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intrinsic and felt worth, that though accidentally their acquaintance has proved pernicious to me, I do not know that if the thing were tu do over again, I should have the courage to eschew the mischief at the price of forfeiting the benefit. I came to them reeking from the steams of my late over-heated notions of companionship; and the slightest fuel which they unconsciously afforded, was sufficient to feed my old fires into a propensity.
They were no drinkers, but, one from professional habits, and another from a custom derived from his father, smoked tobacco. The devil could not have devised a more subtle trap to retake a backsliding penitent. The transition, from gulping down draughts of liquid fire to pufling out innocuous blasts of dry smoke, was so like cheating him. But he is too hard for us when we hope to commute. He beats us at barter; and when we think to set off a new failing against an old infirmity, 'tis odds but he puts the trick upon us of two for one. That (comparatively) white devil of tobacco brought with him in the end seven worse than himself.
It were impertinent to carry the reader through all the processes by which, from smoking at first with malt liquor, I took my degrees through thin wines, through stronger wine and water, through small punch, to those juggling compositions, which, under the name of mixed liquors, slur a great deal of brandy or other poison under less and less water continually, until they come next to none, and so to none at all. But it is hateful to disclose the secrets of
Tartarus. I should repel my readers, from a mere incapacity of believing me, were I to tell them what tobacco has been to me, the drudging service which I have paid, the slavery which I have vowed to it. How, when I have resolved to quit it, a feeling as of ingratitude has started up; how it has put on personal claims and made the demands of a friend upon me. How the reading of it casually in a book, as where Adams takes his whiff in the chimney-corner of some inn in Joseph Andrews, or Piscator in the Complete Angler breaks his fast upon a morning pipe in that delicate room Piscatoribus Sacrum, has in a moment broken down the resistance of weeks. How a pipe was ever in my midnight path before me, till the vision forced me to realize it-how then its ascending vapours curled, its fragrance lulled, and the thousand delicious ministerings conversant about it, employing every faculty, extracted the sense of pain. How from illuminating it came to darken, from a quick solace it turned to a negative relief, thence to a restlessness and dissatisfaction, thence to a positive misery. How, even now, when the whole secret stands confessed in all its dreadful truth before me, I feel myself linked to it beyond the power of revocation. Bone of my bone
Persons not accustomed to examine the motives of their actions, to reckon
up the countless nails that rivet the chains of habit, or perhaps being bound by none so obdurate as those I have confessed to, may recoil from this as from an overcharged picture. But what short of such a bondage is it, which in spite of protesting friends, a weeping wife, and a reprobating world, chains down many a poor fellow, of no original indisposition to goodness, to his pipe and his pot?
I have seen a print after Corregio, in which three female figures are ministering to a man who sits fast bound at the root of a tree. Sensuality is soothing him, Evil Habit is pailing him to a branch, and Re
pugnance at the same instant of time is applying a snake to his side. In his face is feeble delight, the recollection of past rather than perception of present pleasures, languid enjoyment of evil with utter imbecility to good, a Sybaritic effeminacy, a submission to bondage, the springs of the will gone down like a broken clock, the sin and the suffering co-instantaneous, or the latter forerunning the former, remorse preceding action-all this represented in one point of time.- When I saw this, I admired the wonderful skill of the painter. But when I went away, I wept, because I thought of my own condition.
Of that there is no hope that it should ever change. The waters have gone over me. But out of the black depths, could I be heard, I would cry out to all those who have but set a foot in the perilous flood. Could the youth, to whom the flavour of his first wine is delicious as the opening scenes of life or the entering upon some newly discovered paradise, look into my desolation, and be made to understand what a dreary thing it is when a man shall feel himself going down a precipice with open eyes and a passive will,—to see his destruction, and have no power to stop it, and yet to feel it all the way emanating from himself; to perceive all goodness emptied out of him, and yet not to be able to forget a time when it was otherwise; to bear about the piteous spectacle of his own self-ruins :—could he see my fevered eye, feverish with last night's drinking, and feverishly looking for this night's repetition of the folly; could he feel the body of the death out of which I cry hourly with feebler and feebler outcry to be delivered, it were enough to make him dash the sparkling beverage to the earth in all the pride of its mantling temptation; to make him clasp his teeth,
and not undo 'em To suffer WET DAMNATION to run thro' 'em. Yea, but (methinks I hear somebody object) if sobriety be that fine thing you would have us to understand, if the comforts of a cool brain are to be preferred to that state of heated excitement which you describe and deplore, what hinders in your own instance that you do not return to those habits from which you would induce others never to swerve? if the blessing be worth preserving, is it not worth recovering?
Recovering !-O if a wish could transport me back to those days of youth, when a draught from the next clear spring could slake any heats which summer suns and youthful exercise had power to stir up in the blood, how gladly would I return to thee, pure element, the drink of children, and of child-like holy hermit. In my dreams I can sometimes fancy thy cool refreshment purling over my burning tongue. But my waking stomach rejects it. That which refreshes innocence, only makes me sick and faint.
But is there no middle way betwixt total abstinence and the excess which kills you P-For your sake, reader, and that you may never attain to my experience, with pain I mụst utter the dreadful truth, that there is none, none that I can find. In my stage of habit (I speak not of habits less confirmed for some of them I believe the advice to be most prudential) in the stage which I have reached, to stop short of that measure which is sufficient to draw on torpor and sleep, the benumbing apoplectic sleep of the drunkard, is to have taken nope at all. Vol. I. No. 2-Museum.
The pain of the self-denial is all one, And what that is, I had rather the reader should believe on my credit, than know from his own trial. He will come to know it, whenever he shall arrive at that state, in which, paradoxical as it may appear, reason shall only visit him through intoxication : for it is a fearful truth, that the intellectual faculties by repeated acts of intemperance may be driven from their orderly sphere of action, their clear day-light ministeries, until they shall be brought at last to depend, for the faint manifestation of their departing energies, upon the returning periods of the fatal madness to which they owe their devastation. The drinking man is never less himself than during his sober intervals. Evil is so far his good.
Behold me then, in the robust period of life, reduced to imbecility and decay. Hear me count my gains, and the profits which I have derived from the midnight cup.
Twelve years ago I was possessed of a healthy frame of mind and body. I was never strong, but I think my constitution (for a weak one) was as happily exempt from the tendency to any malady as it was possible to be. I scarce knew what it was to ail any thing. Now, except .when I am losing myself in a sea of drink, I am never free from those uneasy sensations in head and stomach, which are so much worse to bear than any definite pains or aches.
At that time I was seldom in bed after six in the morning, summer and winter. I awoke refreshed, and seldom without some merry thoughts in my head, or some piece of a song to welcome the new-born day. Now, the first feeling which besets me, after stretching out the hours of recumbence to their last possible extent, is a forecast of the wearisome day that lies before me, with a secret wish that I could have lain on still, or never awaked.
Life itself, my waking life, has much of the confusion, the trouble, and obscure perplexity, of an ill dream. In the day time I stumble upon dark mountains.
Business, which, though never particularly adapted to my nature, yet as something of necessity to be gone through, and therefore best undertaken with cheerfulness, I used to enter upon with some degree of alacrity, now wearies, affrights, perplexes me. I fancy all sorts of discouragements, and am ready to give up an occupation which gives me bread, from a harassing conceit of incapacity. The slightest commission given me by a friend, or any small duty which I have to perform for myself, as giving orders to a tradesman, &c. haunts me as a labour impossible to be got through. So much the springs of action are broken.
The same cowardice attends me in all my intercourse with mankind. I dare not promise that a friend's honour, or his cause, would be safe in my keeping, if I were put to the expense of any manly resolution in defending it. So much the springs of moral action are deadened within me.
My favourite occupations in times past, now cease to entertain. I can do nothing readily. Application for ever so short a time kills me. This poor abstract of my condition was penned at long intervals, with scarcely any attempt at connexion of thought, which is now difficult to me.
The noble passages which formerly delighted me in history or poetic fiction, now only draw a few weak tears, allied to dotage. My
broken and dispirited nature seems to sink before any thing great and admirable.
I perpetually catch myself in tears, for any cause, or none. It is inexpressible how much this infirmity adds to a sense of shame, and a general feeling of deterioration.
These are some of the instances, concerning which I can say with truth, that it was not always so with me. Shall I lift up the veil of my
further ? or is this disclosure sufficient ?
I am a poor nameless egotist, who have no vanity to consult by these Confessions. I know not whether I shall be laughed at, or heard seriously. Such as they are, I commend them to the reader's attention, if he finds his own case any way touched. I have told him what I am come to. Let him stop in time.
FROM THE JOURNAL OF SCIENCÉ. A Review of some of the General Principles of Physiology, with the
Practical Results to which they have led. By A. P. W. Philip, M. D. F.R.S. Edinb.
We are now to direct our attention to the phenomena of the nervous system. Under this term is generally included the sensorial as well as nervous system, properly so called. From a careful review of the functions of these systems, however, it will appear, I think, that they do not differ less from each other than from the muscular system.
M. le Gallois, as far as I know, is the only author who has endeavoured by experiments to draw a line of distinction between them. It is unnecessary, however, to examine the opinion he has advanced, as many of the facts which I shall have occasion to state will be found incompatible with it. After reviewing the phenomena of the nervous system, properly so called, we shall be better prepared to enter on this question.
The functions of the nervous are much more complicated than those of the inuscular system. The first we shall consider is one on which I have already been necessarily led to make some observations. We have seen that the influence of the nervous system is the only stimulus of the muscles of voluntary motion, and that it is also capable of exciting those of involuntary motion, although in their usual functions the latter are excited by other means. Here the question arises, if the nervous system be not concerned in the usual functions of these muscles, why are they universally subjected to its influence? This question we are not prepared to consider till we have taken a view of some of the other functions of the nervous system; but the influence of that system not only does not excite the muscles of involuntary motion in their usual functions, but, as I have already had occasion to observe, is communicated to them in a way different from that in which it is communicated to the muscles of voluntary motion. We shall here inquire in what this difference consists.
The following positions have been ascertained by repeated experiments. Chemical agents, applied to the brain and spinal marrow, more powerfully influenced the heart than mechanical agents, while the lat
ter influence the muscles of voluntary motion more than chemical agents. Both, applied to the brain and spinal marrow, excite the heart after they cease to produce any effect on the muscles of volun- , tary motion. Applied to any part of the brain and spinal marrow, they affect the action of the heart, while the muscles of voluntary motion are only affected when they are applied to the parts from which the nerves of those muscles originate. Applied to the brain and spinal márrow, they never excite irregular action in the heart, while nothing can be more irregular than the action they excite in the muscles of voluntary motion. Their effect on these muscles is felt chiefly on their first application, but continues on the heart, within
certain limits, as long as they are applied. These differences in the effects of agents applied to the brain and spinal marrow must, it is evident, be explained, before we can understand the relation which subsists between the nervous and muscular systems.
It appeared to me probable, from the result of several experiments, that the cause of chemical agents, applied to the brain and spinal marrow, producing a greater effect on the heart than those which act mechanically is, that the former, from their nature, act on a larger surface. If this opinion be correct, the mechanical agent, it is evident, may be rendered the most powerful, by confining the chemical to a smaller space than it occupies, which was found from frequently repeated experiments to be the case.
Most of the experiments on this part of the subject, it may be observed, as well as many to which I have already referred, were made, not on the living, but newly dead animal, which was always employed if the nature of the experiment admitted of it.*
It appeared, from repeated experiments, that neither chemical nor mechanical agents, applied to the brain and spinal marrow, affect the action of the heart, unless they make their impression on a large portion of these organs. Every part of them may be stimulated individually, without the action of the heart being influenced; and the agent being the same, its influence on this organ is always proportioned to the extent of surface to which it is applied. It does not appear that it is of much importance on what part of the brain the agent makes its impression. Even stimulating the surface alone, either mechanically or chemically, immediately increases the action of the heart.
Another circumstance, which appears to be of great consequence in explaining the difference of the effects of agents applied to the brain and spinal marrow on the two sets of muscles, is, that the heart obeys a much less powerful stimulus than the muscles of voluntary motion do. The most powerful chemical agents alone affected them, while all that were tried readily influenced the action of the heart. Mechanical agents which, by bruising and dividing the parts, occasion the greatest possible irritation, are best fitted to excite the muscles of voluntary motion. Chemical agents, indeed, from their effects on the heart, we should, at first view, consider the most powerful. But their greater effect on this organ is readily explained by what has just been said. When the effect of the mechanical agent was rendered extreme
Why the newly dead animal is as good a subject for many physiological experiments as the living one, will appear from what I shall afterwards have occasion to lay before the reader.