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Persians; and, in 1639, the Russian ambassador at the court of the Mogul, partook of the infusion, and was offered a quantity of the leaves at his departure, as a present for the Czar, which he refused as a useless article. This beverage seems to have been little known in England, till about the middle of the seventeenth century, when a quantity was brought to this country by Lord Arlington, from Holland, where it had been introduced by the Dutch East India Company, about forty or fifty years before. A pound of tea, in 1666, and for half a century afterwards, sold at sixty shillings. From this latter period, the consumption rapidly increased. In the year 1700, not more than fifty thousand pounds weight were imported into Britain; but, before the close of that century, nearly twenty millions of pounds were sold at the public sales. The importation is now far more considerable; and, under the new arrangements consequent on throwing open the trade, promises eventually soon to acquire an additional stimulus.
[Tea is, at present, imported into the United States free of duty, and is in general use, especially as an evening beverage, by rich and poor. The quantity imported in the year 1837, according to custom-house returns, was nearly seventeen millions of pounds, valued at about six millions of dollars; of which quantity, two millions and a half of pounds, were again exported. AM. ED.]
The rival luxury, introduced into Europe about the same time with that of tea, is coffee. According to the Abbé Raynal, the native country of the coffee-tree is Upper Ethiopia, where it is still cultivated with success. It is an evergreen of quick growth, rising to the height of fifteen or twenty feet. It has a straight trunk of three or four inches in diameter, bearing a number of branches opposite to each other, furnished with oval entire leaves, somewhat resembling the common laurel. In the angles of these leaves, appear little bunches, consisting of fivecleft white flowers, of an agreeable smell, and resembling the jasmine in figure. The flowers are succeeded by oval berries, each of which contains two seeds, flat and furrowed on one side, convex on the other. These seeds
constitute the article which is so well known under the name of coffee.*
The quality which coffee possesses, of dissipating sleep, is well known; and it is said that it was this property which originally recommended it to use, the monks of an Arabian convent having first employed the decoction to prevent them from sleeping too sound, and neglecting their nocturnal prayers. About the middle, or towards the end, of the fifteenth century, coffee came to be generally made use of in those countries which profess the Mohammedan faith, although the use of it was, at first, strenuously opposed by their priests, and even by some of their princes.
From Arabia, the coffee-plant was transported, by the Dutch, to Batavia and Amsterdam, whence it found its way to France and to the French West Indies, and afterwards to the other American islands, where it is now propagated. It may be successfully cultivated in all tropical countries, and in those bordering on the tropics; but is found to be produced of superior quality in some parts of Arabia, and especially in the neighborhood of Mocha.
Coffee forms the principal beverage of the inhabitants of the East, who are said to be in the habit of taking three or four ounces in the course of the day, without either milk or sugar, but perfumed with various spices. The Persians roast their coffee in the capsule which covers the berries, and grind the whole together. A decoction of the unroasted berries, is sometimes drunk by the Turks, for whetting the appetite. In France and other continental countries, it is much more used than in England, where tea is the more usual beverage. The Abbé Raynal informs us, that twelve millions and a half of pounds of this article are annually exported from Arabia alone, of which three millions and a half are bought by the dif ferent European countries.
[In the United States, coffee is more generally used than in England, it being here the common beverage for breakfast. Like tea, it is free of duty. In the year 1837,
* [Its botanical name is Coffea Arabica. It is a Cinchonaceous plant, belonging to the same family with the Peruvian barks.—AM. ED.]
there were imported upwards of eighty-eight millions of pounds, by far the greater part of which came from Cuba and South America. Of this quantity, upwards of twelve millions of pounds were again exported. The whole value of the coffee was estimated at $8,657,760. If to this we add $5,901,695 for the tea, we have the total, $14,559,455, as the prime cost of these two articles for one year.] *
Or the vegetable productions of foreign countries, there is none of greater value, or held in greater estimation, than sugar.
This agreeable and nutritious substance, extracted from a plant belonging to the valuable family of the grasses, though manufactured, in the earliest times, in China and the East Indies, does not appear to have been much used by our European ancestors. It seems first to have become known to the western parts of the world, by the conquests of Alexander the Great, about three hundred years before the Christian era; and it is supposed to have found its way into Europe, at an early period, by the Red Sea ; but the plant, from which it is extracted, is said by Lafitau to have been probably unknown in this quarter of the world, till the time of the crusades. Lucan, in speaking of Pompey's troops, describes, among his auxiliaries, a nation addicted to the use of sugar, as if this was an uncommon peculiarity. From the East, the sugar-cane was transplanted first into the Islands of Rhodes and Malta, and then into Sicily, in which latter place it was cultivated, as far back, at least, as the middle of the twelfth
*This, and the paragraph on tea in the United States, are inserted by the Editor.
[Who drink the
† Quique bibunt tenera dulces ab arundine succos. sweet juices of a tender reed.]
century. From Sicily, the Spaniards are said to have conveyed the sugar-cane to the Azores, Madeira, the Canary and Cape Verd Islands, in the fifteenth century; and hence it is supposed to have found its way to the West Indies and Brazil. Some authors of credit, indeed, have maintained, that the sugar-cane is a native of America and its islands; but, whatever truth there may be in this, it certainly is found wild in the islands of the Pacific, where it was discovered by Captain Cook, and from whence the most valuable of all the varieties has been transferred to the sugar plantations of the West Indies.
A writer on the British Colonies thus ardently pronounces the eulogium of this useful production. "Sugar may be described, as comprising, in the most concentrated vegetable form, the principle or nutriment of life, azote,— a fact which admits of natural demonstration; for, not only do the inhabitants of every part of the globe delight in sugar, when obtainable, but all animated beings, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, insects, reptiles, and even fish have an exquisite enjoyment in the consumption of sweets, and a distaste to the contrary. In fact, sugar is the alimentary ingredient of every vegetable substance, encumbered with a greater or less proportion of bulky, innutritious matter. A small quantity of sugar will sustain life, and enable the animal frame to undergo corporeal (I may add mental, from personal experience) fatigue, better than any other substance. Often have I travelled with the Arab, over the burning desert, or with the wild Afric, through his romantic country, and, when wearied with fatigue and a noontide sun, we have sat ourselves beneath an umbrageous canopy; and I have shared with my companion his travelling provender,-a few small balls of sugar, mixed with spices, and hardened into a paste with flour. Invariably have I found two or three of these balls, and a draught of water, the best possible restorative, and even a stimulus to renewed exertion."+
* Lafitau records a gift of a mill for grinding sugar-canes, granted to the monastery of St. Bennet, in Sicily, in the year 1166.
+ Martin's British Colonies, vol. ii. p. 427.
There is truth in this statement, but I suspect the observations are too indiscriminating. Some animals, have a decided aversion to sugar, in a concentrated state. This appears to be the case, for example, with the horse. I remember, at least, to have heard a much-valued friend mention an instance, illustrative of this, which happened to himself. He had a favorite horse, which he used frequently to regale with bread from his own hand. One day, on calling at the house of an acquaintance, he received, along with some refreshment, a piece of tea-bread, strongly sweetened, which, by way of experiment, he carried out to his horse. The animal took it, confidingly and without examination, into his mouth, and began to masticate it. Meanwhile, his master had thrown himself into the saddle, and was taking leave of his friends, when the horse, on perceiving the taste of the morsel he was eating, was seized with sudden fury, and shaking his head, while he grasped the bit fast between his teeth, rushed headlong, and at full speed, down a steep bank, and, in spite of his rider, found his way over hedge and ditch to a pool of water, where, instead of drinking, he literally rinsed his mouth, exhibiting, all the while, unequivocal symptoms of extreme loathing.
This natural dislike may be overcome by use. It is said, that in Cochin China, the horses, as well as buffaloes and elephants, are fattened with sugar; and there is no doubt that, in the West Indies, during crop-time, all the domestic animals, including horses, renew their plumpness and strength, by partaking of the refuse of the sugarhouse. Mr. Martin, indeed, asserts, that he has "tamed the most savage and vicious horses with sugar."
During crop-time, the negroes themselves, although even more hard-worked then than at other times, become fat, healthy, and cheerful. "So palatable, salutary, and nourishing, is the juice of the cane," says Mr. Edwards, "that every individual of the animal creation, drinking freely of it, derives health and vigor from its use. The meager and sickly among the negroes, exhibit a surprising alteration, in a few weeks after the mill is set in action; in short," he adds, "on a well-regulated plantation, under