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“Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” (also in the “The Sayings of Dr. Bushwhacker and Other Wise Men”) by Frederic S. Cozzens; American Book Exchange, New York; 1880; pp. 43-47.



Madame Follet.

“M Y dear friend,” said the Doctor, holding his cup in the left hand thumb and forefinger, with the other three fingers stretched out over the rest of the table, “I never inhale the fragrance of coffee without thinking of the old fashioned coffee pot, or ‘Madame Follet,’ as dear Miss Bremer used to call it. Do you know, sir — and I suppose you know every thing — do you know, sir, there are a great many old fashioned people in the world?”

We replied, the fact was not to be disputed.

“Old fashioned people, sir; old fashioned in dress, in speech, in politeness, in ideas, in every thing. And, sir, not long since, I had occasion to visit two old ladies, sir; I went down stairs to the basement dining room, sir, without ceremony, sir, and there I found the antiquated virgins over their coffee, sir; and in the middle of the table there was the old fashioned tin coffee pot, sir, scoured as bright as sand could make it, with a great big superannuated spout, and a great broad backed handle, sir, and a great big, broad bottom, sir, as broad, sir, as 44 the top of the great bell crowned hat I used to wear when I went to visit them as a spruce young buck, in the year eighteen hundred and twenty, sir.” Here the Doctor’s spectacles fairly glistened again.

“Well, Doctor?”

“Sir,” replied Dr. Bushwhacker, “there was plenty of silver in the cupboard, plenty; great pots, and coffee urns of solid metal, sir, with massive handles to match; but they were so old fashioned as to prefer the old, scoured, broad bottomed tin pot, sir, and with reason, too, sir.”

“Give us the reason, thereof, Doctor, if you please.”

“Well, sir, one of the sisters apologized for the coffee pot in a still, small sort of a voice, a little cracked and chipped by constant use, and said, the reason why they drank their coffee out of that pot was because it never seemed to taste so well out of anything else.

“Why not, Doctor?”

“Why not? Easily enough explained, sir; we never make coffee in a silver urn, and when we pour it from the vessel in which it is made into another, we lose half the aroma, sir. Coffee is of most delicate and choice flavor, sir; very few know how to make it or to use it. The proper way to make good coffee, sir, is to roast it carefully in a cylinder over a charcoal fire, until it is of a light brown color; then the cylinder should be taken off the fire and turned gently until the berries are thoroughly cooled. The best part of the aroma is dissipated, sir, by 45 the abominable practice of turning out the coffee in an open dish so soon as it is roasted. Why, sir, any body can see that the finest part of it escapes; you can smell it, sir, in every crack and corner of the house. When cooled, it should be put into a mortar and beat to powder. A coffee mill only cracks the grains, but a mortar pounds out the essential oil. Then, sir, put it into an old fashioned tin coffee pot, pour on the hot water, stand it over a fire, not too hot; let it simmer gently. If your fire is too hot, it will burn the coffee and spoil it. Then, sir, take Madam Follet fresh from the fire, stand her on the table, and if you want an appreciative friend, send for me!”

“What kind of coffee is the best, Doctor?”

“Mocha, sir, from Arabia Felix. The first Mocha coffee that ever reached the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave direct, sir, came in a ship belonging to Captain Derby, of Salem, in the year 1801.”

“When was coffee first used in Europe, Doctor?”

“That, my learned friend, is one of ’the two or three things to suggest conversation at the tea table,’ as our friend Willis has it. It is a matter of dispute, my learned friend, and it will probably be settled after the commentators have agreed upon the proper way of spelling the name of Shakspeare, Shaksper, Shagsper, or whatever you call him.”

“How early was coffee in use in the world?”

“Sherbaddin, an Arab author, asserts that the first man who drank coffee was a certain Mufti, of Aden, who 46 lived in the ninth century of the Hegira, about the year 1500, my learned friend. So says Dr. Doran. The popular tradition is, that the superior of a Dervish community, observing the effects of coffee berries, when eaten by some goats, rendering them more lively and skittish than before, prescribed it for the brotherhood, in order to cure them of drowsiness and indolence. Dickens, in Household Words, gives a capital account of the old coffee houses of London. By the way, there is an account, also, in Table Traits. Here is the book.

“ ‘Lend me thine ears.’ — Shagsper.

“ ‘The coffee houses of England take precedence of those of France, though the latter have more enduringly flourished. In 1652, a Greek in the service of an English Turkey merchant, opened a house in London. ‘I have discovered his hand-bill,’ says Mr. Disraeli, ‘in which he sets forth the virtue of the coffee drink, first publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosee, of St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, at the sign of his own head.’ Mr. Peter Cunningham cites a MS. of Oldys’ in his possession, in which some fuller details of much interest are given. Oldys says: ‘The first use of coffee in England was known in 1657, when Mr. Daniel Edwards, a Turkey merchant, brought from Smyrna to London one Pasqua Rosee, a Ragusan youth, who prepared this drink for him every morning. But the novelty thereof drawing too much company to him, he allowed his said servant, with another of his son-in-law’s, to sell it publicly; and they set up the first coffee house in London, in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. But they separating, Pasqua kept in the house; and he who had been his partner obtained leave to pitch a tent, and sell the liquor, in St. 47 Michael’s church yard.’ Aubrey, in his Anecdotes, states that the first vender of coffee in London was one Bowman, coachman to a Turkey merchant, named Hodges, who was the father-in-law of Edwards, and the partner of Pasqua, who got into difficulties, partly by his not being a freeman, and who left the country. Bowman was not only patronized, but a magnificent contribution of one thousand sixpences was presented to him, wherewith he made great improvements in his coffee house. Bowman took an apprentice, (Paynter,) who soon learnt the mystery, and in four years set up for himself. The coffee houses soon became numerous; the principal were Farres’, the Rainbow, at the Inner Temple Gate, and John’s, in Fuller’s Rents.’

“There, sir; and now, my learned friend, I must pay a visit to that charming lady, Mrs. Potiphar,* who is suffering severely with a neuralgia.”


*  ElfEd: The reference here is to the Potiphar Papers, which appears to be a collection of incurably mean-spirited, malignantly intolerant, pervasively bigoted, consciously cruel, unfailingly unfunny satires that you will not see up on Elfinspell. Which is why the lady suffers from “neuralgia.” (the name described a disorder that, in those days, encompassed all the worst temperaments). You know what they say about mean people. They probably prospered just as well then, as today, but let’s not continue, nor support, the tradition and hope there is a global attempt to eradicate this disease as quickly as possible.


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