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drunk," they were accustomed to say “the man is poisoned, and the word intoxication, which we have borrowed from their language, is derived from their word toxikon, which signifies poison.
As all kinds of fermented wine were found to contain a large quantity of Alcohol, it was the practice, at first, to obtain it chiefly from the juice of the grape, and to denominate it spirits of wine; but, at present, it is extracted mainly from grain and sugar, and goes by the names of gin, rum, whiskey, &c.
One fact must not be forgotten ; namely, that it exists as certainly in the weakest of intoxicating liquors, as in the strongest. In beer it exists in a more diluted form, than in brandy, but its specific quality remains everywhere unchanged.
That it possesses all that is essential to a poison is proved, by the testimony of men who have had the best opportunities for becoming acquainted with its nature and effects, as well as by our own observations.
“ It would be difficult," says Dr. Gordon, “to find a more destructive poison than ardent spirits."
AQUA VITÆ.-" The name," says Dr. Ure, “ very absurdly given to Alcohol, when used as an intoxicating beverage. It has been the Aqua Mortis (the water of death) to myriads of the human race; and will probably, ere long, destroy the native tribes of North America and Australia." -Med. Dict.
“Q. Do you deem ardent spirits a poison ?"
“ A. Ardent spirits are very destructive to health, and may be deemed a poison. Writers upon Toxicology include ardent spirits in the list of poisonous substances."- Dr. Cheyne, Rep. on Drunk., p. 304.
“ The impression was rapidly extending, that no man could continue, as an article of luxury, or diet, to use this poison, or be accessory to the use of it by others, without the commission of sin, and, in proportion to the light which he might have upon the subject, the accumulation of tremendous and ever-growing guilt."-Amer. Temp. Doc.,
“ On every organ they touch they operate as a poison. No where in the human body are they allowed even a lodgment, until the vital powers are so far prostrated that they cannot be moved. They are hurried onward from one organ to another, marking their course with irregularity of action, and disturbance of function, until, at last, as a common nuisance, they are taken up by the emunctories—the scavengers of the system—and unceremoniously excluded."-Dr. Alden, Amer. Perm. Doc., p. 95.
“ That it is a poison to the body, and a poison not of a very inactive kind, we have abundant proof in this colony, where it produces numerous diseases, and destroys the inhabitants of Hobart's Town so rapidly, that they do not, on an average, live to more than the age of twenty-three years; while the prisoners at Macquarrie Harbour, who are excluded from the use of spirit, live, on an average, to thirty-five years, notwithstanding the privations they undergo, in being limited to salt provisions.”—Amer. Perm. Temp. Doc., p. 375.
“ It is equally poisonous with arsenic, operating sometimes more slowly, but with equal certainty.”-Forty-five Physicians of Ohio, Amer. Temp. Doc., p. 5.
“ Let us now consider how it causes death. Alcohol is a substance which is in its nature unfit for the purposes of
nutrition. It is not in the power of the animal economy to decompose it, and change it into blood, or flesh, or bone, or anything by which the human body is, or can be nourished, strengthened, and supported.” It is Alcohol when taken, it is Alcohol in the stomach, it is Alcohol in the arteries, and veins, and heart, and lungs, and brain, and among all the nerves, and tissues, and fibres of the whole body; and it is Alcohol, when, after having pervaded, and passed through the whole system, it is thrown off again." "Take the blood from the arm, the foot, or the head of the man who drinks it, and distil the blood, and you have Alcohol." “ Not a blood-vessel, however minute, not a thread of the smallest nerve, in the whole animal machinery, escapes its influence. It enters the organs of the nursing mother, which prepare the delicate food for the growth and sustenance of her child. It is taken into the circulations and passes through the whole system of the child, having through its whole course produced, not only on the mother, but also on the child, the appropriate effects of the drunkard's poison.”
“ From the fact that it is not suitable as an article of diet, it follows, of course, that it must be hurtful, and that it is wicked to drink it, or to furnish it to be drunk by others.”
“ Nor is this all ; by this poison you deteriorate the quality of the nourishment, which the system does receive. Amidst the bustle, excitement, and irritation, which Alcohol occasions, the organs cannot furnish nourishment, pure and healthful as they otherwise would. And thus, by a three-fold process, you work out destruction.”
“ Facts justify the conclusion ; that Alcohol has, within the last thirty years, cut off, in the United States, more
than thirty million years of human probation, and ushered more than a million of souls, uncalled, and in violation of the command, · Thou shalt not kill,' into the presence of their Maker."-Amer. Perm. Temp. Doc., p. 463–468.
" I cannot hesitate to recommend the entire disuse of such a poison, rather than incur the risks necessarily connected with its moderate use."-W. Harly, M.D., Physician to the Prisons in Dublin.
“Q. Do you consider spirits properly designated as poison ?"
“A. Under a proper explanation of the term they may be justly called poison ; they are ranked by writers on medical jurisprudence among the narcotics--acrid poisons ; their deleterious action depends very much on the constitution of the patient, and the amount taken : small quantities seldom produce effects which the patient thinks to be hurtful; but, if repeated, they always prove more or less injurious; larger quantities frequently prove fatal, by directly producing effects analogous to other poisons, or by giving rise to other diseases, which, in a short time, cause death : very large doses often destroy life within a few hours, and are known to act on the same principle with other narcotics."- Dr. R. G. Dods, Rep. on Drunk.,
Now, as there is nothing to intoxicate, in all unadulterated fermented liquors, but Alcohol, it is certain, that the drinker of beer, wine, and cyder, is as truly violating the laws of his nature, and committing slow suicide, as the drinker of gin or brandy. “For my own part,” says one of the most eminent medical writers of America, Dr. Mussey, “ if I were compelled to drink any given amount
of Alcohol, I should much prefer, from regard to health merely, taking it mixed only with water, than in combi. nation with the ingredients existing in beer.”
Should the above not satisfy the reader, that Alcohol is a poison, he will find many other testimonies bearing on the subject, in “ The Curse of Britain," pp. 207-218 ; and in the publications generally of both the Old and New British and Foreign Temperance Societies.
INTOXICATING DRINKS PRODUCTIVE OF MENTAL
There are some other poisons which are able speedily to destroy life, but they do not seem to exert any peculiar influence on those organs, on which the mind is dependent for its due development, and healthy exercise. But all intoxicating liquors possess a specific property, by which they derange, and enfeeble the mental faculties.
" The use of fermented liquors, and particularly of spirits, is very conducive to the bringing on of insanity; they first act on the stomach, then on the nervous system ; they bring on diseased action, disorganization of the brain the consequence, and all the dreadful results of insanity follow."
“Out of twenty-eight cases admitt last year, that were reported to us as having been recent cases, nineteen out of the twenty-eight were drunkards.”—Dr. Ellis, Resident Phy. at the Co. Lunatic Ass. of Midd. Rep. on Drunk.,
Among four hundred and ninety-five patients, ad