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Dr F. W. D'Evelyn on the Perfume Habit Curse

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The San Francisco Call
June 25, 1899

Dr F. W. D'Evelyn on the Perfume Habit Curse

"Perfumes" as beverages present objectionable factors, both from a physiological and psychological point of view. "Perfumes" as most generally found are simply commercial compounds, solutions of artificial aromatic oils, and bear no more direct relationship to the "flowers" they presumably are extracted from than a "Brummagem diamond" does to a Kimberley brilliant.

The odor is essentially a chemical reaction— not one of enfleurage— and is a combination of ethers and low alcohols—which contain in their classifications some of the most potent poisons and irritants — specific properties which they always exert even when diluted to an excessive degree.

A few drops of the “stock" from which these "perfumes" are distilled would throw an ox into convulsions and give an adult human an attack of cholera morbus — which would not be associated with any "fragrant" memories.

The finer scents may be flower distillations, but in that form cannot be used commercially —having to be fortified by the addition of alcohol.

So a "perfume" in this class would be essentially a diluted alcoholic extract— a soft, sensuous, seductive tipple, which would lead by subtle stages to a condition of inebriation which would ultimate in that condition more harshly styled a "drunk." The victim of Esprit de Pomme would in time exhibit the same physiological degeneration as that of the vulgar "sour-mash."

"Perfumes" must not be confounded with the scented waters which since the days of Meda have formed a pleasant addition to the bath or served to cloak the bitterness of the housewife's physic.

The psychical objection to perfume drinking is that it tends to form another excuse for social customs; boarding house ante-dinner ennui entertainments, "where each victim draws her mate," ultimately intensifying that unmistakably innate craving — for either sedation or stimulation. This is interwoven with our tissue fibers— the flaw in our make up —and to successfully combat it demands full recognition, abetted by mental and physical resistance — not craven capitulation —
lest we succumb to this, our heirloom of degeneration.




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