Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/755

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735
SPECIFICS FOR THE CURE OF INEBRIETY.

drunkenness with intense earnestness. The excitement of the political campaign and its drink excesses had prepared the public mind for this great emotional remedy—the pledge. John Hawkins's infectious earnestness animated his followers, and roused up an army of lecturers which scattered to every town and hamlet all over the country. The campaign excitement of 1840 appeared again in a great temperance reform wave, which steadily grew in numbers and enthusiasm up to 1847, when a high tidal point was reached and reaction began. Over a million persons signed the pledge, and the evils of drinking and alcohol were discussed in almost every neighborhood in the country. Never before had any reform movement been prosecuted with such terrible earnestness and contagious enthusiasm. All selfish motives and personal interests seemed to disappear in the one great purpose to pledge the victim and inspire him to avoid spirits and lead a temperate life. The spirit of the old crusaders seemed to have reappeared again. This was literally a psychological storm-wave, the reaction in part of the campaign of 1840, and the outgrowth of obscure psychological conditions, which had been prepared for a long time before. It crossed the continent and was felt everywhere, and a few years later was only known in the history of the past. While a number of inebriates were restored, its real work and value were in a different direction, not yet fully realized. It seemed to be a great force that fused and mobilized a tide of oncoming truth, and was literally a forerunner, indicating new and clearer conceptions of inebriety. It not only broke up old theories, but opened up new ranges of work, and gave glimpses of more effectual methods for cure.

The first inebriate asylum in the world grew out of this movement, and all the various temperance organizations date from the same source. Even the Prohibition party is the outgrowth of this reform-wave.

It was the first great psychological evolution of the drink question, giving an impetus and inspiration to its study, above all moral and political considerations. It was also a great empirical epidemic which assumed that the drink evil was the result of a feeble will, the remedy for which was the pledge, supported by personal sympathy in organized societies. It was a moral and ethical empiricism, based on the purest and highest motives; had it been founded on truth, would have lived as a great power in the upward movement of the race. In this connection it will be of interest to trace another great wave of empiricism, that created intense interest for a time. Unlike the Washingtonians, it was thoroughly mercenary, and, like the present specifics for inebriety, it was born in mystery and sustained by credulity and dogmatism.