“In a museum in Havana there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus – one when he was a boy and one when he was a man”, Mark Twain once wrote of Cuba’s capital city in the Adventures of Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.
Twain, known as an author, satirist, and American icon, was a champion of Cuban independence and also an avid and passionate cigar smoker. In his 1897 travelogue Following the Equator ( also known as More Tramps Abroad) Twain mused, “ I pledged myself to smoke but one cigar a day. I kept the cigar waiting until bedtime, then I had a luxurious time with it. But desire persecuted me every day and all day long. I found myself hunting for larger cigars..within the month my cigar had grown to such proportions that I could have used it as a crutch.
My friends for some years now have remarked that I am an inveterate consumer of tobacco. That is true, but my habits with regard to tobacco have changed. I have no doubt that you will say, when I have explained to you what my present purpose is, that my taste has deteriorated, but I do not so regard it.
Let me tell you briefly the history of my personal relation to tobacco. It began, I think, when I was a lad, and took the form of a quid, which I became expert in tucking under my tongue. Afterward I learned the delights of the pipe and I suppose there was no other youngster of my age who could more deftly cut plug tobacco so as to make it available for pipe smoking.
Well, time ran on, and there came a time when I was able to gratify one of my youthful ambitions – I could buy the choicest Havana cigars without seriously interfering with my income. I smoked a good many…
Twain was widely associated with cigar smoking. In his 1890s essay ‘Concerning Tobacco” Twain wrote the following: “No one can tell me what is a good cigar – for me, I am the only judge.”
People who claim to know say I smoke the worst cigars in the world. They bring their own cigars when they come to my house. They betray an unmanly terror when I offer them a cigar: they tell lies and hurry away to meet engagements, which they have not made when they are threatened with the hospitalities of my box”.