Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pipe lore: "the chimney of perpetual hospitality"


On Sunday, the 26I of August 1621, a comedy, entitled Technogamia, or the Marriage of the Arts, written by Barton Holiday, M. A., of Christ’s Church, Oxford, was performed by students of the same college, before James I at Woodstock. As a typical specimen of the allegorical piece of the olden time, this drama is not unworthy of notice. The dramatis personæ; consist of Polites, a magistrate; Physica, and her daughter Astronomia; Ethicus, with his wife Economa; Geographicus, a traveller, with his servant Phantastes; Logicus, and his servant Phlegmaticus; Grammaticus, a schoolmaster, and his usher Choler; Poeta, and his servant Melancholia; Medicus, and his servant Sanguis; Historia; Rhetorica; Geometres; Arithmetica; Musica; Causidicus; Magus, and his wife Astrologia; Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, two cheating gipsies. All these are attired in goodly and appropriate fashion. Astronomia, for instance, wearing ‘white gloves and pumps, an azure gown, and a mantle seeded with stars; on her head a tiara, bearing on the front the seven stars, and behind stars promiscuously; on the right side, the sun; on the left, the moon.’ Astronomia is the brilliant heroine of the play--the heaven to which Geographicus aspires to travel, of which Geometres endeavours to take the measure, in which Poeta desires to repose. On the other hand, Arithmetica has a more natural passion for Geometres, and Historia anxiously wishes to be united to Poeta. Grammaticus, in an amorous mood, solicits Rhetorica, whose flowers bloom only for Logicus.

These conflicting attachments cause great confusion in the commonwealth of learning; each of the enamoured personages endeavouring to obtain the object of his or her affections. Polites assists Geographicus; Magus employs his occult art in favour of Geometres; while the Nine Muses, as in duty bound, assist Poeta. Polites can with difficulty keep the peace. The gipsies, Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, pick Poeta’s pocket, but find nothing therein but a copy of Anacreon and a manuscript translation of Horace. Physiognomus is appropriately branded on the face, that all men may know him to be a rogue; and Cheiromantes receives the same punishment on the hand; and the two, with Magus and Astrologia, who had attempted to strangle Astronomia, are justly banished the commonwealth of the Sciences. Then Geographicus, discharging his servant Phantastes, marries Astronomia; Grammaticus espouses Rhetorica; Melancholia obtains the hand of Musica, and takes Phantastes into his service; Logicus, old and heartless, being left without a mate, becomes an assistant to Polites; and thus peace and harmony is restored among the Sciences. There is considerable ingenuity displayed in the invention of this plot, the dialogue is witty, and the professors of the sciences represented are humorously satirised.

One would have supposed, that the pedantic spirit of James would have been delighted with this production, but such was not the case. Anthony h Wood tells us that the king ‘offered several times to withdraw, but being persuaded by some of those that were near him to have patience till it were ended, lest the young men should be discouraged, [he] adventured it, though much against his will.’ And the Cambridge students, pleased that the Oxford drama did not interest the king, produced the following epigram:

‘At Christ-church marriage, played before the king, Lest these learned mates should want an offering, The king, himself, did offer--What, I pray? He offered twice or thrice to go away.’

It is not difficult to perceive what it was that displeased the king. Phlegmaticus was dressed ‘in a pale russet suit, on the hack whereof was represented one filling a pipe of tobacco, his hat beset round about with tobacco-pipes, with a can of drink hanging at his girdle.’ He entered, exclaiming: ‘Fore Jove, most meteorological tobacco! Pure Indian! not a jot sophisticated; a tobacco-pipe is the chimney of perpetual hospitality. Fore Jove, most metropolitan tobacco.’ And then, rather unphlegmatically, he broke out into the following song:

Tobacco’s a Musician,
And in a pipe delighteth;
It descends in a close,
Through the organs of the nose,
With a relish that inviteth.
This makes me sing, So ho, so ho, boys,
Ho, boys, sound I loudly;
Earth ne’er did breed
Such a jovial weed,
Whereof to boast so proudly.

Tobacco is a Lawyer,
His pipes do love long cases;
When our brains it enters,
Our feet do make indentures;
While we seal with stamping paces,
This makes me sing, &c.

Tobacco’s a Physician,
Good both for sound and sickly;
‘Tis a hot perfume,
That expels cold rheum,
And makes it flow down quickly.
This makes me sing, &c.

Tobacco is a Traveller,
Come from the Indies hither;
It passed sea and land,
Ere it came to my hand,
And ‘scaped the wind and weather,
This makes me sing, &c.

Tobacco is a Critic,
That still old paper turneth,
Whose labour and care,
Is as smoke in the air,
That ascends from a rag when it burneth.
This makes me sing, &c.

Tobacco’s an Ignis-fatuus,
A fat and fiery vapour,
That leads men about,
Till the fire be out,
Consuming like a taper.
This makes me sing, &c.

Tobacco is a Whiffler,
And cries huff snuff with fury,
His pipe’s his club and link,
He’s the wiser that does drink;
Thus armed I fear not a fury.
This makes me sing, So ho, so ho, boys,
Ho, boys, sound I loudly;
Earth ne’er did breed
Such a jovial weed,
Whereof to boast so proudly.

The royal author of the Counterblast to Tobacco must have felt himself insulted by such a song. Ben Jenson was wiser, when, in his Gipsies’ Meta-morphosis, he abused ‘the devil’s own weed,’ in language totally unpresentable at the present day; and the delighted monarch ordered the filthy, slangy, low play, to be performed three several times in his kingly presence.
From Chamber's Book of Days.  Thanks to Brer via email.

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