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

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

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

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

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

My Brother Henry
Strictly speaking I never had a brother Henry, and yet I...

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

Tobacco From A Moral Stand-point |
...

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

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

Vanity All Is Vanity
...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Grandest Scene In History








Though Scrymgeour only painted in watercolors, I think--I never looked
at his pictures--he had one superb idea, which we often advised him to
carry out. When he first mentioned it the room became comparatively
animated, so much struck were we all, and we entreated him to retire to
Stratford for a few months, before beginning the picture. His idea was
to paint Shakespeare smoking his first pipe of the Arcadia Mixture.

Many hundreds of volumes have been written about the glories of the
Elizabethan age, the sublime period in our history. Then were Englishmen
on fire to do immortal deeds. High aims and noble ambitions became their
birthright. There was nothing they could not or would not do for England.
Sailors put a girdle round the world. Every captain had a general's
capacity; every fighting-man could have been a captain. All the women,
from the queen downward, were heroines. Lofty statesmanship guided the
conduct of affairs, a sublime philosophy was in the air. The period of
great deeds was also the period of our richest literature. London was
swarming with poetic geniuses. Immortal dramatists wandered in couples
between stage doors and taverns.



All this has been said many times; and we read these glowing outbursts
about the Elizabethan age as if to the beating of a drum. But why was
this period riper for magnificent deeds and noble literature than any
other in English history? We all know how the thinkers, historians, and
critics of yesterday and to-day answer that question; but our hearts and
brains tell us that they are astray. By an amazing oversight they have
said nothing of the Influence of Tobacco. The Elizabethan age might be
better named the beginning of the smoking era. No unprejudiced person
who has given thought to the subject can question the propriety of
dividing our history into two periods--the pre-smoking and the smoking.
When Raleigh, in honor of whom England should have changed its name,
introduced tobacco into this country, the glorious Elizabethan age
began. I am aware that those hateful persons called Original Researchers
now maintain that Raleigh was not the man; but to them I turn a deaf
ear. I know, I feel, that with the introduction of tobacco England woke
up from a long sleep. Suddenly a new zest had been given to life. The
glory of existence became a thing to speak of. Men who had hitherto only
concerned themselves with the narrow things of home put a pipe into
their mouths and became philosophers. Poets and dramatists smoked until
all ignoble ideas were driven from them, and into their place rushed
such high thoughts as the world had not known before. Petty jealousies
no longer had hold of statesmen, who smoked, and agreed to work together
for the public weal. Soldiers and sailors felt, when engaged with a
foreign foe, that they were fighting for their pipes. The whole country
was stirred by the ambition to live up to tobacco. Every one, in short,
had now a lofty ideal constantly before him. Two stories of the period,
never properly told hitherto, illustrate this. We all know that Gabriel
Harvey and Spenser lay in bed discussing English poetry and the forms
it ought to take. This was when tobacco was only known to a select few,
of whom Spenser, the friend of Raleigh, was doubtless one. That the
two friends smoked in bed I cannot doubt. Many poets have done the same
thing since. Then there is the beautiful Armada story. In a famous
Armada picture the English sailors are represented smoking; which makes
it all the more surprising that the story to which I refer has come
down to us in an incorrect form. According to the historians, when the
Armada hove in sight the English captains were playing at bowls. Instead
of rushing off to their ships on receipt of the news, they observed,
Let us first finish our game. I cannot believe that this is what they
said. My conviction is that what was really said was, Let us first
finish our pipes--surely a far more impressive and memorable remark.



This afternoon Marlowe's Jew of Malta was produced for the first
time; and of the two men who have just emerged from the Blackfriars
Theatre one is the creator of _Barabas_. A marvel to all the
piperly make-plaies and make-bates, save one, is famous Ned Alleyn;
for when money comes to him he does not drink till it be done, and
already he is laying by to confound the ecclesiastics, who say hard
things of him, by founding Dulwich College. Not Roscius nor Ęsope,
said Tom Nash, who was probably in need of a crown at the time, ever
performed more in action. A good fellow he is withal; for it is Ned who
gives the supper to-night at the Globe, in honor of the new piece, if
he can get his friends together. The actor-manager shakes his head, for
Marlowe, who was to meet him here, must have been seduced into a tavern
by the way; but his companion, Robin Greene, is only wondering if that
is a bailiff at the corner. Robin of the ruffianly haire, _utriusque
academię artibus magister_, is nearing the end of his tether, and
might call to-night at shoemaker Islam's house near Dowgate, to tell
a certain bigge, fat, lusty wench to prepare his last bed and buy a
garland of bays. Ned must to the sign of the Saba in Gracious Street,
where Burbage and honest gamesom Armin are sure to be found; but
Greene durst not show himself in the street without Cutting Ball and
other choice ruffians as a body-guard. Ned is content to leave them
behind; for Robin has refused to be of the company to-night if that
upstart Will is invited too, and the actor is fond of Will. There is
no more useful man in the theatre, he has said to Signior Kempino
this very day, for touching up old plays; and Will is a plodding young
fellow, too, if not over-brilliant.

Ned Alleyn goes from tavern to tavern, picking out his men. There is an
ale-house in Sea-coal Lane--the same where lady-like George Peele was
found by the barber, who had subscribed an hour before for his decent
burial, all alone with a peck of oysters--and here Ned is detained an
unconscionable time. Just as he is leaving with Kempe and Cowley, Armin
and Will Shakespeare burst in with a cry for wine. It is Armin who gives
the orders, but his companion pays. They spy Alleyn, and Armin must tell
his news. He is the bearer of a challenge from some merry souls at the
Saba to the actor-manager; and Ned Alleyn turns white and red when he
hears it. Then he laughs a confident laugh, and accepts the bet. Some
theatre-goers, flushed with wine, have dared him to attempt certain
parts in which Bentley and Knell vastly please them. Ned is incredulous
that men should be so willing to fling away their money; yet here is
Will a witness, and Burbage is staying on at the Saba not to let the
challengers escape.

The young man of twenty-four, at the White Horse in Friday Street, is
Tom Nash; and it is Peele who is swearing that he is a monstrous clever
fellow, and helping him to finish his wine. But Peele is glad to see Ned
and Cowley in the doorway, for Tom has a weakness for reading aloud the
good things from his own manuscripts. There is only one of the company
who is not now sick to death of Nash's satires on Martin Marprelate; and
perhaps even he has had enough of them, only he is as yet too obscure a
person to say so. That is Will; and Nash detains him for a moment just
to listen to his last words on the Marprelate controversy. Marprelate
now appears with a wit worn into the socket, twingling and pinking like
the snuff of a candle; _quantum mutatus ab illo!_ how unlike the
knave he was before, not for malice but for sharpness. The hogshead was
even come to the hauncing, and nothing could be drawne from him but the
dregs. Will says it is very good; and Nash smiles to himself as he puts
the papers in his pockets and thinks vaguely that he might do something
for Will. Shakespeare is not a university man, and they say he held
horses at the doors of the Globe not long ago; but he knows a good thing
when he hears it.

All this time Marlowe is at the Globe, wondering why the others are so
long in coming; but not wondering very much--for it is good wine they
give you at the Globe. Even before the feast is well begun Kit's eyes
are bloodshot and his hands unsteady. Death is already seeking for him
at a tavern in Deptford, and the last scene in a wild, brief life starts
up before us. A miserable ale-house, drunken words, the flash of a
knife, and a man of genius has received his death-blow. What an epitaph
for the greatest might-have-been in English literature: Christopher
Marlowe, slain by a serving-man in a drunken brawl, aged twenty-nine!
But by the time Shakespeare had reached his fortieth birthday every one
of his fellow-playwrights round that table had rushed to his death.

The short stout gentleman who is fond of making jokes, and not
particular whom he confides them to, has heard another good story about
Tarleton. This is the low comedian Kempe, who stepped into the shoes of
flat-nosed, squinting Tarleton the other day, but never quite manages
to fill them. He whispers the tale across Will's back to Cowley, before
it is made common property; and little fancies, as he does so, that any
immortality he and his friend may gain will be owing to their having
played, before the end of the sixteenth century, the parts of _Dogberry_
and _Verges_ in a comedy by Shakespeare, whom they are at present
rather in the habit of patronizing. The story is received with
boisterous laughter, for it suits the time and place.



Peele is in the middle of a love-song when Kit stumbles across the room
to say a kind word to Shakespeare. That is a sign that George is not yet
so very tipsy; for he is a gallant and a squire of dames so long as he
is sober. There is not a maid in any tavern in Fleet Street who does not
think George Peele the properest man in London. And yet, Greene being
absent, scouring the street with Cutting Ball--whose sister is mother of
poor Fortunatus Greene--Peele is the most dissolute man in the Globe
to-night. There is a sad little daughter sitting up for him at home, and
she will have to sit wearily till morning. Marlowe's praises would sink
deeper into Will's heart if the author of the Jew of Malta were less
unsteady on his legs. And yet he takes Kit's words kindly, and is glad
to hear that Titus Andronicus, produced the other day, pleases the man
whose praise is most worth having. Will Shakespeare looks up to Kit
Marlowe, and Titus Andronicus is the work of a young playwright who
has tried to write like Kit. Marlowe knows it, and he takes it as
something of a compliment, though he does not believe in imitation
himself. He would return now to his seat beside Ned Alleyn; but the
floor of the room is becoming unsteady, and Ned seems a long way off.
Besides, Shakespeare's cup would never require refilling if there were
not some one there to help him drink.



The fun becomes fast and furious; and the landlord of the Globe puts
in an appearance, ostensibly to do his guests honor by serving them
himself. But he is fearful of how the rioting may end, and, if he
dared, he would turn Nash into the street. Tom is the only man there
whom the landlord--if that man had only been a Boswell--personally
dislikes; indeed, Nash is no great favorite even with his comrades. He
has a bitter tongue, and his heart is not to be mellowed by wine. The
table roars over his sallies, of which the landlord himself is dimly
conscious that he is the butt, and Kempe and Cowley wince under his
satire. Those excellent comedians fall out over a trifling difference
of opinion; and handsome Nash--he tells us himself that he was handsome,
so there can be no doubt about it--maintains that they should decide
the dispute by fist-cuffs without further loss of time. While Kempe and
Cowley threaten to break each other's heads--which, indeed, would be
no great matter if they did it quietly--Burbage is reciting vehemently,
with no one heeding him; and Marlowe insists on quarrelling with Armin
about the existence of a Deity. For when Kit is drunk he is an infidel.
Armin will not quarrel with anybody, and Marlowe is exasperated.



But where is Shakespeare all this time? He has retired to a side table
with Alleyn, who has another historical play that requires altering.
Their conversation is of comparatively little importance; what we are
to note with bated breath is that Will is filling a pipe. His face is
placid, for he does not know that the tobacco Ned is handing him is the
Arcadia Mixture. I love Ned Alleyn, and like to think that Shakespeare
got the Arcadia from him.

For a moment let us turn from Shakespeare at this crisis in his life.
Alleyn has left him and is paying the score. Marlowe remains where he
fell. Nash has forgotten where he lodges, and so sets off with Peele to
an ale-house in Pye Corner, where George is only too well known. Kempe
and Cowley are sent home in baskets.

Again we turn to the figure in the corner, and there is such a light on
his face that we shade our eyes. He is smoking the Arcadia, and as he
smokes the tragedy of Hamlet takes form in his brain.

This is the picture that Scrymgeour will never dare to paint. I know
that there is no mention of tobacco in Shakespeare's plays, but those
who smoke the Arcadia tell their secret to none, and of other mixtures
they scorn to speak.





Next: My Brother Henry

Previous: Gilray's Flower-pot



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