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Smoking In Church
For thy sake, TOBACCO, I Would do anything but die. ...


...

Abuse And Praise Of Tobacco
This is my friend Abel, an honest fellow; He lets me...

Gilray's Flower-pot
I charge Gilray's unreasonableness to his ignoble passion f...

The Perils Of Not Smoking
When the Arcadians heard that I had signed an agreement ...

The Ghost Of Christmas Eve
A few years ago, as some may remember, a startling ghost...

Smoking In The Restoration Period
The Indian weed withered quite Green at noon, cut do...

Smoking Unfashionable: Later Georgian Days
Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, I can't understand ...

Arcadians At Bay
I have said that Jimmy spent much of his time in contributi...

Jimmy
With the exception of myself, Jimmy Moggridge was no doubt ...

Smoking In The Twentieth Century
Sweet when the morn is grey; Sweet, when they've cle...

Cavalier And Roundhead Smokers
A custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, ...

The Arcadia Mixture
Darkness comes, and with it the porter to light our stai...

Vanity All Is Vanity
...

My Brother Henry
Strictly speaking I never had a brother Henry, and yet I...

What Could He Do?
This was another of Marriot's perplexities of the heart. He...

His Wife's Cigars
Though Pettigrew, who is a much more successful journali...

My Pipes
In a select company of scoffers my brier was known as the M...

Pettigrew's Dream
My dream (said Pettigrew) contrasts sadly with those of my ...

A Covnter-blaste To Tobacco
That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of _Tobacco_...



Early Victorian Days








Scent to match thy rich perfume
Chemic art did ne'er presume
Through her quaint alembic strain,
None so sovereign to the brain.

LAMB, _A Farewell to Tobacco._


The social attitude towards smoking in early Victorian days, and for
some time later, was curious. The development of cigar-smoking among
those classes from which tobacco had long been practically banished,
and the natural consequent spread downwards of the use of cigars--in
accordance with the invariable law of fashion--together with the
continued devotion to the pipe among those whose love of tobacco had
never slackened, made smoking a much more general practice than it had
been for some generations.

It is somewhat significant that Dickens, in the Old Curiosity Shop,
1840, makes that repulsive dwarf, Quilp, smoke cigars. When the little
monster comes home unexpectedly in the fourth chapter of the book, and
breaks up his wife's tea-party, he settles himself in an
arm-chair--with his large head and face squeezed up against the back,
and his little legs planted on the table--with a case-bottle of rum,
cold water, and a box of cigars before him. Now, Mrs. Quilp, he
says, I feel in a smoking humour, and shall probably blaze away all
night. But sit where you are, if you please, in case I want you.
Quilp smokes cigars one after the other, his wretched wife sitting
patiently by, from sunset till some time after daybreak. The dwarf's
tastes, however, were catholic. A little later in the book the reader
finds him, when encamped in the back parlour of the old man's shop,
smoking pipe after pipe, and compelling that knavish attorney, Sampson
Brass, to do the same. Tobacco-smoke always caused Brass great
internal discomposure and annoyance; but this made no difference to
Quilp, who insisted on his friend continuing to smoke, while he
inquired: Is it good, Brass, is it nice, is it fragrant, do you feel
like the Grand Turk? But Quilp and Brass were not in society.

Notwithstanding that the number of smokers had so largely increased,
and was continually increasing, smoking was regarded socially as
something of a vice--to be practised in inconvenient places and not
too publicly.

There were still plenty of active opponents and denouncers of tobacco.
One of the most distinguished was the great Duke of Wellington, who
abominated smoking, and was annoyed by the increase of cigar-smoking
among officers of the army. In the early 'forties he issued a General
Order (No. 577) which contained a paragraph that would have delighted
the heart of King James I. It ran thus: The Commander-in-Chief has
been informed, that the practice of smoking, by the use of pipes,
cigars, or cheroots, has become prevalent among the Officers of the
Army, which is not only in itself a species of intoxication
occasioned by the fumes of tobacco, but, undoubtedly, occasions
drinking and tippling by those who acquire the habit; and he intreats
the Officers commanding Regiments to prevent smoking in the Mess Rooms
of their several Regiments, and in the adjoining apartments, and to
discourage the practice among the Officers of Junior Rank in their
Regiments.

The Duke's prejudices were stronger than his facts. The statement, not
very grammatically expressed, that the practice of smoking was
itself a species of intoxication was absurd enough; but the
allegation, introduced by a question-begging undoubtedly, that
smoking occasioned drinking was directly contrary to fact. It was the
introduction of after-dinner smoking that largely helped to kill the
bad old practice of continued after-dinner drinking.

Perhaps the best reflection of and comment upon the attitude of
society towards smoking is to be found in the ironical, satirical
pages of Thackeray. Let the reader turn to the confessions of George
Fitz-Boodle Esq.--the Fitz-Boodle Papers first appeared in _Fraser's
Magazine_ for 1842--and he will find how smoking was regarded at that
date, and what Thackeray, speaking through the puppet Fitz-Boodle,
thought of it. George starts by saying: I am not, in the first place,
what is called a ladies' man, having contracted an irrepressible habit
of smoking after dinner, which has obliged me to give up a great deal
of the dear creatures' society; nor can I go much to country-houses
for the same reason. The ladies had a keen scent for the abominable
odour of tobacco, and distrusted the men who smoked. Here is
Fitz-Boodle's, or Thackeray's, comment on it--What is this smoking
that it should be considered a crime? I believe in my heart that women
are jealous of it, as of a rival. They speak of it as of some secret
awful vice that seizes upon a man, and makes him a pariah from genteel
society. I would lay a guinea that many a lady who has just been kind

enough to read the above lines lays down the book, after this
confession of mine that I am a smoker, and says, 'Oh, the vulgar
wretch!' and passes on to something else. He goes on to prophesy--and
for once the most gratuitous of follies has been justified by the
event--that tobacco will conquer. Look over the wide world, he says
to the ladies, and see that your adversary has overcome it. Germany
has been puffing for three score years; France smokes to a man. Do you
think you can keep the enemy out of England? Psha! look at his
progress. Ask the club-houses, Have they smoking-rooms, or not? Are
they not obliged to yield to the general want of the age, in spite of
the resistance of the old women on the committees? I, for my part, do
not despair to see a bishop lolling out of the 'Athenaeum' with a
cheroot in his mouth, or, at any rate, a pipe stuck in his
shovel-hat.

The flight of fancy in the last sentence has hardly yet been
fulfilled; but I saw, many years ago, a distinguished man of letters,
the late Mr. Francis Turner Palgrave, of Golden Treasury fame, who
was an inveterate smoker, sitting on one of the cane benches by the
door of the Athenaeum Club, smoking a short clay pipe.

Thackeray does not appear to have realized that tobacco was not
invading England for the first, but for the second time, nor did he
foresee that the ladies, to whom he addressed his impassioned defence
of smoking, would not only submit to the conqueror but would
themselves be found among his joyous devotees.

George Fitz-Boodle recounts how, as a boy, he was flogged for smoking,
and how, at Oxford, smoking among other villainies led to his
rustication. Later his tobacco, combined with insolence to his
tobacco-hating colonel, conducted him out of the army into the
retirement of civil life; and so on and so on. There is, of course, an
element of exaggeration in all this; but Mr. Fitz-Boodle's experiences
and reflections throw much light on the social history of smoking in
the early decades of the nineteenth century. Mr. Harry Furniss, in the
preface to his edition of Thackeray, has an admirably terse and
pertinent paragraph on this aspect of the Fitz-Boodle Papers. He
says--No gentleman in those days was seen smoking even a 'weed' in
the streets. Cigarettes were practically unheard of in England, and
outside one's private smoking-room pipes were tabooed. Men in Society
slunk into their smoking-rooms, or, when there was no smoking-room,
into the kitchen or servants' hall, after the domestics had retired. A
smoking-jacket was worn in the place of their ordinary evening coat,
and their well-oiled, massive head of hair was protected by a
gorgeously decorated smoking-cap. Thus the odour of tobacco was not
brought into the drawing-room.

The fear of the odour of tobacco-smoke was extraordinary. Mr. J.C.
Buckmaster in his reminiscences describes the famous debating society
at Cogers' Hall, and says that after one night at the Cogers' it took
three days on a common to purify your clothes from the smoke. The
journalists and Bohemians who met at the Cogers were above (or below)
the dictates of fashion, and smoking was always a feature of their
gatherings. The yard of clay is provided gratis for members, and it
is to its almost universal use, says Mr. Peter Rayleigh, in his book
on The Cogers and Fleet Street, that Cogers owe their existence in
the present quarters. Once upon a time the Cogers 'swarmed' to a
well-appointed room, where carpets covered the floors, the chairs were
upholstered, and the tables had finely polished marble tops. The hot
pipes and smouldering matches stained the table tops and burnt the
carpets, so that they had the option of abandoning either the pipe or
the quarters. Old customs die hard with Cogers, and they stuck to
their pipe.... The pipe is a feature in all illustrations of Cogerian
meetings.

The influence of the Court was wholly against smoking. Both Queen
Victoria and the Prince Consort detested it, so tobacco was taboo
wherever the Court was. The late Lady Dorothy Nevill, who lived to see
the new triumph of tobacco, said that she thought the greatest minor
change in social habits which she had witnessed was that in the
attitude assumed towards smoking, which, in her youth, and even
later, was, except in certain well-defined circumstances, regarded as
little less than a heinous crime. Lady Dorothy remarked that
smoking-rooms in country houses were absolutely unknown--but that
was not quite correct as we shall see in the experiences of Professor
von Holtzendorff, to be mentioned directly--and that such gentlemen
as wished to smoke after the ladies had gone to bed used, as a matter
of course, to go either to the servants' hall or to the harness-room
in the stables, where at night some sort of rough preparation was
generally made for their accommodation.... Well do I remember the
immense care which devotees of tobacco used to take, when sallying
forth in the country to enjoy it, not to allow the faintest whiff of
smoke to penetrate into the hall as they lit their cigars at the
door.

In 1845 Dickens wrote: I generally take a cigar after dinner when I'm
alone. The reservation in the last three words may be noted. In the
Book of Snobs, Major Wellesley Ponto goes to smoke a cigar in the
stables--Ponto had no smoking-room--with Lord Gules, who is described
as a very young, short, sandy-haired and tobacco-smoking nobleman,
who cannot have left the nursery very long. Later, Ponto and Gules
resume smoking operations ... in the now vacant kitchen.

Even so late as 1861 the attitude towards smoking was still much the
same in some quarters. In that year a German scholar, Professor Franz
von Holtzendorff, paid a visit to a country gentleman's house in
Gloucestershire--Hardwicke Court. Later he printed an account of his
experiences, a translation of which was published in this country in
1878. When the professor arrived, his host, the first greeting over,
at once pointed out to him a secluded apartment--the one which he
thought it most important for a German to know, namely, the
smoking-room. According to his idea, continued the professor, every
German has three national characteristics, smoking, singing, and
Sabbath-breaking; the first and only idea in which I found him led
astray by an abstract theory. Later, his hostess, explaining to him
the method and routine of life in an English country-house, said that
the ladies retired about eleven, while the gentlemen finished their
day's work in the smoking-room--the secluded apartment--or enjoyed a
cigar at the billiard-table; but a smoke in the billiard-room was only
allowed if that room was not near the drawing-room or in the hall
close by. You must have often been surprised, she continued, that
we English ladies have such an invincible repugnance to tobacco smoke,
but there is no dispensation from our rule of abstinence, except in
those rooms which my husband has already pointed out to you.

The professor, after luncheon, was pressed by the squire--who, on any
other occasion would never waste time in smoking, and only filled his
short clay pipe at the end of his day's work--to come to his
smoking-room. As regards this room the professor drily remarked--I
thought I had noticed that even the key-hole was stopped up, in order
to preserve the ladies' delicate nerves from every disagreeable
sensation. After dinner, again, when the ladies had left the table,
the gentlemen passed the bottles of port, sherry, and claret, with
the regularity of planets from hand to hand, but no one dreamed of
smoking. That was reserved for the secluded apartment after the ladies
had gone to bed. Neither host nor guest imagined what a revolution
another generation or so would make in these social habits.

In the 'fifties the pipes smoked were mostly clays. There were the
long clays or churchwardens, to be smoked in hours of ease and
leisure; and the short clays--cutties--which could be smoked while a
man was at work. Milo, a tobacconist in the Strand, and Inderwick,
whose shop was near Leicester Square, were famous for their pipes,
which could be bought for 6d. apiece. A burlesque poem of 1853, in
praise of an old black pipe, says:

_Think not of meerschaum is that bowl: away,
Ye fond enthusiasts! it is common clay,
By Milo stamped, perchance by Milo's hand,
And for a tizzy purchased in the Strand._

_Famed are the clays of Inderwick, and fair
The pipes of Fiolet from Saint Omer._

I am indebted for this quotation to a correspondent of _Notes and
Queries_, September 27, 1913.

Another correspondent of the same journal, Colonel W.F. Prideaux, also
replying to a query of mine, wrote: Before briar-root pipes came into
common use clay pipes were of necessity smoked by all classes. When I
matriculated at Oxford at the Easter of 1858 ... University men used
to be rather particular about the pipes they smoked. The finest were
made in France, and the favourite brand was 'Fiolet, Saint Omer.' I do
not know if this kind is still smoked, but it was made of a soft clay
that easily coloured. In taverns, of course, the churchwarden--beloved
of Carlyle and Tennyson--was usually smoked to the accompaniment of
shandygaff. At Simpson's fish ordinary at Billingsgate these pipes
were always placed on the table after dinner, together with screws of
shag tobacco, and a smoking parliament moistened with hot or cold
punch according to the season, was generally held during the following
hour. Of course, in those days no one ever thought of smoking a pipe
in the presence of ladies.

Colonel Harold Malet at the same time wrote--When I was a cadet at
Sandhurst in 1855-58, Milo's cutty pipes were quite the thing, and the
selection by cadets of a good one out of a fresh consignment packed
in sawdust was eagerly watched by the 'Johns.' Of course we were
imitating our parents. It was no doubt these cutty pipes which are
referred to in one of the sporting books of Robert Surtees as the
clay pipes of gentility.

In a private letter to me, which I am privileged to quote, Colonel
Prideaux adds some further particulars as to the social attitude of
early Victorian days towards tobacco--particulars which are the more
valuable and interesting as being supplied from personal recollection
of those now somewhat distant days. The Colonel writes: When I was a
young man people never thought of smoking in what house-agents call
the 'reception-rooms,' the principal reason being that the occupation
of these rooms was shared by ladies, and it was 'bad form' (not, by
the way, a contemporary expression) to smoke while in the company of
the fairer half of creation. Consequently, men had either to indulge
in the practice out of doors, or else, as you say, sneak away to the
kitchen when the servants had gone to bed, and puff up the chimney. It
was only in large houses that a billiard room could be found, and even
in a billiard room a pipe or cigar was _taboo_ if ladies were present,
while smoking-rooms could no more be found in middle-class houses than
bath-rooms. Both cutties and churchwardens were smoked, but the latter
of course were not adapted for persons engaged in active pursuits and
were essentially of what I may call a sedentary nature. You could not
even walk while holding a long churchwarden in your mouth, and
consequently the short clay was most favoured by young men at
Sandhurst and the Universities.... Labourers smoked short clays when
out of doors, and churchwardens when they rested from their labours
and took their ease in their inn in the evenings.

Mr. Furniss, in the paragraph quoted on a previous page, says: No
gentleman in those days was seen smoking even a 'weed' in the
streets. The nearest approach to this seems to have been smoking on
club steps. Thackeray, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of
Snobs, speaks of dandies smoking their cigars upon the steps of
White's, most fashionable of clubs, and, in an earlier chapter, of
young Ensign Famish lounging and smoking on the steps of the Union
Jack Club, with half a dozen other young rakes of the fourth or
fifth order. Two of Thackeray's own drawings in the Book of
Snobs--in chapters three and nine--show men, one civil the other
military, smoking cigars out of doors; but as these were no doubt
arrant snobs, the drawings may be accepted as proof of Mr. Furniss's
statement.

In this same book Thackeray says ironically--Think of that den of
abomination, which, I am told, has been established in _some_ clubs,
called the _Smoking-Room_. The satirist was very familiar with the
smoking-room at the club he loved well--the Little G.--the Garrick.
The original Garrick club-house was at 35 King Street, Covent Garden,
where the club was founded in 1831. It had formerly been a quiet,
old-fashioned family hotel, but apparently was not furnished with a
smoking-room, for one of the first acts of the club, when they
obtained possession of the house, was to build out over the leads a
large and comfortable smoking-room. Shirley Brooks said that this
room, which was reached by a long passage from the Strangers'
Dining-room, was not a cheerful apartment by daylight, and when
empty, but which, at night and full, was thought the most cheerful
apartment in Town. At other clubs of more fashion, perhaps, but
certainly of less good-fellowship, smoking-rooms made their way more
slowly. At White's, smoking was not allowed at all till 1845. The
Alfred Club, founded in 1808, which Lord Byron described as
pleasant--a little too sober and literary, perhaps, but, on the
whole, a decent resource on a rainy day, and which Sir William Fraser
called a sort of minor Athenaeum, owed its death in 1855, if report
be true, to a dispute about smoking. One section of the members wished
for an improved smoking-room--they called the existing room, which was
at the top of the house--an infamous hole--while the more
old-fashioned and more influential members objected to any
improvement. The latter carried the day, but the consequent loss of
members ruined the club, which soon after ceased to exist. This
secession must have been subsequent to that of the bishops, of whom at
one time many were members, but who left, it is said, because of the
introduction of a billiard-table!

The growth of cigar-smoking was rapid. Mr. Steinmetz, in his book on
Tobacco, published in 1857, remarked that no way of using tobacco
had made a more striking advance in England within the preceding
twenty years than cigars. For a long time it had been confined in this
country to the richer class of smokers, but when he wrote it was in
universal use. The wonder is that with so many men smoking cigars the
old domestic and club restrictions, as pilloried in Thackeray's pages,
were maintained so long. In 1853 Leech had an admirably drawn sketch
in _Punch_ of paterfamilias, in the absence of his wife, giving a
little dinner. Beside him sits his small son, and on either side of
the table sit two of his cronies. One has a cigar in his hand and is
blowing a cloud of smoke, while the other is selecting a weed. The
host is just lighting his cigar as the maid enters with a tray of
decanters and glasses, and with disgust written plainly on her face.
The objectionable child beside him says--Lor! Pa, are you going to
smoke? My eye! won't you catch it when Ma comes home, for making the
curtains smell!

Another witness to the rapid development of cigar-smoking is Captain
Gronow, the author of the well-known Reminiscences. Gronow says that
the famous surgeon, Sir Astley Cooper, on one occasion perceiving that
he was fond of smoking, cautioned him against that habit, telling him
that it would, sooner or later, be the cause of his death. This must
have been before 1841, when Sir Astley died. Writing in the 'sixties
Gronow said: If Sir Astley were now alive he would find everybody
with a cigar in his mouth: men smoke nowadays whilst they are occupied
in working or hunting, riding in carriages, or otherwise
employed--which shows how the prejudice against outdoor smoking was
then breaking down. During the experience of a long life, however,
continued Gronow, I never knew but one person of whom it was said
that smoking was the cause of his death: he was the son of an Irish
earl, and an attache at our embassy in Paris. But, alas! I have known
thousands who have been carried off owing to their love of the
bottle.

Thackeray, as the satirist of the foolish social prejudices against
smoking, was naturally an inveterate smoker himself. He died in 1863,
and so hardly saw the beginning of a change in the attitude of
society towards the pestilent weed; but he was one of the many men of
letters and artists, who, despising the conventions of society, were
largely instrumental in breaking down stupid restrictions, and in
overcoming senseless prejudices, and were thus heralds of freedom.
Charles Keene's attitude was that of many artists. He smoked a little
Jacobean clay pipe in his sky-parlour overlooking the Strand, and
did not care in the least what the world might think or not think
about that or any other subject.

Those who smoked pipes at Cambridge continued to smoke pipes
afterwards, whatever society might do. Spedding, who spent his life
on the elucidation of Bacon, was one of the Apostles, and he
continued a pipe-lover to the end. In 1832 we hear of Tennyson being
in London with him, and smoking all the day.

Lady Ritchie, in Tennyson and his Friends, says: I can remember
vaguely, on one occasion through a cloud of smoke, looking across a
darkening room at the noble, grave head of the Poet Laureate. He was
sitting with my Father in the twilight after some family meal in the
old house in Kensington. Thackeray was a cigar-smoker, but Tennyson
was a devotee of the pipe. It was on this occasion, as the poet
himself reminded Thackeray's daughter, that while the novelist was
speaking, Lady Ritchie's little sister looked up suddenly from the
book over which she had been absorbed, saying in her sweet childish
voice, 'Papa, why do you not write books like 'Nicholas Nickleby'?'

Tennyson wrote In Memoriam at Shawell Rectory, near Lutterworth,
Leicestershire. The rector was a Mr. Elmhirst, a native of the poet's
Lincolnshire village. The latest historian of Lutterworth says that
The great puffs of tobacco smoke with which he [Tennyson] mellowed
his thoughts, proved insufferable to his host, and he was accordingly
turned out into Mr. Elmhirst's workshop in the garden, which in
consequence became the birthplace of one of the gems of English
literature.

About 1842, when Tennyson often dined at the Old Cock (by Temple Bar)
and at other taverns, the perfect dinner for his taste, says his son,
was a beef-steak, a potato, a cut of cheese, a pint of port, and
afterwards a pipe (never a cigar). When the Kingsleys paid the
Tennysons a visit about 1859, Charles Kingsley, so the Laureate told
his son, talked as usual on all sorts of topics, and walked hard up
and down the study for hours smoking furiously, and affirming that
tobacco was the only thing that kept his nerves quiet. The late
Laureate, Alfred Austin, once asked Tennyson, after reading a passage
in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal that William had gone to bed very
tired with writing the Prelude, if he had ever felt tired by
writing poetry. I think not, said the poet, but tired with the
accompaniment of too much smoking.

Kingsley's devotion to smoke seems to have surprised Tennyson, who was
no light smoker himself. The most curious story illustrating
Kingsley's love of tobacco is that told in the life of Archbishop
Benson by his son, Mr. A.C. Benson. One day about the year 1860, the
future archbishop was walking with the Rector of Eversley in a remote
part of the parish, on a common, when Kingsley suddenly said--I must
smoke a pipe, and forthwith went to a furze-bush and felt about in it
for a time. Presently he produced a clay churchwarden pipe, which he
lighted, and solemnly smoked as he walked, putting it when he had done
into a hole among some tree roots, and telling my father that he had a
_cache_ of pipes in several places in the parish to meet the
exigencies of a sudden desire for tobacco. If this story did not
appear in the life of an archbishop, some scepticism on the part of
the reader might be excused.

Carlyle, as every one knows, was a great smoker. The story is
familiar--it may be true--that one evening he and Tennyson sat in
solemn silence smoking for hours, one on each side of the fireplace,
and that when the visitor rose to go, Carlyle, as he bade him
good-night, said--Man, Alfred, we hae had a graund nicht; come again
soon.

Tennyson's own devotion to tobacco led, on at least one occasion, to a
peculiar and somewhat questionable proceeding. Mr. W.M. Rossetti had a
temporary acquaintance with the poet, and in the Reminiscences which
he published in 1906, he told a curious anecdote concerning him which
was new to print. Rossetti told, on the authority of Woolner, how, in
the course of a trip with friends to Italy, tobacco such as Tennyson
could smoke gave out at some particular city, whereupon the poet
packed up his portmanteau and returned home, breaking up the party!
The late Joseph Knight, who reviewed Rossetti's volumes in the
_Athenaeum_, vouched for the truth of this relation, which he had
heard, not only from Woolner, but also from Tennyson's brother
Septimus.

In more fashionable circles the mere possession of a pipe might be
looked at askance. Robertson's comedy Society was produced in 1865,
and in it, Tom Stylus, a somewhat Bohemian journalist, has the
misfortune, in a fashionable ball-room, when pulling out his
handkerchief to bring out his pipe with it from his pocket. The vulgar
thing falls upon the floor, and Tom is ashamed to claim his property
and so acknowledge his ownership of a pipe. He presently calls a
footman, who comes with a tray and sugar-tongs, picks up the offending
briar with the tongs, and carries it off with an air of ineffable
disgust.

Undergraduates, like men of letters, did not pay much attention to the
conventional attitude of society towards tobacco, and pipes maintained
their popularity in college rooms. Thackeray, in the Book of Snobs,
describes youths at a University wine-party as drinking bad wines,
telling bad stories, singing bad songs over and over again. Milk
punch--smoking--ghastly headache--frightful spectacle of dessert-table
next morning, and smell of tobacco. But the satirist is often tempted
to be epigrammatic at the expense of accuracy, and this picture is at
least too highly coloured. In the recently published memoir of
J--John Willis Clark--some reminiscences of the late Registrary are
included; and J does not recognize Thackeray's picture as quite true
of the wines of his undergraduate day, _i.e._ about 1850. They
may, he says, have 'told bad stories and sung bad songs,' as
Thackeray says in his 'Book of Snobs.' I can only say that I never
heard either the one or the other. But certainly there was noise, and
there was smoke--plenty of it. Conversation there was none, says
J, only a noise. Then came smoke. In a short time the atmosphere
became dense, the dessert and the wine came to an end, and it was
chapel time (mercifully). One story Clark tells of an extraordinary
attempt to smoke. Referring to the compulsory chapels, he says that
as a rule everybody behaved with propriety, whether they regarded the
attendance as irksome or otherwise. But, he admits, 'Iniquity
Corner,' as the space at the east end on each side of the altar was
called, may occasionally have effectually sheltered card-playing; but
when a young snob went so far as to light a cigar there, he had the
pleasure of finishing it in the country, for he was rusticated. It was
on a cognate occasion in Jesus College, in which cobblers' wax played
a prominent part, that Dr. Corrie dismissed the culprit, after a
severe lecture, with these admirable words: 'Your conduct, sir, is
what a Christian would call profane, and a gentleman vulgar.'

At Oxford, in November 1859, the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors issued
the following notice, which shows that an occasional outbreak of bad
manners might happen on the Isis as on the Cam: Whereas complaints
have been made that some Undergraduate members of the University are
in the habit of smoking at _public entertainments_, and otherwise
creating annoyance, they are hereby cautioned against the repetition
of such ungentlemanlike conduct.

There was plenty of smoking among undergraduates at Oxford in those
days, as may be seen in such books as The Adventures of Mr. Verdant
Green, and Hughes's Tom Brown at Oxford, both of which date from
1861. When Tom, after a reading-bout, thought of going out--there was
a wine party at one of his acquaintance's rooms; or he could go and
smoke a cigar in the pool-room, or at any one of a dozen other
places. Cigars were the fashionable form of smoke. When Tom offers
his box to Captain Hardy, that worthy's son says: You might as well
give him a glass of absinthe. He is churchwarden at home, and can't
smoke anything but a long clay, with which the old sailor was
accordingly supplied.

A striking example of the attitude of the mid-nineteenth century days
towards tobacco may be found in connexion with railways and railway
travelling. In the early days of such travel there were no smoking
compartments, and indeed smoking was strictly forbidden practically
everywhere on railway premises. Relics of this time may still be seen
in many stations and on many platforms in the shape of somewhat dingy
placards announcing that smoking is strictly forbidden, and that the
penalty is so much. Nowadays the incense from pipes and cigars and
cigarettes curls freely round these obsolete notices and helps to make
them still dingier. If you wanted to smoke when travelling you had
either to contrive to get a compartment to yourself, or to arrange
terms with your fellow-travellers. In a _Punch_ of 1855, Leech drew a
railway-platform scene wherein figures one of those precocious
youngsters of a type he loved to draw. A railway porter says to his
mate, as the two gaze at the back of this small swell, with his cane
and top-hat, What does he say, Bill? Why, he says he must have a
compartment to hisself, because he can't get on without his smoke!
Another drawing in a _Punch_ of 1861 points the same moral. It
represents an elderly party and a fast Etonian seated side by side
in a first-class compartment. The latter has a cigar in one hand and
with the other offers coins to his neighbour; the explanation is as
follows: _Old Party._ Really, sir,--I am the manager of the line,
sir--I must inform you that if you persist in smoking, you will be
fined forty shillings, sir. _Fast Etonian._ Well, old boy, I must have
my smoke; so you may as well take your forty shillings now!

Tobacco was always popular in the army; and even the strongest of
anti-tobacconists would have felt that there was at least something,
if not much, to be said for the abused weed, when in times of
campaigning suffering it played so beneficent a part in soothing and
comforting weary and wounded men. The period covered by this chapter
included both the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, and every one
knows how the soldiers in the Crimea and in India alike craved for
tobacco as for one of the greatest of luxuries, and how even an
occasional smoke cheered and encouraged and sustained suffering
humanity. The late Dr. Norman Kerr, who was no friend to ordinary,
everyday smoking, wrote: There are occasions, such as in the trenches
during military operations, when worn out with exposure and fatigue,
or when exhausted by slow starvation with no food in prospect, when a
pipe or cigar will be a welcome and valuable friend in need, resting
the weary limbs, cheering the fainting heart, allaying the gnawing
hunger of the empty stomach.

Sir G.W. Forrest, in his book on The Indian Mutiny, tells how at the
siege of Lucknow, as the month of August advanced, the tea and sugar,
except a small store kept for invalids, were exhausted. The tobacco
also was gone, and Europeans and natives suffered greatly from the
want of it. The soldiers yearned for a pipe after a hard day's work,
and smoked dry leaves as the only substitute they could obtain. Mr.
L.E.R. Rees in his diary of the same siege noted--I have given up
smoking tobacco, and have taken to tea-leaves and neem-leaves, and
guava fruit-leaves instead, which the poor soldiers are also
constantly using. The neem-tree is better known, perhaps, as the
margosa. It yields a bitter oil, and is supposed to possess febrifugal
properties.

Among the general mass of the population in the early Victorian
period, smoking, though certainly not so all-prevailing as now, was
yet very common. It is highly probable that one of the things which
led to the great increase in pipe-smoking which took place from this
time onwards was the introduction of the briar pipe.

The earliest example of the use of a wooden pipe I have met with is
dated 1765--but this was not in England. Many years ago the late Mr.
A.J. Munby pointed out that Smollett, in one of his letters dated
March 18, 1765, giving an account of his journey from Nice to Turin,
describes how he ascended the mountain Brovis, and on the top
thereof met a Quixotic figure, whom he thus pictures: He was very
tall, meagre, and yellow, with a long hooked nose and twinkling eyes.
His head was cased in a woollen nightcap, over which he wore a flapped
hat; he had a silk handkerchief about his neck, and his mouth was
furnished with a short wooden pipe, from which he discharged wreathing
clouds of tobacco-smoke. This scarecrow turned out to be an Italian
marquis; and no doubt the singularity of his smoking apparatus was of
a piece with the singularity of his attire.

Mr. Munby, after this reference to Smollett's adventure, proceeded to
claim the honour of having helped to bring the use of wooden pipes
into England. In the year 1853 he wrote, meerschaums and clays were
the rule at both the English universities and in all shops throughout
the land, and the art of making pipes of wood was either obsolete [it
had never been introduced] or wholly _in futuro_. But a college friend
of mine, a Norfolk squire, possessed a gardener who was of an
inventive turn, though he was not a Scotchman. This man conceived and
wrought out the idea of making pipes of willow-wood, cutting the bowl
out of a thick stem, and the tube out of a thinner one growing from
the bowl, so that the whole pipe was in one piece. Willow-wood is too
soft, so that the pipes did not last long; but they were a valuable
discovery, and the young squire's friends bought them eagerly at
eighteenpence apiece.

This experiment in the direction of wooden pipes was interesting, and
deserves to be remembered; but it was not long before the briar was
introduced and carried everything before it.

It was about 1859 that the use of the root of the White Heath (_Erica
arborea_), a native of the South of France, Corsica, and some other
localities, for the purpose of making tobacco-pipes was introduced
into this country. The word brier or briar has no connexion
whatever with the prickly, thorny briar which bears the lovely wild
rose. It is derived from the French _bruyere_, heath--the root of the
White Heath being the material known as briar or brier, and at
first as bruyer. The Oxford Dictionary quotes an advertisement from
the _Tobacco Trade Review_ of so recent a date as February 8, 1868, of
a Heath Pipe: in Bruyer Wood. The briar pipe not only soon drove the
clay largely out of use, but immensely increased the number of
pipe-smokers. Bulwer Lytton may not have known the briar, but he wrote
enthusiastically of the pipe. Every smoker knows the glowing tribute
he paid to it in his Night and Morning, which appeared in 1841. It
is terser and more to the point than most panegyrics: A pipe! It is a
great soother, a pleasant comforter. Blue devils fly before its honest
breath. It ripens the brain, it opens the heart; and the man who
smokes thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.





Next: Later Victorian Days

Previous: Signs Of Revival



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