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Of Smoking
by [?]

Of Smoking in Bed: There be who consider this a depravity — an instance of that excess in the practice of a virtue which passes into vice — and couple it with dram-drinking: who yet fail to justify themselves by argument. For if bed be by common consent the greatest bliss, the divinest spot, on earth, “ille terrarum qui præter omnes angulus ridet”; and if tobacco be the true Herb of Grace, and a joy and healing balm, and respite and nepenthe, — if all this be admitted, why are two things, super-excellent separately, noxious in conjunction? And is not the Bed Smoker rather an epicure in pleasure — self indulgent perhaps, but still the triumphant creator of a new “blend,” reminding one of a certain traveller’s account of an intoxicant patronised in the South Sea Islands, which combines the blissful effect of getting drunk and remaining sober to enjoy it? Yet I shall not insist too much on this point, but would only ask — so long as the smoker be unwedded — for some tolerance in the matter and a little logic in the discussion thereof.

Concerning Cigars: That there be large sums given for these is within common knowledge. 1 d., 2 d., nay even 4 d., is not too great a price, if a man will have of the finest leaf, reckless of expense. In this sort of smoking, however, I find more of vainglory and ostentation than solid satisfaction; and its votaries would seem to display less a calm, healthy affection for tobacco than (as Sir T. Browne hath it) a “passionate prodigality.” And, besides grievous wasting of the pocket, atmospheric changes, varyings in the crops, and the like, cause uncertainty to cling about each individual weed, so that man is always more or less at the mercy of Nature and the elements — an unsatisfactory and undignified position in these latter days of the Triumphant Democracy. But worst and fatallest of all, to every cigar-smoker it is certain to happen that once in his life, by some happy combination of time, place, temperament, and Nature — by some starry influence, maybe, or freak of the gods in mocking sport — once, and once only, he will taste the aroma of the perfect leaf at just the perfect point — the ideal cigar. Henceforth his life is saddened; as one kissed by a goddess in a dream, he goes thereafter, as one might say, in a sort of love-sickness. Seeking he scarce knows what, his existence becomes a dissatisfied yearning; the world is spoiled for him, its joys are tasteless: so he wanders, vision-haunted, down dreary days to some miserable end.

Yet, if one will walk this path and take the risks, the thing may be done at comparatively small expense. To such I would commend the Roman motto, slightly altered — Alieni appetens, sui avarus. There be always good fellows, with good cigars for their friends. Nay, too, the boxes of these lie open; an the good cigar belongs rather to him that can appreciate it aright than to the capitalist who, owing to a false social system, happens to be its temporary guardian and trustee. Again there is a saying — bred first, I think, among the schoolmen at Oxford — that it is the duty of a son to live up to his father’s income. Should any young man have found this task too hard for him, after the most strenuous and single-minded efforts, at least he can resolutely smoke his father’s cigars. In the path of duty complete success is not always to be looked for; but an approving conscience, the sure reward of honest endeavour, is within reach of all.