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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Percy Shelley And The Politics Of The Plate

Anti-Saccharrites, a caricature by James Gillray from 1792, depicts
King George III of England and his wife, Charlotte, drinking tea without sugar
and urging their daughters to do the same. At one point,
close to 400,000 Britons gave up sugar as part of the anti-slavery boycott.
James Gillray/Wikimedia

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a radical thinker and a vegetarian. He was an indifferent eater but the one beverage to which he was addicted was tea. He had a sweet tooth and probably liked it with a lot of sugar but during Shelley's time sugar epitomized the evils of slavery.

In 1791, the year before Shelley was born, the abolitionist William Fox published his anti-sugar pamphlet, which called for a boycott of sugar grown by slaves working in inhuman conditions in the British-governed West Indies. Offering or not offering sugar with afternoon tea became a highly political act so Shelley and his second wife, Mary, abstained from sugar and drank green tea instead.

More: The Salt : NPR


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