As early as the year 1610 tobacco was in general use in England.
Continuing Slavery Injected Into Virginia,
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In 1615 twelve different commodities had been shipped from Virginia; sassafras and tobacco were now the only exports. During the year 1619 the company in England imported twenty thousand pounds of tobacco, the entire crop of the preceding year. James I endeavored to draw a “prerogative” revenue from what he termed a pernicious weed, and against which he had published his Counterblast; but he was restrained from this illegal measure by a resolution of the House of Commons. In 1607 he sent a letter forbidding the use of tobacco at St. Mary’s College, Cambridge.
Smoking was the first mode of using tobacco in England, and when Sir Walter Raleigh first introduced the custom among people of fashion, in order to escape observation he smoked privately in his house (at Islington); the remains of which were till of late years to be seen, as an inn, long known as the Pied Bull. This was the first house in England in which tobacco was smoked, and Raleigh had his arms emblazoned there, with a tobacco-plant on the top. There existed also another tradition in the parish of St. Matthew, Friday Street, London, that Raleigh was accustomed to sit smoking at his door in company with Sir Hugh Middleton. Sir Walter’s guests were entertained with pipes, a mug of ale, and a nutmeg, and on these occasions he made use of his tobacco-box, which was of cylindrical form, seven inches in diameter and thirteen inches long; the outside of gilt leather, and within a receiver of glass or metal, which held about a pound of tobacco. A kind of collar connected the receiver with the case, and on every side the box was pierced with holes for the pipes. This relic was preserved in the museum of Ralph Thoresby, of Leeds, in 1719, and about 1843 was added, by the late Duke of Sussex, to his collection of the smoking-utensils of all nations.
Although Raleigh first introduced the custom of smoking tobacco in England, yet its use appears to have been not entirely unknown before, for one Kemble, condemned for heresy in the time of Queen Mary the Bloody, while walking to the stake smoked a pipe of tobacco. Hence the last pipe that one smoked was called the Kemble pipe.
The writer of a pamphlet, supposed to have been Milton’s father, describes many of the playbooks and pamphlets of that day, 1609, as “conceived over night by idle brains, impregnated with tobacco smoke and mulled sack, and brought forth by the help of midwifery of a candle next morning.” At the theatres in Shakespeare’s time the spectators were allowed to sit on the stage, and to be attended by pages, who furnished them with pipes and tobacco.
About the time of the settlement of Jamestown, in 1607, the characteristics of a man of fashion were, to wear velvet breeches, with panes or slashes of silk, an enormous starched ruff, a gilt-handled sword, and a Spanish dagger: to play at cards or dice in the room of the groom-porter, and to smoke tobacco in the tilt-yard, or at the playhouse.
The peers engaged in the trial of the Earls of Essex and Southampton smoked much while they deliberated on their verdict. It was alleged against Raleigh that he smoked tobacco on the occasion of the execution of the Earl of Essex, in contempt of him; and it was perhaps in allusion to this circumstance that when Raleigh was passing through London to Winchester, to stand his trial, he was followed by the execrations of the populace, and pelted with tobacco-pipes, stones, and mud. On the scaffold, however, he protested that during the execution of Essex he had retired far off into the armory, where Essex could not see him, although he saw Essex, and shed tears for him. Raleigh used tobacco on the morning of his own execution.
As early as the year 1610 tobacco was in general use in England. The manner of using it was partly to inhale the smoke and blow it out through the nostrils, and this was called “drinking tobacco,” and this practice continued until the latter part of the reign of James I. In 1614 the number of tobacco-houses in or near London was estimated at seven thousand. In 1620 was chartered the Society of Tobacco-pipe Makers of London; they bore on their shield a tobacco-plant in full blossom.
The Counterblast to Tobacco, by King James I, if in some parts absurd and puerile, yet is not without a good deal of just reasoning and good sense; some fair hits are made in it, and those who have ridiculed that production might find it not easy to controvert some of its views. King James, in his Counterblast, does not omit the opportunity of expressing his hatred toward Sir Walter Raleigh. He continued his opposition to tobacco as long as he lived, and in his ordinary conversation oftentimes argued and inveighed against it.
The Virginia tobacco in early times was imported into England in the leaf, in bundles; the Spanish or West Indian tobacco in balls. Molasses or other liquid preparation was used in preparing those balls. Tobacco was then, as now, adulterated in various ways. The nice retailer kept it in what were called lily-pots; that is, white jars. It was cut on a maple block; juniper-wood, which retains fire well, was used for lighting pipes, and among the rich, silver tongs were employed for taking up a coal of it. Tobacco was sometimes called “the American Silver-Weed.”
The Turkish vizier thrust pipes through the noses of smokers; and the Shah of Persia cropped the ears and slit the noses of those who made use of the fascinating leaf. The Counterblast says of it: “And for the vanity committed in this filthy custom, is it not both great vanity and uncleanness, that at the table — a place of respect of cleanliness, of modesty — men should not be ashamed to sit tossing of tobacco-pipes and puffing of smoke, one at another, making the filthy smoke and stink thereof to exhale athwart the dishes, and infect the air, when very often men who abhor it are at their repast? Surely smoke becomes a kitchen far better than a dining-chamber; and yet it makes the kitchen oftentimes in the inward parts of man, soiling and infecting them with an unctuous and oily kind of soot, as hath been found in some great tobacco-takers that after their deaths were opened.”
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