Friendship, Love and Alcohol

EdfuSnippets 85. In the previous two posts we looked at quotes from The British Apollo, which illustrated the “agony aunt” question and answer format of the short-lived publication (more information below). Before we take a look at a different publication for the next Snippet, let’s take a look at a couple of interesting quotes. The first illustrates the changing attitudes towards male/female friendship, and the second is a piece of advice that would be medically questionable nowadays (and there are plenty more extreme examples than this in the British Apollo!)

Q. I desire you will give me your opinion, whether ’tis possible for two people of different sexes to have an entire friendship, without the passion and desire called love?

A. We believe it possible, though it certainly requires the most judicious deportment and steadiest judgment in the world, to carry on a friendship with the fair sex, abstracted from love, since every obliging word and action from such a person has the power to inflame our passions, and raise those desires in us, which reason, on which friendship is founded, generally finds itself too weak to suppress.

Q. Gentlemen, I’m going into a hot country, will it be proper to drink much spirituous liquor there?

A. The general experience of those hot countries will convince you, that spirituous liquors, if not taken to excess, are not only proper, but even necessary for the preservation of your health.

The British Apollo ran for little more than 3 years, from February 1708 to May 1711. The magazines were later gathered together into book volumes. It was a twice-weekly and later thrice-weekly publication, so there are many issues to enjoy. The magazines followed a question/answer format (with also some poetry and other information). The British Apollo was launched by Aaron Hill, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who subsequently became a successful playwright and poet. He based his publication on the format of Athenian Mercury, which ran from 1691 to 1697, and assembled a team of experts to help answer the questions. The legacy of his work lives on in modern-day “agony aunt” columns.

At the height of its popularity, The British Apollo had over a thousand subscribers, but its success was hampered by the quality of the questions being send in, some of which are clearly a little repetitive. Hill sold off the publication in 1710, and it was a very sensible move, because it soon declined financially from that point onwards.

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