Tuesday, October 03, 2023

David Ramsay, 'A Sermon on Tea', 1774 - "T stands for tattling, E for extravagance, and A for absurdity"

Not long after the Boston Tea Party of December 1773, (the 250th anniversary of which is coming soon) David Ramsay's 'sermon' about tea was printed in King Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by fellow Scotch-Irishman Francis Bailey. Bailey would become a printer of some renown, but his career is eclipsed by that of John Dunlap. Ramsay - who I have posted about here before - was born in America to Donegal parents, and would become known as the Father of American History. 

"It is about 100 years since this herb, worse than Pandora’s Box, was introduced into Europe. In which time mankind have lost some inches of their stature [height], many degrees of their strength, and disorders have assumed a new complexion. The Histeriea [hysteria], which as the derivation of the word imports, was peculiar to the fair sex [women], is now become common to both, and has reduced the robust masculine habit of men to a feminine softness. In short, it has turned the men into women, and the women into God knows what ... Nervous complaints have so greatly increased that, according to Dr. Cullen’s Nosology, they form 612 different diseases. The human frame is so debilitated that scarce any disorder completes its course without the frequent occurrence of spasms."

“Tea, says Dr. Tissot, has so much increased diseases of a languid nature in the countries where it has been introduced that we may discover by the health of the inhabitants of any city, whether they drink tea or not.” 

"Tea-drinking is also a political absurdity. This baneful herb is the match by which an artful wicked ministry intended to blow up the liberties of America." 

• High-res images of A Sermon on Tea are online here.