Sunday, October 18, 2015
1674 Women Against the All-Male Coffee-House Culture & the men's response
This famous satirical petition allegedly was put forth in 1674, as a female protest against the perceived ills of the all-male coffee house culture of England. I realize this is a 17th-century piece of Restoration Satire from London, but it is fun and a little racy.
Jan Troost Detail of Scene in a Coffee Shop at The Hermitage Museum with only woman being a server
1674 Women's Petition against all male coffee houses
Representing to Publick Consideration the Grand Inconveniencies accruing to their Sex from the Excessive Use of that drying, Enfeebling Liquor...By a Well-willer, London, Printed 1674.
To the Right Honorable the Keepers of the Liberties of Venus; The Worshipful Court of Female Assistants, &c.
The Humble Petitions and Address of Several Thousands of Buxome Good-Women, Languishing in Extremity of Want.
Sheweth, That since 'tis Reckon'd amongst the Glories of our Native Country, To be a Paradise for Women: The fame in our Apprehensions can consist in nothing more than the brisk Activity of our men, who in former Ages were justly esteemed the Ablest Performers in Christendome; 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 meer Cock-sparrows, fluttering things that come on Sa sa, with a world of Fury, but are not able to stand to it, and in the very first Charge fall down flat before us.
Never did Men wear greater breeches, or carry less in them of any Mettle whatsoever. There was a glorious Dispensation ('twas surely in the Golden Age) when Lusty Ladds of Seven or eigh hundred years old, Got Sons and Daughters; ande we have read, how a Prince of Spain was forced to make a Law, that Men should not Repeat the Grand Kindness to their Wives, above NINE times a night; but Alas! Alas! Those forwards Days are gone, The dull Lubbers want a Spur now, rather than a Bridle: being so far from dowing any works of Supererregation that we find them not capable of performing those Devoirs which their Duty, and our Expectations Exact.
The Occasion of which Insufferable Disaster, after a furious 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 Riffling Nature of her Choicest Treasures, and Drying up the Radical Moisture, has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Cripple our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent as Age, and as unfruitful as those Desarts whence that unhappy Berry is said to be brought.
For the continual flipping of this pitiful drink is enough to bewitch Men of two and twenty, and tie up the Codpiece-points without a Charm. It renders them that us it as Lean as Famine, as Rivvel'd as Envy, or an old meager Hagg over-ridden by an Incubus. They come from it with nothing moist but their snotty Noses, nothing stiffe but their Joints, nor standing but their Ears: They pretend 'twill keep them Waking, but we find by scurvy Experience, they sleep quietly enough after it. A Betrothed Queen might trust her self a bed with one of them, without the nice Caution of a sword between them: nor can call all the Art we use revive them from this Lethargy, so unfit they are for Action, that like young Train-band-men when called upon Duty, their Ammunition is wanting; peradventure they Present, but cannot give Fire, or at least do but flash in the Pan, instead of doing executions.
Nor let any Doating, Superstitious Catos shake their Goatish Beards, and task us of Immodesty for this Declaration, since 'tis a publick Grievance, and cries aloud for Reformation. Weight and Measure, 'tis well known, should go throughout the world, and there is no torment like Famishment. Experience witnesses our Damage, and Necessity (which easily supersedes all the Laws of Decency) justifies our complaints: For can any Woman of Sense or Spirit endure with Patience, that when priviledg'd by Legal Ceremonies, she approaches the Nuptial Bed, expecting a Man that with Sprightly Embraces, should Answer the Vigour of her Flames, she on the contrary should only meat A Bedful of Bones, and hug a meager useless Corpse rendred as sapless as a Kixe, and dryer than a Pumice-Stone, by the perpetual Fumes of Tobacco, and bewitching effects of this most pernitious COFFEE, where by Nature is Enfeebled, the Off-spring of our Mighty Ancestors Dwindled into a Succession of Apes and Pigmies: and ---The Age of Man Now Cramp't into an Inch, that was a Span.
Nor is this (though more than enough!) All the ground of our Complaint: For besides, we have reason to apprehend and grow Jealous, That Men by frequenting these Stygian Tap-houses will usurp on our Prerogative of tattling, and soon learn to exceed us in Talkativeness: a Quality wherein our Sex has ever Claimed preheminence: For here like so many Frogs in a puddle, they sup muddy water, and murmur insignificant notes till half a dozen of them out-babble an equal number of us at a Gossipping, talking all at once in Confusion, and running f rom point to point as insensibly, and swiftly, as ever the Ingenous Pole-wheel could run divisions on the Base-viol; yet in all their prattle every one abounds in his own sense, as stiffly as a Quaker at the late Barbican Dispute, and submits to the Reasons of no othre mortal: so that there being neither Moderator nor Rules observ'd, you mas as soon fill a Quart pot with Syllogismes, as profit by their Discourses.
Certainly our Countrymens pallates are become as Fantastical as their Brains; how ellse is't possible they should Apostatize from the good old primitve way of Ale-drinking, to run a whoring after such variety of distructive 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 Turskish Enchantress by certain Invisible VVyres attracts both Rich and Poor; so that those that have scarece Twopence to buy their Children Bread, must spend a penny each evening in this Insipid Stuff: Nor can we send one of our Husbands to Call a Midwife, or borrow a Glister-pipe, but he must stay an hour by the way drinking his two Dishes, & two Pipes.
At these Houses (as at the Springs in Afric) meet all sorts of Animals, whence follows the production of a thousand Monster Opinions and Absurdities; yet for being dangerous to Government, we dare to be their Compurgators, as well knowing them to be too tame and too talkative to make any desperate Politicians: For though they may now and then destroy a Fleet, or kill ten thousand of the French, more than all the Confederates can do, yet this is still in their politick Capacities, for by their personal valour they are scarce fit to be of the Life-guard to a Cherry-tree: and therefore, though they frequently have hot Contests about most Important Subjects; as what colour the Red Sea is of; whether the Great Turk be a Lutheran or a Calvinist; who Cain's Father in Law was, &c., yet they never fight about them with any other save our Weapon, the Tongue.
Some of our Sots pretend tippling of this boiled Soot cures them of being Drunk; but we have reason rather to conclude it makes them so, because we find them not able to stand after it: 'Tis at best but a kind of Earthing a Fox to hunt him more eagerly afterward: A rare method of good-husbandry, to enable a man to be drunk three times a day! Just such a Remedy for Drunkenness, as the Popes allowing of Stews, is a means to prevent Fornication:
The Coffee-house being in truth, only a Pimp to the Tavern, a relishing fop prearative to a fresh debauch: For when people have swill'd themselves with a morning draught of more Ale than a Brewer's horse can carry, hither they come for a pennyworth of Settle-brain, where they are sure to meet enow lazy pragmatical Companions, that resort here to prattle of News, that they neither understand, nor are concerned in; and after an hours impertinent Chat, begin to consider a Bottle of Claret would do excellent well before Dinner; whereupon to the Bush they all march together, till every one of them is as Drunk as a Drum, and then back again to the Coffee-house to drink themselves sober; where three or four dishes a piece, and smoaking, makes their throats as dry as Mount Aetna enflam'd with Brimflame; for that they must away to the next Red Lattice to quenc them with a dozen or two of Ale, which at last growing nauseous, one of them begins to extol the blood of the Grape, what rare Langoon, and Racy Canary may be had at the Miter:
Saist thou so? cries another, Let's then go and replenish there, with our Earthen Vessels: So once more they troop to the Sack-shop till they are drunker than before; and then by a retrograde motion, stagger back to Soberize themselves with Coffee: thus like Tennis Balls between two Rackets, the Fopps our Husbands are bandied to and fro all day between the Coffee-house and Tavern, whilst we poor souls sit mopeing all alone till Twelve at night, and when at last they come to bed finoakt like a Westphalia Hogs-head we have no more comfort of them, than from a shotten Herring or a dried Bulrush; which forces us to take up this Lamentation and sing,
Tom Farthing, Tom Farthing, where has thou been, Tom Farthing?
Twelve a Clock e're you come in, Two a clock ere you begin, And
then at last can do nothing: Would make a Woman weary, weary,
weary, would make a Woman weary, &c.
Wherefore the Premises considered, and to the end that our Just Rights may be restored, and all the Ancient Priviledges of our Sex preserved inviolable; That our Husbands may give us some other Testimonial of their being Men, besides their Beards and wearing of empty Pantaloons: That they no more run the hazard of being Cuckol'd by Dildo's: But returning to the good old strengthening Liquors of our Forefathers; that Natures Exchequer may once again be replenisht, and a Race of Lusty Here's begot, able by their Atchievements, to equal the Glories of our Ancesters.
We Humbly Pray, That you our Trusty Patrons would improve your Interest, that henceforth the Drinking COFFEE may on severe penalties be forbidden to all Persons under the Age of Threescore; and that instead thereof, Lusty nappy Beer, Cock-Ale, Cordial Canaries, Restoring Malago's, and Back-recruiting Chochole be Recommended to General Use, throughout the Utopian Territories.
In hopes of which Glorious Reformation, your Petitioners shall readily Prostrate themselves, and ever Pray, &c. FINIS.
Here is the men's response to the women's petition.
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: 1674
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
Let silly Cits--- complain never so much that Madam
Money is Dead and Buried, we dare Appeal to all the
Commissioners of Whetstones Park, the Suburb Runners,
and Moorfields Night-walkers, if ever they had better
Trading; Nay, have we not forced languishing Nature
by preparations of Cantharides, spiced Meats, Anchoves,
Cullises, Jelly-broths, Lambstones, Diasatyrion,
Bononia Sawsages, &c. All to answer the height of your
Amorous Passions, and prevent the pitiful Letchery of
an Artificial Tranguin. Have we not with excess of patience
borne your Affronts, been Sweated, Purged,
Fluxed between two Feather-beds, Flog'd, Jib'd, and
endured all the rest of the Devils Martyrdoms, and will
you still offer to Repine? Certainly experienc'd Solomon
was in the right, when he told us that the Grave and the
Womb were equally Insatiable.
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 Woman stradling
on their Signs, are but Emblems of what is to be done
within for your Conveniencies, meer Nurseries to promote
the petulant Trade, and breed up a stock of hopeful
Plants for the future service of the Republique, in
the most thriving Mysteries of Debauchery; There
being scarce a Coffee-Hut but affords a Tawdry Woman,
a wonton Daughter, or a Buxome Maide, to
accommodate Customers; and can you think that any
which frequent such Discipline, can be wanting in their
Pastures, or defective in their Arms? 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
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. (London 1674)