Early Victorian Days

Scent to match thy rich perfume

Chemic art did ne'er presume

Through her quaint alembic strain,

None so sovereign to the brain.

LAMB, _A Farewell to Tobacco._

The social attitude towards smoking in early Victorian days, and for

some time later, was curious. The development of cigar-smoking among

those classes from which tobacco had long been p
actically banished,

and the natural consequent spread downwards of the use of cigars--in

accordance with the invariable law of fashion--together with the

continued devotion to the pipe among those whose love of tobacco had

never slackened, made smoking a much more general practice than it had

been for some generations.

It is somewhat significant that Dickens, in the Old Curiosity Shop,

1840, makes that repulsive dwarf, Quilp, smoke cigars. When the little

monster comes home unexpectedly in the fourth chapter of the book, and

breaks up his wife's tea-party, he settles himself in an

arm-chair--with his large head and face squeezed up against the back,

and his little legs planted on the table--with a case-bottle of rum,

cold water, and a box of cigars before him. Now, Mrs. Quilp, he

says, I feel in a smoking humour, and shall probably blaze away all

night. But sit where you are, if you please, in case I want you.

Quilp smokes cigars one after the other, his wretched wife sitting

patiently by, from sunset till some time after daybreak. The dwarf's

tastes, however, were catholic. A little later in the book the reader

finds him, when encamped in the back parlour of the old man's shop,

smoking pipe after pipe, and compelling that knavish attorney, Sampson

Brass, to do the same. Tobacco-smoke always caused Brass great

internal discomposure and annoyance; but this made no difference to

Quilp, who insisted on his friend continuing to smoke, while he

inquired: Is it good, Brass, is it nice, is it fragrant, do you feel

like the Grand Turk? But Quilp and Brass were not in society.

Notwithstanding that the number of smokers had so largely increased,

and was continually increasing, smoking was regarded socially as

something of a vice--to be practised in inconvenient places and not

too publicly.

There were still plenty of active opponents and denouncers of tobacco.

One of the most distinguished was the great Duke of Wellington, who

abominated smoking, and was annoyed by the increase of cigar-smoking

among officers of the army. In the early 'forties he issued a General

Order (No. 577) which contained a paragraph that would have delighted

the heart of King James I. It ran thus: The Commander-in-Chief has

been informed, that the practice of smoking, by the use of pipes,

cigars, or cheroots, has become prevalent among the Officers of the

Army, which is not only in itself a species of intoxication

occasioned by the fumes of tobacco, but, undoubtedly, occasions

drinking and tippling by those who acquire the habit; and he intreats

the Officers commanding Regiments to prevent smoking in the Mess Rooms

of their several Regiments, and in the adjoining apartments, and to

discourage the practice among the Officers of Junior Rank in their


The Duke's prejudices were stronger than his facts. The statement, not

very grammatically expressed, that the practice of smoking was

itself a species of intoxication was absurd enough; but the

allegation, introduced by a question-begging undoubtedly, that

smoking occasioned drinking was directly contrary to fact. It was the

introduction of after-dinner smoking that largely helped to kill the

bad old practice of continued after-dinner drinking.

Perhaps the best reflection of and comment upon the attitude of

society towards smoking is to be found in the ironical, satirical

pages of Thackeray. Let the reader turn to the confessions of George

Fitz-Boodle Esq.--the Fitz-Boodle Papers first appeared in _Fraser's

Magazine_ for 1842--and he will find how smoking was regarded at that

date, and what Thackeray, speaking through the puppet Fitz-Boodle,

thought of it. George starts by saying: I am not, in the first place,

what is called a ladies' man, having contracted an irrepressible habit

of smoking after dinner, which has obliged me to give up a great deal

of the dear creatures' society; nor can I go much to country-houses

for the same reason. The ladies had a keen scent for the abominable

odour of tobacco, and distrusted the men who smoked. Here is

Fitz-Boodle's, or Thackeray's, comment on it--What is this smoking

that it should be considered a crime? I believe in my heart that women

are jealous of it, as of a rival. They speak of it as of some secret

awful vice that seizes upon a man, and makes him a pariah from genteel

society. I would lay a guinea that many a lady who has just been kind

enough to read the above lines lays down the book, after this

confession of mine that I am a smoker, and says, 'Oh, the vulgar

wretch!' and passes on to something else. He goes on to prophesy--and

for once the most gratuitous of follies has been justified by the

event--that tobacco will conquer. Look over the wide world, he says

to the ladies, and see that your adversary has overcome it. Germany

has been puffing for three score years; France smokes to a man. Do you

think you can keep the enemy out of England? Psha! look at his

progress. Ask the club-houses, Have they smoking-rooms, or not? Are

they not obliged to yield to the general want of the age, in spite of

the resistance of the old women on the committees? I, for my part, do

not despair to see a bishop lolling out of the 'Athenaeum' with a

cheroot in his mouth, or, at any rate, a pipe stuck in his


The flight of fancy in the last sentence has hardly yet been

fulfilled; but I saw, many years ago, a distinguished man of letters,

the late Mr. Francis Turner Palgrave, of Golden Treasury fame, who

was an inveterate smoker, sitting on one of the cane benches by the

door of the Athenaeum Club, smoking a short clay pipe.

Thackeray does not appear to have realized that tobacco was not

invading England for the first, but for the second time, nor did he

foresee that the ladies, to whom he addressed his impassioned defence

of smoking, would not only submit to the conqueror but would

themselves be found among his joyous devotees.

George Fitz-Boodle recounts how, as a boy, he was flogged for smoking,

and how, at Oxford, smoking among other villainies led to his

rustication. Later his tobacco, combined with insolence to his

tobacco-hating colonel, conducted him out of the army into the

retirement of civil life; and so on and so on. There is, of course, an

element of exaggeration in all this; but Mr. Fitz-Boodle's experiences

and reflections throw much light on the social history of smoking in

the early decades of the nineteenth century. Mr. Harry Furniss, in the

preface to his edition of Thackeray, has an admirably terse and

pertinent paragraph on this aspect of the Fitz-Boodle Papers. He

says--No gentleman in those days was seen smoking even a 'weed' in

the streets. Cigarettes were practically unheard of in England, and

outside one's private smoking-room pipes were tabooed. Men in Society

slunk into their smoking-rooms, or, when there was no smoking-room,

into the kitchen or servants' hall, after the domestics had retired. A

smoking-jacket was worn in the place of their ordinary evening coat,

and their well-oiled, massive head of hair was protected by a

gorgeously decorated smoking-cap. Thus the odour of tobacco was not

brought into the drawing-room.

The fear of the odour of tobacco-smoke was extraordinary. Mr. J.C.

Buckmaster in his reminiscences describes the famous debating society

at Cogers' Hall, and says that after one night at the Cogers' it took

three days on a common to purify your clothes from the smoke. The

journalists and Bohemians who met at the Cogers were above (or below)

the dictates of fashion, and smoking was always a feature of their

gatherings. The yard of clay is provided gratis for members, and it

is to its almost universal use, says Mr. Peter Rayleigh, in his book

on The Cogers and Fleet Street, that Cogers owe their existence in

the present quarters. Once upon a time the Cogers 'swarmed' to a

well-appointed room, where carpets covered the floors, the chairs were

upholstered, and the tables had finely polished marble tops. The hot

pipes and smouldering matches stained the table tops and burnt the

carpets, so that they had the option of abandoning either the pipe or

the quarters. Old customs die hard with Cogers, and they stuck to

their pipe.... The pipe is a feature in all illustrations of Cogerian


The influence of the Court was wholly against smoking. Both Queen

Victoria and the Prince Consort detested it, so tobacco was taboo

wherever the Court was. The late Lady Dorothy Nevill, who lived to see

the new triumph of tobacco, said that she thought the greatest minor

change in social habits which she had witnessed was that in the

attitude assumed towards smoking, which, in her youth, and even

later, was, except in certain well-defined circumstances, regarded as

little less than a heinous crime. Lady Dorothy remarked that

smoking-rooms in country houses were absolutely unknown--but that

was not quite correct as we shall see in the experiences of Professor

von Holtzendorff, to be mentioned directly--and that such gentlemen

as wished to smoke after the ladies had gone to bed used, as a matter

of course, to go either to the servants' hall or to the harness-room

in the stables, where at night some sort of rough preparation was

generally made for their accommodation.... Well do I remember the

immense care which devotees of tobacco used to take, when sallying

forth in the country to enjoy it, not to allow the faintest whiff of

smoke to penetrate into the hall as they lit their cigars at the


In 1845 Dickens wrote: I generally take a cigar after dinner when I'm

alone. The reservation in the last three words may be noted. In the

Book of Snobs, Major Wellesley Ponto goes to smoke a cigar in the

stables--Ponto had no smoking-room--with Lord Gules, who is described

as a very young, short, sandy-haired and tobacco-smoking nobleman,

who cannot have left the nursery very long. Later, Ponto and Gules

resume smoking operations ... in the now vacant kitchen.

Even so late as 1861 the attitude towards smoking was still much the

same in some quarters. In that year a German scholar, Professor Franz

von Holtzendorff, paid a visit to a country gentleman's house in

Gloucestershire--Hardwicke Court. Later he printed an account of his

experiences, a translation of which was published in this country in

1878. When the professor arrived, his host, the first greeting over,

at once pointed out to him a secluded apartment--the one which he

thought it most important for a German to know, namely, the

smoking-room. According to his idea, continued the professor, every

German has three national characteristics, smoking, singing, and

Sabbath-breaking; the first and only idea in which I found him led

astray by an abstract theory. Later, his hostess, explaining to him

the method and routine of life in an English country-house, said that

the ladies retired about eleven, while the gentlemen finished their

day's work in the smoking-room--the secluded apartment--or enjoyed a

cigar at the billiard-table; but a smoke in the billiard-room was only

allowed if that room was not near the drawing-room or in the hall

close by. You must have often been surprised, she continued, that

we English ladies have such an invincible repugnance to tobacco smoke,

but there is no dispensation from our rule of abstinence, except in

those rooms which my husband has already pointed out to you.

The professor, after luncheon, was pressed by the squire--who, on any

other occasion would never waste time in smoking, and only filled his

short clay pipe at the end of his day's work--to come to his

smoking-room. As regards this room the professor drily remarked--I

thought I had noticed that even the key-hole was stopped up, in order

to preserve the ladies' delicate nerves from every disagreeable

sensation. After dinner, again, when the ladies had left the table,

the gentlemen passed the bottles of port, sherry, and claret, with

the regularity of planets from hand to hand, but no one dreamed of

smoking. That was reserved for the secluded apartment after the ladies

had gone to bed. Neither host nor guest imagined what a revolution

another generation or so would make in these social habits.

In the 'fifties the pipes smoked were mostly clays. There were the

long clays or churchwardens, to be smoked in hours of ease and

leisure; and the short clays--cutties--which could be smoked while a

man was at work. Milo, a tobacconist in the Strand, and Inderwick,

whose shop was near Leicester Square, were famous for their pipes,

which could be bought for 6d. apiece. A burlesque poem of 1853, in

praise of an old black pipe, says:

_Think not of meerschaum is that bowl: away,

Ye fond enthusiasts! it is common clay,

By Milo stamped, perchance by Milo's hand,

And for a tizzy purchased in the Strand._

_Famed are the clays of Inderwick, and fair

The pipes of Fiolet from Saint Omer._

I am indebted for this quotation to a correspondent of _Notes and

Queries_, September 27, 1913.

Another correspondent of the same journal, Colonel W.F. Prideaux, also

replying to a query of mine, wrote: Before briar-root pipes came into

common use clay pipes were of necessity smoked by all classes. When I

matriculated at Oxford at the Easter of 1858 ... University men used

to be rather particular about the pipes they smoked. The finest were

made in France, and the favourite brand was 'Fiolet, Saint Omer.' I do

not know if this kind is still smoked, but it was made of a soft clay

that easily coloured. In taverns, of course, the churchwarden--beloved

of Carlyle and Tennyson--was usually smoked to the accompaniment of

shandygaff. At Simpson's fish ordinary at Billingsgate these pipes

were always placed on the table after dinner, together with screws of

shag tobacco, and a smoking parliament moistened with hot or cold

punch according to the season, was generally held during the following

hour. Of course, in those days no one ever thought of smoking a pipe

in the presence of ladies.

Colonel Harold Malet at the same time wrote--When I was a cadet at

Sandhurst in 1855-58, Milo's cutty pipes were quite the thing, and the

selection by cadets of a good one out of a fresh consignment packed

in sawdust was eagerly watched by the 'Johns.' Of course we were

imitating our parents. It was no doubt these cutty pipes which are

referred to in one of the sporting books of Robert Surtees as the

clay pipes of gentility.

In a private letter to me, which I am privileged to quote, Colonel

Prideaux adds some further particulars as to the social attitude of

early Victorian days towards tobacco--particulars which are the more

valuable and interesting as being supplied from personal recollection

of those now somewhat distant days. The Colonel writes: When I was a

young man people never thought of smoking in what house-agents call

the 'reception-rooms,' the principal reason being that the occupation

of these rooms was shared by ladies, and it was 'bad form' (not, by

the way, a contemporary expression) to smoke while in the company of

the fairer half of creation. Consequently, men had either to indulge

in the practice out of doors, or else, as you say, sneak away to the

kitchen when the servants had gone to bed, and puff up the chimney. It

was only in large houses that a billiard room could be found, and even

in a billiard room a pipe or cigar was _taboo_ if ladies were present,

while smoking-rooms could no more be found in middle-class houses than

bath-rooms. Both cutties and churchwardens were smoked, but the latter

of course were not adapted for persons engaged in active pursuits and

were essentially of what I may call a sedentary nature. You could not

even walk while holding a long churchwarden in your mouth, and

consequently the short clay was most favoured by young men at

Sandhurst and the Universities.... Labourers smoked short clays when

out of doors, and churchwardens when they rested from their labours

and took their ease in their inn in the evenings.

Mr. Furniss, in the paragraph quoted on a previous page, says: No

gentleman in those days was seen smoking even a 'weed' in the

streets. The nearest approach to this seems to have been smoking on

club steps. Thackeray, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of

Snobs, speaks of dandies smoking their cigars upon the steps of

White's, most fashionable of clubs, and, in an earlier chapter, of

young Ensign Famish lounging and smoking on the steps of the Union

Jack Club, with half a dozen other young rakes of the fourth or

fifth order. Two of Thackeray's own drawings in the Book of

Snobs--in chapters three and nine--show men, one civil the other

military, smoking cigars out of doors; but as these were no doubt

arrant snobs, the drawings may be accepted as proof of Mr. Furniss's


In this same book Thackeray says ironically--Think of that den of

abomination, which, I am told, has been established in _some_ clubs,

called the _Smoking-Room_. The satirist was very familiar with the

smoking-room at the club he loved well--the Little G.--the Garrick.

The original Garrick club-house was at 35 King Street, Covent Garden,

where the club was founded in 1831. It had formerly been a quiet,

old-fashioned family hotel, but apparently was not furnished with a

smoking-room, for one of the first acts of the club, when they

obtained possession of the house, was to build out over the leads a

large and comfortable smoking-room. Shirley Brooks said that this

room, which was reached by a long passage from the Strangers'

Dining-room, was not a cheerful apartment by daylight, and when

empty, but which, at night and full, was thought the most cheerful

apartment in Town. At other clubs of more fashion, perhaps, but

certainly of less good-fellowship, smoking-rooms made their way more

slowly. At White's, smoking was not allowed at all till 1845. The

Alfred Club, founded in 1808, which Lord Byron described as

pleasant--a little too sober and literary, perhaps, but, on the

whole, a decent resource on a rainy day, and which Sir William Fraser

called a sort of minor Athenaeum, owed its death in 1855, if report

be true, to a dispute about smoking. One section of the members wished

for an improved smoking-room--they called the existing room, which was

at the top of the house--an infamous hole--while the more

old-fashioned and more influential members objected to any

improvement. The latter carried the day, but the consequent loss of

members ruined the club, which soon after ceased to exist. This

secession must have been subsequent to that of the bishops, of whom at

one time many were members, but who left, it is said, because of the

introduction of a billiard-table!

The growth of cigar-smoking was rapid. Mr. Steinmetz, in his book on

Tobacco, published in 1857, remarked that no way of using tobacco

had made a more striking advance in England within the preceding

twenty years than cigars. For a long time it had been confined in this

country to the richer class of smokers, but when he wrote it was in

universal use. The wonder is that with so many men smoking cigars the

old domestic and club restrictions, as pilloried in Thackeray's pages,

were maintained so long. In 1853 Leech had an admirably drawn sketch

in _Punch_ of paterfamilias, in the absence of his wife, giving a

little dinner. Beside him sits his small son, and on either side of

the table sit two of his cronies. One has a cigar in his hand and is

blowing a cloud of smoke, while the other is selecting a weed. The

host is just lighting his cigar as the maid enters with a tray of

decanters and glasses, and with disgust written plainly on her face.

The objectionable child beside him says--Lor! Pa, are you going to

smoke? My eye! won't you catch it when Ma comes home, for making the

curtains smell!

Another witness to the rapid development of cigar-smoking is Captain

Gronow, the author of the well-known Reminiscences. Gronow says that

the famous surgeon, Sir Astley Cooper, on one occasion perceiving that

he was fond of smoking, cautioned him against that habit, telling him

that it would, sooner or later, be the cause of his death. This must

have been before 1841, when Sir Astley died. Writing in the 'sixties

Gronow said: If Sir Astley were now alive he would find everybody

with a cigar in his mouth: men smoke nowadays whilst they are occupied

in working or hunting, riding in carriages, or otherwise

employed--which shows how the prejudice against outdoor smoking was

then breaking down. During the experience of a long life, however,

continued Gronow, I never knew but one person of whom it was said

that smoking was the cause of his death: he was the son of an Irish

earl, and an attache at our embassy in Paris. But, alas! I have known

thousands who have been carried off owing to their love of the


Thackeray, as the satirist of the foolish social prejudices against

smoking, was naturally an inveterate smoker himself. He died in 1863,

and so hardly saw the beginning of a change in the attitude of

society towards the pestilent weed; but he was one of the many men of

letters and artists, who, despising the conventions of society, were

largely instrumental in breaking down stupid restrictions, and in

overcoming senseless prejudices, and were thus heralds of freedom.

Charles Keene's attitude was that of many artists. He smoked a little

Jacobean clay pipe in his sky-parlour overlooking the Strand, and

did not care in the least what the world might think or not think

about that or any other subject.

Those who smoked pipes at Cambridge continued to smoke pipes

afterwards, whatever society might do. Spedding, who spent his life

on the elucidation of Bacon, was one of the Apostles, and he

continued a pipe-lover to the end. In 1832 we hear of Tennyson being

in London with him, and smoking all the day.

Lady Ritchie, in Tennyson and his Friends, says: I can remember

vaguely, on one occasion through a cloud of smoke, looking across a

darkening room at the noble, grave head of the Poet Laureate. He was

sitting with my Father in the twilight after some family meal in the

old house in Kensington. Thackeray was a cigar-smoker, but Tennyson

was a devotee of the pipe. It was on this occasion, as the poet

himself reminded Thackeray's daughter, that while the novelist was

speaking, Lady Ritchie's little sister looked up suddenly from the

book over which she had been absorbed, saying in her sweet childish

voice, 'Papa, why do you not write books like 'Nicholas Nickleby'?'

Tennyson wrote In Memoriam at Shawell Rectory, near Lutterworth,

Leicestershire. The rector was a Mr. Elmhirst, a native of the poet's

Lincolnshire village. The latest historian of Lutterworth says that

The great puffs of tobacco smoke with which he [Tennyson] mellowed

his thoughts, proved insufferable to his host, and he was accordingly

turned out into Mr. Elmhirst's workshop in the garden, which in

consequence became the birthplace of one of the gems of English


About 1842, when Tennyson often dined at the Old Cock (by Temple Bar)

and at other taverns, the perfect dinner for his taste, says his son,

was a beef-steak, a potato, a cut of cheese, a pint of port, and

afterwards a pipe (never a cigar). When the Kingsleys paid the

Tennysons a visit about 1859, Charles Kingsley, so the Laureate told

his son, talked as usual on all sorts of topics, and walked hard up

and down the study for hours smoking furiously, and affirming that

tobacco was the only thing that kept his nerves quiet. The late

Laureate, Alfred Austin, once asked Tennyson, after reading a passage

in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal that William had gone to bed very

tired with writing the Prelude, if he had ever felt tired by

writing poetry. I think not, said the poet, but tired with the

accompaniment of too much smoking.

Kingsley's devotion to smoke seems to have surprised Tennyson, who was

no light smoker himself. The most curious story illustrating

Kingsley's love of tobacco is that told in the life of Archbishop

Benson by his son, Mr. A.C. Benson. One day about the year 1860, the

future archbishop was walking with the Rector of Eversley in a remote

part of the parish, on a common, when Kingsley suddenly said--I must

smoke a pipe, and forthwith went to a furze-bush and felt about in it

for a time. Presently he produced a clay churchwarden pipe, which he

lighted, and solemnly smoked as he walked, putting it when he had done

into a hole among some tree roots, and telling my father that he had a

_cache_ of pipes in several places in the parish to meet the

exigencies of a sudden desire for tobacco. If this story did not

appear in the life of an archbishop, some scepticism on the part of

the reader might be excused.

Carlyle, as every one knows, was a great smoker. The story is

familiar--it may be true--that one evening he and Tennyson sat in

solemn silence smoking for hours, one on each side of the fireplace,

and that when the visitor rose to go, Carlyle, as he bade him

good-night, said--Man, Alfred, we hae had a graund nicht; come again


Tennyson's own devotion to tobacco led, on at least one occasion, to a

peculiar and somewhat questionable proceeding. Mr. W.M. Rossetti had a

temporary acquaintance with the poet, and in the Reminiscences which

he published in 1906, he told a curious anecdote concerning him which

was new to print. Rossetti told, on the authority of Woolner, how, in

the course of a trip with friends to Italy, tobacco such as Tennyson

could smoke gave out at some particular city, whereupon the poet

packed up his portmanteau and returned home, breaking up the party!

The late Joseph Knight, who reviewed Rossetti's volumes in the

_Athenaeum_, vouched for the truth of this relation, which he had

heard, not only from Woolner, but also from Tennyson's brother


In more fashionable circles the mere possession of a pipe might be

looked at askance. Robertson's comedy Society was produced in 1865,

and in it, Tom Stylus, a somewhat Bohemian journalist, has the

misfortune, in a fashionable ball-room, when pulling out his

handkerchief to bring out his pipe with it from his pocket. The vulgar

thing falls upon the floor, and Tom is ashamed to claim his property

and so acknowledge his ownership of a pipe. He presently calls a

footman, who comes with a tray and sugar-tongs, picks up the offending

briar with the tongs, and carries it off with an air of ineffable


Undergraduates, like men of letters, did not pay much attention to the

conventional attitude of society towards tobacco, and pipes maintained

their popularity in college rooms. Thackeray, in the Book of Snobs,

describes youths at a University wine-party as drinking bad wines,

telling bad stories, singing bad songs over and over again. Milk

punch--smoking--ghastly headache--frightful spectacle of dessert-table

next morning, and smell of tobacco. But the satirist is often tempted

to be epigrammatic at the expense of accuracy, and this picture is at

least too highly coloured. In the recently published memoir of

J--John Willis Clark--some reminiscences of the late Registrary are

included; and J does not recognize Thackeray's picture as quite true

of the wines of his undergraduate day, _i.e._ about 1850. They

may, he says, have 'told bad stories and sung bad songs,' as

Thackeray says in his 'Book of Snobs.' I can only say that I never

heard either the one or the other. But certainly there was noise, and

there was smoke--plenty of it. Conversation there was none, says

J, only a noise. Then came smoke. In a short time the atmosphere

became dense, the dessert and the wine came to an end, and it was

chapel time (mercifully). One story Clark tells of an extraordinary

attempt to smoke. Referring to the compulsory chapels, he says that

as a rule everybody behaved with propriety, whether they regarded the

attendance as irksome or otherwise. But, he admits, 'Iniquity

Corner,' as the space at the east end on each side of the altar was

called, may occasionally have effectually sheltered card-playing; but

when a young snob went so far as to light a cigar there, he had the

pleasure of finishing it in the country, for he was rusticated. It was

on a cognate occasion in Jesus College, in which cobblers' wax played

a prominent part, that Dr. Corrie dismissed the culprit, after a

severe lecture, with these admirable words: 'Your conduct, sir, is

what a Christian would call profane, and a gentleman vulgar.'

At Oxford, in November 1859, the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors issued

the following notice, which shows that an occasional outbreak of bad

manners might happen on the Isis as on the Cam: Whereas complaints

have been made that some Undergraduate members of the University are

in the habit of smoking at _public entertainments_, and otherwise

creating annoyance, they are hereby cautioned against the repetition

of such ungentlemanlike conduct.

There was plenty of smoking among undergraduates at Oxford in those

days, as may be seen in such books as The Adventures of Mr. Verdant

Green, and Hughes's Tom Brown at Oxford, both of which date from

1861. When Tom, after a reading-bout, thought of going out--there was

a wine party at one of his acquaintance's rooms; or he could go and

smoke a cigar in the pool-room, or at any one of a dozen other

places. Cigars were the fashionable form of smoke. When Tom offers

his box to Captain Hardy, that worthy's son says: You might as well

give him a glass of absinthe. He is churchwarden at home, and can't

smoke anything but a long clay, with which the old sailor was

accordingly supplied.

A striking example of the attitude of the mid-nineteenth century days

towards tobacco may be found in connexion with railways and railway

travelling. In the early days of such travel there were no smoking

compartments, and indeed smoking was strictly forbidden practically

everywhere on railway premises. Relics of this time may still be seen

in many stations and on many platforms in the shape of somewhat dingy

placards announcing that smoking is strictly forbidden, and that the

penalty is so much. Nowadays the incense from pipes and cigars and

cigarettes curls freely round these obsolete notices and helps to make

them still dingier. If you wanted to smoke when travelling you had

either to contrive to get a compartment to yourself, or to arrange

terms with your fellow-travellers. In a _Punch_ of 1855, Leech drew a

railway-platform scene wherein figures one of those precocious

youngsters of a type he loved to draw. A railway porter says to his

mate, as the two gaze at the back of this small swell, with his cane

and top-hat, What does he say, Bill? Why, he says he must have a

compartment to hisself, because he can't get on without his smoke!

Another drawing in a _Punch_ of 1861 points the same moral. It

represents an elderly party and a fast Etonian seated side by side

in a first-class compartment. The latter has a cigar in one hand and

with the other offers coins to his neighbour; the explanation is as

follows: _Old Party._ Really, sir,--I am the manager of the line,

sir--I must inform you that if you persist in smoking, you will be

fined forty shillings, sir. _Fast Etonian._ Well, old boy, I must have

my smoke; so you may as well take your forty shillings now!

Tobacco was always popular in the army; and even the strongest of

anti-tobacconists would have felt that there was at least something,

if not much, to be said for the abused weed, when in times of

campaigning suffering it played so beneficent a part in soothing and

comforting weary and wounded men. The period covered by this chapter

included both the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, and every one

knows how the soldiers in the Crimea and in India alike craved for

tobacco as for one of the greatest of luxuries, and how even an

occasional smoke cheered and encouraged and sustained suffering

humanity. The late Dr. Norman Kerr, who was no friend to ordinary,

everyday smoking, wrote: There are occasions, such as in the trenches

during military operations, when worn out with exposure and fatigue,

or when exhausted by slow starvation with no food in prospect, when a

pipe or cigar will be a welcome and valuable friend in need, resting

the weary limbs, cheering the fainting heart, allaying the gnawing

hunger of the empty stomach.

Sir G.W. Forrest, in his book on The Indian Mutiny, tells how at the

siege of Lucknow, as the month of August advanced, the tea and sugar,

except a small store kept for invalids, were exhausted. The tobacco

also was gone, and Europeans and natives suffered greatly from the

want of it. The soldiers yearned for a pipe after a hard day's work,

and smoked dry leaves as the only substitute they could obtain. Mr.

L.E.R. Rees in his diary of the same siege noted--I have given up

smoking tobacco, and have taken to tea-leaves and neem-leaves, and

guava fruit-leaves instead, which the poor soldiers are also

constantly using. The neem-tree is better known, perhaps, as the

margosa. It yields a bitter oil, and is supposed to possess febrifugal


Among the general mass of the population in the early Victorian

period, smoking, though certainly not so all-prevailing as now, was

yet very common. It is highly probable that one of the things which

led to the great increase in pipe-smoking which took place from this

time onwards was the introduction of the briar pipe.

The earliest example of the use of a wooden pipe I have met with is

dated 1765--but this was not in England. Many years ago the late Mr.

A.J. Munby pointed out that Smollett, in one of his letters dated

March 18, 1765, giving an account of his journey from Nice to Turin,

describes how he ascended the mountain Brovis, and on the top

thereof met a Quixotic figure, whom he thus pictures: He was very

tall, meagre, and yellow, with a long hooked nose and twinkling eyes.

His head was cased in a woollen nightcap, over which he wore a flapped

hat; he had a silk handkerchief about his neck, and his mouth was

furnished with a short wooden pipe, from which he discharged wreathing

clouds of tobacco-smoke. This scarecrow turned out to be an Italian

marquis; and no doubt the singularity of his smoking apparatus was of

a piece with the singularity of his attire.

Mr. Munby, after this reference to Smollett's adventure, proceeded to

claim the honour of having helped to bring the use of wooden pipes

into England. In the year 1853 he wrote, meerschaums and clays were

the rule at both the English universities and in all shops throughout

the land, and the art of making pipes of wood was either obsolete [it

had never been introduced] or wholly _in futuro_. But a college friend

of mine, a Norfolk squire, possessed a gardener who was of an

inventive turn, though he was not a Scotchman. This man conceived and

wrought out the idea of making pipes of willow-wood, cutting the bowl

out of a thick stem, and the tube out of a thinner one growing from

the bowl, so that the whole pipe was in one piece. Willow-wood is too

soft, so that the pipes did not last long; but they were a valuable

discovery, and the young squire's friends bought them eagerly at

eighteenpence apiece.

This experiment in the direction of wooden pipes was interesting, and

deserves to be remembered; but it was not long before the briar was

introduced and carried everything before it.

It was about 1859 that the use of the root of the White Heath (_Erica

arborea_), a native of the South of France, Corsica, and some other

localities, for the purpose of making tobacco-pipes was introduced

into this country. The word brier or briar has no connexion

whatever with the prickly, thorny briar which bears the lovely wild

rose. It is derived from the French _bruyere_, heath--the root of the

White Heath being the material known as briar or brier, and at

first as bruyer. The Oxford Dictionary quotes an advertisement from

the _Tobacco Trade Review_ of so recent a date as February 8, 1868, of

a Heath Pipe: in Bruyer Wood. The briar pipe not only soon drove the

clay largely out of use, but immensely increased the number of

pipe-smokers. Bulwer Lytton may not have known the briar, but he wrote

enthusiastically of the pipe. Every smoker knows the glowing tribute

he paid to it in his Night and Morning, which appeared in 1841. It

is terser and more to the point than most panegyrics: A pipe! It is a

great soother, a pleasant comforter. Blue devils fly before its honest

breath. It ripens the brain, it opens the heart; and the man who

smokes thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.