Sunday, September 30, 2012



James Hurnard (1808-1881), The Setting Sun, 3rd ed. (London: Saml. Harris & Co., 1878), p. 88; rpt. in James Hurnard: A Victorian Character. Being Passages from The Setting Sun. Selected and Arranged by G. Rostrevor Hamilton (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1946), pp. 92-93:
I see a man looking most grave and sensible,
Day after day, and oftener than the day,
With something ugly sticking from his mouth,
A little, crooked, perforated tube,
Six inches long, black and repulsive-looking,
And having a protuberance at the end,
From which a curling quackling fume arises,
Indicative of latent fire within.
He sucks the sombre perforated tube,
And draws into his mouth the nauseous fume,
Fed by combustion of a foreign weed,
And puffs it slowly out into the air;
Perhaps he watches its return to nothing,
And finds a moral in its evanescence;
And this to this grave man is happiness!
More precious to him than his daily food!
But adding something to his natural thirst,
And leading him direct to drinking-habits!
Thus he imbibes a deleterious poison;—
If he should swallow it, it poisons him,
And if he spits it out, the waste of spittle
Spoils his digestive powers, and slowly kills him;
While wise and thoughtful men act so unwisely
No wonder boys, that would be men, do likewise,
Although it makes them puke and have the headache:—
One comfort is, the tax upon tobacco
Fills nicely full the coffers of the state,
And wise it seems that fools should pay the taxes,
If the majority of men are fools.

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