Smoking Under King William Iii And Queen Anne

Hail! social pipe--thou foe of care,

Companion of my elbow-chair;

As forth thy curling fumes arise,

They seem an evening sacrifice--

An offering to my Maker's praise,

For all His benefits and grace.

SIR SAMUEL GARTH (1660-1718).

After King William III was settled on the throne the sum of L600,000

was paid to the Dutch from
the English exchequer for money advanced in

connexion with his Majesty's expedition, and this amount was paid off

by tobacco duties. Granger long ago remarked that most of the eminent

divines and bishops of the day contributed very practically to the

payment of this revolutionary debt by their large consumption of

tobacco. He mentions Isaac Barrow, Dr. Barlow of Lincoln, who was as

regular in smoking tobacco as at his meals, and had a high opinion of

its virtues, Dr. Aldrich, and other celebrated persons who flourished

about this time, and gave much into that practice. One of the best

known of these celebrated persons was Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of

Salisbury from 1689, and historian of his own times. He had the

reputation of being an inveterate smoker, and was caricatured with a

long clay stuck through the brim of the shovel hat, on the breadth of

which King William once made remark. The bishop replied that the hat

was of a shape suited to his dignity, whereupon the King caustically

said, I hope that the hat won't turn your head.

Thackeray pictures Dryden as sitting in his great chair at Will's

Coffee-house, Russell Street, Covent Garden, tobacco-pipe in hand; but

there is no evidence that Dryden smoked. The snuff-box was his symbol

of authority. Budding wits thought themselves highly distinguished if

they could obtain the honour of being allowed to take a pinch from it.

Of Dr. Aldrich, who was Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and who wrote a

curious Catch not more difficult to sing than diverting to hear, to

be sung by four men smoaking their pipes, an anecdote has often been

related, which illustrates his devotion to the weed. A bet was made by

one undergraduate and taken by another, that at whatever time, however

early, the Dean might be visited in his own den, he would be found

smoking. As soon as the bet had been made the Dean was visited. The

pair explained the reason for their call, when Aldrich, who must have

been a good-tempered man, said, Your friend has lost: I am not

smoking, only filling my pipe.

John Philips, the author of Cyder and the Splendid Shilling, was

an undergraduate at Christ Church, during Aldrich's term of office,

and no doubt learned to smoke in an atmosphere so favourable to

tobacco. In his Splendid Shilling, which dates from about 1700,

Philips says of the happy man with a shilling in his pocket:

_Meanwhile, he smokes, and laughs at merry tale,

Or Pun ambiguous or Conundrum quaint._

But the poor shillingless wretch can only

_doze at home

In garret vile, and with a warming puff

Regale chill'd fingers; or from tube as black

As winter-chimney, or well-polish'd jet,

Exhale Mundungus, ill-perfuming scent._

The miserable creature, though without a shilling, yet possessed a

well-coloured clay.

It is significant that the writer of a life of Philips, which was

prefixed to an edition of his poems which was published in 1762, after

mentioning that smoking was common at Oxford in the days of Aldrich,

says apologetically, It is no wonder therefore that he [Philips] fell

in with the general taste ... he has descended to sing its praises in

more than one place. By 1762, as we shall see, smoking was quite

unfashionable, and consequently it was necessary to explain how it was

that a poet could descend so low as to sing the praises of tobacco.

Other well-known men of the late seventeenth century were

tobacconists in the old sense of the word. Sir Isaac Newton is said

to have smoked immoderately; and a familiar anecdote represents him as

using for the purposes of a tobacco-stopper, in a fit of

absent-mindedness, the little finger of a lady sitting beside him,

whom he admired, but the truth of this legend is open to doubt. Thomas

Hobbes, who lived to be ninety (1588-1679), was accustomed to dine at

11 o'clock, after which he smoked a pipe and then lay down and took a

nap of about half an hour. No doubt he would have attributed the

length of his days to the regularity of his habits. Izaak Walton, who

also lived to be ninety, as the lover of the placid and contemplative

life deserved to do, loved his pipe, though he seldom mentions smoking

in the Compleat Angler. Sir Samuel Garth, poet and physician, once

known to fame as the author of The Dispensary, was another

pipe-lover, as is shown by his verses quoted at the head of this

chapter. Dudley, the fourth Lord North, began to smoke in 1657, and,

says Dr. Jessopp, the habit grew upon him, the frequent entries for

pipes and tobacco showing that he became more and more addicted to

this indulgence. Probably it afforded him some solace in the dreadful

malady from which he suffered so long.

Even the staid Quakers smoked. George Fox's position in regard to

tobacco was curious. He did not smoke himself; but on one occasion he

was offered a pipe by a jesting youth who thought thereby to shock so

saintly a person. Fox says in his Journal, I lookt upon him to bee

a forwarde bolde lad: and tobacco I did not take: butt ... I saw hee

had a flashy empty notion of religion: soe I took his pipe and putt it

to my mouth and gave it to him again to stoppe him lest his rude

tongue should say I had not unity with ye creation. The incident is

curious, but testifies to Fox's tolerance and breadth of outlook.

Many of his followers smoked, sometimes apparently to such an extent

as to cause scandal among their brethren. The following is an entry in

the minutes of the Friends' Monthly Meeting at Hardshaw, Lancashire:

14th of 4th mo. 1691. It being considered that the too frequent use

of smoking Tobacco is inconsistent with friends holy profession, it is

desired that such as have occasion to make use thereof take it

privately, neither too publicly in their own houses, nor by the

highways, streets, or in alehouses or elsewhere, tending to the

abetting the common excess. Another Lancashire Monthly Meeting,

Penketh, under date 18th 8th mo. 1691 suggested that Friends were

not to smoke during their labour or occupation, but to leave their

work and take it privately--a suggestion which clearly proceeded from

non-smokers. The smug propriety of these recommendations to enjoy a

smoke in private is delightful.

At the Quarterly Meeting of Aberdeen Friends in 1692 a weighty paper

containing several heads of solid advyces and Counsells to friends

sent by Irish Quakers, was read. These counsels abound with amusingly

prim suggestions. Among them is the warning to take heed of being

overcome with strong drink or tobacco, which many by custome are

brought into bondag to the creature. The Aberdeen Friends themselves

a little later were greatly concerned at the increasing indulgence in

superfluous apparell and in vain recreations among the young ones;

and in 1698 they issued a paper dealing in great detail with matters

of dress and deportment. Among a hundred other things treated with

minutest particularity, the desire is expressed that all Idle and

needless Smoaking of Tobacco be forborn.

William Penn did not like tobacco and was often annoyed by it in

America. Clarkson, his biographer, relates that on one occasion Penn

called to see some old friends at Burlington, who had been smoking,

but who, in consideration for his feelings, had put their pipes away.

Penn smelt the tobacco, and noticing that the pipes were concealed,

said, Well, friends, I am glad that you are at last ashamed of your

old practice. Not entirely so, replied one of the company, but we

preferred laying down our pipes to the danger of offending a weaker


Many of the tobacco-boxes used in the latter part of the seventeenth

century were imported from Holland. They were long or oval and were

usually made of brass. They can be easily identified by their engraved

subjects and Dutch inscriptions. An example in the Colchester Museum

is made of copper and brass, with embossed designs and inscriptions,

representing commerce, &c., on the base and lid. It has engraved on

the sides the name and address of its owner--Barnabas Barker,

Wyvenhoe, Essex. The similar boxes later made in England usually had

embossed ornamentation.

The local authorities in our eastern counties seem to have had some

curious ideas of their own as to where tobacco should or should not be

smoked. In a previous chapter we have seen that at Norwich, ale-house

keepers were fined for permitting smoking in their houses. At

Methwold, Suffolk, the folk improved upon this. The court-books of the

manor of Methwold contain the following entry made at a court held on

October 4, 1695: We agree that any person that is taken smoakeinge

tobacco in the street shall forfitt one shillinge for every time so

taken, and itt shall be lawfull for the petty constabbles to distrane

for the same for to be putt to the uses abovesaid [_i.e._ to the use

of the town]. Wee present Nicholas Baker for smoakeinge in the

street, and doe amerce him 1s. The same rule is repeated at courts

held in the years 1696 and 1699, but no other fine is mentioned at any

subsequent courts. The good folk at Methwold may have been adepts at

petty tyranny, but such an absurd regulation must soon have become a

dead letter. While we are in the eastern counties we may note that in

1694 there died at Ely an apothecary named Henry Crofts, who owned,

among some other unusual items in his inventory, casks of brandy and

tobacco, which shows that even at that date, when regular

tobacconists' shops for the sale of tobacco had long been common, the

old business connexion between apothecaries and tobacco still

occasionally existed.

The clay pipes called aldermen, with longer stems than their

predecessors, tipped with glaze, came into use towards the end of the

seventeenth century. They must not be confused with the much longer

churchwarden or yard of clay which was not in vogue till the early

years of the nineteenth century.

Towards the close of the seventeenth century signs may be detected of

some waning in the universal popularity of tobacco. There are hints of

change in the records of City and other companies. Tobacco had always

figured prominently in the provision for trade feasts. In 1651 the

Chester Company of Barbers, Surgeons, Wax and Tallow Chandlers--a

remarkably comprehensive organization--paid for Sack beere and

Tobacco at the Talbot on St. Luke's Day, October 18, on the occasion

of a dinner given to the Company by one Richard Walker; and similar

expenditure was common among both London and provincial Companies.

The court-books of the Skinners Company of London show that in

preparation for their annual Election Dinner in 1694, the cook

appeared before the court and produced a bill of fare which, with some

alterations, was agreed to. The butler then appeared and undertook to

provide knives, salt, pepper-pots, glasses, sauces, &c., and

everything needfull for L7. and if he gives content then to have L8.

he provides all things but pipes, Tobacco, candles and beer--which

apparently fell to the lot of some other caterer.

But so early as 1655 there is a sign of change of custom--a change,

that is, in the direction of restricting and limiting the hitherto

unbounded freedom granted to the use of tobacco. The London Society of

Apothecaries on August 15, 1655, held a meeting for the election of a

Master and an Upper Warden; and from the minutes of this meeting we

learn that by general consent it was forbidden henceforward to smoke

in the Court Room while dining or sitting, under penalty of half a


The more fashionable folk of the Restoration Era and later began to

leave off if not to disdain the smoking-habit. Up to about 1700

smoking had been permitted in the public rooms at Bath, but when Nash

then took charge, tobacco was banished. Public or at least fashionable

taste had begun to change, and Nash correctly interpreted and led it.

Sorbiere, who has been quoted in the previous chapter, remarked in

1663 that People of Quality did not use tobacco so much as others;

and towards the end of the century and in Queen Anne's time the

tendency was for tobacco to go out of fashion. This did not much

affect its general use; but the tendency--with exceptions, no

doubt--was to restrict the use of tobacco to the clergy, to country

squires, to merchants and tradesmen and to the humbler ranks of

society--to limit it, in short, to the middle and lower classes of the

social commonwealth as then organized. In the extraordinary record of

inanity which Addison printed as the diary of a citizen in the

_Spectator_ of March 4, 1712, the devotion of the worthy retired

tradesman to tobacco is emphasized. This is the kind of thing: Monday

... Hours 10, 11 and 12 Smoaked three Pipes of Virginia ... one

o'clock in the afternoon, chid Ralph for mislaying my Tobacco-Box....

Wednesday ... From One to Two Smoaked a Pipe and a half.... Friday ...

From Four to Six. Went to the Coffee-house. Met Mr. Nisby there.

Smoaked several Pipes.

There was indeed no diminution of tobacco-smoke in the coffee-houses.

A visitor from abroad, Mr. Muralt, a Swiss gentleman, writing about

1696, said that character could be well studied at the coffee-houses.

He was probably not a smoker himself, for he goes on to say that in

other respects the coffee-houses are loathsome, full of smoke like a

guardroom, and as much crowded. He further observed that it was

common to see the clergy of London in coffee-houses and even in

taverns, with pipes in their mouths. A native witness of about the

same date, Ned Ward, writes sneeringly in his London Spy, 1699, of

the interior of the coffee-house. He saw some going, some coming,

some scribbling, some talking, some drinking, some smoking, others

jingling; and the whole room stinking of tobacco, like a Dutch scoot,

or a boatswain's cabin.... We each of us stuck in our mouths a pipe of

sotweed, and now began to look about us. Ward's contemporary, Tom

Brown, took a different tone: he wrote of Tobacco, Cole and the

Protestant Religion, the three great blessings of life!--as strange a

jumble as one could wish for.

Even children seem to have smoked sometimes in the coffee-houses.

Ralph Thoresby, the Leeds antiquary, tells a strange story. He

declares that, one evening which he spent with his brother at

Garraway's Coffee-house, February 20, 1702, he was surprised to see

his brother's sickly child of three years old fill its pipe of

tobacco and smoke it as _audfarandly_ as a man of three score; after

that a second and a third pipe without the least concern, as it is

said to have done above a year ago. A child of two years of age

smoking three pipes in succession is a picture a little difficult to

accept as true. As this is the only reference to tobacco in the whole

of his Diary, it is not likely that Thoresby was himself a smoker.

At the coffee-house entrance was the bar presided over by the

predecessors of the modern barmaids--grumbled at in a _Spectator_ as

idols, who there received homage from their admirers, and who paid

more attention to customers who flirted with them than to more

sober-minded visitors. They are described by Tom Brown as a charming

Phillis or two, who invited you by their amorous glances into their

smoaky territories. Admission cost little. There you might see--

_Grave wits, who, spending farthings four,

Sit, smoke, and warm themselves an hour._

The allusions in the _Spectator_ to smoking in the coffee-houses are

frequent. Sometimes, says Addison, in his title character in the

first number of the paper, sometimes I smoak a pipe at Child's and

whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the _Post-man_, over-hear the

conversation of every table in the room. And here is a vignette of

coffee-house life in 1714 from No. 568 of the _Spectator_: I was

yesterday in a coffee-house not far from the Royal Exchange, where I

observed three persons in close conference over a pipe of tobacco;

upon which, having filled one for my own use, I lighted it at the

little wax candle that stood before them; and after having thrown in

two or three whiffs amongst them, sat down and made one of the

company. I need not tell my reader, that lighting a man's pipe at the

same candle is looked upon among brother-smoakers as an overture to

conversation and friendship. From the very beginning smoking has

induced and fostered a spirit of comradeship.

Sir Roger de Coverley, as a typical country squire, was naturally a

smoker. He presented his friend the Spectator, the silent gentleman,

with a tobacco-stopper made by Will Wimble, telling him that Will had

been busy all the early part of the winter in turning great quantities

of them, and had made a present of one to every gentleman in the

county who had good principles and smoked. When Sir Roger was driving

in a hackney-coach he called upon the coachman to stop, and when the

man came to the window asked him if he smoked. While Sir Roger's

companion was wondering what this would end in, the knight bid his

Jehu to stop by the way at any good Tobacconist's, and take in a Roll

of their best Virginia. And when he visited Squire's near Gray's Inn

Gate, his first act was to call for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco,

a dish of coffee, a newspaper and a wax candle; and all the boys in

the coffee-room ran to serve him. The wax candle was of course a

convenience in matchless days for pipe-lighting. The paper of

tobacco was the equivalent of what is now vulgarly called a screw

of tobacco.

The practice of selling tobacco in small paper packets was common, and

moralists naturally had something to say about the fate of an author's

work, when the leaves of his books found their ultimate use as

wrappers for the weed. For as no mortal author, says Addison, in

the ordinary fate and vicissitude of things, knows to what use his

works may, some time or other, be applied, a man may often meet with

very celebrated names in a paper of tobacco. I have lighted my pipe

more than once with the writings of a prelate.

Addison and Steele smoked, and so did Prior, who seems to have had a

weakness at times for low company. After spending an evening with

Oxford, Bolingbroke, Pope and Swift, it is recorded that he would go

and smoke a pipe, and drink a bottle of ale, with a common soldier

and his wife, in Long Acre, before he went to bed. Some of Prior's

poems, as Thackeray caustically remarks, smack not a little of the

conversation of his Long Acre friends. Pope for awhile attended the

symposium at Button's coffee-house, where Addison was the centre of

the coterie--he describes himself as sitting with them till two in the

morning over punch and Burgundy amid the fumes of tobacco--but such a

way of life did not suit his sickly constitution, and he soon

withdrew. It is not likely that he smoked.

The attractions and the atmosphere of provincial coffee-houses were

much the same as those of the London resorts. A German gentleman who

visited Cambridge in July and August 1710 remarked that in the Greeks'

coffee-house in that town, in the morning and after 3 o'clock in the

afternoon, you could meet the chief professors and doctors, who read

the papers over a cup of coffee and a pipe of tobacco. One of the

learned doctors took the German visitor to the weekly meeting of a

Music Club in one of the colleges. Here were assembled bachelors,

masters and doctors of music of the University--no professionals were

employed--who performed vocal and instrumental music to their mutual

gratification, though, apparently, not to the satisfaction of the

visitor, who records his opinion that the music was very poor. It

lasted, he says, till 11 P.M., there was besides smoking and

drinking of wine, though we did not do much of either. At 11 the

reckoning was called for, and each person paid 2s.

There was clearly no prejudice against smoking at Cambridge. Abraham

de la Pryme notes in his diary for the year 1694 that when it was

rumoured in May of that year that a certain house opposite one of the

colleges was haunted, strange noises being heard in it, several

scholars of the college said, Come, fetch us a good pitcher of ale,

and tobacco and pipes, and wee'l sit up and see this spirit. The ale

was duly provided, the pipes were lit, and the courageous smokers

spent the night in the house, sitting singing and drinking there till

morning, but, alas! they neither saw nor heard anything.

Smoking was still popular also at Oxford. A. D'Anvers, in her

Academia; or the Humours of Oxford, 1691, speaks, indeed, of

undergraduates who, when they could not get tobacco, did much as the

parson of Thornton is reputed to have done, as already related in

Chapter II, _i.e._ they condescended to smoke fragments of mats. With

this may be compared the macaronic lines:

_At si_

Mundungus _desit: tum non_ funcare _recusant_

Brown-Paper _tosta, vel quod fit arundine_ bed-mat.

Tobacco, in Queen Anne's time, still maintained its hold over large

classes of the people, and was still dominant in most places of public

resort; but there were signs of change in various directions as we

have seen, and smoking had to a large extent ceased to be fashionable.

Pepys has very few allusions to tobacco; Evelyn fewer still. There is

little evidence as to whether or not the gallants of the Restoration

Court smoked; but considering the foppery of their attire and manners,

it seems almost certain that tobacco was not in favour among them. The

beaux with their full wigs--they carried combs of ivory or

tortoiseshell in their pockets with which they publicly combed their

flowing locks--their dandy canes and scented, laced handkerchiefs,

were not the men to enjoy the flavour of tobacco in a pipe. They were

still tobacco-worshippers; but they did not smoke. The Indian weed

retained its empire over the men (and women) of fashion by changing

its form. The beaux were the devotees of snuff. The deftly handled

pinch pleasantly titillated their nerves, and the dexterous use of the

snuff-box, moreover, could also serve the purposes of vanity by

displaying the beautiful whiteness of the hand, and the splendour of

the rings upon the fingers. The curled darlings of the late

seventeenth century and the pretty fellows of Queen Anne's time did

not forswear tobacco, but they abjured smoking. Snuff-taking was

universal in the fashionable world among both men and women; and the

development of this habit made smoking unfashionable.