Of this we have an illustration in the habit of practical gamblers who, when about to engage in contests requiring the keenest observation and the most sagacious calculation, and involving an important stake, always keep themselves cool either by total abstinence from fermented liquors, or by the use of those of the weakest kind, in very small quantities. We find that the greatest part of that intellectual labor which has most extended the domain of thought and human knowledge has been performed by men of sobriety, many of them having been drinkers of water only. Under this last category may be ranked Demosthenes, Johnson, Haller, Bacon, Milton, Dante, etc. Johnson, it is true, was a great tea drinker. Voltaire drank coffee at times to excess, and occasionally a small quantity of light wine. So, also, did Fontenelle. Newton solaced himself with the fumes of tobacco. Of Locke, whose long life was devoted to constant intellectual labor, who appears independently of his eminence in his special objects of pursuit one of the best informed men of his time, the following explicit testimony is found by one who knew him well: His diet was the same as that of other people, except he usually drank nothing but water, and he thought that his abstinence in this respect had preserved his life so long, although naturally his constitution was so weak. In addition to these examples, which I have quoted at length, I might also mention the case of Cornaro, the old Italian philosopher, who at the age of thirty-five found himself on a bed of misery and imminent death through intemperance. He amended his way of life, and for upwards of four score years after, by a temperate course of living, lived happily and did all the important work which has placed his name among the men of great intellectual powers.
Quit college—Shattered nerves—Summer and autumn days—Improvement—Picnic parties—A fall—An untimely storm—Crawford’s beer and ale—Beer brawls—County fairs and their influence on my life—My yoke of white oxen—The “red ribbon”—“One McPhillipps”—How I got home and how I found myself in the morning—My mother’s agony—A day of teaching under difficulties—Quiet again—Law studies at Connersville—“Out on a spree”—What a spree means.
I left college in the spring of 1866, and returned home to the farm where I spent the summer and autumn months in a very nervous and discontented manner. For over four months my mental condition bordered on that of a maniac, so completely had the use of liquor shattered my nervous system. I became alarmed at my state, and for a time was deterred from drinking, or, if I drank at all, the quantity was small. But fresh air and the little work which I did on the farm, soon restored me. As the summer wore away I attended pleasure parties, and found, not happiness, but a moment’s forgetfulness among the merry picnic parties in the woods. I had also the distinguished