“Let the earth bring
forth grass, the herb yielding
seed.”—GEN. i: 11.
The two first born of our earth were the grass-blade and the herb. They preceded the brute creation and the human family—the grass for the animal creation, the herb for human service. The cattle came and took possession of their inheritance, the grass-blade; man came and took possession of his inheritance, the herb. We have the herb for food as in case of hunger, for narcotic as in case of insomnia, for anodyne as in case of paroxysm, for stimulant as when the pulses flag under the weight of disease. The caterer comes and takes the herb and presents it in all styles of delicacy. The physician comes and takes the herb and compounds it for physical recuperation. Millions of people come and take the herb for ruinous physical and intellectual delectation. The herb, which was divinely created, and for good purposes, has often been degraded for bad results. There is a useful and a baneful employment of the herbaceous kingdom.
There sprung up in Yucatan of this continent an herb that has bewitched the world. In the fifteenth century it crossed the Atlantic Ocean and captured Spain. Afterward it captured Portugal. Then the French embassadors took it to Paris, and it captured the French Empire. Then Walter Raleigh took it to London, and it captured Great Britain. Nicotiana, ascribed to that genus by the botanists, but we all know it is the exhilarating, elevating, emparadising, nerve-shattering, dyspepsia-breeding, health-destroying tobacco. I shall not in my remarks be offensively personal, because you all use it, or nearly all! I know by experience how it soothes and roseates the world, and kindles sociality, and I also know some of its baleful results. I was its slave, and by the grace of God I have become its conqueror. Tens of thousands of people have been asking the question during the past two months, asking it with great pathos and great earnestness: “Does the use of tobacco produce cancerous and other troubles?” I shall not answer the question in regard to any particular case, but shall deal with the subject in a more general way.
You say to me, “Did God not create tobacco?” Yes. You say to me, “Is not God good?” Yes. Well, then, you say, “If God is good and he created tobacco, He must have created it for some good purpose.” Yes, your logic is complete. But God created the common sense at the same time, by which we are to know how to use a poison and how not to use it. God created that just as He created henbane and nux vomica and copperas and belladonna and all other poisons, whether directly created by Himself or extracted by man.