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How is it that our great dramatist never once

makes even the slightest allusion to smoking?
Who can suggest a reason?

I first asked this question some years ago in a
laborious but very inadequate antiquarian work of
mine (Shakespeare's England, 2 vols. Longman,
1856), and from that time unto this season I have
never found anybody, gentle or simple, who could
give me even the faintest reason for such silence.
Our great poet knew the human heart too well,
and kept too steadily in view the universal nature
of man to be afraid of painting the external trap-
pings, and ephemeral customs of his own time.
Does he not delight to moralize on false hair,
masks, rapiers, pomanders, perfumes, dice, bowls,
fardingales, &c.? Did he not sketch for us, with en-
joyment and with satire, too, the fantastic fops, the
pompous stewards, the mischievous pages, the quar-
relsome revellers, the testy gaolers, the rhapsodizing
lovers, the sly cheats, and the ruffling courtiers
that filled the streets of Elizabethan London, per-
sons who could have been found nowhere else,
nor in any other age? No one can dispute that he
drew the life that he saw moving around him. He
sketched these creatures because they were before
his ey
. were his enemies or his associates;

they live st because their creator's genius was

Promethean, and endowed them with immortality.

Bardolph, Moth, Slender, Abhorson, Don Armado,

Mercutio, &c., are portraits as every one knows

and feels who is conversant with the manners of

the Elizabethan times as handed down in old


If Shakespeare's contemporaries were silent

about the then new fashion of smoking, we should
not so much wonder at Shakespeare's taciturnity.
But Decker's and Ben Jonson's works abound in
allusions to tobacco, its uses and abuses. The
humourist and satirist lost no opportunity of de-
riding the new fashion and its followers. The
tobacco merchant was an important person in the
London of James the First's time-with his Win-
chester pipes, his maple cutting-blocks, his juni-
per wood charcoal fires, and his silver tongs with
which to hand the hot charcoal to his customers,
although he was shrewdly suspected of adulterat-
ing the precious weed with sack lees and oil. It
was his custom to wash the tobacco in muscadel
and grains, and to keep it moist by wrapping it
in greased leather and oiled rags, or by burying it
in gravel. The Elizabethan pipes were so small
that now when they are dug up in Ireland the
poor call them "fairy pipes" from their tininess.
These pipes became known by the nickname of
"the woodcocks' heads." The apothecaries, who
sold the best tobacco, became masters of the art,
and received pupils, whom they taught to exhale
the smoke in little globes, rings, or the "Euri-
pus." "The slights" these tricks were called.

Ben Jonson facetiously makes these professors
boast of being able to take three whiffs, then to
take horse, and evolve the smoke-one whiff on
Hounslow, a second at Staines, and a third at
Bagshot. The ordinary gallant, like Mercutio,
would smoke while the dinner was serving up.
Those who were rich and foolish carried with them
smoking apparatus of gold or silver-tobacco-box,
snuff-ladle, tongs to take up charcoal, and priming
irons. There seem, from Decker's Gull's Horn-
Book, to have been smoking clubs, or tobacco or-
dinaries as they were called, where the entire
talk was of the best shops for buying the Trinidado,
the Nicotine, the Cane, and the Pudding, whose
pipe had the best bore, which would turn blackest,
and which would break in the browning.

At the theatres, the rakes and spendthrifts who
crowded the stage of Shakespeare's time sat on
low stools smoking; they sat with their three sorts
of tobacco beside them, and handed each other
lights on the points of their swords, sending out
their pages for more Trinidado if they required
it. Many gallants "took" their tobacco in the
lord's room over the stage, and went out to
(Saint) Paul's to spit there privately. Shabby
sponges and lying adventurers, like Bobadil,
bragged of the number of packets of "the most
divine tobacco" they had smoked in a week, and
told enormous lies of living for weeks in the In-
dies on its fumes alone. They swore it was an

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