Coffee: The 17th Century Viagra.

In the 167os coffee was THE fashionable drink and coffeehouses were at the centre of a nascent  culture of public discussion and debate about science, trade, art and politics. This culture and the drug at the centre of it was not universally popular and in 1674  a group of women petitioned for the banning of coffee drinking for anyone under the age of 30. This is the brilliantly defensive response, published in 1676 (isn’t it great that it took them that long to write it).

I’ve tried to edit this down but it kept making me laugh, so alas it is a rather long passage, but enjoyable nonetheless:

THE
Mens Answer TO THE Womens Petition AGAINST
COFFEE, VINDICATING
Their own Performances, and the Vertues of
that Liquor, from the Undeserved Aspersions
lately cast upon them by their
SCANDALOUS PAMPHLET.

——————————-
——————————-

LONDON:
Printed in the Year 1674.

THE
MENS ANSWER
TO THE
WOMENS PETITION, &c.

COuld it be Imagined, that ungrateful Women,
after so much laborious Drudgery, both by Day
and Night, and the best of our Blood and Spirits
spent in your Service, you should thus publickly
Complain? Certain we are, that there never was Age
or Nation more Indulgent to your Sex; have we not
condiscended to all the Methods of Debauchery?
Invented more Postures than Aretine ever Dreamed of!
Been Pimps to our own Wives, and Courted Gallants
even with the hazard of our Estates, to do us the Civility
of making us not only Contented, but most obliged
Cuckolds: Is he thought worthy to be esteemed a
Gentleman, that has not seaven times pass’d the Torrid Zone
of a Venerial Distemper, or does not maintain, at least,
a Brace of Mistresses; Talk not to us of those Doating
Fumblers of seven or eight hundred years Old, a Larke
is better than a Kite; and Cock-Sparrows, though not
long liv’d, are undoubtedly preferrable for the work of

Generation before dull Ravens, though some think they
live three hundred years: That our Island is a Paradise
for Women, is verified still by the brisk Activity of
our Men, who with an equal Contempt scorn Italian
Padlocks, and defie French Dildo’s, knowing that a
small Doze of Natures Quintessence, satisfies better in
a Female Limbeck, than the largest Potion infused by
Art…

But why must innocent COFFEE be the object of
your Spleen? That harmless and healing Liquor, which
Indulgent Providence first sent amongst us, at a time
when Brimmers of Rebellion, and Fanatick Zeal had
intoxicated the Nation, and we wanted a Drink at once
to make us Sober and Merry: ‘Tis not this incomparable
settle Brain that shortens Natures Standard, or

makes us less Active in the Sports of Venus, and we
wonder you should take these Exceptions, since so many
of the little Houses, with the Turkish VVoman stradling
on their Signs, are but Emblems of what is to be done
within for your Conveniencies, meer Nurseries to promote
the petulant Trade…

The News we
Chat of there, you will not think it Impertinent, when
you consider the fair opportunities you have thereby,
of entertaining an obliging friend in our Absence, and
how many of us you have dubb’d Knights of the Bull-Feather,
whilst we have sate innocently sipping the
Devils Holy-water; we do not call it so for driving the
Cace-dæmon of Letchery out of us, for the truth is,
it rather assists us for your Nocturnal Benevolencies, by
drying up those Crude Flatulent Humours, which
otherwise would make us only Flash in the Pan, without
doing that Thundering Execution which your Expectations
Exact, we dare Appeal to Experience in the Case.
Coffee is the general Drink throughout Turky, and
those Eastern Regions, and yet no part of the world can
boast more able or eager performers, than those
Circumcised Gentlemen, who, (like our modern Gallants)
own no other joys of Heaven, than what consists in
Veneral Titillations; the Physical qualities of this Liquor

are almost Innumerable and its vertues (if you will
beleive Pointing, able to out-noise the Quack-bil of an
all-healing Doctor, when your kindness at the Close Hugg
has bestowed on us a virulent Gonorrhæa, this is our
Catholicon, Ens Naturæ and Aqua Tetrachymagogon is an Ass
to it, ‘Tis base adulterate wine and surcharges of Muddy
Ale that enfeeble nature, makes a man as salatious
as a Goat, and yet as impotent as Age, whereas Coffee
Collects and settles the Spirits, makes the erection
more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a
spiritualescency to the Sperme, and renders it more firm
and suitable to the Gusto of the womb, and proportionate
to the ardours and expectation too, of the female
Paramour.

As for our taking Tobacco you have no reason to object,
since most of your own Sex are so well skilled in
managing a pipe; and if you find that of your Husbands
to be naught, ’tis his natural infirmity, or your own
perpetual Pumping him (not drinking Coffee) is the
occasion of the defect, and therefore let such Tom Farthings
be forbidden the decoction of the rare Arabian
Berry, and condemned everlastingly with the rest of
doelittles Congregation, to the carrying of Glister-pipes
for the use of the well effected Sisterhood.

You may well permit us to talk abroad, for at home
we have scarce time to utter a word for the insufferable
Din of your ever active Tongues, the Foolish extravagancies
of our lives, are infinitly out-done by the wild
Frolliques of yours; ‘Till Noon you lie a Bed hatching
Concupiscence, then having paid your Adorations,
to the Ugly Idol in the Glass, you descend to Dinner

were you gormondize enough at one Meal to Famish
a Town Besiedg’d; after that, you are call’d out by a
Cozen, and hurried out in his Honours Coach (whose
jogging, serves as a Preparative to your Letchery) away
to the Play-house, where a Lascivious Dance, a Bawdy
Song, and the Petulant Gallants Tickling of your hand,
having made an Insurrection in your Blood, you go to
Allay it with an Evenings Exercise at the Tavern, there
you spend freely, yet being Rob’d of nothing we can
miss, home you come in a Railing humour, and at last
give us nothing for Supper but a Butter’d Bun.

Cease then for the Future your Clamours against
our civil Follies. Alas! alas! Dear Hearts, the Coffee
house is the Citizens Academy, where he learns more
Wit than ever his Grannum taught him, the
Young-Gallants Stage where he displays the Wardrobe of his
excellent no parts; ‘Tis the Non Cons Bull-baiting,
the News-mongers Exchange, the Fools business, the
Knaves Ambuscade, and the Wise mans Recreation:
Here it is where we have the sparkling Cyder, the
mighty Mum, and the back recruiting Chocolate; ‘Tis
Coffee that both keeps us Sober, or can make us so;
And let our Wives that hereafter shall presume to
Petition against it, be confined to lie alone all Night,
and in the Day time drink nothing but Bonny Clabber.

FINIS.

(Notes on the transcription: The Mens Answer to the Womens Petition against Coffee (London 1674) Digital version: Janet Clarkson (Australia), Thomas Gloning (Germany), 12-11-2005 — See Glossary and notes by Janet Clarkson.– (c) You may use this digital text for scholarly, private and non-profit purposes only)
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6 thoughts on “Coffee: The 17th Century Viagra.

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Dainty Ballerina

    Absolutely brilliant. What a find! My favourite post of yours to date! I’m off to find a pipe to manage.

    Reply
    1. thegentlemanadministrator Post author

      Great lines. Thanks for the links. I think the men won their round though!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Carnivalesque – 58 « The Gentleman Administrator

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