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Page 220


A cup of tea! There is nothing like the gentle excitation
of tea. We quaff the delectable decoction, and
grow happy amid its genial vapors. The cloud that
erewhile, perhaps, had brooded over us, and that had
hung like an incubus upon us, takes wing and vanishes
in the silvery steam, as from the Hibernian's mud edifice,

— “the blue devils and all other evils
Flew off with the smoke through a hole in the roof.”
Tea is the best inspirer that ever exerted an influence
upon men. The inspiration of strong fluids is madness.
The brain is fired through their infernal agency, and
the glow of its evolved genius is like the glare of the
baleful fire of the pit, that flashes a while, brilliant and
sparkling, to go down and leave darkness behind it.
There is no such evil in Souchong, and in Young
Hyson is the excess of poetical fancy. It leads to
music naturally, and the voice, the scene, the lights, run
directly to immortal song. The brain dances with
jollity, the curtain of the universal stage draws up, and
the Beyond reveals itself by rose-fire from the wings.
Ecstasy is installed. Such is its effect upon the true
tea-drinker — the connoisseur. There be bunglers,
however, who should never touch a drop better than
Bohea, and even raspberry-leaves are good enough for
them. They guzzle down everything that is tea with
the same appetite. They don't know Orange Pecco
from Gunpowder. They drink unappreciatively. Your
true connoisseur regales all his senses in his cup of tea.
He sees the golden sparkle of the fluid as it is decanted
from the urn; he hears the laughing gurgle that attends


Page 221
its passage to the cup; he tastes the pleasant beverage
with a gout made more susceptible by cultivation; he
inhales the delectable aroma with infinite delight, and
feels exquisitely the sweet distillation as it trickles
towards its destination, and most sensitively when he
spills it over into his lap. It is a pity that the first discoverer
of tea were not known. The world should
unite in a monument to him. Tea has found eulogists
in all languages, and it would be a very found eulogists
in all languages, and it would be a very curious matter
to embody the many things that have been said; but we
shall do no such thing, contenting ourselves with a few
extracts from the works of some of the best in the
English vernacular. First, we have the testimony of
him who spoke of tea as the draught which cheered
without inebriating, and who again says,

There is no charm commended to our sense
Like that which meets us by the evening board,
Where the celestial herb distils in balm,
And falls in tinkling cadence on the ear —
A fount delectable — a rill sublime!
Its vapor in a steamy volume rolls,
Kindly and gently, like a halo, round
Each waiting head, and gratefully inhaled
It steals like magic through the brain,
Lulling to dreamy bliss our wild unrest.
We sip and sip, oblivious though the winds
In wild confusion rage without, or snows
In fearful hurly fill the air, or sleet
Like fairy needles prick the tender skin,
Content with tea — our true felicity!
The voice grows rich in unctuous mellowness,
As brisk Young Hyson lubricates the tongue,
Or Old Souchong exerts its balmy power
To move the heart to gentleness; and Pecco!
Orange Pec! thy fragrant name we speak,
And memories most genial in us rise:
We see the table spread, with doughnuts crowned,
As erst it tempting sat, while beaming eyes


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Shine round it, fraught with olden kindnesses,
And rosy hues of youth, and smiles of age;
We hear the cheerful word, the tender sigh,-
All floating by as vapory as the cloud
That folds us round in aromatic bliss,
And in the plentitude of present joy
We snap contemptuous fingers at old Care,
Bidding him, figuratively — go to grass.

The following, by Pope, is doubtless familiar to all:

“Here, my St. John, where Hyson's fumes arise,
And Souchong's vapors dance before my eyes,
The fancy soars in a voluptuous dream,
As sweet as sugar, and as rich as cream —
Roaming through rose-fields of ecstatic scope,
Tinging anew the golden clouds of hope,
Urging the stagnant blood through swollen veins,
And waking melody to bolder strains,
But, misdirected, leaves life's wholesome side,
To mix in scandal's darkly-flowing tide.
There be who claim for wine a potent power
To soothe the sorrows of the dreary hour,
While some, again, would fain exalt the praise
Of stronger fluids lagging life to raise;
But o'er them all my task it e'er shall be
To sing the praises of a cup of tea”

Dr. Johnson's love of tea is proverbial, and his wisest
and wittiest sayings, as recorded by the faithful Bos-well,
proceeded from the inspiration of the herb.