Before the wine of sunny Rhine, or even Madam Clicquot's,

Let all men praise, with loud hurras, this panacea of Nicot's.

The debt confess, though none the less they love the grape and barley,

Which Frenchmen owe to good Nicot, and Englishmen to Raleigh.

There is little doubt that the smoke of herbs and leaves of various

kinds was inhaled in this country, a
d in Europe generally, long

before tobacco was ever heard of on this side the Atlantic. But

whatever smoking of this kind took place was medicinal and not social.

Many instances have been recorded of the finding of pipes resembling

those used for tobacco-smoking in Elizabethan times, in positions and

in circumstances which would seem to point to much greater antiquity

of use than the form of the pipes supports; but some at least of these

finds will not bear the interpretation which has been put upon them,

and in other cases the presence of pipes could reasonably be accounted

for otherwise than by associating them with the antiquity claimed for

them. In any case, the entire absence of any allusions whatever to

smoking in any shape or form in our pre-Elizabethan literature, or in

mediaeval or earlier art, is sufficient proof that from the social

point of view smoking did not then exist. The inhaling of the smoke of

dried herbs for medicinal purposes, whether through a pipe-shaped

funnel or otherwise, had nothing in it akin to the smoking of tobacco

for both individual and social pleasure, and therefore lies outside

the scope of this book.

It may further be added that though the use of tobacco was known and

practised on the continent of Europe for some time before smoking

became common in England--it was taken to Spain from Mexico by a

physician about 1560, and Jean Nicot about the same time sent tobacco

seeds to France--yet such use was exclusively for medicinal purposes.

The smoking of tobacco in England seems from the first to have been

much more a matter of pleasure than of hygiene.

Who first smoked a pipe of tobacco in England? The honour is divided

among several claimants. It has often been stated that Captain William

Middleton or Myddelton (son of Richard Middleton, Governor of Denbigh

Castle), a Captain Price and a Captain Koet were the first who smoked

publicly in London, and that folk flocked from all parts to see them;

and it is usually added that pipes were not then invented, so they

smoked the twisted leaf, or cigars. This account first appeared in one

of the volumes of Pennant's "Tour in Wales." But the late Professor

Arber long ago pointed out that the remark as to the mode of smoking

by cigars and not by pipes was simply Pennant's speculation. The

authority for the rest of the story is a paper in the Sebright MSS.,

which, in an account of William Middleton, has the remark: "It is

sayed, that he, with Captain Thomas Price of Plasyollin and one

Captain Koet, were the first who smoked, or (as they called it) drank

tobacco publickly in London; and that the Londoners flocked from all

parts to see them." No date is named, and no further particulars are


Another Elizabethan who is often said to have smoked the first pipe in

England is Ralph Lane, the first Governor of Virginia, who came home

with Drake in 1586. Lane is said to have given Sir Walter Raleigh an

Indian pipe and to have shown him how to use it. There is no original

authority, however, for the statement that Lane first smoked tobacco

in England, and, moreover, he was not the first English visitor to

Virginia to return to this country. One Captain Philip Amadas

accompanied Captain Barlow, who commanded on the occasion of Raleigh's

first voyage of discovery, when the country was formally taken

possession of and named Virginia in honour of Queen Elizabeth. This

was early in 1584. The two captains reached England in September 1584,

bringing with them the natives of whom King James I, in his

"Counter-blaste to Tobacco," speaks as "some two or three Savage men,"

who "were brought in, together with this Savage custome," _i.e._ of

smoking. It is extremely improbable that Captains Amadas and Barlow,

when reporting to Raleigh on their expedition, did not also make him

acquainted with the Indian practice of smoking. This would be two

years before the return of Ralph Lane.

But certainly pipes were smoked in England before 1584. The plant was

introduced into Europe, as we have seen, about 1560, and it was under

cultivation in England by 1570. In the 1631 edition of Stow's

"Chronicles" it is stated that tobacco was "first brought and made

known by Sir John Hawkins, about the year 1565, but not used by

Englishmen in many years after." There is only one reference to

tobacco in Hawkins's description of his travels. In the account of his

second voyage (1564-65) he says: "The Floridians when they travel have

a kinde of herbe dryed, which with a cane, and an earthen cup in the

end, with fire, and the dried herbs put together do smoke thoro the

cane the smoke thereof, which smoke satisfieth their hunger, and

therewith they live foure or five days without meat or drinke."

Smoking was thus certainly known to Hawkins in 1565, but much reliance

cannot be placed on the statement in the Stow of 1631 that he first

made known the practice in this country, because that statement

appears in no earlier edition of the "Chronicles." Moreover, as

opposed to the allegation that tobacco was "not used by Englishmen in

many years after" 1565, there is the remark by William Harrison, in

his "Chronologie," 1588, that in 1573 "the taking in of the smoke of

the Indian herbe called Tobacco, by an instrument formed like a little

ladell, whereby it passeth from the mouth into the head and stomach,

is gretlie taken up and used in England." The "little ladell"

describes the early form of the tobacco-pipe, with small and very

shallow bowl.

King James, in his reference to the "first Author" of what he calls

"this abuse," clearly had Sir Walter Raleigh in view, and it is

Raleigh with whom in the popular mind the first pipe of tobacco smoked

in England is usually associated. The tradition is crystallized in the

story of the schoolboy who, being asked "What do you know about Sir

Walter Raleigh?" replied: "Sir Walter Raleigh introduced tobacco into

England, and when smoking it in this country said to his servant,

'Master Ridley, we are to-day lighting a candle in England which by

God's blessing will never be put out'"!

The truth probably is that whoever actually smoked the first pipe, it

was Raleigh who brought the practice into common use. It is highly

probable, also, that Raleigh was initiated in the art of smoking by

Thomas Hariot. This was made clear, I think, by the late Dr.

Brushfield in the second of the valuable papers on matters connected

with the life and achievements of Sir Walter, which he contributed

under the title of "Raleghana" to the "Transactions" of the Devonshire

Association. Hariot was sent out by Raleigh for the specific purpose

of inquiring into and reporting upon the natural productions of

Virginia. He returned in 1586, and in 1588 published the results of

his researches in a thin quarto with an extremely long-winded title

beginning "A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia"

and continuing for a further 138 words.

In this "Report" Hariot says of the tobacco plant: "There is an herbe

which is sowed a part by itselfe and is called by the inhabitants

Vppowoc: In the West Indies it hath divers names, according to the

severall places and countries where it groweth and is used: The

Spaniardes generally call it Tobacco. The leaves thereof being dried

and brought into powder: they use to take the fume or smoke thereof by

sucking it through pipes made of claie into their stomacke and heade:

from whence it purgeth superfluous fleame and other grosse humors,

openeth all the pores and passages of the body: by which meanes the

use thereof, not only preserveth the body from obstructions: but if

also any be, so that they have not beane of too long continuance, in

short time breaketh them: wherby their bodies are notably preserved in

health, and know not many greevous diseases wherewithall wee in

England are oftentimes afflicted."

So far Hariot's "Report" regarded tobacco from the medicinal point of

view only; but it is important to note that he goes on to describe his

personal experience of the practice of smoking in words that suggest

the pleasurable nature of the experience. He says: "We ourselves

during the time we were there used to suck it after their maner, as

also since our returne, and have found maine [? manie] rare and

wonderful experiments of the vertues thereof: of which the relation

woulde require a volume by itselfe: the use of it by so manie of late,

men and women of great calling as else, and some learned Physitians

also, is sufficient witness."

Who can doubt that Hariot, in reporting direct to Sir Walter Raleigh,

showed his employer how "to suck it after their maner"?

All the evidence agrees that whoever taught Raleigh, it was Raleigh's

example that brought smoking into notice and common use. Long before

his death in 1618 it had become fashionable, as we shall see, in all

ranks of society. He is said to have smoked a pipe on the morning of

his execution, before he went to the scaffold, a tradition which is

quite credible.

Every one knows the legend of the water (or beer) thrown over Sir

Walter by his servant when he first saw his master smoking, and

imagined he was on fire. The story was first associated with Raleigh

by a writer in 1708 in a magazine called the _British Apollo_.

According to this yarn Sir Walter usually "indulged himself in

Smoaking secretly, two pipes a Day; at which time, he order'd a Simple

Fellow, who waited, to bring him up a Tankard of old Ale and Nutmeg,

always laying aside the Pipe, when he heard his servant coming." On

this particular occasion, however, the pipe was not laid aside in

time, and the "Simple Fellow," imagining his master was on fire, as he

saw the smoke issuing from his mouth, promptly put the fire out by

sousing him with the contents of the tankard. One difficulty about

this story is the alleged secrecy of Raleigh's indulgence in tobacco.

There seems to be no imaginable reason why he should not have smoked

openly. Later versions turn the ale into water and otherwise vary the


But the story was a stock jest long before it was associated with

Raleigh. The earliest example of it occurs in the "Jests" attributed

to Richard Tarleton, the famous comic performer of the Elizabethan

stage, who died in 1588--the year of the Armada. "Tarlton's Jests"

appeared in 1611, and the story in question, which is headed "How

Tarlton tooke tobacco at the first comming up of it," runs as follows:

"Tarlton, as other gentlemen used, at the first comming up of tobacco,

did take it more for fashion's sake than otherwise, and being in a

roome, set between two men overcome with wine, and they never seeing

the like, wondered at it, and seeing the vapour come out of Tarlton's

nose, cryed out, fire, fire, and threw a cup of wine in Tarlton's

face. Make no more stirre, quoth Tarlton, the fire is quenched: if

the sheriffes come, it will turne to a fine, as the custome is. And

drinking that againe, fie, sayes the other, what a stinke it makes; I

am almost poysoned. If it offend, saies Tarlton, let every one take a

little of the smell, and so the savour will quickly goe: but tobacco

whiffes made them leave him to pay all."

In the early days of smoking, the smoker was very generally said to

"drink" tobacco.

Another early example of the story occurs in Barnaby Rich's "Irish

Hubbub," 1619, where a "certain Welchman coming newly to London," and

for the first time seeing a man smoking, extinguished the fire with a

"bowle of beere" which he had in his hand.

Various places are traditionally associated with Raleigh's first pipe.

The most surprising claim, perhaps, is that of Penzance, for which

there is really no evidence at all. Miss Courtney, writing in the

_Folk-Lore Journal_, 1887, says: "There is a myth that Sir Walter

Raleigh landed at Penzance Quay when he returned from Virginia, and on

it smoked the first tobacco ever seen in England, but for this I do

not believe that there is the slightest foundation. Several western

ports, both in Devon and Cornwall, make the same boast." Miss Courtney

might have added that Sir Walter never himself visited Virginia at


Another place making a similar claim is Hemstridge, on the Somerset

and Dorset border. Just before reaching Hemstridge from Milborne Port,

at the cross-roads, there is a public-house called the Virginia Inn.

There, it is said, according to Mr. Edward Hutton, in his "Highways

and Byways in Somerset," "Sir Walter Raleigh smoked his first pipe of

tobacco, and, being discovered by his servant, was drenched with a

bucket of water."

At the fifteenth-century Manor-House at South Wraxall, Wiltshire, the

"Raleigh Room" is shown, and visitors are told that according to local

tradition it was in this room that Sir Walter smoked his first pipe,

when visiting his friend, the owner of the mansion, Sir Henry Long.

Another tradition gives the old Pied Bull at Islington, long since

demolished, as the scene of the momentous event. It is said in its

earlier days to have been a country house of Sir Walter's, and

according to legend it was in his dining-room in this house that he

had his first pipe. Hone, in the first volume of the "Every Day Book"

tells how he and some friends visited this Pied Bull, then in a very

decayed condition, and smoked their pipes in the dining-room in memory

of Sir Walter. From the recently published biography of William Hone

by Mr. F.W. Hackwood, we learn that the jovial party consisted of

William Hone, George Cruikshank, Joseph Goodyear, and David Sage, who

jointly signed a humorous memorandum of their proceedings on the

occasion, from which it appears that "each of us smoked a pipe, that

is to say, each of us one or more pipes, or less than one pipe, and

the undersigned George Cruikshank having smoked pipes innumerable or

more or less," and that "several pots of porter, in aid of the said

smoking," were consumed, followed by bowls of negus made from "port

wine @ 3s. 6d. per bottle (duty knocked off lately)" and other

ingredients. Speeches were made and toasts proposed, and altogether

the four, who desired to "have the gratification of saying hereafter

that we had smoked a pipe in the same room that the man who first

introduced tobacco smoked in himself," seem to have thoroughly enjoyed


Wherever Raleigh is known to have lived or lodged we are sure to find

the tradition flourishing that there he smoked his first pipe. The

assertion has been made of his birthplace, Hayes Barton, although it

is very doubtful if he ever visited the place after his parents left

it, some years before their son had become acquainted with tobacco;

and also with more plausibility of his home at Youghal, in the south

of Ireland. Froude, in one of his "Short Studies," quotes a legend to

the effect that Raleigh smoked on a rock below the Manor House of

Greenaway, on the River Dart, which was the home of the first husband

of Katherine Champernowne, afterwards Raleigh's wife; and Devonshire

guide-books have adopted the story.

Perhaps the most likely scene of Raleigh's first experiments in the

art of smoking was Durham House, which stood where the Adelphi Terrace

and the streets between it and the Strand now stand. This was in the

occupation of Sir Walter for twenty years (1583-1603), and he was

probably resident there when Hariot returned from Virginia to make his

report and instruct his employer in the management of a pipe. Walter

Thornbury, in his "Haunted London," referring to the story of the

servant throwing the ale over his smoking master, says: "There is a

doubtful old legend about Raleigh's first pipe, the scene of which may

be not unfairly laid at Durham House, where Raleigh lived." The ale

story is mythical, but it is highly probable that Sir Walter's first

pipes were smoked in Durham House. Dr. Brushfield quotes Hepworth

Dixon, in "Her Majesty's Tower," as drawing "an imaginary and yet

probable picture of him and his companions at a window of this very

house, overlooking the 'silent highway':

"'It requires no effort of the fancy to picture these three men

House, puffing the new Indian weed from silver bowls, discussing the

highest themes in poetry and science, while gazing on the flower-beds

and the river, the darting barges of dame and cavalier, and the

distant pavilions of Paris garden and the Globe.'" This is a pure

"effort of the fancy" so far as Bacon and Shakespeare are concerned.

Shakespeare's absolute silence about tobacco forbids us to assume that

he smoked; but of Raleigh the picture may be true enough. The house

had, as Aubrey tells us, "a little turret that looked into and over

the Thames, and had the prospect which is as pleasant perhaps as any

in the world"; and it would be strange indeed if the owner of the

noble house did not often smoke a contemplative pipe in the window of

that pleasant turret.

The only mention made of tobacco by Raleigh himself occurs in a

testamentary note made a little while before his execution in 1618.

Referring to the tobacco remaining on his ship after his last voyage,

he wrote: "Sir Lewis Stukely sold all the tobacco at Plimouth of

which, for the most part of it, I gave him a fift part of it, as also

a role for my Lord Admirall and a role for himself ... I desire that

hee may give his account for the tobacco." As showing how closely Sir

Walter's name was associated with it long after his death, Dr.

Brushfield quotes the following entry from the diary of the great Earl

of Cork: "Sept. 1, 1641. Sent by Travers to my infirme cozen Roger

Vaghan, a pott of Sir Walter Raleighes tobackoe."

In the Wallace Collection at Hertford House is a pouch or case

labelled as having belonged to and been used by Sir Walter Raleigh.

This pouch contains several clay pipes. It was perhaps this same pouch

or case which once upon a time figured in Ralph Thoresby's museum at

Leeds, and is described by Thoresby himself in his "Ducatus

Leodiensis," 1715. Curiously enough, a few years ago when excavations

were being made around the foundations of Raleigh's house at Youghal a

clay pipe-bowl was dug up which in size, shape, &c., was exactly like

the pipes in the Wallace exhibit. Raleigh lived and no doubt smoked in

the Youghal house, so it is quite possible that the bowl found

belonged to one of the pipes actually smoked by him. In the garden of

the Youghal house, by the way, they used to show the tree--perhaps

still do so--under which Raleigh was sitting, smoking his pipe, when

his servant drenched him. Thus the tradition, which, as we have seen,

dates from 1708 only, has obtained two local habitations--Youghal and

Durham House on the Adelphi site.

In November 1911 a curiously shaped pipe was put up for sale in Mr.

J.C. Stevens's Auction Room, Covent Garden, which was described as

that which Raleigh smoked "on the scaffold." The pipe in question was

said to have been given by the doomed man to Bishop Andrewes, in whose

family it remained for many years, and it was stated to have been in

the family of the owner, who sent it for sale, for some 200 years. The

pipe was of wood constructed in four pieces of strange shape, rudely

carved with dogs' heads and faces of Red Indians. According to legend

it had been presented to Raleigh by the Indians. The auctioneer, Mr.

Stevens, remarked that unfortunately a parchment document about the

pipe was lost some years ago, and declared, "If we could only produce

the parchment the pipe would fetch L500." In the end, however, it was

knocked down at seventy-five guineas.

The form and make of the first pipe is a matter I do not propose to go

into here; but in connexion with the first pipe smoked in this country

Aubrey's interesting statements must be given. Writing in the time of

Charles II, he said that he had heard his grandfather say that at

first one pipe was handed from man to man round about the table. "They

had first silver pipes; the ordinary sort made use of a walnut shell

and a straw"--surely a very unsatisfactory pipe. Tobacco in those

earliest days, he says, was sold for its weight in silver. "I have

heard some of our old yeomen neighbours say that when they went to

Malmesbury or Chippenham Market, they culled out their biggest

shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco."