THE GROWTH AND POWER OF APPETITE.
One fact attendant on habitual drinking stands out so prominently that none can call it in question. It is that of the steady growth of appetite. There are exceptions, as in the action of nearly every rule; but the almost invariable result of the habit we have mentioned, is, as we have said, a steady growth of appetite for the stimulant imbibed. That this is in consequence of certain morbid changes in the physical condition produced by the alcohol itself, will hardly be questioned by any one who has made himself acquainted with the various functional and organic derangements which invariably follow the continued introduction of this substance into the body.
But it is to the fact itself, not to its cause, that we now wish to direct the reader's attention. The man who is satisfied at first with a single glass of wine at dinner, finds, after awhile, that appetite asks for a little more; and, in time, a second glass is conceded. The increase of desire may be very slow, but it goes on surely until, in the end, a whole bottle will scarcely suffice, with far too many, to meet its imperious demands. It is the same in regard to the use of every other form of alcoholic drink.
Now, there are men so constituted that they are able, for a long series of years, or even for a whole lifetime, to hold this appetite within a certain limit of indulgence. To say "So far, and no farther." They suffer ultimately from physical ailments, which surely follow the prolonged contact of alcoholic poison with the delicate structures of the body, many of a painful character, and shorten the term of their natural lives; but still they are able to drink without an increase of appetite so great as to reach an overmastering degree. They do not become abandoned drunkards.
NO MAN SAFE WHO DRINKS.
But no man who begins the use of alcohol in any form can tell what, in the end, is going to be its effect on his body or mind. Thousands and tens of thousands, once wholly unconscious of danger from this source, go down yearly into drunkards' graves. There is no standard by which any one can measure the latent evil forces in his inherited nature. He may have from ancestors, near or remote, an unhealthy moral tendency, or physical diathesis, to which the peculiarly disturbing influence of alcohol will give the morbid condition in which it will find its disastrous life. That such results follow the use of alcohol in a large number of cases, is now a well-known fact in the history of inebriation. During the past few years, the subject of alcoholism, with the mental and moral causes leading thereto, have attracted a great deal of earnest attention. Physicians, superintendents of inebriate and lunatic asylums, prison-keepers, legislators and philanthropists have been observing and studying its many sad and terrible phases, and recording results and opinions. While differences are held on some points, as, for instance, whether drunkenness is a disease for which, after it has been established, the individual ceases to be responsible, and should be subject to restraint and treatment, as for lunacy or fever; a crime to be punished; or a sin to be repented of and healed by the Physician of souls, all agree that there is an inherited or acquired mental and nervous condition with many, which renders any use of alcohol exceedingly dangerous.
The point we wish to make with the reader is, that no man can possibly know, until he has used alcoholic drinks for a certain period of time, whether he has or has not this hereditary or acquired physical or mental condition; and that, if it should exist, a discovery of the fact may come too late.
Dr. D.G. Dodge, late Superintendent of the New York State Inebriate Asylum, speaking of the causes leading to intemperance, after stating his belief that it is a transmissible disease, like "scrofula, gout or consumption," says:
"There are men who have an organization, which may be termed an alcoholic idiosyncrasy; with them the latent desire for stimulants, if indulged, soon leads to habits of intemperance, and eventually to a morbid appetite, which has all the characteristics of a diseased condition of the system, which the patient, unassisted, is powerless to relieve--since the weakness of the will that led to the disease obstructs its removal.
"Again, we find in another class of persons, those who have had healthy parents, and have been educated and accustomed to good social influences, moral and social, but whose temperament and physical constitution are such, that, when they once indulge in the use of stimulants, which they find pleasurable, they continue to habitually indulge till they cease to be moderate, and become excessive drinkers. A depraved appetite is established, that leads them on slowly, but surely, to destruction."
A DANGEROUS DELUSION.
In this chapter, our chief purpose is to show the growth and awful power of an appetite which begins striving for the mastery the moment it is indulged, and against the encroachments of which no man who gives it any indulgence is absolutely safe. He who so regards himself is resting in a most dangerous delusion. So gradually does it increase, that few observe its steady accessions of strength until it has acquired the power of a master. Dr. George M. Burr, in a paper on the pathology of drunkenness, read before the "American Association for the Cure of Inebriates," says, in referring to the first indications of an appetite, which he considers one of the symptoms of a forming disease, says: "This early stage is marked by an occasional desire to drink, which recurs at shorter and shorter intervals, and a propensity, likewise, gradually increasing for a greater quantity at each time. This stage has long been believed to be one of voluntary indulgence, for which the subject of it was morally responsible. The drinker has been held as criminal for his occasional indulgence, and his example has been most severely censured. This habit, however, must be regarded as the first intimation of the approaching disease--the stage of invasion, precisely as sensations of mal-aise and chills usher in a febrile attack.
"It is by no means claimed that in this stage the subject is free from responsibility as regards the consequences of his acts, or that his case is to be looked upon as beyond all attempts at reclamation. Quite to the contrary. This is the stage for active interference. Restraint, prohibition, quarantine, anything may be resorted to, to arrest the farther advance of the disease. Instead of being taught that the habit of occasional drinking is merely a moral lapsus (not the most powerful restraining motive always), the subject of it should be made to understand that it is the commencement of a malady, which, if unchecked, will overwhelm him in ruin, and, compared with which, cholera and yellow fever are harmless. He should be impressed with the fact that the early stage is the one when recuperation is most easy--that the will then has not lost its power of control, and that the fatal propensity is not incurable. The duty of prevention, or avoidance, should be enforced with as much earnestness and vigor as we are required to carry out sanitary measures against the spread of small-pox or any infectious disease. The subject of inebriety may be justly held responsible, if he neglects all such efforts, and allows the disease to progress without a struggle to arrest it.
"The formative stage of inebriety continues for a longer or shorter period, when, as is well known, more frequent repetitions of the practice of drinking are to be observed. The impulse to drink grows stronger and stronger, the will-power is overthrown and the entire organism becomes subject to the fearful demands for stimulus. It is now that the stage of confirmed inebriation is formed, and dypso-mania fully established. The constant introduction of alcohol into the system, circulating with the fluids and permeating the tissues, adds fuel to the already enkindled flame, and intensifies the propensity to an irresistible degree. Nothing now satisfies short of complete intoxication, and, until the unhappy subject of the disease falls senseless and completely overcome, will he cease his efforts to gratify this most insatiable desire."
Dr. Alexander Peddie, of Edinburgh, who has given twenty years of study to this subject, remarked, in his testimony before a Committee of the House of Commons, that there seemed to be "a peculiar elective affinity for the action of alcohol on the nervous system after it had found its way through the circulation into the brain," by which the whole organism was disturbed, and the man rendered less able to resist morbid influences of any kind. He gave many striking instances of the growth and power of appetite, which had come under his professional notice, and of the ingenious devices and desperate resorts to which dypsomaniacs were driven in their efforts to satisfy their inordinate cravings. No consideration, temporal or spiritual, had any power to restrain their appetite, if, by any means, fair or foul, they could obtain alcoholic stimulants. To get this, he said, the unhappy subject of this terrible thirst "will tell the most shameful lies--for no truth is ever found in connection with the habitual drunkard's state. He never yet saw truth in relation to drink got out of one who was a dypsomaniac--he has sufficient reason left to tell these untruths, and to understand his position, because people in that condition are seldom dead drunk; they are seldom in the condition of total stupidity; they have generally an eye open to their own affairs, and that which is the main business of their existence, namely, how to get drink. They will resort to the most ingenious, mean and degrading contrivances and practices to procure and conceal liquor, and this, too, while closely watched; and will succeed in deception, although fabulous quantities are daily swallowed."
Dr. John Nugent gives a case which came within his own knowledge, of a lady who had been
A MOST EXEMPLARY NUN
for fifteen or twenty years. In consequence of her devotion to the poor, attending them in fevers, and like cases, it seemed necessary for her to take stimulants; these stimulants grew to be habitual, and she had been compelled, five or six times, to place herself in a private asylum. In three or four weeks after being let out, she would relapse, although she was believed to be under the strongest influences of religion, and of the most virtuous desires. There had been developed in her that disposition to drink which she was unable to overcome or control.
The power of this appetite, and the frightful moral perversions that often follow its indulgence are vividly portrayed in the following extract, from an address by Dr. Elisha Harris, of New York, in which he discusses the question of the criminality of drunkenness.
"Let the fact be noticed that such is the lethargy which alcoholism produces upon reason and conscience, that it is sometimes necessary to bring the offender to view his drunken indulgence as a crime. We have known a refined and influential citizen to be so startled at the fact that he wished to destroy the lives of all persons, even of his own family, who manifested unhappiness at his intemperance, that seeing this terrible criminality of his indulgence, instantly formed, and has forever kept, his resolutions of abstinence. We have known the hereditary dypsomaniac break from his destroyer, and when tempted in secret by the monstrous appetite, so grind his teeth and clinch his jaws in keeping his vows to taste not, that blood dripped from his mouth and cold sweat bathed his face. That man is a model of temperance and moral power to-day. And it was the consciousness of personal criminality that stimulated these successful conflicts with the morbid appetite and the powers of the alcohol disease that had fastened upon them. Shall we hesitate to hold ourselves, or to demand that communities shall hold every drunkard--not yet insane--responsible for every act of inebriety? Certainly, it is not cruel or unjust to deal thus with drunkenness. It is not the prison we open, but conscience."
The danger in which those stand who have an
INHERITED PREDISPOSITION TO DRINK,
is very great. Rev. I. Willett, Superintendent of the Inebriate's Home, Fort Hamilton, Kings County, New York, thus refers to this class, which is larger than many think: "There are a host of living men and women to be found who never drank, and who dare not drink, intoxicating liquors or beverages, because one or both of their parents were inebriates before they were born into the world; and, besides, a number of these have brothers or sisters who, having given way to the inherited appetite, are now passing downward on this descending sliding scale. The greater portion of them have already passed over the bounds of self-control, and the varied preliminary symptoms of melancholy, mania, paralysis, ideas of persecution, etc., etc., are developing. As to the question of responsibility, each case is either more or less doubtful, and can only be tested on its separate merits. There is, however, abundant evidence to prove that this predisposition to inebriety, even after long indulgence, can, by a skillful process of medication, accompanied by either voluntary or compulsory restraint, be subdued; and the counterbalancing physical and mental powers can at the same time be so strengthened and invigorated as in the future to enable the person to resist the temptations by which he may be surrounded. Yea, though the powers of reason may, for the time being, be dethroned, and lunacy be developed, these cases, in most instances, will yield to medical treatment where the surrounding conditions of restraint and careful nursing are supplemental.
"We have observed that in many instances the fact of the patient being convinced that he is an hereditary inebriate, has produced beneficial results. Summoning to his aid all the latent counterbalancing energies which he has at command, and clothing himself with this armor, he goes forth to war, throws up the fortifications of physical and mental restraint, repairs the breaches and inroads of diseased appetite, regains control of the citadel of the brain, and then, with shouts of triumph, he unfurls the banner of 'VICTORY!'"
Dr. Wood, of London, in his work on insanity, speaking on the subject of hereditary inebriety, says:
"Instances are sufficiently familiar, and several have occurred within my own personal knowledge, where the father, having died at any early age from the effects of intemperance, has left a son to be brought up by those who have severely suffered from his excesses, and have therefore the strongest motives to prevent, if possible, a repetition of such misery; every pain has been taken to enforce sobriety, and yet, notwithstanding all precautions, the habits of the father have become those of the son, who, never having seen him from infancy, could not have adopted them from imitation. Everything was done to encourage habits of temperance, but all to no purpose; the seeds of the disease had begun to germinate; a blind impulse led the doomed individual, by successive and rapid strides, along the same course which was fatal to the father, and which, ere long, terminated in his own destruction."
How great and fearful the power of an appetite which cannot only enslave and curse the man over which it gains control, but send its malign influence down to the second and third and fourth generations, sometimes to the absolute
EXTINGUISHMENT OF FAMILIES!
Morel, a Frenchman, gives the following as the result of his observation of the hereditary effects of drunkenness:
"First generation: Immorality, depravity, excess in the use of alcoholic liquors, moral debasement. Second generation: Hereditary drunkenness, paroxysms of mania, general paralysis. Third generation: Sobriety, hypochondria, melancholy, systematic ideas of being persecuted, homicidal tendencies. Fourth generation: Intelligence slightly developed, first accessions of mania at sixteen years of age, stupidity, subsequent idiocy and probable extinction of family."
Dr. T.D. Crothers, in an analysis of the hundred cases of inebriety received at the New York Inebriate Asylum, gives this result: "Inebriety inherited direct from parents was traced in twenty-one cases. In eleven of these the father drank alone, in six instances the mother drank, and in four cases both parents drank.
"In thirty-three cases inebriety was traced to ancestors more remote, as grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc., the collateral branches exhibiting both inebriety and insanity. In some instances a whole generation had been passed over, and the disorders of the grandparents appeared again.
"In twenty cases various neurosal disorders had been prominent in the family and its branches, of which neuralgia, chorea, hysteria, eccentricity, mania, epilepsy and inebriety, were most common.
"In some cases, a wonderful periodicity in the outbreak of these disorders was manifested.
"For instance, in one family, for two generations, inebriety appeared in seven out of twelve members, after they had passed forty, and ended fatally within ten years. In another, hysteria, chorea, epilepsy and mania, with drunkenness, came on soon after puberty, and seemed to deflect to other disorders, or exhaust itself before middle life. This occurred in eight out of fourteen, extending over two generations. In another instance, the descendants of three generations, and many of the collateral branches, developed inebriety, mental eccentricities, with other disorders bordering on mania, at about thirty-five years of age. In some cases this lasted only a few years, in others a lifetime."
And here let us say that in this matter of an inherited appetite there is a difference of views with some who believe that appetite is never transmitted but always acquired. This difference of view is more apparent than real. It is not the drunkard's appetite that is transmitted, but the bias or proclivity which renders the subject of such an inherited tendency more susceptible to exciting causes, and therefore in greater danger from the use of alcoholic drinks than others.
Dr. N.S. Davis, in an article in the Washingtonian, published at Chicago, presents the opposite view of the case. The following extract from this article is well worthy to be read and considered:
"If we should say that man is so constituted that he is capable of feeling weary, restless, despondent and anxious, and that he instinctively desires to be relieved of these unpleasant feelings, we should assert a self-evident fact. And we should thereby assert all the instincts or natural impulse there is in the matter. It is simply a desire to be relieved from unpleasant feelings, and does not, in the slightest degree, indicate or suggest any particular remedy. It no more actually suggests the idea of alcohol or opium than it does bread and water. But if, by accident, or by the experience of others, the individual has learned that his unpleasant feelings can be relieved, for the time being, by alcohol, opium or any other exhilarant, he not only uses the remedy himself, but perpetuates a knowledge of the same to others. It is in this way, and this only, that most of the nations and tribes of our race, have, much to their detriment, found a knowledge of some kind of intoxicant. The same explanation is applicable to the supposed 'constitutional susceptibility,' as a primary cause of intemperance. That some persons inherit a greater degree of nervous and organic susceptibility than others, and are, in consequence of this greater susceptibility, more readily affected by a given quantity of narcotic, anęsthetic or intoxicant, is undoubtedly true. And that such will
"MORE READILY BECOME DRUNKARDS,
"if they once commence to use intoxicating drinks, is also true. But that such persons, or any others, have the slightest inherent or constitutional taste or any longing for intoxicants, until they have acquired such taste or longing by actual use, we find no reliable proof. It is true that statistics appear to show that a larger proportion of the children of drunkards become themselves drunkards, than of children born of total abstainers. And hence the conclusion has been drawn that such children INHERITED the constitutional tendency to inebriation. But before we are justified in adopting such a conclusion, several other important facts must be ascertained.
"1st. We must know whether the mother, while nursing, used more or less constantly some kind of alcoholic beverage, by which the alcohol might have impregnated the milk in her breasts and thereby made its early impression on the tastes and longings of the child.
"2d. We must know whether the intemperate parents were in the habit of frequently giving alcoholic preparations to the children, either to relieve temporary ailments, or for the same reason that they drank it themselves. I am constrained to say, that from my own observation, extending over a period of forty years, and a field by no means limited, I am satisfied that nineteen out of every twenty persons who have been regarded as HEREDITARY inebriates have simply ACQUIRED the disposition to drink by one or both of the methods just mentioned, after birth."
The views here presented in no way lessen but really heighten the perils of moderate drinking. It is affirmed that some persons inherit a greater degree of nervous and organic susceptibility than others, and are, in consequence, more readily affected by a given quantity of narcotic, anęsthetic or intoxicant; and that such "will more readily become drunkards if they commence to use intoxicating drinks."
Be the cause of this
INHERITED NERVOUS SUSCEPTIBILITY
what it may, and it is far more general than is to be inferred from the admission just quoted, the fact stands forth as a solemn warning of the peril every man encounters in even the most moderate use of alcohol. Speaking of this matter, Dr. George M. Beard, who is not as sound on the liquor question as we could wish, says, in an article on the "Causes of the Recent Increase of Inebriety in America:" "As a means of prevention, abstinence from the habit of drinking is to be enforced. Such abstinence may not have been necessary for our fathers, but it is rendered necessary for a large body of the American people on account of our greater nervous susceptibility. It is possible to drink without being an habitual drinker, as it is possible to take chloral or opium without forming the habit of taking these substances. In certain countries and climates where the nervous system is strong and the temperature more equable than with us, in what I sometimes call the temperate belt of the world, including Spain, Italy, Southern France, Syria and Persia, the habitual use of wine rarely leads to drunkenness, and never, or almost never, to inebriety; but in the intemperate belt, where we live, and which includes Northern Europe and the United States, with a cold and violently changeable climate, the habit of drinking either wines or stronger liquors is liable to develop in some cases a habit of intemperance. Notably in our country, where nervous sensitiveness is seen in its extreme manifestations, the majority of brain-workers are not safe so long as they are in the habit of even moderate drinking. I admit that this was not the case one hundred years ago--and the reasons I have already given--it is not the case to-day in Continental Europe; even in England it is not so markedly the case as in the northern part of the United States. For those individuals who inherit a tendency to inebriety, the only safe course is absolute abstinence, especially in early life."
In the same article, Dr. Baird remarks: "The number of those in this country who cannot bear tea, coffee or alcoholic liquors of any kind, is very large. There are many, especially in the Northern States, who must forego coffee entirely, and use tea only with caution; either, in any excess, cause trembling nerves and sleepless nights. The susceptibility to alcohol is so marked, with many persons, that no pledges, and no medical advice, and no moral or legal influences are needed to keep them in the paths of temperance. Such persons are warned by flushing of the face, or by headache, that alcohol, whatever it may be to others, or whatever it may have been to their ancestors, is poison to them."
But, in order to give a higher emphasis to precepts, admonition and medical testimony, we offer a single example of the enslaving power of appetite, when, to a predisposing hereditary tendency, the excitement of indulgence has been added. The facts of this case were communicated to us by a professional gentleman connected with one of our largest inebriate asylums, and we give them almost in his very words in which they were related.
A REMARKABLE CASE.
A clever, but dissipated actor married clandestinely a farmer's daughter in the State of New York. The parents of the girl would not recognize him as the husband of their child; rejecting him so utterly that he finally left the neighborhood. A son born of this marriage gave early evidence of great mental activity, and was regarded, in the college where he graduated, as almost a prodigy of learning. He carried off many prizes, and distinguished himself as a brilliant orator. Afterwards he went to Princeton and studied for the ministry. While there, it was discovered that he was secretly drinking. The faculty did everything in their power to help and restrain him; and his co-operation with them was earnest as to purpose, but not permanently availing. The nervous susceptibility inherited from his father responded with a morbid quickness to every exciting cause, and the moment wine or spirits touched the sense of smell or taste, he was seized with an almost irresistible desire to drink to excess, and too often yielded to its demands. For months he would abstain entirely; and then drink to intoxication in secret.
After graduating from Princeton he became pastor of a church in one of the largest cities of Western New York, where he remained for two years, distinguishing himself for his earnest work and fervid eloquence. But the appetite he had formed was imperious in its demands, and periodically became so strong that he lost the power of resistance. When these periodic assaults of appetite came, he would
LOCK HIMSELF IN HIS ROOM FOR DAYS
and satiate the fierce thirst, coming out sick and exhausted. It was impossible to conceal from his congregation the dreadful habit into which he had fallen, and ere two years had elapsed he was dismissed for drunkenness. He then went to one of the chief cities of the West, where he received a call, and was, for a time, distinguished as a preacher; but again he fell into disgrace and had to leave his charge. Two other churches called him to fill the office of pastor, but the same sad defections from sobriety followed. For a considerable time after this his friends lost sight of him. Then he was found in the streets of New York City by the president of the college from which he had first graduated, wretched and debased from drink, coatless and hatless. His old friend took him to a hotel, and then brought his case to the notice of the people at a prayer-meeting held in the evening at one of the churches. His case was immediately taken in hand and money raised to send him to the State Inebriate Asylum. After he had remained there for a year, he began to preach as a supply in a church a few miles distant, going on Saturday evening and returning on Monday morning; but always having an attendant with him, not daring to trust himself alone. This went on for nearly a whole year, when a revival sprang up in the church, which he conducted with great eloquence and fervor. After the second week of this new excitement, he began to lock himself up in his room after returning from the service, and could not be seen until the next morning. In the third week of the revival, the excitement of the meetings grew intense. After this he was only seen in the pulpit, where his air and manner were wild and thrilling. His friends at the asylum knew that he must be drinking, and while hesitating as to their wisest course, waited anxiously for the result. One day he was grandly eloquent. Such power in the pulpit had never been witnessed there before--his appeals were unequalled; but so wild and impassioned that some began to fear for his reason. At the close of this day's services, the chaplain of the institution of which he was an inmate, returned with him to the asylum, and on the way, told him frankly that he was deceiving the people--that his eloquent appeals came not from the power of the Holy Spirit, but from the excitement of drink; and that all farther conduct of the meetings must be left in other hands. On reaching the asylum he retired, greatly agitated, and soon after died from a stroke of apoplexy. In his room many empty bottles, which had contained brandy, were found; but the people outside remained in ignorance of the true cause of the marvelous eloquence which had so charmed and moved them.
We have already extended this chapter beyond the limit at first proposed. Our object has not only been to show the thoughtful and intelligent reader who uses alcoholic beverages, the great peril in which he stands, but to make apparent to every one, how insidious is the growth and how terrible the power of this appetite for intoxicants; an appetite which, if once established, is almost sure to rob its victim of honor, pity, tenderness and love; an appetite, whose indulgence too often transforms the man into a selfish demon. Think of it, all ye who dally with the treacherous cup; are not the risks you are running too great? Nay, considering your duties and your obligations, have you any right to run these risks?
And now that we have shown the curse of strong drink, let us see what agencies are at work in the abatement, prevention and cure of a disease that is undermining the health of whole nations, shortening the natural term of human life, and in our own country alone, sending over sixty thousand men and women annually into untimely graves.