Smoking and Drinking

By JAMES PARTON. Boston : Ticknor and Fields.
MR. PARTON, who always carries interest with him, has here the help of facts which carry conviction with them. We do not see how any one but a smoker could hold out against the arguments proving the unremunerative nature of his habit; and teetotalers, we think, must own that winebibbing is entirely bad, in spite of the fact that the one element of wine which makes it wine is of an indeterminable character, and may be so generous and wholesome as to counterbalance all its other evil properties. In fact, we have a faint hope that these admirable essays may persuade some user of alcohol and tobacco to abandon them ; or if not that, then warn those whom it is not too late to warn never to indulge in these harmful pleasures. But it is a good deal to hope for even faintly. Mr. Parton does not, apparently, hold out a strong inducement of reform to a wicked world when he tells it that its bottle “ enables us to violate the laws of nature without immediate suffering and speedy destruction.” With vantage-ground like this given him, it would seem that the sinner must be greatly tempted to continue in his sin. Grant a misdoer time, and eternity is always an infinite way off. Nevertheless, we like Mr. Parton’s candid fashion of treating these matters, which brings into their popular consideration something of the impartiality of science. The world is too old to be frightened into goodness and wisdom, and must be approached as if it could be persuaded to give up what would probably result in evil. The strongest of all arguments against slavery was that it was in spirit compatible with all possible crimes.
Even if what Mr. Parton writes did not always make a vivid impression, wc think the readers of the Atlantic could scarcely have forgotten the three essays, “Does it Pay to Smoke?” “Will the Coming Man drink Wine ? ” and “ Inebriate Asylums and a Visit to One,” which form this volume. Wc need not comment upon the excellent manner in which good material is utilized in them, or advert again to their author’s well-known gift of making all his facts entertaining. But we can speak of the very sensible and felicitous Preface to their republication, near the close of which he strikes the key-note of all successful protest against vice. When the Devil suggests that perhaps evil-doing doesn’t hurt much, it is the triumphant answer of reason, that, if you refrain from a possible evil, you are not only absolutely safe, but more a man. through your self-denial. “During those seven months,” says our author of one who had given up tobacco for that length of time, “ he was a man. He could claim fellowship with all the noble millions of our race who have waged a secret warfare with Desire all the days of their lives.It is surprising what a new interest is given to life by denying ourselves one vicious indulgence. What luxury so luxurious as selfdenial ! . . . . The cigar and bottle are often replaced by something not sensual.”