‘Love and Tobacco’ by R.D.T. (23 April, 1859)

The author of the following, R.D.T. from Birkhill, had two short stories published in ‘The People’s Journal’ in 1859. The other, ‘The Dancing Master From Home’, appeared in the 30 July edition.

You will perhaps infer from this grotesque title that I design to inflict upon you a threadbare panegyric on the one, and a sweeping censure upon the other; such, however, is not my intention.

Being one day en board a steamboat on my way to a port not quite a hundred miles from Dundee, we were so incautious as to give, unasked, our advice to a little yellow mannikin, apparently about fifteen years of age, who was sucking away with great satisfaction at an immense French clay pipe.

“If you mean to preach down tobacco here,” said the miniature gentleman, “you had better collect the whole of the passengers, as I observe there is scarcely a man on deck who is not smoking as well as myself.” This reply drew upon him the attention of an elderly man who was sitting opposite reading a newspaper, and who might be a quack doctor, a travelling lecturer, or a city missionary, to judge from his serious and intelligent appearance.

“Young man,” said he, “I suppose you think it is the smoke of tobacco you are whiffing out so composedly?”

“Real cavendish,” said he promising youth, nodding.

“But,” continued the other, “you are grossly mistaken; it is the dissipating, the smouldering away of health and strength, of perseverance, energy, and ability, of the will, the desire to achieve anything great or good, of the very essence of manhood, and even of life itself.” “Tobacco,” said he, now fairly launched on what seemed to be with him a favourite topic, “is the foster-parent of more vices than ever were laid to the charge of that demon—drink. Its influence over the faculties of man, moral, physical, and intellectual, cannot be calculated, and is seldom suspected. I never look upon the sallow, sunken cheek and dim eye of a hibitual [sic] smoker without inwardly cursing this insidious invention.”

“Discovery, you mean,” said a stout good humoured looking farmer, with whom we had been on “cracking terms” during the whole of the passage.

“Discovery,” cried the now excited lecture, “can you call the most abominable practice that ever degraded mankind a discovery? To discover, my friend, implies to perceive the fitness of some natural object for a purpose to which it has never before been applied; to lay open the supplies of Nature for her legitimate wants. True, she gives us tobacco, but never gave us the appetite for it, which is as unnecessary and hurtful to our system as a charge of gunpowder would be to an air-gun.” Continue reading “‘Love and Tobacco’ by R.D.T. (23 April, 1859)”