Old pirate pipe
Old pirate pipe

Many believe that smoking spread throughout the world after Columbus discovered America. However, this is not quite true. The process of smoking, meaning inhaling the smoke from burning plants, has been known since time immemorial. In ancient Indian temples, frescoes were found depicting holy ascetics inhaling the smoke of aromatic incense; images of special smoking pipes have also been preserved. Pipes of a similar purpose and even a clay hookah were found in Egypt during excavations of tombs dating from 2000-1800 BC. In his writings, the ancient Greek scientist Herodotus described that the Scythians and ancient inhabitants of Africa burned some plants and inhaled the resulting smoke, and in Chinese paintings dating back to ancient times, you can see images of the same pipes that are now used for smoking., called the "father of medicine", prescribed asthma sufferers to inhale smoke from manure smoldering in a pipe, which supposedly treated coughs. The fact that the ancient Romans believed in this, we can be sure thanks to the preserved Pompeian frescoes.

Today, most scientists are inclined to think that smoking in the form of inhaling the fumes of special plants (for example, hemp) arose among the peoples of Eurasia as an attribute of ritual actions that help free the shaman's consciousness and achieve a special state of mind. However, despite the abundant evidence of such "leisure", there is no reason to believe that "smoking fumes" was widespread among the general population. In any case, in most eastern countries, smoking drugs (opium, hashish, etc.) was considered a bad vice, along with alcoholism. In European countries at that time, smoking was practically not practiced at all.

However, such a situation existed only until 1492, when, during an expedition to the shores of India and Asia, having moored one of the newly discovered islands, nothing puzzled the desperate guys from the ships of the discoverers more than the outlandish custom of the islanders “to carry in their hands red-hot coals of fragrant cereals, from which they suck smoke and get drunk from it. " Columbus and his companions noticed that the natives rolled a leaf of a plant into a tube, dried it and smoked it. These leaves were called "petum". However, the Indians smoked this plant only on holidays and got so high that they fell asleep and unconscious. In addition, the Caribbean natives sniffed the finely ground tobacco through Y-shaped cane pipes, thrusting their forked ends into their nostrils. This tube was called by them "tobago" or "tobaca", hence the Spanish word for the corresponding plant and its dry leaves. The Indians, who considered tobacco a sacred plant, presented a pack of dry leaves to Columbus, teaching him at the same time how to smoke them. The Thein Indians (tribes living in Cuba) called their cigars, if you can call them that, "Cohiba". They were dried tobacco leaves wrapped in a palm leaf. As you can see, various Indian tribes used different ways of using tobacco: as a snuff and as a smoking one.

However, the Indians were not heavy smokers. Tobacco use was more of a tribute to certain circumstances. The famous pipe of peace was run in a circle mainly when contracts were concluded. Smoking was primarily a cult-ceremonial custom through which the god Manito was invoked. Hence the Indian name for pipe smoke - "breath of the gods".

One way or another, but on March 15, 1496, the last ship of Columbus's second expedition, the Niña, docked in a Portuguese port, carrying seeds and dried leaves of a special herb for smoking on board. The Spanish monk Roman Pano brought them. He even wrote a treatise "On the Manners and Customs of the People of America", in which tobacco was first described under the name "kogoba". At first, in Spain, tobacco was cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens.

The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard, 1718 By JLG Ferris
The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard, 1718 By JLG Ferris

The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard, 1718 By JLG Ferris

Tobacco began its further "journey" through old Europe only half a century later: in 1556 tobacco was brought to France from Brazil by the Franciscan monk André Tivet. Tiwe wrote several treatises about tobacco, in which he praised the miraculous properties of this plant in every possible way, calling it "healing" and capable of "purifying brain juices." Pointing to the properties of tobacco to reduce hunger and thirst, he wrote that with increased use, the smoke of this plant "intoxicates like wine, and then causes sweat and general weakness until fainting." Nevertheless, 1560 can be considered a real "breakthrough" in the spread of tobacco, when the French ambassador at the court of Lisbon, Jean Nico, presented the first tobacco plants to the French queen Catherine de Medici, the leaves of which, according to him, had the ability to "drive out and destroy diseases of the head and brain ". The queen and her son Francis II suffered from severe migraines, which is why they accepted the gift with joy. On the advice of the ambassador, the leaves of the miraculous plant were to be crushed into powder, which was smelled, and compresses were also put. The fashion to consume "Queen's Herb Powder" quickly took root not only at court, but throughout Paris. As a token of gratitude, the queen named the "miracle cure" after her messenger - nicotina tabacum.

Soon this addiction reached extreme limits, tobacco began to be considered a panacea for almost all diseases. The wealthy French carried with them a bundle of a precious plant, along with a grater that turned it into powder. At the meeting, it became a custom to offer a pinch of snuff. A few years later, along with sniffing, tobacco began to be smoked. Catherine de Medici, being a practical woman, gave (subject to large deductions to the treasury) a monopoly on the processing and sale of tobacco to several large industrialists and traders who made great fortunes on this.

Until about 1575, the Spaniards remained practically monopolies on the European tobacco market. At this time, the Portuguese also began to grow small quantities of tobacco in the New World.

However, the first country where tobacco really became widespread was England. It is amazing how quickly "tobacco drinking", as smoking is sometimes called, has spread. Already at the end of the 16th century, there were about seven thousand tobacco shops in London alone! In the 16th century, the British began to actively develop the American continent, creating their colonies there. One of the most numerous English colonies, named by its founder Sir Walter Raleigh after the Queen of England, Virginia, became the birthplace of Virginia tobacco, which soon became a lucrative trade article. Sir Rayleigh was one of the earliest tobacco promoters in England.

There is a legend that once Sir Rayleigh argued with Queen Elizabeth that half of the tobacco mass is smoke. In front of witnesses, he smoked a measure of tobacco, and when weighing the ashes, it turned out that it weighs exactly half of the original weight of the tobacco. The Queen lost the bet, and Sir Rayleigh smoked tobacco for a whole year at her expense

The only ones who could argue with the British in their addiction to tobacco were the Dutch. The seventeenth century is considered "golden" in the history of the Netherlands. Then new cities were built in Holland, crafts, trade and the navy developed rapidly. Even the great Russian Tsar Peter the Great learned the art of shipbuilding from the Dutch. He later became an ardent promoter of tobacco in Russia (although, in fairness, it should be noted that for the first time tobacco came to Russia long before Peter - back at the end of the 16th century thanks to English merchants). The Dutch very soon took an example from the British and began to make clay pipes. At first, these pipes had a small cup because the tobacco was too expensive and not well processed. The cup of pipes grew as Europe found new suppliers of tobacco, and not only in the New World, but also beyond.

The most famous pipe manufacturer is the Dutch town of Gouda. In the 17th century, there were more than five hundred workshops in this city. Clay for the production of pipes was imported from Germany. A hundred years later, there were still many workshops in the city of Gouda, but their number was reduced to three hundred.

The spread of the habit of smoking among European colonists in the New World, of course, outstripped Europe. It can be safely asserted that sailors were the first Europeans to smoke, and it was among them that the new means of pleasure found its main consumers. The main tobacco plantations were located here, so it was quite inexpensive here, although, given the position in European markets, it was considered a profitable commodity. Clay pipes were found during the examination of some sunken ships, as well as during the excavation of the sunken part of Port Royal. All this gives us the right to assume that sailors in the New World used tobacco for everyday smoking. It was Walter Raleigh's care that brought the first pipe to Europe. Only then did tobacco become a "soul vitamin" for the ship's people. After all, the sailor could not work with a lighted cigar in bad weather and wind for fear of causing a fire. It was the pipe that contributed to the triumphant march of tobacco around the world. Cigars also went through a lot of hardships until they gained acceptance. The first German cigar manufacturer, Schlottmann from Hamburg, had to cut his "poisonous pasta" into pipe tobacco, because it was impossible to sell them. Only after he began to add two free cigars to each pack of tobacco, did he gradually manage to acquire cigar friends in Germany. On sailing ships, cigars practically did not take root because of their fear of humid air and the high risk of causing a fire.

As if following the ancient ritual of the pipe of peace, which had spread to ships, the sea wolf held out his lighted pipe to the newly accepted companion in torture, first wiping its mouthpiece with the sleeve of his jacket. This was the sailor's custom back in the 18th century.

Very quickly, the masses were enslaved by this potion. This can be learned from the reports of a Jesuit dating back to the 18th century:

“If such a ship carrying tobacco from distant lands enters the harbor, they cannot wait for its stinking goods to be unloaded. To get it, they board the nearest boat and drive to the ship. They have to open the boxes and cut the packages. Then they taste the chaff and bite into them, as if it were the best delicacy. If they find something delivered according to their desire, then they light up from lust and from joy do not remember themselves. After a long gaze, buying and selling begins. They demand a ducat or a gold guilder - they give: for them it is not too much. They do not repent of any heller invested in this product. […] Usually money is held above virtue. However, they revered tobacco above money. "

With some envy one reads nowadays old reports on the prices and assortment of the potion intoxicating people. As soon as the tobacco trade took a good start, "knaster" was ranked among the pfennig goods. In 1630 a pound of English tobacco was worth two pence. And the Prussian tobacco monopoly in 1780 offered the following illustrative assortment: Knaster in bundles and in lead cans, Porto Rico, Petum Optimum, Batavia, Stadtlender, Three Kings, several varieties of brown and yellow "Virginia", "Swicent" - the highest grade and ordinary, "Gendarme" tobacco, "Land-tobacco" - ordinary and in bags. Even more significant was the selection of snuffs.

Herman Melville says this about the joys of smokers on the ship:

“After each meal, they hurried to the galley and delighted their souls with a smoke … Friendship of hearts was born in the community of pipes. This truth was fully mastered by the Indian leaders, passing their pipes in a circle as a sign of peace, love and goodwill, friendly feelings and harmony of souls. And the same thing turned the chatterboxes near the galley into a friendly club for a while, while they were united by a smoky hoop. They stood in groups in the alleys between the guns and chatted and laughed like a company of merry booze. "

All smoking props were carried with them, in their pockets. The ships were dominated by short stone or clay pipes. If they broke during the voyage, pipes were made of wood. Most of the sailors smoked compressed tobacco because it kept better, was less hygroscopic and took up less space. It consisted of tobacco leaves twisted into ropes that could be cut into circles like sausage. In later times, when tobacco was already included in the sailor ration of almost all European fleets, the captains bought the cheapest varieties, but still exclusively overseas. There were times when, while sailing, tea or sea grass came from the mattresses for a smoke. The ship's cabinets smoked in secluded corners because the sailors used to take their tobacco away. The principle dominated on the ship: "When you can make splashes and knots, you will have the right to smoke a pipe and chew tobacco." This is what the sea "chickens" should have learned first.

However, there were certain restrictions for adult sailors. The ships were made of wood, so smoking was prohibited after sunset. On merchant ships, this requirement was not very strict, but on warships, violation entailed very severe punishment. Fires on ships happened quite often, and a large part of them occurred due to careless handling of fire when smoking. Perhaps for this reason, there was a fire at the "Coastal Brotherhood", as it became known from a letter sent by "bottle mail":

"July 1750.

We're burning in the middle of the Atlantic. In vain were the hopes of saving the crew, with the exception of 12 people who took possession of the boat … It's a shame to look around. The brave ones turned out to be scum. The air is full of their crying, reminiscent of the cry of little children. Our captain tried unsuccessfully to restore order. I await death in silence. May the Almighty reward the one who found this letter. Please give it to my mother Elizabeth Dryden in Londonderry. ".

In some ports, smoking bans have been introduced, since ships are close to each other and a fire can destroy all ships. Sometimes they even refuse to cook on board. In such cramped ports as Marseille, Warnemünde and Wismar, special port kitchens are used for this purpose.

Well, if during long night shifts one cannot be comforted by smoking, one thing remains - to chew tobacco! Chewing tobacco, like snuff tobacco, is a purely European invention. Perhaps the impetus for this was precisely the ban on smoking on ships after sunset. They also chewed tobacco during ship operations, because when climbing on shrouds, pulling out ropes, nursing the anchor and tidying up the deck, it was almost impossible to smoke. In most cases, ordinary sailors did not throw away the chewed tobacco, but dried it and then stuffed pipes with it. If it happened that during the voyage, the stocks of chewing tobacco came to an end, then they chewed tarred cabbage: after all, chewing tobacco is also black and slightly smoky. However, this pleasure was highly doubtful.

During the voyage around the world of Captain Cook's Endeavor in Tahiti, there was a small incident. Cook reports this in his diary:

“Tomio, with all signs of horror on her face, burst into the fort and lamented that her husband was dying. He was poisoned by an aphrodisiac which a sailor gave him. Banks set off at once, and indeed found poor Tubarai very weak and miserable. They brought him a carefully compressed leaf, which, as they were assured, contained the poison. He investigated the composition - it was tobacco. Tubarai received it from a sailor, and since he saw that our people kept tobacco in their mouths for a long time, he decided that they were eating it. Then he chewed it and swallowed it. There was a poisoning, the effect of which was eliminated in a short time with a small dose of coconut milk.

Clifford Warren Ashley. 1881-1947
Clifford Warren Ashley. 1881-1947

However, soon the enthusiasm for tobacco was replaced by disappointment, since its use, especially excessive use, turned out to be not only unhealthy, but also dangerous. This prompted the authorities and the church to start fighting smoking. For example, in England and the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 16th century, smokers were equated with sorcerers and punished with “beheading”. In 1604, the English king James I in his work "On the dangers of tobacco" wrote that "smoking is disgusting to sight, disgusting to smell, harmful to the brain and dangerous to the lungs." In 1680, King Louis XIII of France issued a decree according to which only pharmacists were allowed to sell this "medicine". In Spain, the Holy Inquisition began to view tobacco smoking as part of the worship of the devil. In Turkey, tobacco was first used in 1605, and its smoking, despite severe prohibitions and repression, soon reached such proportions as in no other country. In Italy, Pope Urban VII was excommunicated from the church for smoking and sniffing tobacco, there were cases of execution by immuring in walls alive. The last edict of this kind appeared in Abyssinia at the end of the 19th century.

In Russia, in the 17th century under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, smokers were instructed with sticks, and after the great Moscow fire in 1634, the death penalty became the punishment. Nevertheless, no punishment could stop the victorious march of tobacco across the Old World. One of the reasons for such a lightning-fast spread of the overseas habit was the deep conviction of the then enlightened minds in the healing properties of tobacco.

Back in 1571, the Spanish doctor Nicolas Mondares published a work on medicinal plants in the New World. In it, the scientist noted that tobacco can cure up to 36 various diseases. The already mentioned Catherine de Medici considered tobacco a medicine and saved herself from migraines. At the French court, it was used as a remedy for toothaches, bone aches and stomach upsets. Smoking is quickly becoming the privilege of the wealthy and noble. In the 17th century, tobacco is already so popular that in some countries it is used in mutual settlements along with gold and silver. At the end of the 18th century, during the War of Independence, the American States paid with tobacco to their French creditors. In the same 18th century, most European countries realized the futility of fighting the "bad habit" and abolished smoking bans. The tobacco trade has become a state monopoly, which has significantly replenished the state treasury of many countries.

For quite a long time, smoking was available only to noble and wealthy people. Until tobacco began to be grown in Turkey, every bale of tobacco leaves traveled the hard way across the Atlantic, doubling its value. In those days, most of the Spanish and Portuguese seniors smoked cigars, rolled in a special way from thin tobacco leaves. Cigars were insanely expensive, and most ordinary people had to be content with butts in the literal sense of the word. Rubbing the remaining tobacco in them, poor smokers rolled cigarettes, which became the prototype of future cigarettes and cigarettes. Cigarettes gained wide popularity only in the twentieth century, their "heyday" is associated with the First World War. In those days, cigarettes were called "soldier's smoke" and tobacco companies produced them in cardboard boxes, without a mouthpiece and filter. We owe the appearance of the mouthpiece to the ladies of the beginning of the century. When smoking became fashionable among emancipated ladies, the tobacco companies, meeting the fair half of their customers, so that tobacco does not get into their mouths and the paper does not get wet from lipstick, began to produce cigarettes with a long cardboard mouthpiece. The innovation stuck and got the name "cigarettes". In the mid-1920s, Philip Morris and the American Tobacco Company produced brands of cigarettes specifically for women - Marlboro and Lucky Strike.

When I was preparing this article, I came across one surprising fact. After all, it is well known that everything that sailors love and appreciate is certainly reflected in their songs. Therefore, I was very surprised when, after reading over fifty of them, I did not find almost a single one dedicated to chewing tobacco or pipes. Every second ship song is about love, and every third is about rum, wine and other drinks. Only in one German song "Give me Hamburg chests!" it comes to smoking. There, one sailor grieves that he cannot smoke during a long work: “As soon as he took the pipe in his mouth, they shout:“Let's go mars-haul!”. There is only one mention of chewing tobacco, which is so popular on ships, and that in the song is not about the sailor, but about the mulatto Sally Brown, who "drinks rum and chews tobacco." For some reason, the tobacco topic turned out to be bypassed. None of the many novelists from Sabatini to Smollett to Konrad have erected a monument to a pipe or chewing tobacco either. This is very strange, because the sailors depended on tobacco as much as on wine and rum. Could it be because you sing well while drinking and not smoking? The material is based on the book by H. Hanke “On the Seven Seas. Sailor, death, devil ", M., Thought, 1989

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