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About Smoking

Early Victorian Days
Scent to match thy rich perfume Chemic art did ne'er...

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

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

My Smoking-table
Had it not been for a bootblack at Charing Cross I shoul...

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

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

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

I have hinted that Marriot was our sentimental member. H...

Later Victorian Days
When life was all a summer day, And I was under tw...

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

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

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

Gilray is an actor, whose life I may be said to have str...

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

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

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

The Arcadia Mixture Again
One day, some weeks after we left Scrymgeour's house-boa...

My First Cigar
It was not in my chambers, but three hundred miles furth...


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


Scrymgeour was an artist and a man of means, so proud of his profession
that he gave all his pictures fancy prices, and so wealthy that he could
have bought them. To him I went when I wanted money--though it must not
be thought that I borrowed. In the days of the Arcadia Mixture I had
no bank account. As my checks dribbled in I stuffed them into a torn
leather case that was kept together by a piece of twine, and when Want
tapped at my chamber door, I drew out the check that seemed most willing
to come, and exchanged with Scrymgeour. In his detestation of argument
Scrymgeour resembled myself, but otherwise we differed as much as men
may differ who smoke the Arcadia. He read little, yet surprised us by a
smattering of knowledge about all important books that had been out for
a few months, until we discovered that he got his information from a
friend in India. He had also, I remember, a romantic notion that Africa
might be civilized by the Arcadia Mixture. As I shall explain presently,
his devotion to the Arcadia very nearly married him against his will;
but first I must describe his boudoir.

We always called it Scrymgeour's boudoir after it had ceased to deserve
the censure, just as we called Moggridge Jimmy because he was Jimmy to
some of us as a boy. Scrymgeour deserted his fine rooms in Bayswater for
the inn some months after the Arcadia Mixture had reconstructed him, but
his chambers were the best on our stair, and with the help of a workman
from the Japanese Village he converted them into an Oriental dream. Our
housekeeper thought little of the rest of us while the boudoir was
there to be gazed at, and even William John would not spill the coffee
in it. When the boudoir was ready for inspection, Scrymgeour led me to
it, and as the door opened I suddenly remembered that my boots were
muddy. The ceiling was a great Japanese Christmas card representing the
heavens; heavy clouds floated round a pale moon, and with the dusk the
stars came out. The walls, instead of being papered, were hung with a
soft Japanese cloth, and fantastic figures frolicked round a fireplace
that held a bamboo fan. There was no mantelpiece. The room was very
small; but when you wanted a blue velvet desk to write on, you had only
to press a spring against the wall; and if you leaned upon the desk the
Japanese workmen were ready to make you a new one. There were springs
everywhere, shaped like birds and mice and butterflies; and when you
touched one of them something was sure to come out. Blood-colored
curtains separated the room from the alcove where Scrymgeour was to rest
by night, and his bed became a bath by simply turning it upside down. On
one side of the bed was a wine-bin, with a ladder running up to it. The
door of the sitting-room was a symphony in gray, with shadowy reptiles
crawling across the panels; and the floor--dark, mysterious--presented
a fanciful picture of the infernal regions. Scrymgeour said hopefully
that the place would look cozier after he had his pictures in it; but he
stopped me when I began to fill my pipe. He believed, he said, that
smoking was not a Japanese custom; and there was no use taking Japanese
chambers unless you lived up to them. Here was a revelation. Scrymgeour
proposed to live his life in harmony with these rooms. I felt too sad at
heart to say much to him then, but, promising to look in again soon, I
shook hands with my unhappy friend and went away.

It happened, however, that Scrymgeour had been several times in my rooms
before I was able to visit him again. My hand was on his door-bell when
I noticed a figure I thought I knew lounging at the foot of the stair.
It was Scrymgeour himself, and he was smoking the Arcadia. We greeted
each other languidly on the doorstep, Scrymgeour assuring me that Japan
in London was a grand idea. It gave a zest to life, banishing the poor,
weary conventionalities of one's surroundings. This was said while we
still stood at the door, and I began to wonder why Scrymgeour did not
enter his rooms. A beautiful night, he said, rapturously. A cruel east
wind was blowing. He insisted that evening was the time for thinking,
and that east winds brace you up. Would I have a cigar? I would if he
asked me inside to smoke it. My friend sighed. I thought I told you,
he said, that I don't smoke in my chambers. It isn't the thing. Then
he explained, hesitatingly, that he hadn't given up smoking. I come
down here, he said, with my pipe, and walk up and down. I assure you
it is quite a new sensation, and I much prefer it to lolling in an
easy-chair. The poor fellow shivered as he spoke, and I noticed that
his great-coat was tightly buttoned up to the throat. He had a hacking
cough and his teeth were chattering. Let us go in, I said; I don't
want to smoke. He knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and opened his
door with an affectation of gayety.

The room looked somewhat more home-like now, but it was very cold.
Scrymgeour had no fire yet. He had been told that the smoke would
blacken his moon. Besides, I question if he would have dared to remove
the fan from the fireplace without consulting a Japanese authority. He
did not even know whether the Japanese burned coal. I missed a number of
the articles of furniture that had graced his former rooms. The easels
were gone; there were none of the old canvases standing against the
wall, and he had exchanged his comfortable, plain old screen for one
with lizards crawling over it. It would never have done, he explained,
to spoil the room with English things, so I got in some more Japanese

I asked him if he had sold his canvases; whereupon he signed me
to follow him to the wine-bin. It was full of them. There were no
newspapers lying about; but Scrymgeour hoped to manage to take one in
by and by. He was only feeling his way at present, he said. In the dim
light shed by a Japanese lamp, I tripped over a rainbow-colored slipper
that tapered to the heel and turned up at the toe. I wonder you can get
into these things, I whispered, for the place depressed me; and he
answered, with similar caution, that he couldn't. I keep them lying
about, he said, confidentially; but after I think nobody is likely
to call I put on an old pair of English ones. At this point the
housekeeper knocked at the door, and Scrymgeour sprang like an acrobat
into a Japanese dressing-gown before he cried Come in! As I left I
asked him how he felt now, and he said that he had never been so happy
in his life. But his hand was hot, and he did not look me in the face.

Nearly a month elapsed before I looked in again. The unfortunate man had
now a Japanese rug over his legs to keep out the cold, and he was gazing
dejectedly at an outlandish mess which he called his lunch. He insisted
that it was not at all bad; but it had evidently been on the table some
time when I called, and he had not even tasted it. He ordered coffee for
my benefit, but I do not care for coffee that has salt in it instead of
sugar. I said that I had merely looked in to ask him to an early dinner
at the club, and it was touching to see how he grasped at the idea. So
complete, however, was his subjection to that terrible housekeeper, who
believed in his fad, that he dared not send back her dishes untasted.
As a compromise I suggested that he could wrap up some of the stuff
in paper and drop it quietly into the gutter. We sallied forth, and
I found him so weak that he had to be assisted into a hansom. He still
maintained, however, that Japanese chambers were worth making some
sacrifice for; and when the other Arcadians saw his condition they had
the delicacy not to contradict him. They thought it was consumption.

If we had not taken Scrymgeour in hand I dare not think what his craze
might have reduced him to. A friend asked him into the country for ten
days, and of course he was glad to go. As it happened, my chambers were
being repapered at the time, and Scrymgeour gave me permission to occupy
his rooms until his return. The other Arcadians agreed to meet me there
nightly, and they were indefatigable in their efforts to put the boudoir
to rights. Jimmy wrote letters to editors, of a most cutting nature, on
the moon, breaking the table as he stepped on and off it, and we gave
the butterflies to William John. The reptiles had to crawl off the door,
and we made pipe-lights of the Japanese fans. Marriot shot the candles
at the mice and birds; and Gilray, by improvising an entertainment
behind the blood-red curtains, contrived to give them the dilapidated
appearance without which there is no real comfort. In short, the boudoir
soon assumed such a homely aspect that Scrymgeour on his return did not
recognize it. When he realized where he was he lighted up at once.

Next: His Wife's Cigars

Previous: Jimmy

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