Thomas Jordan, News from the Coffeehouse

The first London coffeehouse opened in 1652. Though Charles II later tried to suppress them as "places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers," the public flocked to them. By 1739 there were 551 coffeehouses in London, including meeting places for Tories and Whigs, people of fashion and haberdashers, wits and clergymen, merchants and lawyers, booksellers and authors, stockjobbers and artists, doctors and undertakers — and politicians of every kind. According to one French visitor, the Abbé Prévost, coffeehouses, "where you have the right to read all the papers for and against the government," were the "seats of English liberty."

Thomas Jordan (1612?–1685), an actor and poet, served as London city laureate from 1671 to 1685 and invented pageants for the annual lord mayor's shows.


You that delight in Wit and Mirth, and long to hear such News,
As comes from all parts of the Earth, Dutch, Danes, and Turks and Jews,
I'le send you a Rendezvous, where it is smoaking new:
Go hear it at a Coffee-house, — it cannot but be true — * * *
You shall know, there, what Fashions are; How Perrywiggs are curl'd;
And for a Penny you shall heare all Novells in the world;
Both Old and Young, and Great and Small, and Rich and Poore you'll see:
Therefore let's to the Coffee all, Come all away with me.

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