Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/236

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It is strange that any physiologist should claim this diminution of the normal waste and renewal of tissue as a merit, seeing that life itself is the product of such change, and death the result of its cessation. But, in the eagerness that has been displayed to justify existing indulgences, this claim has been extensively made by men who ought to know better than admit such a plea.

I speak, of course, of the habitual use of such drugs, not of their occasional medicinal use. The waste of the body may be going on with killing rapidity, as in fever, and then such medicines may save life, provided always that the body has not become "tolerant" of or partially insensible to, them by daily usage. I once watched a dangerous case of typhoid fever. Acting under the instructions of skillful medical attendants, and aided by a clinical thermometer and a seconds-watch, I so applied small doses of brandy at short intervals as to keep down both pulse and temperature within the limits of fatal combustion. The patient had scarcely tasted alcohol before this, and therefore it exerted its maximum efficacy. I was surprised at the certain response of both pulse and temperature to this most valuable medicine and most pernicious beverage.

The argument that has been the most industriously urged in favor of all the vice-drugs, and each in its turn, is that miserable apology that has been made for every folly, every vice, every political abuse, every social crime (such as slavery, polygamy, etc.), when the time has arrived for reformation. I can not condescend to seriously argue against it, but merely state the fact that the widely diffused practice of using some kind of stimulating drug has been claimed as a sufficient proof of the necessity or advantage of such practice. I leave my readers to bestow on such a plea the treatment they may think it deserves. Those who believe that a rational being should have rational grounds for his conduct will treat this customary refuge of blind conservatism as I do.—Knowledge.


THAT civilization exerts upon the older societies of the world an influence which is on the whole favorable to physical perfection and longevity has been abundantly shown. While certain forms of disease, more particularly those affecting the nervous system, are increasing in frequency as a result of the increased demands upon the workers in our large cities, yet there is no question that a more than countervailing influence is exerted by the greater knowledge of sanitary science and the increased resistant power which modern civiliza-