Nor are the evil effects of alcohol confined to the body. ‘Oh! that men should put an enemy into their mouths, to steal away their brains,’ Casio exclaims in Othello. From a superficial point of view, wine would seem to do the reverse of stealing away the brains, for undoubtedly it often inspires the intellect with brilliant wit.
But this good result is only temporary; and at a later stage of intoxication the drunkard, after passing through an intermediate stage of temporary exhilaration, becomes completely stupefied and ceases to act like a reasonable being.
It is not to be expected that an indulgence that thus at each drinking bout conquers the reason, should not produce permanent bad effects on the mind. The drunkard’s brain becomes rapidly duller, his memory fails him, and in extreme cases he is led by his favourite vice into the lunatic asylum.
Nor does the general moral character remain unimpaired by the vicious indulgence that ruins the health and injures the intellect. Intemperance, besides being a vice itself, is the parent of other vices. Drunkards lose their self-respect, and do not shrink from degrading themselves by falsehood and dishonesty.
They also lose the power of controlling their passions, and so commit violent acts that they would never have done in their sober hours.
A well-known historical instance of this is Alexander the Great’s murder of his friend Cletus in a drinking bout; and countless other examples may be added to it from the police reports in the daily papers.
It is scarcely necessary to add that intemperance is a great barrier to success in life. What impairs the power of body and mind must of course prevent a man from doing any work well. The drunken soldier or points man sleeps at his post, and brings destruction on those committed to his care.
The drunken coachman drives his carriage into the ditch. No one known to be afflicted with this vice can be safely in trusted with any responsible office; and thus it is that we find drunkards either employed in the meanest and worst paid work, or utterly unable to find any one willing to give them employment.
Such men, even though they may be honest and loyal to their employers, are nevertheless unreliable servants; and if they are their own masters, they are likely to bring ruin on themselves and misery on their families.