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gencies of an abnormal habit. She still continues her protest in the feeling of exhaustion which follows every poison-debauch, but permits each following dose of the insidious drug to act as a temporary reinvigorant, or at least as a spur to the functional activity of the exhausted organism ; for the apparent return of vital vigor is, in fact, nothing but a symptom of the morbid energy exerted by the system in its efforts to rid itself of a deadly intruder, for each new application of the stimulus is as regularly followed by a distressing reaction. And only then the slave of the unnatural habit becomes conscious of that peculiar craving which is entirely distinct from the promptings of a healthy appetite—a craving uncompromisingly directed toward a special, once repulsive, substance; a craving defying the limiting instincts which indicate the proper quantum of wholesome foods and drinks ; a craving which each gratification makes more irresistible, though for the time being each indulgence is followed by a depressing reaction. The appetite for wholesome substances—however palatable—is never exclusive. A child may become passionately fond of ice-cream, yet accept cold water and fruitcake as a welcome substitute. A predilection for honey, strawberries, or sweet tree fruits will not tempt the admirers of such dainties to commit forgery and highway robbery to indulge their penchant—so long as their kitchen affords a supply of savory vegetables. Only natural appetites have natural limits; the art of the best pastry-cook would hardly induce his customers to stupefy and bestialize themselves with his compounds. There are no milk-topers, no suicidal potato-eaters, no victims of a chronic porridge-passion. In spite of occasional surfeits, the craving for alimentary substances increases and decreases with the needs of the organism, while that of the poison-drinker yields only to the temporary extinction of conscious
In a state of Nature every normal function is associated with a pleasurable sensation, and, instead of resulting in agonizing reactions, a feast of wholesome food is followed by a state of considerable physical comfort—“the beatific consciousness of perfect digestion," as Baron Brisse describes the pleasures of the after-dinner hour. But no length of practice will ever save the poison-slave from the penalties of his sins against Nature. Each full indulgence is followed by a full measure of woful retributions, while a halfindulgence results in a half-depression to the verge of world-weary despondency, or fails to satisfy the lingering thirst after a larger dose of the same stimulant. And every poison known to modern chemistry can beget that specific craving. “Entirely accidental circumstances, the accessibility of special drugs, imitativeness and the intercourse of commercial nations, the mere whims of fashion, the authority of medical recommendations, have often decided the first choice of a special stimulant, destined to become a national beverage” and a national curse. The contemporaries of the Veda-writers fuddled with soma-wine, the juice of a narcotic plant of the Himalaya foot-hills. Their neighbors, the pastoral Tartars, get drunk on koumiss, or fermented mare's-milk, an abomination which in Eastern Europe threatens to increase the list of im
ported poisons, while opium is gaining ground in our Pacific States as fast as lager beer, chloral, and patent“ bitters” on the Atlantic slope. The French have added absinthe to their wines and liquors, the Turks hasheesh and opiates to strong coffee. North America has adopted tea from China, coffee from Arabia (or originally from Ceylon), tobacco from the Caribbean savages, high-wines from France and Spain, and may possibly learn to drink Mexican aloe-sap, or chew the coca-leaves of the South American Indians. Arsenic has its votaries in the southern Alps. Cinnabar and acetate of copper victimize the miners of the Peruvian sierras. The Ashantees are so fond of sorghum beer that their chieftains have to keep special bamboo cages for the benefit of quarrelsome drunkards. The pastor of a Swiss colony in the Mexican state of Oaxaca told me that the mountaineers of that neighborhood befuddle themselves with cicuta syrup, the inspissated juice of a kind of hemlock that first excites and then depresses the cerebral functions, excessive garrulity being the principal symptom of the exalted stage of intoxication. A decoction of the common fly-toadstool (agaricus maculatus) inflames the passions of the Kamtchatka natives, makes them pugnacious, disputative, but eventually splenetic (Chamisso’s “ Reisen,” p. 322). The Abyssinians use a preparation of dhurra corn that causes more quarrels than gambling. It is a favorite beverage at festivals, and is vaunted as a remedy for various complaints, though Belzoni mentions that it makes its votaries more subject to the attacks of the Nile fever. According to Prof. Vambéry, the Syrian Druses pray, though apparently in vain, to be delivered from the temptation of foxglove tea. Comparative pathology has multiplied these analogies till, in spite of the arguments of a thousand specious advocates, there is no valid reasonto doubt that the alleged innate craving for the stimulus of fermented or distilled beverages is wholly abnormal, and that the alcohol habit is characterized by all the peculiarities of a poison vice.
3. Al poison habits are progressive. There is a deep significance in that term of our language which describes an unnatural habit as growing upon its devotees, for we find, indeed, a striking analogy between the development of the stimulant habit and that of a parasitical plant, which, sprouting from tiny seeds, fastens upon, preys upon, and at last strangles its victims. The seductiveness of every stimulant habit gains strength with each new indulgence, and it is a curious fact that that power is proportioned to the original repulsiveness of the poison. The tonic influence of Chinese tea is due to the presence of a stimulating ingredient known as theïne, in its concentrated form a strong narcotic poison, but forming only a minute percentage of the component parts of common green tea. On the Pacific coast of our country thousands of Chinese immigrants carry their thrift to the degree of renouncing their favorite beverage, but neither considerations of economy nor of self-preservation will induce the same exiles to break the fetters of the opium habit. Not one hasheesh-eater in a hundred can hope to emancipate himself from the thral. dom of his vice. The guests of King Alcohol, too,
would make their reckoning without their host in hoping to take in the fun of intoxication as a votary of pleasure would engage in a transient pastime: his palace is an Armida castle, that rarely dismisses a visitor.
“In describing the effects of the alcohol habit,” says Dr. Isaac Jennings, “I want to impress the reader with another feature of it—its perpetuity. It can never be put off during the lifetime of the individual; it may be covered up to appearance, but it can not be effaced. It seems to be a common impression that alcohol circulates through the body, excites the action of the heart and liver, quickens and enlivens the animal spirits, and then passes off and leaves no trace of its visitation, or at most only a temporary loss of power, which is soon restored by a self-moved power-pump. This is a great and fundamental error. Every drop of alcohol that enters the stomach inflicts an injury that will continue as long as the old stock lasts, and reach even to the young sprouts. It may not be enstamped on them in precisely the same way, but it will affect essentially the same parts.” (“Medical Reform,” pp. 173–175.)
“If a man were sent to hell,” says Dr. Rush, “and kept there for a thousand years as a punishment for drinking, and then returned, his first cry would be, 'Give me rum! give me rum !""
“The infernal powers blindfold the victims of their altars,” says Lessing, and the stimulant vice seems, in fact, to weaken not only the physical constitution of its votaries, but their moral power of resistance, and often even the faculty of real