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Questionable Amusements And Worthy Substitutes by J. M. Judy

I. TOBACCO.

Tobacco wastes the body. It is used for the nicotine that is in it. This peculiar ingredient is a poisonous, oily, colorless liquid, and gives to tobacco its odor. This odor and the flavor of tobacco are developed by fermentation in the process of preparation for use. |Poison| is commonly defined as |any substance that when taken into the system acts in an injurious manner, tending to cause death or serious detriment to health.| And different poisons are defined as those which act differently upon the human organism. For example, one class, such as nicotine in tobacco, is defined as that which acts as a stimulant or an irritant; while another class, such as opium, acts with a quieting, soothing influence. But the fact is that poison does not act at all upon the human system, but the human system acts upon the poison. In one class of poisons, such as opium, the reason why the system does not arouse itself and try to cast off the poison, is that the nerves become paralyzed so that it can not. And in the case of nicotine in tobacco the nerves are not thus paralyzed, so that they try in every way to cast off the poison. Let the human body represent the house, and the sensitive nerves and the delicate blood vessels the sleeping inmates of that house. Let the Foe Opium come to invade that house and to destroy the inmates, for every poison is a deadly Foe. At the first appearance of this subtle Foe terror is struck into the heart of the inmates, so that they fall back helpless, paralyzed with fear. When the Intruder Tobacco comes, he comes boisterously, rattling the windows and jostling the furniture, so that the inmates of the house set up a life-and-death conflict against him.

This is just what happens when tobacco is taken into the human system. Every nerve cries out against it, and every effort is made to resist it. You ask, Will one's body be healthier and live longer without tobacco than with it? We answer, by asking, Will one's home be happier and more prosperous without some deadly Foe continually invading it, or with such a Foe? When the membranes and tissues of the body, with their host of nerves and blood vessels, have to be fighting against some deadly poison in connection with their ordinary work, will they not wear out sooner than if they could be left to do their ordinary work quietly? To illustrate: A particle of tobacco dust no sooner comes into contact with the lining membrane of the nose, than violent sneezing is produced. This is the effort of the besieged nerves and blood vessels to protect themselves. A bit of tobacco taken into the mouth causes salivation because the salivary glands recognize the enemy and yield an increased flow of their precious fluid to wash him away. Taken into the stomach unaccustomed to its presence, and it produces violent vomiting. The whole lining membrane of that much-abused organ rebels against such an Intruder, and tries to eject him. Tobacco dust and smoke taken into the lungs at once excretes a mucous-like fluid in the mouth, throat, windpipe, bronchial tubes, and in the lungs themselves. Excretions such as this mean a violent wasting away of vitality and power. Taken in large quantities into the stomach, tobacco not only causes an excretion of mucus from the mouth, throat, and breathing organs, but it produces an overtaxing of the liver; that is, this organ overworks in order to counteract the presence of the poison. But one asks, If tobacco is so injurious, why is it used with such apparent pleasure? A small quantity of tobacco received into the system by smoking, chewing, or snuffing is carried through the circulation to the skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, and to all the organs of the body, by which it is moderately resisted. The result is a gentle excitement of all these organs. They are in a state of morbid activity. And as sensibility depends upon vital action of the bodily organisms, there is necessarily produced a degree of sense gratification or pleasure. The reason why these sensations are pleasurable instead of painful is, in this state of moderate excitement the circulation is materially increased without being materially unbalanced. But as with every sense indulgence, when the craving for increased doses becomes satisfied, when larger doses are taken the circulation becomes unbalanced, vital resistance centers in one point, congestion occurs, then the sensation becomes one of pain instead of one of pleasure. This disturbance or excitement caused by tobacco is nothing more nor less than disease. For it is abnormal action, and abnormal action is fever, and fever is disease. It is state on good authority, |that no one who smokes tobacco before the bodily powers are developed ever makes a strong, vigorous man.| Dr. H. Gibbons says: |Tobacco impairs digestion, poisons the blood, depresses the vital powers, causes the limbs to tremble, and weakens and otherwise disorders the heart.| It is conceded by the medical profession that tobacco causes cancer of the tongue and lips, dimness of vision, deafness, dyspepsia, bronchitis, consumption, heart palpitation, spinal weakness, chronic tonsillitis, paralysis, impotency, apoplexy, and insanity. It is held by some men that tobacco aids digestion. Dr. McAllister, of Utica, New York, says that it |weakens the organs of Digestion and assimilation, and at length plunges one into all the horrors of dyspepsia.|

*Tobacco dulls the mind.* It does this not only by wasting the body, the physical basis of the mind, but it does it through habits of intellectual idleness, which the user of tobacco naturally forms. Whoever heard of a first-class loafer who did not e-a-t the weed or burn it, or both? On the rail train recently we were compelled to ride for an hour in the smoking-car, which Dr. Talmage has called |the nastiest place in Christendom.| In front of me sat a young man, drawing and puffing away at a cigar, polluting the entire region about him. In the short hour enough time was lost by that young man to have carefully read ten pages of the best standard literature. All this we observed by an occasional glance from the delightful volume in our own hands. The ordinary user of tobacco has little taste for reading, little passion for knowledge, and superficial habits of continued reasoning. His leisure moments are absorbed in the sense-gratification of the weed. But if as much attention had been given in acquiring the habit of reading as had been given in learning the use of tobacco, the most valuable of all habits would take the place of one of the most useless of all habits. When we see a person trying to read with a cigar or a pipe in his mouth, Knowing that nine-tenths of his real consciousness is given to his smoking, and one-tenth to what he is reading, we are reminded of the commercial traveler who |wanted to make the show of a library at home, so he wrote to a book merchant in London, saying: 'Send me six feet of theology, and about as much metaphysics, and near a yard of civil law in old folio.'| Not a sentimentalist, a reformer, nor a crank, but Dr. James Copeland says: |Tobacco weakens the nervous powers, favors a dreamy, imaginative, and imbecile state of mind, produces indolence and incapacity for manly or continuous exertion, and sinks its votary into a state of careless inactivity and selfish enjoyment of vice.| Professor L. H. Gause writes: |The intellect becomes duller and duller, until at last it is painful to make any intellectual effort, and we sink into a sensuous or sensual animal. Any one who would retain a clear mind, sound lungs, undisturbed heart, or healthy stomach, must not smoke or chew the poisonous plant.| It is commonly known that in a number of American and foreign colleges, by actual testing, the non-user of tobacco is superior in mental vigor and scholarship to the user of it. In view of this fact, our Government will not allow the use of tobacco at West Point or at Annapolis. And in the examinations in the naval academy a large percentage of those who fail to pass, fail because of the evil effects of smoking.

Tobacco drains the pocketbook. |Will you please look through my mouth and nose?| asked a young man once of a New York physician. The man of medicine did so, and reported nothing there. |Strange! Look again. Why, sir, I have blown ten thousand dollars -- a great tobacco plantation and a score of slaves -- through that nose.| The Partido cigar regularly retails at from twenty-five to thirty cents each. An ordinary smoker will smoke four cigars a day. Three hundred and sixty-five dollars a year, besides his treating. A small fortune every ten years! A neighbor of ours on the farm used to go to town in the spring and buy enough chewing tobacco to last him until after harvest, and flour to last the family for two weeks. Among all classes of people this useless drain of the pocketbook is increasing. In our country last year more money was spent for tobacco than was spent for foreign missions, for the Churches, and for public education, all combined. Our tobacco bill in one year costs our Nation more than our furniture and our boots and shoes; more than our flour and our silk goods; one hundred and forty-five million dollars more than all our printing and publishing; one hundred and thirty-five million dollars more than the sawed lumber of the Nation. Each year France buys of us twenty-nine million pounds of tobacco, Great Britain fifty millions, and Germany sixty-nine million pounds, to say nothing of how much these nations import from other countries. Never before has the use of tobacco been so widespread as to-day. |The Turks and Persians are the greatest smokers in the world. In India all classes and both sexes smoke; in China the practice -- perhaps there more ancient -- is universal, and girls from the age of eight or nine wear as an appendage to their dress a small silken pocket to hold tobacco and a pipe.| Nor can the expense and widespread use of tobacco be defended on the ground that it is a luxury, for the abstainer from tobacco counts it the greater luxury not to use it. The only explanation for its use is, that it is a habit which binds one hand and foot, and from which no person with ordinary will power in his own strength can free himself.

Tobacco blunts the moral nature. It is not certain how long tobacco has been used as a narcotic. Some authorities hold that the smoking of tobacco was an ancient custom among the Chinese. But if this is true, we know that it did not spread among the neighboring nations. When Columbus came to America he found the natives of the West Indies and the American Indian smoking the weed. With the Indian its use has always had a religious and legal significance. Early in the sixteenth century tobacco was introduced into England, later into Spain, and still later, in 1560, into Italy. Used for its medicinal properties at first, soon it came to be used as a luxury. The popes of Italy saw its harm and thundered against it. The priests and sultans of Turkey declared smoking a crime. One sultan made it punishable with death. The pipes of smokers were thrust through their noses in Turkey, and in Russia the noses of smokers were cut off in the earlier part of the seventeenth century. |King James I of England issued a counterblast to tobacco, in which he described its use as a 'custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fumes thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.'| As one contrasts this sentiment with the practice of the present sovereign of England, his breath is almost taken away in his great fall from the sublime to the ridiculous!

While we do not believe a moderate use of tobacco for a mature person is necessarily a sin, yet we do believe that it does blunt the moral sense, and soon leads to spiritual weakness and indifference, which are sins. To love God with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength, and one's neighbor as himself, means not only a denial of that which is questionable in morals, but a practice of that which is positively good. However noble or worthy in character may be some who use tobacco, yet by common consent it is a |tool of the devil.| Every den of gamblers, every low-down grogshop, every smoking-car, every public resort and waiting-room departments for men, every rendezvous of rogues, loafers, villains, and tramps is thoroughly saturated with the vile stench of the cuspidor and the poisonous odors of the pipe and cigar. |Rev. Dr. Cox abandoned tobacco after a drunken loafer asked him for a light.| Not until then had he seen and felt the disreputable fraternity that existed between the users of tobacco.

Owen Meredith gives us a standard of strength and freedom, which is an inspiration to every lover of rounded, perfected manhood and womanhood:

|Strong is that man, he only strong,
To whose well-ordered will belong,
For service and delight,
All powers that in the face of wrong
Establish right.

And free is he, and only he,
Who, from his tyrant passions free,
By fortune undismayed,
Has power within himself to be,
By self obeyed.

If such a man there be, where'er
Beneath the sun and moon he fare,
He can not fare amiss;
Great nature hath him in her care.
Her cause is his.|

Only let the |will,| the |powers,| the |freedom,| and the |self| of which the writer speaks become the |Christ will,| the |Christ powers,| the |Christ freedom,| and the |Christ self.| Then the strongest chains of bondage must fly into flinters. For |if the Son make you free, ye are free indeed.| (John viii, 36.)

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