Quotable #4

One of those old pleasures now lost to regulation, at least here in the colonies, is snuff. But, thanks to the internet, we are still free to import it for personal use (if willing to risk the exorbitant $508.01/kg excise tax if customs comes across it). There is a wonderfully subversive feeling about pulling out a snuff box and publicly insufflating a pinch. This little poem was included in the delightful A Pinch of Snuff from 1840 by Benson Earle Hill. ‘Let the eagle soar his highest, man is still “a pinch beyond.”‘

A Snuffy Song.

Rob me of money, houses, lands,

Yea, strip me to the buff;

Leave me but one of these—my hands,

Yet leave—my pinch of snuff!


Falsely they say it deals us pains;

Then let it soil my cuff,

So I be free from all worse stains

Than such as flow from snuff.


When loss of wife and bairns made dull

The great unborn-Macduff,

Just vengeance started from the Mull,

And hope revived with snuff.


Oft looks the votary to smoke,

Unsocial, dumb, and gruff;

But many a brain-tickling joke

Hath owed its breath to snuff.


For argument’s or satire’s sake,

We might each other huff,

Did we not learn to give and take

By interchanging snuff.


The Dowager her Christmas hands

Keeps thawed within her muff:

What warms her nose, her eye expands?

A cordial pinch of snuff!


Till man had all he could enjoy,

He had not joys enough;

Nor fully could each sense employ,

Till Fortune gave him snuff.


The piper must avoid the fair,

Who loathes tobacco’s puff;

But unobtrusive is the air

Which men acquire from snuff.


Another kind of baccy-box

Is used by sailors rough;

The way they choose, refinement shocks;

But—Chesterfield took snuff.


Quakers unfriendly make us hear a

Lot of starched, stiff-rumped stuff,

But verily they love Madeira,

Albeit they sneer at snuff.


I’ve ta’en it five-and-thirty years;

At fifty, still I’m tough;

And, if my seventies it cheers,

I’ll yet be up to snuff!


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