A Mesmerism that Is Waning

A caustic humorist depicts a life tragedy by showing a woman with a bruised face receiving the sympathy of a neighbor, who remarks that evidently her man is "home from the trenches." The husband by whom she had been beaten was the man who before some priest and altar, or with a promise sanctioned by the law of the land, agreed to "love, honor, and cherish" the woman. She would probably say he was a fine man "except for the drink." There is described the evil influence which as a mesmerism has enrapt and degraded multitudes. Those who trace all effects to physical causes believe that most of the human derelicts who are insane or feeble-minded, who are epileptics and idiots, are imperfect because of the degradation through drunkenness and allied conditions of one or both of the parents,—and then there are sad little cripples whom no society for the prevention of cruelty to children saved from the mad brutality of a father, in a city where men were licensed to sell madness to him. The liquor traffic branches out from that love of money which is the root of every kind of evil. It is an evil appetite which leads men into temptation, but it is cupidity which prepares the temptation for their entanglement.

The mesmerism of drink begins as a gentle seduction. The boy wants to ape manhood and to boast of such vices as he hears reprehended. The youth wants to be prominent in the society of those who banquet and carouse. The man wants to use the mesmerism of drink to make his customer complaisant that he may be an easy purchaser. Business houses used to entertain buyers from out-of-town firms by whatever debauchery they desired, and this they called seeing life, though the path was among the ways of death. Like Gulliver tied down by a million threads fastened by the labor of the Lilliputians, so humanity, the giant, has been bound by ten thousand influences of mesmerism affecting stomach, nerves, and brain through drink. These degrading influences serve the devil, that is, the adversary, who will cease to exist so soon as a man comes to himself, and rising above the animal becomes a thinker obedient to Principle. Mrs. Eddy defines the situation quite clearly in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 288) where she says: "Whatever intoxicates a man, stultifies and causes him to degenerate physically and morally. Strong drink is unquestionably an evil, and evil cannot be used temperately: its slightest use is abuse; hence the only temperance is total abstinence."

The inwardness of the drink mesmerism is this: Since all men have something of a struggle to subdue animal propensities, since morality, kindness, righteousness, honesty, require an effort to maintain, some men are fain to avoid the struggle, and by becoming intoxicated seem to find contentment in mere animalism. Peter quoted that proverb of his time about the sow that was washed returning to her wallowing in the mire; and this illustrates the way of the drunkard when men try to reform him by outward means. He relapses into his animalism. This is confessed by the Russian who said, "I should like to drink a barrel of vodka. ... As one's life is like that of the beasts, it would be better to be like a beast in all." Mrs. Eddy's rebuke to such conditions is sharp, coming as the law from Sinai. She says (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277): "I thunder His law to the sinner, and sharply lighten on the cloud of the intoxicated senses. I cannot help loathing the phenomena of drunkenness produced by animality. I rebuke it wherever I see it." And again on page 297 she explains how Christian Science delivers the intemperate, by saying: "In the direction of temperance it has achieved far more than has been accomplished by legally coercive measures,—and because this Science bases its work on ethical conditions and mentally destroys the appetite for alcoholic drinks."

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February 1, 1919

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