Page images




“Smoking and chewing tobacco," says Rush, "by rendering
water and simple liquors insipid to the taste, dispose very much
to the stronger stimulus of ardent spirits. The practice of smok-
ing segars has, in every part of our country, been more followed
by a general use of brandy and water as a common drink, more
especially by that class of citizens who have not been in the ha-
bit of drinking wine or malt liquors."'* “One of the greatest
sots I ever knew,” says the same author, “ acquired a love for
ardent spirits by swallowing cuds of tobacco, which he did to
escape detection in the use of it; for he had contracted the ha-
bit of chewing, contrary to the advice and commands of his
father. He died of a dropsy under my care, in the year 1780.”+
On this subject, a very late writer is still more express. “We
consider tobacco,” says he, "closely allied to intoxicating li-
quors, and its confirmed votaries as a species of drunkards."
Again. “I have observed that persons who are much addicted
to liquor, have an inordinate liking to tobacco in all its different
forms; and it is remarkable, that in the early stages of ebriety,
almost every man is desirous of having a pinch of snuff. This
last fact it is not easy to explain; but the former may be ac-
counted for by that incessant craving after excitement, which
clings to the system of the confirmed drunkard.”

The limits of our article will not allow us to embrace all the
considerations which belong to this subject, and which have
been bestowed upon it by various writers. We will therefore
proceed to the few remarks which we have to make upon the
three chief modes of using tobacco, viz., snuffing, smoking, and
chewing. Catherine de Medicis, the personage said to have
prompted the horrible massacre of St. Bartholomew's day at
Paris, is commonly regarded as the inventress of snuff-taking.
In Russia and Persia the penalty of death was annexed to the
use of tobacco in every form except that of snuff. For this
lighter offence, the punishment was softened down to simple
mutilation, no greater severity being deemed necessary than
that of cutting off the nose. We doubt exceedingly whether
either penalty would deter the inveterate snuff-takers of the pre-
sent day. Indeed, we are told somewhere that it was very com-
mon among the Persians to expatriate themselves, when they
were no longer allowed to indulge in tobacco in their native
country. One of the first effects of snuff is to injure the nerves
of the nose, which are endowed with exquisite sensibility, and
of which an incredible number are spread over the inner mem-
huone of the nostrils. This membrane is lubricated by a secre-

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tion, which has a tendency to preserve the sense. By the almost caustic acrimony of snuff, the mucus is dried up, and the organ of smelling becomes perfectly callous. The consequence is, that all the pleasure we are capable of deriving from the olfactory organs, the omnis copia narium, as Horace curiously terms it, is totally destroyed. Similar effects are also produced upon the saliva, and hence it is that habitual snuff-takers are often unable to speak with proper distinctness; and the sense of taste for the same reason is very much obtunded. A snuffer may always be distinguished by a certain nasal twangan asthmatic wheezing--and a sort of disagreeable noise in respiration, which is nearly allied to incipient snoring. Snuff also frequently occasions fleshy excrescences in the nose, which, in some instances, end in polypi. Individuals have oftentimes a predisposition to cancer in little scirrhous intumescencies, which, if kept easy and free from every thing of an irritating character, will continue harmless, but which the use of snuff sometimes frets into incurable ulcers and cancers. By the use of snuff, tumours are also generated in the throat, which obstruct deglutition, and even destroy life. Dr. Hill saw a female die of hunger, who could swallow no nourishment because of a polypus which closed up the stomach, the formation of which was attributed to the excessive use of snuff. Some portion of the snuff will involuntarily find its way into the stomach, where its pernicious properties soon manifest themselves, being frequently followed by nausea, vomitings, loss of appetite, and impaired digestion. The drain of the juices has a tendency to injure the muscles of the face, to render them flaccid, to furrow and corrugate the skin, and to give a gaunt, withered, and jaundiced appearance to “the human face divine.”

We are also informed that it embrowns the complexion, by withdrawing those peculiar secretions which communicate the fine vermillion hue of beauty. In our country, however, women do not abandon themselves to this impure habit, till they are married, and have no farther desire to please, or till they are somewhat passées, and find their faculties of pleasing impaired. What a death-blow does snuffing give to all that romance with which it is the interest of refined society to invest the fair sex! How vulgar the thought “that a sneeze should interrupt a sigh!”—How unpoetical is snuff! The most suitable verses which a lover could address to a snuff-taking mistress, would be imitations of Horace's lines to the Sorceress Canidia. What sylph would superintend the conveyance of this dust to the nostrils of a belle ? What Gnome would not take a fiendish delight in hovering over a pipe-loving beauty ?

" The only advantage," says Dr. Leake, “ of taking snuff, is that of sneezing, which, in sluggish phlegmatic habits, will give

universal concussion to the body, and promote a more free circulation of the blood ; but of this benefit snuff-takers are deprived, from being familiar with its use.” When the stimulus of snuff ceases to be sufficient, recourse is immediately had to certain admixtures, by which the necessary excitement is procured ; thus pepper, euphorbium, hellebore, and even pulverised glass, are made use of to give it additional pungency. Snuffing is also a frequent cause of blindness. Nature has appointed certain fluids to nourish and preserve the eye, which, if withdrawn, cause the sight to become prematurely old, impaired by weakness, and sometimes totally destroyed. We are also told that it dries up and blackens the brain, and gives the stomach a yellow hue ;* that it injures the moral faculties, impairs the memory, and, indeed, debilitates all the intellectual powers, and that it taints the breath“ with the rank odour of a tobacco cask.” “We read in the Ephemerides des Curieux de la Nature, that a person fell into a state of somnolency, and died apoplectic, in consequence of having taken by the nose too great a quantity of snuff.”+ In fine, snuffing is said to bring on convulsions, promote pulmonary consumption, and to cause madness and death! Napoleon is thought to have owed his death to a morbid state of stomach, superinduced by snuffing to excess. Dr. Rush relates that Sir John Pringle was afflicted with tremors in his hands, and had his memory impaired by the use of snuff; when, on abandoning the habit, at the instance of Dr. Franklin, he found his power of recollection restored, and he recovered the use of his hands. I

When the habit of snuffing is once contracted, it becomes almost impossible to divest ourselves of it. It becomes as necessary as food, or any of those first wants of life “quibus negatis natura doleat." The following story we translate from a French medical writer :

*.“Qu'on ne pense pas, malgré l'usage immense et presque general du tabac, qu'il n'y ait aucun inconvenient a s'en servir. Les auteurs rapportent des faits qui prouvent le contraire, et sans ajouter foi a ce que raconte Borrichius (dans un lettre ecrite a Bartholin) d'une personne qui s'etait tellement desséché le cerveau a force de prendre du tabac, qu'aprés sa mort, on ne lui trouva dans le crâne, au lieu d'encephale, qu'un petit grumeau noir ; ni meme à ce que dit Simon Pauli, que ceux qui fument trop de tabac ont le cerveau et la crâne tout noirs, nonplus qu'a l'assertion de Van Helmont qui a vu, affirme-t-il, un estomac teint enjaune par la vapeur du tabac ; tout le monde sait qu'il affaiblit l'odorat par suite de ses irritations répétées sur la membrane olfactive, qu'il nuit a l'integrité du gout, parce qu'il en passe toujours un peu dans la bouche et jusque sur la langue. Ce que l'on n'ignore pas nonplus c'est qu'il dérange la memoire,

rends moins nette, moins entière ; il produit de plus des vertiges, des céphalées et meme l'apoplexie.”Dictionnaire des Sciences Medicales, art. Tabac.

| Orfila's Toxicology, p. 291. # Essays, p. 265.

“ I recollect, about twenty years since, while gathering simples one day in the Forest of Fontainebleau, I encountered a man stretched out upon the ground; I supposed him to be dead, when, upon approaching, he asked in a feeble voice if I had some snuff ; on my replying in the negative, he sunk back immediately, almost in a state of insensibility. In this condition he remained till I brought a person who gave him several pinches, and he then informed us that he had commenced his journey that morning, supposing he had his snuff-box with him, but found very soon he had started without it; that he had travelled as long as he was able, till at last, overcome by distress, he found it impossible to proceed any farther, and without my timely succour he would have certainly perished."*

The consumption of time and great expense of this artificial habit, almost surpass belief. “ A man who takes a pinch of snuff every twenty minutes,” says Dr. Rush, “ (which most habitual snuffers do), and snuffs fifteen hours in four-and-twenty, (allowing him to consume not quite half a minute every time he uses the box,) will waste about five whole days of every year of his life in this useless and unwholesome practice. But when we add to the profitable use to which this time might have been applied, the expenses of tobacco, pipes, snuff, and spitting boxes —and of the injuries which are done to the clothing, during a whole life, the aggregate sum would probably amount to several hundred dollars. To a labouring man this would be a decent portion for a son or daughter, while the same sum saved by a man in affluent circumstances, would have enabled him, by a contribution to a public charity, to have lessened a large portion of the ignorance or misery of mankind.” But Lord Stanhope makes a far more liberal estimate than Dr. Rush ; " Every professed, inveterate, and incurable snuff-taker,” says he, “at a moderate computation, takes one pinch in ten minutes. Every pinch, with the agreeable ceremony of blowing and wiping the nose, and other incidental circumstances, consumes a minute and a half. One minute and a half out of every ten, allowing sixteen hours to a snuff-taking day, amounts to two hours and twenty-four minutes out of every natural day, or one day of every ten. One day out of ten amounts to thirty six days and a half in a year. Hence, if we suppose the practice to be persisted in forty years, two entire years of the snuff-taker's life will be devoted to tickling his nose, and two more to blowing it.” The same author proposes in a subsequent essay to show, that from the expense of snuff, snuff-boxes, and handkerchiefs, a fund might be formed to pay off the English National debt!

The subject of snuffing having employed more of our time than we anticipated, the two following heads of smoking and chewing will be more briefly noticed. On the subject of smoking, Mr. Beloe has preserved the following old epigram.

* M. Merat.
† Sketches of Literature and Scarce books, vol, ii. p. 130.


150 Tobacco.

[March, which modern physicians are pleased to consider so pestiferous and baleful, let us attend for a few moments to what has been said concerning its culture and manufacture. Mr. Jefferson, in his Notes, says that its culture is productive of infinite wretchedness; that it is found easier to make 100 bushels of wheat than 1000 pounds of tobacco, and that they are worth more when made.* Davies, in his History of the Carriby Islands, after giving an account of the culture and preparation of tobacco, adds, “that if the people of Europe who are so fond of it, had themselves seen the poor servants and slaves who are employed about this painful work, exposed the greatest part of the day to the scorching heat of the sun, and spending one half of the night in reducing it to that posture wherein it is transported into Europe; no doubt they would have a greater esteem for, and think much more precious that herb which is procured with the sweat and labours of so many miserable creatures.”+

Numerous medical writers, of the justest celebrity, have assured us, that endless and dreadful evils are the portion of all who are engaged in the manufacture of tobacco ; that the workmen are in general meagre, jaundiced, emaciated, asthmatic, subject to colic, diarrheas, to vertigo, violent headach, and muscular twitchings, to narcotism, and to various diseases of the breast and lungs. They have also declared that some of these evils have befallen families from the fact alone of being in the neighbourhood of a tobacco manufactory. S Ramazzini says that even the horses employed in the tobacco mills are most powerfully affected by the particles of the tobacco. Now if these things be true, when we call to mind the countless multitudes employed in this “ dreadful trade,” what a throng of evils present themselves upon the very threshold of our subject. || In this view of the case, one could not pass such a manufactory without an involuntary shudder, regarding it as a charnel house, or rather as a Pandora's box, to those wretched beings who are doomed to work or dwell within its pestilential precincts. I But in spite of the various and

Notes on Virginia, pp. 278, 279. † Davies' Hist, of the Carriby Islands, fol. p. 192.

Ramazzini also says that the breath of those who labour at tobacco is in. tolerably offensive, "efficit, ut tabacariarum semper fæteant animæ."

9" Tanta enim ex illâ tritura partium tenuim," says Ramazzini, “æstate præsertim, diffunditur exhalatio, ut tota vicinia tabaci odorem, non sine querimonia, et nausea persentiat.”

| Puellam hebræam novi, quæ tota die explicandas placentas istas ex tabaco incumbens, magnum ad vomitum irritamentum sentiebat, et frequenter alvi sub

natichatur mihique narrahat. yasa bemorroidalin multum canoninis


« PreviousContinue »