Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/114

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from the left arm, joins with the returning blood from the left side of the head on its way to the heart. It is so greedy for water that it will pick it up from all the watery textures of the body, and deprive them of it, until, by its saturation, it can take up no more, its power of reception being exhausted; after which it diffuses itself into the current of circulating fluid. When we dilute alcohol with water before drinking it, we quicken its absorption; and, if we do not dilute it sufficiently, it is diluted in the stomach by the transudation of water in the stomach, until the required reduction for its absorption is effected.

Now, after an investigation of a very elaborate character, Dr. Anstie and Drs. Thudichum and Duprè have satisfactorily proved that only a very small portion of the spirit which is taken into a living body is expelled out of that body as alcohol, in the secretions, and that there must be some other means by which the spirit is disposed of in the system. In one very remarkable and memorable experiment. Dr. Anstie gave a dog, weighing ten pounds, the liberal dose of two thousand grains of alcohol in ten days, and, on the last day of the ten, he administered ninety-five grains of the spirit as a final dose, and then two hours afterward killed the dog, and immediately subjected the whole body—blood, secretion, flesh, membranes, brain and bone—to rigorous analysis, and he found in the whole texture of the body only about 23½ grains of spirit. The other 1,976 grains had clearly, therefore, been turned into something else, within the living system.

These experiments directly refer to our query—the settlement of the food-power of alcohol as a doctrine of physiological science.

Before reasoning out this proposition, we must state certain facts which it seems impossible to reconcile with any other theory than that alcohol is a food. Dr. Anstie relates the case of an old soldier who was under his care at the Westminster Hospital in 1861, who had lived for twenty years upon a diet composed of a bottle of unsweetened gin and "one small finger-length of toasted bread" per day and who maintained the structures of his body for this long period upon that very remarkable regimen. Similarly an old Roman soldier admired by the Emperor Augustus, when asked how be managed to keep up such a splendid development, replied—Intùs vino, extùs oleo—"With wine within, and oil without."

Dr. Robert D'Lalor tells us that some thirty years ago, in foreign climes and in unhealthy districts, he lived for two years upon wine and brandy, with very little solid food; and at the end of the period was neither perceptibly poisoned, starved, nor emaciated. Laborers, navvies, coal-heavers, and others, who take no beer, eat nearly as much again as those who take a moderate allowance of beer. Dr. D'Lalor declares that he knows many vigorous and healthy men in London, not only waiters, potmen, publicans, and the like, but tradesmen and merchants, who eat but little solid iood, but have plenty of wine, porter, gin, etc.