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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/58

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Individuals, too, should be treated on that plan, and, next to absolute abstinence from stimulating poisons, the most essential condition of a permanent cure is a liberal allowance of healthful stimulants, in the form of diverting pastimes and out-door exercise. For the chief danger of a relapse is not the attractiveness of intoxication, but the misery of the after-effect, the depressing reaction that follows upon the abnormal excitement, and for several weeks seems daily to gain strength against the reformatory resolves of the penitent. This apathy of the unstimulated system can become more intolerable than positive pain, and embitter existence till, in spite of prayers and pledges, its victims either relapse into alcohol or resort to cognate stimulants—chloral, absinthe, or opium. In stress of such temptations the prophylactic influence of a mind-stimulating occupation is almost as effective as is the deliquium of disappointed love. Ennui is the chief coadjutor, of the poison-fiend. On the Militär-Grenze, the "Military Frontier" of Eastern Austria, a soldier's life is a ceaseless guerrilla-war against smugglers, outlaws, and Bulgarian bed-bugs; yet hundreds of German officers solicit transfer to that region as to a refuge from the temptations of garrison tedium, deliberately choosing a concentration of all discomforts, as a Schnapps-Kur, a whisky-cure, as they express it with frank directness; and for similar purposes many of Fremont's contemporaries took the prairie-trail to the adventure-land of the far West. Frederick Gerstaecker found that the California rum-shops got their chief patronage from unsuccessful miners; the successful ones had better stimulants.

For the first month or two the convalescent should not content himself with negative safeguards, but make up his mind that temptations will come, and come in the most grievous form, and that active warfare is nearly always the safest plan. The alcohol-habit is a physical disease, and a Rocky Mountain excursion, a visit to the diggings, a month of sea-side rambles and surf-baths, will do more to help a convert across the slough of despond than a season-ticket to all the lecture-halls of the Christian Temperance Union.

But such excursions should be undertaken in company. Soldiers in the ranks will endure hardships that would melt the valor of any solitary hero; and in the presence of manly companions the spirit of emulation and "approbativeness" will sustain even an enervated fellow. The esprit de corps of a temperance society is more cogent than its vows.

An appeal to the passions is the next best thing. Everything is fair in the war against alcohol: love, ambition, pride, and even acquisitiveness, may be utilized to divert the mind from a more baneful propensity—for a time, at least. For, after the tempter has been kept at bay for a couple of months, its power will reach a turning-point; the nervous irritability will subside, the outraged digestive organs resume their normal functions, and the potency of the poison-