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to ruin; a constitution enfeebled by theïne poison is less able to resist the influence of fusel poison. It is a great mistake to suppose that abstinence from concentrated alcoholic liquors could atone for the habitual use of other stimulants. The vices of our ancestors were gross, but one-sided; ours are more manifold, and in their effects more comprehensive. In France many so-called temperate drinkers indulge in light wine, absinthe, tea, coffee, and chloral, and are weaklier and sicklier than the Hungarian dram-drinkers who confine themselves to plum brandy, for the system of the miscellaneous poison-monger has to defend itself against five enemies, and, as it were, sustain the wounds of five different weapons.
The mediæval knights, and many Grecian and Roman epicureans could drink a quantity of wine that would kill a modern toper; but they confined themselves to that one stimulant, and showed sense enough to keep it from their boys, who had a chance to fortify their constitutions with gymnastics before they endangered them with alcohol, and not rarely thus fortified their mental constitutions to a degree that made them temptation-proof. Pythagoras and Mohammed interdicted wine, and that statute did not interfere with the propagation of their doctrines, for voluntary abstainers were by no means rare-before the introduction of secondary stimulants. We fuddle our schoolboys with coffee and cider, and it is a curious and very frequent consequence of that early development of the stimulanthabit that its victim forgets the happiness of his childhood, and accepts daily headaches and chronic nightmares as some of the “ills that flesh is heir to.”
Rousseau believed that a man would be safe against the poison-vice if he could reach his twentieth year without contracting the habit, because in the mean time observation would have taught him the effects of intemperance. But his safety would be guaranteed by another circumstance. He would know what health means, and no deference to established customs would tempt him to exchange freedom for chains.
But a still greater mistake is the idea that drunkenness could be abated by the introduction of milder alcoholic drinks. We can not fight rum with lager beer. All poison-habits are progressive, and we have seen that the beer-vice is always apt to eventuate in a brandy-vice, or else to equalize the difference by a progressive enlargement of the dose. Common brandy contains fifty per cent of alcohol, lager beer about ten; so, if A drinks one glass of brandy and B five glasses of beer, they have outraged their systems by the same amount of poison, and will incur the same penalty. Total abstinence is the safe plan, nay, the only safe plan, for poisons can not be reduced to a harmless dose. By diminishing the quantities of the stimulant we certainly diminish its power for mischief, but as long as the dose is large enough to produce any appreciable effect, that effect is a deleterious one. (Appendix V.)
Various diseases, and that artificial disorder called intoxication, react on certain faculties of the mind (by affecting their corresponding cerebral organ) as regularly as on the liver, or any other part of the human organism. Consumption stimulates the love of life: a self-deluding hope of recovery characterizes the advanced stage of the disease as invariably as the hectic flush that simulates the color of health. Hasheesh excites combativeness. Alcohol first excites and gradually impairs self-reliance, and thus undermines the basis of truthfulness, of private and social enterprise, of manly courage and generosity. Moral cowardice, the chief reproach of our generation, has more to do with the tyranny of the poison-vice than with the despotism of social prejudices.
If we should define the chief contrasts in the moral characteristics of our latter-day generations and that of by-gone ages, we could not help including the deficiency in moral courage, which, like many other moral tendencies, has a purely physical basis. Consumption can turn a taciturn athlete into a querulous pedant; climatic fevers break the steadiest habits of industry; gluttony begets cynicism and mental indolence; and just as certainly alcohol has turned millions of freemen, descendants of the manliest races of antiquity, into flunkeys and prevaricating sneaks. Our ancestors were victims of gross superstitions, but they shamed their posterity by a loyal devotion to their convictions; by a readiness to sacrifice freedom and fortune in the service of what truth their means of inquiry had enabled them to recognize. Our socalled tolerance springs often from indifference. Our easy-going, crime-condoning philanthropy is too often something worse than indifference; our aversion to moral and dogmatic controversies is founded chiefly on a preference of non-committal secretiveness or sham conformity. Our nervous dread of “originality" and “eccentricity” is at bottom a dread of mental athletics, a timid connivance at half-truth, untruth, and injustice for the sake of “peace.”
Statistics have proved that the prevalence of idiocy is proportioned to the prevalence of intemperance. Before the Parliament Committee on Habitual Intemperance, Dr. Charles Anstie testified that “the tendency to drink is a disease of the brain which is inherited. When drinking has been strong in both parents, I think it is a physical certainty that it will be traced in the children. I have no doubt that many persons who were fond of their bottlethough never drunk-in the old port-wine drinking period, have transmitted very unstable nervous systems to their children."
Before the same committee, Dr. E. R. Mitchell stated that “the children of habitual drunkards are in larger proportion idiotic than other children, and in larger proportion themselves habitual drunkards; they are also in a great proportion liable to the ordinary forms of acquired insanity—i. e., the insanity coming on in later life.”
Prof. Morel, in his “Degeneration of the Human Species” (Des dégénérescences de l'espéce humaine), mentions “the abuse of alcoholic stimulants, and of certain narcotics, under the influence of which there have been produced such disorders in the functions of the nervous system that, in the results, as we have demonstrated, are seen the true symptoms of degeneration of the present age, whether induced by the direct influence of the poisonous agent, or by the transmission of hereditary dispositions from parent to child.”
“ Another potent agency in vitiating the quality of the brain," says Dr. Ray, in his work on “Mental Hygiene,” “is habitual intemperance, and the effect is witnessed far oftener in the offspring than in the drunkard himself. His habits may induce an attack of insanity where the predisposition exists, but he generally escapes with nothing worse than the loss of some of his natural vigor and hardihood of mind. In the offspring, however, on whom the consequences of the parental vice may be visited to the third, if not the fourth, generation, the cerebral disorder may take the form of intemperance, of idiocy or insanity, of vicious habits, of impulse to crime, or some minor mental obliquities."
Dr. S. G. Howe (“Report on Idiocy,” Massachusetts Legislature, Doc. No.51) states that “out of three hundred and fifty-nine idiots, the condition of whose progenitors was ascertained, ninety-nine were the chil. dren of drunkards. But this does not tell the whole story, by any means. By drunkard is meant a person known as a habitual and incurable sot. By pretty careful inquiry as to the number of idiots of the lowest classes whose parents were known to be temperate persons, it is found that not one quarter can be so considered.
Dr. Carpenter, in a contribution to the “Contemporary Review” for January, 1873, says: “We have a far larger experience of the results of habitual alcoholic excesses than we have in regard to any other nervine stimulant; and all such experience points decidedly to hereditary transmission of that acquired perversion of the normal nutrition of the nervous