University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

  • Tim Hitchcock
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-375
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


In 1709, as a recently employed excise officer, John Cannon was ‘importuned . . . to learn to smoak tobacco’ by his supervisor as a skill necessary for ‘company keeping’; and Cannon dutifully resolved to do so:

I got me an ounce of the best Tobacco, a penny worth of Tavern pipes and two or three quarts of beer & ordered the maid to carry these materials to my room & make a fire there, as if I had some friends to pay me a visit which none of my family knew to the contrary. And late at night I came home. All being silent & in bed, I entred my room & fastened my door & sat me down, drinks & fills a pipe, then smoakt, then drank, & then smoak & drinks till all my tobacco was wasted & burnt, my pipes some foul, some broken, my liquor drunk or spilt'd about the room, & myself very much intoxicated & my head whirling about like a windmill or like a weathercock in April, then reaching, then spewing & sick that my room resembled a jakes or a bog house more than a lodging room. (pt. 1, pp. 89–90)
John Cannon's remarkable 600,000-word memoir of his life is quite simply the single most significant piece of British life writing we possess for the period prior to 1750.


The definitive version can be found at: Copyright Wiley-Blackwell [Full text of this review is not available in the UHRA]

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