A Case of the Delirium Tremens

Courtesy of Flickr member: Kyle May

“Hideous faces appeared on the walls, and on the ceilings, and on the floors; foul things crept along the bed–clothes, and glaring eyes peered into mine.”

If the idea of the experience described above disturbs you in any way, if you’d like to avoid finding yourself amidst these occurrences, then John B. Gough has done his job.  Gough, a 19th-century orator and advocate of the temperance movement, aimed to scare the thirst right out of his audience by recounting the nightmarish details of his own alcohol-induced delirium tremens.

Gough’s prohibitionist talks coincided with the cautionary art of David Claypoole Johnston, whose provocative works brought these bug-eyed, swarming visions to life.  Forthcoming in GLIMPSE, Lauren B. Hewes of the American Antiquarian Society considers Johnston’s work in the time of Gough’s preaching.

So stroll on over to your local speakeasy. Grab a cold one, raise your glass, and stay tuned for more about Johnston’s depiction of the DTs in our soon-to-be-released issue, Visions.

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