Imágenes de página

For about twenty years after the introduction of coffee in this kingdom, we find a continued series of invectives against its adoption, both in medicinal and domestic views. The use of coffee, indeed, seems to have excited more notice, and to have had a greater influence on the manners of the people, than that of tea. It seems at first to have been more universally used, as it still is on the Continent; and its use is connected with a resort for the idle and the curious: the history of coffee-houses is often that of the manners, the morals, and the politics of a people. Even in its native country the government discovered that extraordinary fact, and the use of the Arabian berry was more than once forbidden where it grows; for Ellis, in his History of Coffee,' 1774, refers to an Arabian MS. in the King of France's library, which shows that coffee houses in Asia were sometimes suppressed. The same fate happened on its introduction into England.

[blocks in formation]

The frequenting of coffee-houses is a custom which has declined within our recollection, since institutions of a higher character, and society itself, has 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 II., 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 scandalize 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 coffeehouse 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.

Chocolate the Spaniards brought from Mexico, where it was denominated Chocollatti ; it was a coarse mixture of ground cacao and Indian corn, with rocou ; but the Spaniards, liking its nourishment, improved it into a richer compound, with sugar, vanilla, and other aromatics.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

We had chocolate-houses in London long after coffee-houses; they seemed to have associated something more elegant and refined in their new term when the other had become common. Roger North thus inveighs against them: “The use of coffee-houses seems much improved by a new invention, called chocolate-houses, for the benefit of rooks and cullies of quality, where gaming is added to all the rest, and the summons of W.

seldom ails; as if the devil had erected a new niversity, and those were the colleges of its professors, as well as his schools of discipline.” Roger North, a high tory, and attorney-general to James II., observed, however, that these rendezvous were often not entirely composed of those “ factious gentry he so much dreaded;" for he says, “This way of passing time might have been stopped at first, before people had possessed themselves of some convenience from them of meeting for short despatches, and passing evenings with small expenses.” And old Aubrey, the small Boswell of his day, attributes his general acquaintance to “ the modern advantage of coffee-houses in this great city, before which men knew not how to be acquainted, but with their own relations and societies :” a curious statement, which proves the moral connection with society of all sedentary recreations which induce the herding spirit.


When now mature in classic knowledge,
The joyful youth is sent to college,


His father comes, a vicar plain;
At Oxford bred-in Anna's reign,
And thus, in form of humble suitor,
Bowing accosts a reverend tutor.

Sir, I'm a Glo'stershire divine,
And this my eldest son of nine;
My wife's ambition and my own
Was that this child should wear a gown;
I 'll warrant that his good behaviour
Will justify your future favour;
And for his parts, to tell the truth,
My son 's a very forward youth ;
Has Horace all by heart--you 'd wonder-
And mouths out Homer's Greek like thunder
If you 'd examine—and admit him,
A scholarship would nicely fit him:
That he succeeds 'tis ten to one;
Your vote and interest, sir!”—'Tis done.

Our pupil's hopes, though twice defeated,
Are with a scholarship completed :
A scholarship but half maintains,
And college rules are heavy chains :
In garret dark he smokes and puns,
A prey to discipline and duns;
And now intent on new designs,
Sighs for a fellowship—and fines.

When nine full tedious winters past,
That utmost wish is crown'd at last:
But the rich prize no sooner got,
Again he quarrels with his lot;
“ These fellowships are pretty things,
We live indeed like petty kings:
But who can bear to waste his whole age
Amid the dulness of a college,
Debarr'd the common joys of life,
And that prime bliss-a loving wife!
O! what's a table richly spread
Without a woman at its head!

Would some snug benefice but fall,
Ye feasts, ye dinners ! farewell all!
To offices I'd bid adieu,
Of Dean, Vice-Pres.—of Bursar too;
Come joys, that rural quiet yields,
Come, tithes, and house, and fruitful fields !”

Too fond of freedom and of ease
A patron's vanity to please,
Long time he watches, and by stealth,
Each frail incumbent's doubtful health ;
At length and in his fortieth year,
A living drops-two hundred clear!
With breast elate beyond expression,
He hurries down to take possession,
With rapture views the sweet retreat-
What a convenient house! how neat!
For fuel here's sufficient wood :
Pray God the cellars may be good!
The garden—that must be new plann'd-
Shall these old-fashion'd yew-trees stand ?
O'er yonder vacant plot shall rise
The flow'ry shrub of thousand dyes :-
Yon wall, that feels the southern ray,
Shall blush with ruddy fruitage gay:
While thick beneath its aspect warm
O’er well-rang’d hives the bees shall swarm,
From which, ere long, of golden gleam,
Metheglin's luscious juice shall stream.
Up yon green slope, of hazels trim,
An avenue so cool and dim,
Shall to an arbour, at the end,
In spite of gout, entice a friend.
My predecessor loved devotion-
But of a garden had no notion.

Continuing this fantastic farce on,
He now commences country parson.
To make his character entire,
He weds—a cousin of the 'squire ;

Not over weighty in the purse,
But many doctors have done worse :
And though she boasts no charms divine,
Yet she can carve and make birch wine.

Thus fixt, content he taps his barrel,
Exhorts his neighbours not to quarrel ;
Finds his church wardens have discerning
Both in good liquor and good learning;
With tithes his barns replete he sees,
And chuckles o'er his surplice fees;
Studies to find out latent dues,
And regulates the state of pews ;
Rides a sleek mare with purple housing,
To share the monthly club's carousing;
Of Oxford pranks facetious tells,
And—but on Sunday-hears no bells;
Sends presents of his choicest fruit,
And prunes himself each sapless shoot;
Plants cauliflow'rs, and boasts to rear
The earliest melons of the year ;
Thinks alteration charming work is,
Keeps Bantam cocks, and feeds his turkeys;
Builds in his copse a fav’rite bench,
And stores the pond with carp and tench.

But ah! too soon his thoughtless breast By cares domestic is opprest; And a third butcher's bill, and brewing, Threaten inevitable ruin: For children fresh expenses yet, And Dicky now for school is fit. " Why did I sell my college life (He cries) for benefice and wife? Return, ye days! when endless pleasure I found in reading, or in leisure; When calm around the common room I puff'd my daily pipe's perfume ! Rode for a stomach, and inspected; At annual bottlings, corks selected :

« AnteriorContinuar »