USES OF ALCOHOL.
Dr. A. Buchauan, psesident of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, says : —“ The whole argument is comprised in the three following questions, to which a clear and unhesitating answer can be readily given :— 1 Is alcohol food ?’ ‘ Is alcohol poison ?’ and ‘ Should the use of alcohol be restricted by legal enactments, as dangerous to civil society ?’ The first question he answered in what is alleged to be the Scotch fashion, viz., by putting another question : ‘ls fat an article of food —the fat of beef or of mutton, for instance, or butter, which is quite similar ?’ Now, no physiologist can have the slightest hesitation in answering the latter question in the affirmative, and the scientific answer is in accordance with the universal experience of mankind. Fat cannot indeed produce bone or muscle, but it serves other purposes not less important in the animal economy. It generates heat and vital force. It consists almost entirely of the combustible elements—carbon and hydrogen—and these, meeting within the blood-vessels with atmospheric oxygen absorbed from the lungs and deposited in the blood-cor-puscles, gradually undergo combustion, and so give heat and vital force to the body. Now, alcohol consists of the very same elements, varying somewhat in proportion, hut alike fitted to undergo combustion within the body, and so produce the same salutary effects. In one respect it is much superior, for it is more immediate in its action, which is of great importance in all cases of sudden emergency. Fat to be absorbed into the system, and pervading the whole body, gives out everywhere it heat and invigorating energy. The sacred Scriptures and all ancient historial works attest that, from time immemorial, wine has been believed by mankind to produce these salutary effects. Who is there at the present day who has attained the age of manhood who has not experienced the same effect in his own person ? If any man affirm that he is an exception, I reply that he is an exception also from the great majority of his species in the constitution and susceptibilities of his body. If, therefore, I am asked whether alcohol be a good or bad thing, I am bound to answer, in accordance with the evidence of history, and in accordance with my own experience and the experience of many trustworthy men communicated to me, that I hold it to be a good thing—-a good gift of God to man, which human perversity alone has converted into an instrument of evil. Now, how should such a gift be received at the hands of the I
great Giver of all good 1 Should we spurn it from us, and declare in our wisdom that it is an accursed thing which we cannot receive ; or should we receive it humbly and thankfully, and use it without abusing it ; that is, so use it that we may obtain from it the benefits intended for us, and avoid the evils consequent upon abusing it ? It is to my mind, therefore, quite clear that all who entertain these views of the beneficial action of alcohol upon the human body ought to partake of it; that they might have a double sanction, moral and religious, in so doing ; and that for any man directly or indirectly, to prevent them from doing it is a wrong action, contrary to the dictates both of morals and religion. On the other hand, it is admitted on all sides that alcohol taken in excess is a poison, and destroys every year innumerable human lives. Seeing that the cause from which the present unsatisfactory state of society proceeds is fully ascertained, there is presented a wide and promising field for wise legislation ; and surely all good men will unite in asking, nay, in demanding, such legislation from Government. Quite the reverse. Two great parties cannot agree upon first principles, and therefore they do nothing. The noble band of philanthropists who, from their long and arduous struggle in the cause of humanity, are so well entitled to lead the way in this all-important work, will admit of no compromise, and have nailed their colours to the mast. They require and can accept of nothing short of total abstinence from all alcoholic liquors. This requirement will never be acceded to by the vastly more numerous body of plain men, with less enthusiasm but perhaps as much thought about them, who feel in their own persons that alcohol does them good, ' and many of whom have besides a rational conviction that it is a substance eminently fitted to act beneficially on the human body. Such is the unfortunate dilemma in consequence of which all legislation has become impossible. Meantime the wheel goes round ; drunkenness and crime shout together in triumph, misery and disease groan aloud in dispair, and death consigns forty thousand victims annually to the silent grave.”
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