Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/784

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Munford's Elixir; the coffee-cup leads to the pipe, and the pipe to the pot-house. Wherever the nicotine-habit has been introduced, the alcohol-habit soon follows. The Spanish Saracens abstained from all poisons, and for seven centuries remained the teachers of Europe in war as well as in science and the arts of peace—freemen in the fullest sense of the word, men whom a powerful foe could at last expel and exterminate, but never subdue. The Turks, having learned to smoke tobacco, soon learned to eat opium, and have since been taught to eat dust at the feet of the Muscovite. When the first Spaniards came to South America they found in the Patagonian highlands a tribe of warlike natives who were entirely ignorant of any stimulating substance, and who have ever since defied the sutlers and soldiers of their neighbors, while the tobacco-smoking red-skins of the North succumbed to fire-water. In the South-Sea Islands, too, European poisons have done more mischief than gunpowder: wherever the natives had been fond of fermented cocoa-milk, their children became still fonder of rum; while the Papuans, whose forefathers had never practiced stimulation, have always shown an aversion to drunkenness, and in spite of their ethnological inferiority have managed to survive their aboriginal neighbors. International statistics have revealed the remarkable fact that the alcohol-vice is most prevalent not in the most ignorant or most despotic countries (Russia, Austria, and Turkey), nor where alcoholic drinks of the most seductive kind are cheapest (Greece, Spain, and Asia Minor), but in the commercial countries that use the greatest variety of milder stimulants—Great Britain, Western France, and Eastern North America. Hence the apparent paradox that drunkenness is most frequent among the most civilized nations. The tendency of every stimulant-habit is toward a stronger tonic. Claude Bernard, the famous French physiologist, noticed that the opium-vice recruits its female victims chiefly from the ranks of the veteran coffee-drinkers; in Savoy and the adjoining Swiss cantons kirsch-wasser prepares the way for arsenic; in London and St. Petersburg many ether-drinkers have relinquished high wines for a more concentrated poison; and in Constantinople the Persian opium-shops have eclipsed the popularity of the Arabian coffee-houses.

We see, then, that every poison-habit is progressive, and thus realize the truth that there is no such thing as a harmless stimulant, because the incipience of every unnatural appetite is the first stage of a progressive disease.

The facts from which we draw these conclusions have long been familiar to scientific specialists, and have separately been commented upon; but in science, as in morals, the progress from special to general inferences is often amazingly slow. The ancient Athenians would have shuddered at the idea of selling and buying a burgher of their own city, but had no hesitation to enslave the Greeks of the neighboring states. The Romans enfranchised the citizens of Latium, and at last