“To get a light, or because others do it.” Is that true? Do not trifle with the question. Read all my works. Do not get them from a contemptible circulating library, but buy them.
Some may not yet be convinced that the striking of matches is suggestive and immoral. To me nearly everything is suggestive, but there are some stupid persons in England. I will be patient with them, and give them more evidence.
A wax match is called a vesta. Who was Vesta? But this is too horrible. I cannot pursue this point in a periodical which is read in families. I can only refer you to the classical dictionary, and remind you that everything must infallibly suggest its opposite. Again, there are matches which strike only on the box. It distresses me to write these words. The idea of “onlyness,” of restriction, must bring matrimony to the mind of everyone. If you do not know what I think about marriage, buy The Kreutzer Sonata. It is not customary to have more than one wife. Consequently, anything which has one in it—as, for instance, the date of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR—reminds me of marriage, and is, therefore, degrading. Why, the very word “match” suggests marriage: and yet we allow young children to sell whole boxes of them in the streets. Horrible! Do you think our lower orders would become discontented, and strike, if they had not seen matches doing it first? Still more horrible!
Finally, you strike a match that never struck you, that never offended you in any way. Is that just, or even manly? Yet, in nine cases out of ten, the law takes no notice of the offence.
“To get a light, or because others do it.” Are you not convinced now that, when you use these words, you are not speaking the truth?
I do not think I ever met anybody who was quite as moral, or quite as original, as I am. You should give a complete set of my works to each of your children. I might have generalised on the ill-effects of those vices from a special case—my own case. Had I done so, I could have got it printed. I can get anything printed that I write. I preferred to take a newer line, and to show you how vile you are when you use matches. Everything is vile. But you are wondering, perhaps, how a great novelist becomes a small faddist. You must wait till next month, and then read my article on the immorality of parting one’s hair with a comb. A common table-fork is the only pure thing with which one can part one’s hair. Combs deaden the conscience. But more of this anon.
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