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About Smoking

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

Tobacco From A Moral Stand-point |
...

Vanity All Is Vanity
...

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

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

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

Tobacconists' Signs
I would enjoin every shop to make use of a sign which ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Smoking In The Twentieth Century








Sweet when the morn is grey;
Sweet, when they've clear'd away
Lunch; and at close of day
Possibly sweetest.

C.S. CALVERLEY.


Tobacco is once more triumphant. The cycle of three hundred years is
complete. Since the early decades of the seventeenth century, smoking
has never been so generally practised nor so smiled upon by fashion as
it is at the present time. Men in their attitude towards tobacco have
always been divisible into three classes--those who respected and
followed and obeyed the conventions of society and the dictates of
fashion, and smoked or did not smoke in accordance therewith; those
who knew those conventions but disregarded them and smoked as and what
they pleased; and those who neither knew nor cared whether such
conventions existed, or what fashion might say, but smoked as and
what, and when and where they pleased. At the present time the three
classes tend to combine into one. There are, it is true, a few
conventions and restrictions left; but they are not very strong, and
will probably disappear one of these days. There is also, of course,
and always has been, a fourth class of men, who for one reason or
another, quite apart from what fashion may say or do, do not smoke at
all.

Perhaps the most absurd and unmeaning of the restrictions that remain,
is that which at certain times and in certain places admits the
smoking of cigars and cigarettes and forbids the smoking of pipes. The
idea appears to be that a pipe is vulgar. There are few restaurants
now in which smoking is not allowed after dinner; but the
understanding is that cigars and cigarettes only shall be smoked. In
some places of resort there are notices exhibited which specifically
prohibit the smoking of pipes. Why? At a smoking concert where few
pipes are smoked, anyone looking

_Athwart the smoke of burning weeds_

can at once realize how much greater is the volume of smoke from
cigars and cigarettes than would result from the smoking of a like
number of pipes. It cannot, therefore, be that pipes are barred
because of a supposed greater effect upon the atmosphere of the room.
The only conclusion the observer can come to is, that the fashionable
attitude towards pipes is one of the last relics of the old social
attitude--the attitude of Georgian and Early Victorian days--towards
smoking of any kind. The cigar and the cigarette were first introduced
among the upper classes of society, and their use has spread downward.
They have broken down many barriers, and in many places, and under
many and divers conditions, the pipe has followed triumphantly in
their wake; but the last ditch of the old prejudice has been found in
the convention, which, in certain places and at certain times, admits
the cigar and cigarette of fashionable origin, but bars the entry of
the plebeian pipe--the pipe which for two centuries was practically
the only mode of smoking used or known.

An article which appeared in the _Morning Post_ of February 20, 1913,
may be regarded as a sign of the times. It was entitled A Plea for
the Pipe: By one who Smokes it. I should like, said the writer,
pipe-men of all degrees to ask themselves whether the time has not
really arrived to enter a protest against the convention which forces
the pipe into a position of inferiority, and exalts to a pinnacle of
undeserved pre-eminence the cigar, and still more the cigarette ...
why should it be considered a mark of vulgarity, of plebeianism, to
inhale tobacco-smoke through the stem of a briar, and the hall-mark of
good breeding to finger a cigar or dally with that triviality and
travesty of the adoration of My Lady Nicotine--a cigarette? To these
questions there can be but one answer: and the future, there can be
little doubt, will emphasize that answer, and abolish the unmeaning
convention.

The prejudice against the pipe is not confined to places of indoor
resort. There are many men who smoke pipes within doors, who yet would
not care to be seen in London smoking a pipe in the street, or in the
park. In some circumstances this is quite intelligible. The writer of
the _Morning Post_ article remarked with much force and good sense
that Apart from social environment, there is a certain affinity
between pipes and clothes. It is considered 'bad form' for a man in a
frock-coat and silk hat to be seen smoking a pipe in the streets. If
you are wearing a bowler hat and a lounge suit you may walk along
with a briar protruding from your lips, and no one will think ill of
you. If you are a son of toil garbed in your habit as you work, there
is nothing incongruous in a well-seasoned clay or a 'nose-warmer,'
which, for convenience, you carry upside down. Not so very long ago it
was considered unseemly to smoke a pipe at all in the street unless
you belonged to the humbler orders, who inhale their nicotine through
the stem of a clay and expectorate with a greater sense of freedom
than of responsibility.

At a few clubs there are still some curious and rather unmeaning
restrictions. A particularly absurd rule that maintains its ground
here and there, is that which forbids smoking in the library of a
club. What more appropriate place could there be for the thoughtful
consumption of tobacco than among the books? But after due allowance
has been made for a few minor restrictions of this kind, the fact
remains that smoking has triumphed socially all along the line in
Clubland. We have travelled far from the days when a committee man
could declare that No Gentleman smoked, to the time when, for
example, the large smoking-room at Brooks's is one of the finest rooms
in one of the most famous and exclusive of clubs. This splendid room
in the eighteenth-century days of gambling was the Grand Subscription
Room--the gambling room of Georgian times. It still retains two of
the old gaming tables. Now this magnificent apartment, with its
splendid barrelled ceiling, which a well-known architectural writer,
Mr. Stanley C. Ramsey, A.R.I.B.A., describes as probably the finest
room of its kind in London, is the temple of Saint Nicotine. The
strangers' smoking-room in the same club, formerly the dining-room,
is another beautiful and delightfully decorated apartment. Similar
transformations have been witnessed in other clubs.

Barry's original plan for the Travellers' Club, erected in 1832, shows
no smoking-room on the ground floor. It was probably some inconvenient
apartment of no account. The early Travellers did smoke, for
Theodore Hook, satirizing them and the club rule that no person was
eligible as a member who had not travelled out of the British Islands
to a distance of at least 500 miles from London in a direct line,
wrote:

_The travellers are in Pall Mall, and smoke cigars so
cosily,
And dream they climb the highest Alps, or rove the
plains of Moselai,
The world for them has nothing new, they have explored
all parts of it;
And now they are club-footed! and they sit and look at
charts of it._

The present-day smoking-room at the Travellers' is a noble apartment,
which was originally the coffee-room. It occupies the whole of the
ground-floor front to the gardens of Carlton House Terrace, and is
divided into three bays by the projection of square piers.

Another sign of the complete change which has come over the attitude
of most folk towards tobacco is to be seen in the permission of
smoking at meetings of committees and councils, where not so long ago
such an indulgence would have been regarded as an outrage. Many of the
committees of municipal councils and other public bodies now permit
smoking while business is proceeding. It has even become usual for
members of the House of Commons to smoke in committee rooms when the
sitting is private; and cigars and cigarettes and pipes are now
lighted in the lobby the moment that the House has risen. A very thin
line thus separates the legislative chamber itself from the conquering
weed. A further step forward (or backward, according to each reader's
judgment) was taken on July 21, 1913, when smoking was allowed at the
sitting of the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills--one of the
committees which does not conduct its business in private. On this
occasion, after the luncheon interval, two members entered the
committee room smoking, one a cigarette the other a cigar. The former
was soon finished; but the latter continued to shed its fragrance on
the room. Naturally the chairman, Mr. Arthur Henderson, was appealed
to. He gave a diplomatic reply. It had been held, he said, by two
chairmen that smoking was not in order at the public sessions of a
Standing Committee; and, of course, if his ruling were formally asked
he would be bound to follow precedent. He said this with a suavity and
a smile which disarmed any possible objector. Nobody raised the formal
point of order; so other members lighted up, and the proceedings
went on peacefully to the appointed hour of closing.

Yet another sign of the times was the permission given not so very
long ago to the drivers of taxi-cabs to smoke while driving fares--a
development regarding which there may well be two opinions.

The number of cigarette-smokers nowadays is legion; but to a very
large number of tobacconists (in the old sense of the word) a pipe
remains the most satisfactory of smokes. A cigar or a cigarette
is--and it is not; the pipe renders its service again and again and
yet remains--a steadfast companion. Over a pipe is a phrase of more
meaning than over a cigarette. Discussions are best conducted over a
pipe. No one can get too excited or over-heated in argument, no one
can neglect the observance of the amenities of conversation, who talks
thoughtfully between the pulls at his pipe, who has to pause now and
again to refill, to strike a light, to knock out the ashes, or to
perform one of those numberless little acts of devotion at the shrine
of St. Nicotine, which fill up the pauses and conduce to reflection.
The Indians were wise in their generation when they made the
circulation of the pipe an essential part of their pow-wows. A
conference founded on the mutual consumption of tobacco was likely,
not, as the frivolous would say, to end in smoke, but to lead to solid
and lasting results. The fact is, squire, said Sam Slick, the
moment a man takes a pipe he becomes a philosopher. The pipe, says
Thackeray, draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts
up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation,
contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent and unaffected.... May I die if
I abuse that kindly weed which has given me so much pleasure.

And what more fitting emblem of peace could be chosen than the
calumet, the proffered pipe? Tobacco, whatever its enemies may have
said, or may yet say, is the friend of peace, the foe of strife, and
the promoter of geniality and good fellowship. Mrs. Battle, whose
serious energies were all given to the great game of whist, unbent her
mind, we are told, over a book. Most men unbend over a pipe, even if
the book is an accompaniment.

To the solitary man the well-seasoned tube is an invaluable companion.
If he happen, once in a way, to have nothing special to do and plenty
of time in which to do it, he naturally fills his pipe as he draws the
easy-chair on to the hearthrug, and knows not that he is lonely. If he
have a difficult problem to solve, he just as naturally attacks it
over a pipe. It is true that as the smoke-wreaths ring themselves
above his head, his mind may wander off into devious paths of reverie,
and the problem be utterly forgotten. Well, that is, at least,
something for which to be grateful, for the paths of reverie are the
paths of pleasantness and peace, and problems can usually afford to
wait.

Over a pipe! Why the words bring up innumerable pleasant
associations. The angler, having caught the coveted prize, refills his
pipe, and with the satisfied sense of duty done, as the rings curl
upward he reviews the struggle and glows again with victory. At the
end of any day's occupation, especially one of pleasurable
toil--whether it be shooting or hunting, or walking or what not--what
can be pleasanter than to let the mind meander through the course of
the day's proceedings over a pipe?

There is much wisdom in Robert Louis Stevenson's remarks in
Virginibus Puerisque--Lastly (and this is, perhaps, the golden
rule), no woman should marry a teetotaller, or a man who does not
smoke. It is not for nothing that this 'ignoble tabagie,' as Michelet
calls it, spreads over all the world. Michelet rails against it
because it renders you happy apart from thought or work; to provident
women this will seem no evil influence in married life. Whatever
keeps a man in the front garden, whatever checks wandering fancy and
all inordinate ambition, whatever makes for lounging and contentment,
makes just so surely for domestic happiness.

Nothing is more marked in the change in the social attitude towards
tobacco than the revolution which has taken place in woman's view of
smoking. The history of smoking by women is dealt with separately in
the next chapter; but here it may be noted that most of the old
intolerance of tobacco has disappeared. To smoke in Hyde Park, said
the late Lady Dorothy Nevill, in 1907, even up to comparatively
recent years, was looked upon as absolutely unpardonable, while
smoking anywhere with a lady would have been classed as an almost
disgraceful social crime.

Women do not nowadays shun the smell of smoke as they did in early
Victorian days, as if it were the most dreadful of odours. They are
tolerant of smoking in their presence, in public places, in
restaurants--in fact, wherever men and women congregate--to a degree
that would have horrified extremely their mothers and grandmothers. It
is only within the last few years that visits to music-halls and
theatres of varieties have been socially possible to ladies. Men go
largely because they can smoke during the performance; women go
largely because they have ceased to consider tobacco-smoke as a thing
to be rigidly avoided, and therefore have no hesitation in
accompanying their menfolk.

The observant visitor to the promenade concerts annually given in the
Queen's Hall, Langham Place, will notice that but one small section of
the grand circle is reserved for non-smokers, while smoking is freely
allowed (with no absurd ban on the friendly pipe) in every other part
of the great auditorium--floor, circle and balcony.

There are still some people who share the Duke of Wellington's
delusion that smoking promotes drinking, although experience proves
the contrary, and historic evidence, especially as regards drinking
after dinner, shows that it was the introduction of the cigar,
followed by that of the cigarette, which absolutely killed the old,
bad after-dinner habits. The Salvation Army do not enforce total
abstinence from tobacco as well as from alcoholic drinks as a
condition of membership or soldiership, but a member of the Army must
be a non-smoker before he can hold any office in its rank, or be a
bandsman, or a member of a songster brigade. And in other religious
organizations there are yet a few of the unco' guid who look askance
at pipe or cigarette as if it were a device of the devil. But the
numbers of these misguided folk become fewer every year.

Smoking in the dining-room after dinner is now so general that people
are apt to forget that this particular development is of no great age.
It is not yet, however, universal. A valued correspondent tells me
that he knows a house where tobacco is still kept out of the
dining-room, and smoke indulged in elsewhere after wine. This
old-fashioned habit must now be pretty rare.

The chief legitimate objection to cigarette smoking was well stated
some years ago by the late Dr. Andrew Wilson. I think cigarettes are
apt to prove injurious, he said, because a man will smoke far too
much when he indulges in this form of the weed, and because I think it
is generally admitted that cigarettes are apt to produce evil effects
out of all proportion to the amount of tobacco which is apparently
consumed. Excess can equally be found among cigar and pipe-smokers.
The late Chancellor Parish, in his Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect,
tells a delightful story of a Sussex rustic's holiday--May be you
knows Mass [Master, the distinctive title of a married labourer]
Pilbeam? No! doaent ye? Well, he was a very sing'lar marn was Mass
Pilbeam, a very sing'lar marn! He says to he's mistus one day, he
says, 'tis a long time, says he, sence I've took a holiday--so
cardenly, nex marnin' he laid abed till purty nigh seven o'clock, and
then he brackfustes, and then he goos down to the shop and buys fower
ounces of barca, and he sets hisself down on the maxon [manure heap],
and there he set, and there he smoked and smoked and smoked all the
whole day long, for, says he 'tis a long time sence I've had a
holiday! Ah, he was a very sing'lar marn--a very sing'lar marn
indeed.

Some men seem to act upon Mark Twain's principle of never smoking when
asleep or at meals, and never refraining at any other time. But excess
is self-condemned. There is no good reason why anyone, for social or
any other reasons, should look askance at the reasonable use of
tobacco. But used in moderation, what evils, let me ask,--I again
quote Dr. Andrew Wilson's calm good sense--are to be found in the
train of the tobacco-habit! A man doesn't get delirium tremens even if
he smokes more than is good for him; he doesn't become a debased
mortal; there is nothing about tobacco which makes a man beat his wife
or assault his mother-in-law--rather the reverse, in fact, for tobacco
is a soother and a quietener of the passions, and many a man, I
daresay, has been prevented from doing rash things in the way of
retaliation, when he has lit his pipe and had a good think over his
affairs. Whenever anybody counterblasts to-day against tobacco, I feel
as did my old friend Wilkie Collins, when somebody told him that to
smoke was a wrong thing. 'My dear sir,' said the great novelist, 'all
your objections to tobacco only increase the relish with which I look
forward to my next cigar!'





Next: Smoking By Women

Previous: Later Victorian Days



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