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blood vessels burst, sometimes on the brain, and cause instant death; sometimes in the lungs, and afflict for life that mysterious purifier of the blood? Is it wonderful that by the bursting of over-worked, over-heated, and poisoned vessels, “diseased deposits" should be formed which may ulcerate the lungs, ossify the heart, produce cancers and calculi of various descriptions and kinds?
Bleeding at the nose, hæmorrhoidal and other diseased fluxes and swellings occur from the same cause. As alcohol, especially, seeks the heart, the seat of life, and propels it with a deadly velocity, and seeks the brain, the seat of thought, intelligence, and moral judgment, and, by loading the blood vessels of that delicate organ, encumbers the head, is it to be wondered at that palpitation of the heart ensues, or that the mind is too confused to think, or that the eye becomes dim, the ears deaf, and the tongue clammy? Persons that drink stimulating liquors have a swimming in their heads, a dimness before their vision, a ringing in their ears, a nervous sense of obstruction in the organs of speech, a supposed ball rising up in their throats, and a palsied shake of the hand, and tottering of the limbs. And nothing could be more natural than that it should be so.
The brain, whence all the nerves of the frame beautifully and delicately ramify in ten thousand different directions, is put under a confused and unhealthy excitement, and therefore all the messengers which it sends forth, to accomplish volition, to collect information, or bring home intelligence, are injured, weakened, and doomed to be partakers of the confusion of the head. Hence, vision is misty from the intoxication of the nerve of the eye-the hearing is diseased from the unnatural action of the nerves of the ear—and the tongue, the throat, the hands, the feet, are all equally disturbed in the performance of their duty. Unnatural sounds are heard, unnatural sights are seen, unearthly voices are uttered, and the whole man is more like a puppet danced by wires than a being who has nerves, brain, and a human soul associated with these, to regulate his movements, and guide him in the interpretation of his sensations.
It must not be supposed that what has just been described are the feelings of the intemperate alone; they are the asso
ciates of moderate drinking in ten thousand instances. What is more common than to meet with men of athletic form and bulk superannuated before they are fifty; unable to read, write, or cast accounts, because of a dizziness in the head; unable to think, speak, or act, because of their nervous affections? These gentlemen, though six feet high, like sentimental girls, have a supposed hysterical ball in the throat, and must have a smellingbottle, or a perfumed snuff-box, to keep them from fainting; must wash in eau-de-cologne to keep up their spirits, or must carry camphorated or other lozenges in their pockets to prevent their swooning in company. These all know that the bottle would be an instantaneous reviver; but then they have learnt by experience that excitement from such a source would only, after the fumes of the spirit had evaporated, or rather, perhaps, intoxicated every nerve, muscle, and blood-vessel of their body, render them more dyspeptic, bilious, and tottering. What a wonder that they do not allow Nature to finish their education in dietetics. She has taught them that partial abstinence from these drinks is good, and if they would but listen to her suggestions, she would show them that total abstinence would be their effectual cure. It will soon be seen that what are laughed at as the vagaries of tetotalers are, after all, the benevolent dictates of our constitution, and that Nature has preached total abstinence from the days of Adam. By headaches, by indigestion, by trembling nerves, palpitating hearts, erysipelatous and dropsical limbs; by bile, hæmorrhage, consumption, asthma, and hepatic affections, she has long been calling upon men to abstain from these poisonous potations.
The writer of this essay always, in using these drinks, observed the rules of moderation; but, nevertheless, was doomed for years to a miserable existence from this cause alone. My nervous feelings were such that I have often risen up to walk, to see if my limbs would move; and repeatedly have spoken aloud to ascertain if my speech was not altogether gone. A constant mist floated before my eyes; sounds rung in my ears; an unnatural weight, or sensation of weight, oppressed my head, and made it painful to stoop; a knock at the door shook my whole frame, and family prayer was repeatedly postponed from
inability and want of voice to pass through the duty. Flatulency, to a degree that seemed to threaten all the functions of life was my daily companion, and has often compelled me to rise up by night and exert myself most vigorously to remove the undesirable tightness across the chest which it occasioned. Biliousness rendered almost every kind of food nauseating. The greater part of the wholesome and nutritious “good creatures of God" were placed under the ban of my diseased stomach, whose healthy powers were destroyed by this accursed creature of man. My heart used to beat so loud after retiring to bed, that for some time I could get no sleep. My rest was never refreshing, because a diseased stomach and stimulated brain and nerves tortured me with dreams, sometimes the most horrific that can be imagined; besides what is vulgarly termed the cramp and nightmare, which arose from the action of alcohol on my nerves and muscles, used frequently to disturb my rest. Constipation, which sometimes seemed to bid defiance to the strongest medicine, made me wretched from day to day. Frequently have I expected every minute to faint, especially when in company. The feeling that I should instantly fall down dead haunted me everywhere.
I used, when from home, always to take a card in my pocket lest I should drop dead in the street, and my friends might not hear of me. In reading the word of God, or the Church service, I was compelled to select short chapters, and the length of the thanksgiving used to shake my whole frame. Such are a few of the evils I endured.
Physicians told me my disease was clerical, and I must give up study, drink weak brandy-and-water, or a glass of wine per day. Having drunk more wine and brandy than usual during the cholera, I providentially discovered that spirits disagreed with me, and gave them up entirely. My nerves got better, and my health altogether improved. Still I took a little homebrewed beer daily, and occasionally a little wine, and dear enough had I to pay for the indulgence. The arguments of James Teare, four years ago, induced me to try "total abstinence," and all my complaints almost instantly fled. I am never troubled with bile; I never need medicine. I hardly
know that I have either a head, stomach, or nerves, because they never pain me. I can eat whatever comes to hand without fear of bile or indigestion. I can sleep soundly, and am rarely troubled with dreams. I can read and study for days together without pain or injury. Indeed mental exercise seems to be advantageous. I can preach four times on the Sabbath, and often without the least fatigue. But, for total abstinence, I am sure that I must now have been on the superannuated list of ministers; while, from adopting that principle, my life is pleasurable and my labors refreshing. I used to feel such fatigue on Monday as to be unfit for anything; but now I can rise at four or five o'clock on Monday morning, and commence the closest study without the least inconvenience. I have mentioned my own
case, because I have reason to believe that, in my former feelings, I had a thousand brother dyspeptics among studious and professional men, who could enter into all the feelings that I have described, and who might obtain a cure by following the principle I have adopted.
Nothing can be more absurd than for a man, whose employment or profession calls for mental exercise and excitement, to drink intoxicating or any stimulating drinks. Surely commercial calculations and enterprises, preparing for the bar, the pulpit, or the senate, are excitements enough, without stimulating the head with a material spirit. I know, from a good many experiments, that a glass of wine, in the fatigue it produces, is quite equal to an extra sermon.
The old mode of passing the Sunday was enough to shatter a brain and nerves of iron. 1. The excitement and mental activity in preparing for the pulpit, which greatly exercised the brain. 2. The labor of going through the service, which, whether pleasant or painful, still agitated the brain. 3. When service was over, a glass of wine, which immediately went to the head. 4. Dinner, and another glass of beer or wine, still going to the nerves. 5. Afternoon service, all mental and exciting to the brain. 6. Tea or coffee, all highly stimulating, and operating immediately upon the nerves and brain. 7. Preparations for evening service still agitating the head. 8. Reading, prayer, and sermon, each a mental effort, and keeping the head excited.
9. After service, a glass of wine, which inflamed the already jaded-headed. 10. Supper, attended with some alcoholic drink to digest the whole and give sleep! And to all this may be added a stomach, rendered by these intoxicating potations, unfit for the work of digestion, and while the brain and nerves were suffering from exhaustion, dyspepsy prevented the food from being changed into the nutritious aliment that nature demanded.
Thus the body was doomed to extraordinary labor and exhaustion, and was at the same time robbed of the support which well-digested food would have furnished. Could anything be more absurd than such a mode of proceeding? Rest and wholesome diet are the two resources of our frame when worn out by labor; but in this case both were denied. The brain, by study, preaching, praying and alcohol, was not allowed a minute's rest. And, as digestion was impaired, the waste of the body was not supplied by nutrition, and, instead thereof, was inflamed with a poison. Is it any wonder that ministers, commercial men, senators, and others, often become paralytic, or are disabled by dyspeptic and nervous affections? I will leave others to judge whether my present mode of life is or is not most likely to conduce to health.
Let us take the Sabbath. 1. Rise at half-past five, and, before leaving home, take a small portion of food, and then a gentle walk into the country. 2. Short service, prayer meeting, or preaching for about an hour. 3. Gentle walk home, by which the blood is drawn from the head to the feet, and the brain is rested and fitted for the next service. Breakfast, if necessary, is also now finished, which, by causing a tendency of the blood to the stomach, equally rests the brain, and keeps up a healthful circulation. 4. The ten o'clock service, easy to the head and nerves, because each have been enjoying repose. 5. After service, the brain, instead of being excited by alcohol, allowed to rest. 6. Dinner of nutritious food, but nothing alcoholic taken, either to render the food indigestible, ulcerate the stomach, or agitate the head. 7. Afternoon or evening service, for which the body, re-invigorated with food, and the brain with rest, are amply prepared, and the labor itself becomes rather refreshing and