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alcohol. Lime is not itself a plant food, except in special cases, but it unlocks and renders available to plants the store of food that exists in the soil, but is inaccessible to the plants, and that without the aid of lime would be locked up against them. Similarly, though alcohol is not a food itself, it does without the slightest doubt enable many people to assimilate and digest food that without its aid would be unavailable to them."
The speaker observed that he was not as willfully blind to the ill effects of alcohol in certain cases as the teetotalers are to its merits. He did not say that because food is good for everyone in moderation, and when they are hungry, therefore everyone who is allowed to have food will eat till he bursts; nor did he say that because some people eat till they burst, therefore no one should be allowed to touch food. There seemed to him to be a want of logic somewhere in this reasoning, but the teetotalers do not recognize these subtle distinctions. With them, the man who will not agree that alcohol is the most virulent poison in the pharmacopoeia, who will not admit that "one or two at most, drops make a cat a ghost, useless to roast," is a shameless and irreclaimable drunkard.
In conclusion, Dr. Mercier asked: "Is it not clear that if alcohol has the power of enabling us to draw upon our reserve of energy, then we have in it an agent that may be of the greatest possible service in grave emergencies? And although it is open to abuse as what useful agent is not?—yet on occasion it is most valuable and precious, and is not to be reviled and discarded because a comparatively small number of defective persons abuse it."
It is not well established that certain narcotics induce or produce disease. Discussion as to the degere of harmfulness of alcohol has raged for many years, but, unfortunately, argument regarding it seems to bring about an incoherence of the reasoning faculties. One can easily understand that the ordinary individual will assert his opinions with prejudice and fanaticism, but one is astonished to discover a great diversity of views, as to the effects of alcohol, among scientists and members of the medical profession.
Scientific men, even of the first rank, display as great lack of restraint in discussing this phase of the matter as do the most partisan disputants on both sides of the question.
In his recently published book, "The Way With the Nerves," Dr. Joseph Collins holds that it is still a moot point whether alcohol in small quantities is injurious. Moderate drinkers are constantly met with in society, who seem to perform their duties and conduct their business with as much ability and success as total abstainers.
A large amount of capital has been made by the extreme temperance reformers out of the statement, so frequently made by alienists, that alcohol is to a great extent responsible for the prevalence of insanity in all civilized countries. The fact, however, appears to be lost sight of that in Great Britain, for instance, according to statistics, insanity has increased in recent years by leaps and bounds, while pari passu, drinking has decreased. There can be no defense of drinking to excess. On the other hand, no conclusive proofs have been adduced to show that strictly moderate drinking is harmful in any high degree. There are no real facts founded on scientific investigation to show that the habitual use of alcohol in small quantities is dangerous to the adult consumer, or perilous to his descendants.
Dr. Collins maintains that the question "Is Alcohol a Food?” is not germane to the discussion, even though so much is made of it. He remarks that nobody has endeavored to find out if tobacco is a food; or if theatre-going is an ailment, or if listening to music increases our oxidation. The question is: Does indulgence in one or all of them make life more worth living? Its non-injuriousness being assured, there is rather a general unanimity of belief that temperate indulgence in the cup that cheers and likewise inebriates, contributes materially to the joy of living, smooths many rough places, cheers many despairing minds, and brings respite to many sorrowing souls.
Sensible persons, in Dr. Collins's view, cannot be frightened into abstaining from alcohol. There are no real incontestable facts to show that the so-called idiopathic nervous and mental disorders are caused by parental alcoholism. Furthermore, he does not believe that anything is to be gained from statistics as they have been collected in the past. "Alcohol is a potent factor in the causation of nervous and mental diseases," is a statement that is frequently encountered in medical and lay writings. But aside from one nervous disease, multiple neuritis, and two or three well defined varities of insanity, there is not the slightest demonstrable evidence
that such a statement is true. The same may be said of most, possibly all, of the organic diseases attributed to alcohol, such as arteriosclerosis, diabetes, gout, etc.
In concluding this part of his subject, the author says:
"Consumption of liquor is well-nigh universal, and from time immemorial whenever man has had the chance, he has had recourse to it as an adjuvant to every pleasurable indulgence and undertaking; and this condition of affairs is not going to cease under the influence of fanatical cries from the housetops about the injuries that temperate consumers are doing themselves."
A REAL TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT.
Mr. Adolphe Smith, F.C.S., special sanitary commissioner of the London Lancet and a delegate to the late Congress of Hygiene and Demography, at Washington, D. C., expressed some interesting views on the alcohol question through the Washington Star.
Mr. Smith was not satisfied with the uncertain attitude of the Congress as to the great public questions of hygiene and medicine. He pointed out that the views of the previous Congress as to alcoholism— to wit: that it is mainly produced by improperly manufactured drinks had been adopted by the Russian Government. As a result, Russia was now vigorously enforcing legislation corrective of the evil. Mr. Smith continued:
"The United States is a great field for a vigorous movement along this line. It would be the greatest movement for temperance ever attempted to make all hygienic drinks free from taxation of any kind. Every effort ought to be made to give the people hygienic drinks at as low a cost as possible. By hygienic drinks I mean fresh claret, real beer, cider, peary, and the like.
"It makes me angry that here in America, where the people should enjoy every blessing, and where there is every facility for making good wine and beer, they are taxed unreasonably and ignorantly. France has no tax on wine. It is obtainable in that country at the small cost of 3 cents a bottle; it is practically a part of every person's meal, as bread and butter are in America, and yet there is little drunkenness in France. There may be some drunkenness in France-in Brittany and Normandy, where they do not grow grapes and drink spirits, but in other parts of the republic drunkenness is practically unknown. You know there is a vast difference between spirits and hygienic drinks. I would not ex
empt spirits from taxation. Spirits make men drunk, but beer and real claret do not intoxicate. One might get drunk from drinking too much beer or wine, but then would a person become a glutton because he might on one occasion eat too much? Beer and wine do not make drunkards."
Mr. Smith declared that if the Congress of Hygiene and Demography would go on record as favoring the removal of taxes on all hygienic drinks, it would start the greatest temperance movement that has ever been known. He believes that such a movement would be opposed only by the teetotalers and the manufacturers of spirituous liquors.
HUMOR IN THE LIQUOR QUESTION.
The liquor question, although ordinarily a dull and overworked subject, often presents phases which challenge the spirit of humor. And occasionally much wisdom is thereby brought to light.
Life has had its witty say on the great controversy as to Mr. Roosevelt's drinking habits, and very cleverly it adduces the moral of the matter.
The world is now sure, remarks Life, that both Colonel Roosevelt and Dr. Lyman Abbott are both very temperate men, and that though they both drink a little wine on occasion, neither of them ever gets drunk enough to show visible signs of stimulation. Life continues:
"Various contemporaries suggest that the example of these illustrious men will tempt persons unsuited to the effort to attempt feats of self-control in the presence of liquor. The argument implied is one that Mr. Bryan has lately patronized, that it is better not to drink at all, for fear an example of moderation may tempt somebody to excess. But the root of that argument is withered. Abstinence for example's sake is like doing good to be seen of men. There is a taint of pose in it. The only example that is good for much in the long run is the sort that is the sincere expression of the doer's inward sentiments and nature. That has force. The argument. 'Don't drink anything because so many people drink too much,' is no better, as we see it, than the argument. 'Don't get married because so many people make a mess of it,' or 'Don't go to sea because quite a lot of people who went have been drowned.' That sort of argument has no great strength of appeal to vigorous minds. It may serve a special turn sometimes, but it is not a fit basis for a rule of life."
LIGHT FOR REFORMERS.
An investigation made by the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, into the circumstances of 6,730 dependent families, discloses that in 40 per cent. of the cases the dependence is due to sickness, in 37 per cent. to unemployment and in only 5 per cent. to intemperance. The report is striking, says the New York World, because so many reformers and so many students of poverty and of crime insist that the larger part of poverty and nearly all of crime are due to the cause here held responsible for so small a percentage.
An important fact brought out in the report of the Government Hospital for the Insane, recently submitted to Secretary of the Interior Fisher, is that out of nearly 3,000 patients in the institution only three are being treated for insanity brought on by the use of alcohol-contrary to the generally accepted theory, which attributes to alcoholism a large proportion of the unfortunates.
CATHOLICS AND THE LIQUOR QUESTION.
From the Western Watchman, organ of the Roman Catholic Church in the West, we quote the following editorial utterance:
"Nothing has hurt the total abstinence cause in the United States so much as the intemperate zeal of some of its advocates. The Church does not condemn the use of wine. She inculcates temperance in all things. She approves total abstinence as a mortification; she sometimes counsels it as a protection. The men who have been preaching the obligation of total abstinence for all, and have proclaimed prohibition as the crying need of our time, have been singing a false and jarring note in the chorus of reform.
"At the late national convention of the National Total Abstinence Union the Holy Father's blessing was read, accompanied by the fatherly admonition to steer clear in the future of prohibition and all extreme views on the liquor question. The advice of the Holy Father was received with the profoundest reverence, and it is safe to say that the Prohibition cause will no more look to Catholic organizations for encouragement and support."
A. G. HUPFEL, JR., Chairman
HENRY A. RUETER
HUGH F. Fox, Secretary