The Social History of Smoking
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BY THE SAME AUTHOR
BYGONE LONDON LIFE
BY G.L. APPERSON, I.S.O.
NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET
First published 1914
THE BALLANTYNE PRESS
J.H.M. AND R.W.B.
GOOD FRIENDS AND
This is the first attempt to write the history of smoking in thiscountry from the social point of view. There have been many bookswritten about tobacco—F.W. Fairholt's "History of Tobacco," 1859, andthe "Tobacco" (1857) of Andrew Steinmetz, are still valuableauthorities—but hitherto no one has told the story of thefluctuations of fashion in respect of the practice of smoking.
Much that is fully and well treated in such a work as Fairholt's"History" is ignored in the following pages. I have tried to confinemyself strictly to the changes in the attitude of society towardssmoking, and to such historical and social sidelights as serve toilluminate that theme.
The tobacco-pipe was popular among every section of society in thiscountry in an amazingly short space of time after smoking was firstpractised for pleasure, and retained its ascendancy for noinconsiderable period. Signs of decline are to be observed during thelatter part of the seventeenth century; and in the course of itssuccessor smoking fell more and more under the ban of fashion. Earlyin the nineteenth century tobacco-smoking had reached its nadir fromthe social point of view. Then came the introduction of the cigar andthe revival of smoking in the circles from which it had long beenalmost entirely absent. The practice was hedged about and obstructedby a host of restrictions and conventions, but as the nineteenthcentury advanced the triumphant progress of tobacco became more andmore marked. The introduction of the cigarette completed what thecigar had begun; barriers and prejudices crumbled and disappeared withincreasing rapidity; until at the present day tobacco-smoking inEngland—by pipe or cigar or cigarette—is more general, morecontinuous, and more free from conventional restrictions than at anyperiod since the early days of its triumph in the first decades of theseventeenth century.
The tracing and recording of this social history of the smoking-habit,touching as it does so many interesting points and details of domesticmanners and customs, has been a task of peculiar pleasure. To me ithas been a labour of love; but no one can be more conscious of themany imperfections of these pages than I am.
I should like to add that I am indebted to Mr. Vernon Rendall, editorof The Athenæum, for a number of valuable references andsuggestions.
|I.||THE FIRST PIPES OF TOBACCO SMOKED IN ENGLAND||11|
|II.||TOBACCO TRIUMPHANT: SMOKING FASHIONABLE AND UNIVERSAL||25|
|III.||TOBACCO TRIUMPHANT (continued): SELLERS OF TOBACCO AND PROFESSORS OF THE ART OF SMOKING||39|
|IV.||CAVALIER AND ROUNDHEAD SMOKERS||57|
|V.||SMOKING IN THE RESTORATION ERA||69|
|VI.||SMOKING UNDER KING WILLIAM III AND QUEEN ANNE||83|
|VII.||SMOKING UNFASHIONABLE: EARLY GEORGIAN DAYS||99|
|VIII.||SMOKING UNFASHIONABLE (continued): LATER GEORGIAN DAYS||119|
|IX.||SIGNS OF REVIVAL||137|
|X.||EARLY VICTORIAN DAYS||155|
|XI.||LATER VICTORIAN DAYS||179|
|XII.||SMOKING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY||193|
|XIII.||SMOKING BY WOMEN||205|
|XIV.||SMOKING IN CHURCH||225|
THE FIRST PIPES OF TOBACCO SMOKED IN ENGLANDToC
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 variouskinds was inhaled in this country, and in Europe generally, longbefore tobacco was ever heard of on this side the Atlantic. Butwhatever smoking of this kind took place was medicinal and not social.Many instances have been recorded of the finding of pipes resemblingthose used for tobacco-smoking in Elizabethan times, in positions andin circumstances which would seem to point to much greater antiquityof use than the form of the pipes supports; but some at least of thesefinds will not bear the interpretation which has been put upon them,and in other cases the presence of pipes could reasonably be accountedfor otherwise than by associating them with the antiquity claimed forthem. In any case, the entire absence of any allusions whatever tosmoking in any shape or form in our pre-Elizabethan literature, or inmediæval or earlier art, is sufficient proof that from the socialpoint of view smoking did not then exist. The inhaling of the smoke ofdried herbs for medicinal purposes, whether through a pipe-shapedfunnel or otherwise, had nothing in it akin to the smoking of tobaccofor both individual and social pleasure, and therefore lies outsidethe scope of this book.
It may further be added that though the use of tobacco was known andpractised on the continent of Europe for some time before smokingbecame common in England—it was taken to Spain from Mexico by aphysician about 1560, and Jean Nicot about the same time sent tobaccoseeds to France—yet such use was exclusively for medicinal purposes.The smoking of tobacco in England seems from the first to have beenmuch more a matter of pleasure than of hygiene.
Who first smoked a pipe of tobacco in England? The honour is dividedamong several claimants. It has often been stated that Captain WilliamMiddleton or Myddelton (son of Richard Middleton, Governor of DenbighCastle), a Captain Price and a Captain Koet were the first who smokedpublicly in London, and that folk flocked from all parts to see them;and it is usually added that pipes were not then invented, so theysmoked the twisted leaf, or cigars. This account first appeared in oneof the volumes of Pennant's "Tour in Wales." But the late ProfessorArber long ago pointed out that the remark as to the mode of smokingby cigars and not by pipes was simply Pennant's speculation. Theauthority for the rest of the story is a paper in the Sebright MSS.,which, in an account of William Middleton, has the remark: "It issayed, that he, with Captain Thomas Price of Plâsyollin and oneCaptain Koet, were the first who smoked, or (as they called it) dranktobacco publickly in London; and that the Londoners flocked from allparts to see them." No date is named, and no further particulars areavailable.
Another Elizabethan who is often said to have smoked the first pipe inEngland is Ralph Lane, the first Governor of Virginia, who came homewith Drake in 1586. Lane is said to have given Sir Walter Raleigh anIndian pipe and to have shown him how to use it. There is no originalauthority, however, for the statement that Lane first smoked tobaccoin England, and, moreover, he was not the first English visitor toVirginia to return to this country. One Captain Philip Amadasaccompanied Captain Barlow, who commanded on the occasion of Raleigh'sfirst voyage of discovery, when the country was formally takenpossession of and named Virginia in honour of Queen Elizabeth. Thiswas 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. ofsmoking. It is extremely improbable that Captains Amadas and Barlow,when reporting to Raleigh on their expedition, did not also make himacquainted with the Indian practice of smoking. This would be twoyears before the return of Ralph Lane.
But certainly pipes were smoked in England before 1584. The plant wasintroduced into Europe, as we have seen, about 1560, and it was undercultivation in England by 1570. In the 1631 edition of Stow's"Chronicles" it is stated that tobacco was "first brought and madeknown by Sir John Hawkins, about the year 1565, but not used byEnglishmen in many years after." There is only one reference totobacco in Hawkins's description of his travels. In the account of hissecond voyage (1564-65) he says: "The Floridians when they travel havea kinde of herbe dryed, which with a cane, and an earthen cup in theend, with fire, and the dried herbs put together do smoke thoro thecane the smoke thereof, which smoke satisfieth their hunger, andtherewith they live foure or five days without meat or drinke."Smoking was thus certainly known to Hawkins in 1565, but much reliancecannot be placed on the statement in the Stow of 1631 that he firstmade known the practice in this country, because that statementappears in no earlier edition of the "Chronicles." Moreover, asopposed to the allegation that tobacco was "not used by Englishmen inmany years after" 1565, there is the remark by William Harrison, inhis "Chronologie," 1588, that in 1573 "the taking in of the smoke ofthe Indian herbe called Tobacco, by an instrument formed like a littleladell, 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 veryshallow 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 isRaleigh with whom in the popular mind the first pipe of tobacco smokedin England is usually associated. The tradition is crystallized in thestory of the schoolboy who, being asked "What do you know about SirWalter Raleigh?" replied: "Sir Walter Raleigh introduced tobacco intoEngland, and when smoking it in this country said to his servant,'Master Ridley, we are to-day lighting a candle in England which byGod's blessing will never be put out'"!
The truth probably is that whoever actually smoked the first pipe, itwas Raleigh who brought the practice into common use. It is highlyprobable, also, that Raleigh was initiated in the art of smoking byThomas Hariot. This was made clear, I think, by the late Dr.Brushfield in the second of the valuable papers on matters connectedwith the life and achievements of Sir Walter, which he contributedunder the title of "Raleghana" to the "Transactions" of the DevonshireAssociation. Hariot was sent out by Raleigh for the specific purposeof inquiring into and reporting upon the natural productions ofVirginia. He returned in 1586, and in 1588 published