Tobacco's But an Indian Weed
DESCRIPTION: Tobacco is offered as a parable for life: "Grows green at morn, cut down at eve." "The pipe... Is broke with a touch -- man's life is such." "The smoke... shows us man's life must have an end." The moral: "Think on this when you smoke tobacco."
EARLIEST DATE: 1699 (Pills to Purge Melancholy); also in Trinity College (Dublin) MS. G.2.21
KEYWORDS: nonballad drugs
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Beck 93, "A Peculiar Sermon for Shanty Boys" (1 text)
Logan, pp. 262-263, "Tobacco" (1 text)
Chappell/Wooldridge II, pp. 78-79, "Tobacco's But an Indian Weed" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dixon-Peasantry, Song #37, pp. 233-235, "Tobacco" (1 text); Poem #8, pp. 36-39, "Smoking Spiritualised" (1 text)
Bell-Combined, pp. 259-261, "Smoking Spiritualized"; pp. 452-453, "Tobacco" (2 texts)
Scott-EnglishSB, pp. 80-81, "Tobacco" (1 text, 1 tune)
BBI, ZN2658, "Tobacco is but an Indian weed"
ADDITIONAL: Norman Ault, _Elizabethan Lyrics From the Original Texts_, pp. 56-57, "A Religious Use of Taking Tobacco" (1 text)
ST Log262 (Full)
NOTES: This also appears as a portion of a poem, "Smoking Spiritualized." The remaining portion is said to be "very inferior." "Smoking Spiritualized" was published under the name of Rev. Ralph (or "Ebenezer") Erskine in a book of Gospel Sonnets. Although some have thought that the Erskine version is older than that in Pills, the fact that Erskine was born in 1685 argues that the song is older than his work. Dixon-Peasantry and Bell-Combined offers some details on this history; it is possible that Erskine added a second part to the poem, or simply reworked it to produce the "Smoking Spiritualized" form.
Ault offers an even earlier claim, crediting the piece to "Wisdome" and dating the poem "before 1568" (I'm not sure if that is based on the Trinity College manuscript or the dates for Wisdome or just pure fancy; my suspicion is the last). - RBW
Beck credits this to "some moralizing shanty boy of 1892." Surprise! - PJS
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