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Pomarium Britannicum : an historical and botanical account of fruits known in Great Britain online

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nautical manoeuvres.

Some time since a cocoa-tree was cut
down on Mr. Hanson's land, in Jamaica,
which had been planted about a century,
when, in grubbing up the root, the shell from
which the tree had been raised was found
quite sound and perfect.

The cocoa-tree growing in Chili produces
a fruit not larger than a walnut, but this is
more esteemed than the large kind which is
brought to England.


In Botany of the Class Pentandria Monogynia;
Natural Order, Stellate. It is named
after Caffa, in Africa, where it grows abun-

THIS berry, which affords such a wholesome
and agreeable beverage, is said to have been
drunk from time immemorial in Ethiopia,
but of this we have no authority ; and as the
use of most plants has been accidentally
discovered, it is probable that the properties
of coffee might have been first perceived by
a goatherd (as related by Chambers), who
observed that his cattle, after browsing on
this tree, would wake and caper all night,
and that a prior of a monastery, being in-
formed of it, first tried it on his monks,
to prevent their sleeping at matins.

About the fifteenth century the use of
coffee appears to have been introduced from
Persia by Gemaleddin, Mufti of Aden, a


city near the mouth of the Red Sea. He,
finding it dissipate the fumes which oppress
the head, give cheerfulness, and prevent
sleep, without injury, recommended it to his
dervises, with whom he used to spend the
night in prayer. It was soon after this drunk
at Aden, by all studious persons and those
who travelled by night. It was progress-
ively used at Mecca, Medina, &c. and Grand
Cairo: hence it continued it's progress to
Damascus and Aleppo. From the two latter
places, it was introduced into Constantinople
by persons of the name of Shems and Hekin,
in the year 1554, each of whom opened
a public coffee-house in that city. These
coffee-houses becoming a rendezvous for
newsmongers, who made too free with state
affairs, were suppressed by Cuproli, the
Grand Vizier.

Rauwolfus, who was in the Levant in
1573, was the first European author who

made any mention of coffee.


The Venetians seem to be the next who
used coffee. Pietro Delia Valle, a Venetian,
writes from Constantinople in 1615, in-
forming his friend, that upon his return he
should bring him some coffee, which he
believed was a thing unknown in this


Lord Chancellor Bacon makes mention
of it in 1624: he says, " the Turks have a
drink they call coffee, made with boiling
water from a berry reduced into powder,
which makes the water black as soot, and is
of a pungent and aromatic smell, and is
drunk warm/'

M. La Roque, who published his journey
into Arabia Felix, in 1715, contends that
his father having been with M. de la Haye,
the French ambassador at Constantinople,
did, when he returned to Marseilles, in
1644, drink coffee every day ; but the same
author acknowledges that it was M. Theve-
not, who taught the French to drink coffee
on his return from the East, in 1657-
It was made fashionable and more known
in Paris, in 1669, by Soliman Aga, am-
bassador from Sultan Mahomet the Fourth,
who gave coffee at all his parties with great
magnificence; and it could not fail being
pronounced an agreeable beverage by the
Parisian ladies, after they had received it
from his slaves with bended knee. If it were
a matter of policy with the Turks to get
coffee introduced into France, the ambas-
sador's splendid porcelain, equipage, and
gold fringed napkins, were the best recom-
mendation that could have been given to

a people who are so naturally fond of

Two years after, it was sold in public at the
Foire St. Germaine, by Pascal, an Armenian,
who afterwards set up a coffee-house on the
Quai de TEcole ; but not being encouraged
in Paris, he left that city and came to Lon-
don: however, soon after this, some spacious
rooms were opened in Paris for the sale of
coffee, and they soon increased to upwards
of three hundred.

It is said to have been first brought to
England by Mr. Nathaniel Conopius, a
Cretan, who made it his common beverage,
at Baliol College, at Oxford, in the year
1641, and that the first coffee-house in
England was kept by one Jacob, a Jew,
at the sign of the Angel in Oxford, in
1650. Coffee was first publicly known in
London, in 1652, when Mr. Daniel Edwards,
a Turkey merchant, brought home with him
a Ragusan Greek servant, whose name was
Pasqua Rossee, who understood the roasting
and making of coffee, and kept a house for
the purpose, in George Yard, Lombard
Street, or rather, according to Mr. Houghton,
in a shed in the Churchyard of St, Michael's,
Cornhill. The famous Dr. Harvey used it
frequently. Mr. Ray affirms that, in 1688,


London might rival Grand Cairo in the
number of it's coffee-houses, so rapidly had
it come into use ; and it is thought that they
were augmented and established more firmly
by the ill-judged proclamation of Charles the
Second, in 1675, to shut up coffee-houses as
seminaries of sedition : this act was suspended
in a few days.

The first mention of coffee in our statute
books, is in i860, (xn. Char. II. cap. 24.)
by which, a duty of fourpence was laid upon
every gallon of coffee bought or sold.

The Arabs seem to have been very jea-
lous of letting this tree be known, and in order
to confine the commodity to themselves, they
destroyed the vegetable quality of the seeds ;
but Nicholas Witsen, burgomaster of Am-
sterdam and governor of the East-India
Company, desired Van Hoorn, governor
of Batavia, to procure from Mocha, in
Arabia Felix, some berries of the cof-
fee-tree, which were obtained and sown
at Batavia ; and about the year 1690,
several plants having been raised from seeds,
Van Hoorn sent one over to Governor
Witsen, who presented it to the garden at
Amsterdam. It there bore fruit, which in a
short time produced many young plants:
from these the East Indies and most of the


gardens in Europe have been furnished. In
1696, it was cultivated at Fulham, by Bishop
Compton, and in 1714, the magistrates of
Amsterdam presented Louis the Fourteenth
with a coffee-tree, which was sent to the
royal garden at Marli. In 1718, the Dutch
colony, at Surinam, began first to plant
coffee ; and in 1722, M. de la Motte Aigron,
governor of Cayenne, contrived by an ar-
tifice to bring away a plant from Surinam,
which, by the year 1725, had produced many
thousands. The French authors affirm that
it was planted in the Isle of Bourbon, in the
year 1718, having been obtained from Mocha :
this seems doubtful; but it is ascertained that
M. Clieux carried the first coffee-plant to
Martinico, in 1720. M. Fusee Aublet states
that one tree only survived in the Isle of
Bourbon, which bore fruit in 1720. From
Martinico it spread to the neighbouring
islands. Sir Nicholas Laws first introduced it
into Jamaica, in the year 1728, and planted
it at Townwell Estate, now called Temple
Hall, in Liguanea : the first berries produced
from this tree sold at a bit each, which is
equal to 6d. In the year 1752 the export of
coffee from Jamaica was rated at 60,000 Ibs. ;
and it has continued regularly to increase
since that time, except when additional duties


have been laid on, which have as regularly
lessened the exports and the revenue also ;
an important proof, among others, how fre-
quently heavy taxation defeats its own

In 1808, the exports from Jamaica were
29,528,273 Ibs ; the next year they were less-
ened about four millions of pounds ; in 1812,
the export was 18,481,986 Ibs.

Every gentleman who has stoves should
raise this tree for the beauty of its appear-
ance. It is an evergreen whose leaves con-
tinue three years ; and being of a fine dark
green, make a beautiful contrast with the
clusters of pure white blossoms, which per-
fume the air with an odour like jasmine.
Nothing can be conceived more delightful
and grateful than the appearance and per-
fume of a field of coffee-trees when in full
bloom : it has the resemblance of a shower
of snow, which nearly obscures the dark green
branches. The tree, like the walnut, pro-
duces smaller fruit, and better flavoured, as
it becomes older.

The Turkey coffee is the smallest berry,
and is more esteemed for its flavour than
that which grows in the West Indies. I
conclude that one great cause of the
American coffee being inferior in point of

j 2


flavour, is owing to the practice, in that part
of the world, of gathering the berries before
they are quite ripe, whereas the Arabians
shake their trees, and by this means obtain
the berries in full perfection. Mr. Lunan
observes, that the West-Indian berries being
considerably larger than those of the Turkey
coffee, require much longer keeping; but Mr.
Miller, the celebrated gardener, is of opinion,
that coffee does not require long keeping,
and that it loses a part of its flavour. He
states that two gentlemen, who resided some
years in Arabia, assured him that the berries,
when first ripe, were very superior to those
which had been kept: he also states, that
from plants brought from the West Indies,
and raised in English hot-houses, coffee-ber-
ries have been produced, which, at a proper
age, were found to surpass the very best
Mocha that could be produced in Great
Britain. Jamaica coffee is often sold as
Turkey coffee in London, and there have
been many samples sent from thence, that
have proved quite equal to any Arabian
berries. As coffee readily imbibes the smell
or flavour of any article it comes in con-
tact with, it is often injured in the voyage
home, by being stowed near sugar, rum,
pimento, <kc. &c. ; and the flavour which it


thus contracts, cannot be separated again,
even by roasting.

The most eminent physicians of every
country have recommended the use of
coffee for various complaints. It greatly
relieves the head-ache, and is recommended
to those of constitutional weak stomachs,
as it accelerates the process of digestion,
takes away languor and listlessness, and
affords a pleasing sensation.

Coffee is often found useful in quieting
the tickling vexatious cough. Sir John
Floyer, who had been afflicted with the
asthma for sixty years, was relieved by
strong coffee.

The great use of coffee in France is sup-
posed to have abated the prevalency of the
gravel; for where coffee is used there as a
constant beverage, the gravel and the gout
are scarcely known.

Voltaire lived almost on coffee, and said
nothing exhilarated his spirits so much as the
smell of it ; for which reason, he had what
he was about to use in the day roasted in
his chamber, every morning, when he lived
at Fernai.

A friend writes me from Constantinople,
that many of the Turks will subsist almost
entirely on coffee, except during the rigid


fast of the Ramadan, or Turkish Lent,
which lasts forty days; during which time
they neither eat, drink, or smoke, while the
sun is over the horizon; and the use, of
coffee is then so strictly forbidden, that
those who have even the smell of coffee on
them, are deemed to have violated the in-
junctions of their prophet.

Among the various qualities of coffee,
that of it's being an antidote to the abuse of
opium must make it an invaluable article
with the Turks.

Those who use opiates at night would
find the advantage of taking strong coffee
in the morning.

An interesting analysis of coffee was
made by M. Cadet, apothecary in ordinary to
the household of Napoleon, when emperor;
from which it appears, that the berries con-
tain mucilage in abundance, much gallic
acid, a resin, a concrete essential oil, some
albumen, and a volatile aromatic principle,
with a portion of lime, potash, charcoal, iron,
&c. Roasting develops the soluble princi-
ples. Mocha coffee is, of all kinds, the
most aromatic and resinous. M. Cadet
advises that coffee be neither roasted nor in-
fused till the day it be drunk, and that the
roasting be moderate.


Dr. Moseley, in his learned and inge-
nious Treatise, states, that " the chemical
analysis of coffee evinces that it possesses
a great portion of mildly bitter, and lightly
astringent gummous and resinous extract,
a considerable quantity of oil, a fixed salt,
and a volatile salt. These are it's medicinal
constituent principles. The intention of
torrefaction is not only to make it deliver
those principles, and make them soluble in
water, but to give it a property it does not
possess in the natural state of the berry.
By the action of fire, it's leguminous taste,
and the aqueous part of it's mucilage, are
destroyed ; it's saline properties are created,
and disengaged, and it's oil is rendered em-
pyreumatical. From thence arises the pun-
gent smell, and exhilarating flavour, not found
in it's natural state.

" The roasting of the berry to a proper
degree, requires great nicety. If it be under-
done, it's virtues will not be imparted, and
in use it will load and oppress the stomach :
if it be overdone, it will yield a flat, burnt,
and bitter taste; it's virtues will be destroyed,
and in use it will heat the body, and act as
an astringent. The closer it is confined, at
the time of the roasting, and till used, the
better will it's volatile pungency, flavour, and
virtues, be preserved.


66 The influence which coffee, judiciously
prepared, imparts to the stomach, from it's
invigorating qualities, is strongly exemplified
by the immediate effect produced on taking
it when the stomach is overloaded with
food, or nauseated with surfeit, or debili-
tated by intemperance, or languid from ina-

" In vertigo, lethargy, catarrh, and all
disorders of the head, from obstructions in
the capillaries, long experience has proved
it to be a powerful medicine; and in cer-
tain cases of apoplexy, it has been found
serviceable even when given in clysters, where
it has not been convenient to convey it's
effects to the stomach. Mons, Malebranche
restored a person from apoplexy by repeated
clysters of coffee.

" Du Four relates an extraordinary in-
stance of the effect of coffee in the gout:
he says, Mons. Deverau was attacked with
the gout at twenty-five years of age, and had
it severely until he was upwards of fifty,
with chalk stones in the joints of his hands
and feet: he was recommended the use of
coffee, which he adopted, and had no return
of the gout.

" A small cup or two of coffee, immedi-
ately after dinner, promotes digestion.

,,With a draught of water previously

drunk, according to the eastern custom, coffee
is serviceable to those who are of a costive

The generality of English families make
their coffee too weak, and use too much
sugar, which often causes it to turn acid on
the stomach. Almost every housekeeper has
a peculiar method of making coffee ; but it
never can be excellent, unless it be made
strong of the berry, any more than our
English wines can be good, so long as we
continue to form the principal of them on
sugar and water.

Count Rumford says, "Coffee may be too
bitter; but it is impossible that it should
ever be too fragrant. The very smell of it
is reviving, and has often been found to be
useful to sick persons, and to those who
are afflicted with the head-ache. In short,
every thing proves that the volatile, aromatic
matter, whatever it may be, that gives fla-
vour to coffee, is what is most valuable in
it, and should be preserved with the greatest
care, and that, in estimating the strength
or richness of that beverage, its fragrance
should be much more attended to, than either
its bitterness or its astringency. This aro-
matic substance, which is supposed to be
an oil, is extremely volatile, and escapes into


the air with great facility, as is observed by
it's filling a room with it's fragrance, if suffered
to remain uncovered, and at the same time
losing much of it's flavour/'


In Botany, a Genus of the Octandria Monogynia


Tins fruit, which is so much esteemed in
tarts, or with cream, is a native of England,
and is found growing in the peaty bogs of
Sussex, Cumberland, Norfolk, Lancashire,
and in other marshy lands. Gerard calls the
fruit fen-berries: " they grow," says he, " in
fennie places, in Cheshire and Staffordshire,
where I have found them in great plentie."
Valerius Cord us called them oxycoccon; the
Dutch term them fen grapes.

Dr. Withering states, that at Longton, in
Cumberland, there is a considerable traffic
carried on in cranberries ; that on the market
days, during the gathering season, the sale of
these berries amounts to from twenty to thirty
pounds sterling per day : many people in


that neighbourhood make wine from cranber-
ries ; but never having tasted this liquor, I
can give no account of it's quality. The
English cranberries, which are preserved in
bottles with no other care than keeping them
dry, are very superior to those large cran-
berries imported from the northern parts of
America, which are now so common in the
shops of London. These berries, being pack-
ed in large casks, must undergo a fermenta-
tion during the voyage, which consequently
deprives them of a part of their natural fla-
vour. Cranberries are also imported from
Russia and Germany ; and during this last
year great quantities have been brought from
New Holland, which are smaller, and darker
coloured, than those brought from America,
and very superior in flavour. Cranberries are
found growing in many parts of Spain and
Hungary. They are the produce of damp
swampy lands only : but the idea that they
will not bear transplanting, is erroneous, the
late Sir Joseph Banks having planted some
near a pond in his grounds at Spring Grove,
which have produced fruit beyond calcula-
tion. This information may be worth the
attention of those who have marshy or brook
land, as a matter of profit ; and to those who
have ornamental water in their gardens or


parks, it would be found an embellishment to
the banks ; it being an elegant little fruit on
the ground, where it trails, and spangles the
grass with its red and variegated berries.

Sweden produces abundance of cranber-
ries, but they are only used for cleansing plate
in that country.

'A new species of cranberry is now culti-
vated in this kingdom, which has been called
snowberry, on account of the colour of the
fruit : it was brought from Nova Scotia in the
year 1760 by Mr. Jonathan Laycock, and is
stated to be found in the swamps of Cyprus
also. This berry has a perfumed taste, like
eau de noyau, or bitter almonds : it is reared
by Mr. Joseph Knight, of Little Chelsea, and
several other nurserymen near the metropolis.
Another variety was brought from Madeira in
1777 ' 9 which requires the shelter of the green-
house ; and the Jamaica cranberry, which was
introduced the following year, will not thrive
in this country except in the stove.

Cranberries are of an astringent quality,
and esteemed good to restore the appetite :
they were formerly imagined efficacious in
preventing pestilential diseases.


In Hot any i a Genus of the Moncecia Synge-
nesia Class.

THE cucumber, which is one of the coldest
fruits, is evidently a native of a warm cli-
mate ; and by all the researches I have been
able to make, I conclude it belongs to the
soil of some parts of Asia and Africa. It
was known to the Grecians, as their earliest
writers on natural history have mentioned
it, and in particular recommend that the
seeds should be steeped for two days in milk
and honey before they are set, to make the
fruit sweeter and pleasanter. Pliny men-
tions the great quantities that grew in some
parts of Africa, and particularly in Barbary.
All vegetables are so formed as to per-
petuate themselves by seed in the climate
where they originate; for if this was not
the case, every species of plant that is not


cultivated, would soon cease to exist; and
the cucumber has never been found to grow
in the natural state in any part of Europe.

Columella is the oldest author who gives
any direction for forwarding cucumbers by
artificial means. " Those who wish for
them early/' says he, " should plant the
seeds in well dunged earth, put into osier
baskets, that they may be carried out of
the house, and placed in warm situations
when the weather permits; and as soon as
the season is advanced, the plants may be
sunk in the earth with the baskets, or wheels
may be put upon large vases, that they may
be brought out with less labour ; notwith-
standing they ought/' continues he, " to be
covered with specularia" which seem to have
been transparent stones, that the Romans were
in the habit of cutting thin, so as to admit
light, and keep out the air, glass being un-
known at that period.

It is related by Pliny, " that Tiberius
the emperor was so fond of cucumbers, and
took such pleasure and delight in them,
that there was not a day, throughout the
year, passed over his head, but he had them
served up at his table. The beds and
gardens wherein they grew, were made*upon
frames, so as to be removed every way with



wheels ; and in winter, during the cold and
frosty days, they could be drawn back
into certain high covered buildings, ex-
posed to the sun, and there housed under
roof." These appear to be the earliest ac-
counts of the forcing of plants which we
read of in ancient times. It is probable, also,
that artificial heat was used ; as we find, by
the remains of their villas in this country, how
perfectly the Romans were acquainted with
the method of warming their rooms with

Pliny says, " To make a delicate salad of
cucumbers, boil them first, then peel them
from the rind, and serve them up with oil,
vinegar, and honey/'

Mr. Alton mentions the cucumber as be-
ing first cultivated here in the year 1575, in
the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This appears
to be an error, as cucumbers were very com-
mon in this country in the reign of Edward
the Third; but being unattended to during
the wars of York and Lancaster, they soon
after became entirely unknown, until the
reign of Henry the Eighth, when they were
again introduced to this kingdom. (Gough's
British Topography, vol. I. p. 134.,)

Gerard gives the earliest directions for
making hot beds for cucumbers in this


country, which was in 1597* when gardening
was in it's infant state. He directs, that
they should be covered with mats over hoops,
as glasses were riot then known.

Lord Bacon, who wrote about the same
period, says, " cucumbers will prove more ten-
der and dainty if their seeds be steeped
(little) in milk : the cause may be, for that
the seed being mollified in uiilk, will be too
weak to draw the grosser juices of the earth,
but only the finer :" he adds, " cucumbers
will be less watery if the pit where you set
them be filled up half way with chaff or
small sticks, and then pour earth upon them ;
for cucumbers, as it seemeth, do exceedingly
affect moisture, and over-drink themselves,
which this chaff or chips forbiddeth." This
great author also states, that " it hath been
practised to cut off the stalks of cucumbers,
immediately after bearing, close by the earth ;
and then to cast a pretty quantity of earth
upon the plant that remaineth, and they will
bear the next year fruit, long before the or-
dinary time. The cause may be, for that
the sap goeth down the sooner, and is not
spent in the stalk or leaf, which remaineth
after the fruit ; where note, that the dying in
the winter of the roots of plants that are
annual, seemeth to be partly caused by the



over-expence of the sap into stalk and leaves;
which being prevented, they will superannuate,
if they stand warm." Miller informs us, that
the cuttings of cucumbers, taken off about
five or six inches long, from healthy plants
in the summer crop, at the end of September
or beginning of October, planted in pots of
rich mould, plunged into the bark bed and
shaded until they have struck, will produce
fruit before Christmas. It is also recorded in
Miller's Gardener's Dictionary, that Thomas
Fowler, gardener to Sir Nathaniel Gould, at
Stoke Newington, presented King George
the First with a brace of well-grown cucum-
bers, on New Year's Day, 1721. The seeds
from which they were raised were sown on
the 25th of September.

His late revered Majesty had his table
supplied with cucumbers, at all seasons of
the year, by Mr. Aiton, under whose care the
Royal Gardens of this kingdom have pro-

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Online LibraryHenry PhillipsPomarium Britannicum : an historical and botanical account of fruits known in Great Britain → online text (page 6 of 18)