“ He that taketh tobacco saith he cannot leave it, it doth bewitch him.”— KING JAMES'S COUNTERBLAST TO TOBACCO.
AMERICA is especially responsible to the whole world for tobacco, since the two are twin-sisters, born to the globe in a day. The sailors first sent on shore by Columbus came back with news of a new continent and a new condiment. There was solid land, and there was a novel perfume, which rolled in clouds from the lips of the natives. The fame of the two great discoveries instantly began to overspread the world; but the smoke travelled fastest, as is its nature. There are many races which have not yet heard of America: there are very few which have not yet tasted of tobacco. A plant which was originally the amusement of a few savage tribes has become in a few centuries the fancied necessary of life to the most enlightened nations of the earth, and it is probable that there is nothing cultivated by man which is now so universally employed.
And the plant owes this width of celebrity to a combination of natural qualities so remarkable as to yield great diversities of good and evil fame. It was first heralded as a medical panacea, ‘'the most sovereign and precious weed that ever the earth tendered to the use of man, ” and was seldom mentioned, in the sixteenth century, without some reverential epithet. It was a plant divine, a canonized vegetable. Each nation had its own pious name to bestow upon it. The French called it herbe sainte, herbe sacrée, herbe propre à tous maux, panaceée antarctique,-—the Italians, herba Santa croce, — the Germans, heilig wundkraut. Botanists soberly classified it as herba panacea and herba sancta, and Gerard in his “Herbal” fixed its name finally as sana sancta Indorum, by which title it commonly appears in the professional recipes of the time. Spenser, in his “Faërie Queene,” bids the lovely Belphœbe gather it as “ divine tobacco,” and Lilly the Euphuist calls it “our holy herb Nicotian,” ranking it between violets and honey. It was cultivated in France for medicinal purposes solely, for half a century before any one there used it for pleasure, and till within the last hundred years it was familiarly prescribed, all over Europe, for asthma, gout, catarrh, consumption, headache; and, in short, was credited with curing more diseases than even the eighty-seven which Dr. Shew now charges it with producing.
So vast were the results of all this sanitary enthusiasm, that the use of tobacco in Europe probably reached its climax in a century or two, and has since rather diminished than increased, in proportion to the population. It probably appeared in England in 1586, being first used in the Indian fashion, by handing one pipe from man to man throughout the company ; the medium of communication being a silver tube for the higher classes, and a straw and walnut-shell for the baser sort. Paul Hentzner, who travelled in England in 1598, and Monsieur Misson, who wrote precisely a century later, note almost in the same words “ a perpetual use of tobacco ”; and the latter suspects that this is what makes “ the generality of Englishmen so taciturn, so thoughtful, and so melancholy.” In Queen Elizabeth’s time, the ladies of the court “ would not scruple to blow a pipe together very socially.” In 1614 it was asserted that tobacco was sold openly in more than seven thousand places in London, some of these being already attended by that patient Indian who still stands seductive at tobacconists’ doors. It was also estimated that the annual receipts of these establishments amounted to more than three hundred thousand pounds. Elegant ladies had their pictures painted, at least one in 1650 did, with pipe and box in hand. Rochefort, a rather apocryphal French traveller in 1672, reported it to be the general custom in English homes to set pipes on the table in the evening for the females as well as males of the family, and to provide children’s luncheon-baskets with a well-filled pipe, to be smoked at school, under the directing eye of the master. In 1703, Lawrence Spooner wrote that “ the sin of the kingdom in the intemperate use of tobacco swelleth and increaseth so daily that I can compare it to nothing but the waters of Noah, that swelled fifteen cubits above the highest mountains.” The deluge reached its height in England — so thinks the amusing and indefatigable Mr. Fairholt, author of “ Tobacco and its Associations”— in the reign of Queen Anne. Steele, in the “Spectator,” (1711,) describes the snuff-box as a rival to the fan among ladies; and Goldsmith pictures the belles at Bath as entering the water in full bathing costume, each provided with a small floating basket, to hold a snuffbox, a kerchief, and a nosegay. And finally, in 1797, Dr. Clarke complains of the handing about of the snuff-box in churches during worship, “ to the great scandal of religious people,”—adding, that kneeling in prayer was prevented by the large quantity of saliva ejected in all directions. In view of such formidable statements as these, it is hardly possible to believe that the present generation surpasses or even equals the past in the consumption of tobacco.
And all this sudden popularity was in spite of a vast persecution which sought to unite all Europe against this indulgence, in the seventeenth century. In Russia, its use was punishable with amputation of the nose ; in Berne, it ranked next to adultery among offences; Sandys, the traveller, saw a Turk led through the streets of Constantinople mounted backward on an ass with a tobacco-pipe thrust through his nose. Pope Urban VIII., in 1624, excommunicated those who should use it in churches, and Innocent XII., in 1690, echoed the same anathema. Yet within a few years afterwards travellers reported that same free use of snuff in Romish worship which still astonishes spectators. To see a priest, during the momentous ceremonial of High Mass, enliven the occasion by a voluptuous pinch, is a sight even more astonishing, though perhaps less disagreeable, than the well-used spittoon which decorates so many Protestant pulpits.
But the Protestant pulpits did their full share in fighting the habit, for a time at least. Among the Puritans, no man could use tobacco publicly, on penalty of a fine of two and sixpence, or in a private dwelling, if strangers were present; and no two could use it together. That iron pipe of Miles Standish, still preserved at Plymouth, must have been smoked in solitude or not at all. This strictness was gradually relaxed, however, as the clergy took up the habit of smoking ; and I have seen an old painting, on the panels of an ancient parsonage in Newburyport, representing a jovial circle of portly divines sitting pipe in hand around a table, with the Latin motto, “ In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Apparently the tobacco was one of the essentials, since there was unity respecting that. Furthermore, Captain Underhill, hero of the Pequot War, boasted to the saints of having received his assurance of salvation “ while enjoying a pipe of that good creature, tobacco,” “ since when he had never doubted it, though he should fall into sin.” But it is melancholy to relate that this fall did presently take place, in a very flagrant manner, and brought discredit upon tobacco conversions, as being liable to end in smoke.
Indeed, some of the most royal wills that ever lived in the world have measured themselves against the tobacco-plant and been defeated. Charles I. attempted to banish it, and in return the soldiers of Cromwell puffed their smoke contemptuously in his face, as he sat a prisoner in the guard-chamber. Cromwell himself undertook it, and Evelyn says that the troopers smoked in triumph at his funeral. Wellington tried it, and the artists caricatured him on a pipe’s head with a soldier behind him defying with a whiff that imperial nose. Louis Napoleon is said to be now attempting it, and probably finds his subjects more ready to surrender the freedom of the press than of the pipe.
The more recent efforts against tobacco, like most arguments in which morals and physiology are mingled, have lost much of their effect through exaggeration. On both sides there has been enlisted much loose statement, with some bad logic. It is, for instance, unreasonable to hold up the tobacco-plant to general indignation because Linnæus classed it with the natural order Luridæ,— since he attributed the luridness only to the color of those plants, not to their character. It is absurd to denounce it as belonging to the poisonous nightshade tribe, when the potato and the tomato also appertain to that perilous domestic circle. It is hardly fair even to complain of it for yielding a poisonous oil, when these two virtuous plants — to say nothing of the peach and the almond — will under sufficient chemical provocation do the same thing. Two drops of nicotine will, indeed, kill a rabbit; but so, it is said, will two drops of solanine. Great are the resources of chemistry, and a well-regulated scientific mind can detect something deadly almost anywhere.
Nor is it safe to assume, as many do, that tobacco predisposes very powerfully to more dangerous dissipations. The nonsmoking Saxons were probably far more intemperate in drinking than the modern English; and Lane, the best authority, points out that wine is now far less used by the Orientals than at the time of the “ Arabian Nights,” when tobacco had not been introduced. And in respect to yet more perilous sensual excesses, tobacco is now admitted, both by friends and foes, to be quite as much a sedative as a stimulant.
The point of objection on the ground of inordinate expense is doubtless better taken, and can be met only by substantial proof that the enormous outlay is a wise one. Tobacco may be “ the anodyne of poverty,” as somebody has said, but it certainly promotes poverty. This narcotic lulls to sleep all pecuniary economy. Every pipe may not, indeed, cost so much as that jewelled one seen by Dibdin in Vienna, which was valued at a thousand pounds; or even as the German meerschaum which was passed from mouth to mouth through a whole regiment of soldiers till it was colored to perfection, having never been allowed to cool,—a bill of one hundred pounds being ultimately rendered for the tobacco consumed. But how heedlessly men squander money on this pet luxury! By the report of the English University Commissioners, some ten years ago, a student’s annual tobaccobill often amounts to forty pounds. Dr. Solly puts thirty pounds as the lowest annual expenditure of an English smoker, and knows many who spend one hundred and twenty pounds, and one three hundred pounds a year, on tobacco alone. Iu this country the facts are hard to obtain, but many a man smokes twelve fourcent cigars a day, and many a man four twelve-cent cigars,— spending in either ease about half a dollar a day and not far from two hundred dollars per annum. An industrious mechanic earns his two dollars and fifty cents a day or a clerk his eight hundred dollars a year, spends a quarter of it on tobacco, and the rest on his wife, children, and miscellaneous expenses.
But the impotency which marks some of the stock arguments against tobacco extends to most of those in favor of it. My friend assures me that every one needs some narcotic, that the American brain is too active, and that the influence of tobacco is quieting, — great is the enjoyment of a comfortable pipe after dinner. I grant, on observing him at that period, that it appears so. But I also observe, that, when the placid hour has passed away, his nervous system is more susceptible, his hand more tremulous, his temper more irritable on slight occasions, than during the days when the comfortable pipe chances to be omitted. The only effect of the narcotic appears, therefore, to be a demand for another narcotic; and there seems no decided advantage over the life of the birds and bees, who appear to keep their nervous systems in tolerably healthy condition with no narcotic at all.
The argument drawn from a comparison of races is no better. Germans are vigorous and Turks are long-lived, and they are all great smokers. But certainly the Germans do not appear so vivacious, nor the Turks so energetic, as to afford triumphant demonstrations in behalf of the sacred weed. Moreover, the Eastern tobacco is as much milder than ours as are the Continental wines than even those semi-alcoholic mixtures which prevail at scrupulous communion-tables. And as for German health, Dr. Schneider declares, in the London “ Lancet,” that it is because of smoke that all his educated countrymen wear spectacles, that an immense amount of consumption is produced in Germany by tobacco, and that English insurance companies are proverbially cautious in insuring German lives. Dr. Carlyon gives much the same as his observation in Holland. These facts may be overstated, but they are at least as good as those which they answer.
Not much better is the excuse alleged in the social and genial influences of tobacco. It certainly seems a singular way of opening the lips for conversation by closing them on a pipe-stem, and it would rather appear as if Fate designed to gag the smokers and let the non-smokers talk. But supposing it otherwise, does it not mark a condition of extreme juvenility in our social development, if no resources of intellect can enable a half-dozen intelligent men to be agreeable to each other, without applying the forcing process, by turning the room into an imperfectly organized chimney ? Brilliant women can be brilliant without either wine or tobacco, and Napoleon always maintained that without an admixture of feminine wit conversation grew tame. Are all male beings so much stupider by nature than the other sex, that men require stimulants and narcotics to make them mutually endurable ?
And as the conversational superiorities of woman disprove the supposed social inspirations of tobacco, so do her more refined perceptions yet more emphatically pronounce its doom. Though belles of the less mature description, eulogistic of sophomores, may stoutly profess that they dote on the Virginian perfume, yet cultivated womanhood barely tolerates the choicest tobacco-smoke, even in its freshness, and utterly recoils from the stale suggestions of yesterday. By whatever enthusiasm misled, she finds something abhorrent in the very nature of the thing. In vain did loyal Frenchmen baptize the weed as the queen’s own favorite, Herba Catherinæ Medicæ ; it is easier to admit that Catherine de’ Medici was not feminine than that tobacco is. Man also recognizes the antagonism; there is scarcely a husband in America who would not be converted from smoking, if his wife resolutely demanded her right of moiety in the cigar-box. No Lady Mary, no loveliest Marquise, could make snufftaking beauty otherwise than repugnant to this generation. Rustic females who habitually chew even pitch or sprucegum are rendered thereby so repulsive that the fancy refuses to pursue the horror farther and imagine it tobacco; and all the charms of the veil and the fan can scarcely reconcile the most fumacious American to the cigarrito of the Spanish fair. How strange seems Parton’s picture of General Jackson puffing his long clay pipe on one side of the fireplace and Mrs. Jackson pulling hers on the other ! No doubt, to the heart of the chivalrous backwoodsman those smokedried lips were yet the altar of early passion, — as that rather ungrammatical tongue was still the music of the spheres ; but the unattractiveness of that conjugal counterblast is Nature’s own protest against smoking.
The use of tobacco must, therefore, be held to mark a rather coarse and childish epoch in our civilization, if nothing worse. Its most ardent admirer hardly paints it into his picture of the Golden Age. It is difficult to associate it with one’s fancies of the noblest manhood, and Miss Muloch reasonably defies the human imagination to portray Shakspeare or Dante with pipe in mouth. Goethe detested it; so did Napoleon, save in the form of snuff, which he apparently used on Talleyrand’s principle, that diplomacy was impossible without it. Bacon said, “ Tobacco-smoking is a secret delight serving only to steal away men’s brains.” Newton abstained from it: the contrary is often claimed, but thus says his biographer, Brewster,—saying that “ he. would make no necessities to himself.” Franklin says he never used it, and never met with one of its votaries who advised him to follow the example. John Quincy Adams used it in early youth, and after thirty years of abstinence said, that, if every one would try abstinence for three months, it would annihilate the practice, and add five years to the average length of human life.
In attempting to go beyond these general charges of waste and foolishness, and to examine the physiological results of the use of tobacco, one is met by the contradictions and perplexities which haunt all such inquiries. Doctors, of course, disagree, and the special cases cited triumphantly by either side are ruled out as exceptional by the other. It is like the question of the precise degree of injury done by alcoholic drinks. To-day’s newspaper writes the eulogy of A. B., who recently died at the age of ninety-nine, without ever tasting ardent spirits; to-morrow’s will add the epitaph of C. D., aged one hundred, who has imbibed a quart of rum a day since reaching the age of indiscretion ; and yet, after all, both editors have to admit that the drinking usages of society are growing decidedly more decent. It is the same with the tobacco argument. Individual cases prove nothing either way ; there is such a range of vital vigor in different individuals, that one may withstand a life of error, and another perish in spite of prudence. The question is of the general tendency. It is not enough to know that Dr. Parr smoked twenty pipes in an evening, and lived to be seventy-eight ; that Thomas Hobbes smoked thirteen, and survived to ninety-two; that Brissiac of Trieste died at one hundred and sixteen, with a pipe in his mouth ; and that Henry Hartz of Schleswig used tobacco steadily from the age of sixteen to one hundred and forty-two; nor would any accumulation of such healthy old sinners prove anything satisfactory. It seems rather overwhelming, to be sure, when Mr. Fairholt assures us that his respected father “died at the age of seventy-two : he had been twelve hours a day in a tobaccomanufactory for nearly fifty years; and he both smoked and chewed while busy in the labors of the workshop, sometimes in a dense cloud of steam from drying the damp tobacco over the stoves; and his health and appetite were perfect to the day of his death : he was a model of muscular and stomachic energy; in which his son, who neither smokos,snuffs, nor chews, by no means rivals him.” But until we know precisely what capital of health the venerable tobacconist inherited from his fathers, and in what condition he transmitted it to his sons, the statement certainly has two edges.
For there are facts equally notorious on the other side. It is not denied that it is found necessary to exclude tobacco, as a general rule, from insane asylums, or that it produces, in extreme cases, among perfectly sober persons, effects akin to delirium tremens. Nor is it denied that terrible local diseases follow it,— as, for instance, cancer of the mouth, which has become, according to the eminent surgeon, Brouisson, the disease most dreaded in the French hospitals, He has performed sixty-eight operations for this, within fourteen years, in the Hospital St. Eloi, and traces it entirely to the use of tobacco. Such facts are chiefly valuable as showing the tendency of the thing. Where the evils of excess are so glaring, the advantages of even moderate use are questionable. Where weak persons are made insane, there is room for suspicion that the strong may suffer unconsciously. You may say that the victims must have been constitutionally nervous ; but where is the native-born American who is not?
In France and England the recent inquiries into the effects of tobacco seem to have been a little more systematic than our own. In the former country, the newspapers state, the attention of the Emperor was called to the fact that those pupils of the Polytechnic School who used this indulgence were decidedly inferior in average attainments to the rest. This is stated to have led to its prohibition in the school, and to the forming of an anti-tobacco organization, which is said to be making great progress in France. I cannot, however, obtain from any of our medical libraries any satisfactory information as to the French agitation, and am led by private advices to believe that even these general statements are hardly trustworthy. The recent English discussions are, however, more easy of access.
“ The Great Tobacco Question,” as the controversy in England was called, originated in a Clinical Lecture on Paralysis, by Mr. Solly, Surgeon of St. Thomas’s Hospital, which was published in the “ Lancet,” December 13, 1856. He incidentally spoke of tobacco as an important source of this disease, and went on to say, — “ I know of no single vice which does so much harm as smoking. It is a snare and a delusion. It soothes the excited nervous system at the time, to render it more irritable and feeble ultimately. It is like opium in this respect; and if you want to know all the wretchedness which this drug can produce, you should read the ‘ Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.’ ” This statement was presently echoed by J. Ranald Martin, an eminent surgeon, “ whose Eastern experience rendered his opinion of immense value,” and who used language almost identical with that of Mr. Solly : — “ I can state of my own observation, that the miseries, mental and bodily, which I have witnessed from the abuse of cigarsmoking, far exceed anything detailed in the ‘ Confessions of an Opium-Eater.’ ” This led off a controversy which continued for several months in the columns of the “ Lancet,” — a controversy conducted in a wonderfully good-natured spirit, considering that more than fifty physicians took part in it, and that these were almost equally divided. The debate took a wide range, and some interesting facts were elicited : as that Lord Raglan, General Markham, and Admirals Dundas and Napier always abandoned tobacco from the moment when they were ordered on actual service; that nine-tenths of the first-class men at the Universities were non-smokers; that two Indian chiefs told Power, the actor, that “ those Indians who smoked gave out soonest in the chase ” ; and so on. There were also American examples, rather loosely gathered : thus, a remark of the venerable Dr. Waterhouse, made many years ago, was cited as the contemporary opinion of “ the Medical Professor in Harvard University”; also it was mentioned, as an acknowledged fact, that the American physique was rapidly deteriorating because of tobacco, and that coroners’ verdicts were constantly being thus pronounced on American youths: “ Died of excessive smoking.” On the other hand, that eminent citizen of our Union, General Thomas Thumb, was about that time professionally examined in London, and his verdict on tobacco was quoted to be, that it was “ one of his chief comforts ”; also mention was made of a hapless quack who announced himself as coming from Boston, and who, to keep up the Yankee reputation, issued a combined advertisement of “ medical advice gratis ” and “ prime cigars.”
But these stray American instances were of course quite outnumbered by the English, and there is scarcely an ill which was not in this controversy charged upon tobacco by its enemies, nor a physical or moral benefit which was not claimed for it by its friends. According to these, it prevents dissension and dyspnœa, inflammation and insanity, saves the waste of tissue and of time, blunts the edge of grief and lightens pain. “ No man was ever in a passion with a pipe in his mouth.” There are more female lunatics chiefly because the fumigatory education of the fair sex has been neglected. Yet it is important to notice that these same advocates almost outdo its opponents in admitting its liability to misuse, and the perilous consequences. “ The injurious effects of excessive smoking,”— “ there is no more pitiable object than the inveterate smoker,” — “ sedentary life is incompatible with smoking,” — highly pernicious, — general debility, — secretions all wrong,— cerebral softening, partial paralysis, — trembling of the hand, — enervation and depression, — great irritability,— neuralgia, — narcotism of the heart: this Chamber of Horrors forms a part of the very Temple of Tobacco, as builded, not by foes, but by worshippers. “ All men of observation and experience,” they admit, “ must be able to point to instances of disease and derangement from the abuse of this luxury.” Yet they advocate it, as the same men advocate intoxicating drinks; not meeting the question, in either case, whether it be wise, or even generous, for the strong to continue an indulgence which is thus confessedly ruinous to the weak.
The controversy had its course, and ended, like most controversies, without establishing anything. The editor of the “Lancet,” to be sure, summed up the evidence very fairly, and it is worth while to quote him: — “It is almost unnecessary to make a separate inquiry into the pathological conditions which follow upon excessive smoking. Abundant evidence has been adduced of the gigantic evils which attend the abuse of tobacco. Let it be granted at once that there is such a thing as moderate smoking, and let it be admitted that we cannot accuse tobacco of being guilty of the whole of Cullen’s £ Nosology ’ ; it still remains that there is a long catalogue of frightful penalties attached to its abuse.” He then proceeds to consider what is to be called abuse: as, for instance, smoking more than one or two cigars or pipes daily, — smoking too early in the day or too early in life, — and in general, the use of tobacco by those with whom it does not agree,— which rather reminds one of the early temperance pledges, which bound a man to drink no more rum than he found to be good for him. But the Chief Justice of the Medical Court finally instructs his jury of readers that young men should give up a dubious pleasure for a certain good, and abandon tobacco altogether: — “ Shun the habit of smoking as you would shun selfdestruction. As you value your physical and moral well-being, avoid a habit which for you can offer no advantage to compare with the dangers you incur.”
Yet, after all, neither he nor his witnesses seem fairly to have hit upon what seem to this present writer the two incontrovertible arguments against tobacco ; one being drawn from theory, and the other from practice.
First, as to the theory of the thing. The laws of Nature warn every man who uses tobacco for the first time, that he is dealing with a poison. Nobody denies this attribute of the plant; it is “a narcotic poison of the most active class.” It is not merely that a poison can by chemical process be extracted from it, but it is a poison in its simplest form. Its mere application to the skin has often produced uncontrollable nausea and prostration. Children have in several cases been killed by the mere application of tobacco ointment to the head. Soldiers have simulated sickness by placing it beneath the armpits, — though in most cases our regiments would probably consider this a mistaken application of the treasure. Tobacco, then, is simply and absolutely a poison.
Now to say that a substance is a poison is not to say that it inevitably kills ; it may be apparently innocuous, if not incidentally beneficial. King Mithridates, it is said, learned habitually to consume these dangerous commodities; and the scarcely less mythical Du Chaillu, after the fatigues of his gorilla warfare, found decided benefit from two ounces of arsenic. But to say that a substance is a poison is to say at least that it is a noxious drug,— that it is a medicine, not an aliment,— that its effects are pathological, not physiological, — and that its use should therefore be exceptional, not habitual. Not tending to the preservation of a normal state, but at best to the correction of some abnormal one, its whole value, if it have any, lies in the rarity of its application. To apply a powerful drug at a certain hour every day is like a schoolmaster’s whipping his pupil at a certain hour every day : the victim may become inured, but undoubtedly the specific value of the remedy must vanish with the repetition.
Thus much would be true, were it proved that tobacco is in some cases apparently beneficial. No drug is beneficial, when constantly employed. But, furthermore, if not beneficial, it then is injurious. As Dr. Holmes has so forcibly expounded, every medicine is in itself hurtful. All noxious agents, according to him, cost a patient, on an average, five per cent, of his vital power ; that is, twenty times as much would kill him. It is believed that they are sometimes indirectly useful; it is known that they are always directly hurtful. That is, I have a neighbor on one side who takes tobacco to cure his dyspepsia, and a neighbor on the other side who takes blue pill for his infirmities generally. The profit of the operation may be sure or doubtful; the outlay is certain, and to be deducted in any event. I have no doubt, my dear Madam, that your interesting son has learned to smoke, as he states, in order to check that very distressing toothache which so hindered his studies ; but I sincerely think it would be better to have the affliction removed by a dentist at a cost of fifty cents than by a drug at an expense of five per cent, of vital power.
Fortunately, when it comes to the practical test, the whole position is conceded to our hands, and the very devotees of tobacco are false to their idol. It is not merely that the most fumigatory parent dissuades his sons from the practice; but there is a more remarkable instance. If any two classes can be singled out in the community as the largest habitual consumers of tobacco, it must be the college students and the city “roughs” or “ rowdies,” or whatever the latest slang name is, — for these roysterers, like oysters, incline to names with an r in. Now the “rough,” when brought to a physical climax, becomes the prize-fighter ; and the college student is seen in his highest condition as the prize-oarsman; and both these representative men, under such circumstances of ambition, straightway abandon tobacco. Such a concession, from such a quarter, is worth all the denunciations of good Mr. Trask. Appeal, O anxious mother! from Philip smoking to Philip training. What your progeny will not do for any considerations of ethics or economy, — to save his sisters’ olfactories or the atmosphere of the family altar,— that he does unflinchingly at one word from the stroke-oar or the commodore. In so doing, he surrenders every inch of the ground, and owns unequivocally that he is in better condition without tobacco. The old traditions of training are in some other respects being softened : strawberries are no longer contraband, and the last agonies of thirst are no longer a part of the prescription; but training and tobacco are still incompatible. There is not a regatta or a prize-fight in which the betting would not be seriously affected by the discovery that either party used the beguiling weed.
The argument is irresistible,—or rather, it is not so much an argument as a plea of guilty under the indictment. The prime devotees of tobacco voluntarily abstain from it, like Lord Raglan and Admiral Napier, when they wish to be in their best condition. But are we ever, any of us, in too good condition ? Have all the sanitary conventions yet succeeded in detecting one man, in our highpressure America, who finds himself too well ? If a man goes into training for the mimic contest, why not for the actual one ? If he needs steady nerves and a cool head for the play of life, — and even prize-fighting is called “ sporting,”—why not for its earnest ? Here we are all croaking that we are not in the health in which our twentieth birthday found us, and yet we will not condescend to the wise abstinence which even twenty practises. Moderate training is simply a rational and healthful life.
So palpable is this, that there is strong reason to believe that the increased attention to physical training is operating against tobacco. If we may trust literature, as has been shown, its use is not now so great as formerly, in spite of the vague guesses of alarmists. “ It is estimated,” says Mr. Coles, “ that the consumption of tobacco in this country is eight times as great as in France and three times as great as in England, in proportion to the population ” ; but there is nothing in the world more uncertain than “It is estimated.” It is frequently estimated, for instance, that nine out of ten of our college students use tobacco; and yet by the statistics of the last graduating class at Cambridge it appears that it is used by only thirty-one out of seventy-six. I am satisfied that the extent of the practice is often exaggerated. In a gymnastic club of young men, for instance, where I have had opportunity to take the statistics, it is found that less than onequarter use it, though there has never been any agitation or discussion of the matter. These things indicate that it can no longer be claimed, as Moliere asserted two centuries ago, that he who lives without tobacco is not worthy to live.
And as there has been some exaggeration in describing the extent to which Tobacco is King, so there has doubtless been some overstatement as to the cruelty of his despotism. Enough, however, remains to condemn him. The present writer, at least, has the firmest conviction, from personal observation and experience, that the imagined benefits of tobacco-using (which have never, perhaps, been better stated than in an essay which appeared in this magazine, in August, 1860) are ordinarily an illusion, and its evils a far more solid reality, — that it stimulates only to enervate, soothes only to depress, — that it neither permanently calms the nerves nor softens the temper nor enlightens the brain, but that in the end its tendencies are precisely the opposites of these, beside the undoubted incidental objections of costliness and uncleanness. When men can find any other instance of a poisonous drug which is suitable for daily consumption, they will be more consistent in using this. When it is admitted to be innocuous to those who are in training for athletic feats, it may be possible to suppose it beneficial to those who are out of training. Meanwhile there seems no ground for its supporters except that to which the famous Robert Hall was reduced, as he says, by “ the Society of Doctors of Divinity.” He sent a message to Dr. Clarke, in return for a pamphlet against tobacco, that he could not possibly refute his arguments and could not possibly give up smoking.