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perhaps prevent some of these effects, but not all; and every one who finds it necessary to have recourse to either of them after eating fruit, may be very sure that he has eaten too much.
Fruit is not injurious to children, if due regard be had to these considerations, after the usual time of weaning; but somewhat more caution should be used with respect to quantity, than in the case of adults. It is also more important that it should be eaten, part of the time at least, in a cooked state.
But nothing is more injurious to the health of children than indulgence, to an unlimited degree, in fruit of every kind, green and ripe, at all times.
XVII. FACTS CONCERNING THE USE AND ABUSE OF
A variety of attempts have been made to ascertain with exactness, the amount of evil produced in the United States by the excessive use of spirituous liquors. The results which have been obtained do not by any means correspond in all particulars. Some inquirers represent the evil as greater than others; some represent it as increasing, others as diminishing; some regard it as without remedy by human means, and others believe that much may be done to remove it. There is one thing, however, in which they all agree, namely, that the evil is very great, and threatens to be a most serious impediment to our prosperity as a nation. Minor differences of opinion therefore are of no consequence; and it is not important whose estimate of amount, extent, and numbers we take, since those, who make them the smallest, make them large enough to astonish and terrify us.
Intemperance produces death, directly and indirectly; directly, by the actual effects of intoxication, and the diseases immediately produced by the use of ardent spirits; and indirectly, by rendering the intemperate more liable to be affected by the causes of all diseases, than the temperate person, and less able to struggle with those diseases and be carried safely through them. It will be obvious then how uncertain a matter it is to attempt to determine how much the whole amount of deaths is increased by the use of ardent spirits. only at best make an approximation to the truth, but this is enough for our present purpose.
To take the city of Boston as an example; the Bills of Mortality for the two latest years give us on an average fifty deaths,
occasioned so directly by intemperance, as to be entered under
and about 10 deaths out of every 24 occur between these ages, it follows that about one of every ten adult persons who die in this city, dies not merely a drunkard, but so directly and notoriously a drunkard, that his character is as it were proclaimed to the world on his tombstone. We do not claim for the population of this city any higher character in point of temperance, than belongs to other parts of our country, neither do we believe that it deserves a lower one. Supposing therefore that, on an average throughout our country, the deaths from intemperance bear about the same proportion to the whole number that they do in Boston, it will not be difficult to estimate the number of victims that fall a sacrifice directly to the use of ardent spirits in the course of a year in the whole United States.
The population of the United States at the present time can not fall much short of 12,000,000 and probably exceeds it. We shall be within the truth if we suppose that 1 person in 50 of this number dies annually. In some districts the mortality is probably greater, in some it is probably less. Out of the whole then, there will not be less than 240,000 deaths every year. The proportion of persons in Boston dying directly of intemperance was stated to be 1 in 24. The same proportion will give us ten thousand persons in the United States dying in the course of every year directly and notoriously of drunkenness.
But this estimate presents the subject in the most favorable point of view.
We do not in this way get at half the actual ravages committed by this formidable destroyer. Where there is one man dying of actual drunkenness, three or four, to speak within bounds, die of diseases which have been either gradually produced, or at least rendered fatal, by the effects of hard drinking upon the constitution. There is no reasonable doubt that between thirty and forty thousand persons die annually in the United States, in this way.
This is an appalling result. 'But this simple statement does not include the whole evil. A large proportion of these deaths occur among persons in the prime of life.
A vast many are young men just beginning the world, having or about to have young families. In ten years, therefore, there is not only a loss to the country in its population of three or four hundred thousand lives, actually destroyed by intemperance, but of a much larger
number, the probable offspring of those who have been thus untimely cut off.
But the loss of life is not the only one to be taken into account. The loss and waste of property is equally remarkable. It has been estimated that forty-five millions of gallons of ardent spirits are annually consumed in the United States, at an expense to the consumers of at least thirty millions of dollars. This amount of property, though not perhaps wholly thrown away in an economical point of view, is at best employed to promote the most unprofitable kind of labor, and is diverted from many valuable kinds of investment. It is no doubt true that the consumption of ardent spirits promotes some species of honest and productive labor. It increases the amount of our importations and thus aids our commerce; it increases the consumption of, and creates a demand for several kinds of fruit and grain, and thus promotes the prosperity of the agricultural interest. But there are other ways of laying out the same money which would equally contribute to advance the public interest and industry, and which would not be liable to the same drawbacks.
Thus if we take the sum which the citizens of Massachusetts yearly pay for ardent spirits at one million and a half-and we are careful to make all our estimates within the truth-let it be devoted, but for four years, to purposes of public improvement, and we might have all the rail-roads which have been projected in different directions, without exacting a cent in the way of direct tax from the inhabitants. In this way the same sum of money would call forth ten times the amount of productive labor that it does when expended in the purchase of ardent spirits. It would promote the interests both of the merchant and agriculturist merely by the expenditure of so large a sum in the community during their construction. Then, besides this, when all was done, there would be a permanent piece of property, not only paying annual interest to those who had invested their inoney, but constantly promoting the industry and prosperity of the whole community in a thousand indi
The habit of drinking to excess also occasions a direct loss to the community, by the increase in the number of paupers which it occasions. Indeed throughout the United States it seems to have been universally found, that a majority of those who are supported at the public expense are drunkards. In different parts of the country, from two thirds to four fifths of the paupers have been reduced to that situation by habits of intemperance. According to reports and estimates made by
public authority in the state of Massachusetts, it seems probable that the actual amount of taxes levied for the support of intemperate paupers does not fall short of three hundred thousand dollars. If the expense of the same department in other states, is in the same proportion to their population, the total amount of money expended in public charity for the relief and support of those who are intemperate, or their families, will not fall short of six millions of dollars. If we include the sums contributed and dealt out for the relief of the intemperate and their families, in private, by societies and individuals, this estimate would be very far too low. Was ever a tax levied upon any community, so burdensome in its operation, so ruinous in its effects, as this, by the most oppressive tyrant that ever existed ?
Another loss to society from the habit of drinking arises from the actual waste of time. Almost every man who drinks moderately is occupied more or less of his leisure in going to and from the dram-shop; whilst those who are so far advanced in the habit as to be called hard drinkers, spend probably on an average at least half the working time of the year in tippling or in that state of stupidity and inactivity which follows hard drinking.
But to say nothing of the waste of time, even the money actually spent by those who drink, if laid by and carefully invested would amount in the common life of a man, to a handsome property for his wife and children after his death, or provide him with a comfortable maintenance in his old age. We suppose the drinking expenses of intemperate persons, taking all things together, can hardly be less than 50 dollars a year.
If this sum, instead of being thus squandered by the drunkard, should be paid for an insurance on his life, a handsome provision would be made in the event of his death for those whom he might leave behind him.
It is fair to ask then, what great good do ardent spirits do to compensate for the great hurt they do. If no such thing existed, it is clear we should avoid a great deal of evil, not only the evil of which we have spoken, but a great deal of other kinds, of which we have not spoken. In what respect should we have been worse off, had the distillation of alkohol never been discovered ? In what respect should we be worse off, were its distillation now to be no longer permitted ?
The laborer will say that it is necessary for him in order to refresh him and support his strength during labor.
The poor man will say that it is necessary to him as a cheap and exhilarating draught after the labor of the day, as a solace
for his cares, and as enabling him to lose the recollection of his hard and painful lot.
The wealthy man will say that it is necessary in order to promote the digestion of his food, to keep up the tone of his stomach, and prevent the evil consequences of an indolent life and a luxurious diet upon his health.
The man of pleasure, will say that it is necessary to the excitement of the convivial board ; that life is nothing without the pleasures of the table, and that without this stimulus, society would lose its zest.
And so every one who uses ardent spirits in any form, would find some sufficient reason for ranking them among the necessaries of life.
But it is clear that in none of these respects do ardent spirits do any good which can be weighed in the balance against the evils above mentioned, unless it be indeed true that they serve to support the strength and preserve the health of those who are engaged in hard labor. If they really have this effect, there will be some reason for their use by that class at least who are subjected to severe and constant bodily exertions. This question therefore it is important to determine. All the other excuses which are generally offered are frivolous and groundless.
But it appears, upon the very best evidence, that ardent spirits, even in moderate quantities, do by no means promote bodily strength; and do not enable persons to bear fatigue or exposure better than other liquids of a less stimulating character. A great many facts tend to establish this conclusion.
Men were accustomed to labor, before the introduction of ardent spirits, as hard as they do now; they executed works requiring as great and as continued an exertion of strength as any which have been projected in modern times. The want of the stimulus of alkohol seems never to have impeded the prosecution of their most stupendous and extensive plans for building cities, fortifications, &c.
The Roman soldiers, who used to march with a great weight of armour about them (sixty pounds, as is said), and who underwent immense hardships and accomplished as much as any troops of modern times, drank only vinegar and water. Upon this simple beverage they conquered the world.
Dr. Jackson, a distinguished army medical writer, asserts that so far from ardent spirits being a proper drink for soldiers on hard duty, it is an injurious one, and that they endure labor and hardship better on a simple and spare diet, with tea for drink.