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Nor should all this appear so extraordinary, when we consider that Charlevoix, with the utmost seriousness, discusses the question, whether the calumet of the North American Indians was the same as the caduceus of Mercury.* It is however beyond all doubt, that tobacco has always been regarded by the Indians with religious veneration, and employed by them in all religious ceremonies. Mr. Stith informs us, that they thought this plant “ of so great worth and virtue that the gods themselves were delighted with it; and therefore they sometimes made sacred fires, and instead of a sacrifice, threw in the dust of tobacco; and when they were caught in a tempest, they would sprinkle it into the air and water-upon all their new fishing nets they would cast some of it, and when they had escaped any remarkable danger, they would throw some of this dust into the air, with strange distorted gestures, sometimes striking the earth with their feet in a kind of time and measure, sometimes clapping their hands and throwing them up on high, looking towards the heavens, and uttering barbarous and dissonant words.”+Sir Hans Sloan tells us, also, that the Indians employ tobacco in all their enchantments, sorceries, and fortune-tellings; that their priests intoxicate themselves with the fumes, and in their ecstacies give forth ambiguous and oracular responses. I
A few words will now be devoted to the subject of the numerous names which have belonged to tobacco; many persons conceiving the title of any thing, to be of equal importance with the christening of a person ; and surely where the etymology of a name of either person or thing can throw any light upon their respective histories, the time employed thereon can hardly be looked upon as either lost or mispent. But it unfortunately happens, as is almost always the case in regard to persons and things belonging to mythological eras, that the greatest confusion and perplexity exist in regard to the Indian titles which have been bestowed upon tobacco; and as we frankly confess ourselves utterly unversed in Occidental philology, we shall, with whatever reluctance, be obliged to omit even the mention of many appellations, whose true meaning and value have passed into obscurity, with the languages and nations from which such appellations were derived.Ş
* Hist. North America, vol. i. p. 322.-See also Hennepin's Voyages, p. 93
Stith's Hist. of Virginia, p. 19. # Sloan's Nat. Hist. Jamaica, vol. i. p. 147.
Ś This biatus we are in some measure able to supply from a note in the Appendix to Mrs. Thomson's Life of Ralegh, (Note B. Notices concerning Tobacco by Dr. Thomson,) p. 458. “In the Mexican or Aztuk tongue, it is called yetle; in Algonkin, sema; in the Huron, ayougoua ; in the Peruvian, it is sayri ; in Chiquito, pais ; in Vilela, tusup; Albaja, nalodagadi ; Moxo, sabare; Omagua, potema; Tumanac, cavai ; Mayhure, jema; and in the Cabre, sena. The other synonymes are, tabac,
Sir Hans Sloan informs us, that the name was originally picielt, and that tobacco was given it by the Spaniards. * Several authors say, that it was called by the inhabitants of the West India islands yoli—but that on the continent they gave it the name of pætum, peti, petunum, or petun. Some say it was sent into Spain from Tabaco, a province of Yucatan, where it was first discovered, and from whence it takes its common name. Pourchot declares, that the Portuguese brought it into Europe from Tobago, an island in North America ; but the island Tobago, says another, was never under the Portuguese dominion, and that it seems rather to have given its name to that island. The inhabitants of Hispaniola call it by the name cohiba, or pete be cenuc, and the instrument by which they smoke it tabaco, and hence, say they, it derived its name. Stith, in his History of Virginia, speaks of one Mr. Thomas Harriot, † a domestic of Sir Walter Ralegh, a man of learning, who was sent by Ralegh to Virginia chiefly to make observations, which were afterwards published. Now this Harriot, speaking of tobacco, says it was called, by the Indians of Virginia, uppowoc. But the principal names by which this article is now known, either in common parlance or scientific discourse, are three, viz.-påtum, which seems to be its poetical title-tobacco, its vulgar and most intelligible name—and nicotiana, its scientific and botanical name ; which latter we will explain more fully hereafter. I
The Abbot Nyssens thought it was the Devil who first introduced tobacco into Europe. We do not design to discuss so important a question, concerning which there must needs be a contrariety of opinions; but we cannot forbear to observe, that to
in French; tabak, in German, Dutch, and Polish ; tobak, in Swedish and Danish ; tobaco, Spanish and Portuguese ; and tobacco in the Italian. In the Oriental languages,-it is tambacu, in Hindostanee ; tamracutta, in Sanscrit; pogheielly, in Tamool ; tambracco, in the Malay tongue; tambracco, in Javanese ; doorkoole, in Cingalese ; and brijjerhony, in Arabic."
Nat. Hist. Jam. vol. i. p. 147. # Dr. Tobias Venner, in his “ Treatise of Tobacco," at the end of his curious old work, entitled, “Via recta ad longam vitam,” says humorously, that petum is the “fittest name that both we and other nations may call it by, deriving it of peto, for it is far-fetched and much desired.” p. 386.
# This Harriot, or Herriot, was a distinguished mathematician, and the instructer of Ralegh, in whom both himsclf and the celebrated Richard Hakluyt, the industrious and indefatigable compiler of voyages, found a liberal friend and patron.—Mrs. A. T. Thomson's Life of Sir W. Ralegh, pp. 46 and 48.
§ Stith, p. 17.
j “Le Cardinal de Sainte Croix, nonce en Portugal, et Nicholas Tornabon, legat en France, l'introduisent en Italie ou elle reçut les noms d'herbe de Sainte Croix, et de Tornabonne ; elle a encore porté d'autres noms fondés sur des proprietés vraies ou supposées, ou sur la haute idée qu'on avait de ses vertus : c'est ainsi qu'on l'a appelée Buglose ou Panacée Antarctique, Herbe Sainte ou Sacrée, Herbe a tous maux, Jusquiame du Peron," &c. &c. Dictionnaire des Sciences Medicales, Art. Tabac, par Mons. Merat.
give the Devil more than his due, is by no means new or uncommon in ecclesiastical inquiries. We have something parallel to this in the history of Hercules, though springing most probably from a very different source; for to him the ancients were wont to attribute any great action for which they could not find a certain author. We are informed that this plant was first seen smoked by the Spaniards, under Grijalva, in 1518. In 1519, the illustrious Cortez sent a specimen of it to his king, and this was the date of its introduction into Europe. Others say, one Roman Pane carried it into Spain. By the Cardinal Santa Croce it was conveyed to Italy. It should be observed, however, that the ancestors of the Cardinal already enjoyed the reputation of having brought into Italy the true cross, and the double glory which attaches to the Santa Croce family in consequence, is well described in the following Latin lines, taken from Bayle's Dictionary.* These verses are valuable in another respect, since they contain a full enumeration of the real or supposed virtues of the herb. They are also copied by the Reverend Dr. Clarke; and the English verses which accompany them, are by the Dr. attributed to M. de Maizeaux.
“Nomine quæ sanctæ crucis herba vocatur ocellis
Subvenit, et sanat plagas, et vulnera jungit,
Corporis atque animæ nostræ studiosa salutis." We subjoin the following “ faithful but inelegant translation, which is given by M. de Maizeaux in his translation of Bayle.
" The herb which borrows Santa Croce's name
Sore eyes relieves, and healeth wounds; the same
* Article Santa Croce, where they are attributed to Victor Duranti.
It easeth soon; an ancient cough relieves,
The welfare of our souls and bodies too." It is agreed on all hands, that tobacco was introduced into France by John Nicot, (whence it obtains its common name Nicotiana) Lord of Villemain and Master of Requests of the household of Francis the Second. He was born at Nismes, and was sent as embassador to the Court of Portugal in 1559, from whence, on his return, he brought to Paris this herb. From Nicot, it was also called the embassador's herb. The question, whether it was known in France before it was carried into England, was long agitated, and is perhaps not settled yet, since the precise epocha of its introduction into any particular country, cannot with absolute certainty be fixed. The French writers, generally, are of opinion that Sir Francis Drake conveyed it to England before Nicot made it known in France. Thevet, who has discussed the subject, is thought by them to have settled it in favour of the English. A French writer, Jean Liebault, says tobacco grew wild in France long before the discovery of the New World. Mr. Murray inclines to the belief, that tobacco existed in Europe before the discovery of America, but he thinks it proceeded from Asia.* Mr. Savary asserts, that among the Persians it was known at least five hundred years since, but that they obtained it from Egypt, and not from the East Indies, where its cultivation was but recent. But, what has not been said of this extraordinary plant? It has often been called a Nepenthe, and we are under belief that some have even imagined that the tobacco leaf forms a principal ingredient in the wondrous and potent mixture which Helen prepares for her guests in the fourth Odyssey.-
* M. Merat ut supra.
Νηπενθες τ' αχολoν τε κακων επιληδον απαντων.”
“ Of sovereign use to assuage
And dry the tearful sluices of despair.” In the same passage, Homer tells us that Helen learned the nature of drugs and herbs from the wife of Thone, King of Egypt. Now, by considering this latter fact, in conjunction with what is asserted by Mr. Savary, some verisimilitude seems to be imparted to the hypothesis of the tobacco plant having sprung originally from Egypt. We are not aware of any author (though we think it not improbable that such may exist) who has carried matters so far as to assert that tobacco was the tree of Paradise, “whose mortal taste brought death into the world,”-nor would this appear for a moment extravagant, if one only calls to mind the strange traditions which the Rabbinnical writers have handed down upon theological points of far more importance, or the equally absurd and monstrous notions which the modern history of sectarianism furnishes. From what has been said, however, it appears very clear, that Satan has had too much to do with tobacco. If it be verily the tree of knowledge, it must be admitted that he has preserved it with infinite care, as if grateful for the mighty mischief which was wrought in Eden, and as a fit instrument for those injuries in future to the human family, which so many authors assure us it is producing at the present day. How tobacco ever got to America is a difficulty of very little moment, when we remember that writers are not agreed in what manner America was even peopled. Even were we to admit that the aboriginal Americans were not descended from Adam and Eve, still if we concede that Satan has had the especial care of tobacco, we cannot be surprised at his finding the means, if he had the desire, of introducing it into America. We have before alluded to what the Abbot Nyssens says, and if in addition we call to mind what others have uttered about its diabolical nature, and that the American Indians were wont to propitiate the powers of darkness by making offerings to them of tobacco, we cannot help thinking that King James was nearer truth and propriety than he imagined, when he declared that if he were to invite the Devil to dine with him, he would be sure to provide three things,-1. a pig, —2. a poll of ling and mustard, -3. a pipe of tobacco for digestion.
It is not certainly known whether tobacco grew spontaneously in Virginia, or whether it came originally from some more southern region of America. At all events, the English who first visited Virginia certainly found it there, and Harriot is of opinion, that it was of spontaneous growth. Mr. Jefferson thinks it was VOL. IX.-NO. 17.