Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/314

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ALCOHOLISM 274 ALCOHOLISM 1 October, 1500. After studies at the grammar school in Beverley, he went to Cambridge. About 1461, he wa.s presented to tlie rectory of St. Margaret's, Lon- don, and to the deanery of St. Stephen's, West- minster. In 146 J lie was Master of the Rolls, and in 1468 Prebendary of St. Paul's, London. In 1470-71 lie was Privy Councillor. He was on the commission that treated with James III of Scotland, and his services were enlisted for similar tasks by Richartl III and Henry VII. He was tutor to young King Edward V ami baptized Prince Arthur. He was an architect of great merit and was buried in a fine chapel which he had erected for liimself in Ely Cathedral. His published writings are: "Sponsage of a Virgin to Christ" (14SG); " Hill of Perfection" (1491, 1497, 1501); "Sermons upon the Eighth Chap- ter of Luke " ; " Gallicantus Joannis Alcock episcopi Elisensis ad fratres suos curatos in Sinodo apud Barnwell" (1498); "Abbey of the Holy Ghost", "Castle of Labour", translated from the French, (1536). Alcock is also thought to have written a metrical work in English on the Seven Penitential Psalms. Bale says of liim that he " made such a pro- ficiency in virtue that no one in England had a greater reputation for sanctity". He restored many eccles- iastical buihiings, and fovmded Jesus College, Cam- bridge, on the ruined nunnery of St. Rhadegund. He also endowed Peterhouse. Alcock was a distinguished canonist, but made no provisions for the study of this branch in Jesus College. His life was one marked by the practice of Christian virtues, full of zeal and of a penitential spirit. Bentham, History of Ely; Mullinger, History of the^ Uni- versity of Cambridge, I; Cooper, Athena Cantabrigienses. John J. a' Becket. Alcoholism. — The term alcoholism is understood to include all the changes that may occur in the human organism after the ingestion of any form of alcohol. These changes vary from the merest tran- sient exhilaration of the cerebral fimctions up to pro- found unconsciousness, ending in coma and perhaps in death. These variations depend upon the amount of alcohol taken, the form of alcohol used, the rapidity of its administration, and the habituation of the individual to its effects. A vast amount of literature has grown up around the apparently simple cjuestion of the amount of alcohol which can be o.idized or burnt up in the body and its energy made available for the needs of the system. The question as to whether alcohol is really a food has also aroused much discussion and considerable diversity of opinion. The more accurate methods of study in recent days and the careful work now being done in physiological chemistry make it cer- tain that alcohol can be burned in the body, and that the system may derive energy therefrom, as in the o.xidation of sugar or fat. But it must be clearly understood that this statement does not carry with it the idea that alcohol is to be recommended for its food value, or tliat prior to its oxidation it may not exert some physiological action the reverse of bene- ficial. As a matter of fact, its disadvantages so far outweigli its useful effects, when taken as a food or beverage, that its use in this way must be emphati- cally condemned, while the damage that the con- sumption of alcohol does to man's nervous apparatus, to his intellect and will, and to his moral sense furnishes additional reason why abstinence, during health at least, should be man's rule of life. To appreciate fully tlie facts upon which tliis state- ment is based we must consider what alcohol is, its chemical composition, the forms of alcohol in conunon ase, its physiological action in the human body, and its poisonous effects in excessive, or in long continued do.se.s. Alcohol is a liquid composed of ninety-one per cent by weight (94 by volume) of ethylic alcohol and of 9 per cent by weight (6 by volume) of water. Its specific gravity is 0.820 at 60° F. It is a trans- parent, colourless, volatile, and inflammable sub- stance, with a characteristic, rather pungent, taste and oclour. Ethylic alcohol is the alcohol of brandy, whiskey, wine, and the various spirits and cordials. Its effects upon the system are less dangerous than those of other alcohols, such as amylic, methylic, or butylic. During distillation of grain, unless very carefully conducted, considerable amylic alcohol (fusel oil) will pass over with the ethylic, especially if the process be continued too long. By keeping whiskey stored for several years the amylic alcohol becomes changed into various ethers, which impart the flavour to the spirit. Therefore grain-spirit (whiskey) should be at least two years old, and the spirit from fermented grapes (brandy) at least four years old. Wine is made by fermentation without distillation; red wine by fermenting the juice of coloured grapes in the presence of their skins, and white wine by fermenting the unmodified juice of the grape, free from seeds, stems, and stones. Gin is obtained by adding juniper berries to dilute alcohol. Rum, or molasses spirit, by distillation from sugar or molasses which has undergone alco- holic fermentation. Malt liquors — ale, beer, porter, etc. — are produced by fermentation of malt and hops. Absolutely pure alcohol is rarely found, even in the laboratory of the chemist. Owing to its great affinity for water, it will abstract it even from the air. What is known as absolute alcohol of the shops usually contains about 2 per cent of water. In order to estimate the effects of different forms of alcoholic liquors the following comparative strength should be remembered: Brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, cordials, 30 to 50 per cent of absolute alcohol; Spanish and Italian sweet wines, 13 to 17 per cent; hock and claret, 8 to 11 per cent; ale, porter, stout or beer, 4 to 6 per cent; koumyss, 1 to 3 per cent. Champagne contains from 8 to 10 per cent, but the presence of carbonic acid gas makes it more "heady," that is to say, the cerebral stimu- lation is produced more quickly, and the carbonic acid acts as a sedative to the stomach, making champagne especially serviceable where prompt stimulation is required and the stomach is irritable, as in seasickness or in yellow fever. Besides the open and undisguised alcoholic pieparatioits cited above, there is a host of patent medicines, pro- prietary foods, tonics, and other nostrums adver- tised as entirely harmless and as containing no alcohol, and recommended for inebriates, for con- valescents, and for persons weakened by disease. Analysis of many of these has shown alcohol in quantities ranging from 7 to 47 per cent. The use of these substances is having a tremendous, but un- recognized, influence, physical, economical, and moral, upon society at the present day. Although it is unquestionably true that alcohol may take the place of some fat or carbohydrate in the food, it is an extraordinary food, to be used only under cer- tain conditions when its ease of oxidation may be of great benefit, and on account of its peculiar toxic effect it should not be taken except when needed. It has been compared to the furniture of a ship, together with its decks and stanchions, which are undoubtedly fuel substances, yet which no sane cap- tain would use for fuel purposes, except in the direst need. Physiologically, it is both unwise and in- correct to advise that the continued use of alcohol in moderate doses is harmless. Alcohol, like salt water in a steam boiler, shoidd be used only in emergencies. To imderstand this, we must consider its physiological action in the human body. Physiologists now universally belie-e that the cell is the scene of all vital processes. The essential processes of nutrition are the metabolic changes I