Monday, January 23, 2012

Those heathenish liquors, chocolate and coffee


© Christy K. Robinson
A London coffee house in the 1660s. The coffee warms
by the fireplace. The only woman is the barkeeper
(or should I say "barista"). She charged a penny per
entrant, coffee or chocolate extra. The coffee house
became a post office, news and gossip joint, and
a place for social, political, and educational comment.

Three beverages that we consider indispensable to our emotional well-being burst upon the English scene within a few years of each other, during the lifetimes of William and Mary Dyer. Surely these  expensive and decadent drinks had no effect upon the Dyers’ lives, as they had larger issues to deal with. However, it’s possible that their second-eldest son, Major William Dyer, would have had dealings with coffee and chocolate imports when he was customs inspector for the Crown in New York, which was first a Dutch colony. The Dutch East India Company was the primary mover of tea, coffee, and chocolate. I also found images of a chocolate pot owned by the great-grandson of William and Anne Hutchinson, so stay with me.

Yes, that’s really stretching for this blog—but I can, so I will! Make a cup of your favorite hot drink, put your feet up, and enjoy this sometimes-humorous essay.

Rules for Coffeehouses
Click to enlarge
COFFEE

The discovery of coffee beans as the base of a stimulant drink probably originated in east Africa, or southern Arabia. Coffee plants were cultivated by the 15th century, for use by coffee lovers in several Arabic countries, including Persia, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Syria. The joy of coffee’s stimulant properties spread quickly, despite the occasional fatwa, prohibition, or persecution by disapproving Muslim and Christian clergy. Link to NPR article on coffee: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/10/144988133/drink-coffee-off-with-your-head

After a 1650 debut in Oxford, coffee houses opened in London in 1652. In a short time, 300 of them operated there. Thousands sprang up around the country.
After King Charles II’s restoration to the throne of England in 1660, many sectors of society, notably the puritans who had controlled Britain in the 1640s and 1650s, exchanged news and fomented plots to bring down King Charles, a not-so-secret Catholic who kept multiple mistresses, to the intense dismay of the puritan, Presbyterian, and even the Anglican reformers. Charles tried to suppress the proliferation of coffee houses, saying they were "places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers."

In 1675, a paternal Government issued a proclamation for shutting up and suppressing all coffeehouses. They found, however, that in making this proclamation they had gone a step too far. So early as this period the coffee-house had become a power in the land—as Macaulay tells us—a most important political institution, when public meetings, harangues, resolutions, and the rest of the machinery of agitation, had not come into fashion, and nothing like a newspaper existed. In such circumstances the coffee-houses were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself. Consequently, on a petition of the merchants, and retailers of coffee, permission was granted to keep the coffee-houses open for six months, under an admonition that the masters of them should prevent all scandalous papers, books, and libels from being read in them, and hinder every person from declaring, uttering, or divulging all manner of false and scandalous reports against Government or the ministers thereof. The absurdity of constituting every maker of a cup of coffee a censor of the press was too great even for those days: the proclamation was laughed at, and no more was heard of the suppression of coffee-houses. 
Source: Old and New London, by George Walter Thornbury and Edward Walford, p. 533.

Coffee klatches in the 17th-century were composed of men of certain professions and social classes. Clergy, scientists, artists and musicians, philosophers, stockbrokers, and physicians met to share news, opinions, and discoveries or advances in their professions. In later years, some of the coffee houses which had been exclusive to subscribed members became gentlemen’s clubs.

Women were banned from coffee houses, and soon began to resent their husbands spending so much time away from home. A satirical, pun-filled pamphlet circulated, called The Womens Petition Against Coffee, which was almost certainly written by men—I’d guess at a table in a coffee house! 
Key phrases were:
  • Coffee leads men 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.
  • 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 Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age…
  • 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.
The first coffee house in America was not a Seattle Starbucks. It was in Boston, in October of 1676, run by John Sparry. Coffee caught on well, but China tea was the preferred beverage for the next century, leading up to the famous revolutionary event.
Like this article? Like its style?
Then you should buy this nonfiction book about
17th century culture! Click this highlighted title:

The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport


CHOCOLATE

Cocoa beans, from which chocolate is derived, were used as currency from at least 1200 AD, though the bitter drink was cherished as both medication and royal treat since at least 300 AD by the Mayans and later the Aztecs of Central America. In the early 16th century, the cocoa drink was mixed with vanilla, sugar, and spice, and became a favorite of Spanish nobility.

Cocoa beans in their pod.
SO not sheep-dung-like!
For those of a sensitive nature or chocolate addicts, please forgive the graphic nature of this paragraph. In 1579 and 1587, English buccaneers, as part of the naval war against Spain, burned cargoes of cocoa, and not by roasting the beans. After taking over Spanish ships loaded with Mexican cocoa beans headed for Spain, English buccaneers put the cargo to the torch, thinking the beans were sheep dung. I know!!! Who cannot tell the difference between sheep dung and seed pods?  Source: http://www.chocolatemonthclub.com/chocolatehistory.htm 

The joys of chocolate consumption went through France’s noble and royal classes, and then some brilliant but anonymous Frenchman opened a shop in London in 1657.  ‘In Bishopsgate Street, in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West Indian drink called Chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time and also unmade at reasonable rates.’ It wasn’t until the 19th century that cocoa butter was extracted for candy-making, so London’s cocoa drink of the 17th century would have been very rich with butterfat—and been enriched by eggs, spices, or sack (sweet wine), with a thick melted-ice-cream consistency.

Apparently, chocolate drink was considered a hangover remedy. In April 1664, socialite Samuel Pepys wrote in his famous journal: “Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went out with Mr. Creed to drink our morning draft, which he did give me in chocolate to settle my stomach.”

In 1670, Dorothy Jones and Jane Barnard sold chocolate in Boston. By 1682, Jamaica exported cocoa to Boston, which probably marks the beginning of chocolate production in the American colonies. In 1705, cocoa and chocolate were advertised for sale in Boston at Mr. James Leblond’s warehouse on the Long Wharf.  Source: http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume9/jan11/featurearticle.cfm

Chocolate pot is engraved
with the arms of Hutchinson,
probably for Thomas Hutchinson
(1674/75–1739), a Boston merchant
and member of the Massachusetts legislature.
Thomas was grandson of Edward Hutchinson,
and great-grandson of
William and Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson.

Source: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/33.120.22 1
Judge Samuel Sewall of Massachusetts, best known for his participation in the Salem witch trials, wrote about breakfasting on “Venison and Chockalatte” in 1697 with Lt. Gov. William Stoughton. Sewall wrote in his journal, “Massachusetts and Mexico met at his Honour’s Table.” Sewell must have been quite a connoisseur of chocolate, because ten years earlier, he had bought “21 balls of chokolatto,” and over the years, he gave generous gifts of it on special occasions. 

So, have you finished that exotic stimulant beverage yet? I prepare my cocoa from a mix, with low-fat milk boiled to froth in the microwave, and my coffee is from chocolate-flavored beans. I’m sure there’s no comparison to a full-butter cocoa slowly warmed at a hearth, with vanilla or chili spice added to it.

If you’re curious about the taste of colonial American chocolate, I’ve read that this company sells an authentic-tasting product.

For an interesting history of the introduction of tea/te'/chai to England in the 17th century, visit this link.

1,200-Year-Old Traces of Chocolate Found in Utah
January 23, 2013
(Keith Weller, USDA ARS)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA—According to archaeologist Dorothy Washburn of the University of Pennsylvania and her husband chemist William Washburn, traces of theobromine and caffeine have been found in 1,200-year-old bowls from an archaeological site near Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. These are the oldest-known ingredients of chocolate to be found in North America, and their presence indicates that people living in the northern Southwest had access to cacao beans from Mesoamerica. It had been thought that the two regions had little interaction with each other at this time. And while in Mesoamerica chocolate was processed into a drink sipped by the elite, Utah’s chocolate eaters were “ordinary people” who lived in a village of subterranean pit houses. Washburn and other researchers now want to know how important cacao was to these people and how often they ate it.  http://www.archaeology.org/news/467-130123-chocolate-utah-trade

Saturday, January 14, 2012

They delight to be persecuted

© Christy K. Robinson

 "Blessed are they which are persecuted for
righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you,
and persecute you, and shall say
all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
~Jesus Christ, the Beatitudes
Feb. 10, 2012 Update to this post
William Dyer was Attorney General of Rhode Island in 1650-51, seven years before the letters of Rhode Island answered those of Massachusetts Bay and the United Colonies of New England, which you'll read in this article. The first law Dyer recorded as AG was one against banishment. You must remember what a sticky point banishment was, to the scores of Rhode Island pioneers who had been banished from MassBay in 1638. Here's the law enacted by the RI Assembly in May 1650, and officially recorded by William Dyer in October 1650.

"Banishment.
Ordered, that no person within this Colonie shall at any time be banished therefrom [by] any law or clawse thereof formerly made, notwithstanding."

It was even retroactive! There was no way Rhode Island was going to bow to MassBay's 1657 order to banish the Quakers. 

******And now to the original post.******

If the Quaker missionaries of the 1650s were so harshly and frequently persecuted in New England, Maryland, and Virginia, but had refuge in Rhode Island, why did they not stay safe and secure in Rhode Island? 

They weren’t particularly desired in Rhode Island, and Roger Williams and the Baptist leadership sometimes called their doctrines pernicious, dangerous, and damaging. Rhode Island, as codified in their charters, believed strongly in the separation of civil and ecclesiastical powers—or what we’d call separation of church and state. This had come from Rev. Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and the large group of Massachusetts Bay pioneers who were banished from Boston in 1638, including Anne and William Hutchinson and William and Mary Dyer.

Massachusetts Bay colony had been founded on the dream that it would be a sanctuary and beacon of light in the darkness of corrupt European religion. It would be the pure New Jerusalem, they hoped, a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The ministers and magistrates ruled the General Court, basing their laws on the Bible’s Old Testament. And they were the ones who received and interpreted revelation from the Bible, not cursed, weak-minded women like Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer.

Not quite 20 years had passed since the big Antinomian Controversy when the Friends, called Quakers in a derogatory way because of their shaking with passion or ecstasy when in communion with the Holy Spirit, entered New England with the intent of sharing their beliefs and gaining adherents. In 1655-1657, more and more English Quakers showed up in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where they were not the peace-loving, contemplative, silent types that we think of: they disrupted church services, preached concepts heretical to the puritans, refused to pay their taxes/tithes, and even, in a few cases, bared their breasts to show their innocence before God. (This may have been a contributing factor to stripping men and women to the waist for public whippings. It gave them scars which proved they were guilty criminals.)

1685Dutch map of New England (click to enlarge)
The United Colonies of New Haven, Connecticut, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay (but mostly the Bay leaders in Boston) wrote a letter in September 1657 to Rhode Island’s assembly, urging them to treat the Quakers in a way consistent with the other colonies, and to not grant refuge to the Quakers. (At this time, Mary Dyer had experienced her first imprisonment in Boston, and had been rescued and brought home to Newport by her husband, a well-known Rhode Island attorney general and admiral of the United Colonies.)

GENTLEMEN,—We suppose you have understood that the last year a company of Quakers arrived at Boston, upon no other account than to disperse their pernicious opinions, had they not been prevented by the prudent care of the government, who by that experience they had of them, being sensible of the danger that might befall the Christian religion here professed, by suffering such to be received or continued in the country, presented the same unto the Commissioners at their meeting at Plymouth; who, upon that occasion, commended it to the general courts of the United Colonies, that all Quakers, Ranters, and such notorious heretics, might be prohibited coming among us; and that if such should arise from among ourselves, speedy care might be taken to remove them; (and as we are informed) the several jurisdictions have made provision accordingly; but it is by experience found that means will fall short without further care by reason of your admission and receiving of such, from where they may have opportunity to creep in among us, or means to infuse and spread their accursed tenets to the great trouble of the colonies, if not to the professed in them; notwithstanding any care that has been previously taken to prevent the same; whereof we cannot but be very sensible and think no care too great to preserve us from such a pest, the contagion whereof (if received) within your colony, were dangerous to be diffused to the others by means of the intercourse, especially to the places of trade among us; which we desire may be with safety continued between us [threat to disrupt trade and passage through their lands]; we therefore make it our request, that you as the rest of the colonies, take such order herein that your neighbors may be freed from that danger. That you remove these Quakers that have been received, and for the future prohibit their coming among you; whereunto the rule of charity to yourselves and us (we conceive), doth oblige you; wherein if you should we hope you will not be wanting; yet we could not but signify this our desire; and further declare, that we apprehend that it will be our duty seriously to consider, what provision God may call us to make to prevent the aforesaid mischief [another threat]; and for our further guidance and direction herein, we desire you to impart your mind and resolution to the General Court of Massachusetts, which assembles the 14th of October next. We have not further to trouble you at present, but to assure you we desire to continue your loving friends and neighbors, the Commissioners of the United Colonies."

The Rhode Island General Assembly answered the letter shortly thereafter, claiming that separation of religious and civil powers was even more important to them than getting rid of those “pernicious” Quakers.

Sir, this is our earnest and present request unto you in this matter, as you may perceive in our answer to the United Colonies, that we fly, as to our refuge in all civil respects, to his highness and honorable council, as not being subject to any others in matters of our civil state; so may it please you to have an eye and ear open, in case our adversaries should seek to undermine us in our privileges granted unto us, and to plead our case in such sort as we may not be compelled to exercise any civil power over men's consciences, so long as human orders, in point of civility, are not corrupted and violated, which our neighbors about us do frequently practice, whereof many of us have large experience, and do judge it to be no less than a point of absolute cruelty. [In other words, "We know firsthand of your cruelty."]

And further, the Rhode Island Assembly poked Massachusetts Gov. John Endecott in the belly by saying that the Quakers had too much peace and prosperity in Rhode Island, and couldn’t get converts to their faith by speechifying—only by being persecuted, which is why those Quakers kept going back to puritan jurisdictions and inviting trouble! Rhode Island clearly implied that if the puritans would just leave the Quakers alone, there would be no trouble at all.  
Massachusetts Bay Colony would strip
Quaker men and women to the waist,
and tie them to a wagon, whipping them
ten lashes in three different towns
before expelling them.  If it was winter,
it made no difference to them.

Much honored gentlemen.
…And as concerning these Quakers (so called) which are now among us, we have no law among us whereby to punish any for only declaring by words, &c. their minds and understandings concerning the things and ways of God… And we find that in those places where these people … are most suffered to declare themselves freely, and are only opposed by arguments in discourse, there they least of all desire to come, and we are informed that they begin to loath this place, for that they are not opposed by the civil authority… they delight to be persecuted by civil powers, and when they are so, they are like to gain more adherents by the conceit of their patient sufferings, than by consent to their pernicious sayings.

Simply put, the persecution of Quakers was driving interest in their faith and their ability to patiently endure suffering. And the Quakers, including Mary Dyer, were determined to "try the bloody law" to turn public opinion their way, and end the torture, fines, imprisonment, and confiscation of their property. They believed that God had called them to this road, and they were willing to obey unto death if necessary.

Practically every puritan and Quaker knew their Bibles well enough to see a fulfillment of  Revelation 3:9-11. "Behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."

Of course, it was never as simple as I’ve made out here. Religion was not a lifestyle choice, or even a temporal, bodily life and death matter in the 17th century. It was a matter of a soul’s eternal life versus perishing in the fires of hell.

Still, I admire the way the Rhode Islanders stood strong on the principle of liberty of conscience, and even if some of them disapproved of Quakers or Jews or Baptists, it was more important both to their personal honor and to their immortal souls, to uphold freedom for all, than to cave in to the threat of trade or travel restrictions, or bowing to the wishes of intolerant religionists. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The birth of a nation, the old-fashioned way


© Christy K. Robinson

Family in a Landscape, ca. 1630-35,
National Gallery, London
Two centuries of under-population in England after the Black Death in 1348-51 were followed by the Little Ice Age which brought crop failure, famine, and waves of deadly epidemics. Then there were wars, foreign and domestic, that killed countless thousands of men in battle, not counting the women and children and old people left at home to starve, die of disease and accident, and become refugees when they were dispossessed or burned out of their farms.  The religious reformations with Catholic versus Protestant, Protestant versus new sects, all Christians versus suspected witches, Catholic versus Jews and Muslims—all brought economic and environmental disaster, fear, war, torture, and executions to millions and put them on the run, firstly around Europe, later to the Americas. Too often the religious wars were “cleansing” genocides as the world witnessed in Yugoslavia and various African countries in the 1990s and 2000s.

The Bartholomew family ca. 1605.
Two of the five boys emigrated to Massachusetts as adults.
Suddenly, there was a baby boom! In the last quarter of the 16th century, when William Dyer’s and Mary Barrett’s parents and the leaders of Massachusetts Colony were born in England, the population grew by more than 50 percent. More children were born than adults died. The average life expectancy of that quarter-century was only about 41 years of age, though the average sank to 35 in the 1660s (when Mary was executed at about age 49); and 31 years in the 1670s, when William died of unknown cause at age 67.  Even with Mary’s execution, they both beat the averages! So did the Hutchinsons, John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, John Cotton, Roger Williams, and many others. http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft096n99tf&brand=ucpress

Then all the babies from the boom of the late 16th century started having children—the strong-willed, strong-backed generation that would fulfill the dream of multiplying the faithful for the “New Earth.”

In Mary’s adult years, New England grew from less than 4,600 in 1630, to 26,600 in 1640 during the Great Migration, and then to 50,000 in 1650. England must have seemed to be emptying out in 1636, the peak of migration, when 21,000 people sailed into Boston. (Many thousands more poured into Virginia at that time.)

However, the numbers are only estimates, and highly variable between reports. Historian and author David Cressy, in Coming Over, wrote, “The white population of New England in 1630 has been estimated at 1,800, encompassing the Plymouth settlers, the Massachusetts Bay people at Salem and Boston, and other stragglers and interlopers farther north. By 1640 the population had grown to 13,500. What, then, had happened to the participants in the great migration? If 21,000 people came over in the 1630s but only two-thirds of that number could be found at the end of the decade we must assume that some of the remainder died and the rest moved on or went home.”

Population growth in the 1640s decade in New England was all about procreation, as few people emigrated from England during their Civil Wars, and some settlers seem to have sailed back to what they thought would be Puritan rule, but turned out to be a bloody war. Colonial Americans, those who stayed, often had large families. Getting married and having children, and raising them to be members of the spiritual community were strong beliefs of the puritan society. William and Anne Hutchinson, friends and mentors of the Dyers who were their parents' age, had 16 children starting in 1613. Mary and William Dyer had six children that lived to be adults. Reverend John Cotton and his second wife raised seven. Governor John Winthrop, through his successive four wives, fathered 16, though most of them did not survive infancy or childhood.

Herodias Long was the mother of 10 children. As her biographical-fiction-writer descendant, Jo Ann Butler said, “Herodias started bearing children far earlier than most of her contemporaries. She had her first child when she was about 14. Interestingly, her last child was born when Herod was only about 34 years old. Was it illness that ended Herod's fertility, or some other factor? She may have been grateful - if she had continued bearing children until menopause, Herod could well have borne 20 children! Another of my ancestors had 22, but she was most efficient - she had three sets of twins.”

In Bicknell's History of Rhode Island, Vol. 1, he wrote:  "William Coddington had 13 children; William Hutchinson, 7 [actually more, if you count those who died as children]; Joseph Clarke, brother of Dr. John Clarke, 10; Robert Carr, 6; Richard Borden, 10; Caleb Carr, 11; John Coggeshall, 11; John Briggs, 6; John Crandell, 9; John Cranston, 10; George Gardiner, 14; William Harris, 13; Randall Holden, 11; William Brenton, 8."

The early New England settlers built their society in spite of epidemic diseases, barbaric medical and surgical practices, starvation and famine, accident and injury, wars with the native Americans, and reverse migration.

They did it the old-fashioned way, in the way they believed they were bound by God’s first command to human beings: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  Genesis 1:27-28  Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, "I've gotten a man, with God's help!" Genesis 4:1