Two of the larger-than-life names at this time of year, other than the pipe-puffing big white bearded guy in the North Pole, who runs a shop full of elves and reindeer, are the two named Charles—Darwin and Dickens.
You probably already know this, if you have been paying close attention to the Pundit, I love the month of December.
And, yes, the Pundit makes a gift list, a Christmas card list, a recipe list, you name it, and the Pundit puts it on a list this time of year. And checks all multiple times.
It’s the season of rejoicing after a long, hard year. It is the time when we can all come together over a nicely written poem, a Christmas story, a pint, and a pipe, and two of the Pundit’s favorites: a humongous Christmas meal with family, and a new Christmas pipe and tobacco.
So, let’s get back to the Charleses before this missive runs amok with Christmas lights flashing all over the place with reindeer a-leaping and elves dashing for cover.
Let’s start with the great biologist first. Charles Darwin roamed the South Seas for five years aboard Her Majesty’s Ship Beagle on a fact-finding voyage. The stop at the Galapagos Islands with its infinite variety of critters provided a foundation for the foundational On the Origin of Species (ahem, one of the Pundit’s favorite reads).
Now that your appetite has been whetted here is the punch line: The Pundit is not sure whether or not the great biologist smoked a pipe. I’ve found that he did and didn’t because of notoriously bad health.
So, we can’t claim Mr. “Origin” as a pipe smoker, but the wonderful folks at Peterson have produced their version of tribute for one of its Christmas 2022 shapes: The Darwin, beautifully outfitted with Peterson’s first-time presentation of a pipe with copper spigot mounts and finished with a lovely rustication and fishtail stem.
Naturally, Pundit leaped right in and purchased the Darwin Christmas 2022 Pipe. It is the classic B42 shape, the Darwin.
Here is what Truett Smith at SmokingPipes.com says about the Darwin: “In 2009, Peterson released the Darwin “B42” shape in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The English naturalist’s seminal work was published in 1859, just 17 years before another Charles would join Fredrick Kapp in founding the longest-standing pipe manufacturer in the world: Kapp & Peterson. The “B42” is a robust bent Apple, displaying an Author-like substance through the shank and transition that exemplifies Peterson’s signature aesthetic — a perfect homage, to both Charles Darwin and Charles Peterson himself.”
Very well said and a perfect picture of a Peterson pipe.
Oh, and Pundit also picked up a special Cornell & Diehl “Ghosts of Christmas Present,” blend with which to break in the Darwin. More on this blend in just a moment.
And now we turn our attention to one of the greatest novelists of the 19th—and just maybe any century—Charles Dickens. Another recommended author from the Pundit’s library of noted novelists and writers.
Each December Pundit and his daughters read “A Christmas Carol” together and talk about its many lessons.
Dickens’ novella of Christmas was published in 1843 and has never been out of print!
The story tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a penny-pinching aging old coot, who is visited by the spirit of the late Jacob Marley, his former business partner. Other ghosties arrive, too, from Scrooge’s past, present, and future Christmases.
Well, if you have never read A Christmas Carol, which Pundit finds hard to believe, there won’t be a review here. Only to say, Scrooge is changed after the ghosts arrive and have their say with him, thus giving him a renewed view of life. You will just have to read the novella to get a better understanding of a great piece of literature.
Now, here again, it is not certain that Dickens smoked a pipe. Some accounts say he never smoked because of ill health during his lifespan. Again some stories relate that he enjoyed “latakia” from time to time.
But we do know that he wrote some of the best novels of the Victorian era, during Britain’s Industrial Revolution, which was an especially hard time for “street children” who had no home but the hard, filthy life of city slums.
Ok, so about “Ghosts of Christmas Present,” blend from Cornell & Diehl from SmokingPipes.com.
I picked this blend to go with my Darwin Christmas 2022 pipe because it combines two of the Pundit’s favorite contents, straight Virginia, and a dash of rum flavoring.
This sort of hints at the swashbuckling days oer the “wine dark” seas (with poetic apologies to poets everywhere and the nonpareil Homer).
And, for a much better review of this special Wintertime Reserve blend by C&D, head over to the nonpareil tobacco reviewer Jiminks.
And now a noteworthy mention of an occasional pipe smoker, John Steinbeck. He was born Feb. 27, 1902, in Salinas, Calif., and died Dec. 20, 1968, in New York City.
Steinbeck, the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962, was one of America’s greatest writers and another Pundit favorite. You just can’t beat The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, Travels With Charley, The Log from the Sea of Cortez, and any other piece of writing by this master wordsmith.
And now a couple of parting quotes from Steinbeck:
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
And this last, one of the Pundit’s favorites from Steinbeck:
“I guess there are never enough books.”― John Steinbeck, A John Steinbeck Encyclopedia
Merry Christmas and happy puffing on your favorite blends in the New Year.