The Perils Of Not Smoking
When the Arcadians heard that I had signed an agreement to give up
smoking they were first incredulous, then sarcastic, then angry. Instead
of coming, as usual, to my room, they went one night in a body to
Pettigrew's, and there, as I afterward discovered, a scheme for saving
me was drawn up. So little did they understand the firmness of my
character, that they thought I had weakly yielded to the threats of
the lady referred to in my first chapter, when, of course, I had only
yielded to her arguments, and they agreed to make an appeal on my behalf
to her. Pettigrew, as a married man himself, was appointed intercessor,
and I understand that the others not only accompanied him to her door,
but waited in an alley until he came out. I never knew whether the
reasoning brought to bear on the lady was of Pettigrew's devising, or
suggested by Jimmy and the others, but it was certainly unselfish of
Pettigrew to lie so freely on my account. At the time, however, the
plot enraged me, for the lady conceived the absurd idea that I had sent
Pettigrew to her. Undoubtedly it was a bold stroke. Pettigrew's scheme
was to play upon his hostess's attachment for me by hinting to her that
if I gave up smoking I would probably die. Finding her attentive rather
than talkative, he soon dared to assure her that he himself loathed
tobacco and only took it for his health.
By the doctor's orders, mark you, he said, impressively; Dr.
Southwick, of Hyde Park.
She expressed polite surprise at this, and then Pettigrew, believing he
had made an impression, told his story as concocted.
My own case, he said, is one much in point. I suffered lately from
sore throat, accompanied by depression of spirits and loss of appetite.
The ailment was so unusual with me that I thought it prudent to put
myself in Dr. Southwick's hands. As far as possible I shall give you his
'When did you give up smoking?' he asked, abruptly, after examining my
'Three months ago,' I replied, taken by surprise; 'but how did you know
I had given it up?'
'Never mind how I know,' he said, severely; 'I told you that, however
much you might desire to do so, you were not to take to not smoking.
This is how you carry out my directions.'
'Well,' I answered sulkily, 'I have been feeling so healthy for the
last two years that I thought I could indulge myself a little. You are
aware how I abominate tobacco.'
'Quite so,' he said, 'and now you see the result of this miserable
self-indulgence. Two years ago I prescribed tobacco for you, to be taken
three times a day, and you yourself admit that it made a new man of you.
Instead of feeling thankful you complain of the brief unpleasantness
that accompanies its consumption, and now, in the teeth of my
instructions, you give it up. I must say the ways of patients are a
constant marvel to me.'
'But how,' I asked, 'do you know that my reverting to the pleasant
habit of not smoking is the cause of my present ailment?'
'Oh!' he said, 'you are not sure of that yourself, are you?'
'I thought,' I replied, 'there might be a doubt about it; though of
course I have forgotten what you told me two years ago.'
'It matters very little,' he said, 'whether you remember what I tell
you if you do not follow my orders. But as for knowing that indulgence
in not smoking is what has brought you to this state, how long is it
since you noticed these symptoms?'
'I can hardly say,' I answered. 'Still, I should be able to think back.
I had my first sore throat this year the night I saw Mr. Irving at the
Lyceum, and that was on my wife's birthday, the 3d of October. How long
ago is that?'
'Why, that is more than three months ago. Are you sure of the date?'
'Quite certain,' I told him; 'so, you see, I had my first sore throat
before I risked not smoking again.'
'I don't understand this,' he said. 'Do you mean to say that in the
beginning of May you were taking my prescription daily? You were not
missing a day now and then--forgetting to order a new stock of cigars
when the others were done, or flinging them away before they were half
smoked? Patients do such things.'
'No, I assure you I compelled myself to smoke. At least----'
'At least what? Come, now, if I am to be of any service to you, there
must be no reserve.'
'Well, now that I think of it, I was only smoking one cigar a day at
'Ah! we have it now,' he cried. 'One cigar a day, when I ordered you
three? I might have guessed as much. When I tell non-smokers that they
must smoke or I will not be answerable for the consequences, they
entreat me to let them break themselves of the habit of not smoking
gradually. One cigarette a day to begin with, they beg of me, promising
to increase the dose by degrees. Why, man, one cigarette a day is
poison; it is worse than not smoking.'
'But that is not what I did.'
'The idea is the same,' he said. 'Like the others, you make all this
moan about giving up completely a habit you should never have acquired.
For my own part, I cannot even understand where the subtle delights of
not smoking come in. Compared with health, they are surely immaterial.'
'Of course, I admit that.'
'Then, if you admit it, why pamper yourself?'
'I suppose because one is weak in matters of habit. You have many cases
'I have such cases every week,' he told me; 'indeed, it was having so
many cases of the kind that made me a specialist in the subject. When
I began practice I had not the least notion how common the non-tobacco
throat, as I call it, is.'
'But the disease has been known, has it not, for a long time?'
'Yes,' he said;' but the cause has only been discovered recently.
I could explain the malady to you scientifically, as many medical men
would prefer to do, but you are better to have it in plain English.'
'Certainly; but I should like to know whether the symptoms in other
cases have been in every way similar to mine.'
'They have doubtless differed in degree, but not otherwise,' he
answered. 'For instance, you say your sore throat is accompanied by
depression of spirits.'
'Yes; indeed, the depression sometimes precedes the sore throat.'
'Exactly. I presume, too, that you feel most depressed in the
evening--say, immediately after dinner?'
'That is certainly the time I experience the depression most.'
'The result,' he said, 'if I may venture on somewhat delicate matters,
is that your depression of spirits infects your wife and family, even
'That is quite true,' I answered. 'Our home has by no means been so
happy as formerly. When a man is out of spirits, I suppose, he tends to
be brusque and undemonstrative to his wife, and to be easily irritated
by his children. Certainly that has been the case with me of late.'
'Yes,' he exclaimed, 'and all because you have not carried out my
directions. Men ought to see that they have no right to indulge in not
smoking, if only for the sake of their wives and families. A bachelor
has more excuse, perhaps; but think of the example you set your children
in not making an effort to shake this self-indulgence off. In short,
smoke for the sake of your wife and family, if you won't smoke for the
sake of your health.'
I think this is pretty nearly the whole of Pettigrew's story, but I may
add that he left the house in depression of spirits, and then infected
Jimmy and the others with the same ailment, so that they should all have
hurried in a cab to the house of Dr. Southwick.
Honestly, Pettigrew said, I don't think she believed a word I told
If she had only been a man, Marriot sighed, we could have got round
How? asked Pettigrew.
Why, of course, said Marriot, we could have sent her a tin of the
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