Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
A Religious Use of Taking Tobacco
By Robert Wisdome (d. 1568)
THE INDIAN 1 weed witherèd quite;
Green at morn, cut down at night;
Shows thy decay; all flesh is hay:
  Thus think, then drink Tobacco.
And when the smoke ascends on high,        5
Think thou behold’st the vanity
Of worldly stuff; gone with a puff:
  Thus think, then drink Tobacco.
The ashes that are left behind,
May serve to put thee still in mind,        10
That unto dust return thou must:
  Thus think, then drink Tobacco.
Note 1. From Mr. A. T. Quiller-Couch’s Golden Pomp, 1896, where the editor says it was “Kindly sent to me by Dr. Grosart, from a MS. in Trinity College, Dublin.” Wisdome was a Protestant fugitive in Mary’s reign; afterwards Rector of Systed in Essex and of Settrington in Yorkshire. He died in 1568. Ralph Erskine’s Tobacco Spiritualised, beginning: “Tobacco is an Indian weed,” etc., is clearly but a copy of this old ditty of Wisdome’s. Erskine died in 1752. [back]

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