The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.
WHY I WENT ON THE STAGE.--THE VICE OF TOBACCO.
I got hundreds of calls to go on the stage before I did. Gradually I got the light.
This is the largest missionary field in the world. No one ever got a call or was ever allowed to go there with a Bible but Carry Nation. That door never was opened to any one but me. The hatchet opened it. God has given it to me. My managers have said: "This is a variety house at, Watsons and the Unique, of Brooklyn, or the Boston on the Bowery. You do not wish to go there." Yes, those need me more than the rest; never refuse a call even from the lowest. If Jesus ate with publicans and sinners I can talk to them. Francis Willard said the pulpit and stage must be taken for God.
Persons often say: "Why do you take the money of such?" I say "I can do more good with the money than they can." After the battle the victor takes the spoils and is entitled to them. I will take all I can get in a good way. Money is a blessing, if used as such. I go on the stage to do good, I take their money for the same reason. The curse of it is when it is desired above the good of humanity. I am fishing. I go where the fish are for they do not come to me. I thank God for this unspeakable gift. I take my Bible before every audience. I show them this hatchet, that destroys or smashes everything bad and builds up everything that is good. I tell them of their loving Deliverer who came to break every yoke and set the Captive free. When I look upon the hundreds of faces before me, I say: "Oh, these poor aching hearts! God give me a loving message." Words can not tell of the love I would like to bestow upon them. I often weep. "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings." Then I say: "There is one that loves more than you. He can make all things right."
There are but a handful comparatively that try to obey the commands of Jesus: "A remnant shall be saved." Caleb and Joshua were only two in six hundred thousand but they alone of this great multitude lived to see and inherit the promised land. Christ said. "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my home may be full." Where are the highways and hedges: They are places where men and women are the most lost. How can they be compelled to come in? Love is the only compelling influence. If no one goes with love, how are these lost ones to know they are loved. Christ brought love down to us; He came down to do it. We must take His love to the low places--"Condescend to men of low estate." I praise my God for opening a door to me never opened to anyone else. I find the theatre stocked with boys of our country. They are not found in churches. I have not sought to get into the so-called "respectable set" but I have told my managers to get me into the worst class. They need me most. They are as brands snatched from the burning.
I am not only a reformer on the line of the licensed or unlicensed saloon, but on other evils. I believe that, on the whole, tobacco has done more harm than intoxicating drinks. The tobacco habit is followed by thirst for drink. The face of the smoker has lost the scintillations of intellect and soul it would have had if not marred by this vice. The odor of his person is vile, his blood is poisoned, his intellect is dulled.
A smoker is never a healthy man, either in body or mind, for nicotine is a poison. Prussic acid is the only poison that is worse. Nicotine poisons the blood, dulls the brain, and is the cause of disease. The lungs of the tobacco user are black from poison, his heart action is weak, and the worst thing to contemplate in the whole matter is that these tobacco users transmit nervous diseases, epilepsy, weakened constitutions, depraved appetites and deformities of all kinds to their offspring.
Deterioration of the race is upon us, and unless there is some reform, idiocy, imbecility and extinction will be the legacy of the future generations.
A man that uses tobacco cannot have the nice moral perceptions on any point that he should have. I find him to be dulled and sluggish. The Bible says: "If thine eye be single, thy whole body is full of light. If thine eye be evil, thy whole body is full of darkness." The use of tobacco is a vice, and to the extent of that one vice, it degrades a mail. It opens the gate for other vices, for it is the gratification for one form of lust. It is a filthy habit, and I care not how often the smoker changes his clothes or washes his person, he is filthy. The stench from his breath indicates that his body repudiates such uncleanliness.
The tobacco user can never be the father of a healthy child. Therefore he is dangerous for a woman to have as a husband. If I were a young woman, I would say to the men who use tobacco and who would wish to converse with me: "Use the telephone; come no closer!" I would as soon kiss a spittoon as to kiss such a mouth. When a man begins to smoke he is taking his first lessons in drink. The two habits travel together.
A man never can attain his majority and use tobacco. He never can realize his full capabilities or his possibilities. He can always attain to a better standard without nicotine.
There is one objection that, from a business standpoint, every business man ought to make to tobacco. When he employs a man that uses tobacco he gets only a certain per cent. of his employee's time and of his brain, because the employee must serve his tobacco master part of his time and when he is not smoking his mind is preoccupied because he is thinking of smoking. Consequently, he cannot concentrate his mind upon his business.
I have heard poor, silly, empty-headed women say that it is manly to smoke. If it is manly to smoke, why isn't it womanly to smoke? The tobacco habit is the reverse of manhood and destroys manhood, for manhood means strength of character, not the gratification of lust.
If tobacco is good for men, it is also good for women. I do not suppose that one could find a man so low and degraded as to walk down the street with a woman who had a cigarette or cigar in her mouth. Women should make the same standard for men that men do for women. Many women would smoke in public if men did not denounce it. MEN WOULD QUIT SMOKING IN PUBLIC IF WOMEN DENOUNCED IT AS MUCH.
I have heard some women say, "I like the smell of a good cigar." I never smelled a good one. It is not made. They are like snakes; they are all bad. I never knew of but one good use that tobacco was put to, and that was to kill lice on cows. My father used it for that purpose on his farm. It does kill that kind of germs.
The evil has become so common that whenever you go abroad you are compelled to breathe the contents of somebody else's month. It would be rude of me to take a piece of fruit out of my mouth and throw it into somebody else's mouth, but anyone may throw his poisonous breath and smoke into my mouth and I have no defense. Spitting is forbidden in the cars. Smoking is a great deal worse, but the reason why it is not denounced is that people can get a revenue from men's smoking, while they have to clean up after spitters, and there is no money in that.
I can prevent a man spitting into my mouth, but I cannot avoid his smoke. A man seems to think that he is free to project his stinking breath in my face on the street, in hotels, in sleeping cars, coaches--indeed, in every public place. Now I would as soon smell a skunk. There is some excuse for a skunk; he can't help being one. But men have become so rank in their persons from this poisonous odor that they almost knock me down as they pass me. And when I say, "Man, don't throw that awful stench in my face," he answers, "You get away." I reply, "If I smelled as badly as you do, I would be the one to get away."
Oh, the vile cigarette! What smell can be worse and more poisonous? I feel outraged at being compelled to smell this poison on the street. I have the right to take cigars and cigarettes from men's mouths in self-defense, and they ought not to be allowed to injure themselves. "Liberty is the largest privilege to do that which is right, and the smallest to do that which is wrong." Governments are organized to take care of the governed. I believe it ought to be a crime to manufacture, barter, sell or give away cigars, cigarettes and tobacco in any form.
Oh, for the success of the Prohibition Party that will bring in reforms along these lines--and this is the only party that will do it! Tobacco degenerates body and mind. Physical and mental culture demand its discontinuance.
Dr. Jay W. Seaver, associated physical director of Yale University, says: "Among college students, the gain of growth, in general, is 12 per cent. greater among those who do not use tobacco than those who smoke. It has also proven by tests in the laboratory that the nicotine in a fairly mild cigar will reduce a man's muscular power from 25 to 40 per cent."
Were it not for the tobacco habit, we would need no smoking car. Suppose women had a vice that required them a separate apartment from the men when they travel. Even in the cars where the women travel there are rooms fixed up in luxuriant style while poor mothers with their babies have to sit upright and smell this rank and poisonous odor. But of course women have no redress, or are made to think they have none. Shame to you men, a decent dog will not bite a female, while men the impulse of protecting their females they are lower than a decent beast.
While I was in New York City last week April the 2nd a Mr. Thomas McGuire, treasurer of the Fourteenth Ave., Theatre had his tongue cut out to prevent tobacco cancer from spreading. This was from smoking cigars. General Grants' tongue rotted from the same cause.
This is one of the best poems on the vice I ever read. Author unknown.
HE SMOKES. "In the office, in the parlor; On the sidewalk, on the street; In the faces of the passers, In the eyes of those he meets, In the vestibule, the depot, At the theatre or ball; E'en at funerals and weddings, And at christenings and all.
"Signs may threaten, men may warn him; Babies cry and women coax; But he cares not one iota, For he calmly smokes and smokes. Oh, he cares not whom he strangles, Vexes, puts to flight, provokes; And although they squirm and fidget, He just smokes and smokes and smokes.
"Not a place is sacred to him; Churchyards, where the flowers bloom; Gardens, drives, in fact the world is Just one mighty smoking room, And when once he quits this mundane sphere, And takes his outward flight, From the world he made a hades, Day he's turned to murky night.
"When be reaches his destination, Finds 'tis not a dream or hoax, And the Judge deals out his sentence,
Then I'll wager that he smokes; Oh, he'll care then whom he has vexed, And their mercy he'll invoke; But although he squirms and fidgets, They'll just let him smoke and smoke and smoke."