Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/186

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themselves at every step. Even if written records were wanting, the ancient American smoking implements which enrich the museums of this country and Europe would enable us to assert the general use of tobacco throughout the New World. Combining the written and unwritten records, our information on this point is complete. On the southern continent, although pre-Columbian pipes are occasionally found, smoking was not so extensively practiced as in the north. Still, several varieties of the tobacco plant occur here, and the natives were doubtless well acquainted with its use. Cabral, in 1515, observed in Brazil the practice of chewing tobacco, and on the western coast the abundance of small mortars, carved like the mound pipes of the Mississippi Valley in the shape of various animals, attest the extensive use of tobacco as snuff. Leaving South America and crossing the tenth degree of north latitude, we approach the native land of the pipe. A province of Yucatan is thought by some to have given a name to the tobacco plant. A tubular pipe occurs in the sculptures of Palenque. In Mexico the common custom of smoking was noted by Cortes in 1519, and the truth of his statement is evinced by the quantities of elaborately decorated clay pipes since unearthed in that country, as well as by some of the pictured figures of the ancient manuscripts. Pipes of clay or stone are found in abundance throughout the United States, those from the mounds, sculptured in the form of various quadrupeds and birds, and occasionally of men, being among the most interesting examples of native art. Still farther north the great narcotic had established its sway, prior to the advent of Europeans, beyond the Great Lakes, in the far Northwest, and in the East, where the French gave to a tribe of inordinate smokers the name of Petuns, from petune, a native name of the tobacco plant.

The use of tobacco excited in the first Europeans who witnessed it feelings of astonishment and disgust. If Montesquieu is to be believed, the Spanish casuists of the fifteenth century offered to the public conscience, in extenuation of the enslavement of the Indians, the fact, among others, that they smoked tobacco. There is other evidence to show that the early explorers of the New World regarded the custom of smoking as the extremity of barbarism; nor have advocates of this view been lacking from that day to this. But, in spite of all objections, tobacco has extended its reign over the entire earth; it is an important source of revenue to the most enlightened of modern governments; it numbers among its devotees men of all races and of all ranks; it solaces the dreary life of the Eskimo and of the Central African savage; but a little while ago it furnished inspiration to the genius of one of the world's great poets. Concerning the adoption by civilized people of a barbarous custom like that under discussion