AN ENCOMIUM ON TOBACCO.
Thrice happy isles that stole the world's delight,
And thus produce so rich a Margarite!
It is the fountain whence all pleasure springs,
A potion for imperial and mighty kings.
He that is master of so rich a store
May laugh at Croesus and esteem him poor;
And with his smoky sceptre in his fist,
Securely flout the toiling alchemist,
Who daily labors with a vain exp
In distillations of the quintessence,
Not knowing that this golden herb alone
Is the philosopher's admired stone.
It is a favor which the gods doth please,
If they do feed on smoke, as Lucian says.
Therefore the cause that the bright sun doth rest
At the low point of the declining west--
When his oft-wearied horses breathless pant--
Is to refresh himself with this sweet plant,
Which wanton Thetis from the west doth bring,
To joy her love after his toilsome ring:
For 'tis a cordial for an inward smart,
As is dictamnum to the wounded hart.
It is the sponge that wipes out all our woe;
'Tis like the thorn that doth on Pelion grow,
With which whoe'er his frosty limbs anoints,
Shall feel no cold in fat or flesh or joints.
'Tis like the river, which whoe'er doth taste
Forgets his present griefs and sorrows past.
Music, which makes grim thoughts retire,
And for a while cease their tormenting fire,--
Music, which forces beasts to stand and gaze,
And fills their senseless spirits with amaze,--
Compared to this is like delicious strings,
Which sound but harshly while Apollo sings.
The train with this infumed, all quarrel ends,
And fiercest foemen turn to faithful friends;
The man that shall this smoky magic prove,
Will need no philtres to obtain his love.
Yet the sweet simple, by misordered use,
Death or some dangerous sickness may produce.
Should we not for our sustentation eat
Because a surfeit comes from too much meat?
So our fair plant--that doth as needful stand
As heaven, or fire, or air, or sea, or land;
As moon, or stars that rule the gloomy night,
Or sacred friendship, or the sunny light--
Her treasured virtue in herself enrolls,
And leaves the evil to vainglorious souls.
And yet, who dies with this celestial breath
Shall live immortal in a joyful death.
All goods, all pleasures it in one can link--
'Tis physic, clothing, music, meat, and drink.
Gods would have revell'd at their feasts of mirth
With this pure distillation of the earth;
The marrow of the world, star of the West,
The pearl whereby this lower orb is blest;
The joy of mortals, umpire of all strife,
Delight of nature, mithridate of life;
The daintiest dish of a delicious feast,
By taking which man differs from a beast.
ANONYMOUS: _Time, James I._