Mark Twain? Elbert Hubbard? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Mark Twain followed two thoughtful guidelines regarding smoking:
- Never smoke more than one cigar at a time.
- Never smoke while sleeping.
Would you please determine when he enunciated these rules?
Quote Investigator: In 1905 Mark Twain celebrated his seventieth birthday at the popular New York restaurant Delmonico’s. The participants delivered numerous speeches and poems lauding Twain as reported in the “New York Tribune”. The famous humorist addressed the subject of his longevity: 1
I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: that we can’t reach old age by another man’s road.
I will now teach, offering my way of life to whomsoever desires to commit suicide by the scheme which has enabled me to beat the doctor and the hangman for seventy years.
Twain outlined his dietary regimen and then discussed smoking. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:
I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I do not know just when I began to smoke, I only know that it was in my father’s lifetime, and that I was discreet. He passed from this life early in 1847, when I was a shade past eleven; ever since then I have smoked publicly. As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.
Twain employed these two jokes and helped to popularize them, but instances occurred before 1905.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1905 December 6, New-York Tribune, Dinner for Mark Twain: To Mark 70th Birthday, Quote Page 7, Column 3, New York. (Newspapers_com) ↩