Penny University of Yesterday
So great a Universitie
I think there ne'er was any
In which you may a scholar be
For spending of a Penny.
News From The Coffee-House
(Broadside of 1677)
In the 1700's, there were over 2,000 coffee houses in London alone. In the latter half of the 18th century tea became the common drink, but the establishments still were called "coffee houses". One would pay a penny upon entry and then indulge in a cup of coffee, later tea, and the talk of the day. The coffee house was the place where scholars, tradesmen, politicians, poets, writers, and the like would meet to share new ideas and discuss current events. One did not ask where a ...view middle of the document...
Characters at the Coffee Houses
"All People May Here Be Seen" was a motto inscribed in many of the two thousand coffee houses in London. In an era of social strata the coffee house was a place of mixed company. In addition to the "Wits," the nickname given to poets and literary folk, the "Grave" were those who preferred talking quietly or reading alone. The "Rabble," as in "rabble-rousers," was the name given to politicians in the coffee houses. Coffee houses attracted royalists, loyalists and anarchists, country bumpkins and the local vicar, not to mention quack doctors who sold alternative remedies.
Specialty coffee houses were designed to attract interest groups. There was the New York Coffee House, for those interested in American trade; The Steele Yard Coffee House, for steel merchants; the Beaux, for people interested in fashion; and the Virtuosi, for those interested in the new sciences. Anyone was welcome to coffee and discussion.
Coffee and Tea House Influence
The coffee and tea houses provided sobriety, diversion, literary...