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- Study and Stimulants - 5/26 -


In my humble opinion, every man must find out for himself whether stimulants are a help to his intellectual efforts. It is impossible to lay down a law. What would, perhaps, enable one man to write brilliantly would make another man write nonsense. I myself, although not an abstainer, should think it a great mistake to seek inspiration in either tobacco or alcohol.

F. BURNABY. March 2, 1882.


In reply to your communication, asking for a statement of my experience as to the effects of tobacco and alcohol upon the mind and health, I beg to inform you that as I have not been in the habit of using the first-named article at any period of my life, I am unable to speak of its effects, mental or otherwise. With regard to alcohol, I have found that although the brain may receive a temporary accession to its production of thought, through the use of wine, etc., such increased action is always followed by a decided weakening of the thinking power, and that on the whole a far greater amount of _even_ mental work is to be obtained without the use of alcohol than with it.

W. F. BUTLER. Feb. 18, 1882.


I am unable to give you personal experience as to the use of tobacco, inasmuch as I do not use it in any form. From observation of others it appears to me that, when not used to excess, it is serviceable both as a stimulant during work, and as a sedative after work is over.

LAUDER BURNTON. Feb. 9, 1882.


I have never been able to make any experiences on the influence of alcohol upon the mind. I never drink it, and have never been tipsy. I smoke very much, but only the pipe and cigarette. I take two meals every day--one at eleven, consisting of a mutton chop, vegetables, and a cup of tea. I make a hearty dinner at seven, and drink a bottle of Bordeaux wine. I never work in the evening; and go to bed at half-past ten. I think the use of tobacco very useless and rather stupid. As to alcohol, I consider it very hurtful for the liver, and highly injurious to the mind. The life of mental workers should be well regulated and temperate in all respects. Bodily exercises, such as riding, walking and hunting, are very necessary for the relaxation of the mind, and must be taken occasionally. In my opinion, all intellectual productions are due to a special disposition of the cerebro-spinal system, upon which tobacco and alcohol can have no salutary action. I fear that my answer will be of little help to you; for in these matters I esteem theory nothing. There are, as the Germans say, _idiosyncrasies_.

MAXIME DU CAMP. Feb. 17, 1882.

DR. W. B. CARPENTER, C. B., LL. D., F. R. S.

In reply to your enquiry, I have to inform you that I have never felt the need of alcoholic stimulants as a help in intellectual efforts; on the contrary, I have found them decidedly injurious in that respect, except when used with the strictest moderation. For about eleven years of the hardest-working period of my life, that in which I produced my large treatises on Physiology, edited the Medical Quarterly Review, and did a great deal of other literary work, besides lecturing, I was practically a total abstainer, though I never took any pledge. I undoubtedly injured myself by over-work during that period, as I have more than once done since under the pressure of official duty; but the injury has shown itself in the failure of appetite and digestive power. After many trials, I have come to the practical conclusion that I get on best, while in London, by taking with my dinner a couple of glasses of very light Claret, and simply as an aid in the digestion of the food which is required to keep up my mental and bodily power. But when "on holiday" in Scotland, or elsewhere, I do not find the need of this. I have never smoked tobacco, or used it in any form. I need scarcely say that I have never used any other "nervine stimulants." You are at perfect liberty to make use of this communication.

WM. B. CARPENTER. Feb. 17, 1882.


In reply to your note, I have only time to say that I never used tobacco in any form all my life, and I can say the same thing regarding my brother, Robert.

WILLIAM CHAMBERS. February 10, 1882.


I fear I shall be unable to add to your fund of information. Never having used spirituous or vinous stimulants, or tobacco in any form, I have no personal "experience" of the way they affect the mental faculties of those who use them.

G. W. CHILDS. Sept. 30, 1882.


I should have been glad to reply to your question from my personal experience, but I do not smoke, and have never in all my life drunk as much as a single glass of alcohol. This plainly shows that I require no "fillip" or stimulant when at work. Tobacco and alcohol may cause over-excitement of the brain, as does coffee, which I am very fond of; but, in my opinion, that alone is thorough good work which is performed without artificial stimulant, and in full possession of one's health and faculties. The reason we have so many sickly productions in our literature arises probably from the fact that our writers, perhaps, add a little alcohol to their ink, and view life through the fumes of nicotine.

M. JULES CLARETIE. Feb. 26, 1882.


As I am not an adherent of the teetotal abstinence movement, I beg that everything I write may be accepted with this reservation. I have never seen that any great thinker has found any help or benefit from the use of stimulants-either alcohol or tobacco. My observations and experiences are unfavourable to both classes of stimulants. In my own case, I gave up smoking before my scientific work began. Alcoholic drinks I used moderately, but I was a water drinker chiefly. Of late years, from illness, I have given up alcoholic drinks; but were I in full health, I should use them moderately. In the course of a public life of about forty years, I have seen the ill-effects of drinking upon many journalists and others; but it appears to me that smoking produces still greater evil. A man knows when he is drunk, but he does not know when he has smoked too much, until the effects of accumulation have made themselves permanent. To smoking are to be traced many affections of the eyes, and of the ears, besides other ailments. I have heard much said in favour of smoking and drinking, but never saw any favourable result. The communication of the evil results of these stimulants to offspring appears to me to constitute a further serious objection to them, I approve fully of your object, but as I do not go to the length of total abstinence advocates, I am desirous not to be misunderstood. Several years of my life were spent in the East, and my experience there only confirms me the more. I have known many drunkards among literary men, and the stimulants they took never helped their work; and it was only because they were men of exceptionally strong brain that their excesses did not incapacitate them. There are many excesses of this kind that are equally misunderstood by those who indulge in them, and by temperance writers. There are, in fact, many men of enormous power, who can smoke and drink all day long. They constitute no standard: so far as I have seen, the consequences show themselves only in the offspring, though in this case it must be taken into account, that the children are sometimes born before a man's health has been seriously injured. A man of exceptional strength misleads and encourages others to indulge.

HYDE CLARKE. October 14, 1882.

Study and Stimulants - 5/26

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