'd from a Turkish pot, hung up
Within the clouds, and round it
Pipes, Wax Candles, Stoppers, these are types
And certain signs (with many more Would be too long to write them 'ore,)
Which plainly do Spectators tell
That in that house they Coffee sell.
Some wiser than the rest (no doubt,)
Say they can by the smell find't out;
In at a door (say they,) but thrust
Your Nose, and if you scent burnt Crust,
Be sure there's Coffee sold that's good,
For so by most 'tis understood.
Now being enter'd, there's no needing
Of complements or gentile breeding,
For you may seat you any where,
There's no respect of persons there;
Then comes the Coffee-man to greet you,
With welcome Sir, let me entreat you,
To tell me what you'l please to have,
For I'm your humble, humble slave;
But if you ask, what good does Coffee?
He'l answer, Sir, don't think I scoff yee,
If I affirm there's no disease
Men have that drink it but find ease.
THE VERTUES OF COFFEE
Look, there's a man who takes the steem
In at his Nose, has an extreme
Worm in his pate, and giddiness,
Ask him and he will say no less.
There sitteth one whose
Droptick belly Was hard as flint, now's soft as jelly.
There stands another holds his head 'Ore th' Coffee-pot, was almost dead
Even now with Rhume; ask him hee'l say
That all his Rhum's now past away.
See, there's a man sits now demure
And sober, was within this hour
Quite drunk, and comes here frequently,
For 'tis his daily Malady, More, it has such reviving power
'Twill keep a man awake an houre,
Nay, make his eyes wide open stare
Both Sermon time and all the prayer.
Sir, should I tell you all the rest
O' th' cures 't has done, two hours at least
In numb'ring them I needs must spend,
Scarce able then to make an end.
Besides these vertues that's therein.
For any kind of Medicine,
The Commonwealth-Kingdom I'd say,
Has mighty reason for to pray
That still Arabia may produce
Enough of Berry for it's use:
For't has such strange magnetick force,
That it draws after't great concourse
Of all degrees of persons, even
From high to low, from morn till even;
Especially the sober Party,
And News-mongers do drink't most hearty
Here you'r not thrust into a
Box As Taverns do to catch the
Fox, But as from th' top of Pauls high steeple,
Th' whole City's view'd, even so all people
May here be seen; no secrets are
At th' Court for Peace, or th' Camp for War,
But straight they'r here disclos'd and known;
Men in this Age so wise are grown.
Now (Sir) what profit may accrew
By this, to all good men, judge you.
With that he's loudly call'd upon
For Coffee, and then whip he's gone.