King of England James I.

The essayes of a prentise, in the divine art of poesie. Edinburgh. 1585. A counterblast to tobacco. London, 1604 online

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sates, that haue so often hearde speaking of this saide hearbe, and yet neyther
knew the hearbe nor the effectes thereof.

This Hearbe is called Xicotuuu, of the name of him that gaue the firste
intelligence thereof vnto this Realme. as many other plantes haue taken their
names of certayne Greekes and Roma vises, who hauing beene in stiaunge
Countries, for seruice of their common Weales, haue brought into their coun-
tries many plants, which, were before vnknowne. Some haue called I


Hearbe the Queenes Hearbe, because it was firste sent vnto her, as heere-
after shalbe declared by the Gentleman, that was the first inuenter of it, and
since v/as by her geuen to rimers for tosowe, whereby it might bee planted in
this lande. Others haue named it the great Priors hearbe, for that he caused
it to multiply in Fraunce, more then any other, for the greate reuerence that
he bare to [tjhis hearbe, for the Diuine effectes therin contayned. Many haue
geuen it the name, J'etutu, which is indeede the proper name of the Hearbe,
as they which haue trauelled that Countrie can tell. Notwithstanding, it is
better to name it Nicotiane, by the name of him that sent it into Fraunce
first, to the ende that hee may haue the honour thereof, according to his
desert, for that bee hath enriched our Countrie [i.e. France], with so singular
an Hearbe. Thus much for the name, and nowe hearken further for the
whole Historic.

Then follows NICOT'S own account :

Maister lohn Nicot, Counseller to the King, being Embassadour for his
Maiestie in Portugall, in the yeere of our Lorde. 1559. 60. 61. went one day
to see the Prysons of the King of Portugall : and a Gentleman beeyng the
keeper of the sade Prisons presented him with this hearb, as a strange Plant
brought from Florida. The same Maister Nicot, hauing caused the said
hearb to be set in his Garden, where it grewe and multiplied maruellously,
was vppon a time aduertised, by one of his Pages, that a young man, of kinne
to that Page made asaye of that hearbe brused both the hearbe and the luice
together vppon an vlcer, which he had vpon his cheeke neere vnto his nose,
comming of a Noli me tangcre. which began to take roote already at the
gristles of the Nose, wherewith hee founde himselfe meruellously eased.
Therefore the sayde Mai^tcr Xicot caused the sicke young man to bee brought
before him, and causing the saide hearb to be continued to the sore eight or
ten dales, this saide Noli me tangere, was vtterly extinguished and healed :
and he had sent it, while this cure was a woorking to a certeine Phisition of
the King of Portugall one of the greatest fame to examine the further working
and effect of the said Nicotiane, and sending for the same young man at the
end of ten dayes, the sayde Phisition seeing the visage of the said sicke yong
man, certified, that the sayde Noli me tangere was vtterly extinguished, as
in deede he neuer felt it since.

Within a while after, one of the Cookes of the sayde Embassadour hauing
almost cutte oft' his thombe, with a great chopping knyfe, the Steward of the
house of the sayde Gentleman ran to the sayde Nicotiane, and dressed him
therewith fine or sixe tymes, and so in the ende thereof he was healed : from
that time forward this hearbe began to bee famous throughout Lishebron,
where the court of the kyng of Portugall was at that present, and the vertue
of this sayde hearbe was extolled, and the people began to name it the Am-
bassadours hearbe. Wherefore there came certaine dayes after a Gentleman
of the Countrie, Father to one of the Pages of the Ambassadour, w'.io was
troubled with an vlcer in his Legge, hauinge had the same twoo yecrcs, and
demaunded of the sayde Ambassadour for his hearbe, and v.sing the same in
such order as is before written, at the end of tenne or twelue daies hee was
healed. From that tyme forth the fame of that same hearbe increased in
such sort, that many came from al places to haue some of it. Among al
others there was a woman that had her face couercd wyth a Ringworme
rooted, as though she had a Visour on her face, to whome she saide L[ord]
Embassadour caused the hearbe to be giuen, and told how she should vse it,
and at the ende of eight or tenne daies, this woman was throughly healed, who
came and presented her selfe to the Ambassadour, shewing him of her healing.

After there came a Captaine to present his Sonne sick of the kinges euill to
the sayde L[ord] Ambassadour, for to send him into France, vnto whome
there was asaye made of the sayde hearbe, which in fewe dayes did begin
to shewe great signes of healing, and finally he was altogether healed therby
of the kings euill.

The L[ord] Ambassadour seeing so great effectes proceeding of this hearbe,
and hauing heard say that the Lady Montigue that was, dyed at Saint Ger-
mans, of an vlcer bredd in her brest, that did turne to a Noli me taugere,


far the -which there could neucr remedy bee founde, and lykewyse that the

Countesse of Ruffe, had sought for al the famous Filiations of that R _

for to heale her face, vnto whom they could giue no remedy, he tho-. \

mod to communicate the same into France, and did sende it t

Frauncis the seconde, and to the Qu-.. .nd to many other Lords

of the Court, with the maner of ministring the same : and how .

vnto the said diseases, euen as he had found it by experience, and ch: .

the Lorde of lanmc gouemour of Rogel, with whom the slide Lorde Am-

bassadour had great amide for the seruice of the king. The

of lantaf told one day at the Queenes table, vat he had caused the saide

.'iaxe to be distilled, and the water to bee dronke, mingled with
F.utkrasif. otherwise called eyebright, to one that was shorte breathed, who
was therewith healed. .

[Herefolltna descriptions of the Aert, and directions for its cxlti-patio*.]
Moreoner the inhabitantes of Florida do nourish themselues certaine
ymes, with the smoke of this Hearbe, which they receaue at the mouth
through certaine coffins, suche as the Grocers do TSC to put in their Spices.
There be other oyntmtntes prepared of the sayde hearbe, with other simples,
but for a truth this only simple hearbe, taken and applyed as aforesayc .
greater efficacie. notwithstanding one may make thereof an oyntinent, which
is singular, to cleanse, incarnate, and knit together al maner of woundes :
the making of the sayde Oyntmente is thus. Take a pounde of the freshe
leaues of the sayde Hearbe, stampe them, and mingle them with newe V.
Rosine, common oyle, of eche three ounces, let them boyle altogether, vntil
the luyce Xitotiane be consumed, then adde therto three ounces of Vfttise
Turpentine, straine the same through a Linen cloth, and keepe it in Pones
to yo: -

Liebaut thus concludes :

Loe, here you haue the true H istorie of \icotiaxe, of the whiche the sayde
Lorde \:coi. one of the Kynges Counsellers first founder out of this hearbe,
hath made mee priuie aswell by woorde as by wryting. to make thee friendly
Reader partaker therof, to whom I require thee to yeeld as hart)' thankes
as I acknowledge my self bounde vnto him, for this benente receiued. Joy-
- -'5, foL 42-45.

In fo far therefore, as thefe two editions of Joyful/ rtf:-
culated, this much was known in England refpecting Tebacco,
fo early as 15 7 7 -So.

II. The principal notices of the firft introduction of the Herb
into this country are thefe :

in his continuation of J. S tow's Annala,
[p. 1038. Ed. 1631] dates

Tobacco was first brought, and made known in England by c
Hawkins, about the yeare 1565 but not vsed by Englishmen in many yeeres
after, though at this day commonly rsed by most men, and many women.
The dates of Mr, afterwards Sir John Hawkins' voyages to the
indies, are

The first Oct. 1562 Sept. 1563.

The second 18 Oct. 1564 20 Sept. 1565.

'the troublesome voyadge ' f 2 Oct ^67-^5 Jan. 1568.
The account of the Second voyage, by John Sparke the younger,
flates that Hawkins, ranging along the coaft of Florida for frefh
water in July 1565, came upon the French fettlemeiU there under
Laudoniere : and in defcribing that country Sparke mentions that
the natives


The Flcridians when they trauell haue a kinde of herbe dryed, which
with a cane, and an earthen cup in the end, with fire and the dried herbs
put together, do sucke thorow the cane the smoke thereof, which smoke
satisfieth their hunger, and therewith they line foure or fine dayes without
meat or drinke, and this all the Frenchmen vsed for this purpose : yet do they
holde opinion withall, that it causeth water and fleame to void from their sto-
macks. //<?/Wj</, /. 541. Ed, 1589.

2. Howes, on the fame page as the preceding, ftates

Apricocks, Mellycntoi's, Musk-Millions and Tobacco, came into England
about the 20 yeare of Queene Elizabeth [1577].

And adds in the margin

Sir Walter Raleigh was the first that brought Tobacco into vse, when all
men wondred what it meant.

The date here given, fo far as Tobacco fmoking generally is
concerned, muft be wrong by about ten years.

III. Smoking appears to have been firft taught in England,
under the following circumftances :

1. Sir Walter Raleigh's firft Expedition took pofTeffion of Vir-
ginia on 13 July 1584, and after a fix weeks' ftay in the country,
returned home. The next year, a fecond expedition conveyed
out a colony under Mafter Ralph Lane, which remained in the
country from 17 Aug. 1585 to 18 June 1586: when Sir Francis
Drake and his fleet returning from his victorious raid in the "Well
Indies brought home the colony to the number of 103 perfons.
Among thefe was the celebrated mathematician Thomas Hariot,
who in his exctffively rare ' Brief c and true ;</<>;/ <///'< newfound

land of Virginia : d-Y Imprinted at London 1588,' thus

defcribes Tobacco, and the adoption of the fmoking of it by thefe
Virginian colonifts.

There is an herbe which is sowed a part by it selfe and is called by the
inhabitants vppfavoc: In the West Indies it hath diuers names, ace -
the seuerall places and countries where it groweth and is vsed : The
ardes generally call it Tobacco. The leaues thereof being dried and brought
into powder : they vse to take the fume or smoke thereof by sucking it through
pipes made of claie into their stomacke and heade ; from whence it purgeth
superfluous fleame and other grosse humors, openeth all the pores and pass-
ages of the body : by which meanes the vse thereof, not only preserueth the
body from obstructions ; but also if any be, so that they haue not beene of
too long continuance, in short time breaketh them : wherby their bodies
are notably presented in health, and know not many greeuous diseases
wherewithall wee in England are oftentimes afflicted.

This / 'ppfavoc is of so precious estimation amongest them, that they thinke
their gods are maruelously delighted therwith : Whereupon sometime they
make hallowed fires and cast some of the pouder therein for a sacrifice : being
in a storme vppon the waters, to pacific their gods, they cast some vp into
the aire and into the water : so a weare for fish being newly set vp, they cast
some therein and into the aire : also after an escape of danger, they cast some
into the aire likewise : but all done with strange gestures, stamping, some-
time dauncing, clapping of hands, holding vp of hands, and staring vp into
the heauens, vttering therewithal and chattering strange words and noises.

We our selues during the time we were there vsed to suck it after their
maner, as also since our returne, and haue found manie rare and wonderful
experiments of the venues thereof; of which the relation would require a


volume by it selfp : the vse of it by so manie of late, men and women of great
calling as else, and some learned Phisitions also, is sufficient witnes.

It would therefore appear that Raleigh himfelf had nothing to
do either with the introduction of the weed itfelf, or of the habit of
fmoking of it. Hawkins may have brought home a few fpecimens
of the plant in 1565 ; but for the importation of it in any quantity
and for the teaching of how to fmoke it, we are indebted to Mafter
Ralph Lane and to his fellow-colonifts, who acquired both from
the Indians, during the twelve months they were cut off from all
intercourfe with their mother-country.

2. AVilliun Camel en, who was fecond, afterwards Head Mafter
of Weftminfter School between 1575-1593, and confequently a
contemporary witnefs, in his Annales, publifhed in Latin in 1615,
at/. 388, gives this account ; of which this is the earlieft tranfla-
tion into Knglifh.

These were the first ''that I know of) that brought at their returre into
F.nglnnti, that Indian Plant called Tobacco, or Nicotiana, which they vsed,
being instructed by the Indians, against crudities of the Stomack. And
ccrtes since that time it is grown so frequent in vse, and of such price, that
many, nay, the most part, with an insatiable desire doe take of it. drawing
into their mouth the .smoke thereof, which is a strong sent, through a Pipe
made of earth, and venting of it againe through their nose ; some for w.irt >n-
r rather fashion sake, and other for healths sake, insomuch that To-
bacco shops are set vp in greater number than either Alehouses or Taue:n;s.
And as one said, but falsely, the bodies of such Englishmen, as are so much
delighted with this plant, did seeme to degenerate into the nature of the
. because they were caries away with the selfe-same thing, beleeuing
to ohtaine and con erue their health by the selfe-same meanes, as the barbari-
ans did. /j'X\ ///. /. 107. Ed. 1625.

In the face of there facts, attefted by early contemporary tefti-
rnony : all accounts which reprefent Sir \V. Raleigh ns introduc-
ing Tobacco into Kngland muft be confirlered falfe in that refpect.

Incidentally this agrees with the account though in itfelf no
evidence given in an undated 4 pp. tract, The I'cnunotts Qua-
lities c/ Tobacco^ apparently printed before 1650.

T/\n ACC<> is an ignite Plant, called by the native Americans Picielt; by
those of ffittaniola, Peie be Come; as by t u France, Peti,

Pftiini, and PettatutH. It was called by the French Xicc/ittna, from John
Kicatius Kmbassador to the king of ]' ranee, who An. 1559. first sent this
Plant into }' ranee. Hut now it is generally by us Europeans termed Tabaco,
(which we improperly pronounce Tcf-acco a name first yiven it by the Spani-
ards from their Hand Tabaco, which abounded with thj> Plant; whereof had
Plato had as much experience as we, he would, without al peradventure,
have philosophised thereon. They say we are beholding to Sir Francis Drake's
Mariners for the knowledge and use of the Plant, who brought its Seed from
J'irginit' into England about the year 1585.

IV. But while Sir Walter introduced neither the Herb nor the
manner of fmoking it, there is a general confent that he princi-
pally brought the habit of Tobacco-fmoking, or, as it was at firft
called, Tobacco-r/;v;//(v';/;'-, into fafhion. His name, and his al-
moft exclufively, became identified with the new National Habit.

Yet even of this, we have but little demonftrative proof.


It may, however, be well to give fome of the principal traditions
and legends on this point.

1. JOHN AUBREY, F.R.S., in his Minutes of Lives of Eminent
Alen, of which his Introductory letter to Anthony a Wood is
dated 15 June 1680, gives the following in his life of Raleigh.

He was the first that brought tobacco into England, and into fashion. In
our part of North Wilts e.g. Malmesbury hundred it came first into
fashion by Sir Walter Long. They had first silver pipes. The ordin
made use of a walnut shell and a strawe. I have heard my grandfather Lyte
say, that one pipe was handed from man to man round the table. Sir \V.
Raleigh standing in a stand at Sir Robert Poyntz parke, at Acton, tonke a
pipe of tobacco, which made the ladies quitt it till he had donne. Within
these 35 years, 'twas scandalous for a divine to take tobacco. It v.
then for its wayte in sillier. I haue heard some of our old yeomen nei;rhb nirs
say, that when they went to Malmesbury or Chippenham Market, they
culled out their biggest shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco ;
now, the customes of it are the greatest his majestic hath. Letters written
by Eminent Persons. Ed. by John Aubrey, ii. 512. Ed. 1813.

2. T. P. MALCOLM, in his Londiniiim Redhiruin, iv. p. 490,
Ed. 1801, flates.

' There was a tradition, in the parish of St. Matthew, Friday Street, that
Sir Wa'ter Raleigh and ."lir Hugh Myddleton often smoaked tobacco together
at the door of Sir Hugh's house' in that parish.

3. THOMAS I'H.NNAN r, in his Jonrncv to Snowdon, p. 28, Ed.
1781, which forms the fccond volume of his Tour in Wales, the
firft of which was publifhed in 1778 ; gives the following account
of William Middleton : the third fon of Richard Middleton,
Governor of Denbigh Caftle, and brother to Sir Hugh Middle-
ton, the fixth fon in that family.

The particular information, from ' It is fayd' to +, is given on
the authority of the Sebright MSS., i.e. MSS. formerly belong-
ing to Mr. Edward Lloyd, but lent to him by Sir John Sebright,
Bart., in whofe poffeffion they were, at the date of Pennant's
preface, I March 1781. The laft part of the paragraph is merely
Pennant's (peculation: but there may be fome truth in the MS.

The third, William, was a sea captain, and an eminent poet. His early
education was at Oxford: but his military turn led him abroad, where he
signalized himself as soldier and sailor. He translated the psalms into
Welsh metre, and finished them on Jan. 4th, 1595, apnd Scutum iiisiilam
occidentaliiun Indnnuji ; which, as well as his Barddoniaeth, or art of
Welsh poetry, were published in London; the first in 1603, the other in
1593. It is saved, that he, with captain Thomas J'rice, of PlAsyoltin, and
one captain Koet, were the first who smoked, or as they called it drank
tobacco publickly in London; and that the Londoners flocked from all parts
to see them.t Pipes \verc not then invented, so they used the twisted leaves,
or segars. The invention is usually ascribed to Sir H'ulti-r Raleigh. It
may be so; but he was too good a courtier to smoke in public, especially in
the reign of James, who even condescended to write a book against the
practice, under the title of The Counter-blast to Tobacco.

4. A Phyfician [Dr. J. A. PARIS] in A Guide to Mounts Bay
and Lands End, p. 39, Ed. 1824, ftates.


A tradition exists here, that Tobacco was first smoked by Sir Waiter
Raleigh in Penzaace. on his land ng from America,
i legend is quite contrary to the facts.

5. WILLIAM OLDYS, in his Life of Sir Walter Raleigh prefixed
to The Hi/lory of the World, Ed. 1736, xxxii., gives the follow-
ing from a 410 MS. entitled Apophthegms of the Englijh Nation,
then in the collection of Rodney Fane, Esq.

He [Sir W. Raleigh] assured her majesty [Queen Elizabeth] he had so
well experienced the nature of it, that he could tell her of what weight
even the smoke would be in any quantity prop ;sd to be consum'd. Her
majesty fixing her thoughts upon the most impracticable part of the experi-
ment, that of bounding the smoke in utallancf, suspected that he put the tra-
veller upon her, and would netds lay him a wager he could not solve the doubt :
so he procured a quantity agreed upon to be thoroughly smok'd, then went to
weighing ; but it was of the ashes ; and in the conclusion, what was wanting
in the prime weight of the tobacco, her majesty did not deny to have been
evaporated in smoke ; and further said, that many labourers in tJu fire site
had heard of eoho turned their gold into smokt, but Ralegh vxu the first
mta had turned smoke into gold.

JAMES HOWELL. Familiar Letters, Hi. 12, Ed. 1650, in a Letter
on Tobacco, incidentally confirms this ftory.

But if one would try a pretty conclusion how much smoak ther is in a
pound of Tobacco, the ashes will tell him ; for let a pound be exactly
weighed, and the ashe~ kept charily and weighed afterwards, what wants of
a pound weight in the ashes cannot be denied to have bin snioak, which
evaporated into air ; I haue bin told that Sir Walter Rawleigh won a wager
of Queen Elizabeth upon this nicity.

6. We have now come to a legend, perhaps the mod untrufl-
worthy of all.

(l.) In Tarltotfs Jells, 1611, 410, there occurs the following

Have Tarltan taote tobacco at the first commutg u '

Tarlton, as other gentlemen used, at the first camming up of tobacco, did
take it more for fashion's sake than otherwise ; and being in a roome, set
between two men overcome with wine, and they never seeing the like,
wondred at it, and seeing the vapour come out of Tarlton's ncse, erred put:
fire tire ' and threw a cup of wine in Tarlton's face. Make no more stirre,
quoth Tarlton, the fire is quenched ; if the sheruTes dune, it will turne to a
fine, as the custome is. And drinking that againe : fie, sayes the other, what
a stinke it makes : I am almost poysoned. If it offend, saies Tar] :
every one take a little of the smell, and so the savour will quickly goe : but
tobacco whiffes made them leave him to pay all. Shakespeare's jest-Books,
Ed. by W. C. Hazlitt. it. 221. Ed. 1864.

in 1619, BARNABY RICK inferted in the fccond edition of
The Iri/Ji Hubbub, or the Englijh Hue and Crie, a similar ftory.

I remember a pretty iest of Tobacco. That was this. A certaine Welch-
man comming newly to London, and beholding one to take tobacco, neuer
seeing the like before, and not knowing the manner of it, but perceiuing him
vent smoake so fast, and supposing his inward parts to be on fire : cried out,
O I hem, Ihetu man. for the passion of Cod held, for by Cods sflud ty
fturwtt tm fire, and hajg a bowle of beere in his hand, threw it at the
others face to quench his smoking nose./. 45.

(3.) To fomewhat fimilar purport is the legend of Sir W. Raleigh
and the Tankard of Ale. Of this ftory, though evidently current
Sc the feventeenth century, Oldys could quote no earlier authority
The Britijh Apollo, 3d Ed. /. 376, London 1726: and we


can only adduce the authority of the firft edition of the fame

The Britijli Apollo was a bi-weekly periodical ' Ferform'd by
a Society of Gentlemen,' partly devoted to the explanation of
difficulties in Divinity, Mathematics, Love, and fitch like, and
partly to Poetry and Political News. In itfelf of no authority
whatever, it merely difpenfed its modicums of current knowledge
from the learned to the general public.

In Vol. I, No. 43, publifhed on July 7, 1708, occur the fol-
lowing queftion and anfwer.

. Gentlemen, Pray iwiv long is it since, tJie sttwaking Tobacco, and the
tig Snuff hath been in Use here in England; the time i^licii tl:
first brought mvr, and how, or by ivhoni. Your Humble Servant, H. S.

A. Snuff, tho' the Use of it has been long known to such, as were by mer-
chandizing or other means, familiar with the Spanish (Justomes, has been
till lately a perfect Stranger to the Practice of the British Nation, and like
pur other Fashions came to us from France, but the Use of Tobacco-smoak-
ing, was introduc'd by Sir Walter Rawleigh, in the Reign of Queen Eliza-
beth ; and since a comical story depends upon the Relation, it may not be
unacceptable to the Querist and the Publick.

Sir U'alter having imitated the Indians by delighting in their Favorite
Weed, was unwilling to disuse it, and therefore at his return to England,
supplied himself with some Hogsheads, which he plac'd in his own Study,
and generally indulg'd himself in Smoaking secretly, two Pipes a Day: at
which times he order'd a Simple Fellow, who waited at his Study Door, to
bring him up a Tankard of old Ale and Nutmeg, always laying aside the
Pipe, when he heard his Servant coming ; But while he was one day,
earnestly imploy'd in Reading something, which amus'd him, The Fellow
enter'd, and surprizing his Master, as the Smoak ascended thickly from his
Mouth and the Hole of the Pipe, he threw the Ale directly in his Face; and
running down Stairs alarm'd the Family with repeated Exclamations, that
his Master was on fire in the in-side, and before they could get up Stairs
would be burnt to Ashes.

How much this legend wanders from the facls of the cafe, will
be apparent from the above. There may, however, be earlier
accounts of this ftory in a more credible form : but we have not

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