‘TEA IS THE LIQUOR OF THE FAIR AND WISE’

A Poem upon Tea.  Wherein its Antiquity, its several Virtues and Influences are set forth; and the Wisdom of the sober Sex commended in chusing so mild a Liquor for their Entertainments.  Likewise the Reason why the Ladies protest against all imposing Liquors, and the vulgar Terms used by the Followers of Bacchus.  Also, the Objections against Tea, answered; the Complaint of the fair sex redress’d, and the best Way of proceeding in Love-Affairs: together with the sincere Courtship of Dick and Amy, &c. … 

London, Mrs. Dodd, J. Roberts, J. Wilcox et al., 1735. 

8vo, pp. 32, including an advertisement leaf for the author’s Time’s Telescope; some light foxing, a few headlines shaved, else a good copy in nineteenth-century half calf, rubbed, front board detached.

£2500

Approximately:
US $3236€2969

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A Poem upon Tea.  Wherein its Antiquity, its several Virtues and Influences are set forth; and the Wisdom of the sober Sex commended in chusing so mild a Liquor for their Entertainments.  Likewise the Reason why the Ladies protest against all imposing Liquors, and the vulgar Terms used by the Followers of Bacchus.  Also, the Objections against Tea, answered; the Complaint of the fair sex redress’d, and the best Way of proceeding in Love-Affairs: together with the sincere Courtship of Dick and Amy, &c. … 

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First and only edition, very scarce, of a series of poetical sketches in praise of tea over alcohol, dedicated ‘To the Fair Sex’ and with an unusual double preface to the masculine and then the feminine reader.  Tea had arrived in Britain in the 1650s, but its expense made it very exclusive; by the 1730s it had cemented its reputation as a drink for aristocratic women (as coffee was for men), but was becoming more widely popular, if still not available to all – here a lady speaks of her domestics ‘draining what I leave’. 

Campbell’s object, it would seem, is largely to discourage his female audience from the wrong tipple – ‘It is better than drinking Gen’ by far, / Which makes them stink, and cause domestic War. / Such Tea as this is better than Canary: / For that makes drunk; this makes us wise and merry’ – though tea is also granted the power to preserve youth, and to improve wit, rhetoric and elocution, such that ladies’ teatime conversation is ‘more edifying far / Than Clubs, Plays, Universities and War!’.  Coffee, though it has its place, is also snubbed, because the beans are ugly. 

Another piece, ‘Some Objections against Tea, answered’, takes the form of a dialogue between Dick Rosy-face, who likes his tea ‘qualify’d’ with claret and thinks tea-drinkers ‘tattling Gossips’, and Amy Sweet-Lips, whose sober demeanour and tea-inspired eloquence convinces him to ‘relinquish Wine and Beer’. 

The author remains somewhat of a mystery.  Evidently a Scot living in London, his only other work, Time’s Telescope Universal and Perpetual, dedicated to Sir James Campbell of Ardkinless, is in an entirely different mode, comprising astronomical tables. 

Rare: we trace copies at BL, NLS, Trinity Cambridge, Liverpool, and Illinois.  Foxon C11. 

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