Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
No greater truth was ever penned than the last words of this editorial wherein the editor says of beer, "That there is no body or brain that can successfully resist its intemperate use." Sanction of the use of beer or the prescribing of beer often leads patients into confirmed intemperance. Dr. Scudder took such opportunities as were presented by the quoted article to refute fallacious teachings regarding the harmlessness of beer and other intoxicants.—Ed. Gleaner.
BEER.—It does seem strange that men should willfully pervert facts to palliate the indulgence of their own appetites. If a man drinks whisky, we hear of it as "the stimulant most readily appropriated by the body;" if he drinks brandy, we hear of its "pleasant aroma," and the benefit of "volatile oils;" if he takes wine, he lectures on temperance, showing that in wine-drinking countries drunkenness is rare; if he drinks beer, it is the nectar of the (Dutch) Gods, both food and drink for the laborer. Each and all are good, and they would persuade us there is no danger in their use.
In a recent number of the Cincinnati Medical Advance (Homeopathic) I read: "Among all the modern beverages, beer is indisputably the most harmless. Besides a small percentage of alcohol, it contains the hop bitter, which agreeably stimulates the digestion; furthermore it contains; sugar and dextrin, both of which render the mixture in the stomach more nourishing."
This of course refers to the beer—lager, and it has about the same relationship to truth as the infinitesimal has to the full dose of a poison. We concede that a small portion of beer (we do not restrict you to the 10c. Fincke) may do no harm, even if repeated from day to day, but there is an intemperate use of it that is just as bad as the intemperate use of any other alcoholic beverage, and an appetite for it may be grown that is quite as uncontrollable as the appetite for other stimulants.
We concede further that there is something in the German race by which beer is better borne, and a love of gelt by which excess is restrained, but in the American the habit of beer-drinking is one of the surest roads to the devil. Speaking as a business man, I would not employ or trust an American who was an habitual beer-drinker.
I have given this subject considerable study, and I am prepared to say that of all the stimulants consumed in this country beer does the most harm. From my office door I can see the professional beer-guzzler, with his hanging, sodden, expressionless face, eyes watery and half closed, all traces of a higher humanity effaced. There are three of them putting in an occasional appearance, neither thirty-five years old, and not one will live to see forty. Within a stone's throw is a saloon where beer is sold, which has had two owners in six years, and both died of—beer. I have watched the habitues of our over-the-Rhine beer-gardens, and I find that intemperance in the use of beer almost invariably impairs nutrition, and debases both body and mind.
The use of beer ("the most harmless,") is one of the surest roads to intemperance, and to an early grave, to our American youth, and nothing would induce me to say— "drink beer;" and it would be an exceptional case where I would prescribe it.
Talk as they please about the "harmless" character of the popular beverage, lager, there is something in it deleterious to the human economy. Whether they season it with Cocculus Indicus, as reported, or not, there is no mistaking its slow, poisonous influence, and there is no body or brain that can successfully resist its intemperate use.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1874.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.