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Intoxicants In The Home

As we think of the crime, of the misery and woe, that intoxicants bring to humanity, as we see the darkened chambers, the grief-stricken mourners, the desolate homes, the starving children, the helpless famishing babes; the riot, theft, robbery and murder, all caused by strong drink, we wonder that anything so hateful, so vile, should be allowed a place in any house where the inmates were endowed with any degree of intelligence. A thing the use of which will cause a father to murder his own child, a husband the wife whom he has vowed to love and cherish, a son the mother who bore him and loved him better than her own life; we say 'tis strange that any family will tamper with anything so polluting, or allow it a place in their home. Yet how many do, and we have not to go to the huts, in the lanes and by-ways, nor to the homes of poverty, on the outskirts of civilization, nor up the rickety stairs in the dirty alley, where filth, poverty and rags tell, too plainly, that intemperance has brought the occupants to the lowest round of society's ladder; but in homes of luxury and ease, in Christian homes, in the homes of many of the women of society is this viper nursed.

We do not wonder that our boys like strong drink, and take it, too, for have they not been taught at home that it was precious? It was almost the first thing they were greeted with when they entered the world. Their tender skin was bathed with the poisonous stuff, it was put under their noses, rubbed on their backs, poured down their throats, and the room was filled with the odor till they were compelled to like it; and if they could have reasoned, from their surroundings they would very soon have come to the conclusion that alcohol was the most valuable thing in existence. And as soon as they were old enough to reach the stand it was "Teddie, bring mamma the camphor bottle." Then, as they grew older, they saw father and mother taking their ale, or beer, their wine or brandy, their cider or bitters of course, "it was for medicine," and, "the doctor prescribed it," but what of that? That only gave higher sanction, still greater value, and what would be more natural than that the child should say, as he saw the free use that was made of intoxicants at home, " Liquor cannot be such very bad stuff after all, and I'm sure a little will do me no harm." So he takes the proffered glass; then again and again, till, finally, his brain becomes crazed, the crack of the pistol is heard, and the young man's career is ended by the lock of the murderer's cell; and the mother, too late, sees her mistake, and with breaking heart sinks into a premature grave. Ah, "at last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder!"

There are many who claim to be temperance women who, almost daily, take ale, beer, brandy or some intoxicant. One says, "I cannot keep up during the warm weather without beer," another says, "I am obliged to take it to keep off these terrible head aches," another says, "The doctor says I must take cod-liver oil and I cannot take that without liquor;" another woman is obliged to take bitters to get "strength" to do her work; another, wine or brandy "to tone up the system," one must use it to keep out the cold, another to endure the heat, and in every case "the doctor said so," and so it goes on until we find almost every family keeps the poison, in one form or another, in their home and almost every member of the family uses it.

No, we boldly affirm that this idea that intoxicants must be kept in the house, to prevent or cure diseases, is all delusion, all wrong, and one of the greatest of hindrances to the temperance cause. Dr. R. T. Trail, of New York, claimed, years ago, that it was of no earthly use as a medicine and always an injury to the human system, and that his success in curing diseases was much greater after he gave up using it than before. He also thought if all the doctors would stop prescribing liquors, all the people would soon become "teetotalers." Many of the most eminent physicians are now coming to the rescue and do not prescribe liquors, in any form, for their patients. We have recently read that many of the hospitals in the Eastern Continent, and some in America, where the most skillful physicians are employed, use no alcohol whatever. In fact, many prescribe for the most malignant diseases little or no medicines, but plenty of fresh air, blankets, beef tea and good nursing; and, really, this habit of "doping" every day, is all nonsense, and none know it better than the physicians themselves. Several physicians have told us that they often satisfy their own consciences and their patients by giving bread pills labeled some latin name, and they have been sent too again and again by their patients for "more of those pills," stating, solemnly, that "they were the only thing, that had ever helped them;" which shows what imagination will do.

The best chemists tell us that alcohol is an absolute poison, that it contains no nutritive, strengthening or healing properties and is the mortal foe of life in every one of its forms, and when taken into the system the whole animal economy speedily begins to expel it, and as one writer says : "by whatever road an enemy can escape, this seeks to escape from the body," and adds, it is a guest that departs, after giving a great deal of trouble without paying his bill, or remembering the servants."

There was one man that has looked into the human stomach and watched the digestive organs while at their work. Dr. Beaumont, an inquisitive U. S. army surgeon, was called to dress a severe wound which a young Canadian, Alex St. Martin, had received from the muzzle of a gun while standing only a few feet from it. The man recovered, which seemed almost a miracle, but the wound never healed but he had to wear a compress, and if this was removed one could look into his stomach and watch the process of digestion. Dr. Beaumont took advantage of this precious opportunity to gain knowledge for him-self. He brought the young man into his service, and at intervals, for eight years experimented upon him. If his stomach ached, or he felt ill in any way he could look into it and see just how it was affected. He could ascertain the exact time it took to digest certain articles of food, and the effect of each on the stomach. But we have only time to notice some of his testimony in regard to alcohol. This testimony is true and of weight, and the facts more significant, perhaps, as they come from one who seemed to know or care nothing about prohibition ; in fact he seemed never to have dreamed of "teetotalism." He said a glass of brandy caused the coats of the stomach to assume the same inflamed appearance as when he was very angry or greatly frightened. He ascertained, not guessed, but knew, that mustard, pepper, horse-radish, and all alcoholic drinks retarded digestion. "In every case," he says, "brandy played the part of a foe in his system, never that of a friend." And he tells us it made little difference whether St. Martin drank brandy, whisky, wine, cider or beer, only as one was stronger than the other, but that the slightest use of anything containing alcohol always produced disease, he knew it positively, for he had watched it hundreds of times watch in hand. But one thing which greatly surprised Dr. Beaumont was, that his system could be so greatly diseased sometimes without his being but little inconvenienced by it at once, but nature, he found, always had her dues sooner or later. " Simple water," he says, "is all that is called for by the wants of economy; all artificial drinks are more or less injurous."

Once alcohol was thought to be a help to one to endure severe cold, now, almost everybody knows that one can endure more without it; this has been proven thousands of times. Dr. Rea, whose powers of endurance were put to the severest test, when on the pedestrian tours in the Polar regions, says, "brandy greatly lessens a man's power to endure cold and fatigue."

When Russian troops are about to start upon a march, in severe cold weather, no liquor is allowed to be served to them. The testimony of hunters and trappers, in our northern climates, is, that when severe cold is to be resisted no alcohol must enter the system. Whole volumes of evidence on this point, against alcohol, could be given. Neither is alcohol a strength giver. Richard Cobden, while laboring so hard in the English House of Commons, during the great "Corn Law struggle," said, "the more work I have to do the more I have resorted to the pump and the tea-pot."

Tom Sayers knew what he was doing when he said, "I'm no 'teetotlar,' but when I've business on hand there's nothing like water and the dumb bells." Dr. Franklin said, "on an occasion I carried up and down stairs a large form of type in each hand, while the other workmen, some 50 in number, could carry only one in both hands;" then he gives as a reason for the difference that they drank beer and he drank only water.

Parton says, " The best trainers now give their men only water," and adds, " that he who would do his very best and most in rowing, lifting, running, fighting, climbing, speaking or writing, must not admit into his system one drop of alcohol." As a brain power every one knows that alcohol is a deadly foe to that, and we have only to look at the men who use intoxicants to see the deteriorating effect it has on the intellect. As one writer has said,

It is physically impossible for a brain muddled every day with beer to correctly hold correct opinions or appropriate pure knowledge, and, that "the receptive, the curious, the candid, the trustworthy brains, these that do not take things for granted, and are open to conviction, such heads are only on the shoulders of men who use little or none of these seductive fluids." Yet with volumes of such facts, from the most intelligent minds, before the people, one half of the number of persons asked to sign the pledge will say, " Liquor is good in its place." We say, it may be, but its place is out of existence, and the sooner it is put there the better it will be for mankind. The sin and misery it has entailed upon humanity could not be blotted out in a thousand years if it was put out of existence to-day. The Lord knew what was for the good of his children when he said to them, "Look not upon the wine when it is red," and when Christian people learn that God's word is truth, and that it is for their guide, instead of His, and, "touch not, taste not, handle not the unclean thing," then the world will not hear the tramp, tramp, tramp, of eighty thousand men, each year, going down to drunkards' graves. When Christian parents, not only preach temperance but practice it, and banish all intoxicants from the home, so that children, in the parent's absence, may search the house from garret to cellar and find not a particle of alcohol in it, not even a camphor bottle then will our boys be safe, for the greatly needed, and long prayed for, temperance reform will come, and we can write upon our banners victory! victory!

( Originally Published 1887 )

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