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About Smoking

Man Know Thy-self
...

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

How Heroes Smoke
On a tiger-skin from the ice-clad regions of the sunless no...

The Murder In The Inn
Sometimes I think it is all a dream, and that I did not rea...

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

Jimmy's Dream
I see before me (said Jimmy, savagely) a court, where I, Ja...

Tobacco Triumphant: Smoking Fashionable And Universal
Tobacco engages Both sexes, all ages, The poo...

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

When My Wife Is Asleep And All The House Is Still
Perhaps the heading of this paper will deceive some read...

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...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Signs Of Revival








Some sigh for this and that
My wishes don't go far;
The world may wag at will,
So I have my cigar.

THOMAS HOOD.


The revival of smoking among those who were most amenable to the
dictates of fashion, and among whom consequently tobacco had long been
in bad odour, came by way of the cigar.

In the preceding chapters all the references to and illustrations of
smoking have been concerned with pipes. Until the early years of the
nineteenth century the use of cigars was practically unknown in this
country. The earliest notices of cigars in English books occur in
accounts of travel in Spain and Portugal, and in the Spanish Colonies,
and in such notices the phonetic spelling of segar often occurs. A
few folk still cling to this spelling--there was a segar-shop in the
Strand till quite recently, and I saw the notice segars the other
day over a small tobacco-shop in York--which has no authority, and on
etymological grounds is indefensible. The derivation of cigar is not
altogether clear; but the probabilities are strongly in favour of its
connexion with cigarra, the Spanish name for the cicada, the
shrilly-chirping insect familiar in the southern countries of Europe,
and the subject of frequent allusions by the ancient writers of Greece
and Rome, as well as by modern scribes. A Spanish lexicographer of
authority says that the cigar has the form of a cicada of paper,
and, on the whole, it is highly probable that the likeness of the roll
of tobacco-leaf to the cylindrical body of the insect (_cigarra_) was
the reason that the cigarro was so called. There is no warrant of
any kind for segar.

The earliest mention of cigars in English occurs in a book dated 1735.
A traveller in Spanish America, named Cockburn, whose narrative was
published in that year, describes how he met three friars at
Nicaragua, who, he says, gave us some Seegars to smoke ... these are
Leaves of Tobacco rolled up in such Manner that they serve both for a
Pipe and Tobacco itself ... they know no other way here, for there is
no such Thing as a Tobacco-Pipe throughout New Spain.

Cheroots seem to have been known somewhat earlier. The earliest
mention of them is dated about 1670. Sir James Murray, in the great
Oxford Dictionary, gives the following interesting extract from an
unpublished MS. relating to India, written between 1669 and 1679: The
Poore Sort of Inhabitants vizt. yet Gentues, Mallabars, &c., Smoke
theire Tobacco after a very meane, but I judge Original manner, Onely
ye leafe rowled up, and light one end, holdinge ye other between their
lips ... this is called a bunko, and by ye Portugals a Cheroota. The
condemnation of cheroot-or cigar-smoking as a mean method of taking
tobacco has an odd look in the light of modern habits and customs.

The use of cigars in this country began to come in early in the last
century; and by at least 1830 they were being freely, if privately,
smoked. It is probable that the reduction of the duty on cigars from
18s. to 9s. a lb., in 1829, had its effect in making cigars more
popular. Croker, in 1831, commenting on Johnson's saying that smoking
had gone out, said: The taste for smoking, however, has revived,
probably from the military habits of Europe during the French wars;
but instead of the sober sedentary pipe, the ambulatory cigar is
chiefly used. Croker's shrewd suggestion was probably not far wide of
the truth. It is quite likely, if not highly probable, that the
revival of smoking in the shape of the cigar was directly connected
with the experiences of British officers in Spain and Portugal during
the Peninsular War.

One of the earliest cigar-smokers must have been that remarkable
clergyman, the Rev. Charles Caleb Colton, whose Lacon, published in
1820, was once popular. Colton was in succession Rector of Tiverton
and Vicar of Kew, but on leaving Kew became a wine-merchant in Soho.
While at Kew he is said to have kept cigars under the pulpit, where,
he said, the temperature was exactly right.

At first even cigar-smoking was confined to comparatively few persons,
and the social prejudice against tobacco continued unabated. Thackeray
significantly makes Rawdon Crawley a smoker--the action of Vanity
Fair takes place in the first two decades of the nineteenth century.
The original smoking-room of the Athenaeum Club, which was founded in
1824, the present building being erected in 1830, was a miserable
little room, Dr. Hawtree, on behalf of the committee, announcing that
no gentleman smoked. The Oriental Club, when built in 1826-27,
contained no smoking-room at all.

Sir Walter Scott often smoked cigars, though he seems to have regarded
it in the light of an indulgence to be half-apologized for. In his
Journal, July 4, 1829, he noted--When I had finished my bit of
dinner, and was in a quiet way smoking my cigar over a glass of negus,
Adam Ferguson comes with a summons to attend him to the Justice
Clerk's, where, it seems, I was engaged. I was totally out of case to
attend his summons, redolent as I was of tobacco. But I am vexed at
the circumstance. It looks careless, and, what is worse, affected; and
the Justice is an old friend moreover. Tobacco in any form was
suspect. A man might smoke a cigar, but he must not take the odour
into the drawing-room of even an old friend.

A few years earlier, in November 1825, Scott had written in his
Journal that after dinner he usually smoked a couple of cigars which
operated as a sedative--

_Just to drive the cold winter away,
And drown the fatigues of the day._

I smoked a good deal, he continued, about twenty years ago when at
Ashestiel; but, coming down one morning to the parlour, I found, as
the room was small and confined, that the smell was unpleasant, and
laid aside the use of the _Nicotian weed_ for many years; but was
again led to use it by the example of my son, a hussar officer, and my
son-in-law, an Oxford student. I could lay it aside to-morrow; I laugh
at the dominion of custom in this and many things.

_We make the giants first, and then_ do not _kill them._

Scott's remark that Lockhart smoked when an Oxford student rather
discredits Archdeacon's Denison's statement, quoted in the preceding
chapter, that smoking was very generally unknown in Oxford in 1823-24.
The archdeacon was writing from memory--a very untrustworthy recorder;
Scott's remark was that of a contemporary.

Byron is reputed to have been another cigar-smoker. His apostrophe to
tobacco in The Island (1823), a poem founded in part on the history
of the Mutiny of the Bounty, is familiar. The lines are, indeed,
almost the only familiar passage in that poem:

_Sublime tobocco! which, from east to west,
Cheers the tar's labours or the Turkman's rest;
Which on the Moslem's ottoman divides
His hours, and rivals opium and his brides;
Magnificent in Stamboul, but less grand,
Though not less loved, in Wapping or the Strand:
Divine in hookas, glorious in a pipe,
When tipp'd with amber, mellow, rich, and ripe;
Like other charmers, wooing the caress,
More dazzlingly when daring in full dress;
Yet thy true lovers more admire by far
Thy naked beauties--Give me a cigar!_

How far these lines really represent the poet's own sentiments, and
whether he habitually smoked either cigar or pipe, is another matter.

Other men of letters of the time were zealous adherents of the pipe.
One of these was the poet Campbell. From 1820 to 1830 he was editor of
the _New Monthly Magazine_, and is reputed to have been so very
unbusinesslike in his methods that there was always difficulty in
getting proofs corrected and returned in good time. On one occasion,
as reported by a member of the firm that printed the magazine, a proof
had been lost, and the poet was informed that the article must go to
press next day uncorrected. Campbell sent word that he would look in
in the morning and correct it. Preparations were duly made to receive
him; he was shown into the best room, and left with the proof on his
table. After a while he rang the bell, and said, I could do this much
better if I had a pipe. Thereupon pipe and tobacco were procured and
taken in to him. Campbell tore open the paper containing the tobacco,
and, with a slightly contemptuous expression, exclaimed, Ugh!
C'naster! I'd rather it had been shag!

Charles Lamb was a heavy pipe-smoker. He smoked too much--regretted
it--but continued to smoke, not wisely but too well. He came home
very smoky and drinky last night, says his sister of him.

When sending some books to Coleridge at Keswick in November 1802, Lamb
wrote--If you find the Miltons in certain parts dirtied and soiled
with a crumb of right Gloucester, blacked in the candle (my usual
supper), or peradventure, a stray ash of tobacco wafted into the
crevices, look to that passage more especially: depend upon it, it
contains good matter. To Lamb, a book read best over a pipe.

The following year he wrote to Coleridge--What do you think of
smoking? I want your sober, _average, noon opinion_, of it. I
generally am eating my dinner about the time I should determine it.
Morning is a girl, and can't smoke--she's no evidence one way or the
other; and Night is so evidently _bought over_, he can't be a very
upright judge. Maybe the truth is that _one_ pipe is wholesome, _two_
pipes toothsome, _three_ pipes noisome, _four_ pipes fulsome, _five_
pipes quarrelsome, and that's the _sum_ on't. But that is deciding
rather upon rhyme than reason.... After all, our instincts may be
best. It is clear from one or two references, that Lamb and Coleridge
had been accustomed to smoke together at their meetings in early days
at the Salutation and Cat--with less disastrous results to
Coleridge, it is to be hoped, than those which followed his Birmingham
smoke, as set forth in the preceding chapter.

In 1805 Lamb wrote to Wordsworth--now I have bid farewell to my
'sweet enemy' tobacco ... I shall, perhaps, set nobly to work.
Forthwith he set to work on the farce Mr. H., which some months
later was produced at Drury Lane and was promptly damned. After its
failure Lamb wrote to Hazlitt--We are determined not to be cast down.
I am going to leave off tobacco, and then we must thrive. A smoky man
must write smoky farces. But Lamb and his pipe were not to be parted
by even repeated resolutions to leave off smoking. It was years after
this that he met Macready at Talfourd's, and by way probably of saying
something to shock Macready; whose personality could hardly have been
sympathetic to him, uttered the remarkable wish that the last breath
he drew in might be through a pipe and exhaled in a pun.

It was in 1818 that Lamb published the collection of his writings, in
two volumes, which contained the well-known Farewell to Tobacco,
written in 1805, and referred to in the letter of that year to
Wordsworth quoted above. Its phrases of mingled abuse and affection
are familiar to lovers of Lamb.

Parr is reported to have once asked Lamb how he could smoke so much
and so fast, and Lamb is said to have replied--I toiled after it,
sir, as some men toil after virtue. But if all accounts are true,
Parr far outsmoked Lamb. If the essayist discontinued or modified his
smoking habits, he made up for it by devotion to snuff--a devotion
which his sister shared. A large snuff-box usually lay on the table
between them, and they pushed it one to the other.

But it is time to return to the cigar, and the changing attitude of
fashion towards smoking.

There would appear to have been some smokers who disliked the
new-fangled cigars. Angelo seems, from various passages in his
Reminiscences, to have been a smoker, and to have been very
frequently in the company of smokers, yet he could write: There are
few things which, after a foreign tour, more forcibly remind us that
we are again in England, than the superiority of our stage-coaches.
There is something very exhilarating in being carried through the air
with rapidity ... considering the rate at which stage-coaches now
travel [_i.e._ in and just before 1830] ... a place on the box or
front of a prime set-out is, indeed, a considerable treat. But alas!
no human enjoyment is free from alloy. A Jew pedlar or mendicant
foreigner with his cigar in his mouth, has it in his power to turn the
draft of sweet air into a cup of bitterness. Perhaps Angelo's
objection was more to the quality of the cigar that would be smoked by
a Jew pedlar or mendicant foreigner, than to the cigar itself. Yet,
going on to describe a journey to Hastings, sitting on the roof in
front beside an acquaintance, he says, notwithstanding the enjoyment
of dashing along, anecdote and jest going merrily on, we had the
annoyance of a coxcomb perched on the box, infecting the fresh air
which Heaven had sent us, with the smoke of his abominable cigar,
which looks as if his real objection was to _cigars_, as such.

The fashionable dislike of tobacco-smoke appears in the pages of
another descriptive writer--the once well known N.P. Willis, the
American author of many books of travel and gossip. In his
Pencillings by the Way, writing in July 1833, Willis describes the
prevalence of smoking in Vienna among all the nationalities that
thronged that cosmopolitan capital. It is, he says, like a fancy
ball. Hungarians, Poles, Croats, Wallachians, Jews, Moldavians,
Greeks, Turks, all dressed in their national and stinking costumes,
promenade up and down, smoking all, and none exciting the slightest
observation. Every third window is a pipe-shop, and they [presumably
the pipes] show, by their splendour and variety, the expensiveness of
the passion. Some of them are marked '200 dollars.' The streets reek
with tobacco-smoke. You never catch a breath of untainted air within
the Glacis. Your hotel, your cafe, your coach, your friend, are all
redolent of the same disgusting odour. In the following year,
describing a large dinner-party at the Duke of Gordon's in Scotland,
Willis says that when the ladies left the table, the gentlemen closed
up and conversation assumed a merrier cast, then coffee and
liqueurs were brought in, when the wines began to be circulated more
slowly, and at eleven o'clock there was a general move to the
drawing-room. The dinner began at seven, so the guests had been four
hours at table; but smoking is not mentioned, and it is quite certain
from Willis's silence on the subject--the disgusting odour would
surely have disturbed him--that no single member of the large
dinner-party dreamed of smoking, or, at all events, attempted to
smoke.

By 1830 smoking had so far come in again that a considerable
proportion of the members of the House of Commons were smokers.
Macaulay has drawn for us the not very attractive picture of the
smoking-room of the old House of Commons--before the fire of 1834--in
a letter to his sister dated in the summer of 1831. I have left Sir
Francis Burdett on his legs, he wrote, and repaired to the
smoking-room; a large, wainscoted, uncarpeted place, with tables
covered with green baize and writing materials. On a full night it is
generally thronged towards twelve o'clock with smokers. It is then a
perfect cloud of fume. There have I seen (tell it not to the West
Indians), Buxton blowing fire out of his mouth. My father will not
believe it. At present, however, all the doors and windows are open,
and the room is pure enough from tobacco to suit my father himself.
In July 1832 he again dated a letter to his sisters from the House of
Commons smoking-room. I am writing here, he says, at eleven at
night, in this filthiest of all filthy atmospheres ... with the smell
of tobacco in my nostrils.... Reject not my letter, though it is
redolent of cigars and genuine pigtail; for this is the room--

_The room,--but I think I'll describe it in rhyme,
That smells of tobacco and chloride of lime.
The smell of tobacco was always the same:
But the chloride was bought since the cholera came._

The mention of pigtail shows that the House contained pipe- as well as
cigar-smokers. A few days later he wrote again to his sisters, but
this time from the library, where, he says, we are in a far better
atmosphere than in the smoking-room, whence I wrote to you last week.
One wonders why Macaulay, who apparently did not smoke himself, and
who, though somewhat more tolerant of tobacco than his father, Zachary
Macaulay, evidently did not like the atmosphere of the smoking-room,
chose to write there, when the library--where he must surely have felt
more at home--was available.

Among other well-known men of standing and fashion who were smokers
about this period may be named Lord Eldon, Lord Stowell, Brougham,
Lord Calthorp and H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex. In Thackeray's Book of
Snobs, Miss Wirt, the governess at Major Ponto's, refers in shocked
tones to H.R.H. the poor dear Duke of Sussex (such a man my dears,
but alas! addicted to smoking!).

Sad to say, the Royal Duke was not content with the cigar that was
becoming fashionable, but actually smoked a pipe. Mrs. Stirling, in
The Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope, 1913, notes that
Lord Althorp was a frequent visitor about 1822 at Holkham, the
well-known seat of Mr. Coke of Norfolk, later Lord Leicester, and that
on such occasions he enjoyed the distinction of being the only guest
besides the Duke of Sussex who ever indulged in the rare habit of
smoking. But while the Royal Duke was wont to puff away at a long
meerschaum in his bedroom till he actually blinded himself, and all
who came near him, Fidele Jack [Lord Althorp's nickname] behaved in
more considerate fashion, only smoking out of doors as he passed
restlessly up and down the grass terrace.

With the revival of smoking, things changed at Holkham. On Christmas
Day, 1847, Lady Elizabeth, writing to her husband from Holkham, the
home of her childhood, remarked: The Billiard table is always lighted
up for the gentlemen when they come from shooting, and there they sit
smoking.

The growing popularity of the cigar made smoking less unfashionable
than it had been among the upper classes of society; but among humbler
folk pipe-smoking had never gone out. Every public-house did its
regular trade in clays, known as churchwardens and Broseleys, and by
other names either of familiarity or descriptive of the place of
manufacture; and on the mantelpiece or table of inn or ale-house stood
the tobacco-box. Miss Jekyll, in her delightful book on Old West
Surrey, figures an example of these old public-house tobacco-boxes
which is made of lead. It has bosses of lions' heads at the ends, and
a portrait in relief on the front of the Duke of Wellington in his
plumed cocked hat. Inside, there is a flat piece of sheet-lead with a
knob to keep the tobacco pressed close, so that it may not dry up.

A curious and popular variety of tobacco-box often to be found in
rural inns and ale-houses was made somewhat on the principle of the
now everywhere familiar automatic machines. The late Mr. Frederick
Gale, in a column of Tobacco Reminiscences, which he contributed to
the _Globe_ newspaper in 1899, said, that at village outdoor festivals
of the 'thirties and early 'forties, respectable elderly farmers and
tradesmen would sit round a table, on which was an automatic, square,
brass tobacco-box of large dimensions, into which the smokers dropped
a halfpenny and the lid flew back, and the publican trusted to the
smoker's honour to fill his pipe and close the box. When the pipes
were filled they were lighted by means of tinder-box and flint, and a
stable lanthorn supplied by the ostler. A penny would appear to have
been a more usual charge, for a frequent inscription on the lid was:

_The custom is, before you fill,
To put a penny in the till;
When you have filled, without delay
Close the lid, or sixpence pay._

One of these old brass penny-in-the-slot tobacco-boxes was included in
the exhibition of Welsh Antiquities held at Cardiff in the summer of
1913.

In the Colchester Museum is an automatic tobacco-box and till of
japanned iron. On the lid of the box is painted a keg of tobacco and
two clay pipes; and on that of the till the following doggerel lines:

_A halfpeny dropt into the till,
Upsprings the lid and you may fill;
When you have filled, without delay,
Shut down the lid, or sixpence pay._

A correspondent of _Notes and Queries_, in 1908, mentioned that he
possessed two of these old penny-in-the-slot tobacco-boxes, and had
come across another in a dealer's shop of a somewhat peculiar make,
about which he wished to get information. It is of the ordinary
shape, he wrote, but differs from any I have previously seen in this
respect, that it works with a sixpence, and not with a penny or
halfpenny. It is engraved with the usual lines, except that the user
is asked to put sixpence in the till, and then to shut down the lid
under penalty of a fine of a shilling. What could it have been used
for that was worth sixpence a time? Other uncommon features are that
the money portion is shallow, and that the part for the tobacco
extends the whole length of the box. I should say that the box is much
smaller than any others I have ever seen. No information as to the
use of this curious box was forthcoming from any of the learned and
ingenious correspondents of _Notes and Queries_; and a problem which
they cannot solve may not unreasonably be regarded as insoluble.

Readers of Dickens are familiar with the drawing by Cruikshank which
illustrates the chapter on Scotland Yard in Dickens's Sketches by
Boz, which was written before 1836. It shows the coal-heavers sitting
round the fire shouting out some sturdy chorus, and smoking long
clays. Here, wrote Dickens, in a dark wainscoted-room of ancient
appearance, cheered by the glow of a mighty fire ... sat the lusty
coal-heavers, quaffing large draughts of Barclay's best, and puffing
forth volumes of smoke, which wreathed heavily above their heads, and
involved the room in a thick dark cloud. These good folk and others
of their kin had never been affected by any change of fashion in
respect of smoking. In another of the Sketches, the amusing Tuggs's
at Ramsgate, when poor Cymon Tuggs is hid behind the curtain, half
dead with fear, he hears Captain Waters call for brandy and
cigars--The cigars were introduced; the captain was a professed
smoker; so was the lieutenant; so was Joseph Tuggs. Poor Cymon, on
the other hand, was one of those who could never smoke without
feeling it indispensably necessary to retire, immediately, and never
could smell smoke without a strong disposition to cough.
Consequently, as the apartment was small, the door closed and the
smoke powerful, poor Cymon was soon compelled to cough, which
precipitated the catastrophe. It is noticeable that Dickens speaks of
the three worthies as _professed_ smokers, a remark which suggests
that such dare-devils, men who would take cigars as a matter of course
and for enjoyment, and not merely out of a complimentary acquiescence
in some one else's wish, were comparatively rare.

Other illustrations of folk who smoked, not cigars, but pipes, may be
drawn from Pickwick, which was published in 1836. At the very
beginning, when Mr. Pickwick calls a cab at Saint Martin's-le-Grand,
the first cab is fetched from the public-house, where he had been
smoking his first pipe. At Rochester, Mr. Pickwick makes notes on the
four towns of Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Brompton, where the
military were present in strength, and hence the observant gentleman
noted--The consumption of tobacco in these towns must be very great:
and the smell which pervades the streets must be exceedingly delicious
to those who are extremely fond of smoking. On the evening of the
election at Eatanswill, Tupman and Snodgrass resort to the commercial
room of the Peacock Inn, where the atmosphere was redolent of
tobacco-smoke, the fumes of which had communicated a rather dingy hue
to the whole room, and more especially to the dusty red curtains which
shaded the windows. Here, among others, were the dirty-faced man with
a clay pipe, the very red-faced man behind a cigar, and the man with a
black eye, who slowly filled a large Dutch pipe with most capacious
bowl. Tupman and Snodgrass were of the company and smoked cigars. Sam
Weller's father smoked his pipe philosophically. If Sam's
mother-in-law flies in a passion, and breaks his pipe, he steps out
and gets another. Then she screams wery loud, and falls into 'sterics;
and he smokes wery comfortably 'till she comes to agin. What better
example could there be of pipe-engendered philosophy? When Mr.
Pickwick and Sam look in at old Weller's house of call off Cheapside,
they find the boxes full of stage coachmen, drinking and smoking, and
among them is the old gentleman himself, smoking with great
vehemence. After having given his son valuable parental advice, Mr.
Weller, senior, refilled his pipe from a tin box he carried in his
pocket, and, lighting his fresh pipe from the ashes of the old one,
commenced smoking at a great rate.

A little later when Mr. Pickwick hunts up Perker's clerk Lowten, and
joins the jovial circle at the Magpie and Stump, he finds on his right
hand a gentleman in a checked shirt and Mosaic studs, with a cigar in
his mouth, who expresses the hope that the newcomer does not find
this sort of thing disagreeable. Not in the least, replied Mr.
Pickwick, I like it very much, although I am no smoker myself. I
should be very sorry to say I wasn't, interposes another gentleman on
the opposite side of the table. It's board and lodging to me, is
smoke. Mr. Pickwick glances at the speaker, and thinks that if it
were washing too, it would be all the better!

Later again when the couple o' Sawbones, the medical students, Ben
Allen and Bob Sawyer, make their first appearance on the scene, they
are discovered in the morning seated by Mr. Wardle's kitchen fire,
smoking cigars; and it is significant of how smoking out of doors was
then regarded that Dickens, going on to describe Sawyer in detail,
refers to that sort of slovenly smartness, and swaggering gait, which
is peculiar to young gentlemen who smoke in the streets by day, shout
and scream in the same by night, call waiters by their Christian
names, and do various other acts and deeds of an equally facetious
description. Apparently in 1836 the only person who would allow
himself to be seen smoking in the street was of the kind naturally
inclined to do the other objectionable things mentioned. The same idea
runs through the allusions to tobacco in Pickwick. Smoking was
undeniably vulgar. Mr. John Smauker, who introduces Sam Weller at the
friendly swarry of the Bath footmen, smokes a cigar through an
amber tube--cigar-holders were a novelty. When Mr. Pickwick is taken
to the house of Namby, the sheriffs' officer, the principal features
of the front parlour are fresh sand and stale tobacco smoke. One of
the occupants of the room is a mere boy of nineteen or twenty, who,
though it was yet barely ten o'clock, was drinking gin and water, and
smoking a cigar, amusements to which, judging from his inflamed
countenance, he had devoted himself pretty constantly for the last
year or two of his life. Tobacco-smoke pervades the Fleet prison. In
fact, to trace tobacco through the pages of Pickwick is to realize
vividly how vulgar if not vicious an accomplishment smoking was
considered by the fashionable world and how popular it was among the
nobodies of the unfashionable world.

Similar morals may be drawn from other works of fiction. The action
of the first chapters of Thackeray's Pendennis passes early in the
nineteenth century. In the third chapter Foker has a cigar in his
mouth as he strolls with Pen down the High Street of Chatteris. Old
Doctor Portman meets them and regards with wonder Pen's friend, from
whose mouth and cigar clouds of fragrance issued, which curled round
the doctor's honest face and shovel hat. 'An old school-fellow of
mine, Mr. Foker,' said Pen. The doctor said 'H'm!' and scowled at the
cigar. He did not mind a pipe in his study, but the cigar was an
abomination to the worthy gentleman. The reverend gentleman in liking
his pipe was faithful to the traditional fondness for smoking of
parsons; but smoking must be in the study. To smoke in the street was
vulgar; and to smoke the newfangled cigar was worse.

Pendennis, when he comes home the first time from Oxbridge, brings
with him a large box of cigars of strange brand, which he smokes not
only about the stables and greenhouses, where they were good for his
mother's plants, and which were obviously places to which a man who
wished to smoke should betake himself, but in his own study, which
rather shocks his mother. Pen goes from bad to worse during his
University days, and, sad to say, one Sunday in the last long
vacation, the wretched boy, instead of going to church, was seen at
the gate of the Clavering Arms smoking a cigar, in the face of the
congregation as it issued from St. Mary's. There was an awful
sensation in the village society. Portman prophesied Pen's ruin after
that, and groaned in spirit over the rebellious young prodigal. Later
the smoke from Warrington's short pipe and Pen's cigars floats through
many pages of the novel.





Next: Early Victorian Days

Previous: Smoking Unfashionable: Later Georgian Days



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