Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
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1672 / London

Nauseous Puddle Water


coffeeboycott.jpg Our men in former ages were justly esteemed the ablest performers in Christendom, but to our unspeakable grief, we find of late a very sensible decay of that true old English vigor, our gallants being every way so Frenchified that they are become mere cock-sparrows. Never did men wear greater breeches or carry less in them of any mettle whatsoever.

On the occasion of this insufferable disaster, after a serious enquiry and discussion of the point by the learned of the faculty, we can attribute to nothing more than the excessive use of that newfangled, abominable, heathenish liquor called coffee, which rifling Nature of her choicest treasures, and drying up the radical moisture, has so eunuched our husbands and crippled our more kind gallants that they are become as impotent, as aged, and as unfruitful as those deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought. For the continual sipping of this pitiful drink is enough to bewitch men of two and twenty and tie up the codpiece point without a charm.

Certainly our countrymen’s palates are become as fanatical as their brains; how else is it possible they should apostatize from the good old primitive way of ale drinking, to run a whoring after such variety of destructive foreign liquors, to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money—all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking, nauseous puddle water. Yet (as all witches have their charms) so this ugly Turkish enchantress by certain invisible wires attracts both rich and poor, so that those that have scarce twopence to buy their children bread must spend a penny each evening on this insipid stuff; nor can we send one of our husbands to call a midwife or borrow a clyster [enema] pipe, but he must stay an hour by the way drinking his two dishes and two pipes.

Image: Anti-coffee protest, 1977. Los Angeles Public Library.

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About the Text

From The Women’s Petition Against Coffee. A reply to this anonymously published pamphlet came in the form of another anonymously published pamphlet, The Men’s Response to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee, which stated, “Have we not with excess of patience borne your affronts, been sweated, purged, fluxed between two featherbeds, flogged, jibbed, and endured all the rest of the Devil’s martyrdoms, and will you still offer to repine? Certainly experienced Solomon was in the right when he told us that the grave and the womb were equally insatiable.”

That which the sober man keeps in his breast, the drunken man lets out at the lips. Astute people, when they want to ascertain a man’s true character, make him drunk.
Martin Luther, 1569
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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