26 February 2013

Coffee as a cause of male impotence?

Excerpts from a rant against coffee - The Women’s Petition Against Coffee - published anonymously in 1672:
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...

...we can attribute [this] 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.
The pamphlet purports to having been written by women complaining about the impotence of their husbands.  Knowing nothing else about the history of the document or the customs of the times, I would rather bet this was written anonymously by the owner(s) of alehouses, who were seeing their customers being lured away to a new product.

Found at the always-interesting Lapham's Quarterly.

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