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Love As An Intoxicant?
by [?]

Seymour, Texas, Nov. 4, 1897.

MR. BRANN: Will you please answer the following question and thereby settle a dispute in Seymour: Is love intoxicating? CHAS. E. RUPE.

My correspondent neglects to state whether Seymour is a Prohibition town. Of course if it is and love is listed as an intoxicant, the blind god will be expatriated for the benefit of the makers of Peruna, Hostetter’s Bitters and and other palate ticklers, popular only at blind tigers. Why the deuce didn’t the Seymourites set to work and settle this vexatious problem for themselves? Must I undertake a system of scientific experiments in order to obtain this information for the citizens of Seymour? Suppose that I do so, find that love makes drunk come, and am run in by the patrol wagon while supercharged with the tender passion: don’t you see that this would militate against my usefulness as a Baptist minister? How the hell could I explain to my congregation that I was full of love instead of licker? Clearly I cannot afford to offer myself as a sacrifice upon the altar of science. Should I proceed to fall in love just to see if it would go to my head, and should it do so, my Dulcina del Toboso might marry me before I recovered my mental equipoise, and I would awaken to find my liberty a has-been and my night-key non est. Of course I should mind it ever so little, but it would be awfully hard on the lady. I have been baptized just to see if it would soak out any original sin; I’ve gone up in a balloon and down in a coal mine in the interest of science; I’ve ridden on the pilot of a locomotive for the sake of the sensation; I’ve permitted myself to be inoculated with the virus of Christian charity just to see if it would “take”; I’ve tampered with almost every known intoxicant, from the insidious mescal of the erstwhile Montezumas to the mountain nectar of Eastern Tennessee, but I draw the line at love. Will it intoxicate? Prithee, good sirs, I positively decline to experiment. However, if hearsay evidence be admissible I’m willing to take the stand. To the best of my knowledge and belief love will pick a man up quicker and throw him down harder than even the double-distilled brand of prohibition busthead. Like champagne at 2 a.m., it is good to look upon and pleasant to the palate; but at last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an able-bodied bumble-bee in a pair of blue-jean pants. Like alcoholism, love lies in wait for the young and unwary–approaches the victim so insidiously that ere he is aware of danger he’s a gone sucker. The young man goeth forth in the early evening and his patent leathers. His coat-tail pockets bulge with caramels and his one silk handkerchief, perfumed with attar of roses, reposeth with studied negligence in his bosom. He saith unto himself, “I will sip the nectar of the blind deity but I will not become drunken, for verily I know when to ring myself down.” He calleth upon the innocent damosel with soft eyes and lips like unto a cleft cherry when purple with its own sweetness, and she singeth unto him with a voice that hath the low sweet melody of an aeolian harp, and squozeth his hand in the gloaming, sigheth just a wee sigh that endeth in a blush. And behold it cometh to pass that when the gay young man doth stagger down the door-steps of her dear father’s domicile he knoweth not whether he is hoofing it to Klondyke or riding an erratic mustang into Mexico. He is drunken with the sweetness of it all and glad of it. And she? Oh she lets him down easy–sends him an engraved invitation to her marriage with some guy with oodles of the long green whom her parent on her mother’s side has corraled at the matrimonial bargain counter. Then the young man has a case of what we Chermans call Katzenjammer, and swears an almighty swore never to do so any more. But he does. When a man once contracts the habit of being in love there’s no help for him. It is a strange stimulant which acts upon the blood like the oenanthic of old wine, upon the soul like the perfume of jasmine buds. He has felt its mighty spell, more potent than the poppy’s juice or the distillation of yellow corn that has waved its golden bannerets on Kentucky’s sun-kissed hills–more strangely sweet than music heard at minight across a moonlit lake or the soul-sensuous dream of the lotus eaters’ land. For the spell of the poppy’s dreamy drug and the charm of the yellow corn whose spirit breeds dangerous lightnings in the blood, the skill of man has provided a panacea; but “love is strong as death,” says David’s wisest son. Will love intoxicate? Rather! I should say that Solomon was drunk with love when he wrote the Canticles: