Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/786

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disregard the warnings of bis instinct. The economical housekeeper probably thought it a shame that bis (giving poor Eve the benefit of the doubt) servants should grumble about a slight difference in the taste of the must, and the servants had to submit, had to drink the "spoiled stuff" again and again, till habit more than neutralized their disgust, for they found that the sickness induced by the effects of the putrefaction-poison (alcohol) could be cured by a repetition of the dose. They began to hanker after fermented must, and, by drinking it in larger quantities, induced a delirium which they described as anything but unpleasant; and their master, after repeated experiments, probably arrived at the same conclusion, namely, that must could be improved by fermentation. The next year they gathered grapes for the deliberate purpose of manufacturing an intoxicating drink, and the fatal precedent was established. Nature exacted the just penalties: the votaries of the poison-god were stricken with physical and mental nausea weariness, headaches, fits of spleen and hypochondria but still they found that all these symptoms could be temporarily relieved by a draught of fermented must; and the neighbors were astonished to learn that the servants of Goodman Noah had discovered a panacea for all earthly afflictions. They, too, then tried the receipt with indifferent success at first, but the experience of the habitues encouraged them to persist, till the manufacture of wine became an extensive business.

The first traffickers in stimulants (like our lager-beer philanthropists) had a personal interest in disseminating the habit, but, whatever may have been the birth-land of the alcohol-vice, its first growth was probably slow, compared with the rate of increase after its exportation across the frontier. The history of tobacco, tea, coffee (and opium, I fear), has repeatedly illustrated the influence of imitativeness in promoting the introduction of foreign vices. The rarity and novelty of outlandish articles generally disposes the vulgar to value them as luxuries, especially while a high price precludes their general use. Foreign merchants and a few wealthy natives set the fashion, and soon the lower classes vie in emulating their betters, the young in aping their elders. In England, James I tried his utmost to suppress the use of smoking tobacco, but, after his young cavaliers had become addicted to the habit, no penalties could prevent the London apprentices from imitating them. "In large cities," says Dr. Schrodt, "one may see gamins under ten years grubbing in rubbish-heaps for cigar-stumps, soon after leaning against a board-fence, groaning and shuddering as they pay the repeated penalty of Nature, but, all the same, resuming the experiment with the resignation of a martyr. The rich, the fashionable, do it; those whom they envy smoke: smoking, they conclude, must be something enviable."

Similar arguments, doubtless, aided the introduction of the alcohol-habit, and, after the vice had once taken root, its epidemic develop-