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(49) Cheroots, women smokers [[230-232]]

[[230]] It has been already explained that earthen pipes, such as those called Dutch pipes, are unknown in India; but that the hookah, kalean, and goorgoory, are in general use. The lowest classes of Europeans and of natives, and [[231]] indeed, most of the officers of country-ships, smoke cheroots, exactly corresponding with the Spanish segar, though usually made rather more bulky. However fragrant the smokers themselves may consider cheroots, those who use hookahs hold them to be not only vulgar, but intolerable. Hence, sometimes a whole company has been driven away by some unlucky visitor who, either from ignorance or from disregard to the feelings of the more delicate, mounts his cheroot; thus abrogating in a trice all distinctions of musk, cinnamon, rose-water, &c.

The natives smoke cheroots without any precaution whatever to guard the lips and teeth from the highly acidulated fumes derived from the burning tobacco. Yet when, as sometimes has been the case, cheroots were brought into fashion, though but for a while, it was found expedient to use small silver or earthen sockets to receive the end of the cheroot; thereby avoiding contact with the tobacco.

The natives, whether male or female, never use any dentifrice, nor have they any idea of hair-brushes [=toothbrushes made of bristles]; which could not, indeed, according to their tenets, be admitted within the mouth. The only apparatus employed for cleaning teeth is a short piece of stick, commonly the branch of some bush, pulled at the moment for the occasion. This is either beat or chewed for a short time, till the fibres, for about half an inch at the end, separate, and form a kind of stiff brush, called dauntwun, which is applied at right angles to the teeth. This is not a very delicate implement, but when aided by a plentiful supply of water, answers tolerably well; though it certainly can never prevent the accumulation of tartar within the teeth.

The ladies of Hindoostan smoke their goorgoories in high style; as do those of inferior rank, with no less glee, their nereauls, or cocoa-nuts. It would, perhaps, be difficult [[231]] to decide which of the sexes are most addicted to this habit. They both begin at a very early age, and never appear so happy as when engaged in its practice. After a while, the observer becomes reconciled to the sight of females smoking; though, however delicate may be the preparation of the tobacco, and however elegant the apparatus, still when we see an European lady thus employed, a certain idea, not very conformable to feminine propriety, possesses the mind.

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((501)) We revolt at a habit not authorized by what we have been accustomed to in our early youth, and consider it an intrusion upon masculine characteristics. Several ladies have gone yet further, by adopting the entire costume of the natives; a circumstance which, however gratifying it may have been to themselves, by no means raised them in the estimation of those whom they imitated; while at the same time it gave birth to opinions, and occasionally to experiments, by no means favorable to their reputation.

The same kind of ridicule attaches equally to gentlemen who at times allow their whiskers to grow, and who wear turbans, &c., in imitation of the Mussulmans of distinction. Their countrymen, though ((502)) perhaps tacitly, censure such imitations, when arising from caprice; and the Mussulmans regard these renegadoes in costume much the same as we do such of the natives as, being smitten with our general character, and partaking of our pastimes, lay aside their appropriate garments in favor of jackets, jockey-caps, boots, and leather inexpressibles! Some indeed do more: they sit at table, and devour, with no small degree of eagerness, the viands prepared according to English fashion, washing them down with copious libations of Claret and Madeira, to the utter degradation of their persons and reputation, in the eyes both of their new, and of their old, companions.

But there is a certain happiness apparently attendant upon this species of infatuation; what is lost in public opinion being invariably gained in self-sufficiency; while every little ironical compliment is construed into superlative eulogium. The present Nabob Vizier of Oude, Saadut Ali, many years ago, when compelled to reside at the Presidency, under serveillance of the Bengal government, in consequence of the jealousy entertained by his brother the late Asoph ul Dowlah, affected to enter upon this kind of apostacy. I believe everyone saw through the veil, though he hunted with fox-hounds in our style, and assimilated in many other points; but the essentials were carefully preserved ((503)) from metamorphosis. 


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