It was now July, 1874. An exciting political campaign was coming off, the main issue was “local option.” I took the side and became an advocate of local option, and until the election in October, averaged one speech per day, frequently traveling all night in order to meet my engagements. That campaign broke me down completely, and on the first of November I again yielded, after a prolonged and desperate struggle, to the powers of my sleepless and tireless adversary. So terrible were the consequences of this fall that in the hope of preventing others from ever indulging in the ruinous habit which led to it, I wrote out and published a full account of it under the title of “Luther Benson’s Struggle for Life.” Inasmuch as this book will be incomplete without it, I will embody that brochure in the next chapter, so that those who have never read it may now do so, if they desire.
Struggle for life—A cry of warning—“Why don’t you quit?”—Solitude, separation, banishment—No quarter asked—The rumseller—A risk no man should incur—The woman’s temperance convention at Indianapolis—At Richmond—The bloated druggist—“Death and damnation”—At the Galt House—The three distinct properties of alcohol—Ten days in Cincinnati—The delirium tremens—My horrible sufferings—The stick that turned to a serpent—A world of devils—Flying in dread—I go to Connersville, Indiana—My condition grows worse—Hell, horrors, and torments—The horrid sights of a drunkard’s madness.
Depraved and wretched is he who has practiced vice so long that he curses it while he yet clings to it; who pursues it because he feels a terrible power driving him on toward it, but, reaching it, knows that it will gnaw his heart, and make him roll himself in the dust. Thus it has been, and thus it is, with me. The deep, surging waters have gone over me. But out of their awful, black depths, could I be heard, I would cry out to all who have just set a foot in the perilous flood. For I am not one of those who, if they themselves must die the death most terrible and appalling of all others, would drag or even persuade one other soul to accompany them. But as the oblivious waves are surging about me, and as I try to brave and buffet them, I would cry to others not to come to me. When but just gasping and throwing up my hand for the last time, it would not be to clutch, but, if possible, to push back to safety. Could the youth who has just begun to taste wine, and the young man his first drink—to whom it is as delicious as the opening scenes of a visionary life, or the entering into some newly-discovered paradise where scenes of undimmed glory burst upon his vision—but see the end of all that, and what comes after, by looking into my desolation, and be made to understand what a dark and dreary thing it is for a man to be made to feel that he is going over a precipice with his eyes wide open, with a will that has lost power to