Thirst likes Cold Water.––Another most serviceable Esquire of the Body is Thirst. How serviceable he is you will understand when you remember that by far the greater part of a man's weight is made up of water. This water is always wasting away in one way or another, and the business of Thirst is to make up for the loss. Thirst is a simple fellow; the beverage he likes best is pure cold water; and, indeed, he is quite right, for, when you come to think of it, there is only one thing to drink in the world, though we drink it mixed with many things. Sometimes the mixing is done by nature, as in milk or grapes; sometimes by man, as in tea or coffee. Some of these mixed drinks are wholesome, because they contain food as well as drink, and by far the most wholesome of these is milk.
But Thirst himself does not care for or need anything in the water he drinks. He likes it best clear and cold, and if we lived in hot Eastern countries we should know how delicious cold water is. All little children like water, but bigger boys and girls sometimes like various things, such as lemon juice, in their water to give it a flavour. Though there is no harm in this, it is rather a pity, because they lose their taste for water itself.
Drunkenness craves for Alcohol.––You would think that so simple and useful an Esquire of the Body could never be a source of danger to Mansoul. But Thirst also gets the ear of the Prime Minister; he also says, 'Leave Mansoul to me, and he shall never more want anything in the world but what I can give him.' This saying of his is quite true, only, instead of calling him Thirst any longer, we must call him Drunkenness; and once Drunkenness has a man in his grip, that man wants nothing but drink, drink, from morning till night.
The chairs and tables out of his house, his children's bread, their mother's clothes, all go to buy drink. The man's time, health, and strength are spent in drink––he becomes homeless and friendless, sick and outcast, for the sake of drink. But he does not crave for home or friends; all he wants is more drink and more drink. By far the greater part of the sin, misery, and poverty in the world is caused by Drunkenness.
Why People Abstain.––As you know very well, it is not pure water that causes Drunkenness. Men long ago discovered how to prepare a substance called alcohol, and this it is that ruins thousands of men and women. Many good men and women, and children, too, make a solemn vow that they will never taste ale or wine or other strong drink, unless a doctor order it by way of medicine. They do this, not only for fear that they should themselves become drunkards––though indeed there is no knowing who may fall into that terrible temptation, or at what period of life such a fall may come,––but because every little good deed helps to stop the evil in the world by setting a good example to somebody; and perhaps there is never a good example set but someone follows it, though the person who set the example may never know.
This is one reason why it is well to keep one's taste for cold water, and to know how delicious it is.