I believe I have as yet not stated that, in the intervals long or short between my sprees, I abstained totally from the use of ardent spirits. I never could and never did drink in moderation. One drink would always kindle such a fire in my blood that it was out of my power to prevent its spreading into a conflagration. I have very many times been accused of “drinking on the sly,” as they say, but every such accusation is false. I have also been accused of using opium. I know the pitiable wretch that started that lie—for it is a lie—and the poor dupe that repeated it. For five years my appetite has been so fierce at times, that, I repeat, had I touched the point of the finest needle in alcohol and placed it to my tongue, I would have got drunk had I known that that drunk would have plunged my soul into hell and eternal torments. O appetite, cold, cruel, heartless, accursed, consuming, devouring appetite! No other malady like thee ever afflicted man. Would that I could paint thee, in all thy accursed hideousness, in letters of unfading fire, and write them in the vaulted firmament to flame forth to all generations to come their eternal warning.
Law Practice at Rushville—Bright prospects—The blight—From bad to worse—My mother’s death—My solemn promise to her—“Broken, oh, God!”—Reflection—My remorse—The memory of my mother—A young man’s duty—Blessed are the pure in heart—The grave—Young man, murder not your mother—Rum—A knife which is never red with blood, but which has severed souls and stabbed thousands to death—The desolation and death which are in alcohol.
My next move was to Rushville, where I opened an office and commenced practicing law. For a time I kept sober, and was so successful in my profession that from the very beginning I more than made my expenses. In fact my prospects for a brilliant career as a lawyer seemed most flattering. The predictions were many that an uncommon future lay before me, but, alas, I could stand prosperity no better than adversity. My appetite grew to such a craving for stimulants that it tortured me. It had slumbered for weeks, as it has since, only to make itself manifest in the end with the force of a hurricane. While it had appeared to sleep it was gathering strength. At the time it dragged me down I was boarding with some others at the house of an elderly widow. So completely was I transformed from a man into something debased that I went to her house and fell through the front door on the floor dead drunk. The landlady had me carried back to my office, where I lay like a water-sodden log, wholly unconscious, until the next morning. When I awoke I had no knowledge of anything that had happened. My friends informed me of my fall at the house, and of their bearing me back to the office. I upbraided myself bitterly, but it was days before I had the courage to show my face on the streets, so keen were my shame and sense