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ter carried back to the internal organs. Thus the
common practice of taking a glass of spirits to keep
out the cold, has the contrary effect of letting in the
cold. This apparent increase of temperature, which is
in reality a cooling process, renders the system less
able to resist cold, especially in extreme cases.

The experience of such American and English
navigators as Boss, Perry, Franklin and Kane,




40 TEMPERANCE AND PROHIBITION.

demonstrated the pernicious effects of alcoholic
liquors in the polar latitudes. The Russians have
long been aware of this fact. Their soldiers are un-
der orders not to drink anything of an intoxicating
nature on the morning of a prospective march. To
insure obedience to this command, it is the Corporal's
duty to note the breath of every man in his regiment,
when they are assembled after breakfast. Anyone
found to have taken spirits is forthwith sent out of
the ranks as being unfitted to withstand the frost and
snow of a winter's march in that rigorous climate.

As a graphic illustration of the injurious results
of spirituous drinks in extremely cold weather, we
set down in full a narrative related by Mr. L. E. Mc-
Kinley :

" A group of twenty-six men, traveling over a West-
ern plain, lost their way and were overtaken by
darkness. The weather was severely cold and be-
came more so as the night advanced. Though well
provided with food, clothing, and plenty of whisky,
they had no wood or fuel of any kind. The occur-
rences of the night are given in the language of the
only physician who accompanied the exhibition.
He was a man of good, strong, hard sense, with
quite creditable medical attainments, considering the
limited opportunities he had had, which consisted in
reading works on medical practice. He had only
heard of but had never seen a medical college.

" Addressing the men he said : 'As we can't get
wood, boys, we must keep warm or at least alive
through the powers of Madam Vis Medicatrix



PHYSIOLOGICAL ACTION OF ALCOHOL. 41

She is all right in any weather if we don't clog her,
and pucker her forces. If I have got any medical
knowledge at all, I am going to use it to-night, and
the first thing I begin with is this : I am as fond of
whisky as any man dare to be, but by the gods, the
man that gets drunk to-night to keep warm, won't see
the daylight ! When the great God of the universe
made man, the boss work of the earth, he made all
other things first, and the elements too not to rule
over him and kill him, but to hunker down to his
wants. But, boys, whisky was scored out of that bill
of fare. The vis medicatrix naturce is the highest
of all other things, and if she ain't splintered up by

our own d d folly, she will ride safely through the

storm.

"We have got to keep stirring round, or huddled
up in the straw of the wagons, as many of us as can
cram together. Each one will keep the other warm.
We must all eat as much as possible, but whisky
ain't the thing. This is what I told them all; but
very few minded me. I did not taste a drop, nor did
two other men. We took off our boots and over-
coats, and then got on the straw, and put our blank-
ets over us, and our overcoats on the top of them.
We were only cold but did not suffer or freeze.
Three were very cold and we heard them yelling
nearly all night. They suffered very much, but were
'not frozen. They took very little whisky, but they
took several thin drinks in the run of the night.
Seven other fellows, that drank a good deal, had their
toes and fingers scorched, but they got over it in a



42 TEMPERANCE .AND PROHIBITION.

few weeks. Six of the boys, who drank pretty strong,
were badly frozen and never got over it ; and four,
that got very boozy, were frozen so badly that they
died three or four weeks afterwards. Only three
were stiff dead by daylight. They got dead drunk,
and as they did not make a fuss, the other boys
thought the whisky was keeping out the cold, so
they drank the stronger. I tell you, sir, they all
suffered just according as they took in the whisky ;
those that got drunk froze to death ; those who drank
less, but too much, died after a while; those that
drank only moderately, will feel it as long as they
live ; and those who took only thin drinks, were well-
nigh shut up. We three didn't drink any ; the vis
medicatrix naturce brought us through. All were
strong and vigorous men, in the very bloom of life.' "

It is a very general but erroneous opinion among
workmen, that when they are called upon to perform
excessive and long-continued labor, alcoholic liquor
of some kind is an absolute necessity to enable them
to execute it.

As an illustration of the falsity of this conception,
we relate the following .

The change of the Great Western Kailroad from a
six-foot gauge to the ordinary gauge, required the
continuous labor of a large number of men. They
literally worked night and day until it was com-
pleted, stopping only for meals and an hour or so '
of sleep. They were allowed beer when eating but
at other times, it was prohibited, and a drink of
the sweetened water from boiled oatmeal substituted



PHYSIOLOGICAL ACTION OF ALCOHOL. 43

in its place. One man in every twenty was kept
busy preparing this wholesome beverage. The work
was done much better, .more cheerfully, and in a
shorter time than if beer or spirits had been given.
There is no doubt, however, that in certain emer-
gencies alcoholic liquors, acting so quickly, and being
so transitory in their effects on the system, are often
very beneficial.



CHAPTER IX.



ALCOHOL AS FOOD.

As this subject has long been a matter of discus-
sion among scientists, and is still a mooted question,
we propose to devote a chapter to its consideration.

Liebig says in support of the affirmative, that
"the food action of alcohol must be ranked with
that of fat, starch, and sugar, because the chemical
basis of all is carbon."

Every aliment taken into the human stomach as
food, must contain the chemical constituents of sugar,
starch, fat or albuminous substances, whether derived
from the vegetable or the animal kingdom. In the
process of digestion it receives the gastric j nice of the
stomach, the bile from the gall-duct, and the pan-
creatic and other juices from the abdominal region.
If deficient in any one of these secretions, the diges-
tion is either wholly or partially imperfect, and we
cannot be assured that the entire product, or any
portion of it, will be converted into blood. What is
not digested must be eliminated from the system by
the excretory organs.

Now admitting that carbon is the basic principle
of alcohol, and the before-named substances, fat,
starch and sugar, it does not follow as a natural se-
quence 'that it is identical with them in all other
particulars. The constituent elements of alcohol are
(44)



ALCOHOL AS FOOD. 45

carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Not being in combi-
nation with any animal or vegetable matter, it con-
tains no nitrogen, which is the basis of all tissue-
forming foods*

Being wholly devoid of this essential element, it is
impossible for it to undergo the process of digestion,
which would fit it for assimilation by the different
organs, and, consequently, cannot be considered an
aliment. It is the height of absurdity to assert that
it " must be ranked with fat, starch and sugar/, which
are pre-eminently tissue-forming foods.

Another statement, equally erroneous, is made by
Hargreaves in his work entitled "Alcohol and Sci-
ence." He says : "Although alcohol is not a tissue-
forming food, it is a calorific agent ; and by its power
of generating heat in the system, which is a necessity
to digestion, it takes the place of food, and should
be regarded as a respiratory and heat-producing
aliment."

In a normal condition of the stomach, when food is
introduced, it not only provokes the flow of the gas-
tric juice, but it stimulates the evolving of a proper
temperature necessary for digestion. Nature is very
exacting in her demands ; if the heat is above or be-
low the proper degree, the digestion is retarded or
prevented altogether. It is a knowledge of the
exact temperature required in the process of fermen-
tation that enables the wine manufacturer, and the
brewer, to perfecf their products.

Now alcohol by its presence in the stomach in-
creases the heat above the requirements of the digest-



46 TEMPERANCE AND PROHIBITION.

ive apparatus, vitiates the gastric juice, and not be-
ing a solvent of food like the latter, or water, it im-
pairs and impedes nature in her work. If by any
possibility an increase of normal temperature in the
stomach would be an aid to its work, then food
would more easily digest when an excess of heat was
generated by any morbific condition of the system,
whereas, we know to the contrary.

It is affirmed that alcohol effects another serious
injury to the stomach by vitiating the most im-
portant component of the gastric juice pepsin. It
precipitates and coagulates this ingredient, rendering
it wholly or partially unable to disolve alimentary
substances.

It is difficult, therefore, to perceive wherein alcohol
can be justly considered by Mr. Hargreaves as "a
respiratory and heat-producing food."

The same writer says farther on that " alcohol re-
tards the destruction of tissue. By this destruction,
force is generated, causing muscles to contract, or-
gans to secrete and excrete. Now, as alcohol stops
the full tide of this decay, it Is very evident it must
also furnish the force which is developed under its use.
How it does this, is not clear.

"Although alcohol is not a tissue-forming food,
yet it indirectly supplies the place of such, by retard-
ing the metamorphosis of tissue, preventing the
Avaste of muscle, and thereby preserving the strength
and upholding the power of life."

This argument he handles discursively and in-
geniously throughout the work, and from its promi-



ALCOHOL AS FOOD. 47

nence rather than its conclusive logic, it deserves
more than a passing notice.

It is generally admitted that food does not furnish
any force to the human system, until it has first been
digested arid converted into blood. In this form it
is the vital nourishment of the tissues and organs,
and is appropriated by every portion of the body
by a process of assimilation, technically known as
"Progressive Metamorphosis." It is well known that
with every functional action of these organs of the
body a certain amount of tissue is decomposed just as
the production of steam is co-existent with the com-
bustion of fuel. No force is ever created ; it is
simply produced by evolution or the setting free of
another force. Every act, whether mental or physical,
results in the destruction of tissue. Thought is
evolved from the combustion of brain matter; the
force to secrete gastric juice, from the combustion
of some portion of the stomach, and the force that
generates bile, from the consumption of certain
substances of the liver, and so on through the entire
organism. Thus from the destruction of one force,
another is evolved. These postulates are axiomatic,
and here comes in the operation of another law the
law of compensation which in the order of nature
is inexorable. If the production of one force from the
destruction of another is not compensated for, an ex-
haustion or wasting of the material from which the
force was evolved, follows. As in the instance of
steam, the power generated by the burning fuel is
not replaced ; the steam does its work and escapes,



48 TEMPERANCE AND PROHIBITION.

and as a consequence its production is coincident with
the consumption of fuel.

The same would be true of the body were it not
for the continual formative processes going on from
the digestion of food whereby new particles are de-
posited to take the place of the old. Were it not for
this substitution of living atoms for decayed, death
would soon result. In a perfectly healthy organism
this interchange is co-equal. The cast-off tissue is
taken up by the absorbents as effete matter and car-
ried into the circulation, and is ultimately eliminated
by the excretories.

All force is produced by the destruction of tissue,
yet Mr. Hargreaves states that " alcohol, by retarding
this destruction, must furnish the force which is de-
veloped under its use. How it does this," he further
says, " is not very clear," and with this last acknowl-
edgment we most heartily agree.

Alcohol stimulates the system beyond its natural
condition, but it is at the expense of the latent
vital forces. This expenditure cannot be com-
pensated for, because this spirit, as we have proven,
contains none of the elements of food. We admit
that alcohol obstructs the metamorphosis of tissue by
preventing the absorbents from taking it up. This
effete matter, however, cannot be used over again, any
more than ashes could be used to produce heat. It
simply accumulates in the system, the body becomes
loaded with impurities and does not lose flesh, which
fact is used as an argument to prove the beneficial
effect of alcohol in conserving tissue ; but in reality,



ALCOHOL AS FOOD. 49

so far from "preserving the strength, ana upholding
the powers of life r " the person is in a very unhealthy
condition the muscles become soft and spongy, the
flesh bloated, and the general rectitude of the sys-
tem is impaired. We beg, therefore, to differ with the
learned scientists who claim that by some mysterious
process alcohol furnishes force per se.

Food, and food only, can supply the necessary
nourishment and temperature of the body for the
preservation of life.



CHAPTER X.



ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE AND A POISON.

To deny that the legitimate use of alcohol is a
blessing, would be to impugn the wisdom of the Cre-
ator, who permits its existence. It is only its abue
that is injurious. That it can be beneficially employed
as a medicine in certain physical conditions, all physi-
cians will certify. Where an immediate effect is de-
sired, it works to a charm. In sudden emergencies
its rapid absorption, and its special action on the
nervous system, are of great practical value. The
liquors usually given in such cases are brandy or
whisky ; of the two, the former, if pure, is preferable.

In an abnormal state of the system the most marked
benefit is attained when the spirit administered does:
not affect the brain, though it be given in large quan-
tities. In such instances it is supposed to undergo-
some chemical change by the action of the vital
forces, thus forming new substances, which, having no
affinity for the brain, are appropriated by the organ-
ism as a remedial agent for its own preservation. We
have personally witnessed such cases where large doses
of brandy were repeated without any perceptible in-
fluence upon the cerebral organs.

On the other hand, if the brain is stimulated or
narcotized by the brandy, this chemical change can-
not take place, and the persistent use of the liquor
(50)



ALCOHOL AS MEDICINE AND POISON. 51

would result seriously to the patient. In exhaustive
diseases, and in sudden prostrations of the system,
alcoholic stimulants are of great service in arousing
the vital forces for a limited period until nature can
react. Their continued use in any case is always in-
jurious, and productive of fatal consequences in the
long run.

Physicians make a grave mistake in teaching and
inculcating the fallacy that alcohol imparts strength.
The feeling of comfort and vigor that comes with its
presence in the circulation is always transitory and must
sooner or later be followed by a corresponding sensa-
tion of depression. Each reaction will be harder to
overcome than the preceding one, for alcohol cannot
in crease functional powers, as it has nothing of nour-
ishment to give to the system, as has been previously
shown.

It may not be out of place here to devote a little
attention to the consideration of the problem as to
what becomes of alcohol when taken into the blood.
This has long been a question of importance, both in
medicine and organic chemistry. Some scientists
contend that it is subject to no change while passing
through the system, but is eliminated through the
lungs, skin, and kidneys as alcohol still; that it is not
oxidized in the lungs and expired as carbonic acid gas,
but as alcohol, which is always detected in the breath.
This is undoubtedly the natural effect of alcohol in a
healthy state of the body.

Others affirm that in some diseased conditions it
does undergo oxidation, or, if not that, some other



52 TEMPERANCE AND PROHIBITION.

chemical change takes place. The preponderance of
evidence goes to prove that there are diseases wherein
alcohol comes in contact with the morbid secretions in
the circulation, when an interchange of elements takes
place and new combinations are formed which act
remedially on the system. This is the reason that
large quantities of brandy, as before demonstrated,
can be administered to some patients without special
action on the brain. The specific nature of this
chemical interchange of elements can never be known,
as we cannot go behind a law of nature.

That alcohol is a poison few will doubt. If enough
is taken it will destroy life in a short space of time.
Its continued presence in the body will bring on vari-
ous diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and stomach.
The most trivial causes render the inveterate drinker
liable to affections of these organs, as the predisposing
agent is always at work in his constitution. Fatty
degeneration of the heart, kidneys, etc., and the
" hob-nailed " liver, so called, are examples of the
diseases directly attributable to ardent spirits. Thou-
sands of wretched victims have been sacrificed annu-
ally to the excessive use of these deleterious substances.
Lives that promised a rich autumnal fruitage have
faded in their early spring or summer-time, leaving
desolate hundreds of once happy homes.

Beer and porter, when habitually taken in large
quantities, prevent the metamorphosis of tissue as be-
fore elaborated, and so clog the bodily machinery that
the whole system becomes diseased. The retention of
this effete nitrogen and carbon leads to an increase of



ALCOHOL AS MEDICINE AND POISON. 53

bulk, dulls the brain, and the entire organism becomes
lethargic.

The worst patients that enter the London hospitals
are the brewer men. A bruise or scratch which in
others would be insignificant, in them will often fester
and mortify. Every medical man in London dreads
a surgical operation on a patient who has been a con-
firmed beer drinker. In such cases the mortality is
frightful. The habitual use of these beverages causes
many of the serious diseases prevalent among people
of advanced age.

We have no evidence that pure, light wines have
any deleterious effects upon the human system when
employed with reasonable moderation.



CHAPTER XI.



ALCOHOL AS A STIMULANT AND A NARCOTIC.

FEW things in physiology are more important to
understand than wherein lies the difference between
a stimulant and a narcotic. The same substance
can often be used to produce either effect, according
to the quantity administered and the physical condi-
tion of the patient. The determining of the amount
necessary to bring about a desired result, is a matter
that can only be decided by a wise and experienced
physician. The same dose at different times may
vary in its effects, owing to a change in the state of
the system.

In one form or another, the use of some kind of
stimulant is almost universal among all nations,
whether barbarous or civilized, and the secrets of
nature have been invaded to concoct a variety of
narcotic compounds. The Chinaman has his opium,
the Hindoo his hashish, the European and American
their alcohol and morphia, and millions of people in
all climes are more or less addicted to the use of tea
and coffee. No habit is so firmly fixed on mankind
as that of stimulation. Its very universality would
almost convince one that it is a natural, and, there-
fore, perfectly harmless practice ; that a moderate use
of stimulants but answers to an inborn instinct in
the race, and its gratification is but an aid to progress
(54)



ALCOHOL AS A STIMULANT. 55

and happiness. We certainly know that it is no
easy matter to deprive most people of their favorite
drink, or drug, even though they may be partially or
wholly aware of its injurious effects.

It is a question with physiologists whether the
taking of unadulterated wine or beer at meals is
not more wholesome than the drinking of tea and
coffee. The latter custom is more prevalent in Amer-
ican families, while the former is an established habit
in many European countries, and also in China and
Japan.

Small doses of alcohol or opium give a feeling of
relief and strength that passes off without any in-
injurious reaction unless a repetition is resorted to.
If taken in excess, the forces of nature are intensi-
fied, and if still greater quantities are used, the brain
becomes narcotized. It will be seen, therefore, that
small potions of alcohol or doses of morphia act as
a stimulant to produce that exhilarating and elastic
state so eagerly sought by, the habitual partaker of
either, while larger amounts of the same are ad-
mitted to be powerful narcotics. Their employment
has been injuriously frequent and unnecessary among
even our best physicians. Especially is this so of
morphia, administered either hypodermically or other-
wise, to quiet pain that is neither extreme nor unendu-
rable. It generally gives immediate relief, but must
usually be repeated, and it is doubtful if it has ever
removed disease.

As long as the system is under the influence of a
narcotic, no other medicine, if administered, can



56 TEMPERANCE AND PROHIBITION.

have its full effect, owing to the depression of the vital
forces. For the same reason all pain and suffering,
which are the indices ^of disease, are suppressed, and
the physician finds it impossible to locate the malady,
or form a correct judgment as to its cause or inten-
sity. If the disease is not a serious one, as, for in-
stance, an acute attack of neuralgia, the vitality will
overcome both the disorder and the drug ; but if the
case is of a dangerous character, and the patient is
persistently kept under its influence, death is almost
sure to result, it being only a question of time.

The true province of the physician is to discover
the cause of a disease and to assist Nature in remov-
ing it, always with a reverent conviction that, of the
two, himself or Nature, she is invariably the wiser.
It requires little medical knowledge to administer
alcohol or morphia, but a proper understanding of
the laws that govern our^ being is a profounder mat-
ter, and one of far deeper moment to ourselves and
humanity.

So popular has this practice of narcotizing become
in the medical profession that it is time that strenuous
efforts were made to convince people that its use is
dangerous. In this age of progressive thought, we
ought to know that anything that paralyzes the
efforts of nature when she is working to her utmost
to cast out disease, is wholly unreasonable, and, alas !
too often fatal in its results.

This prescribing of narcotics has led thousands of
men and women to become confirmed in the use of
morphia, from whose relentless grasp escape is almost
impossible.



CHAPTER XII,



LICENSING SYSTEMS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND
AMERICA.

THE granting of licenses for the sale of spirituous
liquors is not of recent origin. It dates back in
England some hundreds of years. Such licenses
were first granted by justices of the peace, and security
required of the applicant for good conduct and proper
management of the house. This right was exercised
by these officers of the law for nearly three hundred
years.

During the early part of the present century this
law was changed and the exclusive authority to grant
licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages was trans-
ferred to the Commissioners of Excise on the payment
of a certain sum, and the presentation of a certifi-
cate of character signed by six rate-payers. The
natural result of these easy terms was a rapid increase
of saloons, for the poorest and lowest characters were
able to obtain the right to maintain them. Two
classes of licenses were granted : One permitting
liquor to be drunk on the premises, and one to be
drunk off the premises. The latter was seldom re-
quired and consequently the country was overrun
with small drinking houses.

In 1869 Parliament passed an act assigning to the


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Online LibraryG. H StockhamTemperance and prohibition → online text (page 3 of 8)