James I Condemns the Sin and Use of Tobacco
Book: The Workes of the Most High and Mighty Prince James I (1616)
By: James I
A COUNTERBLASTE TO TOBACCO (1604 A.D.)
That the manifold abuses of this vile custome of Tobacco taking, may the better be espied, it is fit, that first you enter into consideration both of the first originall thereof, and likewise of the reasons of the first entry thereof into this Countrey. For certainely as such customes, that have their first institution either from a godly, necessary, or honourable ground, and are first brought in, by the meanes of some worthy, vertuous, and great Personage, are ever, and mostly justly, holden in great and reverent estimation and account, by all wise, virtuous, and temperate spirits: So should it by the contrary, justly bring a great disgrace into that sort of customes, which having their originall from base corruption and barbaritie, doe in like sort, make their first entry into a Countrey, by an inconsiderate and childish affectation of Noveltie, as is the trew case of the first invention of Tobacco taking, and of the first entry thereof among us. For Tobacco being a common herbe, which (though under divers names) growes almost every where, was first found out by some of the barbarous Indians, to be a Preservative or Antidote against the Pocks, a filthy disease, wherunto these barbarous people are (as all men know) very much subject, what through the uncleanely and adust constitution of their bodies, and what through the intemperate heate of their Climate: so that as from them was first brought into Christendome, that most detestable disease; so from them likewise was brought this use of Tobacco, as a stinking and unsavourie Antidote, for so corrupted and execrable a maladie, the stinking suffumigation whereof they yet use against that disease, making so one canker or venime to eate out another.
And now good Countrey-men, let us (I pray you) consider, what honour or policy can moove us to imitate the barbarous and bestly maners of the wilde, godlesse, and slavish Indians, especially in so vile and stinking a custome? Shall we that disdaine to imitate the maners of our neighbour France (having the stile of the first Christian Kingdome) and that cannot endure the spirit of the Spaniards (their King being now comparable in largenesse of Dominions, to the great Emperour of Turkie) Shall wee, I say, that have bene so long civill and wealthy in Peace, famous and invincible in Warre, fortunate in both, we that have bene ever able to aide any of our neighbours (but never deafed any of their eares with any of our supplications for assistance) shall wee, I say, without blushing abase our selves so farre, as to imitate these beastly Indians, slaves to the Spaniards, refuse to the world, and as yet aliens from the holy Covenant of God? Why doe we not as well imitate them in walking naked as they doe? in preferring glasses, feathers, and such toyes, to gold and precious stones, as they doe? yea why doe we not denie God and adore the divel, as they doe?
Now to the corrupted basenesse of the first use of this Tobacco, doeth very well agree the foolish and groundlesse first entry thereof into this Kingdome. It is not so long since the first entry of this abuse amongst us here, as this present aage cannot yet very well remember, both the first Authour, and the forme of the first introduction of it amongst us. It was neither brought in by King, great Conguerour, nor learned doctour of Phisicke.
With the report of a great discovery for a Conquest, some two or three Savage men, were brought in, together with this Savage custome. But the pitie is, the poore wilde barbarous men died, but that vile barbarous custome is yet alive, yea in fresh vigor: so as it seemes a miracle to me, how a custome springing from so vile a ground, and brought in by a father so generally hated, should be welcomed upon so slender a warrant. For if they that first put it in practise here, had remembred for what respect it was used by them from whence it came, I am sure they would have bene loath, to have taken so farre the imputation of that disease upon them as they did, by using the cure thereof: For Sanis non eft opus medico, and counterpoisons are never used, but where poison is thought to precede.
But since it is trew, that divers customes slightly grounded, and with no better warrant entred in a Common-wealth, may yet in the use of them thereafter, proove both necessary and profitable; it is therefore next to bee examined, if there be not a full Sympathie and true Proportion, betweene the base ground and foolish entrie, and the loathsome and hurtfull use of this stinking Antidote.
I am now therefore heartily to pray you to consider, first upon what false erroneous grounds you have first built the generall good liking thereof; and next, what sinnes towards God, and foolish vanities before the world you committ, in the detestable use of it.
As for these deceitful grounds, that have specially moved you to take a good and great conceit thereof, I shall content my selfe to examine here onely foure of the principals of them; two founded upon the Theoricke of a deceiveable apparance of reason, and two of them upon the mistaken practicke of generall experience.
First, it is thought by you a sure Aphorisme in the Physickes, That the braines of all men, beeing naturally cold and wet, all drie and hote things should be good for them; of which nature this stinking suffumigation is, and therefore of good use to them. Of this argument, both the proposition and assumption are false, and so the conclusion cannot but be voyd of it selfe. For as to the Proposition, That because the braines are colde and moist, therefore things that are hote and dry are best for them, it is an inept consequence: For men beeing compounded of the foure Complexions, (whole fathers are the foure Elements) although there be a mixture of them in all the parts of his body, yet must the divers parts of our Microcosme or little world within our selves, be diversly more inclined, some to one, some to another complexion, according to the diversitie of their uses, that of these discords a perfect harmonie may be made up for the maintenance of the whole body.
The application then of a thing of a contrary nature, to any of these parts, is to interrupt them of their due function, and by consequence hurtfull to the health of the whole bodie. As if a man, because the Liver is hote (as the fountaine of blood) and as it were an oven to the stomacke, would therefore apply and weare close upon his Liver and Stomacke a cake of lead; he might within a very short time (I hope) bee susteined very good cheape at an Ordinarie, beside the clearing of his conscience from that deadly sinne of gluttonie. And as if, because the Heart is full of vitall spirits, and in perpetuall motion, a man would therefore lay a heavie pound stone on his breast, for staying and holding downe that wanton palpitation, I doubt not but his breast would be more bruised with the weight therof, then the heart would be comforted with such a disagreeable and contrarious cure. And even so is it with the braines: For if a man, because the braines are cold and humide, would therefore use inwardly by smells, or outwardly by application, things of hot and dry qualitie, all the gaine that he could make thereof would onely be to put himselfe, the coldnesse and moistnesse of our braine being the onely ordinary meanes that procure our sleepe and rest. Indeed I doe not deny, but when it falls out that any of these, or any part of our bodie growes to be distempered, and to tend to an extemitie, beyond the compasse of Natures temperate mixture, that in that case cures of contrary qualities, to the intemperate inclination of that part, being wisely prepared and discreetly ministred, may be both necessary and helpfull for strengthning and assisting Nature in the expulsion of her enemies: for this is the trew definition of all profitable Phisicke.
But first these Cures ought not to be used, but where there is need of them, the contrary whereof, is daily practised in this generall use of Tobacco by all sorts and complexions of people.
And next, I denie the Minor of this argument, as I have already said, in regard that this Tobacco, is not simply of a dry and hote qualitie, but rather hath a certain venemous facultie with the heat thereof, which makes it have an Antipathy against nature, as by the hateful smel therof doth well appeare. For the nose being the proper Organ and convoy of the sense of smelling to the braines, which are the only fountaine of that sense, doth ever serve us for an infallable witnesse, whether that odour which we smell, be healthfull or hurtfull to the braine, (except when it fals out that the sense it selfe is corrupted and abused through some infirmitie, and distemper in the braine.) And that the suffumigation thereof cannot have a drying quality, it needs no further probation, then that it is a smoke, all smoke and vapour, being of it selfe humide, as drawing neere to the nature of the aire, and easie to be resolved againe into water, whereof there needs no other proofe but the Meteors, which being bred of nothing else but of the vapors and exhalations sucked up by the Sun out of the earth, the sea, and waters, yet are the same smoakie vapors turned and transformed into raines, snowes, deawes, hoare frosts, and such like waterie Meteors, as by the contrary the rainie cloudes are often transformed and evaporated in blustering windes.
The second Argument grounded on a shew of reason is, That this filthy smoake, aswell through the heat and strength thereof, as by a naturall force and quality, is able and fit to purge both the head and stomack of rhewmes and distillations, as experience teacheth, by the spitting & avoiding fleame, immediatly after the taking of it. But the fallacie of this Argument may easily appeare, by my late preceding description of the Meteors: Fore even as the smoakie vapours sucked up by the Sunne, and stayed in the lowest and cold Region of the aire, are there contracted into clouds, and turned into raines and such other watery Meteors: So this stinking smoake being sucked up by the nose, & imprisoned in the cold and moyst braines, is by their cold and wet facultie, turned and cast forth againe in waterie distillations, and so are you made free and purged of nothing, but that wherewith you wilfully burdened your selves: and therefore are you no wiser in taking Tobacco for purging you of distillations, then if for preventing the Cholicke you would take all kind of windie meats and drinkes; and for preventing of the Stone, you would take all kinde of meates and drinkes that would breed gravell in the kidneys, and then when you were forced to avoide much winde out of your stomacke, and much gravell in your Urine, that you should attribute the thanke therof to such nourishments, as bred those within you, that behooved either to be expelled by the force of Nature, or you to have burst at the broad side, as the Proverbe is.
As for the other two reasons founded upon experience, the first of which is, That the whole people would not have taken so generall a good liking thereof, if they had not by experience found it very soueraigne and good for them: For answere thereunto, how easily the mindes of people, wherewith God hath replenished this world may be drawen to the foolish affectation of any noveltie, I leave it to the discreet judgement of any man that is reasonable.
Doe we not daily see, that a man can no sooner bring over from beyond the seas any new forme of apparell, but that he cannot be thought a man of spirit, that would not presently imitate the same? And so from hand to hand it spreads, till it be practised by all, nor for any commodity that is in it but only because it is come to be the fashion. For such is the force of that naturall selfe-love in every one of us, and such is the corruption of envy bred in the brest of every one, as we cannot be content unlesse wee imitate every thing that our fellowes doe, and so proove our selves capable of every thing whereof they are capable, like Apes, counterfeiting the maners of others, to our owne destruction. For let one or two of the greatest Masters of Mathematicks in any of the two famous Universities, but constantly affirme any cleare day, that they see some strange apparition in the skies; they wil I warrant you be seconded by the greatest part of the students in that profession: So loth will they be, to be thought inferior to their fellowes, either in depth of knowledge or sharpnes of sight: And therefore the generall good liking and imbracing of this foolish custome, doth but only proceed from that affectation of noveltie, and popular errour, whereof I have already spoken.
The other argument drawn from a mistaken experience, is but the more particular probation of this generall, because it is alleged to be found trew by proofe, that by the taking of Tobacco divers and very many doe finde themselves cured of divers diseases; as on the other part, no man ever received harme thereby. In this argument there is first a great mistaking, to take non caus am pro causa, as they say in the Logickes? because peradventure when a sicke man hath had his disease taking the naturall course of declining, and consequently the Patient of recovering his health, O then the Tobacco forsooth, was the worker of that miracle. Beside that, it is a thing wel known to all Physicians, that the apprehension and conceit of the patient, hath by wakening and uniting the vitall spirits, and so strengthening nature, a great power and vertue, to cure divers diseases. For an evident proofe of mistaking in the like case, I pray you what foolish boy, what silly wench, what olde doting wife, or ignorant countrey clowne, is not a Physician for the toothach, for the cholicke, and divers such common diseases? Yea, will not every man you meet withall, teach you a sundry cure for the same, & sweare by that meane either himself, or some of his neerest kinsemen and friends was cured? And yet I hope no man is so foolish as to beleeve them. And all these toyes do only proceed from the mistaking Non caus am pro causa, as I have already said, and so if a man chance to recover one of any disease, after hee hath taken Tobacco, that must have the thanks of all. But by the contrary, if a man smoke himselfe to death with it (and many have done) O then some other disease must beare the blame for that fault. So doe old harlots thanke their harlotrie for their many yeeres, that custome being healthfull (say they) ad purgandos Renes, but never have mind how many die of the Pockes in the flower of their youth. And so doe old drunkards thinke they prolong their dayes, by their swinelike diet, but never remember how many die drowned in drinke before they be halfe olde.
And what greater absurditie can there be, then to say that one cure shall serve for divers, nay, contrarious sorts of diseases? It is an undoubted ground among all Physicians, that there is almost no sort either of nourishment or medicine, that hath not some thing in it disagreeable to some part of mans bodie, because as I have alreadie said, the nature of the temperature of every part, is so different from another, that according to the olde proverbe, That which is good for the head, is evill for the necke and the shoulders: For even as a strong enemy, that invades a town or fortresse, although in his siege thereof, he do belay and compasse it round about, yet he makes his breach and entry, at some one or fewe speciall parts thereof, which hee hath tried and found to be weakest and least able to resist; so sickenes doth make her particular assault, upon such part or parts of our body, as are weakest and easiest to be overcome by that sort of disease, which then doth assaile us, although all the rest of the body by Sympathie feele it selfe to be as it were belayed, and besieged by the affliction of that speciall part, the griefe and smart thereof being by the sense of feeling dispersed through all the rest of our members. And therefore the skilfull Physician presses by such cures to purge and strengthen that part which is afflicted, as are only fit for that sort of disease, and doe best agree with the nature of that infirme part; which being abused to a disease of another nature, would prove as hurtfull for the one, as helpfull for the other. Yea, not onely with a skilfull and wary Physician be carefull to use no cure but that which is fit for that sort of disease, but he will also consider all other circumstances, & make the remedies sutable therunto; as the temperature of the clime where the Patient is, the constitution of the Planets, the time of the Moone, the season of the yeere, the aage and complexion of the Patient, and the present state of his body, in strength or weaknes: For one cure must not ever be used for the selfesame disease, but according to the varying of any of the foresaid circumstances, that sort of remedy must be used which is fittest for the same. Where by the contrary in this case, such is the miraculous omnipotence of our strong tasted Tobacco, as it cures al sorts of diseases (which never any drugge could do before) in all persons, and al all times. It cures all maner of distillations, either in the head or stomacke (if you beleeve their Axiomes) although in very deed it doe both corrupt the braine, and by causing over quicke digestion, fill the stomacke full of crudities. It cures the gowt in the feet, and (which is miraculous) in that very instant when the smoke thereof, as light, flies up into the head, the vertue therof, as heavy, runs down to the little toe. It helps all sorts of agues. It makes a man sober that was drunk. It refreshes a weary man, and yet makes a man hungry. Being taken when they goe to bed, it makes one sleepe soundly, and yet being taken when a man is sleepie and drowsie, it will, as they say, awake his braine, and quicken his understanding. As for curing of the Pockes, it serves for that use but among the pockie Indian slaves. Here in England it is refined, and will not deigne to cure here any then cleanly and gentlemanly diseases. O onmipotent power of Tobacco! And if it could by the smoake thereof chase out devils, as the smoake of Tobias fish did (which I am sure could smell no stronglier) it would serve for a precious Relicke, both for the superstitious Priests, and the insolent Puritanes, to cast out devils withall.
Admitting then and not confessing, that the use thereof were healthful for some sorts of diseases; should it be used for all sicknesses? Should it be used by all men? Should it be used at all times? yea should it be used by able, yong, strong, healthful men? Medicine hath that virtue, that it never leaves a man in that state wherein it finds him: it makes a sicke man whole, but a whole man sicke: And as Medicine helps nature being taken at times of necessitie, so being ever and continually used, it doeth but weaken, weary, and weare nature. Whatspeake I of Medicine? Nay let a man every houre of the day, or as oft as many in this countrey use to take Tobacco, let a man I say, but take as oft the best sorts of nourishments in meate and drinke that can be devised, he shall with the continuall use thereof weaken both his head and his stomacke: all his members shall become feeble, his spirits dull, and in the end, as a drowsie lazie belly-god, he shall evanish in a Lethargie.
And from this weaknesse it proceeds, that many in this kingdome have had such a continuall use of taking this unsavorie smoake, as now they are not able to forbeare the same, no more then an old drunkard can abide to be song sober, without falling into an incurable weaknesses and evill constitution: for their continuall custome hath made to them, habitum, alteram naturam: so to those that from their birth have beene continually nourished upon poison and things venemous, wholsome meats are only poisonable.
Thus having, as I trust, sufficiently answered the most principall arguments that are used in defence of this vile custome, it rests only to informe you what sinnes and vanities you commit in the filthy abuse thereof. First, are you not guiltie of sinnefull and shamefull lust? (for lust may be as well in any of the senses as in feeling) that although you be troubled with no disease, but in perfect health, yet can you neither be merry at an Ordinary, nor lascivious in the Stewes, if you lacke Tobacco to provoke your appetite to any of those sorts of recreation, lusting after it as the children of Israel did in the wildernesse after Quailes? Secondly it is, as you use or rather abuse it, a branch of the sinne of drunkennes, which is the root of all sinnes: for as the only delight that drunkards take in wine is in the strength of the taste, and the force of the fume therof that mounts up to the braine: for no drunkards love any weake, or sweet drinke: so are not those (I meane the strong heate and the fume) the onely qualities that make Tobacco so delectable to all the lovers of it? And as no man likes strong heady drinke the first day (because memo repente fit turpissimus) but by custome is piece and piece allured, while in the ende, a drunkard will have as great a thirst to be drunke, as a sober man to quench his thirst with a draught when he hath need of it: So is not this the very case of all the great takers of Tobacco? which therefore they themselves doe attribute to a bewitching qualitie in it. Thirdly, is it not the greatest sinne of all, that you the people of all sorts of this kingdome, who are created and ordeined by God, to bestow both your persons and goods, for the maintenance both of the honour and safety of your King and Common-wealth, should disable your selves in both. In your persons having by this continuall vile custome brought your selves to this shamefull imbecilitie, that you are not able to ride or walke the journey of a Jewes Sabboth, but you must have a reekie cole brought you from the next poore house to kindle your Tobacco with? whereas he cannot be thought able for any service in the warres, that cannot endure oftentimes the want of meat, drinke, and sleepe, much more then must he endure the want of Tobacco. In the times of the many glorious and victorious battailes fought by this Nation, there was no word of Tobacco: but now if it were time of warres, and that you were to make some sudden Cavalcado upon your enemies, if any of you should seek leisure to stay behinde his fellow for taking of Tobacco, for my part I should never be sory for any evill chance that might befall him. To take a custome in any thing that cannot be left againe, is most harmeful to the people of any land. Mollicies and delicacie were the wracke and overthrow, first of the Persian, and next of the Romane Empire. And this very custome of taking Tobacco (whereof our present purpose is) is even at this day accounted so effeminate among the Indians themselves, as in the market they will offer no price for a slave to be sold, whom they find to be a great Tobacco taker.
And for the vanities committed in this filthy custome, is it not both great vanitie and uncleannesse, that at the table, a place of respect, of cleanlinesse, of modestie, men should not be ashamed, to sit tossing of Tobacco pipes and puffing of the smoke of Tobacco one to another, making the filthy smoke and stinke thereof, to exhale athwart the dishes, and infect the aire, when very often, men that abhorre it are at their repast: Surely smoke becomes a kitchen farre better then a dining chamber, and yet it makes a kitchen also oftentimes in the inward parts of men, soyling and infecting them, with an unctuous and oily kind of foote, as hath bene found in some great Tobacco takers, that after their death were opened. And not onely meat time, but no other time nor action is exempted from the publicke use of this uncivill tricke: so as if the wives of Diepe list to contest with this Nation for good maners, their worst maners would in all reason be found at least not so dishonest (as ours are) in this point. The publicke use whereof, at all times, and in all places, hath now so farre prevailed, as divers men very sound both in judgement and complexion, have beene at last forced to take it also without desire, partly because they were ashamed to seeme singular, (like the two Philosophers that were forced to ducke themselves in that raine water, and so become fooles as well as the rest of the people) and partly to be as one that was content to eate Garlick (which he did not love) that he might not be troubled with the smell of it, in the breath of his fellowes. And is it not a great vanitie, that a man cannot heartily welcome his friend now, but straight they must be in hand with Tobacco: No it is become in place of a cure, a point of good fellowship, and hee that will refuse to take a pipe of Tobacco among his fellowes, (though by his owne election hee would rather feele the savour of a Sinke) is accounted peevish and no good company, even as they doe with tipling in the colde Easterne countreys. Yea the Mistresse cannot in a more manerly kind, entertaine her servant, then by giving him out of her faire hand a pipe of Tobacco. But herein is not only a great vanity, but a great contempt of Gods good giftes, that the sweetnesse of mans breath, being a good gift of God, should be wilfully corrupted by this stinking smoke, wherin I must confesse, it hath too strong a vertue; and so that which is an ornament of nature, & can neither by any artifice be at the first acquired, nor once lost be recovered againe, shalbe filthily corrupted with an incurable stinke, which vile qualitie is directly contrary to that wrong opinion which is holden of the wholesomnesse therof, as the venime of putrifaction is contrary to the vertue Perservative.
Moreover, which is a great iniquitie, and against all humanitie, the husband shal not be ashamed, to reduce therby his delicate, wholsom, & cleane complexioned wife to that extremity, that either she must also corrupt her sweet breath therwith, or els resolve to live in a perpetual stinking torment.
Have you not reason then to be ashamed, and to forbeare this filthie noveltie, so barely grounded, so foolishly received, and so grossely mistaken in the right use thereof? In your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming your selves both in persons and goods, and raking also thereby the markes and notes of vanitie upon you; by the custome thereof making your selves to be wondered at by all forreine civill Nations, and by all strangers that come among you, to be scorned and contemned: A custome loathsome to the eye, hatefull to the nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoake of the pit that is bottomlesse.
JAMES I (1566-1625), King of England and VI of Scotland. The only son of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Mary, Queen of Scots, on the abdication of his mother he became King of Scotland in 1567. He was educated mainly by George Buchanan (1506-82), who endeavoured to inculcate doctrines of constitutional monarchy. Undertaking the direction of government in 1578, he tried to build up the royal power amid strong rival factions of the Scottish nobility. In 1586 he entered an alliance with England, raising few objections to the execution of his mother. In 1589 he married Anne of Denmark (1574-1619). He generally supported the clergy against the nobility, but he resented the political influence of the Kirk. From 1598 he sought the restoration of episcopacy, in 1600 appointing three representatives of the Church in Parliament under the title of Bishops.
On the death of Elizabeth I (1603), he succeeded to the English throne by right of his mother’s descent from Henry VII, under the new style of King of Great Britain. Travelling immediately to London, he was met by the Puritans, who presented the Millenary Petition in 1603. Although personally prepared to accept the desired changes, he at first adopted a position of mediation at the Hampton Court Conference. When, however, the name of Presbyter was mentioned confusing the English Puritans with the Scottish Presbyterians, he scolded the assembly and decided to harry dissenters out of the land. Henceforth he upheld the connexion between Divine Right of Kings and Apostolic Succession. At the same time he authorized a new translation of the Bible (the Authorized Version of 1611). He favoured lenient treatment of RCs, and concluded peace with Spain in 1604. The discrepancy, however, between his promises and the policy of his government in 1605 provoked the Gunpowder Plot, which was followed by stricter laws against Recusants. He refused to ratify the canons prepared by Convocation in 1606 because they advocated non-resistance to the king in possession, whereas he believed in the sanctity of hereditary right and denied that tyranny could exist by appointment of God. In 1610 he persuaded the Assembly of the Scottish Church to agree to the introduction of episcopacy. Three bishops were consecrated in England and he prob. hoped to extend the English rite to Scotland. In 1614 and 1615 he ordered that all persons in Scotland should receive the Holy Communion on Easter Day, and in 1616 called upon the Assembly of Aberdeen to pass the Five Articles, which (after James’s visit to Scotland in 1617) were finally accepted at Perth in 1618. He issued the ‘Book of Sports’ (1618) approving lawful sport on Sundays.
James attempts to negotiate a marriage treaty with Spain were frustrated by Parliament’s refusal to repeal the laws against RCs, while he was equally unsuccessful in his attempts to mediate in Bohemia. He negotiated an alliance with France in 1624, but he was unable to disclose the terms of a treaty which promised relief to Catholics. Throughout his reign he quarrelled with his Parliaments over foreign policy and never saw that parliamentary control over finance made compromise necessary. Although renowned for his erudition, he failed to win sympathy because of his pedantry and high opinion of his own ability. His published works include Essays of a Prentice in the Divine Art of Poetry (1584), Poetical Exercises (1591). Daemonology (1597). Basilikon Doron (1599), The True Law of Free Monarchies (anon. 1598; 1603), A Counter Blast to Tobacco (anon. 1604), Triplici Nodo, Triplex Cuneus; or an Apology for the Oath of Allegiance (anon. 1607), Declaratio pro Jure Regio (1615). The Peacemaker (anon. 1618) and Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer (1619) and on Mt. 27. 27-29 (1620).]
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church