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produce upon the system, corporeal and spiritual, when introduced into the stomach. They exhilarate, they enliven, they excite to laughter, they awaken merriment, they stimulate and exalt the mental powers. Some they stupify, some they convert into irritable savages, some into drivelling idiots, and some into mere pugnacions animals. All, if long and largely used, they finally brutalise, prostrate, and, in the end, carry to an untimely grave.
But more wonderful than these poisonous and destructive effects is the passion for indulging in them which these fermented liquors awaken in a large portion of our fellow menthe irresistible love with which these unfortunates are smitten by them — the fascinating influence by which they are charmed. The will becomes absolutely spell-bound through the action of alcohol on the bodies of some, and reason is dethroned, even where it formerly exercised a clear and undisputed sway.
We cannot here discuss the causes of all this. They lie, in fact, as yet, a great way beyond the limits of our actual knowledge.
But there are certain beneficial, though less marked, effects produced by alcoholic drinks, which recent chemico-physiological research, to a certain extent, explains. Taken in moderate quantities they act like tea in lessening the bodily waste, and thus are of real value to persons whose powers of digestion are impaired, either by disease or by the advances of age. They seem also to defend the body, to a certain extent, against the wear and tear which a constant exercise and agitation of the mind is apt to occasion. Yet the degree and form in which these effects are produced vary with the kind and composition of the fermented drink we make use of. The proportion of water with which the alcohol is diluted, the peculiar ethereal oil with which it is mixed or contaminated, the kind of acid naturally formed and contained in the liquor (such as the acetic acid of beer, the lactic acid of cider, and the tartaric acid of grape wine), the kind and quantity of the salts which occur in it, the hops or other narcotics which, in the case of beer, have been infused in it—all these ingredients of the drink modify its action upon the system, and give rise to those diversities in the effects which different fermented liquors are found to produce upon the same individual.
The melancholy influences which the passion for alcoholic drinks exercises upon the comfort and well being of society is a social rather than a chemico-physiological question. To what extent, on the grounds of moral expediency, it is proper, by fiscal or other regulations, to punish the moderate and self
restraining for the purpose of tying up the hands of the immoderate and those who will make no effort to restrain themselves, whether it is better to bind men of lax principles and little education by vows which are so likely to be broken, or to instruct and educate them in a better understanding of what is for their own present and future good, — whether it is better to withhold spirit licences and shut up beer-houses, or to make the
poor man's home as comfortable as the fire-side of the village inn, and to teach young females of the humbler classes, as their first and most responsible duty, how to keep
-whether any one of all these methods is the best for suppressing a wide-spread evil, or whether, for the moral regeneration of the most helpless of our people, a good man would not cheerfully aid in employing and furthering them all, - these are questions in social economics in regard to which, in this free country, we must be content to differ.
We have spoken of the passion for intoxicating liquors which continued use awakens, as the most remarkable circumstance in the scientific history of fermented drinks. It is from this fascinating power that the danger of using them principally arises. And from this we derive our strongest arguments in favour of the more extended use of tea and other infused beverages, which, however, indulged in, lead at least to no moral delinquencies or violations of public law. But this fascinating power alcoholic liquids share with another class of indulgences, also introduced into Europe in modern times, and already most extensively consumed by every European race. These are the narcotic substances we indulge in.
Of such substances it is remarkable how large a number are in use in different parts of the world, over how wide an area the habit of consuming them prevails, among how many different tribes of men, and from how remote a period. The aborigines of Central America rolled up the tobacco-leaf and dreamed away their lives in smoky reveries ages before Columbus was born or the colonists of Sir Walter Raleigh brought it within the precincts of the Elizabethan Court. The coca leaf, which is still the comfort and strength of the Peruvian muleteer, was chewed as he does it now, in far remote times, and among the same mountains, by his Indian forefathers. The use of opium, hemp, and the betel-nut, of which only the first has yet been transplanted into Europe, has prevailed among Eastern Asiatics from times of the most fabulous antiquity. The same is probably true of the pepper plants, indulged in by the South Sea islanders and the natives of the Indian Archipelago; of the thorn apples, the use of which still lingers among the natives of the Andes and on the slopes of the remote Himalayas ; of the ledum of Northern Europe; of what, from its abundant growth and use among ourselves, may be called the English hop; and of the singular fungus of Siberia, which, passionately loved by the natives of that forbidding region now, has been in use among them also from time immemorial. The narcotic appetite appears, indeed, to have a natural and deep root in the human constitution. It is of the nature of an instinctive craving,
. which, like that for the kind of comfort which tea and coffee bring, has led to the discovery and use in countries far remote from each other of different substances, capable of producing the same general effects upon the system.
In the United Kingdom the narcotic most largely indulged in is the hop. Of this we consume nearly forty millions of pounds (38) every year, chiefly for imparting bitterness and other qualities to beer. Of this large quantity upwards of thirty-five millions of pounds are used in England alone, being at the rate of two pounds a head of the population. The narcotic quality of the hop flower resides in a volatile oil and in an aromatic resin, of which it contains about eight per cent. of its weight. The specific action upon the system which is exercised by these ingredients of the hop has not been as yet satisfactorily investigated. There can be no doubt, however, that the extensive use of this narcotic in the southern half of the island exercises an important influence upon the common life and every-day behaviour of the English population.
Next to the hop, tobacco is the favourite narcotic in the United Kingdom. About thirty millions of pounds of this leaf are now consumed among us, of which about five millions are used in Ireland. This is at the rate of nineteen ounces a head for Great Britain, and twelve ounces a head for the people of Ireland. It is partly, no doubt, because of the smell which accompanies the use of tobacco, that opposition to this use has been more widely and publicly made both in this country and in America than against the less obtrusive hop, which in England is so much more largely used, and which in its silent and unseen way is probably the source of as much real evil.
The results of recent chemical researches made upon the tobacco-leaf are full of interest, instruction, and warning. They have shown that in the dry leaf there naturally resides from two to eight per cent. of a narcotic, volatile, highly poisonous, alkaline liquid, to which the name of nicotine has been given, and along with it a three- or four-thousandth part of a volatile fatty oil, which also possesses narcotic properties. Upon the chewer the influence of tobacco depends chiefly upon the action of these two ingredients of the natural leaf. But the smoker produces during the burning of his tobacco a new oily distil* ment, which comes to him with the smoke, and materially exalts the action of the tobacco upon his system. This empyreumatic oil, as it is called, mingles in vapour with the natural volatile oil and nicotine of the tobacco, and aids in producing those varying and complicated effects upon the body and brain with which most of us are directly or indirectly familiar. That these effects are usually pleasing, the experience of millions daily testifies; that they are sometimes injurious is equally certain; that they awaken thirst, and lead some to drink intoxicating liquors, cannot be denied; and yet, according to the highest authorities in this department of physiology, the use of tobacco in moderation has not been proved, in this country at least, to be injurious to the human health. That the practice of smoking and chewing, as practised sometimes in this country, and oftener in the United States, may lead to dirty and disgusting habits, those of our readers who do not share this amiable vice will readily admit, and also that tobacco may be used immoderately and to the manifest injury of health. But it may be permitted to scientific common sense to doubt whether all this justifies the utter condemnation of the practice and the fierce denunciations against the use of tobacco in any form or degree, which have lately been put forth both in Great Britain and in America.
Did time permit us further to consider the chemico-physiological history of narcotic substances, we should have turned to the use of opium and hemp in the East, of the strange coca in Peru, of the still stranger fungus in Siberia, and of the other less extensively used narcotics of which the names have already been mentioned. We may observe, however, as showing how very large a part these substances occupy among the means or enjoyments of common life, that they are consumed at present in the following enormous proportions:
Tobacco among 800 millions of men.
200 or 300 Betel
10 And that of tobacco there are consumed about 4,480 millions of pounds every year; of betel, 500 millions; of opium, 20 millions; of hops, 80 millions, and of coca, 30 millions of pounds. The influence of so vast a consumption of substances of this class upon the domestic economy, even of our own working classes, is apparent when we consider how large a proportion of their weekly
earnings is sometimes expended in gratifying this one appetite. But in India, — where, on an average, not more than sixpence a head is yearly spent by the whole population in the purchase of clothing, - narcotic indulgences rise at once to the importance of being the second great necessary of common life. The late Mr. Porter read before the British Association, in August, 1850, a paper which placed in a succinct, but very striking, form, what he termed the self-imposed taxation of the working classes of this country. He showed that the cost of distilled spirits to the people of the three kingdoms amounted in 1849 to about 24 millions sterling, that about 25 millions are expended in beer, and 7 millions and a half in tobacco, -making in all an annual expenditure of 57 millions in these stimulants, not including the cost of tea, coffee, and chocolate: a sum, therefore, fully equalling the whole public revenue of the United Kingdom. Among the working classes it is probable that one-third of the earnings of the family is spent in these indulgences. We may naturally inveigh against such an excess of unproductive and often injurious sensual gratification; but it is obvious that tastes so deeply seated in human nature, so universally indulged, and so dearly gratified, must take their origin in the physiological composition of man, and have some intimate connexion with the natural conditions of his being.
We cannot dismiss the subject of warm infusions and narcotic indulgences so widely naturalised among European nations within the last three centuries — without remarking upon the influence they must necessarily exercise upon the bodily constitution and mental character of the peoples who so largely use them. The soothers and exciters we individually indulge in, if taken in excess, are seen gradually to affect and sensibly to modify both our tempers and our usual state of bodily health. Let the use of these become general, even in a moderate degree, and similar changes will in time affect a whole people. We know from medical history that the general character of disease, and the nature of symptoms, have very much altered since modern beverages and narcotics have become common. This indicates the presence of constitutional change, and we cannot tell how far or how deep such changes may proceed. It is a problem, therefore, which interests not merely the physiologist and psychologist, but the Statesman also, to ascertain how far and in what direction such changes may go, how far the actual tastes, habits, and character of modern nations have been modified or even created by the prolonged consumption of the substances we have been considering, and what influence their continued use is likely still to exercise on the final fortunes of