Smoking In The Restoration Period

The Indian weed withered quite

Green at noon, cut down at night,

Shows thy decay--

All flesh is hay:

Thus think, then drink tobacco.

GEORGE WITHER (1588-1667).

The year 1660 that restored Charles II to his throne, restored a

gaiety and brightness, not to say frivolity of tone, that had long

been absent from English life. The following song in praise of

tobacco, taken from a collection which was printed in 1660, is touched

with the spirit of the time; though it is really founded on, and to no

small extent taken from, some verses in praise of tobacco written by

Samuel Rowlands in his Knave of Clubs, 1611:

_To feed on flesh is gluttony,

It maketh men fat like swine;

But is not he a frugal man

That on a leaf can dine?

He needs no linnen for to foul

His fingers' ends to wipe,

That has his kitchin in a box,

And roast meat in a pipe.

The cause wherefore few rich men's sons

Prove disputants in schools,

Is that their fathers fed on flesh,

And they begat fat fools.

This fulsome feeding cloggs the brain

And doth the stomach choak

But he's a brave spark that can dine

With one light dish of smoak._

There is nothing to show that King Charles smoked, nor what his

personal attitude towards tobacco may have been.

His Majesty was pleased, however, in a letter to Cambridge University,

officially to condemn smoking by parsons, as at the same time he

condemned the practice of wig-wearing and of sermon-reading by the

clergy. But the royal frown was without effect. Wigs soon covered

nearly every clerical head from the bench of bishops downwards; and it

is very doubtful indeed whether a single parson put his pipe out.

Clouds were blown under archiepiscopal roofs. At Lambeth Palace one

Sunday in February 1672 John Eachard, the author of the famous book or

tract on The Contempt of the Clergy, 1670, which Macaulay turned to

such account, dined with Archbishop Sheldon. He sat at the lower end

of the table between the archbishop's two chaplains; and when dinner

was finished, Sheldon, we are told, retired to his withdrawing-room,

while Eachard went with the chaplains and another convive to their

lodgings to drink and smoak.

If the restored king did not himself smoke, tobacco was far from

unknown at the Palace of Whitehall. We get a curious glimpse of one

aspect of life there in the picture which Lilly, the notorious

astrologer, paints in his story of his arrest in January 1661. He was

taken to Whitehall at night, and kept in a large room with some sixty

other prisoners till daylight, when he was transferred to the

guardroom, which, he says, I thought to be hell; some therein were

sleeping, others swearing, others smoaking tobacco. In the chimney of

the room I believe there was two bushels of broken tobacco pipes,

almost half one load of ashes. What would the king's grandfather, the

author of the Counterblaste, have said, could he have imagined such

a spectacle within the palace walls?

General Monk, to whom Charles II owed so much, is said to have

indulged in the unpleasant habit of chewing tobacco, and to have been

imitated by others; but the practice can never have been common.

Tobacco was still the symbol of good-fellowship. Winstanley, who was

an enemy of what he called this Heathenish Weed, and who thought the

folly of smoking might never have spread so much if stringent means

of prevention had been exercised, yet had to declare in 1660 that

Tobacco it self is by few taken now as medicinal, it is grown a

good-fellow, and fallen from a Physician to a Complement. 'He's no

good-fellow that's without ... burnt Pipes, Tobacco, and his


At the time of the Restoration tobacco-boxes which were considered

suitable to the occasion were made in large numbers. The outside of

the lid bore a portrait of the Royal Martyr; within the lid was a

picture of the restored king, His Majesty King Charles II; while on

the inside of the bottom of the box was a representation of Oliver

Cromwell leaning against a post, a gallows-tree over his head, and

about his neck a halter tied to the tree, while beside him was

pictured the devil, wide-mouthed. Another form of memorial tobacco-box

is described in an advertisement in the _London Gazette_ of September

15, 1687. This was a silver box which had either been taken out of

the Bull's Head Tavern, Cheapside, or left in a Hackney Coach. It was

ingraved on the Lid with a Coat of Arms, etc., and a Medal of Charles

the First fastened to the inside of the Lid, and engraved on the

inside 'to Jacob Smith it doth belong, at the Black Lyon in High

Holborn, date August 1671.'

Smokers of the period were often curious in tobacco-boxes. Mr. Richard

Stapley, gentleman, of Twineham, Sussex, whose diary is full of

curious information, was presented in 1691 by his friend Mr. John Hill

with a tobacco-box made of tortoise. Seven years earlier Stapley had

sold to Hill his silver tobacco-box for 10s. in cash--the rest of the

value of the box, he noted, I freely forgave him for writing at our

first commission for me, and for copying of answers and ye like in our

law concerns; so yt I reckon I have as good as 30s. for my box: 5s. he

gave me, and 5s. more he promised to pay me ... and I had his steel

box with the bargain, and full of smoake. Apparently Mr. Hill's

secretarial labours were valued at 20s. This same Sussex squire bought

a pound of tobacco in December 1685 for 20d., which seems decidedly

cheap, and in the following year a 5 lb. box for 7s. 6d.--which was

cheaper still.

A Sussex rector, the Rev. Giles Moore, of Horsted Keynes, in 1656 and

again in 1662, paid 1s. for two ounces of tobacco, _i.e._ at the rate

of 8s. per lb. Presumably the rector bought the more expensive

Spanish tobacco and the squire the cheaper Virginian. At the annual

parish feast held at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London, on May 24,

1666, the expenses included 3d. for tobacco for twenty or more adults.

This too was doubtless Virginian or colonial tobacco. The North Elmham

Church Accounts (Norfolk) for 1673 show that 12s. 4d. was paid for

Butter, cheese, Bread, Cakes, Beere and Tobacco and Tobacco Pipes at

the goeing of the Rounds of the Towne. On the occasion of a similar

perambulation of the parish boundaries in 1714-15 the churchwardens

paid for beer, pipes and tobacco, cakes and wine. The account-books of

the church and parish of St. Stephen, Norwich, for 1696-97 show 2s. as

the price of a pound of tobacco. These entries, and many others of

similar import, show that at feasts and at social and convivial

gatherings of all kinds, tobacco maintained its ascendancy. Pipes and

tobacco were included in the usual provision for city feasts, mayoral

and other; and smoking was made a particular feature of the Lord

Mayor's Show of 1672. A contemporary pamphleteer says that in the Show

of that year were two extreme great giants, each of them at least 15

foot high, that do sit, and are drawn by horses in two several

chariots, moving, talking, and taking tobacco as they ride along, to

the great admiration and delight of all the spectators. Among the

guests at a wedding in London in 1683 were the Lord Mayor, Sheriff and

Aldermen of the City, the Lord Chief Justice--the afterwards notorious

Jeffreys--and other bigwigs. Evelyn records with grave disapproval

that these great men spent the rest of the afternoon till 11 at

night, in drinking healths, taking tobacco, and talking much beneath

the gravity of judges, who had but a day or two before condemned Mr.

Algernon Sidney.

Although smoking was general among parsons, yet attacks on tobacco

were occasionally heard from pulpits. A Lancashire preacher named

Thomas Jollie, who was one of the ministers ejected from Church

livings by the Act of Uniformity, 1662, has left a manuscript diary

relating to his religious work. In it, under date 1687, he mentions

that he had spoken against the inordinate affection to and the

immoderate use of tobacco which did caus much trouble in some of my

hearers and some reformation did follow. He then goes on to record

two remarkable examples of such reformation--examples, he says,

which did stirr me up in that case more than ordinary. The one I had

from my reverend Brother Mr. Robert Whittaker, concerning a professor

[_i.e._ a person who professed to have been converted] who could not

follow his calling without his pipe in his mouth, but that text Isaiah

55, 2, coming into his mind hee layd aside his taking of tobacco. The

other instance was of a profane person living nigh Haslingdon (who was

but poor) and took up his time in the trade of smoking and also spent

what should reliev his poor family. This man dreamed that he was

taking tobacco, and that the devill stood by him filling one pipe upon

another for him. In the morning hee fell to his old cours

notwithstanding; thinking it was but a dream: but when hee came to

take his pipe, hee had such an apprehension that the devill did indeed

stand by him and doe the office as hee dreamed that hee was struck

speechless for a time and when hee came to himself hee threw his

tobacco in the fire and his pipes at the walls; resolving never to

meddle more with it: soe much money as was formerly wasted by the week

in to serving his family afterward weekly.

Among the many medicinal virtues attributed to tobacco was its

supposed value as a preservative from contagion at times of plague.

Hearne, the antiquary, writing early in 1721, said that he had been

told that in the Great Plague of London of 1665 none of those who kept

tobacconists' shops suffered from it, and this belief no doubt

enhanced the medical reputation of the weed. I have also seen it

stated that during the cholera epidemics of 1831, 1849, and 1866 not

one London tobacconist died from that disease; but good authority for

the statement seems to be lacking. Hutton, in his History of Derby,

says that when that town was visited by the plague in 1665, that at

the Headless-cross ... the market-people, having their mouths primed

with tobacco as a preservative, brought their provisions.... It was

observed, that this cruel affliction never attempted the premises of a

tobacconist, a tanner or a shoemaker. Whatever ground there may have

been for the belief in the prophylactic effect of smoking, there can

be no doubt that in the seventeenth century it was firmly held. Howell

in one of his Familiar Letters dated January 1, 1646, says that the

smoke of tobacco is one of the wholesomest sents that is against all

contagious airs, for it overmasters all other smells, as King James

they say found true, when being once a hunting, a showr of rain drave

him into a Pigsty for shelter, wher he caus'd a pipe full to Be taken

of purpose. But here Mr. Howell is certainly drawing the long-bow.

One cannot imagine the author of the Counterblaste countenancing

the use of tobacco under any circumstances.

At the time of the Great Plague all kinds of nostrums were sold and

recommended as preservatives or as cures. Most of these perished with

the occasion that called them forth; but the names of some have been

preserved in a rare quarto tract which was published in the Plague

year, 1665, entitled A Brief Treatise of the Nature, Causes, Signes,

Preservation from and Cure of the Pestilence, collected by W. Kemp,

Mr. of Arts. In the list of devices for purifying infected air it is

stated that The American Silver-weed, or Tobacco, is very excellent

for this purpose, and an excellent defence against bad air, being

smoked in a pipe, either by itself, or with Nutmegs shred, and Rew

Seeds mixed with it, especially if it be nosed--which, I suppose,

means if the smoke be exhaled through the nose--for it cleanseth the

air, and choaketh, suppresseth and disperseth any venomous vapour.

Mr. Kemp warms to his subject and proceeds with a whole-hearted

panegyric that must be quoted in full: It hath singular and contrary

effects, it is good to warm one being cold, and will cool one being

hot. All ages, all Sexes, all Constitutions, Young and Old, Men and

Women, the Sanguine, the Cholerick, the Melancholy, the phlegmatick,

take it without any manifest inconvenience, it quencheth thirst, and

yet will make one more able, and fit to drink; it abates hunger, and

yet will get one a good stomach; it is agreeable with mirth or

sadness, with feasting and with fasting; it will make one rest that

wants sleep, and will keep one waking that is drowsie; it hath an

offensive smell to some, and is more desirable than any perfume to

others; that it is a most excellent preservative, both experience and

reason do teach; it corrects the air by Fumigation, and it avoids

corrupt humours by Salivation; for when one takes it either by Chewing

it in the leaf, or Smoaking it in the pipe, the humors are drawn and

brought from all parts of the body, to the stomach, and from thence

rising up to the mouth of the Tobacconist, as to the helme of a

Sublimatory, are voided and spitten out.

When plague was abroad even children were compelled to smoke. At the

time of the dreadful visitation of 1665 all the boys at Eton were

obliged to smoke in school every morning. One of these juvenile

smokers, a certain Tom Rogers, years afterwards declared to Hearne,

the Oxford antiquary, that he never was whipped so much in his life as

he was one morning for not smoking. Times have changed at Eton since

this anti-tobacconist martyr received his whipping. It is sometimes

stated that at this time smoking was generally practised in schools,

and that at a stated hour each morning lessons were laid aside, and

masters and scholars alike produced their pipes and proceeded to smoke

tobacco. But I know of no authority for this wider statement; it seems

to have grown out of Hearne's record of the practice at Eton.

The belief in the prophylactic power of tobacco was, however, very

generally held. When Mr. Samuel Pepys on June 7, 1665, for the first

time saw several houses marked with the ominous red cross, and the

words Lord, have mercy upon us chalked upon the doors, he felt so

ill at ease that he was obliged to buy some roll tobacco to smell and

chew. There is nothing to show that Pepys even smoked, which

considering his proficiency in the arts of good-fellowship, is perhaps

a little surprising. Defoe, in his fictitious but graphic Journal of

the Plague Year in London, says that the sexton of one of the London

parishes, who personally handled a large number of the victims, never

had the distemper at all, but lived about twenty years after it, and

was sexton of the parish to the time of his death. This man, according

to Defoe, never used any preservative against the infection other

than holding garlic and rue in his mouth, and smoking tobacco.

When excavations were in progress early in 1901, preparatory to the

construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, they included the removal of

bodies from the burying-grounds of St. Clement Danes and St.

Mary-le-Strand; and among the bones were found a couple of the curious

tobacco-pipes called plague-pipes, because they are supposed to have

been used as a protection against infection by those whose office it

was to bury the dead. These pipes have been dug up from time to time

in numbers so large that one antiquary, Mr. H. Syer Cuming, has

ventured to infer that almost every person who ventured from home

invoked the protection of tobacco.

These seventeenth-century pipes were largely made in Holland of

pipe-clay imported from England--to the disgust and loss of English

pipe-makers. In 1663 the Company of Tobacco-Pipe Makers petitioned

Parliament to forbid the export of tobacco pipe clay, since by the

manufacture of pipes in Holland their trade is much damaged. Further,

they asked for the confirmation of their charter of government so as

to empower them to regulate abuses, as many persons engage in the

trade without licence. The Company's request was granted; but in the

next year they again found it necessary to come to Parliament, showing

the great improvement in their trade since their incorporation, 17

James I, and their threatened ruin because cooks, bakers, and

ale-house keepers and others make pipes, but so unskilfully that they

are brought into disesteem; they request to be comprehended in the

Statute of Labourers of 5 Elizabeth, so that none may follow the trade

who have not been apprentices seven years.

Tobacco-pipe making was a flourishing industry at this period and

throughout the seventeenth and following century in most of the chief

provincial towns and cities as well as in London.

Old English 'clays,' says Mr. T.P. Cooper, are exceedingly

interesting, as most of them are branded with the maker's initials.

Monograms and designs were stamped or moulded upon the bowls and on

the stems, but more generally upon the spur or flat heel of the pipe.

Many pipes display on the heels various forms of lines, hatched and

milled, which were perhaps the earliest marks of identification

adopted by the pipe-makers. In a careful examination of the monograms

we are able to identify the makers of certain pipes found in

quantities at various places, by reference to the freeman and burgess

rolls and parish registers. During the latter half of the seventeenth

century English pipes were presented by colonists in America to the

Indians; they subsequently became valuable as objects of barter or

part purchase value in exchange for land. In 1677 one hundred and

twenty pipes and one hundred Jew's harps were given for a strip of

country near Timber Creek, in New Jersey. William Penn, the founder

of Pennsylvania, purchased a tract of land, and 300 pipes were

included in the articles given in the exchange.

The French traveller, Sorbiere, who visited London in 1663, declared

that the English were naturally lazy and spent half their time in

taking tobacco. They smoked after meals, he observed, and conversed

for a long time. There is scarce a day passes, he wrote, but a

Tradesman goes to the Ale-house or Tavern to smoke with some of his

Friends, and therefore Public Houses are numerous here, and Business

goes on but slowly in the Shops; but, curiously enough, he makes no

mention of coffee-houses. A little later they were too common and too

much frequented to be overlooked. An English writer on thrift in 1676

said that it was customary for a mechanic tradesman to go to the

coffee-house or ale-house in the morning to drink his morning's

draught, and there he would spend twopence and consume an hour in

smoking and talking, spending several hours of the evening in similar


Country gentlemen smoked just as much as town mechanics and tradesmen.

In 1688 Hervey, afterwards Earl of Bristol, wrote to Mr. Thomas

Cullum, of Hawsted Place, desiring to be remembered by the witty

smoakers of Hawsted. A later Cullum, Sir John, published in 1784 a

History and Antiquities of Hawsted, and in describing Hawsted Place,

which was rebuilt about 1570, says that there was a small apartment

called the smoking-room--a name, he says, it acquired probably soon

after it was built; and which it retained with good reason, as long as

it stood. I should like to know on what authority Sir John Cullum

could have made the assertion that the room was called the

smoking-room from so early a date as the end of the sixteenth century.

No mention in print of a smoking-room has been found for the purposes

of the Oxford Dictionary earlier than 1689. In Shadwell's Bury Fair

of that date Lady Fantast says to her husband, Mr. Oldwit, who loves

to tell of his early meetings with Ben Jonson and other literary

heroes of a bygone day, While all the Beau Monde, as my daughter

says, are with us in the drawing-room, you have none but ill-bred,

witless drunkards with you in your smoking-room. As Mr. Oldwit

himself, in another scene of the same play, says to his friends,

We'll into my smoking-room and sport about a brimmer, there was

probably some excuse for his wife's remark. These country

smoking-rooms were known in later days as stone-parlours, the floor

being flagged for safety's sake; and the stone-parlour in many a

squire's house was the scene of much conviviality, including, no

doubt, abundant smoking.

The arrival of coffee and the establishment of coffee-houses opened a

new field for the victories of tobacco. The first house was opened in

St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in 1652. Others soon followed, and in a

short time the new beverage had captured the town, and coffee-houses

had been opened in every direction. They sold many things besides

coffee, and served a variety of purposes, but primarily they were

temples of talk and good-fellowship. The buzz of conversation and the

smoke of tobacco alike filled the rooms which were the forerunners of

the club-houses of a much later day.

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