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- Study and Stimulants - 3/26 -
LYMAN ABBOT. March 11, 1882.
MR. S. AUSTIN ALLIBONE, NEW YORK.
I have no doubt that the use of alcohol as a rule is very injurious to all persons--authors included. In about 17 years (1853-1870), in which I was engaged on the "Dictionary of English Literature and Authors," I never took it but for medicine, and very seldom. Moderate smoking after meals I think useful to those who use their brains much; and this seems to have been the opinion of the majority of the physicians who took part in the controversy in the _Lancet_ about ten or twelve years since. An energetic non-smoker is in haste to rush to his work soon after dinner. A smoker is willing to rest (it should be for an hour), because he can enjoy his cigar, and his conscience is satisfied, which is a great thing for digestion; the brain is soothed also.
S. AUSTIN ALLIBONE. March 27, 1882.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL, F. R. S.
In answer to your question, I can only say that during by far the greatest part of my life I never took alcohol in any form; and that only in recent years I have taken a small fixed quantity under medical advice, as a preventive of gout. Tobacco I have never touched.
ARGYLL. October 2, 1882.
MR. MATTHEW ARNOLD.
In reply to your enquiry, I have to inform you that I have never smoked, and have always drunk wine, chiefly claret. As to the use of wine, I can only speak for myself. Of course, there is the danger of excess; but a healthy nature and the power of self-control being presupposed, one can hardly do better, I should think, than "follow nature" as to what one drinks, and its times and quantity. As a general rule, I drink water in the middle of the day; and a glass or two of sherry, and some light claret, mixed with water, at a late dinner; and this seems to suit me very well. I have given up beer in the middle of the day, not because I experienced that it did not suit me, but because the doctor assured me that it was bad for rheumatism, from which I sometimes suffer. I suppose most young people could do as much without wine as with it. Real brain-work of itself, I think, upsets the worker, and makes him bilious; wine will not cure this, nor will abstaining from wine prevent it. But, in general, wine used in moderation seems to add to the _agreeableness_ of life--for adults, at any rate; and whatever adds to the agreeableness of life adds to its resources and powers.
MATTHEW ARNOLD. November 4, 1882.
Has no very definite opinions as to the effects of tobacco and alcohol upon the mind and health, but as he is not in the habit of either taking alcohol or of smoking, he cannot regard those habits as essential to mental exertion.
April 21, 1882.
DR. ALEXANDER BAIN, LORD RECTOR OF ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY.
I am interested in the fact that anyone is engaged in a thorough investigation of the action of stimulants. Although the subject falls under my own studies in some degree, I am a very indifferent testimony as far as concerns personal experience. On the action of tobacco, I am disqualified to speak, from never having used it. As to the other stimulants--alcohol and the tea group--I find abstinence essential to intellectual effort. They induce a false excitement, not compatible with severe application to problems of difficulty. They come in well enough at the end of the day as soothing, or cheering, and also as diverting the thoughts into other channels. In my early intercourse with my friend; Dr. Carpenter, when he was a strict teetotaler, he used to discredit the effect of alcohol in soothing the excitement of prolonged intellectual work. I have always considered, however, that there is something in it. Excess of tea I have good reason to deprecate; I take it only once a day. The difficulty that presses upon me on the whole subject is this:--In organic influences, you are not at liberty to lay down the law of concomitant variations without exception, or to affirm that what is bad in large quantities, is simply less bad when the quantity is small. There may be proportions not only innocuous, but beneficial; reasoning from the analogy of the action of many drugs which present the greatest opposition of effect in different quantities. I mean this--not with reference to the inutility for intellectual stimulation, in which I have a pretty clear opinion as regards myself--but as to the harmlessness in the long run, of the employment of stimulants for solace and pleasure when kept to what we call moderation. A friend of mine heard Thackeray say that he got some of his best thoughts when driving home from dining out, with his skin full of wine. That a man might get chance suggestions by the nervous excitement, I have no doubt; I speak of the serious work of composition. John Stuart Mill never used tobacco; I believe he had always a moderate quantity of wine to dinner. He frequently made the remark that he believed the giving up of wine would be apt to be followed by taking more food than was necessary, merely for the sake of stimulation. Assuming the use of stimulants after work to aid the subsidence of the brain, I can quite conceive that tobacco may operate in this way, as often averred; but I should have supposed that any single stimulant would be enough: as tobacco for those abstaining entirely from alcohol, and using little tea or coffee.
ALEXANDER BAIN. March 6, 1882.
PROFESSOR ROBERT S. BALL, LL. D., F. R. S., ANDREWS PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN, AND ROYAL ASTRONOMER OF IRELAND.
I fear my experience can be of little use to you. I have never smoked except once--when at school; I then got sick, and have never desired to smoke since. I have not paid particular attention to the subject, but I have never seen anything to make me believe that tobacco was of real use to intellectual workers. I have known of people being injured by smoking too much, but I never heard of anyone suffering from not smoking at all.
ROBERT S. BALL. February 13, 1882.
MR. HUBERT HOWE BANCROFT, SAN FRANCISCO.
In my opinion, some constitutions are benefited by a moderate use of tobacco and alcohol; others are not. But to touch these things is dangerous.
H. H. BANCROFT. May 6, 1882.
MR. JOSEPH BAXENDELL, F. R. A. S.
I fear that my experience of the results of the use of stimulants will not aid you much in your enquiry. Although I am not a professed teetotaler or anti-smoker, practically I may say I am one: and when I am engaged in literary work, scientific investigations, or long and complicated calculations, I never think of taking any stimulant to aid or refresh me, and I doubt whether it would be of any use to do so.
JOSEPH BAXENDELL. February 20, 1882.
DR. G. M. BEARD, FELLOW OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE.
In reply to your enquiries, I may say--first: I do not find that alcohol is so good a stimulant to thought as coffee, tea, opium, or tobacco. On myself alcohol has rather a benumbing and stupefying effect, whatever may be the dose employed; whereas, tobacco and opium, in moderate doses, tea, and especially coffee, as well as cocoa, have an effect precisely the reverse.
Secondly: there are many persons on whom alcohol in large or small doses has a stimulating effect on thought: they can speak and think better under its influence. The late Daniel Webster was accustomed to stimulate himself for his great speeches by the use of alcohol.
Thirdly: these stimulants and narcotics, according to the temperament of the person on whom they are used, have effects precisely opposite, either sedative or stimulating; while coffee makes some people sleepy, the majority of persons are made wakeful by it. Some are made very
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