Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/113

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77
LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

that 'a coal of juniper, if covered with its own ashes, will retain its fire a whole year.'"

It is hard to understand how a habit in such general disrepute as "tobacco taking" could have grown so rapidly among the people. To be sure, John Davies wrote the following praise, though doubtless ironically:—

"It is tobacco, which doth cold expel,
And clears the obstructions of the arteries,
And surfeits threatening death digesteth well,
Decocting all the stomach's crudities:
It is tobacco, which hath power to clarify
The cloudy mists before dim eyes appearing;
It is tobacco, which hath power to rarify
The thick gross humour which doth stop the hearing;
The wasting hectic, and the quartan fever,
Which doth of physic make a mockery,
The gout it cures, and helps ill breaths forever,
Whether the cause in teeth or stomach be."

Though there are many serious allusions to the virtues of the new drug, a greater number express the contrary opinion. King James in his Counterblast calls it a "custom loathsome to the eye, hatefull to the nose, harmfull to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fumes thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."

Above all, the plays abound in allusions expressive of contempt. Jonson in Bartholomew Fair makes Overdo exclaim "Hence it is that