Mark Twain - forever young! And what a blogger he'd have made.
“The Moral Statistician.”
Originally published in Sketches, Old and New, 1893
"I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.
hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s
health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many
pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’
indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal
practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and
in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always
figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the
dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see
more than one side of the question.
You are blind to the fact that
most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to
your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty old
Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink
and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And you
never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a
man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth
ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the
appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of
people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying
yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then
what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save
your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to
purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an
enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?
won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in
furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract
societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty
vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves
so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. And you
never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor wretch, seeing
you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you; and in church
you are always down on your knees, with your ears buried in the cushion,
when the contribution-box comes around; and you never give the revenue
officers a full statement of your income.
Now you know all these
things yourself, don’t you? Very well, then, what is the use of your
stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What
is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a
word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying
to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are
yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”?"