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other facts, one might, indeed, admire the ingenious adaptation of means to ends; for, if it were the intention of God to limit our prosperity and afflict us with every possible evil short of absolute annihilation, he could certainly not have chosen a more efficient agent than alcohol.
Alcohol, the rectified product of the vinous fermentation (i. e., decomposition) of various saccharine fluids, and included by chemists among the narcotic poisons, exercises a metamorphosic effect on every organ of the human body; and no fact in physiology is more incontestably established than that all its appreciable effects are deleterious ones. The advocates of alcohol base their claims upon vague theories. The opponents of alcohol base their claims upon obvious facts. It has been asserted that alcohol protects the system against cold, but the exponents of that theory have failed to show how the constituent elements of alcohol can take the place of the natural heat-producers, the non-nitrogenous foods. They have also failed to explain a fact established by the unanimous testimony of polar travelers, namely, that a low temperature can be longer and more easily endured by total abstainers than by those who indulge in any kind of alcoholic drinks. (Appendix III.)
Alcohol has been called a “negative food,” because it retards the progress of the organic changes; but it has been demonstrated that that retardation is in every case an abnormal and morbid process, and that its results can not benefit the system in any appreciable way, while its deleterious effects are seen in the fatty degeneration of the tissues, the impoverished
condition of the blood, and many other symptoms characterizing the influence of insufficient nutrition. Alcohol has been called a positive food, because, forsooth, it is derived (by a process of decomposition) from grain, fruits, and other nutritive substances. We might as well call mildew a nutritive substance, because it is formed by the decay of wholesome food. “There is no more evidence," says Dr. Parker, "of alcohol being in any way utilized in the body, than there is in regard to ether or chloroforin. If alcohol is to be still designated as food, we must extend the meaning of that term so as to make it comprehend not only chloroform, but all medicines and poisons— in fact, everything which can be swallowed and absorbed, however foreign it may be to the normal condition of the body, and however injurious to its functions. On the other hand, from no definition that can be framed of a poison-which should include those more powerful anæsthetic agents whose poisonous character has been unfortunately too clearly manifested in a great number of instances-can alcohol be fairly shut out."
The antiseptic influence of alcohol was long supposed to constitute a safeguard against malarial diseases, but it has been found that the prophylactic effect of distilled liquors is confined to the period of actual stimulation (the alcohol fever), and that in the long run abstinence is from eight to ten times more prophylactic than dram-drinking.
Alcohol has been mistaken for an invigorating tonic; but we have seen that the supposed process of invigoration is a process of stimulation, or rather
of irritation, and that we might as well try to "invigorate” a weary traveler by drenching him with aqua fortis. (Appendix IV.)
On the other hand, it has been proved by ocular demonstration that alcoholic liquids, applied to the living tissue, induce redness and inflammation, and cover the mucous lining of the stomach with ulcer. ous patches; that they change the structure of the liver, stud it with tubercles, and disqualify it for its proper functions, though by obstructing its vascular ducts they often swell it to twice, and sometimes to five times, its natural size. The weight of a healthy liver varies from five to eight pounds; and Dr. Youmans mentions the post-mortem examination of an English drunkard whose liver was found to weigh fifty pounds, and adds that, in spite of this enormous enlargement of the bile-secreting organ, the man died from a deficiency of bile. The records of the Parisian charity hospitals have established the fact, that the moderate use of alcoholic drinks during a period of five years is sufficient to permeate the substance of the liver with fatty infiltrations, and that the liver of old drunkards undergoes changes which make it practically a lump of inert matter, a mass of compacted tubercles and scirrhous ulcers. Even in the advanced stages of the disorder, a large dose of concentrated alcohol rouses the diseased organ into a sort of feverish activity, which, however, soon subsides into a deeper and more incurable torpor. Hence the temporary efficacy and ultimate uselessness (to say the least) of alcoholic “liver regulators."
It has also been proved that alcohol inflames the brain, obstructs the kidneys, impoverishes the blood, and impairs the functional vigor of the respiratory organs.
The infallible necessity of all these results can be more fully realized by a clear comprehension of the proximate causes, which may be summed up in a few words: While the organism has to waste its strength on the elimination of the poison, it must neglect its normal functions, or perform them in a hasty, perfunctory way. Let me illustrate the matter by an apologue. A family of poor tenants occupy a cottage at the edge of the woods. They are honest, hardworking people, trying their best to live within their means, but at a certain hour they are every day attacked by a bear. Before the good man can mend his jacket, before the good wife has cooked her dinner, before the boys have finished their spelling-lesson, they have to rally and fight that brute. Sometimes the bear comes twice a day. They generally manage to hustle him out of the premises, but when they return to their cottage the father's jacket is torn into shreds, the dinner is burned, and in the excitement of the row the boys have forgotten their lesson. Their clothes are torn, their hands and faces bear the marks of the scrimmage, the whole household is in a state of the wildest disorder. The poor people go to work and try to repair the mischief the best way they can, but before they have finished the job the bear comes back, and another rumpus turns the house upside down. No wonder that things go from bad to worse, no wonder the tenants can not pay their rent; but a
very considerable wonder that the landlord does not relieve them by killing that bear.
The manliest races of the present world are probably the Lesghian and Daghestan mountaineers, who inhabit the southern highlands of the Caucasus, and who defied the power of the Russian Empire for sixty-five years.
From 1792 to 1858, army after army of schnapps-drinking Muscovites attacked them from the north, east, and west, and were hurled back like dogs from the lair of a lion, and fifteen hundred thousand Russian soldiers perished in the Caucasian defiles before the Russian eagles supplanted the crescent of Daghestan: for the heroic highlanders are Mohammedans, and total abstainers from intoxicating drinks. The Ossetes, who inhabit the foot-hills of the northern range, are addicted to the use of slibovits (peach brandy) and other stimulants, and their bloated faces present a striking contrast to the cleancut features of the tribes who have been chosen as the representatives of the white race. They are as stubborn as their southern neighbors, but not as enterprising; as self-sacrificing in the defence of their country, but not as self-reliant. In spite of their healthy climate they are cachectic and rather dullwitted; alcohol has stunted their stamina as well as their stature.
But there are other forms of physical degeneration which can with certainty be ascribed to the influence of the secondary stimulants, tobacco, tea, coffee, and pungent spices. Tobacco makes the Turks indolent, tea and coffee make us nervous and dyspeptic; and the worst is, that those minor vices pave the way