A Counterblaste to Tobacco

King James I of England


To the Reader

As every humane body (deare Countrey men) how wholesome soever, is notwithstanding subject, or at least naturally inclined to some sorts of diseases, or infirmities: so is there no Common-wealth, or Body-politicke, how well governed, or peaceable soever it bee, that lackes the owne popular errors, and naturally enclined corruptions: and therefore is it no wonder, although this our Countrey and Common-wealth, though peaceable, though wealthy, though long flourishing in both, be amongst the rest, subject to the owne naturall infirmities. We are of all Nations the people most loving and most reverently obedient to our Prince, yet are wee (as time hath often borne witnesse) too easie to be seduced to make Rebellion, upon very slight grounds. Our fortunate and oft prooved valour in warres abroad, our heartie and reverent obedience to our Princes at home, hath bred us a long, and a thrice happy peace: Our Peace hath bred wealth: And Peace and wealth hath brought foorth a generall sluggishnesse, which makes us wallow in all sorts of idle delights, and soft delicacies, the first seedes of the subversion of all great Monarchies. Our Cleargie are become negligent and lazie, our Nobilitie and Gentrie prodigall, and solde to their private delights, Our Lawyers covetous, our Commonpeople prodigall and curious; and generally all sorts of people more carefull for their privat ends, then for their mother the Common-wealth.

For remedie whereof, it is the Kings part (as the proper Phisician of his Politicke-body) to purge it of all those diseases, by Medicines meete for the same: as by a certaine milde, and yet just forme of government, to maintain the publicke quietnesse, and prevent all occasions of Commotion: by the example of his owne Person and Court, to make us all ashamed of our sluggish delicacie, and to stirre us up to the practise againe of all honest exercises, and Martiall shadowes of Warre; As likewise by his, and his Courts moderatenesse in Apparell, to make us ashamed of our prodigalitie. By his quicke admonitions and careful overseeing of the Cleargie, to waken them up againe, to be more diligent in their Offices: By the sharpe triall, and severe punishment of the partiall, covetous and bribing Lawyers, to reforme their corruptions: And generally by the example of his owne Person, and by the due execution of good Lawes, to reforme and abolish, piece and piece, these old and evill grounded abuses. For this will not bee Opus unius diei, but as every one of these diseases, must from the King receive the owne cure proper for it, so are there some sorts of abuses in Commonwealths, that though they be of so base and contemptible a condition, as they are too low for the Law to looke on, and too meane for a King to interpone his anthoritie, or bend his eye upon: yet are they corruptions, as well as the greatest of them. So is an Ant an Animal, aswell as an Elephant: so is a Wrenne Avis, aswell as a Swanne, and so is a small dint of the Toothake, a disease aswell as the fearefull Plague is. But for these base sorts of corruption in Common-wealthes, not onely the King, or any inferior Magistrate, but Quilibet e populo may serve to be a Phisician, by discovering and impugning the error, and by perswading reformation thereof.

And surely in my opinion, there cannot be a more base, and yet hurtfull, corruption in a Countrey, then is the vile use (or other abuse) of taking Tobacro in this Kingdome, which hath moved me, shortly to discover the abuses thereof in this following little Pamphlet.

If any thinke it a light Argument, so is it but a toy that is bestowed upon it. And since the Subject is but of Smoke, I thinke the fume of an idle braine, may serve for a sufficient battery against so fumous and feeble an enemy. If my grounds be found true, it is all I looke for; but if they cary the force of perswasion with them, it is all, I can wish and more then I can expect. My onely care is, that you, my deare Countrey-men, may rightly conceive even by this smallest trifle, of the sinceritie of my meaning in greater matters, never to spare any paine, that may tend to the procuring of your weale and prosperitie.

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