Fifteen Years in Hell
Luther Benson

Part 2 out of 3

deepen. At last, finding that there is no way by which to fly, the hated
thing retreats to the center of its flaming prison and stings itself to
death. Then it is that the exultation of the crowd of cruel tormentors is
most loudly expressed. But do not infer from what I have said that I look
with favor on suicide under any circumstances. That I do not do, but I
would have you look at society and some of its victims.

See what barriers of flame are often thrown around poor, despairing,
miserable men! Listen to that indifference and condemnation, and this wail
of agony! Can you wonder that the outcast abandons hope and plunges the
knife into his heart? He is driven to madness, and feeling that all is
lost, he commits an act which does indeed lose everything for him, for it
bars the gates of heaven against him. Before he had nothing on earth; now
he has nothing in paradise. Alas for those who triumph over the fall of a
fellow creature. God have mercy on those who exult over the wretchedness of
a victim of alcohol! Woe to those who ridicule his efforts to escape, and
who mock him when he fails. Do they not help to shape for him the dagger of
self-destruction? What ingredients of poison do they not mix with the fatal
drink which deprives him of breath? With what threads do they strengthen
the rope with which he hangs himself! Where should the most blame rest,
where does it most rest in the eyes of God--with society which drives him
forth a depraved and friendless creature? or with himself no longer
accountable for his acts? O the agony of feeling that on the whole face of
the earth there is not a face that will look upon you in kindness, nor a
heart that will throb with compassion at sight of your misery! I know what
this agony is, for in my darkest hours I have looked for pity and strained
my ears to catch the tones of a kindly voice in vain. But let me hasten to
say, lest I be misunderstood, that since I commenced to lecture, I have had
the support and active help of thousands of the very best men and women in
the land. I doubt that there was ever a man in calamity trying to escape
from terrors worse than those of death who had more aid than has been
extended to me. Could prayers and tears lift one out of misfortune and
wretchedness I would long ago have stood above all the tribulations of my
life. I desire to have every man and woman that has bestowed kindness on
me, if only a word or look, know that I remember such kindness, and that I
long to prove that it was not thrown away. Every day there rises before me
numberless faces I have met from time to time, each beautiful with the
love, sympathy, and pity which elevates the human into the divine. There
are others, I regret to say, that pass before me with dark looks and
scowls. I know them well, for they have sought to discourage and drag me
down. Their tongues have been quick to condemn and free to vilify me. I
seek no revenge on them. I forgive as wholly and freely as I hope to be
forgiven. May God soften their tiger hearts and melt their hyena souls.


The ever-recurring spell--Writing in the sand--Hartford City--In the
ditch--Extricated--Fairly started--A telegram--My brother's death--Sober--A
long night--Ride home--Palpitation of the heart--Bluffton--The
inevitable--Delirium again--No friends, money, nor clothes--One hundred
miles from home--I take a walk--Clinton county--Engage to teach a
school--The lobbies of hell--Arrested--Flight to the country--Open
school--A failure--Return home--The beginning of a terrible experience--Two
months of uninterrupted drinking--Coatless, hatless, and bootless--The
"Blue Goose"--The tremens--Inflammatory rheumatism--The torments of the
damned--Walking on crutches--Drive to Rushville--Another drunk--Pawn
my clothes--At Indianapolis--A cold bath--The consequence--Teaching
school--Satisfaction given--The kindness of Daniel Baker and his wife--A
paying practice at law.

I was at all times unhappy, and hence I was always restless and
discontented. I was continually striving for something that would at least
give me contentment, but before I could establish myself in any thing the
ever-recurring spell would seize me, and whatever confidence I had
succeeded in gaining was swept away. I wrote in sand, and the incoming tide
with a single dash annihilated the characters. During one of my uneasy
wanderings I went to Hartford City, Indiana. Hartford "City," like all
other cities In the land, has a full supply of saloons. With a view of
advertising myself I had my friends announce on the second day after my
arrival that I would deliver a political speech. This speech was listened
to by an immense crowd, and heartily praised by the party whose principles
I advocated. I was puffed up with the enthusiasm of the people, and
repaired with some of the local leaders to a saloon to take a drink in
honor of the occasion. The drink taken by me as usual wrought havoc. I
wanted more, as I always do when I take one drink, and I got more. I got
more than enough, too, as I always do. On the way home with a gentleman
whom I knew, I fell into a ditch, but was extricated with difficulty, and
finally carried to the house of a friend. My clothes were wet and covered
with mud. After sleeping awhile I got up and stole from the house very much
as a thief would have sneaked away. I was fairly started on another spree,
and for three weeks I drank heavily and constantly. Sometime during the
third week of my debauch I received a telegram stating that my brother was
dead. The suddenness and terrible nature of the news caused me to become
sober at once. It was just at twilight when I received the telegram, and
there was no train until nine o'clock the next morning. That night seemed
like an age to me. I never closed my eyes in sleep, but lay in my bed weak
and terror-stricken, waiting for the morning. It came at last, for the
longest night will end in day. I got on the train and sat down by a window.
I was so weak and nervous that I could not hold a cup in my hand. But I
wanted no more liquor. The terrible news of the previous day had frightened
away all desire for drink. I had not ridden far when I was seized with
palpitation of the heart. The sudden cessation from all stimulants had left
my system in a condition to resist nothing, and when my heart lost its
regular action, the chances were that I could not survive. All day I drew
my breath with painful difficulty, and thought that each respiration would
be the last. I raised the car window and put out my head so that the
rushing air would strike my face, and this revived me. When I got home my
brother was buried. I had left him a few days before in good health and
proud in his strength. I returned to find him hidden forever from my sight
by the remorseless grave. What I felt and suffered no one knew, nor can
ever know. Every night for weeks I could see my brother in life, but the
cold reality of death came back to me with the light of day. I was stunned
and almost crazed by the blow, and yet there were not wanting persons who,
incapable of a deep pang of sorrow, said that I did not care. Could they
have been made to suffer for one night the agony which I endured for weeks
they would learn to feel for the miseries of others, and at the same time
have a knowledge of what sufferings the human heart is capable.

My next move was to Bluffton, Wells county, Indiana, where I arranged to go
into the practice of the law. But here at Bluffton, as elsewhere, were the
devil's recruiting offices--the saloons--and the first night after I
reached the town I got drunk. I remained in Bluffton until I got over the
debauch, which embraced a siege of the delirium tremens more horrible than
that already described. When I came to myself, I determined that I would go
home. I was without money; I had no friends in Bluffton, and but few
clothes to my back, and it was over one hundred miles to my father's, but I
started on foot and walked the whole way. I stayed quietly at home a few
days, and then went to Howard and Clinton counties on business, which was
to make some collections on notes for other parties. While in Clinton
county I engaged to teach a district school, and in order to begin at the
time specified by the trustees, I returned home to get ready. I started to
return to Clinton county on Friday, so as to be there to open school on the
following Monday. I got off the train at Indianapolis, and went into one of
the numerous lobbies of hell near the depot. It was a week from that
evening before I was sober enough to realize where I was, who I was, where
I had come from, and whither I had started. I could hardly believe it
possible that I had fallen again, but there was no doubt of the fact. I had
been arrested and had pawned my trunk to get money to pay my fine. To this
day I don't know why I was arrested, but for being drunk, I suppose. I fled
from the city, and walked thirty miles into the country, where I borrowed
enough money of a friend to redeem my trunk. I then started for my school.
Notwithstanding I was one week behind, the trustees were still expecting
me, and on Monday morning, one week later than the time appointed at first,
I opened school. But I was so worn out and confused in my faculties that at
noon I was forced to dismiss the school. I hurried from the house to a
small village in the neighborhood and there I got more liquor. The next
morning I left for home. Such a condition of affairs was lamentable and
damnable, but I was powerless to make it better. I have often wondered what
the people of that neighborhood thought when they found that I had taken a
cargo of whisky and disappeared as mysteriously as I came. If the young
idea shot forth at all during that season among the children of that
district it was directed by other hands than mine. I never sent in a bill
for the sixty-two and a half cents due me for that half day's work. If the
good people of Clinton will consent to call the matter even, I will here
and now relinquish every possible claim, right, or title to the aforesaid
amount. They have probably long since forgotten the school which was not
taught, and the pedagogue who did not teach. I arrived at home in course of
time, and remained there a few days.

It was not long until my restless disposition drove me forth in search of
some new adventure, and now comes the brief and imperfect recital of the
most terrible experiences of my life. On the first of July I began to
drink, and it was not until the first of September that I quit. During this
time I went to Cincinnati twice, once to Kentucky, and twice to Lafayette.
I traveled nearly all the time, and much of the time I was in an
unconscious state. I started from home with two suits of clothes which I
pawned for whisky after my money was all gone. I arrived at Knightstown one
day without coat, vest or hat. I was also barefooted. A friend supplied me
with these necessary articles, and as soon as I put them on I went to a
saloon kept by Peter Stoff, and there I staid four days without venturing
out on the street. As soon as I was able, I took up my journey homeward.
When I got to Raleigh I was so completely worn out that I dropped down in a
shoe shop and saloon, both of which were in the same compartment of a
building. That night I took the tremens. The next day my father came after
me in a spring wagon, and hauled me home. For the most part, during the two
months of which I speak, I had slept out doors, without even a dog for
company, and I contracted slight cold and fever, which terminated in an
attack of inflammatory rheumatism in my left knee. The rheumatism came on
in an instant, and without any previous warning. The first intimation I had
of it was a keen pain, such as I imagine would follow a knife if thrust
through the centre of the knee. When the doctor reached the house my knee
had swollen enormously. I was burning up with a violent fever, and was wild
with delirium. He at once blistered a hole in each side of my knee, and
applied sedatives. My suffering was literally that of the damned. I lay
upon my back for days and nights on a small lounge, without sleeping a
wink, so great was my suffering. For forty-eight hours my eyes were rolled
upward and backward in my head in a set and terrible rigidity. In my
delirium, I thought my room was overran by rats. I tried to fight them off
as they came toward me, but when I thought they were gone I could detect
them stealing under my lounge, and presently they would be gnawing at my
knee, and every time one of them touched me, a thrill of unearthly horror
shot through me. They tore off pieces of my flesh, and I could see these
pieces fall from their bloody jaws. No pen could describe my sickening and
revolting sensations of horror and agony. For sixty days did I lie upon my
back on that couch, unable to turn on either side, or move in any way,
without suffering a thousand deaths. I experienced as much pain as ever was
felt by any mortal being, and it is still a wonder to me how I survived. I
was, on more than one occasion, believed to be dead by my friends, and they
wrapped me in the winding sheet. Even then I was conscious of what they
were doing, and yet I was unable to move a muscle, or speak, or groan. A
horrible fear came over me that they would bury me alive. I seemed to die
at the thought, but, had mountains been heaped upon me, it would have been
as easy for me to show that I was not dead. But I would gradually regain
the power of articulation, and then again would hope rise in the hearts of
those who were watching. At last, but slowly, I recovered sufficiently to
be able to leave my room. I procured a pair of crutches, and by their aid I
could go about the house. Next I went out riding in a buggy, and after a
time got so that I could walk without difficulty, though not without my
crutches, for I did not yet dare to bear weight on my afflicted knee.

One day I went to Rushville, and--O, curse of curses!--gave way to my
appetite. The moment the whisky began to affect me, I forgot that I had
crutches, and set my lame leg down with my whole weight upon it. The sudden
and agonizing pain caused me to give a scream, and yet I repeated the step
a number of times. But the insufferable pain caused me to return home.

It was now winter. The Legislature was in session at Indianapolis, and I
was promised a position, and, with this end in view, packed my trunk and
bid good-by to the folks at home. At Shelbyville, at which place I had a
little business to attend to, I took a drink. Just how and why I took it
has been already told, for the same cause always influenced me. The same
result followed, and at Indianapolis I kept up the debauch until I had
traded a suit of clothes worth sixty dollars for one worth, at a liberal
estimate, about sixty-five cents. I even pawned my crutches, which I still
used and still needed. One day I went to a bath-room, and after remaining
in the bath for half an hour, with the water just as warm as I could bear
it, I resolved to change the programme, and, without further reflection, I
turned off the warm and turned on water as cold as ice could make it. It
almost caused my death. In an instant every pore of my body was closed, and
I was as numb as one would be if frozen. Even my sight was destroyed for a
few minutes, but I contrived to get out of the bath and put on my rags. I
found my way, with some difficulty, to the Union Depot, and boarded a
train, but I did not notice that it was not the train I wanted to travel on
until it was too late for me to correct the mistake. I went to Zionsville,
and lay there three days under the charge of two physicians. I then started
again to go home, expecting to die at any moment. At last I reached
Falmouth, and was carried to my father's, where I passed two weeks in
suffering only equaled by that which I had already borne.

On again recovering my health, I began to look about for something to do,
and hearing of a vacant school east of Falmouth, and about four miles from
my father's, I made application and was employed to teach it. It is with
pride (which, after the record of so many failures, I trust will readily be
pardoned) that I chronicle the fact that from the beginning to the end of
the term I never tasted liquor. I look back to those months as the happiest
of my life. I did what is seldom done, for in addition to keeping sober
(which I believe most teachers do without an effort), I gave complete
satisfaction to every parent, and pleased and made friends with every
scholar (a thing, I believe, that most teachers do not do). Very bright and
vivid in memory are those days, made more radiant by contrast with the
darkness and degradation which lie before and after them. As I dwell upon
them a ray of their calm light steals into my soul, and the faces of my
loved scholars come out of the intervening darkness and smile upon me,
until, for a brief moment, I forget my barred window, the mad-house, and my
desolation, and fancy that I am again with them. I boarded with Daniel
Baker, and can never forget his own and his good wife's kindness.

At the close of my school I was in better health and spirits than I had
ever before been. I began to feel that there was still a chance for me to
redeem the losses of the past, and I can not describe how happy the thought
made me. I again began the practice of law, and for six months I devoted
myself to my duties. I had a large and paying practice, and not once but
often was I engaged in cases where my fees amounted to from fifty to one
hundred dollars, and once I received two hundred and fifty dollars. I will
further say that my clients felt that they were paying me little enough in
each case, considering the service I rendered them. But during the latter
part of the time I suffered much from low spirits and nervousness, and my
desire for whisky almost drove me wild at times. I fought this appetite
again and again with desperate determination, and how the contest would
have finally ended I can not say had I not been taken down sick. The
physician who was sent for prescribed some brandy, and on his second visit
he brought half of a pint of it, to be taken with other medicine in doses
of one tablespoonful at intervals of two hours. I followed his directions
with care, so far as the first dose was concerned, but if the reader
supposes that I waited two hours for another tablespoonful of that brandy
he does my appetite gross injustice. Neither would I have him suppose that
I confined the second dose to a tablespoon. I waited until my friends
withdrew, making some excuse about wanting to be alone in order to get them
to go out at once, and then I got out of bed and swallowed the remainder of
that brandy at a gulp. A desperate and uncontrollable desire for the poison
had possession of me, and beneath it my resolutions were crushed and my
will helplessly manacled. I slipped out of the room at the first
opportunity, and managed to get a buggy in which I drove off to Falmouth
where I immediately bought a quart of whisky. This I drank in an incredibly
short space of time, and after that--after that--well, you can imagine what
took place after that. Would to God that I could erase the recollection of
it from my mind! Days and weeks of drunkenness; days and weeks of
degradation; money spent; clothes pawned and lost; business neglected;
friends alienated; and peace and happiness annihilated by the fell,
merciless, hell-born fiend--Alcohol! So much for a half pint of brandy
prescribed by an able physician. The vilest and most deadly poison could
scarcely have been worse. Perhaps I was to blame--at least I have blamed
myself--for not imploring the doctor in the name of everything holy not to
prescribe any medicine containing a drop of intoxicating liquor. But I was
sick and weak, and my appetite rose in its strength at mention of the word
brandy, and when I would have spoken it palsied my tongue. I could not
resist. The inevitable was upon me.

Down, down, down I went, lower and ever lower. Down, into the darkness of
desperation!--down, into the gulf of ruin!--down, where Shame, and Sin, and
Misery cry to fallen souls--"Stay! abide with us!" I felt now that all I
had gained was lost, and that there was nothing more for me to hope for.
The destroying devil had swept away everything. I was no longer a man.
Behold me cowering before my race and begging the pitiful sum of ten cents
with which to buy one more drink--begging for it, moreover, as something
far more precious than life. I resorted then, as many times since, to every
means in order to get that which would, and yet would not, satisfy my
insatiate thirst. No one is likely to contradict me when I say that I know
of more ways to get whisky, when out of money and friends, (although no
true friend would ever give me whisky, especially to start on) than any
other living man, and I sincerely doubt if there is one among the dead who
could give me any information on the subject. Had I as persistently applied
myself to my profession, and resorted to half as many tricks and ways to
gain my clients' cases, it would have been out of the range of probability
for my opponents to ever defeat me. I might have had a practice which would
have required the aid of a score or more partners. I understand very well
that such statements as this are not likely to exalt me in the reader's
estimation, but I started out to tell the truth, and I shall not shrink
from the recital of anything that will prejudice my readers against the
enemy that I hate. I could sacrifice my life itself, if thereby I might
slay the monster.


The "Baxter Law"--Its injustice--Appetite is not controlled by
legislation--Indictments--What they amount to--"Not guilty"--The
Indianapolis police--The Rushville grand jury--Start home afoot--Fear--The
coming head-light--A desire to end my miserable existence--"Now is the
time"--A struggle in which life wins--Flight across the fields--Bathing in
dew--Hiding from the officers--My condition--Prayer--My unimaginable
sufferings--Advised to lecture--The time I began to lecture.

It has been but a few years since the Legislature of Indiana passed what is
known as the "Baxter Liquor Law." Among the provisions of that law was one
which declared that "any person found drunk in a public place should be
fined five dollars for every such offense, and be compelled to tell where
he got his liquor." It was further declared that if the drunkard failed to
pay his fine, etc., he should be imprisoned for a certain number of days or
weeks. This had no effect on the drunkard, unless it was to make his
condition worse. Appetite is a thing which can not be controlled by a law.
It may be restrained through fear, so long as it is not stronger than a
man's will, but where it controls and subordinates every other faculty it
would be useless to try to eradicate or restrain it by legislation. When a
man's appetite is stronger than he is, it will lead him, and if it demands
liquor it will get it, no matter if five hundred Baxter laws threatened the
drunkard. Man, powerless to resist, gives way to appetite; he gets drunk;
he is poor and has no money to pay his fine; the court tells him to go to
jail until an outraged law is vindicated. In the meantime the man has a
wife and (it may be) children; they suffer for bread. The poor wife still
clings to her husband and works like a slave to get money to pay his fine.
She starves herself and children in order to buy his freedom. You will say:
"The man had no business to get drunk." But that is not the point. He needs
something very different from a Baxter law to save him from the power of
his appetite. Besides, the law is unjust. The rich man may get just as
drunk as the poor man, and may be fined the same, but what of that? Five
dollars is a trifle to him, so he pays it and goes on his way, while his
less fortunate brother is kicked into a loathsome cell. There never has
been, never can, and never will be a law enacted that prevent men from
drinking liquor, especially those in whom there is a dominant appetite for
it. The idea of licensing men to sell liquor and punishing men for drinking
it is monstrous. To be sure, they are not punished for drinking it in
moderation, but no man can be moderate who has such an appetite as I have.
Why license men to sell liquor, and then punish others for drinking it?
What sort of sense or justice is there in it, anyhow? There is a double
punishment for the drunkard, and none for the liquor-seller. The sufferings
consequent on drinking are extreme, and no punishment that the law can
inflict will prevent the drunkard from indulging in strong drink if his own
far greater and self-inflicted punishment is of no avail.

When a man has become a drunkard his punishment is complete. Think of law
makers enacting and making it lawful, in consideration of a certain amount
of money paid to the State, for dealers in liquors to sell that which
carries darkness, crime, and desolation with it wherever it goes! The
silver pieces received by Judas for betraying his master were honestly
gotten gain compared with the blood money which the license law drops
into the State's treasury--license money. What money can weigh in the
balance and not be found wanting where starved and innocent children,
broken-hearted mothers and sisters, and deserted, weeping wives are in the
scale against it? Mothers, look on this law licensing this traffic, and
then if you do not like it cease to bring forth children with human
passions and appetites, and let only angels be born.

After the passage of this law making drunkenness an offense to be fined, I
had all the law practice I could attend to in keeping myself out of its
meshes and penalties. It kept me busy to avoid imprisonment--for I was
drunk nearly all the time. I was indicted twenty-two times. But it is fair
to say that in a majority of cases these indictments were found by men in
sympathy with me, and whose chief object in having me arrested was to
punish the men who sold me liquor. Another mistake! It is next to
impossible to get a drunkard to tell where he got his liquor. Half the time
he himself does not know where he got it. I never indicted a saloon keeper
in my life. The sale of liquor has been legalized, and so long as that is
the case I would blame no man for refusing to tell where he got his liquor.
A law that permits an appetite for whisky to be formed, and then punishes
its victim after money, health, and reputation are all gone, is a barbarous
injustice. Instead of making a law that liquor shall not be sold to
drunkards, better enact a law that it shall be sold only to drunkards. Then
when the present generation of drunkards has passed away, there will be no
more. I succeeded in escaping from the penalty of the indictments found
against me. I plead, in most instances, my own case, and once or twice,
when so drunk that I could not stand up without a chair to support me, I
succeeded by resorting to some of the many tricks known to the legal
fraternity, in wringing from the jury a verdict of "not guilty."

But all this was anything but amusing. I have never made my sides sore
laughing about it. The memory of it does not wreath my face in smiles. It
is madness to think of it. I lived in a state of perpetual dread. When in
Indianapolis the sight of the police filled me with fear. And here a word
concerning the Indianapolis police. There are, doubtless, in the force some
strictly honorable, true, and kind-hearted men--and these deserve all
praise. But, if accounts speak true, there are others who are more
deserving the lash of correction than many whom they so brutally arrest.
Need they be told that they have no right to kick, or jerk, or otherwise
abuse an unresisting victim? Are they aware of the fact that the fallen are
still human, and that, as guardians of the peace, they are bound to yet be
merciful while discharging their duties? I have heard of more than one
instance where men, and even women, were treated on and before arriving at
the station house as no decent man would treat a dog. Such policemen are
decidedly more interested in the extra pay they get on each arrest than in
serving the best interests of the community. Many a poor man has been
arrested when slightly intoxicated, and driven to desperation by the
brutality of the police, that, under charitable and kind treatment, would
have been saved. And I wish to ask a civilized and Christian people, if it
is just the thing to take a man afflicted with the terrible disease of
drunkenness, and thrust him into a loathsome, dirty cell? Would it not be
not only more human, but also more in accord with the spirit of our
intelligent and liberal age, to convey him to a hospital? I leave the
discussion of this subject to other and abler hands.

At one time the grand jury at Rushville met and found a number of
indictments against me. I was drunk at the time, but by some means learned
that an officer had a writ to arrest me. I started at once to go to my
father's. I was without means to get a conveyance, and so I started afoot
out the Jeffersonville railroad. I had then been drunk about one month, and
was bordering on delirium tremens. After walking a mile or more, my boot
rubbed my foot so that I drew it off and walked on barefooted. My feelings
can not be imagined. Fear and terror froze my blood. The night came on dark
and dismal, and a flood of bitter, wretched thoughts swept over me,
crushing me to the earth. Before me in the distance appeared the head-light
of an engine. It seemed to look at me like a demon's eye, and beckon me on
to destruction. I heard voices which whispered in my ears--"now is the
time." A shudder crept over me. Should I end my miserable existence? I knew
that a train of cars was coming. I could lie down on the track, and no one
would ever know but I had been accidentally killed. Then I thought of my
father, and brothers, and sisters, and as a glimpse of their suffering
entered my mind, I felt myself held back. A great struggle went on between
life and death. It ended in favor of life, and I fled from the railroad. I
soon lost my way and wandered blindly over the fields and through the woods
all that night. I was perishing for liquor when daylight came. In order to
assuage my burning appetite I climbed over a fence, and, picking up a
dirty, rusty wash-pan which had been thrown away, I drank a quart of water
which I dipped from a horse-trough. My skin was dry and parched, and my
blood was in a blaze. When I came to grassy plots I lay down and bathed my
face in the cold dew, and also bared my arms and moistened them in the
cool, damp grass.

When the sun came up over the eastern tree-tops I found that I was about
ten miles from Rushville. After stumbling on for some time longer I found
my way to Henry Lord's, a farmer with whom I was acquainted. He gave me a
room in which I lay hidden from the officers for two days and nights. From
this place I went to my father's, and although the officers came there two
or three times, I escaped arrest. It is impossible to give the reader the
faintest idea of my condition. Without money, clothes, or friends, an
outcast, hunted like a wild beast, I had only one thing left--my horrible
appetite, at all times fierce and now maddening in the extreme. My hands
trembled, my face was bloated, and my eyes were bloodshot. I had almost
ceased to look like a human. Hope had flown from me, and I was in complete
despair. I moved about over my father's farm like one walking in sleep, the
veriest wretch on the face of the earth. My real condition not unfrequently
pressed upon me until, in an agony of desperation, I would put my swollen
hands over my worse than bloated face and groan aloud, while tears scalding
hot streamed down over my fingers and arms. I staid at home a number of
days. At first I had no thought of quitting drink. I was too crazed in mind
to think clearly on any subject. After two or three days, I became very
nervous for lack of my accustomed stimulants; then I got so restless that I
could not sleep, and for nights together I scarcely closed my aching eyes.
Long as the days seemed, the nights were longer still. At the end of two
weeks I began to have a more clear or less muddied conception of my
condition, and a faint hope came to me that I might yet conquer the
appetite which was taking me through utter ruin of body, to the eternal
death of body and soul. The reader must not think that I thought I could by
my own strength save myself. I prayed often and fervently. However strange
it may sound it is nevertheless true, that, notwithstanding the degraded
life I have lived, I have covered it with prayer as with a garment, and
with as sincere prayer, too, as ever rose from the lips of pain and sin. My
unimaginable sufferings have impelled me to seek earnestly for an escape
from the torments which go out beyond the grave. None can ever be made to
realize how much pain and agony I experienced during these first weeks I
spent at home and abstained from liquor, nor can any know how much I
resisted. At that time I had not the least thought of lecturing. Many
times, when getting over a spree, I had, in the presence of people, given
expression to the agonies that were consuming me, and at such times I did
not fail to pay my respects to alcohol in a way (the only way) it deserves.
My friends advised me to lecture on temperance, and I now began to think of
their words. Was it my duty to go forth and tell the world of the horrors
of intemperance, and warn all people to rise against this great enemy? If
so, I would gladly do it. I began to prepare a lecture. It would help me to
pass away the time, if nothing more came of it. It has been nearly four
years since I delivered that lecture. I will give a history of my first
effort and succeeding ones, with what was said about me, in the next


My first lecture--A cold and disagreeable evening--A fair audience--My
success--Lecture at Fairview--The people turn out en masse--At
Rushville--Dread of appearing before the audience--Hesitation--I go on the
stage and am greeted with applause--My fright--I throw off my father's old
coat and stand forth--Begin to speak, and soon warm to my subject--I make
a lecture tour--Four hundred and seventy lectures in Indiana--Attitude
of the press--The aid of the good--Opposition and falsehood--Unkind
criticism--Tattle mongers--Ten months of sobriety--My fall--Attempt to
commit suicide--Inflict an ugly but not dangerous wound on myself--Ask
the sheriff to lock me in the jail--Renewed effort--The campaign of
'74--"Local option."

I delivered my first lecture at Raleigh, the scene of many of my most
disgraceful debauches and most lamentable misfortunes. The evening
announced for my lecture was unpropitious. Late in the afternoon a cold,
disagreeable rain set in, and lasted until after dark. The roads were
muddy, and in places nearly impassable. I did not expect on reaching the
hall, or school house, or church in which I was to speak, to find much of
an audience, but I was agreeably disappointed; for while the house was by
no means "packed," there was still a fair audience. Raleigh had turned out
en masse, men, women and children. I suppose they were curious to hear what
I had to say, and they heard it if I am not much in error. I was much
embarrassed when I first began to speak--more so than I have ever been
since, even when in the presence of thousands. I did the best I could, and
the audience expressed very general satisfaction. I think some of my
statements astounded them a trifle, but they soon recovered and listened
with profound and respectful attention. My next appointment was at
Fairview. Here, as at Raleigh, I had often been seen during some of my wild
sprees, and here, as at Raleigh, the people came out in force to hear me. I
improved on my first lecture, I think, and felt emboldened to make a more
ambitious effort. I settled on Rushville as the next most desirable place
to afflict, and made arrangements to deliver my lecture there. A number of
the best young men in the town of the class that never used liquor, but who
had always sympathized with me, went without my consent or knowledge to the
ministers of the different churches, and had them announce that on the next
Monday evening Luther Benson, "the reformed drunkard," would lecture in the
Court House. I was nervous from the want of my accustomed stimulants, and
the added dread of appearing before an audience before whose members I had
so many times covered myself with shame, and in whose Court House--the very
place in which I was to speak--I had been several times indicted for
violations of the law, almost caused me to break my engagement. While still
hesitating on what course to take, whether to go before the audience or go
home and hang myself, the dreaded Monday evening came, and with it came my
friends to escort me to the stage, which had been extemporized for me. I
waited until the last moment before entering the room.

On making my appearance I was greeted with applause, but instead of
reassuring me, it frightened me almost out of my wits. However, it was too
late to retreat, and so making up my mind to die, if necessary, on the
spot, or succeed, I hastily threw off my father's old and threadbare
overcoat (I had none of my own) and stood forth in a full dress coat, which
showed much ill treatment, and immediately began my lecture. As I warmed to
my work, and got interested, I forgot my embarrassment and talked with ease
and volubility. I did not fail, in proof of which I have only to add that
on the following day I met Ben. L. Smith on the street, and on the strength
of my lecture, he went my security for a respectable coat and pair of

From Rushville I started on a lecture tour, taking in Dublin, Connersville,
Cambridge City, Shelbyville, Knightstown, Newcastle, and other places. By
degrees I widened the field of my lectures until it embraced the whole of
Indiana and parts of many other States. In a little more than three years I
have spoken publicly four hundred and seventy times in Indiana alone. From
the very first I have been warmly and generously supported by the press.
There have been exceptions in the case of a few papers, but they were only
the exceptions. Since my first effort to reform, all good people have aided
me. But from the very first I have had to fight opposition and falsehood. I
have been accused of being drunk when I was sober, and outrageous
falsehoods have been told about me when the truth would have been bad
enough. After I had got fairly started to lecture I had always one object
paramount, and that was to save myself from the drunkard's terrible fate
and doom. After a short time men who drank would come to me and
congratulate me, saying that I had opened their eyes, and that from that
day forward they would drink no more liquor. Mothers, wives, and sisters,
who had sons, husbands, and brothers that indulged in the fatal habit, came
to me and encouraged me by telling me how much good I had done them. I
began to feel a strong additional motive to lecture and save others. And
here I wish to say that my efforts to save all men whom I met that were in
danger (and all are in danger who touch liquor in any form) of the curse,
have been the cause of much unkind criticism. People have said: "O, well,
we don't believe Benson is in earnest. He don't seem to try very hard to
quit drinking himself. He doesn't keep the right sort of company," and so
on. This was the language of men who never drank. I have had drinking men
by the score come to me with tears in their eyes, and beg to know if there
was any escape from the curse. Since taking the lecture field I have paid
out in actual money over a thousand dollars to aid men and families in
trouble caused by the use of liquor. I have the first one yet to turn away
when I had anything to give. I have more than once robbed myself to aid
others. Oftentimes my labor and money have been thrown away, but I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I did my duty. In some cases, thank heaven! I
have cause to know that my efforts were not in rain.

For ten months from the time I quit drinking and began to lecture, I
averaged one lecture a day. I lived on the work and its excitement, making
it take, as far as possible, the place of alcohol. I learned too late that
this was the very worst thing I could have done. I was all the time
expending the very strength I so much needed for the restoration of my
shattered system. For ten months, lacking two days, I fought my appetite
for whisky day and night. I waged a continued, never-ceasing, never-ending
battle, with what earnestness and desire to conquer the God to whom I so
fervently prayed all that time alone knows, and he alone knows the agony of
my conflicts. I dreamed that I was wildly drunk night after night, and I
would rise from my bed in the morning more weary than when, tired and worn
out from overwork, I sought rest. The horror of such dreams can be known
only to those who have experienced them. The shock to my nervous system
from a sudden and complete cessation of the use of all stimulating drinks
was of itself a fearful thing to encounter. I was often so nervous that,
for nights at a time, I got little or no sleep. The least noise would cause
me to tremble with fear. I suffered all the while more than any can ever
know, save those who have gone through the same hell. The manners and
actions often induced by my sufferings and an abiding sense of my
afflictions not infrequently militated against me. It has often been said:
"He acts very strangely--must have been drinking." Again: "I believe he
uses opium." These assertions may have been honestly made, but they were
none the less utterly false. If people could only know just how much the
drunkard suffers; how sad, lonesome, gloomy and wretched he feels while
trying to resist the accursed appetite which is destroying him, they would
never taunt him with doubts, nor go to him, as I have had men, and even
women, come to me (I say "men and women," but they were neither men nor
women, but libels on men and women), and say that this or that person had
said that that or this person had heard some other person tell another
person that he, she, or it believed that I, Luther Benson, had been
drinking on such and such an occasion; or that some one told Mr. B., who
told Miss X.T. that J.B. had said to Madam Z. that such and such a one had
actually told T.Y. that O.M.U. had seen three men who had heard of four
other men who said they could find two women who had overheard a man say
that he had seen a man who had seen me with two men that had a bottle of
something which he felt pretty sure was Robinson county whisky. Therefore
B. was drunk!

These things had the effect on me that this account will probably have on
the reader--they annoyed me exceedingly at times. At times the falsehoods
were more malicious still, causing me many sleepless hours. At the end
of ten months of complete sobriety, during which I never tasted any
stimulant--ten months of constant struggle and determined effort--I fell.
Alas, that I am compelled to write the sad words! I had broken down my
strength; my mental and physical energies gave way, and my appetite had
wrapped itself as a flaming fire about me, consuming me in its heat. I
commenced drinking at Charlottsville, Henry county, and went from there to
Knightstown on a Saturday evening. On the following Monday I went to
Indianapolis drunk, and there got "dead drunk." My friends in Rushville,
hearing of my misfortune, came after me and took me with them to that
place, where I remained utterly oblivious until the next Sunday, when, by
some means--I have no knowledge how--I got on an early train that was
passing through Rushville, and went as far as Columbus, where I got off,
and soon succeeded in getting a quart of liquor. Between the hour of my
arrival at Columbus and night I drank three bottles of whisky.

That night I returned to Rushville, and while mad with liquor, made an
attempt on my life by cutting my throat. Well for me that my knife was dull
and did not penetrate to the jugular artery. The wound self-inflicted was
an ugly but not dangerous one. I kept on drinking for a week or more, until
I found that it was utterly out of my power to resist drinking so long as I
remained in a place where I could see, or buy, or beg whisky. I finally
went to the sheriff and asked him to lock me up in jail, which I finally
persuaded him to do. Once in jail I tried in vain to get more liquor. I
remained there until the fierce fires of my appetite smouldered once more,
and then I was released. I lay in bed sick several days at this time, sick
in mind, soul, and body. I felt that for me there was nothing left. I had
descended to the lowest depths. I was forever ruined and undone. Many who
had said that I would not or could not stop drinking seemed to be delighted
over my terrible misfortune. The smile with which they would say, "I told
you so!" was devilish and fiendish. But many friends gathered about me and
cheered me with hope that by renewed effort I might rise again. Well and
truly did a great English poet, Campbell, I believe, say:--

"Hope springs eternal in the human heart."

I determined once more that I would not give up, I would fight my tireless
enemy while a breath of life or an atom of reason remained in my being.

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


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 prevent it; could he see
my hot, fevered cheeks, bloodshot eyes, bloated face, swollen fingers,
bruised and wounded body; could he feel the body of the death out of which
I cry hourly, with feebler and feebler outcry, to be delivered; could he
know how a constant wail comes up and out from my bleeding heart, and begs
and pleads with a great agony to be delivered from this awful demon, drink;
could these truths but go home to the hearts and minds of the young men of
the land; could they feel for but one single moment what I am compelled to
live, and battle, and endure day in, and day out, until the days drag
themselves into weeks that seem like months, and months that seem like
years, striving all the time, a living, walking, talking death, and cares,
pleasures, and joys, all gone, yet compelled to endure and live, or rather
die, on; could every young man feel these things as I am compelled to feel
and bear them, it seems to me that it would be enough to make them, while
they yet have the power to do it, dash the sparkling damnation to the earth
in all the pride of its mantling temptation.

At the very threshold of blooming manhood I found myself subject to all the
disadvantages which mankind, if they reflected upon them, would hesitate to
impose upon acknowledged guilt. In every human countenance I feared to find
an enemy. I shrank from the vigilance of human eyes. I dared not open my
heart to the best affections of our nature, for a drunkard is supposed to
have no love. I was shut up within my own desolation--a deserted, solitary
wretch in the midst of my species. I dared not look for the consolation of
friendship, for a drunkard is always the subject of suspicion and distrust,
and is not supposed to be possessed of those finer feelings that find men
as friends. Thus, instead of identifying myself with the joys and sorrows
of others, and exchanging the delicious gifts of confidential sympathy, I
was compelled to shrink back and listen to the horrid words, You are a
drunkard--words the very mention or thought of which has ten thousand times
carried despair to my heart, and made me gasp and pant for breath. Thus it
was at the very opening of life, and thus it ever has been, and thus it is
to-day. I have struggled, and with streaming eyes tried to wrench the
chains from my bruised and torn body. My weary and long-continued struggles
led to no termination. Termination! No! The lapse of time, that cures all
other things, but makes my case more desperate. For there is no rest for
me. Whithersoever I remove myself, this detestable, hated, sleepless,
never-tiring enemy is in my rear. What a dark, mysterious, unfeeling,
unrelenting tyrant! Is it come to this? When Nero and Caligula swayed the
Roman scepter, it was a fearful thing to offend the bloody rulers. The
Empire had already spread itself from climate to climate, and from sea to
sea. If their unhappy victim fled to the rising of the sun, where the
luminary of day seems to us first to ascend from the waves of the ocean,
the power of the tyrant was still behind him; if he withdrew to the west,
to Hesperian darkness and the shores of barbarian Thule, still he was not
safe from his gore-drenched foe. Rum! Whisky! Alcohol! Fiend! Monster!
Devil! Art thou the offspring in whom the lineaments of these tyrants are
faithfully preserved? Was the world, with all its climates, made in vain
for thy helpless, unoffending victim?

To me the sun brings no return of day. Day after day rolls on, and my state
is immutable. Existence is to me a scene of melancholy. Every moment is a
moment of anguish, with a trembling fear that the coming period will bring
a severer fate. We talk of the instruments of torture, but there is more
torture in the lingering existence of a man that is in the iron clutches of
a monster that has neither eyes, nor ears, nor bowels of compassion; a
venomous enemy that can never be turned into a friend; a silent, sleepless
foe, that shuts out from the light of day, and makes its victim the
associate of those whom society has marked for her abhorrence; a slave
loaded with fetters that no power can break; cut off from all that
existence has to bestow; from all the high hopes so often conceived; from
all the future excellence the soul so much desires to imagine. No language
can do justice to the indignant and soul-sickening loathing that these
ideas excite. A thousand times I have longed for death, and wished, with an
expressible ardor, for an end to what I suffered. A thousand times I have
meditated suicide, and ruminated in my soul upon the different means of
escaping from my load of existence. A thousand times in wretched bitterness
I have asked myself, What have I to do with life? I have seen and felt
enough to make me regard it with detestation. Why should I wait the
lingering process of an unfeeling tyrant that is slowly tearing me to
pieces, and not dare so much as die but when and how the marble-hearted
thing decrees? Still, some inexplicable suggestion withheld my hand, and
caused me to cling with desperate fondness to this shadow of existence, its
mysterious attractions, and its hopeless prospects--appetite, fiendish
thirst, a burning, ever-crying demand for a poison that is death, and for
which a man will give his body and soul as a sacrifice to whoever will
satisfy his imperious cravings. Let this appetite entwine itself about a
man, let it throw its iron arms about his bruised body, and he will curse
the day he was born. But some one says, Why don't you quit? Just don't
drink! In answer I would say, O God, give me poverty, shower upon me all
the hardships of life, turn me a prey to the wild beasts of the desert, so
I be never again the victim of rum. Suffer me to call life and the pursuit
of life my own, free from the appetite for alcohol, and I am willing to
hold them at the mercy of the elements, the hunger of beasts, or the
revenge of cold-blooded men. All of these, rather than the poison of the
accursed cup.

Solitude! separation! banishment! These are words often in the mouths of
human beings; but few men except myself have been permitted to feel the
full latitude of their meaning. The pride of philosophy has taught us to
treat man as an individual. He is no such thing. He holds, necessarily,
indispensably, a relation to his species. He is like those twin births that
have two heads and four hands, but if you attempt to detach them from each
other, they are inevitably subjected to a miserable and lingering
destruction. If a man wants to conceive a lively idea of the regions of the
damned, just let him get himself in that condition that he is alone with an
enemy while he is surrounded by society and his friends--an enemy that is
like what has been described as the eye of Omniscience pursuing the guilty
sinner and darting a ray that awakens him to a new sensibility at the very
moment that otherwise exhausted nature would lull him into a temporary
oblivion of the reproaches of his conscience. No walls can hide me from the
discernment of my hated foe. Everywhere his industry in unwearied, to
create for me new distress. Never can I count upon an instant of security;
never can I wrap myself in the shroud of oblivion. The minutes in which I
do not actually perceive and feel my destroyer are contaminated and blasted
with the certain expectation of speedy interference. Thus it has been, and
thus it is to-day, and with every returning day.

Tyrants have trembled, surrounded by whole armies of their janizaries.
Alcohol--venomous serpent! robber and reviler!--what should make thee
inaccessible to my fury? I will unfold a tale! I will show thee to
the world for what thou art, and all the men that read shall confess
my truth! Whisky--abhorrer of nature, the curse of the human species!--the
earth can only be freed from an insupportable burden by thy extermination!
Rum--poisoner! destroyer! that spits venom all around, and leaves the
ground infected with slime! Accursed poison-makers and poison-dispensers!--
do you imagine that I am altogether passive; a mean worm, organized to feel
sensations of pain, but having no emotion of resentment? Did you imagine
that there was no danger in inflicting on me pains, however great;
miseries, however direful? Do you believe me impotent, imbecile, and
idiot-like, with no understanding to contrive my escape and thy ruin, and
no energy to perpetrate it? I will tell the end of thy infernal works. The
country, in justice, shall hear me. I would that I had the language of
fire, that my words might glow, and burn, and drop like molten lava, that I
might wipe you from the face of the earth, or persuade mankind to turn away
and starve you to death. Think you that I would regret the ruin that had
overwhelmed you? Too long I have been tender-hearted and forbearing.
Whisky, whisky sellers and whisky makers, traffickers and dealers in tears,
blood, sin, shame, and woe!--ten thousand times you have dipped your bloody
talons in my blood. There is no evil you have scrupled to accumulate upon
me! Neither will I be more scrupulous. You have shown me no mercy, and you
shall receive none.

Let us look at the rumseller, that we may know what manner of man he is,
and then ask if he deserves the pity, sympathy, or respect of society, or
any part of it. Viewed considerately, in the light of their respective
motives, the drunkard is an innocent and honorable man in comparison with
the retailer of drinks. The one yields under the impulse--it may be the
torture--of appetite; the other is a cool, mercenary speculator, thriving
on the frailties and vices of others. He is a man selling for gain what he
knows to be worthless and pernicious; good for none, dangerous for all, and
deadly to many. He has looked in the face the sure consequences of his
course, and if he can but make gain of it, is prepared to corrupt the
souls, embitter the lives, and blast the prosperity of an indefinite number
of his fellow-creatures. By the selling of his poisons he sees that with
terrible certainty, along with the havoc of health, lives, homes, and souls
of men, he can succeed in setting afloat a certain vast amount of property,
and that as it is thrown to the winds, some small share of it will float
within his grasp. He knows that if men remain virtuous and thrifty, if
these homes around him continue peaceful and joyous, his craft can not
prosper. The injured old mothers, the wives, and the sisters are found
where rum is sold. Orphan children throng from hut and hovel, and lift
their childish hands in supplication, asking at the hands of the guilty
whisky sellers for those who rocked their cradles, and fed and loved them.
The murderer, now sober and crushed, lifts his manacled hands, red with
blood, and charges his ruin upon the men who crazed his brain with rum. The
felon comes from his prison tomb, the pauper from his dark retreat, where
the rumseller has driven him to seek an evening's rest and a pauper's
grave. From ten thousand graves the sheeted dead stalk forth, and with
eyeless sockets and bared teeth, grin most ghastly scorn at their
destroyers. The lost float up in shadowy forms, and wail in whispered
despair. Angels turn weeping away, and God, upon his throne, looks in
anger, and hurls a woe upon the hand which "putteth a bottle to his
neighbor's lips to make him drunken." To balance all this fearful array of
mischief and woe, flowing directly from his work, the dealer in ardent
spirits can bring nothing but the plea that appetite has been gratified.
There are profits, to be sure. Death finds it the most liberal purveyor for
his horrid banquet, and hell from beneath it is moved with delight at the
fast-coming profits of the trade; and the seller also gets gain. Death,
hell, and the rumseller--beyond this partnership none are profited. Go and
shake their bloody hands, you who will! The time will be when deep down in
hell these miserable, blood-stained wretches will pant for one drop of
water, and curse the day and hour that they ever sold one drop of liquor.

The experience of ages proves that the use of intoxicating agents
invariably tends to engender a burning appetite for more; and he who
indulges in them shall do it at the peril of contracting a passionate and
rabid thirst for them, which shall ultimately overmaster the will of his
victim, and drag him, unresisting, to his ruin. No man can put himself
under the influence of alcoholic stimulants without incurring the risk of
this result. It may not be perceptible at once. It may be interrupted, and
while the bonds are yet feeble he may escape. But let the habit go forward,
the excitement be often repeated, and soon a deep-wrought physical effect
will be produced; a headlong and almost delirious appetite, of the nature
of a physical necessity, will have seized the whole man as with iron arms,
and crushed from his heart the power of self-control.

My whole nature was almost constantly demanding and crying out for
stimulants. During the period that I abstained from them, and for two weeks
before I touched or tasted them the last time, my agony was unbearable. In
my sleep I dreamed that I was drinking, and dreamed that I was drunk. Day
by day my appetite grew fiercer and more unbearable, until in my misery I
walked my floor hour after hour, unable to sleep, and feeling that if I lay
down I should die. One night, about a week before I yielded, I walked my
room until midnight, suffering the torments of hell. I felt that I was
dying, and rushed out of my room and walked and ran across fields and
through the woods, panting and gasping for breath. I felt that my head was
bursting to pieces. My blood boiled, and hissed, and foamed through my
veins. I could feel my heart throb and beat as though it would burst out of
my body. At that time I would have torn the veins of my arms open, if I
could have drawn whisky from them. When light came, I found that I had
walked and run seven miles since leaving my room at midnight. All that day
I was burning up for liquor. Had I been where I could lay my hands on it, a
thousand times that day I would have drank though it steeped my soul in
rivers of death.

In just this condition I went to Indianapolis to address the Woman's
Temperance Convention. I felt that I would drop dead before I finished my
speech. That night I did not sleep more than an hour, and that was a
miserable hour of sleep, in which I dreamed that I was drunk. I woke up
with a burning thirst, and sharp pains darting through my brain. The very
least noise would send a new pang to my head, and when I attempted to walk,
my own footsteps would jar upon my brain as though knives were driven
through it. The next day and night I fought it like a tiger, but my thirst
only increased, and then one gets tired at last of fighting an enemy all
day, knowing that he must confront that same enemy the next day, and the
next, for one can not live always on a strain, always in fear, and doubt,
and dread. The next day I started for Richmond, where I had business,
intending to go from there to Cincinnati and Covington, and thence East. I
got to Richmond, haunted, every inch of the road, with an inexpressible
longing for stimulants. When I got there, I knew that I was where I could
get a little rest from my intense suffering, for I could get whisky. When
the thought of what would be the result of touching it forced itself on my
mind, my agony was so terrible that I could feel the sweat streaming down
my face, and I could have wrung water from my hair.

If ever there was a man in ruins, a perfect spectacle of utter desolation,
I was that man, as I stood in the depot at Richmond, burning up for whisky.
Had I been standing on red-hot embers my sufferings could not have been
more intense. I feel that I can almost hear some one say, "Why did you not
pray? just go and ask God to help you." I have been told to do that ten
thousand times by good-meaning men and women, who do not know how to pray
as I do, and never will until (which God forbid) they have suffered as I
have. I did pray, and beg, and plead for mercy and help, but the heavens
were solid brass and the earth hard iron, and God did not hear or heed my
prayers. Talk about having the appetite for stimulants removed by prayer!
That appetite is just as much the part of a man as his hand, heart, brain,
or any other part of his body. Every one of God's laws are unchangeable and
immutable. The day of miracles is over. When one of God's creatures
violates his laws, he must pay the penalty; and I think it would be far
better to educate the rising generation that there is no escape for them
from the consequences of their acts, than to preach them into the belief
that they may for years pursue a course of dissipation, violate every law
of their being, and then by prayer have the chains of habit stricken off
and be restored whole.

Then there is another class of individuals who have said to me, "When you
get into that condition, when you feel that you must have liquor, why don't
you just take a little in moderation?" Moderation! A drink of liquor is to
my appetite what a red-hot coal of fire is to a keg of dry powder. You can
just as easily shoot a ball from a cannon's mouth moderately, or fire off a
magazine slowly, as I can drink liquor moderately. When I take one drink,
if it is but a taste, I must have more, if I knew hell would burst out of
the earth and engulf me the next instant. I am either perfectly sober, with
no smell f of liquor about me, or I am very drunk. Some of those moderate
drinkers, who are increasing their moderation a little every day, and also
some pretended temperance people, who are always suspicious of others,
because they are sneaking, cowardly, sly, deceitful and treacherous
themselves, are constantly asking me if I do not drink a little all the
time. And then they say I use morphine and opium. There is nothing that has
made me more wretched, and done more to weaken and drag me down, than the
continued accusation of doing something that it is just as impossible for
me to do as it would be to live without breathing; that is, to take a drink
of liquor without getting drunk. And if there is any one thing that will
make me hate a man--loathe, abhor, and despise him--it is to have him
accuse me of drinking or using any kind of stimulants regularly and
moderately. I just want to say here, now, and for all time, that they who
thus accuse me, lie in their teeth, mouth, throat, and away down deep in
their dirty, cowardly, craven, black hearts.

I walked from the depot in Richmond--or, rather, almost ran--until I came
to a drug store kept by a young man I have known for five or six years. He
keeps nearly all drugs in barrels, well watered, and drinks them regularly,
and, as he calls it, moderately. That is to say, he has not been sober for
five years. Always full, bloated, imbecile, idiotic--has no idea of quiting
himself, and would suffer as keenly as any brute is capable of suffering,
at the thought of any one else who is in the habit of drinking becoming a
sober man. When I went in, he was leaning back in a chair dozing, dreaming,
drunk, or as drunk as that kind of a man generally gets. I asked him for
whisky. He straightened up, and a more fiendish gleam of joy than lit up
his brutal face never sat upon the hideous countenance of a fiend fresh
from hell. He got up to get me the liquor, saying at the same time, "I will
bet you five dollars you are drunk before night." I looked at him, saw the
smile of joy, and the intense pleasure that my getting drunk was going to
afford him. Suffering, choking, and almost bereft of reason, as I was, his
look and act caused me to hesitate and wonder what manner of man it was
that was so utterly base and heartless as to rejoice at the ruin of one
whose continued prayer is to live and die sober. Then and there I prayed
God to deliver me from such friends, and keep me from their accursed
influence. Hell knows no blacker deformity than that which would drag a
fellow-creature again to degradation. Satan was as much a friend of human
happiness when he slimed into Eden. In my very youth, I made a resolve that
I never would, knowingly, stand in the path of any man and a better life:
that I would never do anything to prevent a man from leading a better life,
and I have never broken that resolution. I gathered strength and courage
enough, by a desperate effort, to get out of the store without drinking,
and started in an opposite direction from where anything was kept to drink.

I had gone but a short distance, when there was no longer any enduring of
the torture. I turned back and went into another drug store, and told the
proprietor that I was sick, and asked him for whisky with some kind of
medicine in it. The man who gave it was not to blame, for he knew nothing
about me, nor the fiendish thirst with which I was possessed; and while he
was not more than a minute getting the liquor for me, it seemed an age, and
when I took the glass, I read "death" in it just as plainly as ever "death"
was written upon the field of battle. I hesitated a moment, while something
whispered, "Death!" I struggled, but could not let go of the glass. I
felt the hot, scalding tears come in my eyes. I thought if I could only
die--just drop dead; but I could not, yet I felt that I was dying ten
thousand deaths all the time! I lifted the glass and drank death and
damnation! I drank the red blood of butchery and the fiery beverage of
hell! It glowed like hot lava in my blood, and burned upon my tongue's end.
A smouldering fire was kindled. A wild glow shot through every vein, and
within my stomach the demon was aroused to his strength. I had now but one
thought, but one burning desire that was consuming me--that was for more
drink! It crept to my fingers' ends, and out in a burning flush upon my
cheek. Drink!--DRINK! I would have had it then if I had been compelled to
go to hell for it! But I got it just one step this side the regions of the
damned. I went to a saloon and commenced to pour it down, and continued
until I was crazed. All power over my appetite was gone; I was oblivious to
everything around me. I took the train for Cincinnati. I have a dim,
shuddering remembrance of some parties at the depot trying to keep me from
taking the cars. I don't know who they were, or what they said. I got to
the city that night, and staid at the Galt House. I have no remembrance of
anything from the time I left Richmond until I awoke next day about ten
o'clock, with an aching head, swollen tongue, burnt, black, parched lips,
and a thirst for whisky that was maddening. Death would have been kindness
compared to what I suffered that morning.

And here let me ask the reader to indulge me for a while, that I may
explain just the condition I was in, both physically and mentally. I know
just how much charity I am to expect and receive from the corrupt
wilderness of human society, for it is a rank and rotten soil, from which
every shrub draws poison as it grows. All that in a happier field and purer
air would expand into virtue and germinate into usefulness is converted
into henbane and deadly nightshade. I know how hard it is to get human
society to regard one's acts as other than his deliberate intentions. But
of being a drunkard by choice, and because I have not cared for the
consequences, I am innocent. I can say, and speak the truth, that there is
not a person on earth less capable than myself of recklessly and purposely
plunging himself into shame, suffering and sin. I will never believe that a
man, conscious of innocence, can not make other men perceive that he has
that thought. I have been miserable all my life. I have been harshly
treated by mankind, in being accused of wickedly doing that which I abhor,
and against which I have fought with every energy I possessed. The greatest
aggravation of my life has been that I could not make mankind believe, or
understand, my real and true condition. I can safely affirm that a blasted
character, and the curses that have clung to my name, have all of them been
slight misfortunes compared to this. I have for years endeavored to sustain
myself by the sense of my integrity; but the voice of no man on earth
echoed to the voice of my conscience. I called aloud, but there was none to
answer; there was none that regarded. To me the whole world has been as
unhearing as the tempest, and as cold as the iceberg. Sympathy, the
magnetic virtue, the hidden essence of our life, was extinct. Nor has this
been the whole sum of my misery. The food so essential to an intelligent
existence, seemed perpetually renewing before me in its fairest colors,
only the more effectually to elude my grasp and to attack my hunger. Ten
thousand times I have been prompted to unfold the affections of my soul,
only to be repelled with the greatest anguish, until my reflections
continually center upon and within myself, where wretchedness and sorrow
dwell, undisturbed by one ray of hope and light. It seems to me that any
person but a fool would know that I had not purposely led the life of
misery that has marked my steps for fifteen years. It would have been
merciful in comparison, if I had planted a dagger in my heart, for I have
suffered an anguish a thousand times worse than death. I would have had
liquor that morning at Cincinnati if I had known that one single drink
would have obliterated my body, soul, and spirit. I had no power to resist;
and to prove that I was powerless, let us see what effect alcohol, in its
physiological aspect, exerts.

Alcohol possesses three distinct properties, and consequently produces a
threefold physiological effect.

1. It has a nervine property, by which it excites the nervous system
inordinately, and exhilarates the brain.

2. It has a stimulating property, by which it inordinately excites the
muscular motions, and the actions of the heart and blood-vessels.

3. It has a narcotic property. The operation of this property is to suspend
the nervous energies, and soothe and stupefy the subject.

Now, any article possessing either one, or but two of these properties,
without the other, is a simple and harmless thing compared with alcohol. It
is only because alcohol possesses this combination of properties, by which
it operates on various organs, and affects several functions in different
ways at one and the same time, that its potency is so dreadful, and its
influence so fascinating, when once the appetite is thoroughly depraved by
its use. It excites and calms, it stimulates and prostrates, it disturbs
and soothes, it energizes and exhausts, it exhilarates and stupefies
simultaneously. Now, what rational man would ever pretend that in going
through a long course of fever, when his nerves were impaired, his brain
inflamed, his blood fermenting, and his strength reduced, that he would be
able, through all the commotion and change of organism, to govern his
tastes, control his morbid cravings, and regulate his words, thoughts and
actions? Yet these same persons will accuse, blame, and curse the man who
does not control his appetite for alcohol, while his stomach is inflamed,
blood vitiated, brain hardened, nerves exhausted, senses perverted, and all
his feelings changed by the accursed stuff with which he has been poisoning
himself to death, piecemeal, for years, and which suddenly, and all at
once, manifests its accumulated strength over him. In sixteen months I have
fought a thousand battles, every one more fearful than the soldier faces
upon the field of conflict, where it rains lead and hails shot and shell,
and I have been victorious nine hundred and ninety-eight times. How many of
these who blame me would have been more successful? A man does not come out
of the flames of alcohol and heal himself in a day. It is struggle and
conflict, and woe; but at last, and finally, it is glorious victory. And if
my friends will not forsake me, I will promise them a victory over rum that
shall be complete and entire. I have neither the heart nor the desire to
attempt a description of my drunk at Cincinnati. Those who have never been
in that condition could not understand it; and to those who have, it needs
no description.

I was at the Galt House for about ten days, and during all that time I was
as oblivious to all that was passing as if I had been dead and buried; I
did not know day from night. I have no remembrance of eating anything
during the whole time I was there. I only remember a burning thirst for
whisky that seemed to be consuming me. The more I drank, the more I wanted.
After the first four nights I could get no sleep, so I just staid up and
drank all night, until, for the want of slumber, my whole body was torn
with torment for long days and nights. I knew from former experience what
was the awful ending! None who have ever even seen a victim cursed with
delirium tremens will ever wish to look upon the like again. No human
language can describe it; but its scenes burn in the eyeball so deeply that
they never pass away. During the time, all the dread enginery of hell is
planted in the victim's brain and he subject to its terrible torments. Most
persons laugh at the idea of one having the tremens, and think it a sign of
weakness. But there is more disgrace and shame for the man who can drink
liquor to intoxication for ten years, and escape the drunkard's madness,
than there is for the man who has had the tremens two or three times during
that period. Tremens are brought about by the effects of the liquor upon
the brain and nerves, and the less brain or nerves a man has the less
liable he is to be a subject of the tremens. While in this situation the
victim imagines that everything is real, and thinks and believes every
object he sees actually exists. With this explanation, I will now proceed
to tell what I have seen, felt, and heard, while in that condition.

I had felt the delirium tremens coming on for two or three days. I was just
standing on the verge of a mighty precipice, unable to retrace my steps,
and shuddering as I involuntarily leaned over and looked down into the
vortex which my wild and heated imagination opened before me; and I could
see the lost writhe, and hear them howl in their infernal orgies. The wail,
the curse, and the awful and unearthly ha! ha! came fearfully up before me.
I had got into that condition that not one drop of stimulants would remain
on my stomach. I had been vomiting for more than forty-eight hours every
drop that I drank. In that condition I went into a saloon and asked for a
drink; and as I tremblingly poured it out, a snake shot its head up out of
the liquor, and with swaying head, and glistening eye looking at me, licked
out its forked tongue, and hissed in my face. I felt my blood run cold and
curdle at my heart.

I left the glass untouched, and walked out on the street. By a terrible
effort of my will, I, to some extent, shook off the terrible phantom. I
felt that if I could get some stimulants to remain on my stomach I might
escape the terrible torments that were gathering about me; and yet, at the
very thought of touching the accursed stuff again, I could see the head of
that snake, and could hear ten thousand hisses all around me, and feel it
writhing and crawling through every vein of my body; while at the same time
I was scorching and burning to death for more whisky. At that time I would
have marched across a mine with a match touched to it; I would have walked
before exploding cannons for more liquor. I went to another saloon,
thinking I might get a drink to stay on my stomach, and steady my nerves,
and give me strength to get home before I died; for I felt that this time
there could be no escape from death. This time I was afraid to touch the
bottle, and stood back, shaking and shuddering in every limb, while the
murderer poured out the whisky; and again that liquor turned to snakes, and
they crawled around the glass, and on the bar, and hissed, writhed, and
squirmed. Then in one instant they all coiled about each other, and matted
themselves into one snake, with a hundred heads; and from every head
glittering eyes gleamed, and forked tongues hissed at me. I rushed from the
saloon, and started, I did not know or care where, so that I might escape
my tormentors. I had walked but a short distance, when a dog as large as a
calf sprang up before me, and commenced to growl and snap at me. I picked
up a stick about three feet long, thinking to defend myself; but just as
soon as I took that stick in my hand, it turned to a snake. I could feel
its slimy body writhe and squirm in my hands, and in trying to hold it to
keep it from biting me, every finger-nail cut like a knife into the palm of
my hand, and the blood streamed down over that stick, that to me was a
living snake. Hell is a heaven compared to what I suffered at that time.

At last I dashed the cursed thing from me, and ran for my life. I got to
some depot, I don't know what one, and took the cars. I didn't know or care
where I went; at about ten miles above Cincinnati I left the cars. At
times, for a little while, I could reason and understand my condition. I
found, on looking around, that I was in a little town, where a young man
lived who had been a college mate of mine. I went and told him my
condition, and he did for me everything that one friend can do for another.
But as night came on my tormentors returned in ten thousand hideous forms,
and drove me raving mad. I went to a hotel, and there they persuaded me to
lie down. Just as soon as I got to bed I reached my hand over, and it
touched a cold, dead corpse. The room lighted up with a hundred bright
lights, and that corpse, that now appeared to me like nothing that had ever
been visible in human shape, opened its large, glassy, dead eyes, and
stared me in the face. Then its whole face and form turned to a demon, and
its red eyes glared at me, and its whole face was full of passion,
fierceness and frenzy. I shrank back from the loathsome monster. On looking
around, I beheld everything in my vision turn to a living devil. Chairs,
stand, bed, and my very clothes, took shape and form, and lived; and every
one of them cursed me. Then in one corner of my room, a form, larger and
more hideous than all the others, appeared. Its look was that of a witch,
or hag, or rather like descriptions that I had read of them. It marched
right up to me, with a face and look that will haunt me to my grave. It
began to talk to me, saying that it would thrust its fingers through
my ribs, and drink my blood; then it would stick out its long, bony,
skeleton-like fingers, that looked like sharp knives, and ha! ha! Then it
said it would sit upon me and press me to hell; that it would roast me with
brimstone, and dash my burnt entrails into my eyes. Saying this, it sprang
at me, and, for what seemed to me an age, I fought the unearthly thing. At
last it said, "Let me go!" and when it did, it glided to the door, and as
it went out, gave me a fiendish look, and said, "I will soon be back, with
all the legions of hell; I will be the death of you; you shall not be alive
one hour." I left my room, and just as soon as I touched the street I
stepped on a dead body. The whole pavement and street were filled; men, and
women, and little children, lying with their pale faces turned up to
heaven; some looked as though they were asleep; others had died in awful
agony, and their faces wore horrid contortions; while some had their eyes
burst from their heads. Every time I moved I stepped on a dead body, and it
would come to life, and rear up in my face; and when I would step on a baby
corpse it would wail in a plaintive, baby wail, and its dead mother would
come to life and rush at me, while a thousand devils would curse me for
stepping on the dead. I would tremble and beg, and try to find some place
to put my feet; but the dead were in heaps, and covered the whole ground,
so that I could neither walk nor stand without being on a corpse. If I
stepped, it was on a dead body, and it would rise up and throw its arms
about me, and curse me for trampling on it; and it was in this way that I
put in that whole night.

When light dawned the horrible objects disappeared to some extent, and by a
terrible effort I was able to control my mind, and reason on my condition.
I was weak, nervous, and sick. I thought I would eat something, and try to
gain a little strength. The very moment that I sat down to the breakfast
table, every dish on that table turned to a living, moving, horrid object.
The plates, cups, knives and forks became turtles, frogs, scorpions, and
commenced to live and move toward me. I left the table without eating a
bite. I went back to the city that day. I had but just got there when I
wanted some whisky. I took a drink. During the day I drank as many as
twenty glasses of liquor, and by evening I had got myself so steadied that
I took the cars for home. I got as far as Connersville, where I remained
during the balance of my drunk. I kept drinking for three or four days, and
then commenced to vomit again. By this time I had got so weak that it was
with the greatest effort that I could stand on my feet or walk one step. I
felt the madness coming on again with tenfold fury. My terrible fear gave
me more strength. I left the house, and started out on the road, and in an
instant I was surrounded by what seemed a million of demons and devils; it
seemed as though hell had opened up before me. The earth burst open under
my feet, and hot, rolling flame was all around me. I could feel my hair and
eyebrows scorch and burn; then in a moment everything would change. I could
hear a thousand voices, all talking to me at the same time, and every one
threatening me with some horrid death; then I would be surrounded with wild
animals, fighting and tearing each other to pieces, and glaring at me,
while devils told me they would tear me to pieces; then a tiger took my
whole arm between his bloody jaws, and mashed and mangled it to pieces, and
tore that arm from my shoulder; then some fiend, in the shape of an old
hag, would come up and pour red-hot embers into the bleeding wound, from
which my arm had been torn. When I screamed in agony, devils would laugh a
horrid, devilish laugh. I looked down and saw a jug of liquor at my feet,
and when I reached down to get it I heard the click of a hundred pistols,
and a grinning black devil threw his claws over the jug; then devils and
witches boiled the whisky. I could see it on the fire, and hear it seethe
and foam; then they danced around me, and said they had the liquor so hot
that it would scald me to death; then they pried open my mouth, and poured
it down my throat. I could feel my brain bursting out of my head, as that
boiling liquor scalded and burned my tongue out of my mouth, and that
tongue turned to a snake, and with forked tongue hissed at me.

The next thing I found myself standing on a railroad track; I could just
see the headlight of the engine and hear the faint rumble of the cars, and
when I tried to move off the track I found I was tied with a hundred ropes.
It seemed to me there were a hundred devils up in the air, and each one had
hold of a rope that was wound around my body in such a way that I could not
move. The cars were coming closer and closer, faster and faster; the light
of the engine looked like one horrid eye of fire; I could hear the rattle
and rush of a thousand wheels; it was coming right on me with the rapidity
of lightning. I could feel the beating of my heart, and my hair stood up
and shook and shivered. The engine ran up to me and stopped, the hot smoke
and steam choking and smothering me. The devils cursed and howled because
the cars did not run over me; they said the next time there would come sure
death; then they opened the doors of the engine, and threw in cats and
dogs, men, women, and children. I could hear them scream as the hot flames
wrapped themselves about them, until they would burst open; and that engine
was red-hot. I could see the grin of skeleton demons, as, with a horrid
curse, they motioned the engine to move back; and back, back it went, until
I could just see a faint light; then, at the wild, cursing, screaming
command of my tormentors, I could hear the cars coming again, faster and
faster, closer and closer, and that engine ran at me just that way all
night. It seemed just as real, and my sufferings were just as intense, as
if it had been a reality. When morning came the devils left me, swearing
that they would come back at night, and thus I was tortured all day with
the dread of what was coming again at night. That day, as I was walking,
hens and chickens would turn into little men and women; they were dressed
up in bloody clothes; they would surround me, and pick my body full of
holes; then they would pick my eyes out, and I could see my eyes dropping
from their bloody bills.

When night came I went to my room. I could hear voices talking in all parts
of the house. They would gather about me and whisper and talk about some
way in which they would kill me; then the windows would be full of cats,
and I could feel little kittens in my pockets; and when I walked I would
step on kittens, and they would mew, and the old cats would howl and burst
through the windows, and claw me to pieces. Then devils would take live,
howling, squalling cats, and pound me with them until I was surrounded and
walled in with dead cats. The more I suffered, and the harder I tried to
escape, the more intense seemed their joy. The room would be full of every
loathsome insect; they would crawl, fly, and buzz around me, stinging me in
the face and eyes. Then the room would fill with rats and mice, and they
would run all over me. Then ten thousand devilish forms would all rush at
me. There were human forms of every size and shape. Some of them had the
face and look of a demon, and from every part of the room their eyes glared
at me; others had their throats gashed to the very spine, while every one
of them accused me of being the cause of their misery. Then devils and
men would rush at me and pin me to the wall of my room, by driving sharp,
red-hot spikes through my body. I could see and feel the blood streaming
from my wounds until my clothes were covered with it. Then they would take
red-hot irons, and burn and scrape my flesh from my bones. They would pull
and tear my teeth out, and dash them in my face. Then they would take
sharp, crooked knife blades, and run them through my body, and tear me to
pieces, and hold up before my eyes my bleeding, burned and quivering flesh,
and it would turn to bloody, hissing snakes. Then I looked and could see my
coffin and dead body. Then I came back to life again, and I heard voices
under my head cursing me, and saying that they would bury me alive. At this
the devils seized me, and I could feel myself flying through the air. At
last they stopped, and I heard a heavy door open. They dragged me into what
they told me was a vault, and, when I tried to escape, I found nothing but
solid walls. The floor was stone, and slippery and slimy. I could hear rats
and mice running over the floor. They would run up my sleeves and down my
neck. In trying to escape from them I struck a coffin; it fell on the hard
stone floor and burst open; then the room lighted up, and the skeleton from
the burst coffin stood up before me, and a long, slimy snake crawled up and
wrapped the skeleton to the very neck; and that horrid thing of bones, with
a living snake coiled all about it, walked up to me and laid its bony
fingers on my face. No language can give the least idea of the horrid
sights and sufferings in the drunkard's madness.


Recovery--Trip to Maine--Lecturing in that State--Dr. Reynolds, the
"Dare to do right" reformer--Return to Indianapolis--Lecturing--Newspaper
extracts--The criticisms of the press--Private letters of encouragement--
Friends dear to memory--Sacred names.

After recovering from the debauch just described, which I did in the course
of two or three days, I went East to the State of Maine, where I remained
about three months, lecturing in all the principal cities, and in some of
them a number of times. In Bangor, especially, I was warmly welcomed, and I
spoke there as often as ten times, each time to a crowded house. Dr.
Reynolds, the celebrated "Dare to do right" reformer, was at that time a
resident of Bangor, and I had the honor to make his acquaintance. While in
Bangor I made my headquarters at his office, and was much benefited and
strengthened by coming in contact with him. Days and weeks passed, and I
did not taste liquor, although at times, when depressed and tired from
over-work, I found it difficult in the extreme to resist the cravings of my

I returned to Indianapolis in the spring of 1875. I remained in Indiana,
lecturing almost daily, or nightly, until autumn, when I again started East
on a lecturing tour, which lasted eight months. During this time I averaged
one lecture per day. At times, for the space of an entire week, I did not
get as much sleep as I needed in one night, and the work I did in those
eight months was enough to break down the strongest and healthiest
constitution. I spoke in all the more notable cities and towns of
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. With regard to my success, I will
let the Eastern press speak for me. It is not from any motive of vanity
that I insert the following notices of the papers, but from a wish to
establish in the minds of my readers the fact that my labor was earnest,
and not without good results. These extracts are not given in the order in
which they appeared; I insert them, taken at random, from hundreds of a
similar character. The first is from the Boston Daily Advertiser:

"Mr. Luther Benson, of Indiana, delivered a temperance lecture last evening
in Faneuil Hall, before a large and enthusiastic audience. * * *

"The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Cooke, of the Hanover
Street Bethel, after which, Mr. E.H. Sheafe introduced the lecturer. The
temperance theme is so old and long discussed that it seemed well-nigh
impossible to present its merits in a new and attractive way, but Mr.
Benson in a simple, straightforward manner, in language clothed with the
peculiar western freedom of speech, together with an accent of marked
broadness, held the undivided attention of his audience from the beginning
of his lecture to the close. The several stories told by the speaker seemed
to exactly suit the temper of his hearers, as the frequent applause
testified, and altogether it was probably one of the most satisfactory
temperance lectures ever delivered in this city. Mr. Benson, who is a
reformed drunkard, describes his trials and struggles in overcoming the
evils of intemperance in a very impressive manner, awakening a strong
interest for the cause which he pleads.

"During his lecture Mr. Benson paid a marked compliment to the old hall in
which he was speaking, and the liberty of speech allowed within its
portals. Total Abstinence was the one thing needed throughout the land.
There could be no such thing as moderate drinking. Prohibition should be
enforced, and great results would necessarily follow."

From the Boston Daily Evening Traveler I clip this concerning my lecture at

"Hawthorn Hall was crowded to the very gallery last evening with an
audience assembled to listen to a lecture on temperance by Luther Benson,
Esq., of Indiana. Mr. Benson is one of the most powerful and eloquent
orators that have ever stood before an audience. For one hour and a half he
held his audience by a spell. He painted one beautiful picture after
another, and each in the very gems of the English language. He was many
times interrupted by loud bursts of applause. Words drop from his lips in
strains of such impassioned eloquence that they go directly to the hearts
of the audience, and his actions are so well suited to his words that you
can not remember a gesture. You try in vain to recall the inflection of the
voice that moved you to smiles or tears, at the speaker's will. Mr. Benson
is a young man and has only been in the lecture field a little over one
year; yet at one leap he has taken the very front rank, and is already
measuring strength with the oldest and ablest lecturers in the country."

The next is from the Boston Daily Herald:


"The old cradle of liberty was filled last evening by a large and
appreciative audience, assembled to hear Luther Benson, a well-known
temperance advocate from Indiana. Mr. E.H. Sheafe, under whose auspices the
lecture was held, presided, and the platform was occupied by the Rev. Mr.
Cook, who offered prayer, and by Messrs. Timothy Bigelow, Esq., F.S.
Harding, Charles West, John Tobias, S.C. Knight, and other well-known
temperance workers in this city. Mr. Benson is a reformed man, and,
speaking as he did from a terrible experience, he made an excellent
impression, and proved himself an orator of tact, talent and ability. A
number of his passages were marked with true eloquence and pathos, and for
an hour and a quarter he held the closest attention of his large audience
in a manner that could only be done by those who are earnest in the cause,
and appeal directly to their hearers."

From the Dover (N.H.) Democrat, this:

"Luther Benson, Esq., spoke to the largest audience ever gathered in the
City Hall, last night. Notwithstanding the snow, more than fourteen hundred
people crowded themselves in the hall, while hundreds went away for want of
even standing-room. He has created a perfect storm of enthusiasm for
himself in the cause he so earnestly and eloquently advocates. Last night
was Mr. Benson's fourth speech in this city, each one delivered without
notes or manuscript, and with no repetition. He goes from here to Great
Falls and Berwick. Next Sunday he returns to this city, and speaks here for
the last time in City Hall at half past seven o'clock. There never has been
a lecturer among us that could repeatedly draw increased audiences, and
certainly no man--not even Gough--ever so stirred all classes of our people
on the subject of temperance as has Benson. The receipts at the door last
evening were about one hundred and forty dollars. A number who had
purchased tickets previous to the lecture were unable to get in the hall."

And this from the Pittsburg (Pa.) Gazette:

"Luther Benson, Esq., of Indiana, has just closed one of the most powerful
temperance lectures ever delivered here. The house was one solid mass of
people, with not one spare inch of standing-room. For nearly two hours he
held the audience as by magic. At the close a large number signed the
pledge, some of them the hardest drinkers here. The people are so delighted
with his good work that they have secured him for another lecture Wednesday

The next extract is from the Manchester (N.H.) Press:

"Smyth's Hall was completely filled, seats and standing room, at two
o'clock Sunday afternoon, with an audience which came to hear Luther
Benson. The officers of the Reform Club, clergymen and reformed drunkards
occupied seats upon the platform. Mr. Benson is a native of Indiana, and
says he has been a drunkard from six years of age. He was within three
months of graduation from college when he was expelled for drunkenness.
Then he studied for a lawyer, and was admitted to practice, being drunk
while studying, and drunk while engaged in a case. At length he reduced
himself to poverty, pawning all he had for drink. At length he started to
reform, and though he had once fallen, he was determined to persevere.
Since his reformation two years ago he had been giving temperance lectures.
He is a young man, a powerful, swinging sort of speaker, with a good
command of language, original, with peculiar intonation, pronunciation and
idioms, sometimes rough, but eminently popular with his audiences. He spoke
for an hour and a half steadily, wiping the perspiration from his face at
intervals, taking up the greater part of his address with his personal
experience. He said he had had delirium tremens several times, once for
fifteen days, and gave an exceedingly minute and graphic description of his
torments. A number of men signed the pledge at the close of the meeting,
Among them was one man, who sat in front of the audience and kept drinking
from a bottle he had, evidently in a spirit of bravado, but at the
conclusion of the address he signed the pledge, crying like a child."

From the Saltsburg Press, of Pennsylvania, I copy the following:

"On Monday evening, 29th inst., the people of our staid and quiet little
town had their dormant spirits stirred to their inmost depths, by an
eloquent and thrilling lecture delivered in the Presbyterian church by
Luther Benson, Esq., a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, who chose for his
topic "Total Abstinence." He opened his lecture by delineating in the most
touching and beautiful language the almost heavenly happiness resulting in
a total abstinence from all intoxicating beverages, and by his well-aimed
contrasts demonstrated that, in the use of those beverages, even in a
temperate degree, there was but one result--drunkenness and eternal death.
He was no advocate of temperance; that is, the temperate use of anything
hurtful. Did not believe that anything vicious could be tampered with,
without harm coming from it. He argued to a final and satisfactory
conclusion, that in the use of alcoholic beverages there could be no such
thing as temperance; that the man who took a drink now and then would make
it convenient to take more drinks now than he would then, and in the end
would as surely fill a drunkard's grave as the man who persistently abused
the beverage in its use. His description of the two paths through life was
a most beautiful word picture. That of sobriety leading through bright
green fields, over flowery plains, by pleasant rivulets, where all was
peace and harmony, and over which the spirit of heaven itself seemed to
brood and watch; and that of drunkenness, in which all the miseries and
tortures of the imaginary hell were concentrated in a living death; of
blighted hopes, of wasted life, of ruined homes, of broken hearts, of a
conscience goaded to an insanity--to a madness--to fairly wallow in the
Lethean draft, that memory might be robbed of its poignant goadings; that
the poor, helpless, and degraded victim might escape its horrors in

"He had been a victim in the toils of the monster for fifteen years; had
endured all the horrors it inflicted upon its votaries during that time,
and made an eloquent appeal to the young men present to choose the right
way and walk therein. He pictured the inevitable result in new and
convincing arguments holding up his own almost hopeless case as a warning.
His description of delirium tremens, while it was frightful, was not
overdrawn. He told the simple truth, as any one who has passed through the
horrible ordeal can testify.

"We have not space to follow Mr. Benson through his lecture, which was
truly original in language, style and delivery. He is a lawyer by
profession, about twenty-eight years, and is wonderfully gifted with a
pleasing way, rapidly flowing and eloquent language, that carries to the
audience the conviction that he is in earnest in the work of total
abstinence; that in the effort to reclaim himself he will leave nothing
undone to save those who may have started out in life impressed with the
belief that there is pleasure and enjoyment under the influence of
intoxication. That he will accomplish good there is no doubt. He goes into
the work under the influence of the Holy Spirit; maintaining that the grace
of God alone can work a thorough reformation. We have heard Gough lecture,
but maintain that the eloquent, forcible, humorous, pathetic, and
convincing language of Mr. Benson is of a better and higher order, and will
prove more effectual in touching the hearts of those who stand upon the
verge of ruin.

"Mr. Benson will lecture this (Tuesday) evening, in the Presbyterian
church. Doors open at 6:30; lecture commencing at 7:30. The lecture this
evening will be on a different subject, and no part of the lecture of last
evening will be repeated.

"As a result of the lecture Monday evening, one hundred and sixty-two
persons signed the pledge."

With reference to the lecture delivered at Faneuil Hall, the Boston
Temperance Album gives the succeeding synopsis:

"Mr. Benson, on being introduced, paid the following eloquent tribute to
the Hall:

"Ladies and gentlemen: It is with emotions such as I have never experienced
upon any former occasion, that I stand before you to-night in this, the
birthplace of American liberty. It was in this hall that was first
inaugurated the grand march of revolution and liberty that has gilded the
page of the history of our time with the most glorious achievements of the
patriot that the world has ever had to admire. It was here that was
inaugurated those immortal principles that caused revolution to rise in
fire, and go down in freedom, amid the ruins and relics of oppression. It
was here that the beacon of liberty first blazed, and the rainbow of
freedom rose on the cloud of war; and as a result, of the patriotism and
heroism of our forefathers, liberty has erected her altars here in the very
garden of the globe, and the genius of the earth worship at her feet. And
here in this garden of the West, here in this land of aspiring hope, where
innocence is equity, and talent is triumph, the exile from every land finds
a home where his youth may be crowned with happiness, and the sun of life's
evening go down with the unmolested hope of a glorious immortality. Who is
not proud of being an American citizen, and walking erect and secure under
the Stars and Stripes?

"If there be a place on earth where the human mind, unfettered by
tyrannical institutions, may rise to the summit of intellectual grandeur,
it is here. If there be a country where the human heart, in public and in
private, may burst forth in unrestrained adulation to the God that made it,
it is here, where the immortal heroes and patriots of more than one hundred
years ago succeeded in establishing these United States, as the 'land of
the free and the home of the brave.' Here, then, human excellence must
attain to the summit of its glory. Mind constitutes the majesty of man,
virtue his true nobility. The tide of improvement which is now flowing like
another Niagara through the land, is destined to flow on down to the latest
posterity, and it will bear on its mighty bosom our virtues, or our vices,
our glory, or our shame, or whatever else we may transmit as an
inheritance. Thus it depends upon ourselves whether the moth of immortality
and the vampire of luxury shall prove the overthrow of this country, or
whether knowledge and virtue, like pillars, shall support her against the
whirlwinds of war, ambition, corruption, and the remorseless tooth of time.
And while assembled here to-night, in this, the very cradle of liberty, let
us not forget that there are evils to be shunned and avoided by us as
individuals and as a common people.

"It is about one of these evils that is threatening the stability,
prosperity, and happiness of this whole country that I would talk to you
to-night. Let us approach near to each other and talk, if possible, soul to
soul, and heart to heart, I would talk to you to-night of liberty, that
liberty that frees us, body, soul, and spirit, from the slavery of the
intoxicating bowl; a slavery more soul-wearing and life-destroying than any
Egyptian bondage. Why, it is but a few years ago that this whole continent
rocked to its very center on the question as to whether human slavery
should endure upon its soil! That was but the slavery of the body, a
slavery for this life; and that was bad enough, but the slavery about which
I talk to you is a slavery not only of the body, but of the soul, and of
the spirit; a slavery not only for this life, but a slavery that goes
beyond the gates of the tomb, and reaches out into an infinite eternity.
The slavery of intoxication, unlike human slavery, is confined to no
particular section, climate, or society; for it wars on all mankind. It has
for its home this whole world. It has the flesh for its mother and the
devil for its father. It stands out a headless, heartless, eyeless,
earless, soulless monster of gigantic and fabulous proportions."

As a _very few_ persons have said my labors in the cause of Temperance were
not, and are not, productive of good, I will give just very short extracts
from a number of letters which I have received from persons who ought to

FRANKFORT, IND., October 18, 1875.

LUTHER BENSON, ESQ.--_My Dear Sir_--Yours of the 14th is before me
for answer, and, although very busily engaged in court, I can not
refrain from answering at some length. First, I will say, "I have
kept the faith." Though "the fight" is not yet over, my
emancipation from the terrible thralldom is measurably complete.
Occasional twinges of appetite yet admonish me to maintain my
vigilance. It was while struggling with one of these that your
letter came like a messenger from heaven to encourage and
strengthen me. Not a day passes but that I think of you, and to
your wise counsel and affectionate admonition, under Providence, I
owe my beginning and continuance in this well-doing. * * * May the
Lord spare you to "open the lips of truth" to those who, like
myself, will perish without a revelation of their danger. With high
esteem and sincere affection, I am, ever your friend, ----

SALEM, MASS., October 29, 1875.

BRO. BENSON--I write you these few lines to cheer your heart, and
assure you that your labor in Salem has not been in vain in the
Lord's cause (the Temperance Reform). Our friend and brother, ----,
from Beverly, was over at our meeting on Wednesday evening last,
and it would do your heart good to see the change in him. He will
never forget Luther Benson, for it was your first speech in Salem
that saved him. ----

I desire now to come down to the very near present, as some claim that my
late _afflictions_ and sore misfortunes have extinguished my capacity for

MEMPHIS, MO., Feb. 14, 1878.

DEAR BENSON--I know of my personal knowledge that you did a grand
work here. Bro. B., you remember my pointing out to you a Dr. ----,
and telling you what a persecutor of churches he was, and how hard
he drank. He in two nights after you were here signed the pledge,
and in telling his experience, said that you saved him--that no
other person had ever been able to impress him as you did.

Truly, ----

----, Jan. 1, 1878.

MY VERY DEAR FRIEND--I wish I could be with you and knee with you
as in the past, and hear your faith in God. Here is my hand
forever. You have done more for me than all the shepherds on the
bleak hillsides of this black world.

Lovingly, ----

TERRE HAUTE, IND., Feb. 22, 1878.

DEAR BENSON--You have done more for me than all the men and women
on earth. One year ago I heard you lecture on Temperance in
Lafayette. Then I was a poor outcast drunkard; you saved me. I am
now a sober man and a Christian. ----

I could furnish thousands of such testimonials as the above, but deem these
sufficient to convince any honest person that my toil is not in vain.

From one of the journals of my native State I clip the concluding extract:

"Luther Benson, the gifted inebriate orator, is still struggling against
the demon of strong drink. He spoke at Jeffersonville recently, and in the
middle of his discourse became so chagrined and disheartened at his
repeated failures at reform, that he took his seat and burst into a flood
of tears. He has since connected himself with the church, and has professed
religion. May his new resolves and associations strengthen him in the line
of duty. But, like the man among the tombs, the demons of appetite have
taken full possession of his soul, and riot in every vein and fiber of his
being. It is a fearful thraldom to be encompassed with the wild
hallucinations begotten through a life of dissipation and debauchery. The
strongest resolves at reform are broken as ropes of sand. All the moral
faculties are made tributary to the one ruling passion--drink, drink,
drink! But still his repeated resolves and heroic efforts betoken a
greatness of soul rarely witnessed. May he yet live to see the devils that
so sorely beset him running furiously down a steep place into the sea, and
sink forever from his annoyance. But when they do come out of the man,
instead of entering a herd of heedless swine for their coursers to the
deep, may they ride, booted and spurred, every saloon-keeper who has
contributed to make Luther Benson what he is, to the very verge of despair,
and to the brink of hell's yawning abyss."

I might give many more well written and flattering criticisms, but from the
foregoing the reader can determine in what estimation to hold my labor. For
myself I am not solicitous for anything beyond escape from my thraldom, and
that peace which is the sure accompaniment of a temperate Christian life.
If I thought that my readers were of the opinion held by some of my enemies
that my lectures have not been productive of good, I could quote from
numberless private letters received from all parts of the land, in which I
am assured of the good results which have crowned my humble efforts--in
which I am told of very many instances where my words of entreaty and
self-humiliation have been the means of bringing back from the darkness and
death of intemperance, fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers who were on
the road to destruction. I have letters from the wives, mothers, and
sisters of these men, invoking the blessings of heaven upon me for the
peace and happiness thus restored to them. I have letters from little
children thanking me also for giving them back their fathers, and I thank
God from the depths of my torn and desolate heart that I have been the
humble instrument of good in these cases. In my darkest hours, when I feel
that all is lost, when hope seems to soar away from me to the far-off
heavens from which she first descended to this world, these letters, which
I often read, and over which I have so often wept grateful tears, give me
strength and courage to face the struggle before me. My most earnest prayer
to God has been that I may do some good to compensate in some measure for
the talent which he gave me, and which I have so sadly wasted. I have
avoided mentioning the names of the many dear friends who have not forsaken
me in this last extremity. As I write, name after name, dear to memory,
crowds into my mind. I can hardly refrain from giving them a place on these
pages, but to mention a few would be manifestly unjust to the remainder,
and it is out of my power to print all of them in the space which could be
afforded in this small book. But I wish to assure every man and woman who
has ever given me a kind word of encouragement, or even a kind look, that
they are not and never will be forgotten. Whatever my future fate may be,
you did your duty, and God will bless you. Your names are all sacred to me.


At home again--Overwork--Shattered nerves--Downward to hell--Conceive the
idea of traveling with some one--Leave Indianapolis on a third tour east in
company with Gen. Macauley--Separate from him at Buffalo--I go on to New
York alone--Trading clothes for whisky--Delirious wanderings--Jersey
City--In the calaboose--Deathly sick--An insane neighbor--Another--In
court--"John Dalton"--"Here! your honor"--Discharged--Boston--Drunk--At
the residence of Junius Brutus Booth--Lecturing again--Home--Converted--Go
to Boston--Attend the Moody and Sankey meetings--Get drunk--Home once
more--Committed to the asylum--Reflections--The shadow which
whispered--"Go away!"

I returned home from this second tour in the Eastern States in April, 1876,
with shattered nerves and weary brain, but instead of resting, I went on
lecturing until my overworked mind and body could no longer hold out, and
then it was, after nearly two years of sobriety, that I once more fell. For
weeks before this disaster overtook me, I was actually an irresponsible
maniac. My pulse was never lower than one hundred to the minute, and much
of the time it ran up to one hundred and twenty. I was so weak that with
all my energy aroused I could only move about with feeble steps, and a
constant anxiety and longing for something to drink preyed upon me. I was
not content to remain in one place, but wanted to be going somewhere all
the time, I cared not where. In this condition I dragged along my existence
for weeks, until at last, driven to a frenzy, reason fled, and I plunged
headlong into the horrors of another debauch. My downward course appeared
to be accelerated by the very struggles which I had made to rise during the
past two years. The moment I recovered from one horrible spell another more
fierce seized me and plunged me into the very depths of hell. I now
conceived the idea of getting some one to travel with me, thinking that by
this means I could perhaps throw off the morbid gloom and melancholy which
hung over me. But again I did the very thing I should not have done--I

On the 30th of September, 1876, I started from Indianapolis, in company
with Gen. Dan. Macauley, on a third lecturing tour East. I was drunk when
we started, and remained in that accursed state during the journey. At
Buffalo, New York, we got separated, thence I went to New York city alone,
where I continued drinking until I had no money. I then commenced to pawn
my clothes--first, my vest; second, a pair of new boots, worth fourteen
dollars; I got a quart of whisky, an old and worn-out pair of shoes, and
ten cents in money, for my boots. I drank up the whisky, and traded off my
overcoat. It was worth sixty dollars. I realized about five cents on the
dollar, and all the horrors of all hells ever heard of, for I was attacked
with the delirium tremens. By some means, of which I am entirely ignorant,
I got across the river, into Jersey City, and was there arrested and lodged
in the calaboose, in which I remained from Saturday until the following
Monday. I suffered more in the forty-eight hours embraced in that time
than I ever before or since suffered in the same length of time. I do not
know the hour, but it was getting dark on that Saturday evening, when I got
deathly sick, and commenced vomiting. I continued vomiting until Monday.
Nothing that I swallowed would remain on my stomach. About eight o'clock
Saturday evening the authorities, the police officers, put a large number
of men and boys, who were arrested for being drunk, in the room in which
I was confined. By midnight there were fourteen of us in a small,
poorly-ventilated, dirty room. Planks extended around the room on three
sides, and on these those who could get a place lay down. Among the number
of "drunks" imprisoned with me were some of the worst and largest roughs of
Jersey City, and these inhuman wretches, in the absence of the police,
threatened; to take my life if I vomited again. In the room adjoining ours
a madman was confined, and I don't think he ceased kicking and screaming a
moment from Saturday night until Monday. In the room just across the narrow
hall, fronting ours, was an insane woman, who swore she had two souls, one
of which was in hell! She, too, kept up an incessant, piteous wailing,
begging some one, ever and anon, with piercing screams, to bring back her
lost soul! Indianapolis is more civilized than Jersey City in respect to
her prisons, but not with respect to her police. And I am pretty sure that,
as managed by its present superintendent, the unfortunate insane are in no
other State cared for as they are in the Indiana asylum, and in no other
State is the appropriation for running such a noble institution so beggarly
as in ours. I have visited other asylums, and am now an inmate of this, and
I know whereof I speak.

The reader may have a faint idea of my sufferings while in the Jersey City
calaboose when I tell him that the least noise pierced my brain like a
knife. I can in fancy and in my dreams hear the wild screams of that woman
yet. On Monday morning we were marched together to a room, and I saw that
there were about fifty persons all told under arrest. Among the number were
many women, and I write with sorrow that their language was more profane
and indecent than that of the men. I stood as in a nightmare and heard
the judge say from time to time--"Five dollars"--"Ten dollars"--"Ten
days"--"Fifteen days"--and so on. I was so weak that I found it almost out
of my power to stand up, and as the various sentences were pronounced my
heart gave a quick throb of agony. I felt that a sentence of ten days would
kill me. At this moment "John Dalton" was called. I answered "Here, your
Honor!" for Dalton was the name I had assumed. My offense was read--and the
officer who arrested me volunteered the statement that I was not
disorderly, and that I had not been creating any disturbance. I felt called
upon to plead my own case before the judge, and without waiting for his
permission I began to speak. It was life or death with me, and for ten
minutes I spoke as I never spoke before and have never spoken since. I
pierced through his judicial armor and touched his pity, else the fear of
being talked to death influenced him, to discharge me with the generous
advice to leave the city. Either way I was free, and was not long in
getting across the river into New York, where I succeeded in finding
General Macauley who saw that my toilet was once more arranged in a
respectable manner. That night we started for Boston, and arrived there on
Tuesday morning. I got drunk immediately and remained drunk until Saturday,
on which memorable day I went in company with the General to Junius Brutus
Booth's residence, at Manchester, Mass., where I staid, well provided for,
until I got sober. I then began to fill my engagements, and for six weeks
lectured almost every day and night. I again broke down and came home. I
finally got sober once more and did not drink anything until in January
last, when I again fell. I went to Jeffersonville to lecture, and while
there became converted. Had I then ceased to work and given my worn-out
body and mind a much needed rest, I would have to-day been standing up
before the world a free and happy man. But my desire to see and tell every
one of the new joy which I had found controlled me, and for six weeks I
spoke every day, and often twice a day. I started east again and went to
Boston. I attended the Moody and Sankey meetings, but was troubled with I
know not what. All the time an unnatural feeling seemed to have possession
of me.

One afternoon, just after getting off my knees from prayer, a strange spell
came over me and before I could realize what I was doing, the devil hurried
me into a saloon, where I began to drink recklessly, and knew nothing more
for two or three days. Then I awoke, I knew not where. Some of my friends
found me and sent me home. I now suffered more mental torture than I
experienced on sobering up from any other spree I was ever on. I believed
firmly that I was saved; that my appetite for liquor was forever gone. I
felt now that there was no hope for me. Oh, the despairing days and long
black nights of agony unspeakable that followed this debauch! In time I
recovered physical health, and began to lecture, though under greater
difficulties than ever before. I was so harrassed by my own shame and the
world's doubts that within a month I again got drunk. While on this spree
my friends made out the necessary papers, and I was committed to the
Indiana Hospital for the Insane. Here, then, I am to-day, very near the end
of my most wretched and misspent life. How can I tell the emotions which
swell in my heart? It is on the record of this asylum that I was brought
here June 4th, a victim of intemperance. Everything is being done for me
that can be done, but I feel that my case is hopeless unless help comes
from above. Ordinarily restraint and proper attention to diet and rest
would in time cure aggravated cases of that peculiar insanity which
manifests itself in an abnormal and excessive demand for liquor. But with
me the spell returns after months of sobriety with a force which I am
powerless to resist, as the reader has seen in the several instances given
in this autobiography. The rule of treatment for patients here varies with
the different characters of the patients. The impressions which I had
formed of insane asylums was very different from those which have come from
my sojourn among the insane. There is less screaming and violence than I
thought there would be, and for most of the time the wards in which the
better class of patients are confined are as still and apparently as
peaceful as a home circle. The horror experienced during the first week's,
or first two weeks' confinement wears off, and one gradually forgets that
he is in a house for the mad. Many amusing cases come under my observation,
but there are others which excite various feelings of pity, disgust, fear,
and horror. There is, for instance, a man in "my ward" who imagines that he
has murdered all his relations. Another believes that he swallowed and
carries within him a living mule which compels him to walk on his hands as
well as his feet. One poor fellow can not be convinced but assassins are
hourly trying to stab or shoot him. One is afraid to eat for fear of being
poisoned, and another wants to disembowel himself. Twice a day the wards,
which number from thirty to forty patients under the charge of two
attendants, one or the other of whom is constantly on duty, are taken out
for a walk in the beautiful grounds around the asylum. Sometimes, when it
is thought that the patient will be benefited, and when he is really well
but still not in a condition to be discharged, he is allowed the freedom of
the grounds. After I had been here two weeks I was permitted to go out on
the grounds alone. But my feelings are about the same outside the building
as inside. Even as I write I feel that there is a devil within me which is
demanding me to go away from this place. I want whisky, and would at this
moment barter my soul for a pint of the hellish poison. I have now been
here a little over a month. Like all the other patients, I am kindly
treated. Our beds are clean, and our food is well prepared, such as it is,
and it is really much better than could be expected on the appropriation
made by the last Legislature. I doubt if there is another institution of
the kind in the United States that can be compared with this in the
ability, justice, kindness, and noble and unswerving honesty of its
management. Dr. Everts, the superintendent, is a gentleman whom I have not
the honor to know personally, but whose commanding intelligence, and
equally great heart, are venerated by all who do know him.

This is the fourth day of July, and I have written to my friends to come
and take me away--for what purpose I dare not think. I am utterly desolate
and miserable, and dare not look forward to the future, for I dread to face
the uncertain and unknown TO-COME. To stay here is worse than madness, in
my present condition, and to go away may be death. O, that some power
higher than earth would reach forth a hand and save me from myself! I can
not remain here without abusing the kindness and trust of a great
institution, nor can I go away, I fear, without bringing disgrace on my
friends, and shame and death on myself. God of mercy, help me! I know how
useless it would be to lock me up in solitary confinement, and I think my
attendant physician also feels that I can not be saved by any means within
the reach of the asylum. With others not insane, but cursed with that
insanity for drink which, if not checked, will soon or late lead to the
destruction of reason and life itself, there is a chance to restore them
from the curse to a life of honor and usefulness, and no means should be
left untried which may ultimately save them, especially the young who, but
for this curse infernal, might rise to a useful and even august manhood.

The shadows of the evening are settling upon the face of the earth. Now and
then the report of a cannon in the direction of the city recalls what day
it is, and I am reminded that crowds are thronging the streets for the
purpose of witnessing the display of holiday fireworks; but vain to me such
mimicry. A tall and mysterious shadow, more dark and awful than any which
will steal among the graves of the old churchyard to-night, has risen and
now stands beside whispering in the stillness--"Go away!"


A sleepless night--Try to write on the following day but fail--My friends
consult with the officers of the institution--I am discharged--Go
to Indianapolis and get drunk--My wanderings and horrible sufferings--
Alcohol--The tyrant whom all should slay--What is lost by the drunkard--Is
anything gained by the use of liquor?--Never touch it in any form--It
leads to ruin and death--Better blow your brains out--My condition at
present--The end.

After writing the words "go away," which close the preceding chapter, I lay
down and tried to compose my thoughts, but the effort was futile. I passed
a sleepless night, and when morning came I had fully resolved to leave the
hospital if in my power to do so. During the forenoon I took up my pencil a
number of times for the purpose of writing, but I was so disturbed in mind
that I could not write a line intelligibly, and I will here say that from
that day, July fifth, to this, September fifteenth, the manuscript remained
untouched in the hands of a very dear friend, to whom I am under many
obligations for his clear advice and judgment on matters of this sort as
well as on others. I will now write this, the fifteenth and last chapter of
this book; and in order to make the story of my life complete up to this
date, I will go back and resume the thread of the narrative where it was
left off on the evening of the fourth of July. It will be remembered that
in my last chapter I spoke of having written letters to some of my friends
desiring them to come and ask for my discharge. I awaited impatiently their
coming, but when they came, which was on the sixth of July, I think, they
were undecided whether it would be better for me to "go away," or remain
longer at the asylum, but I plead to go, as if my life depended upon it.
After consultation with the authorities at the hospital, who were clearly


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