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The Grandest Scene In History
Though Scrymgeour only painted in watercolors, I think--...

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

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

My Last Pipe
The night of my last smoke drew near without any demonst...

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

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

The Romance Of A Pipe-cleaner
We continued to visit the _Arcadia_, though only one at ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobacco From A Moral Stand-point |

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

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

House-boat Arcadia
Scrymgeour had a house-boat called, of course, the _Arcadia...

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

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

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

Smoking Unfashionable: Later Georgian Days

Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, I can't understand
What the ladies and gentlemen see in your face,
That you are in fashion all over the land,
And I am so much fallen into disgrace.

(From a letter to the Rev. John Newton, May 28, 1782.)

Smoking has gone out, said Johnson in talk at St. Andrews, one day
in 1773. To be sure, he continued, it is a shocking thing, blowing
smoke out of our mouths into other people's mouths, eyes and noses,
and having the same thing done to us; yet I cannot account why a thing
which requires so little exertion, and yet preserves the mind from
total vacuity, should have gone out. Johnson did not trouble himself
to think of how much the vagaries of fashion account for stranger
vicissitudes in manners and customs than the rise and fall of the
smoking-habit; nor did he probably foresee how slowly but surely the
taste for smoking, even in the circles most influenced by fashion,
would revive. Boswell tells us that although the sage himself never
smoked, yet he had a high opinion of the practice as a sedative
influence; and Hawkins heard him say on one occasion that insanity had
grown more frequent since smoking had gone out of fashion, which
shows that even Johnson could fall a victim to the _post hoc propter
hoc_ fallacy.

More than one writer of recent days has absurdly misrepresented
Johnson as a smoker. The author of a book on tobacco published a few
years ago wrote--Dr. Johnson smoked like a furnace--a grotesquely
untrue statement--and all his friends, Goldsmith, Reynolds, Garrick,
were his companions in tobacco-worship. Reynolds, we know--

_When they talk'd of their Raphaels, Corregios, and stuff,
He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff._

Johnson and all his company took snuff, as every one in the
fashionable world, and a great many others outside that charmed
circle, did; but Johnson did not smoke, and I doubt whether any of the
others did.

There is ample evidence, apart from Johnson's dictum, that in the
latter part of the eighteenth century smoking had gone out. In Mrs.
Climenson's Passages from the Diaries of Mrs. Lybbe Powys, we hear
of a bundle of papers at Hardwick House, near Whitchurch, Oxon, which
bears the unvarnished title Dick's Debts. This Dick was a Captain
Richard Powys who had a commission in the Guards, and died at the
early age of twenty-six in the year 1768. This list of debts, it
appears, gives the most complete catalogue of the expenses of a dandy
of the Court of George II, consisting chiefly of swords, buckles,
lace, Valenciennes and point d'Espagne, gold and amber-headed canes,
tavern bills and chair hire. But in all the ample detail of Captain
Powys's list of extravagances there is nothing directly or indirectly
relating to smoking. The beaux of the time did not smoke.

In the whole sixteen volumes of Walpole's correspondence, as so
admirably edited by Mrs. Toynbee, there is scarcely a mention of
tobacco; and the same may be said of other collections of letters of
the same period--the Selwyn letters, the Delany correspondence, and so
on. Neither Walpole nor any member of the world in which he lived
would appear to have smoked. In Miss Burney's Evelina, 1778, from
the beginning to the end of the book there is no mention whatever of
tobacco or of smoking. Apparently the vulgar Branghtons were not
vulgar enough to smoke. Such use of tobacco was considered low, and
was confined to the classes of society indicated in the preceding
chapter. One of the characters in Macklin's Love a la Mode, 1760, is
described as dull, dull as an alderman, after six pounds of turtle,
four bottles of port, and twelve pipes of tobacco.

A satirical print by Rowlandson contains _A Man of Fashion's Journal_,
dated May 1, 1802. The man of fashion rides and drinks, goes to the
play, gambles and bets, but his journal contains no reference to
smoking. Rowlandson himself smoked, and so did his brother
caricaturist, Gillray. Angelo says that they would sometimes meet at
such resorts of the low as the Bell, the Coal Hole, or the Coach and
Horses, and would enter into the common chat of the room, smoke and
drink together, and then sometimes early, sometimes late, shake hands
at the door--look up at the stars, say it is a pretty night, and
depart, one for the Adelphi, the other to St. James's Street, each to
his bachelor's bed.

But outside the fashionable world pipes were still in full blast, and
in many places of resort the atmosphere was as beclouded with
tobacco-smoke as in earlier days. Grosley, in his Tour to London,
1765, says that there were regular clubs, which were held in
coffee-houses and taverns at fixed days and hours, when wine, beer,
tea, pipes and tobacco helped to amuse the company.

Angelo gives some lively pictures of scenes of this kind in the London
of about 1780. The Turk's Head, in Gerrard Street, was the
meeting-place for a knot of worthies, principally 'Sons of St. Luke,'
or the children of Thespis, and mostly votaries of Bacchus, as the
old fencing-master, who loved a little fine writing, describes them;
and here they sat, he says, taking their punch and smoking, the
prevailing custom of the time. About the same time (_circa_ 1790) an
evening resort for purposes mostly vicious was the famous Dog and
Duck, in St. George's Fields. The long room, says Angelo, if I may
depend on my memory, was on the ground floor, and all the benches were
filled with motley groups, eating, drinking, and smoking. Angelo also
mentions the Picnic Society, a celebrated resort of fashion at the
beginning of the nineteenth century, where the odour of tobacco never
penetrated. It afforded, he says in his fine way, a sort of
antipodeal contrast to these smoking tavern clubs of the old city of
Trinobantes. The same writer speaks of a certain Monsieur Liviez whom
he met in Paris in 1772, who had been one of the first dancers at the
Italian Opera House, and _maitre de ballet_ at Drury Lane Theatre.
This gentleman was addicted to self-indulgence, loved good eating, and
good and ample drinking, and moreover kept late hours, _a
l'Anglaise_, smoked his pipe, and drank oceans of punch.

Coleridge, in the Biographia Literaria, gives an amusing account of
his own experience of an attempt to smoke in company with a party of
tradesmen. In 1795 he was travelling about the country endeavouring to
secure subscriptions to the periodical publication he had started
called _The Watchman_. At Birmingham one day he dined with a worthy
tradesman, who, after dinner, importuned him to smoke a pipe with
him, and two or three other _illuminati_ of the same rank. The
remainder of the moving story must be told in Coleridge's own words.
I objected, he says, both because I was engaged to spend the
evening with a minister and his friends, and because I had never
smoked except once or twice in my life-time, and then it was herb
tobacco mixed with Oronooko. On the assurance, however, that the
tobacco was equally mild, and seeing too that it was of a yellow
colour,--not forgetting the lamentable difficulty I have always
experienced in saying, 'No,' and in abstaining from what the people
about me were doing,--I took half a pipe, filling the lower half of
the bole with salt. I was soon, however, compelled to resign it, in
consequence of a giddiness and distressful feeling in my eyes, which,
as I had drunk but a single glass of ale, must, I knew, have been the
effect of the tobacco. Soon after, deeming myself recovered, I sallied
forth to my engagement; but the walk and the fresh air brought on all
the symptoms again, and I had scarcely entered the minister's
drawing-room, and opened a small pacquet of letters, which he had
received from Bristol for me, ere I sank back on the sofa in a sort of
swoon rather than sleep. Fortunately I had found just time enough to
inform him of the confused state of my feelings, and of the occasion.
For here and thus I lay, my face like a wall that is white-washing,
deathly pale, and with the cold drops of perspiration running down it
from my forehead, while one after another there dropped in the
different gentlemen, who had been invited to meet, and spend the
evening with me, to the number of from fifteen to twenty. As the
poison of tobacco acts but for a short time, I at length awoke from
insensibility, and looked round on the party, my eyes dazzled by the
candles which had been lighted in the interim. By way of relieving my
embarrassment one of the gentlemen began the conversation with 'Have
you seen a paper to-day, Mr. Coleridge?' 'Sir,' I replied, rubbing my
eyes, 'I am far from convinced that a Christian is permitted to read
either newspapers or any other works of merely political and temporary
interest.' This remark, so ludicrously inapposite to, or rather,
incongruous with, the purpose for which I was known to have visited
Birmingham, and to assist me in which they were all met, produced an
involuntary and general burst of laughter; and seldom indeed have I
passed so many delightful hours as I enjoyed in that room from the
moment of that laugh till an early hour the next morning.

All's well that ends well; but one cannot help wondering what kind of
tobacco it was that the Birmingham tradesman used, a half pipeful of
which had such a deadly effect--but perhaps the effect was due to the
salt, not to the tobacco.

In the year after that which witnessed Coleridge's adventure, _i.e._
in 1796, a tobacco-box with a history was the subject of a legal
decision. This box, made of common horn and small enough to be
carried in the pocket, was bought for fourpence by an overseer of the
poor in the time of Queen Anne, and was presented by him in 1713 to
the Society of Past Overseers of the parish of St. Margaret,
Westminster. In 1720 the Society, in memory of the donor, ornamented
the lid with a silver rim; and at intervals thereafter additions were
made to an extraordinary extent to the box and its casings. Hogarth
engraved within the lid in 1746 a bust of the victor of Culloden.
Gradually the horn box was enshrined within one case after
another--usually silver lined with velvet--each case bearing inscribed
plates commemorating persons or events. A Past Overseer who detained
the box in 1793 had to give it back after three years of litigation. A
case of octagon shape records the triumph of Justice, and Lord
Chancellor Loughborough pronouncing his decree for the restitution of
the box on March 5, 1796. In later days many and various additions
have been made to the many coverings of the box, recording public
events of interest.

Notwithstanding the unfashionableness of tobacco, there were still
some noteworthy smokers to be found among the clergy. Dr. Sumner, head
master of Harrow, who died in 1771, was devoted to his pipe. The
greatest of clerical tobacconists of late eighteenth century and
early nineteenth century date was the once famous Dr. Parr. It was
from him that Dr. Sumner learned to smoke. When he and Parr got
together Sumner was in the habit of refilling his pipe again and again
in such a way as to be unobserved, at the same time begging Parr not
to depart till he had finished his pipe, in order that he might detain
him, we are told, in the evening as long as possible.

Parr was not a model smoker. He was brutally overbearing towards other
folk, and would accept no invitation except on the understanding that
he might smoke when and where he liked. It was his invariable
practice, wherever he might be visiting, to smoke a pipe as soon as he
had got out of bed. His biographer says--The ladies were obliged to
bear his tobacco, or to give up his company; and at Hatton (1786-1825)
now and then he was the tyrant of the fireside. Parr was capable of
smoking twenty pipes in an evening, and described himself as rolling
volcanic fumes of tobacco to the ceiling while he worked at his desk.
At a dinner which was given at Trinity College, Cambridge, to the Duke
of Gloucester, as Chancellor of the University, when the cloth was
removed, Parr at once started his pipe and began, says one who was
present, blowing a cloud into the faces of his neighbours, much to
their annoyance, and causing royalty to sneeze by the stimulating
stench of mundungus. It is surprising that people were willing to put
up with such bad manners as Parr was accustomed to exhibit; but his
reputation was then great, and he traded upon it.

Parr is said on one occasion to have called for a pipe after taking a
meal at a coaching-inn called the Bush at Bristol, when the waiter
told him that smoking was not allowed at the Bush. Parr persisted, but
the authorities at the inn were firm in their refusal to allow
anything so vulgar as smoking on their premises, whereupon Parr is
said to have exclaimed: Why, man, I've smoked in the dining-room of
every nobleman in England. The Duchess of Devonshire said I could
smoke in every room in her house but her dressing-room, and here, in
this dirty public-house of Bristol you forbid smoking! Amazing! Bring
me my bill. The learned doctor exaggerated no doubt as regards the
facilities given him for smoking; for it was his overbearing way not
to ask for leave to smoke, but to smoke wherever he went, whether
invited to do so or not; but the story shows the prejudice against
smoking which was found in many places as a result of the attitude of
the fashionable world towards tobacco.

Johnstone, Parr's biographer, referring to his hero's failure to
obtain preferment to the Episcopal Bench about the year 1804,
says--His pipe might be deemed in these fantastic days a degradation
at the table of the palace or the castle; but his noble hospitality,
combined with his habits of sobriety, whether tobacco fumigated his
table or not, would have filled his hall with the learned and the
good. A portrait of Parr hangs in the Combination Room in St. John's,
Cambridge. Originally it represented him faithfully with a long clay
between hand and mouth; but for some unknown reason the pipe has been
painted out.

A famous crony of Parr's, the learned Porson, was another devotee of
tobacco. In November 1789 Parr wrote to Dr. Burney: The books may be
consulted, and Porson shall do it, and he will do it. I know his price
when he bargains with me; two bottles instead of one, six pipes
instead of two, burgundy instead of claret, liberty to sit till five
in the morning instead of sneaking into bed at one: these are his
terms: and these few lines, it may be added, give a graphic picture
of Porson. According to Maltby, Porson once remarked that when smoking
began to go out of fashion, learning began to go out of fashion
also--which shows what nonsense a learned man could talk.

Another famous parson, the Rev. John Newton, was a smoker, and so was
Cowper's other clerical friend, that learned and able Dissenter, the
Rev. William Bull, whose whole mien and bearing were so dignified that
on two occasions he was mistaken for a bishop. Cowper appreciated
snuff, but did not care for smoking, and when he wrote to Unwin,
describing his new-made friend in terms of admiration, he
concluded--Such a man is Mr. Bull. But--he smokes tobacco. Nothing is
perfection 'Nihil est ab omni parte beatum.' Bull, however, was not
excessive in his smoking, for his daily allowance was but three pipes.
In his garden at Newport Pagnell, Bull showed Cowper a nook in which
he had placed a bench, where he said he found it very refreshing to
smoke his pipe and meditate. Here he sits, wrote Cowper, with his
back against one brick wall, and his nose against another, which must,
you know, be very refreshing, and greatly assist meditation.

Cowper's aversion from tobacco could not have been very strong, for he
encouraged his friend to smoke in the famous Summer House at Olney,
which was the poet's outdoor study. Bull smoked Orinoco tobacco, which
he carried in one of the tobacco-boxes, which in those days were much
more commonly used than pouches, and this box on one occasion he
accidentally left behind him at Olney. Cowper returned it to him with
the well-known rhymed epistle dated June 22, 1782, and beginning:

_If reading verse be your delight,
'Tis mine as much, or more, to write;
But what we would, so weak is man,
Lies oft remote from what we can._

He describes the box and its contents in lines which show not only
tolerance but appreciation of tobacco, from which it is not
unreasonable to infer that Cowper's first view of his friend's
smoking-habit as a drawback--as shown in his letter to Unwin, quoted
above--had been modified by neighbourhood and custom. It might have
been well for the poet himself if he had learned to smoke a social
pipe with his friend Bull. The appreciative lines run thus:

_This oval box well filled
With best tobacco, finely milled,
Beats all Anticyra's pretences
To disengage the encumbered senses.
O Nymph of transatlantic fame,
Where'er thine haunt, whate'er thy name,
Whether reposing on the side
Of Oronoco's spacious tide,
Or listening with delight not small
To Niagara's distant fall,
'Tis thine to cherish and to feed
The pungent nose-refreshing weed,
Which, whether pulverized it gain
A speedy passage to the brain,
Or whether, touched with fire, it rise
In circling eddies to the skies,
Does thought more quicken and refine
Than all the breath of all the Nine--
Forgive the bard, if bard he be,
Who once too wantonly made free,
To touch with a satiric wipe
That symbol of thy power, the pipe;
* * * * * * *
And so may smoke-inhaling Bull
Be always filling, never full._

The allusion in these verses to a satiric wipe refers to a passage
in the poem entitled Conversation, which Cowper had written in the
previous year, 1781. In this passage tobacco is abused in terms which
Cowper clearly felt to need modification after his personal
intercourse with such a smoker as his friend Bull. In describing, in
Conversation, the manner in which a story is sometimes told, the
poet says:

_The pipe, with solemn interposing puff,
Makes half a sentence at a time enough;
The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain,
Then pause and puff--and speak, and pause again.
Such often, like the tube they so admire,
Important triflers! have more smoke than fire._

Cowper then goes on to attack tobacco in lines which show how
unpopular smoking at that date was with ladies, and which have since
often been quoted by anti-tobacconists with grateful appreciation:

_Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys,
Unfriendly to society's chief joys,
Thy worst effect is banishing for hours
The sex whose presence civilizes ours;
Thou art indeed the drug a gardener wants,
To poison vermin that infest his plants,
But are we so to wit and beauty blind,
As to despise the glory of our kind,
And show the softest minds and fairest forms
As little mercy as the grubs and worms?_

Notwithstanding this satiric wipe, it is not likely that Cowper
would have had much sympathy with John Wesley, who, in his detestation
of what had been his father's solace at Epworth, forbade his preachers
either to smoke or to take snuff.

In the first two or three decades of the nineteenth century smoking
reached its nadir. No dandy smoked. If some witnesses may be believed
smoking had almost died out even at Oxford. Archdeacon Denison wrote
in his Memories--When I went up to Oxford, 1823-24, there were two
things unknown in Christ Church, and I believe very generally in
Oxford--smoking and slang; but one cannot help fancying that the
archdeacon's memory was not quite trustworthy. It is difficult to
imagine that there was ever a time when the slang of the day was not
current on the lips of young Oxford, or that so long as tobacco was
procurable it did not find its way into college rooms.

If smoking had died out at Oxford its decline must have been rapid.
When a certain young John James was an undergraduate of Queen's, 1778
to 1781, he and his correspondents spoke severely of the miserable
condition of Fellows who (under the liberal pretence of educating
youth) spend half their lives in smoking tobacco and reading the
newspapers. About 1800 the older or more old-fashioned of the Fellows
at New College, not liking the then newly introduced luxury of Turkey
carpets, says Mr. G.V. Cox, in his Recollections of Oxford, 1868,
often adjourned to smoke their pipe in a little room opposite to the
Senior Common-room, now appropriated to other uses, but then kept as a
smoking-room. A Mr. Rhodes, a one-time Fellow of Worcester College,
who was elected Esquire Bedel in Medicine and Arts in 1792, had a very
peculiar way of enjoying his tobacco. Mr. Cox says: On one occasion,
when I had to call upon him, I found him drinking rum and water, and
enjoying (what he called his luxury) the fumes of tobacco, not through
a pipe or in the shape of a cigar, but _burnt in a dish!_

Smoking had certainly not died out at Cambridge, even at the time when
Denison was at Oxford. According to the Gradus ad Cantabrigium,
1824, the Cambridge smart man's habit was to dine in the evening at
his own rooms, or at those of a friend, and afterwards blows a cloud,
puffs at a segar, and drinks copiously. The spelling of segar shows
that cigars were then somewhat of a novelty.

When Tennyson was an undergraduate at Cambridge, 1828-30, he and his
companions all smoked. At the meetings of the Apostles--the little
group of friends which included the future Laureate--much coffee was
drunk, much tobacco smoked. Dons smoked as well as undergraduates. At
Queens', the Combination-room in Tennyson's time had still a sanded
floor, and the table was set handsomely forth with long
'churchwardens'--as the poet told Palgrave when the two visited
Cambridge in 1859. George Pryme, in his Autobiographic
Recollections, 1870, states that in 1800 smoking was allowed in the
Trinity Combination-room after supper in the twelve days of Christmas,
when a few old men availed themselves of it, which looks as if
tobacco were not very popular just then at Trinity. With the wine,
pipes and the large silver tobacco-box were laid on the table. Porson,
when asked for an inscription for the box, suggested +To bakcho+.
Pryme says that among the undergraduates, of whom he was one, tobacco
had no favour, and an attempt of Mr. Ginkell, son of Lord Athlone ...
to introduce smoking at his own wine-parties failed, although he had
the prestige of being a hat-fellow-commoner.

No doubt smoking had its ups and downs at the Universities apart from
the set of the main current of fashion. We learn from the invaluable
Gunning that at Cambridge about 1786 smoking was going out of fashion
among the junior members of our combination-rooms, except on the river
in the evening, when every man put a short pipe in his mouth. I took
great pains, he adds, to make myself master of this elegant
accomplishment, but I never succeeded, though I used to renew the
attempt with a perseverance worthy of a better cause. About the same
time Dr. Farmer was Master of Emmanuel and the Master was an
inveterate smoker. Gunning says that Emmanuel parlour under Farmer's
presidency was always open to those who loved pipes and tobacco and
cheerful conversation--a very natural collocation of tastes. Farmer's
silver tobacco-pipe is still preserved in his old college, while
Porson's japanned snuff-box is at Trinity.

Dr. Farmer was elected Master of Emmanuel in 1775. Years before he had
held the curacy of Swavesey, about nine miles out of Cambridge, where
he regularly performed the duty. After morning service it was his
custom to repair to the local public-house where he enjoyed a
mutton-chop and potatoes. Immediately after the removal of the cloth,
Mr. Dobson (his churchwarden) and one or two of the principal
farmers, made their appearance, to whom he invariably said, 'I am
going to read prayers, but shall be back by the time you have made
the punch.' Occasionally another farmer accompanied him from church,
when pipes and tobacco--with the punch--were in requisition until 6
o'clock. The Sabbath afternoon thus satisfactorily concluded, Farmer
returned to college in Cambridge and took a nap, till at nine he went
to the parlour of the college where the Fellows usually assembled, and
pipes and tobacco concluded a well-spent day.

In the fashionable world the snuff-box was all-powerful. The Prince
Regent was devoted to snuff, but disdained tobacco. He had a cellar
of snuff, which after his death was sold, said _John Bull_, August
15, 1830, to a well-known purveyor, for L400. Lord Petersham, famous
among dandies, made a wonderful collection of snuffs and snuff-boxes,
and was curious in his choice of a box to carry. Gronow relates that
once when a light Sevres snuff-box which Lord Petersham was using, was
admired, the noble owner replied, with a gentle lisp--Yes, it is a
nice summer box--but would certainly be inappropriate for winter
wear! The well-known purveyor who bought the Prince Regent's cellar
of snuff, and who bought also Lord Petersham's stock, was the Fribourg
of Fribourg and Treyer, whose well-known old-fashioned shop at the top
of the Haymarket, with a bow-window on each side of the door, still
gives an eighteenth-century flavour to that thoroughfare. All the
dandies of the period were connoisseurs of snuff, and imitated the
royal mirror of fashion in their devotion to the scented powder. Young
Charles Stanhope wrote to his brother on November 5, 1812--I have
learnt to take snuff among other fashionable acquirements, a custom
which, of course, you have learnt and will be able to keep me in
countenance. But no dandies or young men of fashion smoked. Tobacco,
save in the disguise of snuff, was tabooed.

Smoking was frowned upon, even in places where hitherto it had been
allowed. In 1812 the authorities of Sion College ordered that Coffee
and Tea be provided in the Parlour for the Visitors and Incumbents,
and in the Court Room for the Curates and Lecturers; and that Pipes
and Tobacco be not allowed; and that no Wine be at any time carried
into the Court Room, nor any into the Hall after Coffee and Tea shall
have been ordered on that day.

The use of tobacco for smoking, as I have said, had reached its
nadir--in the fashionable world, that is to say--but the dawn follows
the darkest hour, and the revival of smoking was at hand, thanks to
the cigar.

Next: Signs Of Revival

Previous: Smoking Unfashionable: Early Georgian Days

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