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Promethean fire; life ; “ Vital spark of heavenly flame." Know we not, sir, that life hovers over the pallid brow of the dying sinner, like the lambent flame that glimmers in fitful intervals in the socket. Why, the very epigrams, the catch, sir, would have taught us that,
Here lies Old Brydges, that's enough,
His candle's out, and here's the snuff. Would you have proof more demonstrative? The life went out, and the snuff remained behind; snuffed out; and nothing but the snuff remained to tell the melancholy tale of Old Brydges.
Thus died Napoleon, and there he lies; “ that's enough ;" rather too much, perhaps, as he was not snuffed soon enough. Snuffed out he was, that is certain, thank God; so says the Medical Adviser, and the Times confirms it. The Times were hard with poor Napoleon, it must be owned; but then they were paid for it. And the snuff remained behind; when the light which had dazzled the nations and set fire to Moscow, that burning and shining light which had shone upon the Legions of Honour and the Royal Institute, unluckily, burning up the Gentiles and making a Quemadero of Spain, was extinguished for ever; as vouches Antommarchi, as vouches the Medical Adviser; just as the snuff alone remained behind, when Old Brydges vent out.
“ There is much reason for believing that the ever-memorable Napoleon Bonaparte derived the cause of his protracted sufferings and eventual death from the large quantities of snuff which he lavishly but unconsciously carried into the stomach through the nostrils, by the habit of strong and unmeasured inspiration with which he used that destructive agent,
The diseased appearances of the stomach, on inspection after death, termed cancerous, were those of an highly inflamed, much thickened, and extensively ulcerated surface, such as were very likely to have been induced by the noxious influence of tobacco almost incessantly supplied by the frequent, abundant, and forcible manner, in which that illustrious personage was notoriously known to take that powdered article."
Good heavens ! of what is human life, the life of an emperor, that it should be destroyed by an article, by a powdered article! The “divinæ particula auræ," the particle to be extinguished by an article, by à powdered article, by an article in particles; it is a fearful thought.
Ever-memorable man! couldst thou not have paused in thy headlong career, thou “notoriously known and illustrious personage?” Hadst thou paused under the primary imposition of the iron crown; hadst thon even paused in the embraces of Josephine Beauharnais ; hadst thou paused at Moscow ; before thou gottest to Moscow, at Leipsic—after Leipsic, at Elba; hadst thou not been given to “strong and unmeasured inspirations,” or aspirations, (misprinted, I presume, by the Medical Adviser ;) hadst thou not turned up thy anterior orifices, thy nostrils, “ adunco naso,” at the whole world ; hadst thou not carried, carried, sire, “into the stomach through thy nostrils," that destructive agent the particles of the article, thou mightest still have been digging cabbages in St. Helena, and the comminuted division might still have been trembling with anxiety in the posterior fauces of Charles the Tenth. But thy life, sire, thy light, thy flame, has been extinguished, exterminated, snuffed out by thy
“ frequent, abundant, and forcible manner of carrying" a pulverized article into thy epigastric juice, just as by thy abundant, frequent, and forcible manner of carrying that deleterious comminution of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal, of carrying about Europe, sire, the particles of that destructive article called gunpowder—that morbific disorganizer of functions and distemperer of structural integrity, thou hast disfunctioned, unstructured, extinguished, snuffed out, nations, towns, houses, people, bullocks, and Russians without measure ; exciting enormous anxiety about the præcordia, producing deadly languor, inflating carcases innumerable, stopping up a vast number of esophaguses, paralysing, with disabilities, nerves without number, prostrating strengths and people, causing obstructions in all the passages, anterior and posterior; nay, in the very fauces, the epiglottis, the lungs, putting a total stop to strong inhalations and inspirations, and actually leaving thy kingdom of Italy in such a languid narcotic state, such a variously distempered condition, that it cannot “ be extricated and released from its paralysed disabilities,” even by Austria, even by the Pope.
Just and right it is that he who slays by the sword shall perish by the sword. Thou—thou-Napoleon-Napoleon the Great, the notorious, known, illustrious personage; thou hast slain the nations with a comminuted division, thou hast paralysed them with pulverulence, with powder, with the particles of an article, a most deleterious, a narcotic article; and by the comminuted divisions of the particles of an article thou hast thyself been slain. Thou art dead, buried, killed by snuff; thou art snuffed out; and thou; now—what art thou ? Dust: snuff. Powder was thy god; powder was thy bane: by dust thou wast dusted to death, and to dust thou hast returned, as from dust thou didst spring, as by dust thou diedst, as dust thou liest,
Thus far the Medical Adviser is minatory, denunciatory, and impeaching; thus far extends this proæmium, the out fit, the whereas, the preamble, of his oratio in Nicotianam. Thus far, moreover, is his vituperation, deleterious, and irrestrainable, flatulent with inflation, corrosively acetous, prophetic, death-denouncing, and objurgatory. Thus too is he evidential, probatory, instantial; and, now he arrives at the ratiocinating division of his oration, becoming argumentative, hortative, and narcotic.
“ There can be no more valid reasons assigned for persisting in the undeniably hurtful custom of taking snuff, than there could be for that of any other poison; and whoever will inconsiderately incur the imminent risk of occasioning irremediable and destructive mischief by so baneful a practice, will find no admissible excuse, either in the prevalence of the custom, in its unobjected currency, or in the transient gratification and national benefit attending its use."
Can argument be more impressive, hortation more tender ? can they be more narcotic, Mr. Editor? Will you, sir, will the Times, assign a valid reason why any man should comminute a division of wolf's-bane, henbane, dog's-mercury, and bug-agaric, and then unconsciously, inconsiderately, by frequent, unmeasured, and forcible aspirations, carry them through the anterior passages, in an unobjected currency? No, sir, there is not an admissible excuse for swallowing poison in this pulverulent comminution; not a shadow of apology, sir, for a pow
dered article or an irremediable mischief; and that article deleterious, that practice baneful; the gratification transient, the currency unobjected, the risk inconsiderate, the benefit national.
Sir, the man of strong inspirations is suicidal, felo de se: he selfmurders himself; and, to add to his crime, he does it unconsciously and inconsiderately. He cannot even assign a reason: a line of conduct, sir, most unworthy of a reasoning and a reasonable being. And what does he gain by the way, in the course and progress of carrying the comminuted division of that deleterious powdered article through the anterior passages, and down the gullet and into the stomach, in a frequent, abundant, and forcible manner? Sir, on one hand, a titillation of the nasal cavity, a national benefit, a transient gratification, a compliance with an unobjected currency: on the other, acetification, inflation, prostration, agitation, paralyzation, and many other terminations in ation; the final termination being in death, dusty death, and inhumation.
Thus, sir, we have followed the Medical Adviser through his arguments, his threatenings, his logic, his reasoning, and his advices; and now, sir, we arrive at his prescriptions, at that which belongs to his character, his profession, his trade. It is not unusual to form presumptions; and it was to be presumed that the Medical Adviser was what is called a medical man. Was he a physician, a surgeon, an apothecary, a man-midwife, or a druggist? There, sir, was the difficulty; how to choose in this quinquepartite division of the trade, profession, and office of a Medical Adviser.
In pursuing this critical investigation, we can be guided only by internal evidence. The Medical Adviser is invisible: we must decide from his language first ; we must attempt it at last. I think, sir, that he is not a man-midwife; but the reasons would be long to assign. Is he a physician; an M. D.? That is possible; as I have observed, sir, that the gentlemen of this department deal largely in altisonant words, in an extensive deficiency of ideas, in a profound lack of thought, in a complication of structural grandiloquism, and in what I shall call, sir, the critical law of substitution; that process, grammatical, lexicographical, onomatoprietical, neological, tautological, suppeditive, and transtultifying, by which the minuter and more doubtful shadows of the uncertain, attenuated, filiform, simulacra, images, of presumed ideas, are, by processes of prolongation, enlargement, inflation, envelopement, and so forth, filified, intertexed, divaricated, superficified, and vesicated, until they assume to themselves forms, shapes, magnitudes of vast portent, replete“with sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Sir, the Medical Adviser speaks of polypus, cancer, ulceration, and mesenteric glands. May he be a surgeon ? the point must be mooted in chancery; and as that will require some years, we can proceed in the mean time. Besides, he cannot be an anatomist; for reasons on which I shall not enter. Sir, he is either a druggist or an apothecary: which of the two is the doubt ; as they are but varicties of one species. I think nevertheless that he is a druggist; partly, sir, from his propensity to the comminution of a division, and principally from the “ powdered article.”
This evidence seemed satisfactory, in itself alone; but stronger remains behind. Ho does not choose that any man should sell powdered articles but himself: he would have a monopoly of comminuted division. He is at war with the tobacconists, the snuff-shops, the snuff-grinders ; he disapproves of the stimulating and attenuating ingredients by which that narcotic poison tobacco is ground into a powdered article ; he impeaches a favourite indulgence; he has even impeached the “ ever-memorable Napoleon Buonaparte.”
But, sir, he would indulge us in “Henbane, aconite, blue monkshood or wolf's-bane, deadly nightshade, dog's-mercury, thorn-apple, common hemlock, bug-agaric, pepper-agaric, hemlock, dropwort, waterhemlock, laurel, &c.;" he would stop“ our anterior orifices, and that tube @sophagus," with his own powdered articles, that he may have all the trade in comminuted divison to himself. Sir, I smell a rat; I smell Rat's-bane himself.
Hear him. Gentlemen, if you are determined to poison yourselves, unconsciously, without showing a reason for your conduct," there can be no more valid reason for persisting in snuff of tobacco, than in any other poison :" quite the contrary, gentlemen. Here is variety for you; renounce Mrs. Hardham, abandon Mr. Fribourg, and flock to my shop. I will titillate your nasal cavities, your national benefits shall be multiplied. I will sell you “ unobjected currency," you shall have snuff made of bug-agaric, henbane, dog's-mercury, and wolf's-bane; and if you die, your death will no longer be unconscious, you will assign a reason, and your heirs shall be satisfied that you had died in a legimate manner, for your death-dust shall have been comminuted in my big mortar, in my shop.
Humane beyond the excellence of Medical Advisers, kind, kind, comminutor of pulverized articles ! Behold again, gentlest of readers, if you will persist in making unmeasured inspirations, if you must carry powders in an abundant and forcible manner into your epiglottis, if you will“ inconsiderately find an admissible excuse in the prevalence of fashion,” the Medical Adviser will sell you snuffs interminable, comminuted divisions without measure, variety without hazard, titillation without acetification, inflation, or death. Listen !
“If strongly exciting the mucous membrane of the nostrils can be supposed, from its proximity to the brain, to produce a beneficial effect on that organ, the purpose may be answered by substances not less pungent than tobacco, and without any of its deleterious qualities.”
Open your ears, open your snuff-boxes, open your anterior orifices, but shut your epiglottises and perpend. Hasten away to the shop of the Medical Adviser, and you shall have bureau gros, etrenne, canaster, Vasulipatam, blackguard, Strasburg: “what rhubarb, senna, or what purgatives drugs shall you not have, which shall moderately irritate without excoriating your nasal membranes ;" comminuted divisions of a “ harmless agency, powdered articles with a secure exemption from its pernicious influence.” A secure exemption ; think of that. Yes, gentlemen, you shall have “ errhines for sternutatory intentions, for the purpose of exciting the minutely ramified expansion of the olfactory nerves, and the mucous membrane of the nostrils.” You shall sternutate without acetification, your errhines shall not disentegrate your function, your structural integrity shall survive the “concussive action of sneezing;" you shall not die, as Uncle Toby says, by
“ Yes, gentlemen, and your snuffs shall be the comminuted division, not of benbaue, wolf's-bane, dog's-mercury, and bug-agaric, but of « amonia either in a solid or liquid form; the aroma of pepper, ginger, or any other simple stimulant, mixed with either powdered chalk, liquorice, or cinnamon.” 0 true apothecary! Pepper and chalk, cinnamon and ginger, nutmegs and cloves, and will you not have a jolly red nose? - Pepper, ginger, and cinnamon snuffs ; Sabean odours, incense-breathing snuff-boxes, Ternate and Tidore. Pepper which shall not“ excoriate the minutely ramified expansion of the olfactory nerves on the mucous membrane," cinnamon sternutatories, ginger errhines. And can you doubt the virtue of ginger in your anterior orifices, when you
behold its active and stimulating powers in the posterior orifices of your horses? You will be embalmed, embalmed alive; you will never acetify; inflation will become unknown; for who knows not the anti-flatulential power of cinnamon and ginger, pepper and cloves ?
Yet, alas! after all, we are but imperfect creatures, and imperfect are all our best-laid schemes ; for “ it is not probable that the local excitement of the nostrils can ever prove salutary or advantageous beyond the momentary gratification connected with the established habit of the practice; and as all unnecessary usages are rather nuisances than benefits, it would seem to be indispensably advisable to abstain from a custom that is unsightly in its appearance, preposterous in its observance, and in every conceivable view that can be taken of its effect, much more likely to become eventually injurious than useful.” Preposterous in its observance, unsightly in its appearance, pepper and ginger, cinnamon and chalk-well-a-day! And the “ established habit of the practice” is not to be established after all : it is“ indispensably advisable ;” and thus vanish our shortlived hopes, our momentary gratification ; our unnecessary usages. Bug-agaric and wolf's-bane are baneful, and pepper and chalk are preposterous. Unhappy event! killing reflection!
Still, the shadow of hope remains at the bottom of the box. For, “ in cases of unyielding lethargy and comatose stupor," (listen ye readers of the Medical Adviser, listen Honourable House, “nasal stimulants may beneficially co-operate with suitable depletion in restoring nervous depression; by powerfully provoking the concussive action of sneezing.” Now, therefore, ye lethargic readers, ye comatose listeners, ye who letharge over Southey and comatise before Lethbridge, rouse yourselves, and you shall irritate the minutely ramified expansion, with asarum europæum, teucrium marum, helleborus albus, and subsulphas hydrargyri flavus ;” and “ without furnishing any warrantry for that fashionable but reprehensible and unhealthy practice of inspirating the snuff of tobacco." And if you shall be salivated by the yellow sulphate of mercury, the subsulphas hydrargyri flavus, it will form “ a suitable depletion," and you will become a patient of the Medical Adviser; and what shall happen then, the Medical Adviser only knows. It is dog's-mercury alone which is impeached, as tobacco is proscribed; but you shall fill your anterior orifices with man’s-mercury, which shall not lodge under the epiglottis, nor be transmitted to the gullet and æsophagus, where alone the danger lies, “ It is the transmission of the exciting sub stance to the gullet and stomach, that is denounced as mischievous and reprobated as inadmissible.”
Reader! the Medical Adviser has advised, the advice is done, finished : the transmission is inadmissible.