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The Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce
MEEKNESS
MENDACIOUS

MEERSCHAUM

-n.

(Literally, seafoam, and by many erroneously supposed to be made of it.) A fine white clay, which for convenience in coloring it brown is made into tobacco pipes and smoked by the workmen engaged in that industry. The purpose of coloring it has not been disclosed by the manufacturers.

 There was a youth (you've heard before,
This woeful tale, may be),
Who bought a meerschaum pipe and swore
That color it would he!
 He shut himself from the world away,
Nor any soul he saw.
He smoke by night, he smoked by day,
As hard as he could draw.
 His dog died moaning in the wrath
Of winds that blew aloof;
The weeds were in the gravel path,
The owl was on the roof.
 "He's gone afar, he'll come no more,"
The neighbors sadly say.
And so they batter in the door
To take his goods away.
 Dead, pipe in mouth, the youngster lay,
Nut-brown in face and limb.
"That pipe's a lovely white," they say,
"But it has colored him!"
 The moral there's small need to sing —
'Tis plain as day to you:
Don't play your game on any thing
That is a gamester too.

- Martin Bulstrode