Testing Tobacco, Virginia, by Eyre Crowe (1824-1910). Source: Crowe, facing p. 126. Image and text added by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the image for a larger picture.]

"The tobacco-leaf fluctuates somewhat in quality," explains Crowe:

In my peregrinations through the business part of the town I came across the scene depicted on p. 127. The experts of the trade were to be seen grasping in their arms several of the choicest specimens of the brands, whilst muscular negroes, armed with crow- bars, lifted each of the compressed parcels, so as to test them at the central portions. The mass of these emitted a pleasant honey-dew smell, and evolved mental calculations as to the prodigious amount of mastication ensuing. This, however, if I could trust a voluntary informant afterwards, was not, after all, so vast as imagined. He said, "But for the income it brings in, we could easily chew the whole Virginia plant ourselves." No won- der, then, is it to see the capacious hotel expectorators generally festooned with the ejected, well-moistened leafage. [129-30]


Crowe, Eyre. With Thackeray in America. New York: Scribner's, 1893. Internet Archive. Web. 22 February 2018.

Last modified 27 June 2020