« السابقةمتابعة »
from the surface of some of them exuded small drops of grumous blood; the ulcerous patches were larger and more numerous; the mucous covering thicker than usual, and the gastric secretions much more vitiated. The gastric fluids extracted were mixed with a large proportion of thick ropy mucous, and a considerable muco-purulent discharge, slightly tinged with blood, resembling discharges from the bowels in some cases of dysentery. Notwithstanding this diseased appearance of the stomach, no very essential aberration of its functions was manifested. St. Martin complained of no symptoms indicating any general derangement of the system, except an uneasy sensation and tenderness at the pit of the stomach, and some vertigo, with dimness and yellowness of vision on stooping down and rising up again." Dr. Beaumont further observed, that "The free use of ardent spirits, wine, beer, or any other intoxicating liquor, when continued for some days, has invariably produced these changes."
I have introduced these experiments and observations of the effects of fermented liquors upon the stomach, for the purpose of showing that this insidious poison commences its work of destruction as soon as it comes in contact with the digestive organs. It does not wait until it has spread through the frame, but it actually attacks the very first member it touches. The mouth and palate dismiss it immediately. It would probably cure the worst of sots of his propensity, if you could fix a plug in his throat, and doom him to keep his mouth full of gin and water, or strong beer for a whole day. It is a query, whether his tongue, subjected to twelve hours' action of alcohol upon its surface, would have any skin on it at night. But the tongue is far less liable to hurt from such a source than the inner coats of the stomach and the blood-vessels. These delicate organs are, therefore, peculiarly susceptible of injury from this "acrid poison."
The stomach, which is one of the most important laboratories of our frame, is injured as soon as this vile spirit enters it. It becomes, as actual observation has now demonstrated, “inflamed and ulcerated." The gastric juice is greatly lessened and vitiated, and in a short time mixed with a large proportion
of thick, ropy mucous, and a considerable muco-purulent discharge, slightly tinged with blood, resembling the discharge from the bowels in some cases of dysentery.” And will any one say that the gastric juice is bettered by being thus mixed with the corrupt discharge of ulcers? or that the stomach can perform its functions better when it is "inflamed and ulcerated" than when it is sound and healthy? Were we to apply to our hands, and feet, and tongues, a poison which would blister and ulcerate them, should we be able to work better, talk better, or move about with more pleasure? What madness, then, to subject so delicate an organ as the stomach to these inconveniences! But it must not be forgotten that it is in the stomach, and by the help of the gastric juice that the food undergoes that vital change which fits it for nutrition. If what we eat is not digested, it cannot nourish us.
Now, Dr. Beaumont found that you could not mix the gastric juice even with distilled water, which is allowed to be one of the purest diluents in nature, without injuring its properties, and staying digestion. He put a piece of meat into a phial of pure gastric juice, and another piece into some that was diluted; both were subjected to the same heat, but the meat in the phial that contained the undiluted juice was digested best and soonest. And if it could not be improved by so simple a substance as distilled water, much less could it be improved by mixture with such a poison as alcohol, which both ulcerates the stomach, and hardens the food which is taken.
Alcohol is an antiseptic; we put bodies into it to preserve them from decay. Can anything, then, be more absurd than to saturate our food with an antiseptic that it may dissolve the better? Should we commend the wisdom of the potter who should first harden the clay, that he might render it more plastic? And yet we are guilty of greater folly in swallowing a drink which renders the food harder, and more difficult of digestion, and boast of doing so for the purpose of increasing its digestibleness! Fermented liquor, instead of improving the gastric juice, ulcerates the stomach, and eventually corrupts this marvellous solvent with purulent matter, and instead of increasing its quantity, actually lessens it, and at the same time covers
the lining of the stomach with sores and ulcers; and are these things good for digestion?
Let us put them together, and look at them again, or rather let us prescribe the following remedy for dyspepsy. 1. Food rendered indigestible by an antiseptic poison. 2. The gastric juice diminished to a less quantity than the digestion of the food positively demands. 2. The same juice diluted with the pus that has exuded from an ulcer. 4. A stomach covered with sores and inflammatory wounds, produced by the fiery irritations of an acrid poison! The physician who should prescribe such a remedy for the dyspeptic would be deemed more fit for St. Luke's than a dispensary; and yet this is the panacea, the heal-all, that every medical adviser recommends, who directs his patients or his friends to drink fermented or distilled liquors for indigestion or any other disease! We should scarcely pour salt into a fountain in order that the stream might be sweet, nor would a chimist render his retorts and jars fusible or corrosive that his gases might be the purer; yet this is what we do in drinking alcoholic drinks. We pour a poison into the blood which corrupts and inflames it, and we do so to make it pure! We ulcerate the stomach to render it more capable of its functions! And what is the result of all this? Why that indigestion is become a national disease. The athletic husbandman, whose frame, in former years, was braced with nerves of iron, and who laughed at the weakling who talked of being nervous, now, from drinking ale and cider, trembles like an aspen leaf; and this sturdy rustic, who, in the days of our fathers, never felt that he had a stomach, now goes to the druggist for carbonate of soda, or keeps in his bed-room a box of antibilious bills!
The medical witnesses before the House of Commons, agreed in stating that indigestion among the laboring classes is altogether a new disease, and all equally agreed in attributing it to strong drinks. On hearing a youth complaining of being nervous, an old woman, the other day, exclaimed, “Nervous ! nervous ! People had no nerves when I was young!" They had what was better. They had nerves in a healthy state, and therefore they were never reminded by diseased tremors, that they had any nerves at all. Savages, that have none of our stimulants, have
scarcely more than one disease among them, and that disease is death not sudden, or from apoplexy-but from the shaft of the warrior, or the gradual decay of nature, unless famine may have intervened. Our strong and wholesome ales and ciders, as they are called, our potent wines and cordials, as they are puffed, instead of bracing, have shaken, the nerves of the nation, and made us tremble at a shadow.
Some, perhaps, have it in their power to gratify a vitiated taste more than others, and by stimulating their frames till, to use the strong language of Dr. Farre, their "brains rend," may feel little of nervousness, and consequently have a short life and a merry one, and rush into eternity uncalled for, and before they have "accomplished as an hireling their day." Some may have a particularly robust frame, so that it may have taken them sixty or seventy years to break up their constitutions; but these are exceptions, and their number is gradually decreasing, and we are getting weaker and weaker as a people.
Indigestion is born with us, and the infant that hangs at his mother's breast pines day and night under the pangs of dyspepsy, while the nutritious stream, that nature has provided for its sustenance, poisoned with the alcohol that his mother drinks, feeds the disease, and condemns him to a life of suffering. The ploughman, who breathes the purest air of heaven, and the delicate lady, who cannot inhale a volume of the wholesome atmosphere without a cold, heave sigh for sigh over their shattered nerves and disordered digestive organs. Warriors and lawyers, ministers, senators, and huntsmen, all suffer from bile, indigestion, and a swimming in the head. The lords and ladies of creation have changed the lovely rouge of nature for the sallow tinges of jaundice, bile, or disorganized liver. Every newspaper has its long advertisements of antibilious quackery, and the pill-box is become an essential part of the furniture of the toilet and dressing case. Morison, and a thousand other quacks, have reaped princely fortunes in catering for stomachs and nerves which alcoholic drinks have ulcerated or sha ered. "Doctors," as Abernethy said, "have multiplied beyond all precedent, and diseases have kept pace with them." Never were there such a host of physicians, nor of maladies which they feel incompetent to
These diseases are not in the pure atmosphere of heaven, are not in the wholesome farina of wheat, the starch of potatoes, or the fibre and gelatine of animal food. These painful affections belong not essentially to the frame which God has given us. They are not natural, but acquired, and acquired from the use of alcohol more than from any other source. We drink a poison, innoculate ourselves with disease, and then impiously exclaim, "That it has pleased God to give us a diseased constitution!" That it has pleased him to associate poison and pain together is a wise provision, to deter us from infecting our bodies and shortening our lives; but that it has pleased him arbitrarily, and without any fault of ours, to scourge us with indigestion, nervousness, apoplexy, and aneurism, is a reflection on his goodness that falls little short of blasphemy. "He doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men." What can be more impious than to manufacture a deleterious spirit; to destroy millions' worth of nutritious food; to drink a pestiferous bowl and send the poison through our veins; and then charge a God of love with arbitrarily dooming us to disease and a premature tomb !
Dr. Dods tells us, in the passage already quoted, that "alcohol coagulates the albuminous and gelatinous parts of our structure, and corrugates the solid parts, as the muscles, &c." Surely nature never intended that we should thus curd the juices of our frame, or contract and wrinkle the muscles which God intended for the vigorous and pleasurable movements of our bodies! Under the increased excitement of alcohol, the same physiologist informs us that "the circulation is quickened," and the "diameter of the vessels, through which the blood has to flow, is diminished." More work is demanded at the very time that the capacity of these wonderful tubes for their labor is decreased. In the wise economy of nature, a given amount of blood, with a given force, in a given time," and through pipes of a given and proper "diameter" is to be circulated; by drinking intoxicating drinks, we increase the quantity of fluid which we have changed into fiery contaminated blood, we increase the force that propels it, we shorten the time in which it is to be done and at the same moment, decrease the diameter of the tubes through which it is to pass—and is it any wonder that