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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/59

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

-hunger will decrease from day to day. After that the main point is to gain time, and give Nature a fair chance to complete the work of redemption. As the vis vitæ recovers her functional vigor the employment of other tonics can be gradually dispensed with, except in the moments of unusual dejection that will now and then recur—especially on rainy days and after sultry nights. But in most such cases the demon can be exorcised with the price of an opera-ticket, and not rarely with a liberal dinner. "Good cheer" is a suggestive term; the mess, as well as music, has power to soothe the savage soul, and, before invoking the aid of medicinal tonics, Bibulus should try the dulcifying effect of digestible sweetmeats.

But, on the other hand, when luck and high spirits give a sufficient guarantee against present temptation, no opportunity should be missed to forego a meal. Fasting is a great system-renovator. Ten fast-days a year will purify the blood and eradicate the poison-diathesis more effectually than a hundred bottles of expurgative bitters.

And only then, after the paroxysmal phase of the baneful passion has been fairly mastered, moral suasion gets a chance to promote the work of reform. For, while the delirium or the crazing after-effects of the alcohol-fever distract the patient, exhortations are as powerless as they would be against chronic dysentery. Dr. Isaac Jennings illustrates the power of the poison-habit by the following examples: A clergyman of his acquaintance attempted to dissuade a young man of great promise from habits of intemperance. "Hear me first a few words," said the young man, "and then you may proceed. I am sensible that an indulgence in this habit will lead to loss of property, the loss of reputation and domestic happiness, to premature death, and to the irretrievable loss of my immortal soul; and now with all this conviction resting firmly on my mind and flashing over my conscience like lightning, if I still continue to drink, do you suppose anything you can say will deter me from the practice?"

Dr. Mussey, in an address before a medical society, mentioned a case that sets this subject in even a stronger light. A tippler was put into an almshouse in a populous town in Massachusetts. Within a few days he had devised various expedients to procure rum, but failed. At length he hit upon one that proved successful. He went into the wood-shed of the establishment, placed one hand upon a block, and, with an axe in the other, struck it off at a single blow. With the stump raised and streaming, he ran into the house, crying, "Get some rum—get some rum! my hand is off!" In the confusion and bustle of the occasion somebody did bring a bowl of rum, into which he plunged his bleeding arm, then raising the bowl to his mouth, drank freely, and exultingly exclaimed, "Now I am satisfied!"

More than the hunger after bread, more than the frenzy of love or hatred, the poison-hunger overpowers every other instinct, and even the fear of death. In Mexico, my colleague, Surgeon Kellermann, of