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About Smoking

Matrimony And Smoking Compared
The circumstances in which I gave up smoking were these: ...

Man Know Thy-self
...

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

Gilray's Dream
Conceive me (said Gilray, with glowing face) invited to wri...

Smoking By Women
Ladies, when pipes are brought, affect to swoon; The...

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

Page Six |
stimulus. Alcohol, ever true to its companion, steps in and su...

Signs Of Revival
Some sigh for this and that My wishes don't go far; ...

Smoking Unfashionable: Early Georgian Days
Lord Fopling smokes not--for his teeth afraid; Sir T...

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

Preface
This is the first attempt to write the history of smoking i...

Primus
Primus is my brother's eldest son, and he once spent his Ea...

Vanity All Is Vanity
...

Primus To His Uncle
Though we all pretended to be glad when Primus went, we ...

Scrymgeour
Scrymgeour was an artist and a man of means, so proud of hi...

Not The Arcadia
Those who do not know the Arcadia may have a mixture tha...


...

The First Pipes Of Tobacco Smoked In England
Before the wine of sunny Rhine, or even Madam Clicquot's,...

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

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



My Smoking-table








Had it not been for a bootblack at Charing Cross I should probably never
have bought the smoking-table. I had to pass that boy every morning. In
vain did I scowl at him, or pass with my head to the side. He always
pointed derisively (as I thought) at my boots. Probably my boots were
speckless, but that made no difference; he jeered and sneered. I have
never hated any one as I loathed that boy, and to escape him I took to
going round by the Lowther Arcade. It was here that my eye fell on the
smoking-table. In the Lowther Arcade, if the attendants catch you
looking at any article for a fraction of a second, it is done up in
brown paper, you have paid your money, and they have taken down your
address before you realize that you don't want anything. In this way I
became the owner of my smoking-table, and when I saw it in a brown-paper
parcel on my return to my chambers I could not think what it was until
I cut the strings. Such a little gem of a table no smokers should be
without; and I am not ashamed to say that I was in love with mine
as soon as I had fixed the pieces together. It was of walnut, and
consisted mainly of a stalk and two round slabs not much bigger than
dinner-plates. There were holes in the centre of these slabs for the
stalk to go through, and the one slab stood two feet from the floor, the
other a foot higher. The lower slab was fitted with a walnut tobacco-jar
and a pipe-rack, while on the upper slab were exquisite little recesses
for cigars, cigarettes, matches, and ashes. These held respectively
three cigars, two cigarettes, and four wax vestas. The smoking-table
was an ornament to any room; and the first night I had it I raised my
eyes from my book to look at it every few minutes. I got all my pipes
together and put them in the rack; I filled the jar with tobacco, the
recesses with three cigars, two cigarettes, and four matches; and then
I thought I would have a smoke. I swept my hand confidently along the
mantelpiece, but it did not stop at a pipe. I rose and looked for a
pipe. I had half a dozen, but not one was to be seen--none on the
mantelpiece, none on the window-sill, none on the hearth-rug, none being
used as book-markers. I tugged at the bell till William John came in
quaking, and then I asked him fiercely what he had done with my pipes. I
was so obviously not to be trifled with that William John, as we called
him, because some thought his name was William, while others thought it
was John, very soon handed me my favorite pipe, which he found in the
rack on the smoking-table. This incident illustrates one of the very few
drawbacks of smoking-tables. Not being used to them, you forget about
them. William John, however, took the greatest pride in the table, and
whenever he saw a pipe lying on the rug he pounced upon it and placed
it, like a prisoner, in the rack. He was also most particular about the
three cigars, the two cigarettes, and the four wax vestas, keeping them
carefully in the proper compartments, where, unfortunately, I seldom
thought of looking for them.



The fatal defect of the smoking-table, however, was that it was
generally rolling about the floor--the stalk in one corner, the slabs
here and there, the cigars on the rug to be trampled on, the lid of the
tobacco-jar beneath a chair. Every morning William John had to put the
table together. Sometimes I had knocked it over accidentally. I would
fling a crumpled piece of paper into the waste-paper basket. It missed
the basket but hit the smoking-table, which went down like a wooden
soldier. When my fire went out, just because I had taken my eyes off it
for a moment, I called it names and flung the tongs at it. There was a
crash--the smoking-table again. In time I might have remedied this; but
there is one weakness which I could not stand in any smoking-table. A
smoking-table ought to be so constructed that from where you are sitting
you can stretch out your feet, twist them round the stalk, and so lift
the table to the spot where it will be handiest. This my smoking-table
would never do. The moment I had it in the air it wanted to stand on its
head.

Though I still admired smoking-tables as much as ever, I began to want
very much to give this one away. The difficulty was not so much to know
whom to give it to as how to tie it up. My brother was the very person,
for I owed him a letter, and this, I thought, would do instead. For a
month I meant to pack the table up and send it to him; but I always put
off doing it, and at last I thought the best plan would be to give it to
Scrymgeour, who liked elegant furniture. As a smoker, Scrymgeour seemed
the very man to appreciate a pretty, useful little table. Besides, all
I had to do was to send William John down with it. Scrymgeour was out
at the time; but we left it at the side of his fireplace as a pleasant
surprise. Next morning, to my indignation, it was back at the side of
my fireplace, and in the evening Scrymgeour came and upbraided me for
trying, as he most unworthily expressed it, to palm the thing off on
him. He was no sooner gone than I took the table to pieces to send it
to my brother. I tied the stalk up in brown paper, meaning to get a box
for the other parts. William John sent off the stalk, and for some days
the other pieces littered the floor. My brother wrote me saying he had
received something from me, for which his best thanks; but would I tell
him what it was, as it puzzled everybody? This was his impatient way;
but I made an effort, and sent off the other pieces to him in a hat-box.

That was a year ago, and since then I have only heard the history of
the smoking-table in fragments. My brother liked it immensely; but
he thought it was too luxurious for a married man, so he sent it to
Reynolds, in Edinburgh. Not knowing Reynolds, I cannot say what his
opinion was; but soon afterward I heard of its being in the possession
of Grayson, who was charmed with it, but gave it to Pelle, because it
was hardly in its place in a bachelor's establishment. Later a town man
sent it to a country gentleman as just the thing for the country; and it
was afterward in Liverpool as the very thing for a town. There I thought
it was lost, so far as I was concerned. One day, however, Boyd, a friend
of mine who lives in Glasgow, came to me for a week, and about six hours
afterward he said that he had a present for me. He brought it into my
sitting-room--a bulky parcel--and while he was undoing the cords he told
me it was something quite novel; he had bought it in Glasgow the day
before. When I saw a walnut leg I started; in another two minutes I was
trying to thank Boyd for my own smoking-table. I recognized it by the
dents. I was too much the gentleman to insist on an explanation from
Boyd; but, though it seems a harsh thing to say, my opinion is that
these different persons gave the table away because they wanted to get
rid of it. William John has it now.





Next: Gilray

Previous: My Tobacco-pouch



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