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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Tribute to Tobacco
By Johann Jakob Bodmer (1698–1783)
 
From ‘Dürer’

WHOEVER excels in any direction desires to be considered an extraordinary personage. Even the coquettish Phryne, fearing that the arts in which she really excelled might be forgotten, offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes on condition that the following inscription were cut thereon:—“The great Alexander razed these walls, but the hetaira Phryne rebuilt them.” Gentlemen, I adore tobacco, and I appeal to the world for recognition. The floor of my room is strewn with tobacco ashes, on which my footsteps fall like those of the priests in the temple of Babylon. Pipes that I have buried in this tobacco desert lift their bowls here and there like stones in a cemetery. I shall make a pyramid of these relics, yellow, brown, and black, from which I shall reap renown as others win it with trophies gained on the battle-field. Besides books, which I love best after tobacco, my shelves and walls hold pipes collected from all nations, and grouped as if they were guns or sabres. My favorite pipe I never fill except on birthdays or festivals. A Frenchman who brought this from Canada swore that it was an Iroquois pipe of peace. Certain people take me for an alchemist, and my pipes for retorts with chimneys; but they do me wrong. Not only do I draw smoke but food from my distilling apparatus. I should be hailed rather as a philosopher, for while I watch the floating smoke I meditate on the vanity of man and his fleeting occupations. The moral of my tale is moderation; for my pipe is food and drink at once, and I know no better example of Nature’s frugality than the fact that an ounce of tobacco provides me with a meal. Women delight in tea even as men prize tobacco. This difference in taste leads to friction of temper. Drinkers of tea inhale many a disagreeable whiff of tobacco, and lovers of tobacco are driven to accept many an unwelcome cup of tea. I, as a sufferer, would gladly set on foot a formal league which should compel an armed neutrality, and protect the one belligerent from the odor of the delicious pipe and the other from the complaisance of the tyrannous tea-cup.  1
  Breath is smoke, and reason is but a spark in our hearts. When the spark is extinguished, our body perishes like smoldering ashes, and our breath floats away like the smoke.  2
 
 
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