TOBACCO

From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

TOBACCO (JYicotiana tabacum). The introduction of the use of tobacco forms a singular chapter in the history of mankind; and it may well excite astonishment, that the discovery in America of a nauseous and poisonous weed, of an acrid taste and disagreeable odor, in short, whose only properties are deleterious, should have had so great an influence on the social condition of all nations; that it should have become an article of most extensive commerce; and that its culture should have spread more rapidly than that of the most useful plants. At the time of the discoveiy of America, tobacco was in frequent use among the Indians, and the practice of smoking wTas common to almost all the tribes ; and they pretended to cure a great variety of diseases by this plant. Its introduction into the eastern continent wTas every where marked with ridicule and persecution. The book written against it by James ] is well known ; but a hundred others of the same character were published in various languages. Pope Urban VIII excommunicated those who took tobacco in churches; the empress Elizabeth also prohibited its use in churches. In Transylvania, an ordinance was published, in 1689, threatening those who should plant tobacco with the confiscation of their estates. The grandduke of Moscow and the king of Persia forbade its use under the penalty of the loss of the nose, and even of death. At present, the aspect of affairs is so much changed, thai all the sovereigns of Europe, and mostof those of other parts of the world, derive a considerable part of their revenue from tobacco. The plant is glutinous, and covered with a very short down ; the stem upright, four or five feet high, and branching; the leaves are alternate, sessile, ovaloblong, and entire on the margin; the superior ones lanceolate ; the flowers are disposed in a terminal panicle; the tube of the corolla long, inflated towards the summit, and dividing into five acute, angular, spreading lobes, of a rose color. It was originally a native of South America.Another species [JY. rustica) is very common, but is less esteemed, and is distinguished by the short, yellowTishgreen corolla.JY. quadrivalvis is cultivated by the Indians of Missouri, and furnishes tobacco of excellent quality.The best Havana cigars are made from the leaves of JV. repanda.Other species of tobacco are found in Mexico and South America. One has been discovered in China, and another in New Holland. This genus belongs to the natural family solaneaz. This popular narcotic is probably in more extensive use than any other, and its only rival is the betel of the East. According to Linnaeus, it was known in Europe from 1560, when seeds of it were sent from Portugal to Catharine de' Medici by Nicot (q. v.), the French ambassador in that country, from whom it received its botanical name. The common notion, [hat the specific appellation tobacco was derived from its having been imported from Tobago, is now universally admitted to be without foundation. Humboldt (IQssai sur la JYouvette Espagne, second edition, hi, 50) has shown that tobacco was the term used in the Haytian language to designate the pipe or instrument employed by the natives in smoking the herb; which term, having been transferred, by the Spaniards, from the pipe to the herb itself, has been adopted by other nations. Tobacco is believed to have been first introduced into England by the settlers, who returned, in 1586, from the colony which it had been attempted to found in Virginia under the auspices of Raleigh. Harriot says that the English, during the time they were in Virginia, and after their return home, were accustomed to smoke it after the manner of the natives (liakluyt, i, 75). Raleigh, and other young men of fashion, adopted and introduced the practice into England ; and it rapidly spread among the English, as it had previously done among the Portuguese, Spaniards and French. During the reign of George III, the practice of smoking, which had previously been exceedingly prevalent, went out of fashion, and was nearly superseded, among the higher and middle classes, by that of snufftaking. Latterly, however, smoking has been revived in that country. The practice of smoking has become so general, especially in Holland and Germany, that it constitutes a daily luxury with nearly all the peasantry of those countries, as well as with the more indolent and wealthy classes of inhabitants. Tobacco is a powerful narcotic, and also a strong stimulant, and, taken internally, even in small doses, it proves powerfully emetic and purgative. The oil is celebrated for its extreme virulence, and, when applied to a wound, is said, by Redi, to be as fatal as the poison of a viper. The decoction, powder and smoke, are used in agriculture to destroy insects. As tobacco is cultivated for the leaves, it is an object to render these as large and as numerous as possible, and new, fresh and fertile soil is preferred. It is very sensible to frost. The plants are raised on beds, early in spring, and when they have acquired four leaves, they are planted in the fields, in well prepared earth, about three feet distant every way. Every morning and evening, the plants require to be looked over, in order to destroy a worm which sometimes invades the bud. When four or fiYe inches high, they are moulded up. As soon as they have eight or nine leaves, and are ready to put forth a stalk, the top is nipped off, in order to make the leaves larger and thicker. After this, the buds, which sprout from the axils of the leaves, are all plucked ; and not a day is suffered to pass without examining the leaves, to destroy a large caterpillar which is sometimes very destructive to them. When they are fit for cutting, which is known by the brittleness of the leaves, they are cut, with a knife, close to the ground; and, after lying some time, are earned to the drying shed, where the plants are hung up by pairs, upon lines, having a space between, that they may not touch one another. In this state they remain, to sweat and dry. When perfectly dry, the leaves are stripped from the stalks, and made into small bundles, tied with one of the leaves. These bundles are laid in heaps, and covered with blankets. Care is taken not to overheat them ; for which reason, the heaps are laid open to the air from time to time, and spread abroad. This operation is repeated till no more heat is perceived in the heaps, and the tobacco is then stowed in casks for exportable 1 In the manufacture of TOBACCO, die leaves are first cleansed of any earth, dirt, of decayed parts; next, they are gently moistened with salt and water, or water in which salt, along with other ingredients, has been dissolved, according to the taste of the fabricator. This liquor is called TOBACCO sauce. The next operation is to remove the midrib of the leaf; then the leaves are mixed together, in order to render the quality of whatever may be the final application, equal; next, they are cut into pieces, with a fixed knife, and crisped or curled before a fire. The succeeding opei'ation is to spin them into cords, or twist them into rolls, by winding them, with a kind of mill, round a stick. These operations are performed by the grower. Afterwards, tobacconists cut it into chafflike shreds for smoking, by a machine like a strawcutter, form it into small cords for chewing, or dry and grind it for snuff. In manufacturing snuff, various matters are added for giving it an agreeable scent; and hence the numerous varieties of snuffs. The three principal sorts are called Rappees, Scotch, or Spanish, and Thirds. The first is only granulated ; the second is reduced to a very fine powder ; and the third is the siftings of the second sort. Tobacco is extensively cultivated in France and other European countries, in the Levant, and India; but the tobacco of the U. States is considered decidedly superior to most others, being much more highly flavored than that of Europe. Of 22,400,000 pounds of unmanufactured tobacco imported into England in 1829, 21,751,600 pounds were fro oa the U. States. The yearly value of the tobacco exported from this country amounts to about 5,000,000 dollars. The tobacco of Cuba is preferred for smoking. TOBAGO ; one of the Caribbee islands, in the West Indies, belonging to Great Britain, about thirty miles in length, from southeast to northwest, and about nine in breadth; Ion. 60° 30' W.; lat. 11° 16' N.; population, 322 whites, 1164 free people of color, and 12,556 slaves. The climate of Tobago is temperate, the heat being allayed by the sea breezes; and it lies out of the track of those hurricanes that prove so fatal to the other West India islands. The surface is unequal and agreeably diversified ; and its northwest extremity is mountainous. Its soil is of different kinds, but, in general, the mould is rich and black, and produces whatever is raised in other parts of the West Indies. The abundance of springs upon the island contributes to its healthfulness, and its oays and creeks are very commodious Tor shipping.To BIT. The book of Tobit, though rejected as apocryphal by the Jews and Protestants, is received into the canon by the Roman Catholics. It contains an account of some remarkable events in the life of Tobit or Tobias, a Jew of the tribe of Nephthali, and his son, of the same name. Jahn thinks it was written in Greek, about 200 or 150 B. C. Tobit, though carried away captive, and afflicted with the loss of sight, retained his trust in God, and distinguished himself by his active benevolence towards his countrymen. Having become poor, he determined to send his son Tobias to Media to collect a debt there due him, and the angel Raphael, who was commissioned by God for that purpose, served him as a guide. On arriving at the river Tigris, the young Tobias was attacked, while bathing, by a large fish, which, by the direction of Raphael, he killed, preserving the heart, liver and gall. ' Reaching Ecbatana, they found there a relation of Tobit, whose beautiful daughter, Sara, had been married seven times. But her seven husbands had all been killed, before consummating the marriage, by a devil, who loved the maid. By command of the angel, Tobias married her, and, on going into her chamber, burned the heart and liver of the fish upon the ashes of the perfume; and when the evil spirit smelt the smoke, he fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him. Tobias now returned to his father with the money and his bride, and restored his sight by anointing his eyes with the gall of the fish. Tobit died at Nineveh, at the age of ninetynine years, and his; son Tobias retired to Ecbatana, where he lived to rejoice over the fall of Nineveh.