Sunday, March 9, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618)

Sir Walter Raleigh, who single-handedly introduced the scourge of the white man to the pristine and paradisal New World, while almost simultaneously introducing the scourge of tobacco to the civilization of Europe [/sarcasm]. Falling in an out of favor with the royalty of England, he was finally beheaded on October 29, 1618, ostensibly for sacking the New World Spanish outpost of San Thome, which outraged the Spanish Ambassador.

This pair of drawings illustrate an infamous incident which allegedly happened not long after he first brought tobacco back to the Old World. While relaxing with his pipe at his home in Myrtle Grove, his manservant thought he had somehow caught fire, and poured a bucket of water over him to douse the flames.

Favorite pipe: unknown, but it is almost certain that it looked nothing like either of the pipes pictured. Around 1600, no one knew about briar in relation to pipe smoking, the commercial clay pipe industry was not even a conception, and most cultures that used tobacco were still smoking it from a hole in the ground. Since Raleigh was smoking stuff that he had brought back from the New World, the pipe was mostly likely a very primitive affair, and much smaller, made of reed, antler or bone, or possibly stone.

Favorite tobacco: unknown, but probably whatever those primitives were growing across the pond.

1 comment:

  1. I would need a manservant to light up one of those puppies .. unless of course I managed to get some very long matches or a piece of coal to place on top of the tobacco to get things started. Better not try that at home kids.