Page:Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.djvu/248

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240
ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.


the digestive apparatus can work under its natural, but to them strange, conditions, while the temporary longing for beer, and the sudden lessening of the quantity of milk afforded by 'their strained and impoverished systems, are at once set down as clear proofs that their medical adviser is a crochetty, and dangerous person, who must be superseded at the first convenient opportunity. Facts and arguments have no more influence on such mothers than they have upon opium-eaters, drunkards, or inveterate consumers of tobacco ; while the extreme propriety of conduct which these ladies manifest, and the encouragement they receive from other medical men, make the convictions based upon their own personal sensations incontrovertible, and their position practically unassailable. I think I might fairly say that among the comfortable middle classes of society the views at present held on this question are so deplorable that a large proportion of children are never sober from the first moment of their existence until they have been weaned; while often after a few years the use of alcohol is again introduced to the children as a ' medical comfort,' as a part of their regular diet, or as an invariable accompaniment of all their juvenile visitation, and company-keeping. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that temperance reformers appeal in vain on this question, and that their facts and arguments are viewed with plausible indifference, or insidious opposition, by persons whose appetites and instincts have been undergoing debasement, and perversion from the very dawn of their lives. My own deliberate conviction is that nothing but harm comes to nursing mothers, and to the infants who are dependent upon them, by the ordinary use of alcoholic beverages of any kind.

"Infants nursed by mothers who drink much beer also become fatter than usual, and to an untrained eye sometimes appear as 'magnificent children.' But the fatness of such children is not a recommendation to the more knowing observer; they are extremely prone to die of inflammation of the chest (bronchitis) after a few days' illness from an ordinary cold. They