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suppress them, or to employ spies to note down the conversation. In 1670 the liquids sold at the coffee-houses were to be taxed. We can scarcely imagine a state of society in which the excise officer was superintending the preparation of a gallon of tea, and charging his eightpence. The exciseman and the spy were probably united in the same perDuring this period we may be quite certain that tea was unknown, as a general article of diet, in the private houses even of the wealthiest. But it was not taxation which then

kept it out of use. The drinkers of tea were ridiculed by the wits, and frightened by the physicians. More than all, a new habit had to be acquired. The praise of Boyle was nothing against the ancient influences of ale and claret. It was then a help to excess instead of a preventive. A writer in 1682 says, 'I know some that celebrate good Thee for preventing drunkenness, taking it before they go to the tavern, and use it very much also after a debauch.' One of the first attractions of the cup which cheers but not inebriates' was as a minister of evil.

The second epoch of tea was that of excessive taxation; which lasted from the five shillings Customs' duty of 1688 to 1745, more than half a century, in which fiscal folly and prohibition were almost convertible terms. Yet tea gradually forced its way into domestic use. In a Tattler of 1710 we read, I am credibly informed, by an antiquary who has searched the registers in which the bills of fare of the court are recorded, that instead of tea and bread and butter, which have prevailed of late years, the maids of honour in Queen Elizabeth's time were allowed three rumps of beef for their breakfast. Tea for breakfast must have been expensive in 1710. In the original edition of the Tattler, we have many advertisements about tea, one of which we copy :—

From the Tattler of October 10, 1710.

"MR. FARY'S 168. Bohee Tea, not much inferior in goodness to the best Foreign Bohee Tea, is sold by himself only at the Bell in Gracechurch Street. Note,-the best Foreign Bohee is worth 30s. a pound; so that what is sold at 20s. or 21s. must either be faulty Tea, or mixed with a proportionate quantity of damaged Green or Bohee, the worst of which will remain black after infusion.”

'Mr. Fary's 16s. Bohee Tea, not much inferior in goodness to the best Foreign Bohee Tea,' was, upon the face of it, an indigenous manufacture. The best Foreign Bohee is worth 30s. a pound.' With such Queen Anne refreshed herself at Hampton Court:

'Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea.'


When the best tea was at 30s. a pound, the home consumption of tea was about a hundred and forty thousand pounds per annum. A quarter of a century later, in the early tea-drinking days of Dr. Johnson, the consumption had quadrupled. And yet tea was then so dear, that Garrick was cross even with his favourite actress for using it too freely. I remember,' says Johnson, 'drinking tea with him long ago, when Peg Woffington made it, and he grumbled at her for making it too strong. He had then begun to feel money in his purse, and did not know when he should have enough of it.' In 1745, the last year of the second tea epoch, the consumption was only seven hundred and thirty thousand pounds per annum. Yet even at this period tea was forcing itself into common use. Duncan Forbes, in his Correspondence, which ranges from 1715 to 1748, is bitter against the excessive use of tea; which is now become so common, that the meanest families, even of labouring people, particulary in boroughs, make their morning's meal


of it, and thereby wholly disuse the ale, which heretofore was their accustomed drink: and the same drug supplies all the labouring women with their afternoon's entertainments, to the exclusion of the twopenny.' The excellent President of the Court of Session had his prejudices; and he was frightened at the notion that tea was driving out beer; and thus, diminishing the use of malt, was to be the ruin of agriculture. Some one gave the Government of the day wiser counsel than that of prohibitory duties, which he desired.

In 1745, the quantity of tea retained for home consumption was 730,729 lbs. In 1746, it amounted to 2,358,589 lbs. The consumption was trebled. The duty had been reduced, in 1745, from 4s. per lb. to 1s. per lb., and 25 per cent. on the gross price. For forty years afterwards, the Legislature contrived to keep the consumption pretty equal with the increase of the population, putting on a little more duty when the demand seemed a little increasing. These were the palmy days of Dr. Johnson's tea triumphs—the days in which he describes himself as a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for many years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evenings; with tea solaces the midnights; and with tea welcomes the morning.' This was the third epoch-that of considerable taxation, enhancing the monopoly price of an article, sold to the people at exorbitant profits.

In 1785, the Government boldly repealed the Excise duty; and imposed only a Customs' duty of 12 per cent. The consumption of tea was doubled in the first year after the change, and quadrupled in the third. The system was too good to last. The concession of three years in which the public might freely use an article of comfort, was quite

enough for official liberality and wisdom. New duties were imposed in 1787; the consumption was again driven back, and by additional duty upon duty, was kept far behind the increase of the population for another thirty years. In 1784, the annual consumption was only 4,948,983 lbs. ; in 1787, with a reduced duty, it was 17,047,054 lbs.; in 1807, when we had almost reached the climax of high duties, it was only 19,239,212 lbs. This state of things, with very slight alteration, continued till the peace. The consumption had been nearly stationary for thirty years, with a duty raised from 12 per cent. to 96 per cent. Those were the days, which some of us may remember, when we paid 12s. a pound for our green tea, and 8s. for our black; the days when convictions for the sale of spurious tea were of constant occurrence, and yet the days when Cobbett was alarmed lest tea should become a common beverage, and calculated that between eleven and twelve pounds a year were consumed by a cotager's family in tea-drinking. During this fourth epoch of excessive taxation, the habit of tea-drinking had become so rooted in the people, that no efforts of the Government could destroy it. The teas under 2s. 6d. a pound (the Company's warehouse prices without duty,) were the teas of the working classes the teas of the cottage and the kitchen. In 1801 such teas paid only an excise of 15 per cent. ; 1803, they paid 60 per cent; in 1806, 90 per cent. And yet the washerwoman looked to her afternoon 'dish of tea,' as something that might make her comfortable after her twelve hours' labour ; and balancing her saucer on a tripod of three fingers, breathed a joy beyond utterance as she cooled the draught. The factory workman then looked forward to the singing of the kettle, as some compensation for the din of the spindle. Tea had found its way even to the hearth of the agricultural labourer. He had lost his rye teeth'-to use his own expres.

sion for his preference of wheaten bread-and he would have. his ounce of tea as well as the best of his neighbours. Sad stuff the chandler's shop furnished him: no commodity brought hundreds of miles from the interior of China, chiefly by human labour; shipped according to the most expensive arrangements; sold under a limited competition at the dearest rate; and taxed as highly as its wholesale cost. The small tea-dealers had their manufactured tea. But they had also their smuggled tea. The pound of tea which sold for eight shillings in England, was selling at Hamburg for fourteen pence. It was hard indeed if the artisan did not occasionally obtain a cup of good tea at a somewhat lower price than the King and John Company had willed. No dealer could send out six pounds of tea without a permit. Excisemen were issuing permits and examining permits all over the kingdom. But six hundred per cent. profit was too much for the weakness of human nature and the power of the exciseman.

From the peace, to the opening of the China tea-trade in 1833, and the repeal of the excise duty in 1834, there was a considerable increase in the consumption of tea, but not an increase at all comparable to the increase since 1834. We consumed ten million pounds more tea in 1833 than in 1816, a period of sixteen years; we consumed in 1848, a period of fifteen years, seventeen million pounds more than in 1833. In 1848 we retained for home con

sumption, 48,735,791 pounds. It is this present period of large consumption which forms the fifth epoch.

The present duty on tea is 2s. 24d. a pound. The experienced housewife knows where to buy excellent tea at 4s. a pound. But there are shops in London where tea may be bought at 3s., and 3s. 4d. a pound. Such low priced teas are used more freely than ever by the hard-working

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