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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2017 with funding from 
Wellcome Library 


9» OS'S. 




Author of “Eat and Grow Thin,” “The Ego Book,” “ French Portraits,” 
“Diplomatic Mysteries,” “The Life of Ethelbert Nevin,” etc. 






Copyright, 1915, by 
New York 

All Rights Reserved. 

Published October 23, 1915 
Second Printing, November 1, 1915 




My hope is that you will approve of this book — both as jurist and 
sociologist. One thing I know: The intention is so good — the sub- 
ject is so important — that you will accept the book as a mark of 
my friendship and admiration. We discussed this subject many 
times, and because I kept in memory many of the things you said, 
this book is both better and wiser. And so in placing your name on 
this page I pay a debt and claim a distinguished friendship. 

Vance Thompson. 


Upon no subject — neither upon love nor 
upon war — have there been so many books 
written as upon drink. Indeed one may say 
there is no significant writer, from the historian 
Herodotus to the wanton poet Verlaine, who 
has not touched upon this dark problem. 

And the reason is plain: it lies at the root of 
success in life, even as it lies at the root of hap- 
piness in love; it colors all literature because 
its stain is upon every phase of life. The 
philosopher has seen in it the higher problem 
of man’s free will. Is Stoic self-control to be 
enforced by law? And if man is to be ironed 
and bar-locked into a sober way of life, what 
of that imperial will of his? He is of slight 
value as a citizen and as a national unit (the 
philosopher declares) who has not will-power 
enough to keep out of the gutter. 

The political economists have written thou- 
sands of books — which you will never read — 
on the drink question. Not even the doctors 




have differed so widely as they differ. They 
are uncommonly fond of statistics; and on both 
sides of the question they have attained a de- 
moniac inaccuracy in the statement of facts. 
Temperance orators of the political sort have 
made it an issue. And the battle is ceaselessly 
waged in literature. Popular novelists write 
their confessions; they tell you how they have 
solved (victoriously) the problem of drink. 
These are brave, personal books. I commend 
them. I praise the writers. But over against 
Jack London you find no less a man than Gil- 
bert K. Chesterton, battling, in the name of 
liberty, for the wild delights and festivals of 
drink — voluptas, gaudia. (His is the old Eng- 
lish tradition — the tradition of Smollett and 
Dickens, which in its time was generous and 
gay; in their ample pages drink and love and 
laughter were triune; not even Mr. Chesterton 
can hold them together in the haggard Bohe- 
mia of modern fiction.) 

You cannot, I say, get away from the drink 
problem. It meets you at every turn. It goes 
abroad at night with the criminal. It is in 


the madhouse and the jail. There is hardly 
a home in the broad land into which it has 



not made its way. In some shape or other this 
monstrous problem confronts you at every 
crossroads of life. 

When war broke over the world statesmen 
and leaders grappled with it, as though it were 
the one immediate evil. And it was the imme- 
diate evil. Until drink was. chained and 
locked away men could not even kill each 
other decently and with efficient certainty. 

(While the young and fiery patriot bran- 
dished his sword and shouted: “Let me lead 
Britons! ” the old, old general, out of a serious 
wisdom, said: “When the canteen is fifty 
leagues in our rear, yes!” 

And he had his way.) 

If the game of death can be played only 
in terms of sobriety it is not unthinkable that 
the game of life can best be won in the same 

But how are you going to establish the laws 
of the game? How are you going to do it in 
a civil world unruled by the abrupt tyranny 
of military law? How are you going to do 
it in a way that shall preserve the highest 
reverence for the dignity of social life and for 
human liberty? 



It is to answer these questions that I have 
written this little book. 

I think there is one thing the state can do — 
and it is not a vision or a phantasy; it is a 
proved achievement — which will solve the 
drink problem. Not little by little, with 
shifts and compromises; but bluntly, com- 
pellingly and completely as Great Britain 
solved within her borders the problem of 
man’s enslavement by man. 

As you shall see. 

But it is not for that impersonal thing, the 
state, I have written this book. I have written it 
for men and women. It is not the state, fed 
fat on revenues, that suffers from drink. Why 
should it be expected to act? It never has 
acted on its own volition. It has to be forced 
and bullied into the way of right-doing, 
for it is always (even in a democracy) far 
behind the public intelligence and the pub- 
lic will. That is why the drink problem is 
a personal problem — for the man and the 

Everyone must face it. I know quite well 
you are not a drunkard. You are not a dipso- 
maniac; your brain is not swept with drink- 



storms. Your brother is not drinking with 
Pan. Your daughter is not laughing with the 
alcoholic girls at the country club. And yet 
the problem is none the less a personal one — 
if for no other reason than that it is a problem 
of state economy and the state is just what you 
make it. It is organized in precisely the way 
you want it organized — you and the others 
who vote. 

And so it is your problem. 

In New York City there is a melancholy 
cohort that spends one million dollars a day 
for drink. I admit that you are not of them — 
but that army of slackers, wasters and crim- 
inals exists and continues to exist by your 
sovereign permission. I have no desire to 
come at you with a sentimental appeal. This 
is not a matter of sentiment. There is no use 
in changing a man’s feelings (you will admit) 
if he goes on being wrong-headed. I have 
tried to put the case in a plain way — without 
exaggeration, without rhetoric, with sympa- 
thetic understanding of the drinker and even 
the purveyor of drink. You are a man of the 
world, I take it, and you want to see the thing 
broadly. You are keenly aware of the two 



sides of the question ; you know there must 
be a choice — and all choice implies loss. 
Exactly what that loss is you have a right to 
know. I think in the end you will agree with 
me that a remedy is needed — and must be 
applied by the state; but you have a right to 
know the facts and all the facts. You will 
find them, I think, honestly stated in this book. 
All of them — what alcohol is, why men drink 
it, why some drinkers are drunkards, what pre- 
disposition of mind or body encourages them, 
the pathology of vice and the psychology of 
the drunkard — strange and interesting things 
are these. You shall have to go with me into 
scenes of darkness and violence; you shall look 
in the face of crime — and hear mad voices 
shouting; always is it that you may know what 
thing it is — the Drink. Hear, too, what the 
scientist has to say, the physician, the economist 
and the student (less one-sided) of life; but, 
above all, see for yourself just what this con- 
fused problem is. For, I think, that when you 
see it — you, the men and women who direct 
the intelligence of the state and shape its will 
— then only it will be solved. 

You are not convinced? 



Before you pronounce judgment I trust you 
will read this brief in the case. 

And then — what is of more importance — is 
the immutable fact that always, in the end, a 
moral crusade wins. And this is a moral 





I think it should be made clear in the begin- 
ning that there is only one “ drink-problem ” 

— that of drinking alcohol. The drink habit 
varies with different grades of society; it 
changes with climate; but the drink-problem 
neither varies nor changes. Just as the beer- 
drinker takes his beer for the sake of the al- 
cohol in it, so the wine-drinker takes his wine, 
the brandy-drinker his brandy. He who drinks 
alcoholic beverages drinks for the sake of the 
alcohol — no matter what excuse he offers. So 
the first question is: What is alcohol? 


MAN 1 6 

It is in the brain that alcohol produces its 
first effects. So my interest (and yours, I 
trust) is in what alcohol does to this essential 

part of man. Alcohol is intoxicating; that 

is why men drink it — and for no other reason; 
and he who would get at the root of intoxica- 
tion — its pleasure and pain, its peril and pen- 
alty — must study the physiological effects of 
alcohol on the brain. There he may read its 
story and its mystery. 


You have met this important person. In the 
discussion of the good and ill of alcohol no one 
is more conspicuous. A library of books has 
been written about him. He is the whetstone 
of every argument. Sometimes he is old ; usu- 
ally he is young; but there is one extraordinary 
thing about him — always he is going down- 
stairs. Always he is getting away from that 



ideal state of his; and if you meet him to- 
morrow or the next month or the next year, 
he will have ceased to be, in some appreci- 
able degree, as moderate a drinker. For mod- 
erate drinking is a stage; it is not a fixed point. 

It is, as the French soldier says, an etape. 

There is no moderate drinker who is not 
going to the next stage of his journey, or who 
is not turning back. 



It is a maxim, melancholy in its veracity, 
that the road to drunkenness is paved with 
mild stimulants. Unless he is a lunatic, no 
one begins by drinking spirits. Against such 
an indignity the mere physical conscience re- 
volts — the stomachic conscience turns over in 
disgust. It is only when alcohol is forced in 
upon it in pleasanter wine-y ways — in suave 
disguises of malt — that nature compromises, 

saying: “ O, well, if you insist!” Nature 

is always amenable to compromise; it is her 
supreme law to preserve existence at any cost; 
and she prolongs the poisoned life by adapt- 
ing the organism to the exigencies of the 
abnormal habit. Gradually she learns to 
accept the alcoholic doses in the wine or beer; 
and slowly she hardens the physical conscience 
until it accepts its brandy neat. 


CATION . . 95 

We have been told often enough by the wine- 
makers that they are moved by the most phil- 
anthropic motives; it is to save the race from 
drunkenness that they want permission to dose 
the young generation with “ wine and water.” 

And the advertisements of the beer-brewers 
will tell you what rare philanthropists they 
are — providing beer as a “ food ” for the poor 
man who has no mutton. Then if wine be 
so good a thing — if pure beer be so valuable a 
food — why do they not sell a pure wine and 
a pure beer? 








DRUNKARDS . . . .107 

There are two kinds of drunkards. One is 
morally defective from the start — a sort of 
moral imbecile; that was the cause of his tak- 
ing to drink. The other drunkard has had to 
set up a pathological process which would 
bring him to the same state of moral imbecil- 
ity. The one was born to his drunken inherit- 
ance; the other prepared himself for it. The 
one was diseased at the start. The other took 
his self-appointed way, through vice, to the 
identical degenerative condition of disease. 

Both victims of alcohol are going the same 

road of moral insanity and mental death. 

Why, then, are some drinkers drunkards? 

Why not all? It is the physiologist who 

answers these questions. 


There is no disagreement as to the symptoms 
of the disease; there is slight diversity as 
to the treatment. Your inebriate, swept by 
periodic drink-storms, is ill; your moderate 
drinker, tippling diurnally, is ill; now the kind 
of treatment demanded by his alcoholic state 
depends upon his general health — a matter for 
the qualified medical man. Of equal impor- 
tance is the moral side of the treatment. 
Drunkard, or light-tippling man, he can be 
brought back to the sober way of life, if there 
can be wakened in him the Will-to-be-Sober. 

And then a new interest, driving out the old, 
will serve to hold him to his purpose. Only by 
new activities can you transform his desires. 



When a Lord Chief Justice of England said: 

“ If sifted, nine-tenths of the crime of England 
and Wales could be traced to drink,” the 
statement had a repellent air — as though it 
were born of uncritical fervor; but in this 





country the facts, carefully collated, come 
within measurable distance of his statement. 

An illustration: The famous investigation 
made by the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor 
Statistics showed that eighty-four per cent, of 
all the criminals under conviction in that state 
were drink-made criminals. As you see, it is 
almost nine-tenths. And again: The last 
census of the United States shows that the 
institutional cases of insanity are in almost 
exact proportion to the amount of alcoholic 
consumption. Insanity is the mad son of alco- 
hol. Idiocy is its driveling daughter. Suicide 
is its despairing child. 


Ours is the drunkennest civilization the world 

has ever known. For generations science, 

religion, statesmanship had fought this evil 
thing of drink; they had pelted the evil thing 
with tracts and tied it up in red-tape; all to 
no saving purpose. In a world at war, when 
the need of sobriety was imperative, the nations 
found a way of scotching the evil thing. It 
was simple and practical as shutting off an 
electric current. It prohibited the manufacture 
and sale of the fiercer kinds of alcoholic drink. 

France was first in this, as she is always first 
in the noblest missions of humanity. A half- 
measure to be sure, but a measure of immense 
significance by reason of the principle it lays 
down. There is here more than the suggestion 
of a remedy. 


There is no contradiction between ethics and 
economics. Not the w'ealth of a nation but the 
highest welfare of the citizens is the thing to 
be promoted. When there is such an opposition 
it is the economical factor — not the ethical — 
that must go to the wall. The chief argument 
of the liquor forces is a threat of financial 
panic, and, since “ a million toilers will lose 
their jobs,” a threat of labor panic. The 
whine of the “ vested interests ” is more diffi- 
cult to meet; but a threat is the sort of thing 





one can answer more effectively. And the 

answer is here. 


The danger of studying a question so vital — 
a subject with such a swing and urge of emo- 
tion in it — is the tendency to become enthusi- 
astic and slop about. The emotional way of 
fighting drink is obsolete. The reason is that 
the hour of controversial issues is past. There 
is no longer any dispute as to the main and 
primary facts in the case against alcohol. 

With a thoroughness of intellectual treatment 
none can gainsay our masters in physiology, 
sociology and economics have pronounced 
judgment. And the nation is awake to the 

truth. And now comes the question? 

What can the state do to alcohol ? 





No one has any business to go wrong; al- 
ways his intelligence should be in advance of 
his act. 

And the one man in whom ignorance is 
inexcusable is he who plays with the wild and 
shifty forces of alcoholic drink. That man 
should be wise above others; his intelligence 
should be ever on outpost duty; and his first 
business is to know what alcohol is. For 
one thing is certain: when men drink — whether 
they drink beer or wine or brandy — they drink 
alcohol. The sole reason for the existence of 
these beverages is that they provide him who 
drinks them with a greater or less quantity 
of alcohol. They may be disguised with fan- 
ciful perfumes and flavors, hidden in a harle- 
quinade of colors, but the reason for their ex- 
istence is always the same — it is alcohol. 



An immense amount of hypocrisy has grown 
up about the custom and habit of drinking 
alcoholic beverages. It has been given a free 
and lordly air, as though there were some- 
thing exceptionally big-hearted and unselfish 
about it. This lie has come, roaring arro- 
gantly, down through the ages. It has got 
itself told in prose and verse; in fact, it reels 
through most of the second-rate literature of 
every country. 

That is bad enough; indeed, it is responsi- 
ble for more than its fair share of the evils 
that come (unquestionably) from the abuse 
of alcohol — and I shall have a word to say, in 
due time and place, of the physiological basis 
of this false emotionalism and fugitive altru- 
ism; but there is a subtler hypocrisy which 
makes its appeal to man’s vanity. 

“ It’s a rare good vintage,” says the wine- 
drinker, holding up his glass. 

I have heard the phrase hundreds of times — 
parroted in Parisian cafes, stated with a pomp- 
ous air of discrimination at ornate dinner- 
tables, muttered by wine-drunkards in the cur- 
tained darkness of Italian wine-shops. Now 
two things are to be said: the first is that a 



discriminating wine-palate is as rare as white 
peacocks are in Arizona; and the second is 
that such a man — a connoisseur in vintages — 
has gained his knowledge by wide drinking. 
It, no more than a knowledge of trigonometry, 
comes by nature. And when he tells you he 
drinks his wine because it comes from Capri — 
and quotes his Horace; or when he prates 
of the sunny hills of Burgundy or the white 
slopes of Provence, he is honest neither with 
himself nor with you. He may indeed like this 
flavor or that bouquet, but he drinks his Bur- 
gundy — not because its bouquet calls to him, 
but because there is fifteen per cent, of alcohol 
in the wine. He drinks for the sake of the 
alcohol, though it may be quite true that the 
flavor— the haunting immaterial poetry of the 
wine — makes him prefer that pleasant way of 
getting the alcohol into him. Why not? In 
other respects, too, he is a nice-mannered 
man. He had rather dine delicately at a 
well-appointed table than gorge on boiled food 
in a cellar. He has only disesteem for the 
coarse man who gulps down fiery rum. But 
he — just as the coarse fellow drinks the rum — 
drinks his Burgundy for the alcohol that is 



in it. That is the plain truth; the rest is 
mere hypocrisy — often unconscious hypocrisy, 
for the lie is so ancient that men inherit it, 
like the gout. Of course, the well-bred man 
prefers a radiant and delicate claret — a petu- 
lant wine of Champagne — to the dreary, sod- 
dening gin the “navvy” swills; but his object 
is the same — to get the alcohol into his sys- 
tem. (If you were a kissing man you had 
rather kiss a pretty, perfumed lady in silks 
and laces, than the plowman’s blowsy girl; but 
it would be kissing all the same.) 

Thus, I think, it should be made clear in 
the beginning that there is only one “ drink 
problem ” — that of drinking alcohol. It varies 
with different grades of society; it changes with 
climate; but the problem neither varies nor 
changes. The dreary “ cider boy ” of the Con- 
necticut hills is brother to the flushed girl — 
in silk stockings — shouting for “ high-balls ” 
on the porch of the country club; and the Bur- 
gundy man is sib to the man of “mixed ale”; 
one and all are drinkers of alcohol. 

And what is alcohol? 




It is a simple thing, alcohol. 

The chemist will describe it for you in a 
pretty arrangement of letters and arabic fig- 
ures, from which you will learn that it is 
composed of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. 
The kind you drink — or do not drink — is 
ethylic alcohol; and the chemist will tell you 
it is produced by the fermentation of aqueous 
sugar-solutions and subsequent distillations. 

All of which is important but uninteresting. 

It is only when the chemist tells you what 
causes the fermentation that you listen to him 
willingly. Then you meet — with profound 
amazement — the my coderma cerevisice. 

You may think of it, not as something fear- 
some, but as a species of fungus, made up of 
minute organisms, living much as you and I 
do in the ordinary way of life — taking nourish- 
ment, absorbing oxygen and giving off car- 
bon, reproducing their kind and, in due season, 
dying; their biography at first glance would 
seem to be that of ordinary men. And yet 
you shall see that their strange little lives have 
all the inevitable horror of Greek tragedy. 



They are found, these mycodermata, in great 
quantities — a veritable dust of microscopic life 
— on the skins of ripe grapes. They are mys- 
terious dwellers in the bloom of the grape 
(whereof poets have sung) and they are the 
mysterious soul of wine. They are the obscure 
alcoholic gods. 

Have you seen the brown Italian girls — 
or the great-limbed women of Switzerland — 
tread the grapes? At all events you have seen 
a wine-press. Then you understand how the 
resolute little mycodermata get into the juice 
of the grape. What they do there is the be- 
ginning — the first act — in the great human 
tragedy of drink. 

The chemist (of whom you have heard) says 
they take from the grape-sugar a certain part 
of its oxygen. This changes the chemical rela- 
tions of the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen of 
which the sugar is composed, and, by a rear- 
rangement of the elements, alcohol is formed. 
You can watch the process; it is gradual. Lit- 
tle by little the oxygen is consumed, until the 
entire quantity of sugar disappears; what is 
left is alcohol. With the alcohol you find 
water, coloring matter, flavoring substances and 



(tragically) the corpses of the little myco- 
dermata, who, having devoured all the sugar, 
die of starvation and sink into alcoholic graves. 
(It is a melancholy destiny, but not without par- 
allel: In Persepolis they worshiped fire and 
fire destroyed the city.) 

These little inhabitants of the bloom of the 
grape are their own victims. They are the 
makers of that mysterious and perplexing poi- 
son — alcohol — and they are its first martyrs. 
In their obscure and tragic lives you may see, 
if you will, a symbol; for it is as if, in invent- 
ing alcohol, they had invented suicide. 

They build a house, but the house they 
build is death, and it falls and buries them 
in its ruins. 

This, then, is alcohol, the chemist avers; and 
out of the fermented mass (wherein the sui- 
cidal mycodermata found drunken graves) the 
pure alcohol is distilled. 

For the Scot who gets his alcohol from 
barley, the American who gets his from 
maize or the German who takes his from a 
potato, the process is the same; each depends 
upon the collaboration of these indefatigable 
little organisms. When the grain is malted and 



made ready for fermentation most of the starch 
is turned into grape-sugar — making thus a 
saccharine solution akin to grape-juice — which 
serves as food for the mycodermata. (They are 
usually introduced in yeast ferments.) 

Alcohol is a liquid, ethyl hydrate — C2H5OH, 
says the chemist; in its pure state it is limpid, 
colorless and the odor is suave. 


There are two things I wish to make per- 
fectly clear: what man does to alcohol, and 
what alcohol does to man. They are epic 
things. Pure alcohol is, as I have said, limpid, 
colorless and suave of odor. When man has 
had his way with it, its limpidity is trou- 
bled, and its colors and odors are those of a 
girl of the night. I am not referring here to 
the base falsifications and adulterations of mod- 
ern spirits, wines and beers; there is a chap- 
ter for that in this book. What I would note 
here — for convenient reference — is the form in 
which alcohol is offered and the amount of 
alcohol the common beverages contain. They 
vary greatly, of course. 



Brandy, which Dr. Johnson called a drink 
for strong men — and he was the son of a 
drunken generation — is produced by distilling 
wine and contains (when first made) about 
fifty per cent, of alcohol. It is your real ’alf 
an’ ’alf. In its first stage it is a colorless 
liquid. It is only when it is put up in casks that 
it steals an amber hue from the wood. Gradu- 
ally its alcoholic strength diminishes — a fair 
French brandy contains about forty per cent, 
of alcohol when it comes to market. The 
alcoholic strength of whisky, whether distilled 
from barley, maize, rye or other grains, is a 
trifle less; rum, a product of distilled molasses 
and the refuse of the cane-sugar factories, is 
not quite so strong as whisky; and gin, which 
is a distillation of unmalted grain, rectified and 
flavored with juniper berries, contains about 
thirty per cent, of alcohol. These are the 
commoner spirits — at least, in the white man’s 

In natural wines, derived from the fer- 
mented juice of the grape, the quantity of 
alcohol varies from eight to twenty-five per 
cent. Beer is a beverage made (theoretically) 
from the fermented infusions of malt, flavored 



with hops. The ales and beers of commerce 
vary greatly in strength; in general, they may 
be said to contain from three to nine per cent, 
of alcohol. 

These familiar facts had to get themselves 
told; one cannot discuss a thing without first 
defining it — that were to tug at a rope of 
sand. And the various forms of alcoholic 
drink — each having its own pleasure and pain 
and its own peculiar drunkenness — are quite 
as important as the mysterious poison they 
have in common; and each will demand sepa- 
rate consideration. But for the moment — 
at this point — my purpose is broader. I want 
to show what alcohol does to man; what it 
does to any man and every man, to you as 
to another. After all, the subject is im- 
portant only because it is personal — because 
the problem of drink can be stated in terms of 
your personal relation to it. 


You have asked yourself — if not you are ask- 
ing yourself now: “ Is alcohol a good thing for 
me? ” 


1 1 

Possibly you have made many experiments — 
or one or two. Then you have found — what 
every man from the honest scientist to the 
thoughtful barman finds — that alcohol is not 
a good thing for you ; in certain ascertained 
quantities being, in fact, a bad thing. 

So the problem comes to this: “ How much 
can I take without undue harm? ” 

The question cannot be put in a fairer way 
— in a way more scientific and less emotional. 
It shows that you have a practical mind. You 
open, as it were, a profit and loss account with 
alcohol. You do not call it — as I have heard 
it called — a pandemic plague. You do not 
lie awake nights cursing the my co derma. You 
go about it in a practical way. On one side 
of the account you set down what you lose 
in moral, mental and physical ways; on the 
other side — with scrupulous fairness — the 

For there are gains. 

Let us get that matter clear once for all. 

There are gains, or humanity had not for 
so many ages drunk deep — you had not been 
able to look back to the twilight of history 
and seen (everywhere) mankind at its cups. 



Something, you know, these wine-stained gen- 
erations gained, or they had never paid the 
bitter price. 

What are the most apparent gains? 

You set them down as social cheer, as the 
exhilaration that lifts dull mortality to a flash- 
ing level, as forgetfulness — that drowsy forget- 
fulness of the actualities of life, which is per- 
haps the rarest thing a man can purchase. You 
set them all down; for you know that not 
every drinker seeks only physical and mate- 
rial drunkenness. No; across a world of piti- 
ful attempts at wine-born merriment, you see 
the poet seeking the blue flower of the au-dela, 
the dreamer hunting his dream. (I am not 
embellishing with rhetoric the drunkard’s vice 
or taking away its ethical significance; for it 
is a sad and certain fact that those who sought 
the dream in wine found the nightmare — as 
James Thomson found it in the “ City of 
Dreadful Night,” and Poe in the “Valley of 
Many-colored Grass”; but to minds of this 
order even the visionary chase seems to be a 

Set it all down in the account. What men 
like best about drinking in company, which is 


the admired way to drink (“ who drinks Hol- 
lands alone and in a churchyard ”) is unques- 
tionably the social freedom — the letting down 
of bars. I do not deny this gain. Why should 
I? The bashful man, exhilarated by alcohol, 
loses his nervousness, the reticent man grows 
frank and confidential — it is only at such a mo- 
ment you learn his grandfather was hanged; 
in fact, in such company life becomes free and 
unbuttoned. The historic example is that of 
Theodore Hook. When he went sober into 
society he sat silent, shamefaced and glum. 
His second bottle set him singing, rhyming, 
playing the mimic — an admirable wit. Dis- 
tinctly there was a social gain there, for it 
made a droll, public entertainer out of a bash- 
ful unsocial man. Here the gain, as you ob- 
serve, is not so much to the man who does the 
drinking as it is to his companions, who have 
the opportunity of seeing him flash and caper 
and throw off his buttoned-up reserve of man- 
ner. Of course, a question still to be consid- 
ered is the price the drinker pays for it. For 
the time being set it down: the drinking man 
gains a certain social cheer — lawless in a way, 
but indubitably fascinating to the kind of man 



who cannot “ let himself go ” when he is 
sober. In a deeper “ mist of intoxication,” 
to use Thoreau’s phrase, that man “ forgets his 
troubles ” — not a negligible advantage. 

In what you have set down you have summed 
up the chief gains to be got by drinking alco- 
hol, in this coaxing form or that. 

It makes a man bolder than he is by nature. 
I have always loved that story of the mouse 
who came upon a little pool of whisky spilled 
upon the floor; he drank, and once again; then 
he cocked up his head and said: “Where’s 
that cat that was chasing me yesterday? ” 

I accept this quality of boldness to be got 
from drink, but I would reluctantly admit it 
as a social gain. Burke, the criminal, who 
gave his name to a peculiarly atrocious kind 
of crime, said he got his “ courage ” from 
drink; indeed, he had to have a dram of brandy 
before murdering a child. It is an unde- 
sirable kind of courage. — 

(I know whereof I speak. I never followed 
Burke’s way of life, but once upon a time in 
my green youth 1 was a reporter on a New 
York newspaper. One day I was told to inter- 
view . He was never a pleas- 



ant, forthcoming, courteous man to the inter- 
viewer, and this day he was singularly sore- 
headed and gruff, owing to a smashing political 

“ Go ask him,” said my editor, “ what he 

thinks of Senator ,” — it being the 

hand of Senator that had knifed him; and 

my editor — who was Mr. Foster Coates — added 
thoughtfully: “You had best put a pint of 
champagne in you first.” I was innocent and 
I took his advice; also the pint. Unfortu- 
nately the plan didn’t work. When I came 

face to face with Mr. I discovered 

— to my dismay — that he had taken two pints!) 

Gayety and social freedom and cheer, per- 
haps forgetfulness of unpleasant things, and 
courage of a sort — these, I think, are the best 
alcohol has to offer. They are all tolerably 
agreeable results. That is why you have set 
them down in your list of alcoholic gains. 
And now the question is: How does alcohol 
do these things to a man? Whence come the 
glow of good feeling, the companionable frank- 
ness, the unbuttoned freedom of mood? 

First of all — 




And first of all I am not writing of the 

I have in mind the practical man you were 
when you drew up a profit and loss account 
with alcohol; the kind of man who says: “ I 
can take an ounce of alcohol a day — in so 
many glasses of beer or brandies-and-soda,” 
or, being a big, stark, healthy man, “ my two 
ounces a day”; in other words, the man out of 
whose mouth comes the familiar quotation: 
“Thank Heaven, I can drink and be sober!” 

I am interested in that man. 

The teetotal scientists, I know, draw horrid 
pictures of his stomach and his hobnailed 
liver. I refuse to get excited over his stomach 
and his liver. What interests me is his brain, 
for the brain — as near as we can come to it — 
is the man. It is the organ (and the only one) 



through which I can get in touch with that 
strange thing, your Ego — or you with mine. 
There it is I get vaguely at the thing that 
makes you Ethelbert de Courcy (if you are 
Ethelbert de Courcy) and not Vance Thomp- 
son. It is in the brain that alcohol produces 
the effects whereof there has been something 
written — the social gayety and freedom, the 
memory blinded to the unpleasant facts of life, 
the courage and all the rest of it. So my inter- 
est (and yours, I trust) is in what alcohol does 
to this essential part of man. 

Alcohol is intoxicating; that is why men 
drink it — and for no other reason; and he who 
would get at the root of intoxication — its pleas- 
ure and pain, its peril and penalty — must study 
the physiological effects of alcohol on the 
brain. There he may read its story and its 
mystery. It is the beginning of the entire 
problem and — no matter how far afield one 
fares into matters civic and economic — its end. 

Science, not yet omniscient, is content to 
look upon the brain as being made up of mil- 
lions of cells, each cell having two nerve-fibers 
— one bringing to it nerve motion and the other 
conducting energy from it. Certain of these 

1 8 


cells, having found they had similar work to 
do, have formed a kind’ of communistic so- 
ciety. They group themselves and work to- 
gether. Endlessly doing the same thing, they 
become identified with one kind of work. So 
you have the speech-group, for instance, which 
attends to the mechanism of talking. These 
groups are not all of the same age. They were 
developed little by little as the varying needs 
arose. The modern physiologist thinks of them 
as layer upon layer; this is the theory of Func- 
tional Levels. They have been divided into 
three great levels or planes. 

It is easy to understand if you bear in mind 
that the oldest bodily habits — which have now 
become automatic — belong to the lower plane. 
Digestion, growth, breathing, blood-circulation 
and the like are old established functions. The 
nerve-groups that control them are buried deep 
in the nervous system — so deep the will cannot 
reach them. There, too, lie the groups that 
feed the muscles. For example: — 

I dip my pen in the ink. The muscles, as 
I have said, and their nutrition, have their 
nerve-groups on the lowest plane. The move- 
ment — the nicely adjusted muscular action with 


which I dip the pen — has its groups on the 
middle plane. But the conception of the move- 
ment, the idea of pen and ink and the written 
page before me, have their home on the high- 
est level. 

It is clear, is it not? 

The higher functions are on the higher level, 
the highest on the highest. This upper plane 
was the most recently acquired in evolution. 
Therefore, it is the least stable. It is still 
within the sphere of the will. You may think 
of it, if you please, as the physical basis of 
character; and it is not difficult to see how 
delicately complex — how easily thrown out of 
order — are these nervous processes which are 
concerned in right conduct. The older groups 
of nerve-cells which attend to “ the automatic 
mechanism of the vital functions ” are buried 
deep in the lower level and are not easily per- 
turbed. Those on the highest plane, more re- 
cently acquired, still swayed by the will, deli- 
cate and complex, are always in peril. 

And they are not isolated. Peril comes to them 
from every side; for they are linked by nerve- 
fibers to every other group of cells on all the 
planes. In the exact words of the physiologist, 



every organ (and every function of the body) 
is triply represented in the nervous system — it 
is represented on each of the three planes. It 
is not difficult to imagine how extremely deli- 
cate must be the mechanism which co-ordinates 
them. A fragile machine — triply delicate. 

Now what I would get at is the exact effect 
alcohol has upon it. 

The man takes a drink. He takes his bot- 
tle of wine, or his glass or two or three of 
whisky. A certain part of the alcohol passes 
unchanged through the bodily system — and is, 
from the drinker’s viewpoint, economically 
wasted. The rest mingles with the blood and 
is carried through the body. If you vivisect 
the man who has taken the drink, you will find 
alcohol in all the large organs; but chiefly you 
will find it in the nervous system. 

This is a fierce, deep and tragic fact. 

There is a sort of dark “ affinity ” between 
alcohol and the brain-tissue. They come to- 
gether like cats in the night. You will see in 
a moment the significance of this fact. 

The first effect of alcohol is on the nerve- 
centers, or groups, which control and regu- 
late the blood supply. That is where the 


“ stimulation ” comes in. The heart feels it; its 
action is hurried. The blood-vessels in the 
stomach dilate and glow pleasantly — whereby 
the man fancifully thinks a drink has warmed 
him up. Then the brain gets the “ stimula- 
tion.” The nervous processes are quickened. 
It seems easier to think. There is a sense of 
bodily well-being, for “ organic congratula- 
tions ” are pouring in from the glowing blood- 
vessels. This is the physical effect — the first 
one — that makes men love their wine. 

And now the alcohol, coursing through the 
system, with the blood-elements, has reached 
the brain; what does it do? 


“ The action induced in the brain is of the 
nature of a progressive paralysis, beginning 
with the highest level, and its most delicate 
functions, and spreading gradually down 
through the lower. Moral qualities and the 
higher processes of intelligence are, therefore, 
first invaded.” 

And here I have got to the point I wanted 
to make in this chapter: 



Alcohol first attacks — first, mark you, and 
not last — the highest part of man, his moral 
nature. (That is why Burke drank brandy 
when he would murder a child; it was not, as 
he thought, to give himself “ courage" — it 
was to silence the protest of whatever poor 
remnant of moral nature was in him.) 

From the top down — that is the way alcohol 
works on a man; it destroys first what is high- 
est in him — the moral qualities so painfully 
acquired in the long years of evolution. It is 
the most delicate part of the mental machinery 
that is first impaired — that which has been 
most recently and most fragilely built up in 
the evolution of character: the moral part. 

Alcohol, even in minute quantities, is intoxi- 
cating — that is, it is toxic — and exactly in pro- 
portion to the quantity taken is the impairment 
of the moral nature. Do not imagine that 
this pleasurable bodily glow and well-being of 
distended blood-vessels, which make for a 
fatuous kind of altruism, has anything to do 
with character. By just so much character is 
impaired. The moral standards sag and sway. 
The drinking man, of whom I write, has let 
down the bars. Morally he is a looser man. 


The entire man on that upper plane is loos- 
ened and unbraced. The higher processes of 
the intelligence will go on with delicate preci- 
sion after — and there, indeed, is the most mon- 
strous peril — after the moral faculties are dis- 
ordered and defective. If you have studied 
the man who drinks; if you have studied the 
girl — in silk stockings — on the porch of the 
country club, you know this to be indubitably 
true. Always the moral paralysis is the first 
physiological effect of alcohol on the brain. 
From the top downwards. 

You will say it does not greatly matter so 
long as the intellect stands, in fact, on guard; 
but it is a physiological truth that the finer part 
of man’s mentality is the next victim — an almost 
immediate victim — of the toxic paralysis. Sci- 
entific investigators notice first the loss of self- 
control. There are delicate psychometric in- 
struments for measuring the loss. On the same 
plane is the associated group — to use the tech- 
nical jargon — of judgment cells. They are next 
invaded. Now the man who gets drunk goes 
rapidly through all the stages; the restrained 
drinker, frugal, more than moderate, passes 
them more slowly — taking, it may be, years; 


but always alcohol is doing the same thing to 
his brain. 

Theodore Hook, when he drank himself into 
a state of talkative jollity, doubtless put him- 
self in about this situation. The moral part of 
him was in abeyance; his judgment was so de- 
fective that he willingly made a zany of him- 
self — with no thought of self-respect which 
ordinarily kept him a quiet man; meanwhile 
his imagination, still unaffected, was loose and 
lively. The bridle was off it. It ran blithely 
wild. In a little while it, too, would run 
down into cloudy confusion. What would be 
still alive would be the emotional nature of 
the man — quite uncontrolled now by the higher 
mind. Ele would become affectionate and hug 
his table companion; or bellicose and insult 
him; or he would weep. It is the inevitable 
succession of events. The emotions, unchecked 
and unguided, go their own way. And (always 
descending) the toxic paralysis touches the 
springs of the will and it sleeps; until, in the 
end, there is left only the animal man — a thing 
in whom only the automatic functions of life 

Thus, rapidly, I have sketched the physio- 


logical effects of alcohol upon the three levels 
of the brain. And you have observed that 
the highest qualities are first impaired. The 
same law holds good as you drop from plane 
to plane, and through each plane. Thus the 
speech-group functions on the middle level. 

I remember once sitting with Alfred Henry 
Lewis in a New York tavern, where we drank 
water. He was curious in the study of hu- 
manity and he had gathered round him, at 
table, a company of gamblers, pugilists, crimi- 
nals, politicians and bad husbands. I had 
mentioned to him the theory (then new) that 
drunkenness acts from above downwards, and, 
as our company tippled away, we studied the 
process on the speech-level. Almost all im- 
proper men affect a nice propriety of speech — - 
notably the New York type. At first the con- 
versation was rather formal. Our guests were 
respecting themselves. Little by little the 
speech loosened; it lost exactitude. Words 
were made to do double duty. Then the pro- 
nunciation stumbled and fell apart. The 
spoken words were deformed, slurred over, 
maltreated. The next loss was in intonation — 
as though the speaking voice were getting out 

2 6 


of control. And at last the conversation be- 
came purely automatic — a sort of emotional 
repetition of stock phrases and slang locu- 
tions, the mere parrot utterance of ready-made 
word-combinations that required little more 
than muscular effort. 

Of course, the most serious stage is reached 
when the co-ordination between the three planes 
is broken, but that matter belongs to the 
pathology of alcoholism. For the moment our 
concern is with the brain of man and what 
alcohol does to it. 

It first destroys — or impairs — what is most 
delicate, most complex and most important. 

This is the significant fact you have to set 
down against the gains to be got from alcohol. 
It is understood you are not interested in the 
man with the hobnailed liver and the sodden 
drunkard who has got to the end of his career. 
But take the ounce-or-two-a-day man. Take him 
who can, thank Heaven! drink and be sober. 
Sobriety is a broad word. It includes the 
three planes. The body may be sober — that 
is, normal enough; the emotional level, the 
imagination, even the higher intelligence, may 
be unaffected and unimpaired; but of no man, 


in whose bodily system there is alcohol in 
any degree, can it be said that his moral quali- 
ties are normal. Good conduct, like every 
other mental habit, must have an organic basis 
— a mechanism of nerve-cells and fibers. This 
mechanism, as you know, is recently acquired 
in man and is still unstable and of extreme 
fragility. The alcohol which leaves the rest 
of the man “ sober,” beats savagely upon this 
fragile mechanism. Not perhaps, but cer- 
tainly; not occasionally, but always. The first 
impairment is moral; the first lapse is moral; 
for every man who takes alcohol is drunk at 
the top. 

This degeneration may not immediately ex- 
press itself in immoral action; but you have 
only to wait. The moment the higher intel- 
ligence is touched in its turn by the toxic 
paralysis — when the judgment goes off guard, 
and the emotions are uncontrolled — that man 
will break the moral law. You can trust him 
neither with a purse or a woman or an oath. 
And if you are that man, you cannot trust 
yourself. You are drunk at the top. And so 
long as you drink you can not get morally 
sober, no matter how well in hand you keep 



mind and body. For every successive dose of 
alcohol goes there first. And every toxic repe- 
tition increases the moral disaster. No matter 
how sober he may be from that highest plane 
downward, the man who drinks alcohol is 
morally defective; he may keep within the 
criminal law because his judgment tells him 
to, or because his passions do not tempt him 
out of it; but morally he is impotent — the 
very organic basis of altruism and good moral 
feeling in him is destroyed. It is dead of 
alcoholic paralysis. 

Set that down in your account of profit and 

Do the gains seem especially attractive now 
you know the physiological price — the mere 
destruction of the nerve-elements — you are 
called upon to pay? 

Wine warms the cockles of the heart; it 
clouds the brain with a pleasant mist wherein 
disagreeable memories are obscured; it loosens 
the reins of judgment and daring risks seem 
paltry things — life seems a sporting venture; 
but the first price to be paid is a moral one. 
What alcohol does first to a man is to poison 
his moral nature — to paralyze it, as the physi- 


ologists say. He is a good fellow, a whimsical 
and jolly companion, the man who can, thank 
Heaven, drink and be sober. He is sober in 
body and sober mentally. 

It is only morally he is drunk. 

That is the price he pays — stated with sci- 
entific precision. This is not a new fact. Ob- 
scurely the public mind has always recognized 
it. Your banker may not have reasoned the 
matter out; but he knows that the man who 
drinks alcohol — even the ounce-a-day man — is 
morally impaired and he does not set him 
to guard the strong-box. Bar cases of moral 
insanity (which are due to exactly the same 
paralysis of the higher brain functions as that 
caused by alcohol), it may be broadly said that 
the crimes of the world are committed by those 
who have deformed — by this toxic agent or 
that one — the highest functional level. In 
plain words: the criminal begins his bad busi- 
ness by putting the moral man in him to sleep. 
And nothing does that so subtly and insidi- 
ously as alcohol. 

It is one of the things alcohol does to a man. 

3 ° 



There are other drugs that do the same thing 
alcohol does to a man. They put to sleep the 
higher functions of the brain and break the 
co-ordination of the three planes of the brain; 
and, in addition, they do it more quickly than 
alcohol does. The inventive chemists have per- 
fected scores of these drugs, which act upon 
the nervous system. The less harmful ones — 
bromides, for instance — affect chiefly the mid- 
dle plane, but certain fiercer poisons go 
straight to the highest point in man. Alcohol 
goes about its business slowly; it takes years, 
it may be, to do what cocaine does in a flash — 
but physiologically it is doing the same thing. 
It is merely the rapidity of its action which 
makes the “ snow-rider 51 take to cocaine in- 
stead of to the leisurely stimulation of whisky. 
He is riding to the same goal. His “ heaven 
dust” is quicker in its action on the brain 
more rapidly annihilates the moral impulse and 
banishes self-control; that is all. 


The drug-taker is usually a solitary. It is 
not for companionship that the opium-smoker 


goes to a den; indeed, in him the very sources 
and springs of companionship are dead; even 
sex has vanished. It is usually only in their 
first, early acquaintance with the drug that 
cocaine-users meet in common and sniff or 
spray their nostrils with the “ coke.” Sooner 
or later the “ snow-rider ” rides alone — his fan- 
tastic ride to death. But the immensely im- 
portant fact about alcohol is that it makes for 
a kind of sociability. There is no blinking 
this truth. It is not one of the mere hypocri- 
sies of drink — like the wine-drinker’s parade 
of connoisseurship. It is a fact. 

I have shown the physiological basis for the 
glow and comfort that comes from alcohol — 
a reflex effect from the excitation of the nerve- 
endings in the mouth and stomach, which 
makes for a sense of well-being. You may 
safely say this lies at the basis of the drinker’s 
desire for companionship. He is momentarily 
at peace. His physical body whispers con- 
gratulations. Mentally, too, he is loosened up 
and emotionally he is excited. He would fain 
talk; and he looks about him for someone to 
talk with. 

And with whom? 



When you have answered this question you 
will have got at the essence of alcoholic com- 

In an early stage of drinking — almost from 
the beginning — a desire to talk is as auto- 
matic and imperative as a natural vital func- 
tion. Moreover, discrimination and judgment 
being blurred, a man does not greatly care 
whom he talks with. His speech-centers are 
excited and they must function. He must talk, 
even if he has to talk to his wife or to the 
barmen. But wives and barmen are generally 
sober folk and soon weary of him. So in- 
evitably he goes to his kind. There you have 
the reason why men drink in clubs and bar- 
rooms and not (like Gabriel Grub) “ alone and 
in a churchyard.” 

This habit of getting together to drink has 
been decorated with an immense amount of 
flummery. The basic physical need for ex- 
pression — expansion — has been so tricked out 
in social prettinesses that at first glance one 
cannot recognize it. It is like the gypsy wench 
Roderick Random dressed up in silks and took 
into court circles. If an accurate physiological 
analysis of just what alcohol is doing to a 


merry group of ladies and gentlemen at a 
supper-table were drawn up and printed on 
the back of the wine-card, you would have a 
clearer idea of what all the friendly chatter 
of your guests really means. 

And yet you can never get at the heart of 
the drink problem until you have cleared 
away the cant of social companionship. Dr. 
Johnson, talking of “ in vino veritas,” said he 
would not foregather with the kind of man 
who had to be got drunk in order that the 
truth might be extracted from him. In much 
the same way it may be said that the ideal 
companion is not the man (or woman) whose 
social charm depends upon a greater or less 
degree of alcoholic paralysis. 

Yet the charm is there. 

It is perishable; it lasts but a little while; 
but unquestionably it is there. I believe that 
most men and boys take to drink for the sake 
of it. None of them ever took a first drink 
for the flavor or taste of it. (Even from new 
wine a child will turn; for it is an old law of 
nature that all hurtful things are repulsive.) 
Boy or man, he took that first drink for social 
reasons — and against the grain. He took it 



out of an imitative impulse to do as others 
were doing, or a desire to get into the same 
loose-buttoned state of light-boasting assertive- 
ness and irresponsibility. He, too, wanted to 
loosen up, get the higher man out of the way 
and let the lower emotional man — with his 
friendly caperings and tail-waggings — strut for 
a while in the light. 

Alcoholic companionship, like alcoholic 
friendship, belongs to the lower level; at its 
highest it does not get above the emotional 
plane; at its commonest it is on the physical. 

It is always selfish, because it is always 
based on the desire a paraitre — to display one’s 
own engaging personality. And the social 
charm (which clings, one must admit, to the 
drinking habit) exists only for those who are 
at precisely the same degree of alcoholic ex- 
citement or paralysis. It is not only true 
that the sober man — sober on the three planes 
— gets no persistent enjoyment out of the com- 
pany of those who are not as he is; it is also 
true that the man who has had his three 
ounces is out of harmony with a one-ounce 
man. You get social accord only among those 
who arc approximately at pretty nearly the 


same state of alcoholic poisoning. Therefore 
it is that society has drawn hard and fast 
rules round the drink habit. It is bad form — 
it means ostracism — not to drink and be sober 
in a certain grade of society. One must take 
one’s wine at table, or one’s whisky-and-soda 
in the billiard-room, or one’s gin and water 
before going to bed, in a moderate and deco- 
rous way. In other words, in really nice 
society it is considered improper to befuddle 
all three functional levels of the brain at once. 
So the rule is: Get drunk on top — on that 
plane where the fine moral standards of good 
conduct have been perfected in the years; but 
keep sober on the middle level — where the 
speech-function has its home; and, above all, 
do not paralyze the lowest level which keeps 
in order the automatic functions of the body. 
This is the rule in the kind of society a decent 
man can go about in. One may unbutton 
morally; but the mental unbuttoning — the 
physical sprawling of unbraced muscles — is 
not at all a nice thing and leads ultimately 
to being thrown out of doors. 

It is in this society — and at this stage of 
alcoholic impairment — that the social charm of 


drink is most apparent and indeed is at its 

Why does an attractive woman seem for 
the moment — thus flushed and liberated by 
alcohol — the more attractive to a certain order 
of intellect? It is because she is indeed free. 
She is freed from the old moral law of her 
being. The guardian, who makes his home 
on the highest brain-level, is drugged and 
asleep. All the other qualities of the woman 
flash out, rejoicing in the new-found liberty. 
The mind tastes the sudden joys of lawless- 
ness. The emotional nature laughs and takes 
the air. And what you see is the real female 
animal, which is a strangely wonderful thing. 
Here it is — frank as sunlight or running wa- 
ter. And you watch it as you would a slim, 
wild colt at play in a meadow. Riderless it 
runs, without bit or bridle. And makes for 
fascination. Do you wonder men look at it 
with approval, in that one glad hour of its 
lawlessness? This is no longer woman, aspir- 
ing to perfect the higher part of her nature — 
working consciously on the upper level, or, it 
may be, merely yielding to atavistic impulses 
toward right conduct; she is the female animal, 


living downward, beautiful and unaware of 
sin, as a thing that runs lightly in the forest. 

Social charm? 

Of course it is there; but it is there only for 
the man who has put himself (like Theodore 
Hook) in approximately the same untrammeled 
state. For both of them — for him and for 
her — alcohol must have abolished the higher 
faculties and moods, if they are to find a com- 
mon pleasure in companionship. 


Quicquid agunt homines — 

All that is done by men in drink — revels 
of the voluptuous, festivals of triumph, gladia- 
torship of the wit — has never wanted someone 
to praise it. No one in our day praises it so 
lustily as Mr. Gilbert K. Chesterton; no one 
is so eloquent an apologist for the life that 
is neither sweet nor reasonable, being indeed 
tumultuous, riotous and full of mirth. He 
finds in drink, as others have, a blazing ele- 
ment of excitement — as though it made men 
sons of the gods, summoned to a high festival. 
And in verse and prose he has proclaimed the 

3 § 


essential virtue of strong drink, which is the 
virtue of placing men on a democratic level 
of boon-fellowship. If this were true — even 
though the level were a low one — there might 
still be a saving truth in the argument. But 
the altruistic plea is (as you have seen) merely 
one of the hypocrisies which have grown up 
round the drink habit. All poison habits (your 
physician will tell you) are progressive. For 
the man who drank yesterday there is dis- 
comfort in abstinence today. It is always true; 
it is a rule of life; the repetition of a process 
in which you find pleasure tends to become 
less and less voluntary. The will gets out 
of its way. The nervous mechanism acts of 
its own accord and becomes, as it were, auto- 
matic. Indeed, it becomes so automatic that 
desire itself sinks out of sight and an irrele- 
vant pretext takes its place. And the man 
who tippled yesterday will tell you he has 
no desire to drink to-day; not at all; what he 
wants (he avers) is boon-companionship. The 
force of habit is on him, but he knows it not. 
What he thinks he wants is the fellowship of 
Davidson, Pratt and Bennett, with whom he 
tippled at his club. He has read himself 


avvrong. He has deceived himself. He has 
misinterpreted a plain physiological impulse 
into a social want. What he really wants to 
do is to abate the physical discomfort, due to 
an unsatisfied, automatic demand of the body 
for the poison it has come to need. The boon- 
fellowship of drinking men and women is a 
lie. It is the excuse for drink and not the 
cause. Drink does not make for altruism. 
On the contrary, it sets up a pathological 
process which gradually destroys altruism. If 
you glance ahead at the man who has got be- 
yond his ounce a day, you can see the way 
the road is trending. In the drunkard the rule 
of being is selfishness; he will sacrifice every- 
thing worth while in life for the sake of 
drink. A prattler and a liar, he is above all 
a man in whom selfishness is supreme. 

But the beggar, you say, turns first to the 
drunken man? Barrooms and saloons are 
haunted by the lassies of the Salvation Army 
and the pale nuns, questing charity? And the 
“generosity” of the drunkard is proverbial? 
It is not altruism. Two things enter into it: 
the drinker’s desire of display and the sheer 
lack of judgment which makes him give away 



the very money he needs for his drink. Not 
altruism, then, but imbecility. 

These things, therefore, alcohol does to a 
man on the higher levels of him. Your most 
moderate drinker is poisoned at the top. Al- 
ready his morals are in retreat. 

I am interested in that man — the moderate 
drinker; and I want to follow him for awhile. 




You may have met this important person, 
the moderate drinker. In the discussion of 
the good and ill of alcohol, no one is more 
conspicuous. A library of books has been 
written about him. He is the whetstone of 
every argument. There was never an old 
family physician who sang the praise of wine 
and abused the “ unscientific twaddle ” of the 
enemies of alcohol who could not tell you 
of an esteemed uncle who lived “ to be within 
four months of a hundred ” and “ never drank 
less than a bottle of port every day of his 
life.” That old gentleman is the famous mod- 
erate drinker. I have met him in many lands. 
Sometimes he is indeed old; usually he is 
young; but there is one extraordinary thing 
about him — always he is going downstairs. 
Always he is getting away from that ideal 




state of his; and, if you meet him to-morrow 
or the next month or the next year, he has 
ceased to be, in some appreciable degree, as 
moderate a drinker. This is not an assump- 
tion. It is a fact. 

I knew a learned old man in Scotland; I 
knew him for many years. With unfailing 
regularity he took his bottle a day — but it was 
a quart bottle of whisky. In the afternoon 
he used to jog round his estate on a safe 
pony; and when day faded out he would come 
into dinner and his third drink. One dined 
well in his house, and when the cloth was 
taken away the servants were called in — from 
stables, gardens and offices — and the old man 
read prayers. Then the bottle of whisky and 
a jug of water were set before him and, filling 
his glass, he began his moderate drinking. If 
he had a guest, he had another bottle for the 
guest — he stood for no poaching on his. So 
he drank. He had a rare fund of talk, for in 
his youth he had been a student and a traveler; 
and always he read books worth discussing. 
Hour after hour I have listened to his talk, 
as, automatically, his memory gave up what 
had been impressed upon it. He had a hard- 



surfaced, Scottish memory that had retained 
much he had learned from men and things. 
It would be eleven o’clock before the intel- 
ligence went out of him; always at midnight 
the gardener and one of the house-servants 
carried him up and put him in his bed. He 
was a moderate drinker. A score of times 
he proved it to me — with many fine quota- 
tions from his Latin authors. This was the 
way of his argument: — 

“There is only one bad thing about drink 
— the fact that the habit grows on you. Now 
in order to drink with safety, convenience and 
delight, all you have to do is to see that the 
habit does not grow on you. The man who 
sets a limit — whether it be one glass or one 
bottle — and keeps within his limit, is a mod- 
erate drinker. He stays at that one point. I 
call him,” said the old Scottish gentleman, 
“ a moderate drinker. He does not go beyond 
the limit of moderation he has set for himself. 
He is drinking the whisky — it is not drinking 

I used to think it was a good argument; T 
still think it is a good argument. The man 
who says: “I will drink so much” — glass or 



mug, pint or quart — and sticks resolutely to 
the determination is, one would fancy, a mod- 
erate drinker. His will is not yet destroyed. 
At some point it steps in and asserts itself, 
with its: “Stop here — this is your limit.” 

But there is one weak place in the argu- 
ment — a fatal flaw in the logic. Alcoholism 
proceeds along two roads. The first is the 
tendency of the poison-habit to demand larger 
doses. Assume, if you will, that the moderate' 
drinker places a barrier across this road, dis- 
plays the sign of: “ Thus-far-and-no-further.” 
He will drink only so much and not a gill or 
thimbleful more. And thus he takes his stand 
at a fixed point in the downgoing road — the 
point of moderation. What he overlooks is 
the significant fact that alcoholism has another 
way of getting to him. The brain-tissues of 
the man, the nerve-centers, are not what they 
were when he began his moderate drinking. 
They have been progressively impaired. Mor- 
ally, mentally and physically he has become 
less and less the man he was, as each dose 
of alcohol was sent to do its work on the nerv- 
ous system. He drinks no more, but the drink 
acts upon weakened and degenerated tissues. 



Honestly and willfully he has kept to a stated 
moderate quantity of alcohol, but meanwhile, 
and with steady progression, the sensitive body, 
into which he pours the drink, has advanced 
in alcoholic dissolution. What was moderation 
yesterday is not moderation to-day. 

And here we have touched the edge of a 
great truth. 

Moderate drinking is a stage; it is not a fixed 
point. As the French soldier would say, it is 
an etape. There is no moderate drinker who 
is not going on to the next stage of his journey, 
or who is not turning back. The New York 
Sun, in one of those sane and witty editorials 
of which it has the secret, says the “ evils of 
moderate drinking have not been established 
to the satisfaction of any but a few reformers,” 
but it takes the iron out of the statement by 
adding: “What does seem to be pretty well 
established is that few of those who drink can 
be classed as moderate drinkers.” 

Few, or you might say, none; for the mod- 
erate drinker is either . coming or going. He 
is coming back toward the norm of sobriety, 
or he is going on toward drunkenness. One 
or the other. The pathological progress to- 

4 6 


ward alcoholic degenerations is continuous; it 
goes regularly on, though the drinking man 
holds himself grimly to his one bottle a day. 
And he reaches the same end, though not so 
quickly, as he who drinks with careless, hope- 
less immoderation. The moderate drinker 
takes his tipple at a half-way house. His safety 
lies in the hope — spes vinosa — that death 
will get him before he goes further on his 

By temperament and by social convention 
there are many men and women — more than 
the Sun fancies, perhaps — who seemingly halt 
at this half-way house. They are those who 
have no predisposition to alcoholism; who have 
no desire for cerebral stimulation; whose mod- 
eration is so definite that the bodily habit is 
in its infancy. They may go on for a long 
time, even to old age, and keep the poison 
habit at so low a point that slight daily doses 
may satisfy it. I think there are many such 
people in whom the progress of the alcohol 
habit is so leisurely that mind and body go 
to the grave less deeply scarred than one would 
fancy; but what is impaired is the finer brain 
atop — the home of the moral qualities. That 



price the most moderate drinker pays. His 
moral deterioration is very subtle; in a world 
where right conduct is still an unachieved 
ideal it is not notoriously perceptible; but, 
great or small, it is the price he pays. 


After all, what is a moderate drinker? 

The “ navvy’s ” moderation in gin-drinking 
is not that of the college don sipping his port. 
Bernard Shaw has pointed out that as “ most 
people seem to prefer the boozy sort of life ” 
so “ society is organized to suit boozy people.” 
The doctors have, for the most part, fallen 
in with society’s ways; hence their estimate 
of what is moderation in the drinking of fer- 
mented liquors is anything but niggardly. For 
years they regulated the daily allowance of 
alcohol — for the moderate drinker — by what 
was called “ Anstie’s limit.” 

According to Anstie, the right quantity is 
“ equivalent to one and a half ounces of alco- 
hol; three ounces of ardent spirit; two wine- 
glasses of port; one pint bottle of claret, cham- 
pagne or other light wine; three tumblerfuls 



of ale or porter; or four or five glasses of light 
ale or beer.” 

The life insurance offices used to accept this 
calculation. Only when Anstie’s amount was 
exceeded did they see a risk to health. Those 
were the days when doctors talked (cheerily 
ignorant) of alcohol as a “ food.” Never did 
the moderate drinker stand so high in the 
world’s esteem. Indeed, the total abstainer was 
looked upon as a maniac who was playing a 
dangerous, suicidal game with his health. One 
of these obstinate non-drinkers, a Quaker, ap- 
plied to an English life insurance office for a 
policy. The directors held a meeting; the 
learned doctors were called in; and this was 
the decision: the policy would be granted 
only if the Quaker paid ten per cent, more 
than the ordinary premium, because “ he was 
thin and watery and mentally cranked in that 
he repudiated the good things of God as 
found in alcoholic drinks.” This was in 1840; 
life insurance was a new thing, based on 
the general average of medical and finan- 
cial ignorance. (The Quaker annoyed 
the prophets by living until he was eighty- 
two. ) 



In the three-quarters of a century that have 
elapsed something has been learned. A con- 
vention of the Presidents of the American life 
insurance companies was held in New York 
in 1914 and the chairman of the Central Bu- 
reau of Medico-Actuarial Mortality Investi- 
gation, representing forty-three companies and 
covering the records of over two million policy- 
holders, made a report in which he classed 
moderate drinkers as “ decidedly unsafe and 
exhibiting a higher mortality than total 

Of course; the physiologist could have told 
him so in the beginning; but it took seventy- 
four years of investigation — economic, socio- 
logical, medical, ethical — to convince the 
Medico-Actuarial man of the plain fact that 
alcohol, even in minute, moderate quantities, 
is a destructive poison. 

So long as medical science — so long as the 
old-fashioned doctor, living hazily “ the boozy 
sort of life ” — gave approval to moderate 
drinking and “ Anstie’s limit,” the reformers 
had a hard time of it. Business life, as well 
as social life, was “ organized to suit boozy 
people.” Now you are not going to destroy 



the pandemic plague — if you want to call it 
that — of alcohol until you get both the social 
organization and the business world on your 
side. What was most vehemently done in the 
past was to attack the alcohol habit on its 
social side. There has been an immense 
amount of emotional eloquence poured out on 
the evil wrought by alcohol upon the social 
structure. That was good work in its way. 
Pictures of the drunkard’s home — its squalor 
and cruelty — doubtless frightened many a man 
from drink. And photographs (displayed on 
a screen) of the moderate drinker’s indecent 
liver did something to turn men to sober, 
euthenic ways of living. But the battle against 
alcohol could not be won in this way. You 
cannot fight a poison habit with rhetoric or 
with pictures on a screen. You cannot frighten 
a man away from a social peril by appealing 
to his sense of fear. The best and starkest 
kind of man goes forward to meet the fear 
and put it to the test. Youth is not to be 
daunted by a picture of the hobnailed 
liver. You cannot terrorize a boy — in the 
forth-going valor of his youth — with proph- 
ecies of the madhouse or the cell. He knows 



he is not going there; he has taken, he 
would tell you, the safe road of the moderate 

It was not until “ big business 11 — cold- 
blooded, unsentimental, mathematical, rigidly 
scientific — stepped in and told him that mod- 
erate drinking was not safe, being, in the 
Medico-Actuarial phrase, “ decidedly unsafe,” 
that he was content to listen. Then he said: 
“ There must be something in it.” 

You can see him going jauntily into the life 
insurance office. 

“ It’s all right,” he says confidently, “ I’m 
a moderate drinker — I can drink and be 
sober — in fact, I keep well within Anstie’s 

“ Anstie’s limit,” says the Medico-Actuarial 
one scornfully — “ that belongs to the dark ages 
of medical science, to a period when society 
was organized to suit boozy people. Let’s have 
a look at you! ” 

And with phlegmatic immodesty Medico- 
Actuarial science goes through him with a 
lighted candle — peering at his lungs and lights 
and liver, at heart and brain — notably at the 
brain and its functional levels; then throws 



him out or bets (in terms of insurance) that 
he will live so many alcoholic years and no 
more. I am assuming that this young man 
was not in an extra-hazardous way of life. 
Had he belonged to the following classes 
he had never got so far as the examination 
room, in the more conservative insurance 
offices : 

“ Retail liquor dealers — not accepted. 

“ Employees in distilleries — not accepted. 

“ Saloon-keepers and bartenders — not ac- 

“Traveling salesmen for liquor houses — not 

“ Only in special cases are wholesale dealers 
and restaurant keepers, who sell liquor, ac- 

And the list might be extended, for brewery 
salesmen, collectors, mechanics, bottlers, labor- 
ers and the like are heavily penalized when 
they take out life-insurance policies. 

In the report of the Bureau of Mortality 
Investigation to which I have referred (it 
was published in the Outlook) this state- 
ment is made, concerning the moderate 



“With regard to men who had used alco- 
holic beverages daily, but not to excess, the 
experience of the companies was divided into 
two groups: (a) men who took two glasses 
of beer, or a glass of whisky, or their equiva- 
lent a day; (b) men who took more than the 
foregoing amount, but were not considered by 
the companies to drink to excess. The mor- 
tality in the second group was fifty per cent, 
greater than in the first.” 

Here you get a comparison between two 
classes of drinkers — both moderate, both within 
the risk limits set by the company; yet the 
man who took a few extra glasses, beer or 
whisky, paid for it, on an average, with four 
years of his life. These are interesting facts 
and they are significant because they are those 
upon which “ big business ” — as you shall see 
— has based its campaign against drink. A 
comparison between the moderate drinker — for 
no other drinker is, of course, accepted by the 
insurance offices — and the abstainer, is found 
in the reports of the British companies, which 
I take from the same source. 

Here are the figures for the moderate drink- 
ing men: 



Total number of years of exposure to 

risk, all ages 466,943 

Expected deaths by Om table 8,911 

Actual deaths 8,947 

Per cent, of actual to expected 100.4 

And here are those for the abstainers: 
Total number of years of exposure to 

risk 398,010 

Expected deaths by Om table 6,899 

Actual deaths 3,124 

Per cent, of actual to expected 74.3 

What was the scientific expectation? Of 
the moderate drinkers 8,911 were due to die; 
they paid in 36 lives more than were ex- 
pected. On the other hand, 6,899 abstainers 
were statistically expected to die; and 1,775 
simply refused to keep the appointment — and 
went on living. You can figure it out; the 
dififerences between the percentages of actual 
deaths to expected deaths, as between drink- 
ers and non-drinkers, was 21.6 per cent.; the 
death-rate for drinkers was 35 per cent, 
higher than it was for non-drinkers — which 
makes for thought. On an average the mod- 
erate drinker pays from ten to thirteen years of 



his life for the pleasure he gets out of his 
small tipples of beer or wine or whisky. 

Thus speaks Medico-Actuarial science, cold- 
blooded, stating the statistical facts. 

As I have said, their interest, for me, lies in 
the discovery that “ big business ” has pondered 
them to some purpose. 


Whether “ big business ” is cold-blooded or 
not is beside the point. It is certainly scien- 
tific. What it tries to do, with scientific accu- 
racy and mathematical exactness, is to get the 
best it can out of man and machine. Mr. 
Elenry Ford, a prominent manager for “ big 
business,” says that he looks upon “ the man as 
tremendously more important than the ma- 

Altruism? Possibly. But you are not to 
take the word altruism in its frothier and more 
sentimental sense. Mr. Ford is one of those 
entirely sane men, “functioning” — to quote 
the psychologist — “ with perfect co-ordination 
upon all the three brain-levels.” He is sane 
on top and for such a man moral sanity shows 



itself in respect for human life and sympathy 
with human suffering. It is a need of his 
altruistic nature to set the man above the ma- 
chine. Therefore, when one of his laborers 
goes wrong, he does not throw him out on the 
trash-heap of life. He does for the human 
machine what he would do for the thing of 
copper and steel; he calls in experts who do 
their best to set it right. When a man in 
the Ford factories is found to be out of order 
from having absorbed alcoholic poison — or 
fiercer drugs — he is sent to a repair shop and 
refitted for use. As you suggested, Mr. Ford’s 
original impulse may have been altruistic; but 
I am inclined to think he finds it good busi- 
ness. A workman trained to his work is worth 
saving, just as it is folly to “ scrap ” a machine 
when there is still efficiency in it. 

Of course, any manufacturer would prefer 
machines that did not need tinkering; and 
sooner or later the defective one will be cast 
aside. For a while, however, it is worth re- 
pairing; it repays the infinite care expended 
on it. And what is true of the complicated 
machine is true, in a higher degree, of the 
trained workman. Yet the time comes in- 



evitably, when the warped and dirt-clogged ma- 
chine is “ scrapped ” — the warped and poisoned 
man thrown on the trash-heap. 

The moderate drinker, who shortens his 
working-life from ten to thirteen years, is not 
a good economic investment. That is what 
“ big business ” has discovered. And in spite 
of their sane and humane desire to help the 
under-dog — to make efficient the defective man 
— the managers of “ big business ” have found 
they cannot afford to employ the drinker. The 
drunkard has been exiled from the world of 
affairs; the moderate drinker is in the way of 
following him. Already he is a negligible 
factor in the world’s work. 

I would state the case fairly. 

There are still fields of opportunity for 
the drinker, even for the drunkard, here and 
there. One of them I have in mind. It lies 
up in the bleak and windy hills of New Eng- 
land. There a sober man has a large farm. 
He employs many men; but he will accept no 
man who is not a drunkard. Wages he does 
not pay, but he gives his laborers board and 
lodging and all the hard cider they want to 
drink. Apples grow thick in his windy or- 



chards and out of them he crushes a potent 
alcoholic cider — a score of barrels a year. 
When age is on it, it is a frightful, nerve- 
gripping and heady drink. You will see his 
helots going afield in the morning, each with 
his can of it. 

Where do they come from, these cider- 

They are young for the most part, a sulky 
and weedy lot of loose-stepping lads. (The 
beverage is one that makes for sulkiness, and 
begets emaciation — not the bloat of beer.) 
They are not the Yankees native to the hills. 
They seem to have come up from the little 
cities and manufacturing towns. Their time 
of moderate drinking belongs to a dirty, youth- 
poisoned past in streets of brick and stone and 
wood. They are not part of the hills. Had not 
the shrewd and evil Yankee farmer discovered 
how to get a by-product out of this wreckage 
of life, they had died naturally in the cells or 
madhouses of their cities. Here they die 
drunk in the hills. You see them by day, plod- 
ding about their dingy toil — ridding the lean 
fields of their yearly crop of stones; flogging 
the wretched farm-horses along the furrows; 



tossing hay or humoring the tough soil, where 
the potatoes grow painfully — stopping now and 
then to tilt the can of acrid cider. 

And by night you hear them — you hear their 
hoarse clamoring in the hills, or their wild 
cries as they reel along the moon-white roads. 

This is one of the few economic uses to 
which the drunkard can still be put — drunken 
slavery on the hills of wind and stone. In a 
society which is being organized less and less 
“ to suit boozy people ” there are few other 
places for him. Nor are there many of these 
refuges left. Even for the wastrel and the 
scamp the end does not seem a desirable one; 
but the drunkard who would still keep an eco- 
nomic place in the world can look for none 
other. Slave to a Yankee peasant — chained by 
poverty and drink — his bed straw and his 
food pig — his death a derision; it is a bad 
destiny even for a drunkard; but it is about 
the best he can find in a society that is organiz- 
ing itself for sober people. 

The drunkard is negligible. 

He has long since been eliminated from the 
ranks of business. The tipsy carpenter and the 
tipsy clerk have gone the way of the tipsy 



“ statesman ” and the drunken lawyer and 
boozy prize-fighter. (Even green reporters, 
bearding ill-tempered statesmanship, do not do 
it on the hazy “courage” of champagne.) 

From an economic viewpoint the drunkard is 
non-existent. What “ big business ” is fighting 
to-day is “ moderate drinking ” — the ounce-and- 
a-half-a-day kind of thing. With the exception 
of those connected with the trade in alcoholic 
drinks — and their hangers-on — the entire world 
of business and industry is lined up against 
alcohol, and the battle (since drunkenness is 
self-confessed defeat) is being waged against 
moderate drinking. It is with the man who can 
drink and be sober, thank Heaven! that in- 
dustry is picking a quarrel. The physiologist 
has shown that he is morally defective — poisoned 
atop; the Medico-Actuarial man has shown that 
he is physically depleted, warped, defective, 
and throws away from ten to thirteen years of 
his imperfect life; and “big business” has 
learned that economically he is so bad an in- 
vestment that only in rare cases is it worth 
while to bother with tinkering and repairing 

In your own city, in your own town, what- 


soever of “ big business ” abides there has put 
its ban on alcohol. The Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company employs only non-drinking men; and 
it has stopped the sale of liquor in all property 
owned by it. What this company has done all 
the great employers of labor have done — the 
list would fill many pages of this book. One 
of them, the American Car and Foundry Com- 
pany, has gone so far that it will employ no 
man who has even signed a liquor-dealer's ap- 
plication for a license, showing thus a sneaking 
kindness for the thing, even though he does 
not drink it himself. Nor was labor much 
slower to act than capital. Many labor unions 
have barred intoxicating liquors from their 
meetings and entertainments, making thus a 
stand for sobriety even upon occasions of good- 
fellowship and outside of working hours. They 
are lining up with the economic law and with 
the best thought of the day. 

How long can the moderate drinker face 
successfully this battle-line? 

Not long; almost everything is against him. 
And that world-power, Public Opinion, is 
against him. There is nothing so amazing, I 
think, as the attitude toward drink of the press 

6 2 


of the country. In Pennsylvania alone thirty- 
eight newspapers bar all liquor advertisements. 
In other states five hundred and twenty im- 
portant daily journals keep to the same rule. 
But more noteworthy is what the newspapers 
have to say for themselves. In leaders and 
cartoons, in verses and special articles, the far- 
flung and vehement Hearst newspapers print 
daily sermons against drink. A prize-fighter, 
like “Jess” Willard, sets himself to tell in 
print the story of his career in the “ ring ” and 
his articles turn out to be smashing arguments 
for total abstinence from alcoholic drink. The 
baseball players are total abstainers, if they 
are successful ones like “ Ty ” Cobb and Col- 
lins, Mclnnis and Barry and “ Home-Run ” 
Baker; and the newspapers never weary of 
iterating the fact. The press of the day, echo- 
ing public opinion, reads like an old-fashioned 
temperance exhortation. And it means one 
thing: Society is no longer “organized for 
boozy people.” The entire social fabric is 
trying to clean away the alcoholic dust and 
rust which have clogged and befouled and 
hampered it. 

Slowly but irresistibly the tide is setting to- 


ward the sober way of life. Mankind has 
found that the science of eugenics, which is 
the science of being well born, was worth study- 
ing; and now it is finding that the science 
of euthenics, which is that of right living, is 
of equal — and more immediate — importance. 
Firmly, in multitudinous voices, mankind is 
asserting the will to be sober. Voices from 
the factory and the prison, from the play-field 
and the home, demand the right to sanity of 
body and mind. Against this formidable out- 
cry the voice of the “ old family physician,” 
over his bottle of port, rises small and thin. 
The world is entering the sober way of life. 
And the moderate drinker must face about and 
march with it — or be left behind, among the 
defectives, the ineffectives, exiles from their 

All moderate drinkers? 

Each in his degree; for alcohol is a poison 
and, just in proportion to what he takes of it, 
the moderate drinker is degraded from his 
normal state; and by every repetition of the 
dose the degradation is automatically increased. 
The statement is axiomatic. He is not stand- 
ing still at a mythical half-way house — he is 

6 4 


going on. Even though he does knock ten or 
thirteen years off his life, the chances are he 
will be thrown on the trash-heap before death 
steps in, compassionately, and takes him. Eco- 
nomically there is no place for him. And, 
since he is morally — if not mentally — impaired, 
society, striving for sanity, looks upon him with- 
out approbation. 

He’s the one-legged man in the race. 




Jack London, thinking of himself (which is 
misdirected genius), wrote a quasi-biographical 
book, “John Barleycorn.” Its purpose was to 
show the way drink had with him. It was 
written in his powerful and angular prose; and, 
like his other books, with its fitfulness, its 
flashiness and shouting emphasis, seemed less 
a piece of literature than the improvisation of 
a man of genius. But it was a rare and good 
book; being made rare and good by its sin- 
cerity. It showed you the boy he was, in what 
must have been a rather barbaric California. 
In the first scene he was a tiny, roistering child, 
swaggering off with his adult, Spanish-blooded 
companions to a dance; and the child, in savage 
emulation, drank the crude and heady wine of 
that country until he fell at death’s door. 




(Some brown girl, if I remember, dragged 
him back to life.) A little later you see him, 
still a boy, taking his beer — always in the 
bravado of boon-fellowship — at the ’longshore 
taverns of a desperate city on the Western 
ocean. What promise he was making to the 
future you can see, for the quasi-biography of 
his book sends him rioting down the road of 
drink. It was a wild career, for his life ran 
fierce and swift and touched high and difficult 

You will say that Jack London, being a man 
of genius — genius rather lawless it may be — 
cannot be taken as a criterion for the normal, 
duller man. You will add that the stimulant 
habit — like certain poison plants — flourishes 
most in an over-rich soil. All of which may 
be true. The difference, however, is merely 
one of degree. The way of the boy in “John 
Barleycorn ” is the way of every man who 
drinks — bar those unhappy victims of heredity, 
who come into life with vitiated brains (such 
an one is Oswald, in “ Ghosts,” who lives a 
half-told tale). The way is the same, the be- 
ginning thereof and the end. 

It is a maxim, melancholy in its veracity, that 


the road to drunkenness is paved with mild 

Unless he is a lunatic, no one begins by 
drinking spirits. The mere physical conscience 
revolts against the indignity. The stomachic 
conscience turns over in disgust. It is only 
when alcohol is forced into it in pleasanter 
wine-y ways — in suaver disguises of malt — that 
Nature compromises, saying: “ Oh, well, if you 
insist! ” 

Nature is always amenable to compromise; 
it is her supreme law to preserve existence at 
any cost; and she prolongs the poisoned life by 
adapting the organism to the exigencies of 
abnormal habit. Gradually she learns to accept 
the alcoholic doses in the beer or the wine; and 
slowly she hardens the physical conscience — it 
was what Mithridates did— until it can take its 
brandy neat. And there is no other way of 
making a drinker; no other method of making 
a drunkard; it must be done gradually and by 
degrees — or the physical conscience will belch 
a frightful protest. 

Social environment, whether of the “ greaser ” 
festa, or the ’longshore tavern; this, and a 
slowly progressive accustoming of the bodily 



system to the action of the alcoholic poison, 
are the normal methods of perfecting a sea- 
soned drinking man. 

In the quasi-biography of “John Barley- 
corn ” you see both methods conjunctly at work; 
that is why I have taken the book as an illus- 
tration, but the life of any man would serve 
as well. 

I remember — who does not remember such 
things? — a man I knew at the famous old Uni- 
versity of Jena in Germany. He was young; 
he was calm; and he had come into Germany 
from an American college, where drink was 
not a compulsory roaring part of the curricu- 
lum — it was, as you might say, “ elective and 
had a furtive, low-browed way of consorting 
with rake-helly gamblers and fellows of the 
baser sort. When he got to Jena he joined a 
student-corps. It was not alone that he wanted 
to get his cheeks scarred with saber-cuts and 
to boast — like his fellow-students — a monstrous 
belly; he was clubbable, as well, and wanted 
boon-companionship. The club of the “ corps ” 
was his 'longshore tavern. So he was taken in 
and, being a mere fuclis, was put to the test 
of the beer-duel. It was a pale beer they drank 


in tall wooden mugs, a pint deep. And when 
the beery president (a tun of a man) challenged 
him, with an “Bins, zwei, drei! ” he set the 
measure to his lips and drank manfully; but 
what gullet had he to drink against that tun of 
a man, down whose throat the beer ran torrent- 
wise? He had not got a gill down before the 
president turned up, exultantly, an empty mug. 
They jeered the defeated fuchs and sang songs 
about him — there in the ancient smoky hall of 
the corps — and filled him his mug again. And 
after every song up started some beer-soaked 
student in kanonen-stiefel, and challenged him 
anew to the duel. Ten defeats, twenty defeats, 
saddened him; and he loved the derisive, fat 
president less than any man he knew. So in 
desperate bravado (as John Barleycorn swigged 
at the wine of the festa) he summoned the pale, 
sweaty knabe who served the drink. 

“ Bring a quart of brandy,” said he. 

The corps sat silent, lifting fat-lidded eyelids 
in a common query. 

Slowly he brimmed his wooden mug with 
brandy — a pint of it; then he went to the head 
of the table where the huge president swelled 
in his chair. Slowly he poured a pint of 



brandy into that man’s mug. Then he chal- 
lenged him, with an eins, zwei, drei! and, clos- 
ing his desperate eyes, he drank his own mad 
drink. His physical conscience was stricken 
dead with amazement and heaved no protest. 
The drink went down. A faint noise of cheers 
— incredibly far off — rang in his ears; then he 
fell — dead as his physical conscience — dead — 
in all the glory of the white-gallooned uniform 
of his corps and the truculent kanonen-stiefel , 
as ever drunkard fell. What clamorous wel- 
come they gave him to the Saxon corps he 
knew not at all; nor the procession, wherein 
they bore him shoulder-high, through the mid- 
night streets of the old town, to his chambers 
in the Holz-markt; these things he knew not, 
but he woke to the cold and greasy light of 
a winter dawn. He was on the couch in his 
study, booted and cloaked, like a warrior taking 
his rest. He started up abruptly, for he had 
heard the reveille of his physical conscience — 
rumbling its despairing: “We can’t get ’im 
up, we can’t get ’im up, this mornin’.” An 
interlude; a duel in which physical conscience 
won. And empty he went out into the empty 
town. Overhead a queasy dawn flapped to and 


fro like a ghostly flag. Just such a dawn was 
in his brain, but foggier. And he took to the 
road. A long road, a naked road, the road 
that leads to Weimar, a road of fourteen miles, 
with haggard plum-trees dancing along the 
side of it. In an hour, in three hours, in five 
hours (for there was no time) he came to the 
ruins of an old castle. It was the castle of 
Goena; and he sat upon a rock, gloomily, as 
Job sat upon the dunghill of his thoughts and 
scratched himsel’ wr a broken pot. How long 
he sat there he did not know, for, as I have 
said, there was no time. Suddenly he looked 
up into a pair of pale-blue eyes. 

The eyes were on a level with his nose, as 
he crouched there in his Job-like attitude. 
They belonged to a small, weather-beaten little 
girl in a ragged cloak. She was bare of leg 
and head; and she carried, like some outcast 
and vagabond fairy, a mysterious wand. Be- 
hind her loitered, victims of the wand, a flock 
of grey geese. The student and the goose-girl 
stared at each other. Curiosity in her eyes 
gave way to sympathy. 

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked. 

He wagged his head drearily (like Job) and 



even as he moved it his physical conscience 
(down in the hold) stirred uneasily. 

“ You’ve been sitting here for two hours like 
a stone — lieber Gott! ” she said. 

“ I think,” said he, and the words tasted 
like a forgotten promise, “ that I am hungry.” 

The little girl knew what hunger was; she 
said “ ach so!” and laid down her wand, but 
she still looked like a fairy as she opened her 
cloak, untied a pocket in her petticoat and 
produced a piece of black bread. 

The man did not want her dinner; but was 
there a place where food could be bought? 
She pointed to a peasant’s house down the road, 
where her master dwelt. 

“I don’t dare to take you!” said the goose- 
girl, “ but if you’ve got money it will be all 

She picked up her wand and waved it, per- 
haps, for in some witchcrafty way the student 
found himself in the peasant’s cottage; and he 
was sitting at a wooden table in front of a 
stone vessel filled with acrid beer; and, from 
the noonday pot, a blowsy woman was bring- 
ing him the oily thigh of a goose that swam 
in a dish of bubbling grease. 


Hungry? He was empty as a drum. 
Thirsty? He was parched as a bean. He 
would have given the kanonen-stiefel off his 
legs for a fill of food and drink. And he lifted 
the mug — 

At the mere gesture his physical con- 
science got to its feet and reelingly protested. 
‘‘Down!” he whispered, but it would not 
down, until he took it out of doors into the 
wintry air. Still empty he plodded back along 
the naked road to Jena — and from afar the 
goose-girl watched him as he went. 

Now, what I would have you heedfully no- 
tice in this adventure of the physical conscience 
is this: Nobly and resolutely it sounded its 
warnings, as it always does. It said: “Of 
course, you feel like the deuce and all — alcohol 
did it — I won’t have it — take it away!” It 
had risen in violent protest against that mad 
drench of fifty-per-cent.-alcohol brandy. (It 
was by error that it included fat goose in its 
protest; and from that day to this — if he is still 
alive — that young man could never look at 
goose, boiled in its grease, or fried in its 
fat, without a twinge of the stomachic con- 
science.) Had the student gone slowly and 



methodically about the business of drugging 
his physical conscience with small doses of 
alcohol in beer — if, unheeding the first warn- 
ings, he had forced the beer in, little by little — 
Nature would have compromised. She would 
have done her best to adapt the organism to 
the exigencies of the abnormal habit. In time 
she had not only tolerated the alien intruder, 
she had admitted a degrading and persistent 
need of him. And at that point your man had 
reached the alcohol habit. This methodical 
way of adding small dose to small dose is the 
only manner in which a sane man can prepare 
himself to be a drunkard. Violent drenches 
of alcohol merely turn the stomach over in 
disgust. One must pave the road to drunken- 
ness with mild stimulants. Instinct furiously 
resists a sudden alcoholic raid. One must cheat 
Nature by the modest advances, seemingly 
harmless, of perfumed wines and mild-faced 
beers; and then, when one has crept to close 
quarters, one can knock her about the head 
and have his will of her. 

Every drunkard has begun with wine and 
beer; never, in a normal man, did Nature pri- 
marily accept alcohol save in its most veiled 


and delicate disguises. Boys and women, in 
their clean-stomached, sensitive way, always go 
in for the sweetest wines, when they begin to 
drink. It is inevitable; it is nature’s law. 

Therefore, if you will, let us have word with 
wine and beer; not overlooking that little alco- 
holic, rural brother of the twain, cider. 


The greater part of my life I have lived in 
wine countries, attracted not by the casks in 
the cellars, but by the sun overhead. France, 
Italy, Spain — they have an implacable charm, 
which it is difficult to define save in terms of 
sunlight, wine and song. Sunlight sifting 
through the olive-trees, or gilding the chest- 
nuts; songs echoing in the night; the must 
foaming under brown feet or the wine, brood- 
ing mysteriously in dark cellars — brooding 
there, or sent round in great flagons to set a 
village dancing mad — these are the things that 
haunt the memory of one who has spent dec- 
ades of his life in the land where the vines 
grow. Always one remembers the best of life; 
the dirty and tragic parts slip out of mind. Of 



one’s youth, for instance, one keeps in memory 
not what was wild and sad and dirty, but what 
was best and sweetest; until a haze of vague 
poetry covers it. 

And so with the wine lands. Go to the real 
facts of life — banish the haze of poetic fancy — • 
and what you see is not the cannikin-clinking 
merriment of comic opera, but a sadder, drear- 
ier way of life. 

I am speaking of lands where the grapes 
grow, where wine is “ natural, pure and cheap.” 
It is there at its best. The alcohol, always a 
poison, is, in its least harmful form, concealed 
in the beneficent juice of the grape — hidden in 
suavity and perfume. And what it does to 
the race of men, dwellers in sunlight, you know; 
for you have shuddered at these crippled and 
distorted generations, with their beggars and 
idiots, bearing one and all — to the eye of the 
physiologist — the stigmata of alcoholic pen- 

No drunkenness in Southern Europe? 

He who makes that statement speaks out of 
deep ignorance. He has never dwelt in the 
villages of Provence, or wandered over the 
white roads of Italy. You do not, I admit, 


sec so wild and manifest a drunkenness as in 
the harsh, northern, spirit-drinking lands; but 
the southern drinker, making up in quantity 
what was wanting in the alcoholic strength of 
his beverage, reaches the same stage of physical 
impairment, begets the same poisoned offspring, 
dies in the same kind of alcoholic dissolution — 
to use the technical phrase. His moral corrup- 
tion, as his physical degeneration, is slower in 
its progress; but statistics might be piled hos- 
pital-high to show it reaches the same end. 

Spain was “ sober Spain ” when it was pov- 
erty-stricken Spain; Italy was sober when her 
peasants were too poor to drink the wine they 
made; in France sobriety went with frugality. 
What is the meaning of that? Simply this: 
Wine-drinking has always made for drunken- 
ness; the check on excess was merely want of 
opportunity. The vice grows by what it feeds 
upon. Alcohol taken in wine breeds the same 
disease of mind and body that it breeds in its 
more fiery disguises. And the habit demands 
stronger doses, more persistent stimulation. In 
forty years, for which the statistics were kept, 
the consumption of alcohol in France was- 
tripled. This was in the old wine-drinking 



days. But your nation is like a man; it is the 
macrocosmic twin of man; and the wine habit 
led straight to stronger ways of drink. It 
was in my horoscope to watch for twenty -years 
the growth of the alcohol habit in France. I 
saw the nation weary of the too feeble intoxi- 
cant of wine and take to strong drink. During 
those years the drinking of absinthe alone rose 
from an annual consumption of one million 
gallons to over five million gallons. The wine- 
shops of Provence, as I knew them in my green 
youth — the shady arbor and the dancing-floor — 
vanished quite; in their places were dreary 
cafes , the shelves lined with gaudy bottles of 
aperitifs — high-colored, swift-acting decoctions 
of alcohol. The French race, with dangerous 
deterioration, turned from the slow poison of 
wine to the fiercer and more active of alcohol 
poisons — to the wilder alcohol of amers and 

(With what fine spiritual energy, born of 
battle-peril, France drew herself back from the 
abyss of racial degeneration, you shall see; but 
assuredly she was going — even as the wine-boy 
is making for whisky drunkenness — toward the 
alcoholic deterioration which is national death. 


Shall T say she was saved by the scarlet and 
terrible energies of war? I shall not say 
it here.) 

Let there be no doubt about it: the wine way 
to drunkenness is a way like any other. You 
say it is cleaner, with gayer prospects and 
brighter skies? Nine-tenths of that is cant and 
the cheap apologia of second-rate, brandy- 
loosened poets. It is not a clean way; if you 
have followed the trail of the wine-drunkard, 
home-faring. The drunkard of ancient Rome 
was your real wine-drunkard; in order to get 
into his bodily system all the alcohol he craved 
he had to have his vomitorium — that the poison 
might force its way to his brain in relays. 

I say that the wine-drinker differs no whit 
from any other drinker of alcohol. His at- 
tempt to poetize his vice — a vice which has, too, 
its pathology — is only a kind of apologetic 
hypocrisy. And take this: In this day no man 
drinks only wine. 

The last man who claimed to be a “ Bur- 
gundy man” died a few years ago in Nice — 
his blood-vessels exploding with amazing sud- 
denness and drenching with alcoholized blood 
his shining dinner-table, his little daughter and 

8 o 


his guests. He was a dear man, for all his 
clouded brain and twitching tempers, but his 
boast of being a “ Burgundy man ” was sheer 
rubbish; the Burgundy was merely a fat, red 
parenthesis between the morning “ bracers ” 
and the midnight spirit cups. 

He was like another; wine was his pass-key 
to spirits. 

The other day I was given a statement, is- 
sued by a California viticulturist; I was asked 
to read it; and I read it. You may care to look 
at the more attractive part of it, for it is typical 
— in its adroitness, in its pocket-appeal and its 
hypocrisy — of the literature the wine-artificers 
are sending abroad. Read here: — 

“ The viticultural industry of California has 
increased from year to year, and it has now 
reached a point where it produces from forty 
to fifty million gallons of fine wine per annum 
— but this is a mere bagatelle to what the wine 
industry would become in the future if it were 
fostered. We see that Italy and France, each 
having about the same extent of territory as 
California, produce over 1,000,000,000 gallons 
of wine each year, from which they derive in 
the neighborhood of $200,000,000 per annum — 


and giving employment to several million 

“ Now California has the same soil and 
sunny clime as possessed by those two great 
wine-producing countries, so that when our 
good American people will be accustomed to 
the use of the delicious juice of the grape at 
their meals, following the example set by the 
wine countries of Europe, both by old and 
young, then this state will be able also to pro- 
duce 1,000,000,000 gallons of wine per annum, 
which will give a production of about $200,- 
000,000, and by which we will be able to turn 
our sheep ranges into valuable vineyard prop- 
erties, creating new towns and cities, and giving 
employment to several million happy families 
in this state, after the methods employed by the 
grape-growing countries of Europe. 

“ In order to arrive at this stage of develop- 
ment we must do as the families in Europe — 
add a little wine to the glass of water for the 
children — educate them to use wine at their 
meals, and in so doing we will achieve two 
great blessings by removing the two greatest 
evils with which our country is afflicted — 
drunkenness and prohibition — for it is a well- 



known fact that in the countries where every 
man, woman and child use wine at their meals, 
drunkenness is almost unknown.” 

The two familiar lies; as to the economic lie 
I shall have more than a little to say. For the 
moment let us leave the viticulturist's dream 
of “ sheep-ranches turned into vineyards ” and 
the money that will pour in upon him. Take 
the other lie. “ It is a well-known fact ” that 
in countries where every man, woman and child 
use wine at their meals, drunkenness (so far 
from being almost unknown) has increased 
within the last two prosperous generations to 
such an extent that it has become (as in France) 
not only a national problem, but a matter of 
life and death. That is the precise fact; de- 
nial can come only from ignorance or greed. 
And knowing what you know of the unfail- 
ing progressive action of alcoholic poisoning, 
whether the doses be minutely small or brandy- 
large, it would be interesting to hear your opin- 
ion of this man who would fain breed a 
drunken race by poisoning it (with deftly wa- 
tered doses) in the cradle. I know what I 
think of him. I know what I would do to 
him, if I came upon him “ adding a little 


wine to the glass of water for the children ” — 
by the grace of my football days, I know what 
I would do to that smug baby-poisoner! 

But how’s he to sell his wine — turn horrid 
sheep-pastures into delectable vineyards — un- 
less he breeds the wine-want in the coming 
generation? The wise old trader! He knows, 
none better, that the alcoholized race dies fast 
— thirteen years too fast, even for the moderate 
wine-drinker; and with thrifty foresight he 
would breed a race that took to alcohol from 
the cradle. There has been a hideous waste; 
babies have played, sober, in the nursery; chil- 
dren have gone, sober, to school — years of 
juvenile sobriety that have brought not a penny 
to this viticulturist, Heaven help his purse! 
Wasted years! Now millions of gallons of his 
“ fine wine per annum ” can be delicately in- 
jected into the youth of the land, if only gen- 
erous parents will “ educate them to use wine 
at their meals.” Well, that is one way of mak- 
ing money; possibly it seems to you the dirtiest 
way a man ever befouled himself in. 

All the fashionable lies about wine are in 
that statement save one. The viticulturist for- 

8 4 


got to urge that wine, “ moderately taken,” 
brightens a man up. 

Does it? You have seen that the effect of 
alcohol is merely that of loosening self-control 
and unbuttoning the discriminating judgment, 
so that imagination may run more lightly aber- 
rant; thus the man is the freer for it — at a 
certain stage the mind soars, but it soars into 
the clouds. It is a question whether he is the 
better for the liberation of the lower, emotional 
nature — with bit out and bridle off; whether 
paucum vini acuit ingenium. 

Anyway, that kind of man is not worth 
brightening; he has too shockingly low a flash- 
point. He were best left dark. 


Every kind of alcoholic beverage has its own 
peculiar method of acting upon the nervous 
system and the brain. Wine is the blithest and 
headiest excitement. Beer does not make for 
gayety, though it begets a loosening and en- 
larging kind of physical cheerfulness. It swells 
and sways and rumbles pleasurably in the 
stomachic cavity. It does not quicken the 


brain and unfrock the imagination, as wine 
does. It teases more persistently the nerves, 
so that your beer-drinker is always touchy, quer- 
ulous and hysterical, until he has flooded his 

One of the fundamental errors is that beer 
makes for stolidity. 

It is a fashion to speak of the stolid German, 
as though he were braced and made steady by 
his beer. There is no truth in it. He is un- 
braced and made first dull and then hysterical. 
If you have spent your nights in the great beer- 
halls of Munich, for example, you have ob- 
served that there comes an hour when one-half 
the beer-soaked populace is beating the tables 
in beer-anger, while the other half is in vary- 
ing stages of beer-boorishness, beer-melancholia, 
beer-lunacy. These are all emotional stages. 
They are unfailingly found in the beer-drinker. 
The symptoms are always broadly the same: 
dullness, diminution of the power of effort 
and the inability properly to associate ideas 
and use them with reference to the outside 
world. Beer disorders the middle functional 
level of the brain. And the beer-drinker’s gay- 
ety is hysterical, just as, when he sinks into 



dullness, his dullness is one of rugged quies- 
cence. Stir up a soddenly brooding beer- 
drinker and he explodes into lawless hysteria. 
This is a characteristic of, for example, the 
beer-drinking German race — a sane discussion 
with a beer-distorted German is quite impos- 
sible. His brain is not functioning on its high- 
est level; over that level an alcohol cloud lies 
thick; he is functioning on the emotional plane 
— a plane broken, dislocated and fissured by 
off-repeated small doses of alcohol. And so, 
argument, for him, is a mere series of emo- 
tional explosions. You cannot argue with such 
an one, whether he is exploding on the lecture 
platform or in a student’s club. 

There is one rather attractive point at which 
the beer-drinker poses lightly as he goes up 
and down the ladder of his emotional excite- 
ment. It is when he is midway between tears 
and laughter; when the bodily glow and sense 
of fullness are at their medium point; when 
the bodily organs, hopefully dilated, telegraph 
their “ organic congratulations ” of well-being 
to the flushed brain; then, for a space, he loves 
all the world, because only pleasant impressions 
from without come to him — and he sings. Son 


of the land of song! He sings of love and 
friendship. Harmless visions of girls and 
children haunt him. Until the emotionalism, 
which has found expression in simple, sweet- 
bodied lieder, drops and coarsens and he roars 
aloud, with his chorusing fellows, for the sheer 
joy of noise — as madmen shout. But the 
medium point, where the beer-drinker is sen- 
timental, musical, forthgoing, is the best that 
beer can give. It is not to be left out of the 
reckoning. The whisky-drinker has his mo- 
ment of similar kindliness; but it is of shorter 
duration. That of the beer-drinker is more 
slowly reached and lingers on with him in 
more leisurely enjoyment; but the states differ 
not at all. One is due to the fifty per cent, of 
alcohol gulped in a glass of whisky; the other 
to the three or five per cent, of alcohol sopped 
up in half a score of beer mugs. 

Old-fashioned medical practitioners — I have 
in mind one particular old-school doctor, ad- 
dressing the annual convention of the Brewers’ 
Association — still sing the praises of beer. Of 
course, Dr. belongs to a genera- 

tion other than ours. How far it is behind 
the scientific thought of the day you may see 



from the fact that it still clings pathetically 
to “ Anstie’s limit” — a standard long since 
abolished even by the Medico-Actuarial men. 

And Dr. , with the wistful, unteach- 

able dogmatism of age, told his brewers that 
beer was a food as well as a drink; that 
alcohol “in moderation” was a good thing; 
that “ it may be taken in moderation .through- 
out life not only without injury, but under 
certain circumstances with positive benefit, 
and so long as the quantity does not exceed the 
equivalent of one and a half or two ounces 
of absolute alcohol, it is innocuous.” 

Anstie’s limit, you see, Sharpe’s limit; and 
the like. Precisely what this two-ounce quan- 
tity of alcohol does to a man you already know. 
It produces alcoholic paralysis on the higher 
levels of the brain, exactly as it makes for 
alcoholic dissolution. That old lie of the 
“ harmlessness ” of two-ounce intoxication — 
which the old-fashioned medical men parade 
for the brewers and which the brewers parade 
in the press — needs no refutation to-day. Sci- 
ence has killed it; and the Medico-Actuarial 
man has stamped upon its grave. A younger 
physician — a modern authority — Dr. Woods 


Hutchinson, dismisses it as “ incredible.” In- 
deed it is well-nigh incredible that it was ever 
accepted by studious, unprejudiced, scientific 

And you notice that the u beer-is-food ” lie 
still sticks up its head at the annual conven- 
tion of the brewers. 

Here (for the sake of the man behind the 
words) I shall quote Dr. Woods Hutchin- 
son : 

“ The myth of its food-value as fuel to the 
body-engine was, of course, exploded long ago, 
but the idea still persisted, and persists that it 
in some mysterious way increases working 

“ The first 1 teetotalers ’ who declared they 
could do their work just as well and even 
better without it were greeted with jeers and 
derision as deluded fanatics. 

“ But the number of these ‘ milksops ’ kept 
steadily increasing, and finally, some five or six 
years ago, experts decided to give the ques- 
tion a thorough laboratory test and tryout. 

“ Groups of workers were selected from va- 
rious industries whose tasks were piecework or 
whose output could be accurately measured. 



The test was confined to moderate drinkers, 
habitual drunkards or heavy imbibers who were 
obviously the worse for liquor being eliminated. 

“ The work done by the men — for instance, 
the number of ems set by printers — on their 
usual allowance of beer or wine was first care- 
fully measured for three days. Then the men 
were induced to cut out liquor in all forms for 
three days, and when thus fairly settled on the 
water wagon their output was again measured. 

“ Then they were allowed to resume their 
usual rations of beer and their work again 
measured. Many of the men complained of 
this enforced ‘ fast ’ and ‘ felt much better 1 
when they got back to their regular beer, but 
the actual results in cold figures were aston- 
ishingly uniform in all ten of the trade and 
occupation groups tested. The men during the 
days of abstinence turned out from ten to 
twenty-five per cent, more work than they had 
been averaging before, and as soon as they 
got back to their liquor and ‘ felt so much bet- 
ter ’ their output fell right back to the old 

The tests to which Dr. Woods Hutchin- 
son refers were made in Munich, by Dr. Emil 


Kraepelin, professor of mental diseases in 
the university of that city. A full report of 
the tests lies before me. Their interest to this 
chapter lies in the fact that the tests were made 
in a beer-land upon beer-drinkers. What they 
demonstrated was that alcohol, taken as you 
will, is not a stimulant; that it is first and 
last a narcotic; that the stimulation is purely 
imaginary — that one does less and poorer work 
under its influence, although curiously enough 
he thinks he is turning out more and better 
work. Moreover, Kraepelin and his co- 
workers proved that the narcosis is progres- 
sive, that it is not the fourth or fifth drink 
that intoxicates — it is the sum of the first, sec- 
ond and third. 

A man is “ drunk, or under the influence of 
liquor to a demonstrable degree,” says Doctor 
Kraepelin, “ when his muscular or mental speed 
or endurance limits have suffered a diminution 
as a result of his having imbibed. This con- 
dition may be clearly shown by mechanical 
devices of the laboratory, whose testimony is 
final, no matter what the man himself has to 
say about it. There is no appeal from their 



You cannot fool, for instance, the ergograph, 
a laboratory device invented by Professor 
Angelo Mosso; it records the muscular devia- 
tions of the beer-drinker after one glass, two, 
three and so on. The Munich tests spoke ir- 
refutably. The demonstration was convincing; 
it proved conclusively that the beer-drinker is 
living only a small part of his normal life. His 
beer is not a food — not a stimulant; it is de- 
grading his powers, not increasing them. It is 
doing to him exactly what alcohol in any and 
every form is doing to man — poisoning him 
from the top downwards. 


And cider? 

This hard and dirty little brother of the 

I know best two cider-drunken lands, Nor- 
mandy and those bleak New England hills, 
whereof I have written. In Normandy the 
peasant may make and drink all the cider he 
pleases, without the excise laying hand upon 
him. Cider he may not sell. Often I have 
come, of a sun-hot day, into a Normandy cot- 


tage, where a peasant sat swigging his hard, 
yellow cider — and he dared not pass me the 
glass, though his avaricious eyes danced at sight 
of the coin. 

It is a bad drink, hard cider. It does not 
broaden a man out as beer does, or set him 
dancing-gay like wine. It hardens him and 
corrodes. In the end it makes for the madness, 
so common in the cider-countries, of melan- 
cholia, which is a darker, down-going madness; 
but before that end it acts curiously on the man. 
It begets none of the wine-y and beery “ gen- 
erosity ” — the carelessness of possessing — of 
which I have written; it breeds, rather, a curi- 
ous, ingrowing selfishness. It is the father of 
avarice. They are tight folk, in a twin sense of 
the word, these cider-drinkers. And it is the 
“father of livor,” as the Latin poet said; for 
this form of alcoholic poisoning produces a 
harsh and crabbed kind of envy — they are an 
envious, hard, ill-contented lot, and avaricious. 

These are the psychological effects of taking 
one’s alcohol in the form of cider; and the 
drink makes for the nastiest kind of physical 
drunkenness. It is worse than wine, it is more 
fatally active than beer — it is, in a word or two, 



the worst of the three brothers. Men may drink 
wine to be gay and beer to be emotionally 
loosened ; but he who drinks hard cider drinks 
it for the one compelling reason that he would 
fain be sourly drunk. 

On that dirty little rustic brother of the 
“ mild drink ” family the law should lay a 
heavy hand. 




We have been told often enough by the 
“ viticulturists ” that the wine-makers are 
moved by the most philanthropical motives; 
it is to save the race from drunkenness that 
they want to be permitted to dose the baby 
and the child with “ wine and water.” And 
the advertisements of the beer-brewers will 
tell you what rare philanthropists they 
are — providing beer as “ a food ” for the 
poor man who has no mutton twirling at his 

Thereupon the question emerges: 

If wine be so good a thing — if pure beer 
be so beneficent a food — why, in the name 
of philanthropy, do they not sell pure wine 
and pure beer? 

Here I shall ask a question — calmly, with- 




out emphasis, tranquilly, as a teacher to a stu- 
dent in rectilinear geometry: 

Were a monument erected to every distiller 
in the United States who sells unadulterated 
whisky — to every brewer who sells a bottle 
of pure beer — to every wine-dealer who sells 
unfalsified wine — how many such monuments 
would be erected? 

Injurious as pure beer is, the beer-drinker 
does not get it; dangerous as wine is, it is not 
wine the wine-tippler buys ; and fatally poi- 
sonous as unadulterated whisky is, the whisky- 
drinker is poisoning himself with a deadlier 

All hard liquors (except rum) are virtually 
colorless; they are colored and flavored to suit 
the taste. In all of these liquors there are 
two kinds of impurities. Among the natural 
impurities in whisky, for example, the only 
one which is really harmful is fusel oil. This 
can be eliminated, but it is almost always, 
if not always, merely hidden. The artificial 
impurities are legion. The distillers can add 
chemicals which can give the whisky any 
desired “age” — so far as the palate can tell. 
Take so-called Scotch whisky. The creosote 


in it is carried over from the peat, in the 
natural Scottish way of making it. In the 
“ Scotch whisky ” sold in huge, unimported 
quantities in the United States, the creosote has 
been artificially added. (What creosote does 
to the bodily organs you may gather from the 
knowledge that it is used to preserve ham — 
giving it the smoky odor ham-eaters admire.) 
Most of the “ Scotch whisky ” sold in America 
is a “ fake ” — a chemical decoction of various 
poisons added to the primitive poison of alco- 
hol. An authority (whom I am quoting 
largely in this chapter) assured me that the 
amount of real Scotch whisky imported into 
this country would not supply even the bars 
of New York City. Nine-tenths and more 
of what is dispensed under that name is “ fake ” 
— alcohol colored and flavored with cheap coal- 
tar products and glycerine, or cheaper glucose 
substitutes, to give it “ body.” 

Bear in mind also that even the unadul- 
terated whisky — and a little is to be had — 
contains usually the natural impurities, such 
as fusel oil and creosote; for, although they 
can be eliminated in the process of manufac- 
ture, it is cheaper to let the poison impuri- 



ties remain. Against these the palate can 
protect you, but it cannot protect you against 
the artificial impurities and adulterations. You 
may think you are taking one poison — the alco- 
hol you are accustomed to take; with it you 
are taking whatsoever poisons the conscience- 
less, greed-bitten adulterator wills you shall 
take. His dirtiest dishonesty leads him to use, 
as a basis for his liquor, wood-alcohol, a 
deadly poison, and to impose upon the palate 
by various flavors and dyes. 

At an investigation held recently at Albany, 
by the state authorities of New York, a chem- 
ist (a great man — I know him; he is my 
friend) showed the commission the “ tricks of 
the trade.” The distillers and their experts 
and tasters and lobbyists were sent into an 
outer room. Then the chemist filled a score 
of glasses with wood-alcohol. (The commis- 
sioners looked on.) In each glass he dropped 
different chemicals, making for color and odor 
and flavor. The expert whisky-men were 
called in. Their tasters took up the glasses, 
one after the other; and they said: “This is 
gin — this is Holland — this is rye whisky, three 
years old — this is new Bourbon whisky — this 


is rum — this is brandy, five years in the cask 
— this is Scotch or Irish” — and so on. 

Each of the liquors was wood-alcohol, fla- 
vored and “ faked ” — wood-alcohol, the dead- 
liest poison that can be sent against the bodily 

And said the chemist: “An overwhelming 
per cent, of the liquors sold in the United 
States are made just that way.” 

Poison added to poison; and the drinker is 
given his alcohol with fierce, degrading, tissue- 
destroying poisons on the side! 

Come, fill up the cup and fill up the can 
and toast the merry distiller! 


The wine-“ fakers ” are no whit behind the 
distillers of strong liquors. It is well-nigh 
impossible to purchase pure wine. And there 
is a profligate outpouring of “ wine ” that 
has never seen a grape or a grape-skin — made 
entirely out of chemicals. 

I know a wine-forger who — among his 
friends — makes no secret of his business. 
“ Give me good water,” he used to say, “ and 



I will turn you out a bottle of any kind of wine 
you like to name — while you wait.” 

A dispensing chemist could not make up 
prescriptions more quickly than he manufac- 
tures his “ wines.” With a gill of cheap Cali- 
fornia wine, water, a few drops of vinegar 
and twenty-five per cent, of potato-alcohol, 
he will make you a quart of “ claret ” while 
you stand at his elbow. If you want a hock or 
Sauterne, he takes a little real sherry as a 
base, adds a little citric acidity, an astringent, 
like tannic acid, to dry it, spirit and water in 
proportion; and there you are. Substitute 
white sugar syrup for the tannic acid and you 
have a “ Chablis,” and to “ age ” it add a 
little glycerine or glucose. 

What’ll you have? 

Here’s a brandy made of silent spirit and 
cenanthic ether, colored and sweetened with 
caramel — wood-alcohol as a basis. An old dry 
champagne? Chemicals with a little aerated 
water added to the potato spirit. 

And what will you top off with? 

Your forger ranges his bottles of benzoic 
acid, benzoic ether, acetic acid and ether, 
cenanthic ether and glycerine or glucose; a 


drop or two of each — then fills up the glass 
with wood or potato alcohol and, lo, it is 
Maraschino! Do you prefer Kirchwasser? A 
drop or two of cochineal will “ do the trick.” 

Liqueurs and wines; nine times out of ten, 
in this country, you are drinking the product 
of the forger — a product that has never seen 
grape-skin or grape. 

But the Americans are not (despite the ef- 
forts of the cheery California viticulturist) a 
wine-drinking race. It is chiefly for the snob 
that the wine-forger forges. Nor is the wine- 
propaganda so loud and noisy as that made by 
the brewers and dispensers of beer. Turn, 
then, to beer. 


Can you buy a glass of pure beer, made of 
malt and hops, in the United States? 

I doubt it — since a little old man, a beer 
enthusiast, died over on Staten Island a little 
while ago. He was of German extraction, 
having been painlessly extracted from Ger- 
many in his earliest youth. He came to Staten 
Island long ago. In the little garden behind 
his house he set up a domestic brewery; and 



there — in this age of adulteration! — he brewed 
a real beer. But he is dead, the little man, 
and he left no son. 

I say it is doubtful if you can buy a glass 
of pure beer in any American “ saloon ” — or 
drink it at any brewery. 

There are nineteen hop-substitutes; there are 
fifteen malt-substitutes; so the brewer has his 
choice. And what does he not choose? Aloes 
to give a bitter taste, soapstone for frothiness, 
catechu for astringency. 

There is one infallible test for honest beer — 
stand a bottle of it in the sun! What this test 
means I shall make clear in a moment. 

A few years ago the advocates of pure food 
— and drink — tried to get through the legis- 
lature at Albany a law compelling the brewers 
to hold their beer in lager for three months. 
What happened? The brewers rose, screaming 
with beer-hysteria; armed with clubs and finan- 
cial sandbags they slew the bill. Why? What 
was their objection to the measure? In 
France, in England, in Germany, beer must (so 
runs the law) be lagered — that is, it must be 
stored for three months. There is no objec- 
tion to the law there, because the brewers are 


occupied in the relatively honest business of 
making beer out of malt and hops. In this 
country — in the ordinarily careless way in 
which they are permitted to make beer, with- 
out any supervision or standard — in this coun- 
try, I repeat, the ferment the brewers use 
is accompanied by a large amount of other 
bacteria, which set up putrefactive fermenta- 
tions in the organic matter accompanying the 
starches — and even in the starches themselves. 
Do you see the point? The ferment is not 
inspected and it is always — not occasionally — 
impure. As a result the beer ferments putre- 
factively. These putrefactive changes go 
steadily on. In order to overcome them, the 
brewers add what they are pleased to call 
“ preservatives.” These “ preservatives ” range 
all the way from arsenious acid, or what is 
known as white arsenic (a deadly poison), to 
salicylic acid, which causes many pathological 
injuries when used over a period of time — 
attacking notably the kidneys and irritating the 

The “ preservatives ” are poisons and they 
are in all American beer — not to mention the 
large number of substances added for pur- 



poses of taste-deception, such as those em- 
ployed to give “ body,” “ grip,” the after-taste 
and so on. 

Now pure beer could be kept indefinitely. 

It could be kept even in the sun. 

Whereas if a bottle of impure beer — or 
American beer with its “ preservatives ” — were 
left in the sunlight for a few days, it would 
explode into rottenness. 

A fact, a dire fact. 

The proposed law, enacting that beer should 
be kept in lager for six months, would have 
put every brewery out of business — and the 
beer they make, kept thus in lager, would have 
ended in an explosion of rottenness. It could 
not be kept for three months — or two. That 
law would have forced them to brew honest 

One of the authorities called in by those be- 
hind the bill stated that a hundred per cent, 
of the beer brewed in the United States was 
bad. Do you want to test the thing? Buy a 
bottle of beer and stand it in the sun. You 
do not need to take the brewer’s word for it. 
Put it to the test — and sunlight, that ancient 
chemist, stands ready at your call, to make the 


test and pronounce the infallible judgment. 
The bacteria that set up the putrefactive fer- 
mentations, working busily in the sunlight, will 
rot it before your eyes — till the putrefied mass 

There is an advertisement which is appear- 
ing in newspapers all over the country: 

“ Light Bottle Brewers Guilty 

“ They confess publicly the crying need for 
protecting their beer from light — they admit 
that the instant the case is uncovered, danger 
from light begins — causing a chemical change 
resulting in decay, and rendering it unfit to 
take into the stomach.” 

The brewer behind that advertisement states 
that the remedy is to sell beer in brown bottles! 
It is one solution of the problem. Another 
solution would seem to be a law forbidding 
the use of “ preservatives ” in beer and mak- 
ing the “ lagering ” of beer compulsory — so it 
may rot, if it be impure, in the cellars of the 
brewer and not in the intestines of the citizen. 

My authority tells me imported beer is well- 
nigh as bad, because, when beer in England, 
France, Germany, Austria is condemned as bad, 


those governments still permit it to be ex- 
ported. And we get it — as this country is the 
chief one which has no inspection. 

A law decreeing that beer must be stored 
a definite period would do much to halt the 
beer-adulterators. Were they compelled to 
lager it for six months, the stuff they make 
would — at the end of that time — be a stinking 
mess, unsalable. With the exception of the 
arsenic and one or two other of the “ pre- 
servatives ” they make use of, all undergo a 
process of disintegration and last — as a rule — 
only two or three months. 

Beers and ales alike; you have but to let 
the sunlight at them to discover that they are 
foul, putrescent messes — their so-called “ pre- 
servatives ” a poison-lie. 

What even good beer does to a man you 
know; what the beer the unguarded Ameri- 
can is forced and coaxed into drinking does 
to him is a matter for the pathologist and 
(I should like to think the law will make it 
so) for the penologist. 




There are two kinds of drunkards. 

The one with whom I am immediately con- 
cerned is described, with scientific exactitude 
of phrase, in the words: “a dissolute man.” 
He is one whose moral character is being dis- 

I need lay no further stress upon the signs 
and phenomena of intoxication. The thought 
you are to take with you is that they are 
accompanied with coincident physical changes. 
In other words, the vice, as it progresses, 
trails with it corresponding diseases of the 
body. The origin — the cause — of these physi- 
cal degenerations is twofold. In the first place, 
there are the well-defined effects produced by 
the direct action of alcohol on nerve-tissue, 
and by the impoverished quality of the blood- 




supply. Your physician — if he be not that 
dear, old-fashioned port-wine-y person for 
whom alcohol is still “ a food ” — will tell you 
what this means. Roughly, it means a degen- 
erative breaking down of the nerve-elements, 
thickening and inelasticity of the blood-vessels, 
and an overgrowth of the tissue-elements which 
normally serve as a mere groundwork in which 
the nerve-elements are imbedded. (I have 
used almost the exact words of the distin- 
guished Scottish physiologist, Dr. George R. 
Wilson.) This is the first causal factor; the 
second has an importance of its own — it is, 
indeed, the causa causans of drunkenness. And 
here I shall ask you to bear in mind the state- 
ment, already made, that good conduct, like 
every other mental habit, has an organic basis. 
It has a definite mechanism of nerve-cells and 
fibers. And — since the higher morality in man 
is a late acquisition — the mechanism is recent, 
unstable and early injured. (Brain trouble is 
always first indicated by moral lapses.) 

Now, of your two drunkards, one is morally 
defective from the start — a moral imbecile of 
a sort; that was the cause of his taking to drink. 
The other drunkard had to set up a patho- 


logical process which would bring him to the 
same state of moral imbecility. The one was 
born to his drunken inheritance, the other pre- 
pared himself for it. The one was diseased 
at the start; the other took his self-appointed 
way, through vice, to the identical degenerative 
condition of disease. What that degeneration 
is should get itself proclaimed here, with clar- 
ity and emphasis; therefore, I shall make use 
of Dr. Maudsley’s authoritative words: 

“ Good moral feeling is to be looked upon 
as an essential part of a sound and rightly 
developed character in the present state of 
human evolution in civilized lands. Its ac- 
quisition is the condition of development in 
the process of humanization. Whosoever is 
destitute of it is to that extent a defective 
being; he marks the beginning of race- 
degeneracy; and, if propitious influences do 
not chance to check or to neutralize the morbid 
tendency, his children will be actual morbid 
varieties. Whether the particular outcome of 
the morbid strain shall be vice or madness or 
crime will depend much on the circumstances 
of life; but there is no doubt in my mind that 
one way in which insanity is generated de 



novo is through the deterioration of nature 
which is shown in the absence of moral sense. 
It was the last acquisition in the progress of 
humanization, and its decay is the first sign 
of human degeneracy.” 

What is the first sign of chronic alcoholism? 

Deterioration in character. 

And, with the drunkard’s vices and defects 
in intelligence, his physical degenerations 
make equal and coincident progress. They 
go together; but moral degradation has the 

You have noticed how drunkards come to- 
gether, irrespective of cast and class conditions. 
It is because all drunkards are alike. They 
are members of a dreadful freemasonry. 
When you have pictured one you have pic- 
tured all; for the merry drunkard is merely 
at a different stage from the lachrymose drunk- 
ard — the brawler is a drunkard at a different 
etape from the amorous drunkard; that is all. 
It is the same man, going through the “ seven 
stages ” of drink — through elation, and depres- 
sion, through irritability to mellowness, or to 
the tearful stage of collapse and incapacity; 
the last stage of all is the sort of death you 


know. Fictionists and dramatists like to pic- 
ture him at the mellow stage, but that is de- 
ceptive. The truth is the drunkard goes 
through every one of the stages in his drunken 
day; and your moderate drinker (a thing to be 
noted) does precisely the same thing in a 
fainter, less emphatic manner. Thus degen- 
erating atop, every man who poisons himself 
regularly with alcohol is petulant and morose, 
selfish from organic ill-being, talkative and a 
liar — 

(An axiom: Every drunkard is a liar and 
usually a bad liar; even your moderate drinker 
is fatally doomed to inexactitude of statement. 
He can, thank Heaven! drink and be sober; 
but less and less is it possible for him to drink 
and state a precise, unshaded truth.) 

He is a liar; he began, it may be, in gay 
and imaginative distortion of facts; then he 
built his lies for self-protection — the lie of 
the “sick friend ” and the like; but inevitably 
he went easily to cruel and needless lying; he 
lied for the lie’s sake, because his whole habit 
of mind — the standard of right conduct being 
destroyed — was toward dishonesty. And he 
knows he is a liar; knowing which he has no 

I 12 


faith in any man — and he winks his skepticism, 
when he hears mention of the common hon- 
esties of life. Always there is the arrogant 
glorification of self and the sneering vilifica- 
tion of others. He can’t see above his own 
low level. And he goes his way to the one 
vice which usually, in modest-spoken society, 
stands for all the others. It is not my business 
to discuss sexuality in this book; but the so- 
cial evil is so kneaded into the alcohol evil — 
in a oneness of vice — that they cannot be dis- 
sociated. Drunkards and prostitutes fall to- 
gether like a shock of oats. Drink and un- 
chastity are unholy, inseparable twins. 

Before I sat down to write these pages to- 
day, I looked over the morning newspaper; 
and in the autobiographical article of “Jess'’ 
Willard, the prize-fighter (and there is a clean- 
minded, right-thinking man for you — a man 
sane from the top downwards!), I read these 
words : 

“Vice and drunkenness! The two always 
go together, and wherever they go you’ll find 
sickness and disease and misery. 

“ All this may sound funny from a prize- 
fighter. But just remember I was a husband 


and a father before I entered the ring. And, 
because I am champion, I figure that maybe 
boys will listen to me when they would give 
anybody else the laugh as a ‘ sissy.’ 

“You can’t be strong and well unless you 
live right. When you go up against nature you 
get the worst of it every time. And nature 
doesn’t stand for whisky and lust.” 

“ The word of a sane-minded, sane-bodied 
man,” said I; and I turned the page. What I 
found was a report of the annual meeting of 
the International Congress of Viticulture, held 
at the “Old Faithful Inn” in San Francisco. 

Just as the brewers paraded Dr. 

at their annual convention, the viti- 
culturists paraded what notable apologist for 
wine they could capture. They captured a 
woman. I shall not write her name here, 
though the newspapers display it in big type. 
She is described as a famous woman, old and 
vehement, “ the mother of suffrage in the state 
of Oregon.” And, with this, I shall quote 
what she is reported to have said about 
her sister-suffragists who are working for 
prohibition in the United States; the report 
reads : 



“ 1 Pussy-wussy,’ ‘ white-ribboned sisters of 
virtue ’ were some of the epithets applied to 
these agitators by Mrs. 

I was going to quote her speech in favor 
of drink, at the conclusion of which “ the entire 
assembly rose to its feet and drank a toast to 
her,” but why should I quote the wine-y com- 
monplaces you have so often heard roared in 
song? Let it be as it is. But I would ask 
you to compare these unwomanly sneers of 
“ pussy-wussy ” and “ white-ribboned sisters of 
virtue” — think! a woman sneers at her sisters 
of virtue — compare them, I say, with the frank 
and beautiful moral courage of the prize- 

I know whose hand I had rather take in 
mine. I know in whose house I would more 
proudly sit at table. And I know that drink — 
the perfumed alcohol of wine like the rest of 
it — begins its work of moral degeneration at 
the top. That scene at the convention of 
“ viticulturists ” is proof sufficient. And you 
may have your own opinion of those who set 
the poor old “ mother of suffrage ” to plead 
their poisonous cause. (How did the words 
run? “Add a little wine to the glass of water 


for the children ” — breed your drunkards in 
the cradle.) 

And so no more of the subject. All I had 
to say of that unchaste twin of drink, the prize- 
fighter has said in his rough, honest man’s voice 
— unafraid of being laughed at as a “sissy” 
or a “ pussy-wussy,” unafraid of the sneers of 
man or woman at his “ white-ribboned virtue.” 
His words are those of a noble and brave man. 
It is pathetic that the sneer came from a 


All drinking men and women are broadly 
alike, when you take them at an equal point 
in their journey toward alcoholic dissolution. 
Of course their emotional vagaries differ. The 
way of life, the mental habit, make for various 
exhibitions of unchecked emotion. Just how 
the aberrancy — moral and mental — will express 
itself depends upon education, environment, 
predisposition. In one alcohol demands emo- 
tional expression — and he writes verse. In an- 
other a dark, brooding sense of religion is born, 
and, like Kit Smart, he prays aloud in the 
street. In a third the two impulses may be 


1 1 6 

combined, and you have Paul Verlaine’s wild 
passion of poetry and prayer. (Days of youth 
- — and the dark tavern of Francis the First, 
and Verlaine, over his tenth glass of rum-and- 
water staring into the abyss of his life; and 
shrieking! Hclas, pauvre Lelian!) 

Wantonness or hilarity, shuddering gloom or 
bland, mindless optimism, are foreshadowings 
of the same pathological condition. Self- 
control is weakened and judgment is gone; and 
what each drunkard exhibits is himself — his 
characteristic emotions — but he differs from 
his brother-drinkers only in the color of his 
coat. It is the same degeneration, variously 

Two kinds of drunkards. 

In one drunkenness is a neurosis — a dark 
brother of epilepsy and insanity. 

In the other it may be no more than vice — 
a failure to live up to the ethical standard his 
generation, at its point of evolution, has fixed. 

Both, victims of alcohol, are going the same 
road of moral insanity and mental death. It 
is Nature’s protest against the poison-violence 
that has been done her; it is her indefectible 
sentence upon the criminal. Do you remem- 


ber Goethe’s grim statement of this natural 
law? It is echoing in my memory as I write: 
“ Wenn die Natur verabscheut, so spricht sie 
laut aus: das Geschopf, das falsch lebt, wird 
friih zerstdrt. Unfruchtbarkeit, kummerliches 
Dasein, f riihzei tiges Zerfallen, das sind ihre 
Fliiche, die Kennzeichen ihrer Strenge.” Ay, 
to the drunkard nature speaks aloud, decreeing 
that he who lives with a false life shall be 
soon destroyed — unfruitfulness, needy existence, 
early destruction, these are her curses, the 
tokens of her displeasure. 

Why, then, are some drinkers drunkards? 

Why not all? 

Why can some men drink and be sober, at 
least on the lower functional levels, while 
others go swiftly toward alcoholic demen- 

It is for the physiologist to answer these 
questions. He will tell you that the causation 
of drink falls apart into two divisions — the 
organic cause and the environmental cause. In 
plainer words, the causes of the vice are: 
Thirst and its Opportunity. 

In the United States the opportunities and 
facilities for drinking alcohol are tolerably 

1 1 8 


complete. The saloon and beer-hall and 
“ cafe,” the country club and the road-house, 
the cabaret and the brothel open their doors 
at all the crossroads of life. The historic 
association of boon-fellowship and drink; the 
palate-cheating disguises of luxurious “ mixed 
drinks ” wherein eggs and fruits and herbs hide 
the hard, repellent edge of alcohol; the osten- 
tatious “ have-one-on-me ” habit; the dance- 
mania — these are the more conspicuous envi- 
ronmental causes, though you can add a dozen 

Here, then, is the opportunity. Here, then, 
is the soil in which the rank weed may take 
root. Every man — every child and woman — 
is given the chance to become a drunkard. 
And yet not all drinkers, we know, reach (ere 
death steps in and takes them) this end and 
climax of alcoholism. Many, some, not a few 
can, thank Heaven! drink and be sober — rela- 
tively. They have not the same organic bent 
toward drunkenness; slowly, by long-continued 
absorption of alcohol, they have to create arti- 
ficially those subjective conditions which make 
for drunkenness and which the readier drunk- 
ard is born to as to a tragic inheritance. 


“ Every human constitution has an inborn 
bias toward some form of ill-health.” 

The potentiality is there, though the malady 
may be kept under by good habits of life; the 
proclivity is there. This bent toward a cer- 
tain disease is called, by medical men, the 
diathesis. And your diathesis may be toward 
gout or tuberculosis or any one of a hundred 
maladies. For every human constitution there 
is a malady which must be held at bay. The 
alcoholic diathesis (like those of insanity and 
epilepsy) is a predisposition to certain forms 
of nervous disease. In other words, there is 
a kind of brain that reacts (more readily than 
others) to alcohol. It is more susceptible to 
the poison, lends itself more readily to alco- 
holic dissolution. It may be in many respects 
a good brain. It may be the brain of Edgar 
Allan Poe, or that of James Thomson or Paul 
Verlaine or Alfred de Musset. (Verlaine’s 
confession you know; and Poe, in a profoundly 
sad page, analyzed his dark neurosis — his 
drink-storms were the explosive signals of 
disease, not of vice.) What it lacks is sta- 
bility — a sound co-ordination of the nervous 
system — an equitable adjustment of the func- 



tional levels. They are an excitable race, im- 
patient of the commonness of life — its quotidian 
regularity; they crave cerebral stimulation. 
These men come into the world apt for drunk- 
enness. They are organized for it. Given the 
opportunity — placed in the environment of 
drink — their predisposition leads straight to 
alcoholism. Where other men are drinkers, 
they are drunkards. 

Is this a hereditary curse laid upon them, 
you ask? 

Is it because his father was a drunkard that 
he, too, is drink’s victim? 

By no means; drunkenness is not hereditary-; 
the reproduction of our kind is well-nigh inde- 
pendent of our environment and it is unin- 
fluenced by changes set up during the lifetime 
of the individual; acquired conditions, morbid 
or otherwise, cannot be transmitted to pos- 
terity — modern science avers it. 

But (a but of emphasis) what can be trans- 
mitted is a peculiar nervous organization, 
favorable to a certain diathesis — a certain 
predisposition; and environment does the rest. 
You cannot transmit vice — defective morals — 
to your son; that he must acquire and must 


personally answer for; what you do give 
him is a nervous organization in which your 
peculiar vice most readily takes root. That 
is the real truth about heredity. You pass 
on an unstable nervous system in which the 
potentiality lies — whether that potentiality 
shall be developed or checked is within the 
will of your son. Were not the environment 
there — had not your son to walk abroad in 
a drink-poisoned world — that potentiality 
would never bear its poisoned fruit of drunk- 
enness and degeneration. His was the 'choice 
whether he should be a drunkard or a free 
man; only he had to fight a stronger tendency 
than other men. The thing that slays him 
is not an inborn thirst; it is the social environ- 
ment — the smell of drink and the drunken cry 
of boon-fellowship at all the crossroads of life 
that pull him down. 

Have I made it clear why some drinkers are 
drunkards? Why they go swiftly to an end 
the moderate drinker reaches more slowly — 
though it be the same end? They are born 
to nervous disorder; they have it thrust upon 
them in the cradle; and that identical nervous 
disorder (which in its last stage produces 



alcoholism) the moderate drinker is deter- 
minedly, artificially, inexcusably creating for 
himself. For the diathetic drunkard one may 
have a kind of pity — he is the victim of a 
civilization, boozily organized for his un- 
doing; as for the others, whose imbecile aim 
in life is to drink and be sober enough to 
escape being hauled up before the “ beak ” 
as “ drunk and disorderly,” one has only an 
amazed sort of contempt. They are, by pro- 
fession, an unprofitable and disreputable tribe. 
The man who comes, a moral imbecile, into 
a world too drink-laden for him to resist de- 
mands a fool’s pardon; but the man who sets 
about making himself a mental imbecile — who 
poisons himself atop, willfully and in cold, 
unclamoring blood — is deliberately criminal. 
My word, he’s the worse of the two! Of his 
own will, untempted and unforced, he has 
taken to that alcoholic kind of poison, which 
is of all poisons the most subtly dangerous. 

Dangerous? It has filled more graves than 
sword and famine and plague — more than all 
the hostile powers of nature. 



Women and babies 

Men still alive and not incredibly old re- 
member when the social habit of the United 
States was tolerably sober. Notably the women 
did not drink — nice women did not drink; 
women of the lower, the middle and the upper 
classes took a social pride in being sober 
brides and sober mothers. The old eight- 
eenth-century habit of putting the bridegroom 
drunk to bed, which is so prominent in the 
English fiction and memoirs of the period, 
never obtained in this country. The early 
Puritans, who cast the matrix of the nation, 
were a sober lot. Indeed, the larger part 
of them was made up of total abstainers. As 
the villages grew into towns and cities, society 
became more and more boozily organized. 
Immigration furnished, also, a race of mothers 
more definitely given to the alcohol habit than 
was the native stock. The result has been 
startling, for exactly in proportion with the 
increase in the consumption of alcohol, has 
been the lowering of the birth-rate. In the 
year ending 1914 the birth-rate in the United 



States diminished eleven and four-tenths per 
cent. And there is a corollary to this grim 
fact: in spite of fewer births — in spite of the 
efforts of science and philanthropy to enforce 
euthenic ways of life — there is a steady and 
measurable increase in the tendency to alcohol- 
ism and its accompanying racial degeneration. 
It is the “ last word of science,” according 
to that unimpeached authority, the Lancet , that 
“ alcoholic parents are liable to have children 
who are degenerate — weak in body and feeble 
in mind, with a tendency to become paupers, 
criminals, epileptics and drunkards.” They 
inherit a tendency toward vice — though the 
impulse may not be especially toward the 
drunken form of viciousness. And in this 
weakening and degrading of the race the 
alcoholic mother bears a heavier responsi- 
bility than her mate. The reasons for this fact 
go back into an embryology which there is 
no need of discussing here. The point I 
would make is this: abstemious motherhood 
does much to offset the grave results brought 
upon the children by alcoholic fatherhood. 
For the child of a drunken father there is 
little hope; if the mother, also, is poisoned, 


more or less, with alcohol there is no hope. 
The future of the race depends upon the 

A commonplace, you say? 

Unquestionably; and a “commonplace” is 
merely a recognition of one of those dominant 
truths which need no formal demonstration. 
This particular commonplace cannot get it- 
self too often stated. Upon the mothers de- 
pends the future of the race. And the mothers 
who accustom themselves to alcoholic poison, 
even before they are ready for their chil- 
dren, are preparing a race, doomed — in heed- 
less anticipation — to the madhouse, the prison, 
or dingier and less tragic forms of social 

If the mother drinks, even before she is 
ready for her children, she is preparing 
for them a physical inheritance of degen- 
eration. Do not take it too seriously. It 
may be, to be sure, merely a predisposition 
to some form of degeneration. It may be so 
slightly vicious an inheritance — especially if 
the father be a clean man — that the child’s 
handicap is negligible to a degree in this 
boozily organized world. But, great or small, 



it is there — a handicap to be weighed and 
measured like the lead-pad on a race-horse. 
Her drinking of alcohol does not foredoom 
her unborn child to drunkenness; it merely 
handicaps the child in its life-race. 

It is, however, possible for a child, born 
of parents eugenically fit, to be started on a 
career of drunkenness in the cradle. Many 
are so started. 

These are strong words, but behind them 
is ample authority. The physician who has 
had much to do with the failures in life — 
the mental and nervous wrecks, the victims 
of drugs and drink-storms, dissolute and im- 
moral women — always looks carefully into the 
“ early history ” of his patient. It is of first 
importance for him to learn how, as a baby, 
the unfortunate one was nursed, fed and 
soothed. Dr. William Lee Howard has spe- 
cialized in the study of baby drunkards, and 
has made an admirable statement of his in- 
vestigations. Read here: 

“ Friends and relatives are frequently puz- 
zled and shocked to find a young man of 
excellent parentage unable to conform to the 
conventionalities of life. He goes on sprees, 


lies, is unable to hold a business or social 
position, and, as a rule, ends his disgraceful 
career in a sanatorium or jail. A young woman 
whose family has been known for its moral 
and physical balance, whose mother, grand- 
mother, father and all her kin have been 
of the best stock and habits, secretly takes 
to drink. She becomes uncontrollable. Some 
day the public is astounded by a scandal 
— the young woman has gone wrong through 
drink. And right here I wish to say that our 
cursed prudery and hypocrisy have prevented 
our girls knowing the real truth about the 
danger of taking the smallest sort of alcoholic 
drink. Nothing on this earth, and probably 
nothing off it, will so quickly stimulate a 
young woman or girl to wrong impulses, so 
powerfully paralyze good moral instincts, as 
alcohol. Especially true is this in the girl 
from fourteen to twenty years old. Ninety per 
cent, of the girls who go wrong will tell you 
that they fell before the teasing effects of 

“In tracing the early life of most of these 
cases of habitual drunkenness, incompetency 
and drug habits, we find the child was, dur - 


ing its nursing period , kept on alcohol or 
drugs ” 

The physician followed the career of many 
of these cradle drunkards. Death was busy 
with them. He noted that many deaths, attrib- 
uted to malnutrition, to anemia, intestinal 
troubles and convulsions, were in reality due to 
alcoholic poisoning. The stark children, eu- 
genically born, lived through the years of 
baby drunkenness and they came to the “ play 
age,” with its wonderful recuperative power, 
fresh air and freedom from brain and nerve 
worry. They could get along without the 
stimulant. Nature supplied a better one. 
“ But nerve- and brain-cells,” I am quoting 
Dr. Howard, “are not strong; they have lost 
forever those elements which in childhood go 
to nourish them. They can never get back 
these destroyed vital elements. Now comes 
the time in life when nerve balance, brain 
power, all the God-given forces in man are 
needed. Many of these unfortunates are am- 
bitious, moral, determined to succeed in life’s 
struggle. They try, try. They fail, fail. It 
is not possible for them to stand the strain — 
the forces are not there. Then comes the cry 


— that old cradle cry for relief. Alcohol gives 
them such false power that it is tried again. 
In the woman it is generally morphine. We 
all know the end of these pathetic cases.” 

There is another and subtler way in which 
the nursing mother may administer alcohol 
to the child. She has but to take her “ for- 
tifying tonic,” her bottle of stout, her much 
advertised “ malt liquor ” and just as surely 
the baby will take in, with each meal, a quan- 
tity of alcohol. And your modern physician 
(not rosy from port) asserts that the result, 
when it comes to manhood or womanhood, is 
just the same as is seen in the other kinds 
of infant drunkenness. 

This is a dismal picture; but it does not 
picture the facts with perfect accuracy. There 
is another side to the question. In fairness 
to the “ viticulturists ” and the brewers it 
should be stated. Precisely as one may fend 
off smallpox by injections of a smallpox vac- 
cine, so one may breed a race which can 
absorb alcohol. There is no apter illustra- 
tion than that of Mithridates, who made him- 
self poison-proof by daily increased doses of 
poison. Nature does not (as I have insisted) 



transmit a craving for drink. Had she done 
so the world had long ago been depopulated — 
perishing in wild, alcoholic dissolution. What 
Nature does, in a patient way, is to try and 
increase the power of resisting the poison- 
effects of alcohol. She tries to produce a 
body upon which alcohol will act with the 
least possible effect and the least possible 
injury. Thus you get your man who is not 
so much affected by alcohol as is your normal 
unpoisoned man. Generation after generation 
she goes on perfecting that kind of man, until 
to him alcohol is not a swiftly fatal poison. 
Her method is a singular one. Its tendency 
is to weed out of the race the individuals 
who find the highest pleasure in alcoholic 
exhilaration. The survivors are those who 
have a weak tendency to alcoholism. The sur- 
vivors are those, who, poisoned on the higher 
functional levels, are dulled to the keener ex- 
citements of alcoholic stimulation. They are 
— it is true — “ vaccinated ” against alcoholic 
explosions. They have acquired a feeble but 
persistent state of alcoholism, which insures 
them against the more violent forms. It is 
something of this sort you get in Southern 


Europe, where dwell the races which have 
had the largest experience of alcoholic drink. 
Alcoholic degeneration is more uniformly 
spread over the race; it does not reach — so 
often as in the less experienced North — such 
high points of mania and crime. Nature there 
has done her best to develop a kind of human 
animal that could live and propagate in spite 
of his indulgence in poison; and she has kept 
the race alive. It can be done. You can 
breed a race which, though it be not wholly 
immune to the poison, can live. It lives, 
though on a lower level. It lives merely by 
the survival of those who are fittest to cope 
with a poison that eliminates the finer and 
more susceptible part of the race. That is 
the Sibylline price paid. 

Why are some drinkers drunkards? 

The answer, as you see, is tripartite. 

Your drunkard may be one who is morally 
defective from the start — a moral imbecile. 
Given a boozy environment and his end is 
certain and evident as a rock. And your other 
drunkard may have an organic weakness that 
predisposes him to drunkenness or any other 
form of vice which comes most readily to in- 

J 3 2 


fluence him. Your third drunkard, eugenically 
born, is the most pathetic victim — poisoned at 
the breast, fitted for alcoholic degeneration 
in his cradle. 

And were you to ask why (conversely) some 
drinkers are not drunkards, one finds two good 
reasons: The first is that they die in time; 
the second is that, by racial inheritance, they 
can live, seemingly normal, in a subdued state 
of alcoholic poisoning in which a clean man 
would frightfully perish. And possibly that 
death, for a man of moral aspiration, were 
the cleanlier and nobler end. 




You have seen, I think, with tolerable 
clearness, what drink does to the man. We 
have been considering him as an individual, 
not as a unit in the state, with duties civic 
and social. In a succeeding chapter I want 
to look at him in a broader way, for his de- 
generation is symbolic — it is the measure of 
a nation’s degeneration. For the moment the 
question is: Has science found a cure for the 
drink evil in the individual man? Can it cure 
the dipsomaniac, that unhappy man who is 
beaten upon now and then by wild, fierce and 
fleeting drink-storms? And, of more real 
importance to this inquiry, can it cure the 
so-called moderate drinker — he who does not 
seem to be abnormal — whose palsies and tox- 
emias are safely hidden from the casual ob- 
servation? Is there a cure for that pathetic 



optimist who can drink, he avers, and be 

Drunkenness is more preventable than cur- 
able. If you look back, merely for a genera- 
tion, you will see bow wide a field has been 
left open to the quack and the adventurer. 
Your morning newspaper brings you the ad- 
vertisement of more than one nostrum for 
“ destroying the drink-habit.” All of which 
is tragic — like Lear’s fool — in spite of its 
buffoonery. One charlatan prints his chal- 
lenge to cure drunkenness by hypnotism. An- 
other — no less a charlatan, because of the fact 
that he is consumed with spiritual zeal — as- 
pires to pray it away, or bury it in platform 
rhetoric. And the medical man has his sana- 
toria. The reformers would whip it as a vice. 
They see that one evident result of drink is 
moral deterioration. And they would pun- 
ish the individual for this moral lapse. (With 
similar logic the Middle Ages lashed the 
maniac because he showed signs of his mad- 
ness.) The difficulty here is that the popular 
mind has an instinctive reluctance to attribute 
moral defects to physical causes. 

And the medical men? 



I think the man who has made the most 
special study of inebriety is Dr. Crothers, of 
Hartford. In a paper which he read before 
a recent convention of the American Medical 
Association, he touched upon this illusion of 
the popular mind. With a great deal of jus- 
tice he holds that it is one of the chief ob- 
stacles in the way of the scientific treatment 
of alcoholism and inebriety. Here is his 

“ The so-called moderate drinker is always 
more or less a paretic and toxemic, with de- 
generations and depressions of every organ of 
the body. The premonitory symptoms may 
be localized in deranged metabolism, circula- 
tion and psychic capacity. 

“ Laboratory studies show that the continued 
use of spirits, even in small doses, is anesthetic, 
corrosive and cumulative; that toxins from 
without and within are constantly present and 
being formed. Bacterial infections and in- 
flammatory conditions always follow in va- 
rious degrees. The premonitory symptoms are 
so general and are often so masked as to be 

“ The common congested face, furtive eye 


and diminished muscular activities of the alco- 
holic indicate an internal condition which is 
increasing constantly. The final conclusion 
I wish to make prominent is that the neurosis 
of inebriety and the toxemias of alcoholism 
constitute a distinct field for medical practice, 
which has not yet been occupied. To-day the 
quacks with their boasted discoveries are doing 
the work which the educated physicians should 

“ Every physician has patients of this class, 
who need care and treatment, and yet he is 
rarely able to understand their condition, 
much less to give proper means and measures 
for relief and help. 

“ There are hundreds of these neglected men 
and women in every community who could be 
restored and permanently cured who now, 
through neglect, drift into the ranks of crimi- 
nals, paupers and dependents, becoming incur- 
able and burdens. Physicians themselves fur- 
nish a proportion of victims, which is pitiful, 
because preventable. 

“ If our medical schools would teach the 
facts that are at present known, a revolution 
would follow at once. The few workers on 



this frontier land realize possibilities that are 
startling in the study and treatment of in- 
ebriates and alcoholics. 

“ What we need is to put aside the tradi- 
tions of the past, which have come down to 
us as settled facts, and when examined in the 
light of modern science are delusions of the 
most pronounced character. Teachers, lead- 
ers and varied interests, both commercial and 
otherwise, hold us back from scientific inves- 
tigation and the application of means and reme- 
dies that will effectually clear away the fog- 
banks of delusions and traditions that hang 
about this great modern plague.” 

In this statement there is no real blame laid 
upon medical science; and if the physicians 
were, in old days, too slow in popularizing 
their medical learning that reproach is no 
longer just. Their modern therapeutical lit- 
erature is ample and lies ready to the hand. 
Only the more elderly doctors fail to recog- 
nize that the measure of a man’s drunkenness 
is the measure of his mental impairment and 
his physical degeneration. There is no dis- 
agreement as to the symptoms of the disease; 
there is slight diversity as to the treatment. 



And here is the main fact. 

Your inebriate — swept by periodic drink- 
storms — is ill; your moderate drinker, tippling 
diurnally, is ill; now the kind of treatment 
demanded by his alcoholic state depends upon 
his general health; and — I would emphasize 
this — only the qualified medical man can pre- 
scribe the special medicinal treatment suited 
to his case. (And by the “ qualified medical 
man ” I do not mean the rosy, obese, port- 
wine-y physician, whereof there has been 
mention; I distinctly mean the physician who 
is an expert in the disease of inebriety, exactly 
as his confrere is an expert in pulmonary tu- 
berculosis or in diseases of the eye.) In such 
a patient one thing has been assumed. It has 
been taken for granted that he has the Will- 
to-be-Sober. The assumption is that he wishes 
to check the degenerations due to alcohol. 
Whether he can ever be the man he was, 
physically, mentally, morally, is a question 
only his physician can determine, but unques- 
tionably medical science can put him back 
among sober men. It may be the drink obses- 
sion will vanish — in obedience to what laws 
and forces I know not — merely that other 



psychoses may take its place; or the physical 
degenerations and disorders may persist, long 
after the alcoholic causes have been abolished. 
So, possibly, there is a sad price to be paid; 
but if he have the Will-to-be-Sober, science 
can take him in hand, make him sober, keep 
him sober — exactly as it can mend a broken 
leg, though not perhaps without leaving a scar 
and a limp. 

And so I am leaving the therapeutics to 
the qualified men of medical science, for each 
case, as I have said, is an individual one. 
There are no cure-alls. 

There is, however, another side to the treat- 
ment which falls within the purpose of this 
book; and that is the moral side. It is of 
equal importance. Indeed, without it the 
medical treatment is a mere crutch. The prob- 
lem is not without its difficulty. 

Here, for example, is the man who does not 
get drunk. He is not one of those who 

“ Go mad and beat their wives, 

Plunge, after shocking lives, 

Razors and carving-knives 
Into their gizzards.” 



Pie takes his drink in a gentlemanly way, at 
home, in his club; he is always, more or less, 
in a low-keyed state of alcoholic stimulation. 
Both in the legal and social sense of the word 
he is “ sober ” — maintaining, that is, a fair 
level of equilibrium. Of all drinking men 
he is the hardest to cure. He has not the 
Will-to-be-Sober. He has not yet incurred 
the savager penalties — physical and mental — 
of alcoholism. And, therefore, he can still 
laugh at the dark forecasts of the qualified 
medical man. Moreover, you cannot appeal 
to his moral nature. That part of him is con- 
fused and darkened. His very way of life 
strips him of the qualities that make most for 
moral discriminations. If you appeal to him 
on moral grounds, he stares at you; it is like 
arguing about color with a blind man. 

And here psychology has a word to say. 

Drunkenness, psychologically considered, is 
a kind of monomania — what is called a perver- 
sion of attention. The drunkard can give his 
attention only to one series of suggestions — 
like your hypnotized subject. So far as other 
suggestions arc concerned, his senses are dulled. 
His interest is centered on that one thing. In 



a lesser degree the same thing is true of the 
moderate drinker. Consciously or subcon- 
sciously, too large a part of his life is centered 
in that ounce-or-two-a-day of alcohol. 

How are you going to shift his interest? 

He is deaf to the moral appeal. Indeed, 
before he can even hear it you must rebuild 
his character, which his way of life has de- 
graded. It is only by making him alive to 
new interests that you can shake him out of 
his dull absorption in the pleasure to be got 
from the warmth and glow and excitement of 

You must put something else into his life. 

How true this is — how one interest drives 
out another — you might have seen in the first 
few months of the war, had you been in Eu- 
rope. A few days after the storm broke I was 
in one of the great hotels in Lucerne, where 
a cosmopolitan “ smart set ” was gathered, 
idling in hundreds. Now, the basis of that 
social life was drink — from the rosy Briton 
who marked the time of day by successive 
whiskies-and-soda, and the graceful Frenchman 
for whom five o’clock meant absinthe, to the 
beer-drinkers for whom time did not exist. 



War came; and a strange thing happened. The 
series of drink-suggestions was broken in upon 
by the vivider and more compelling thought 
of war. And men stopped drinking long be- 
fore the nations put the ban on drink. 1 have 
still in mind a red-faced Englishman who stood 
one day in the deserted bar of the National. 
It had been his boast that he had been weaned 
on brandy; and, though he had never been 
“ drunk ” in his life, he said, he had never gone 
without his five “ tots ” of brandy a day. A 
glass of it stood on the bar in front of 
him. He lifted the glass and set it down 

“ What’s the matter with it? ” I asked. 

“ Somebody has put a corpse in the barrel,” 
he said, and went away, leaving the tall glass 
on the bar. 

A mightier interest had slain in him the 
old, habitual monomania for alcohol. There 
was a discord between the dirty exhilaration 
of drink and the high and splendid vibrations 
wakened in him by humanity’s peril in a world 
at war. And what was true of that man was 
true of every man in the war-zone. In the 
first two months of the war, in all that tragic 



world behind the three-hundred-mile battle- 
line, I saw only one man drunk. And uni- 
versal reprobation pursued him as he reeled 
along. It was as though humanity had been 
blasted into sobriety by the mere horror of 

A new interest. 

And with your drinking-man — especially 
your moderate drinker — a similar rule holds 
good; there must be a new interest to drive out 
the old one. You must bear in mind that you 
can expect little aid from him. In him un- 
selfish interest is at its lowest. The power 
of attention in him is weak. His energy, too, 
is at low ebb. Any influence must be from 


You can’t knock him on the head. 

It is not being done, although the medical 
books are full of instances of men who have 
been accidentally knocked into a new way of 
thought and action. There is a notable case 
of a burglar who was regenerated by a chimney- 
pot falling on his head. A “ new area of nerv- 
ous mechanism ” was called into being and it 



was cerebrally impossible for the man to go 
on being the burgling kind of man he was be- 
fore the accident. Now you cannot knock the 
drinking-man’s head about, but you can knock 
at his heart. You can give him a new interest. 
And at last analysis you will find that every 
attempt at getting him to be sober is based 
upon a recognition of this old truth, which 
is known as the physiology of change. It is 
a truth and it is a law of organic evolution: 
whatever is new prevails — at least for the time 
being. A shift in the kaleidoscope — a new 
view of life — awakens a new and exclusive 
interest. The invention of the moving-picture 
took thousands of men away from drink, for it 
absorbed their attention in a new line of 
thought. They got their exhilaration through 
the eye instead of by way of the stomach. A 
new enthusiasm drove out the old monomania. 
This is the kind of “ reform ” brought about 
by the vehement rhetoric of the Billy Sunday 
sort. This is what happens in the slum- 
mission when some degraded wretch stumbles 
forward, dazed with the sudden blaze of new 
interest, and “ gets religion.” A wilder emo- 
tionalism has swept away the old monomania. 



Now it is exactly true that often the old habit 
is thus destroyed — as though a chimney-pot had 
fallen upon it; and that the new interest 
builds up strength of character, purpose, 

The love interest is quite as potent. You 
will have observed that the man in love — if 
his love be of the finer sort — usually, in fact 
always, turns away from his cups. The moods 
and emotions of altruistic love are incompatible 
with the coarser and more selfish exhilarations 
of drink. The true lover foregoes even his 
ounce-a-day. This high enthusiasm of a new- 
found love may not last any more than the 
slum-drunkard’s fiery absorption in religion, 
but even though it pass away it proves the 
point that the drink-interest can be driven out 
by a stronger interest. And this is what you 
must give your alcohol-habited man. You 
must give him some stark form of self-interest 
that will appeal to him more than alcohol does 
— an interest which is either more intense or, 
on the other hand, more extensive. Men have 
found it in love, in religion; men have found 
it in socialism; one man finds it in pugilism 
and another in politics; but until he has found 



it there is only absurdity in supposing that he 
will give up the one satisfying interest he finds 
in a life which is otherwise dull and flat- 

Drunkard and moderate drinker alike, you 
have got to give them a new interest in life 
or you cannot expect them to desert the old 
one. It must be given to them. For centered 
in a selfishness, which increases in steady pro- 
gression, they cannot reach out themselves and 
get it. Sometimes, you say? There have been 
instances, of course, where men exerted the 
Will-to-be-Sober and became sober; but in 
almost every case you will find the impulse 
came from without. Love went by in the 
street and called to them; or ambition knocked 
loudly at the door; and the dull senses heard 
and woke. And you, if you would win a 
man from drink, must first find the one interest 
compelling enough to tempt him from his 
monomania. Only through an intimate knowl- 
edge of his character — or his type of character 
— can you succeed, just as only the “ qualified 
medical man,” who has made a study of his 
physical body, can decide upon the suitable 
medical treatment. The problem is personal 



to each man. The way back to sobriety is not 
a beaten highway; it is made up of infinite 

Some years ago a fantastically named “ cure ” 
for the drink habit was widely advertised. It 
originated in a dreary little town in the Mid- 
dle West. And thither were drawn many pa- 
thetic victims of alcohol. The story of one 
of them was as tragic as the dark undoing 
of Edgar Allan Poe. Old New Yorkers will 
remember him, for as “ Felix Oldboy ” he 
wrote, in many a lovable page, the story of 
that old New York which has long been a 
part of the romantic past. He had been a 
soldier — colonel, I think, in the United States 
Army. Withal he was a gentle, scholarly man, 
a writer of charm and distinction. And for 
twenty years he was an inebriate — a dipsoma- 
niac, swept every now and then into dark 
abysses of drunkenness. He drew frightful 
prose-pictures of that descent — down-going into 
a gulf comparable to the depths of the sea, into 
the “ habitation of the monsters of silence.” 
He heard of this new “ cure ” and determined 
to try it, as he had tried so many others of 
the kind. In him the Will-to-be-Sober never 



wholly died. And he went, a thousand miles 
from home, to the dingy little prairie village. 
There he found hundreds of others, men like 
himself, haunted by hope of liberation — “ My 
comrades were lawyers, physicians, editors, 
merchants, three judges, the attorney-general 
of a Western state, an ex-congressman and an 
assorted lot of state senators.” In due time 
he returned to New York “ cured.” In the 
North American Review he proclaimed his 
victory over drink and signed it with his name, 
John Flavel Mines, LL.D. It was a paean of 
joy; it was a hymn of regeneration; and it was 
the most pathetically tragic page ever penned 
by a hope-haunted man. The article was still 
new from the press, was still making its sensa- 
tional way over the land, when the end came. 
One night the police picked a drunkard out 
of the gutter of a New York street — a thing 
plunged in mud and coma. They picked it 
up and carted it away. It was all that was left 
of John Flavel Mines, LL.D. He died the 
next day in a public hospital. He had made 
the last fight of his Will-to-be-Sober ; he had 
buried his dream in the gutter. 

This fragment of history has a meaning. It 



is pertinent to what I have tried to state in 
this chapter. In this “ cure ” there was one 
of the elements upon which I have laid em- 
phasis. You may call it the physiology of 
change — its psychology, if you will. There 
was the journey of a thousand miles, the change 
from high activities of his life in New York 
to the shabby quiet of the prairie village; there 
were the new companions, “ lawyers, physi- 
cians, editors, three judges and the ex-con- 
gressman”; above all, there was the new 
interest — the hope born of the very mystery 
in which the weird alchemy of the cure v as 
enwrapped. Here was change — itself a mighty 
alchemist; here was the new compelling in- 
terest which rode down the monomania of 

What was lacking was the second element 
of the cure — the special medicinal treatment 
which only the qualified medical man, know- 
ing the patient as an airman knows his motor, 
could prescribe. For it was the physical man 
who was ill. Assume, if you will, that the 
obsession had been driven out of the house; 
still was the house a battered and tottering thing 
— the doors on broken hinges, swinging to any 


dark psychosis (of drink or madness) that 
cared to shoulder its way in. 

The case of that poor, dead man of alcohol 
is an exceptional one; but in it are the gen- 
eral and essential facts which have to do 
with all attempts to cure a drunkard. And 
in a lesser degree they are applicable to the 
moderate drinker, as he is called. The drink 
must be got out of the man and a moral tone 
got into the man; but all this will lead no 
whither at all, unless the poisoned body be 
set right. 

And the conclusion is plain: 

Drunkard or light-tippling man, he can be 
brought back to the sober way of life if there 
can be wakened in him the Will-to-be-Sober. 
And then a new interest driving out the old 
will serve to hold him to his purpose; new 
activities will help to transform his desires; 
but all this is a mere beginning. Only the 
qualified physician, who knows the etiology 
of the case and the physical peculiarities of 
the man, can complete and affirm the cure. 

And I would point out one thing: 

Just as alcoholic poisoning begins at the 
top, paralyzing first what is best and finest in 


i5 1 

man, so must the cure there begin. The weak 
and heedless will must be wakened — the atten- 
tion directed to higher interests — and then there 
must be made for this regenerated Ego a clean 
and safe physical home. Of course in cases of 
darker degradation and disease the treatment 
must be reversed and the bodily tenement 
cleaned out first in the uncertain hope that 
a decent guest may take possession of it. These 
are the cases that demand external control — 
since will is dead; and they belong to the 
penological part of the subject. What is true 
here is this: The man in whom the Will-to-be- 
Sober still lives and asserts itself (be he in- 
ebriate or a cleanlier, clubbable, socially- 
possible alcoholic) can go back to the sober 
way of life — even though he limp a bit, in 
token of his adventures, to the end of his days. 

A thing worth knowing. 




What alcohol does to the individual you have 
seen — the picture is a gloomy one. 

There is, as you know, a tragic side to the 
law of evolution; for, while it works for the 
type and not for the mass, for the individual 
and not the collectivity, yet it has chained 
the two, indissolubly, together. The indi- 
vidual is required, “ under pain of being 
stunted and enfeebled in his own development,” 
to carry others along with him in his evolu- 
tionary progress. In other words, your good is 
conditioned in the good of all. Of course it 
is a law of life that the strongest shall sur- 
vive; but here is the point — step by step with 
the evolution of the organism (man) there 
must go on an evolution of environment. Civ- 
ilization (a pretty word) is merely the pro- 



gressive modification of social conditions, so 
that the weak may survive and grow out of 
their weakness. You may prefer to define 
civilization in other terms and phrases; but 
you cannot get away from the essential fact 
that it is an evolution of environment, always 
coincident with human evolution. 

And what, then, does alcohol do to the state? 

I shall try and put the case for the United 
States in a critically just-minded way, without 
color and (as the lawyers say) without coven. 

The statistical abstract of the United States 
for 1913 has some staggering figures. 

For instance the annual drink-bill of the 
United States amounts to $2,336,662,338.00. 

Of course that is a meaningless progression 
of numerals. One cannot open one’s mind to 
them. A more understandable statement is 
that the city of New York spends one million 
dollars a day for drink — precisely three hun- 
dred and sixty-five million dollars in the year 
1913. Back in 1870, with a more largely na- 
tive population, the consumption of liquors was 
just under eight gallons “ per head ” — the re- 
port states; to-day it has risen to over twenty- 
two gallons for every individual counted in 



the census. This is an enormous fact, not easily 
realized. The statistical mind tries to think 
of it as a flood of intoxicants, filling a chan- 
nel in which the American navy — and mer- 
chant marine — could float in easeful roominess. 
A grimmer way to read the lesson is in terms 
of crime, insanity, vice. That million a day 
New York City spends on drink is the lesser 
expense. She pays more than that to foot the 
bills for damage done. 

Crime and drink are almost one and the 
same thing; almost. 

When a Lord Chief Justice of England said: 
“ If sifted, nine-tenths of the crime of Eng- 
land and Wales could be traced to drink,” 
the statement had a repellent air — as though 
it were born of the uncritical fervor of a popu- 
lar orator. I put it by. But in this country 
the facts, carefully collated, come within meas- 
urable distance of his statement. The famous 
investigation made by the Massachusetts Bu- 
reau of Labor Statistics showed that eighty- 
four per cent, of all the criminals under convic- 
tion in that state were drink-made criminals. 
Almost nine-tenths, as you see. Were Massa- 
chusetts not boozily organized, nine-tenths, 


almost, of her prisoned criminals would be 
free men, innocent of crime, fit for the service 
of the state. It is not merely that the so- 
cial customs of Massachusetts make for drink 
— and crime; she is knowingly and willfully 
making criminals in her state-licensed insti- 
tutions, which she euphemistically calls sa- 
loons, cafes and public-houses. In return she 
gets a certain number of dollars and a defi- 
nite amount of crime, which ranges from theft 
to murder. 

And you do not need to take only the sta- 
tistics of that Eastern commonwealth. Every 
state tells the same story. Every commu- 
nity — every social class — bears confirmation. 
Crime is the progeny of drink — nine-tenths 
of it, almost. I take the word of a man who 
is an authority. His way of life has been such 
that he knows well one definite class of men — 
the United States Army. And he says that 
practically “ all the crime committed in the 
army, directly or indirectly, can be traced to 
alcohol.” That man is Colonel L. Mervin 
Maus, who has just retired after forty-one years 1 
service in the medical corps. He is the man 
who organized the public-health service in 


the Philippines and cleaned Manila of bu- 
bonic plague, leprosy and smallpox — of most 
bad pests save that of drink. If any man be 
an authority he is an authority. A nation’s 
crime is in exact proportion, he says, to its 
consumption of alcohol. You cannot get away 
from it; crime is imbedded in alcohol, like a 
triangle in a circle. 

“ During the past year there were about 
2,000,000,000 gallons of wine, beer, whisky, 
brandy, gin and other alcoholic drinks con- 
sumed in the United States, which cost the 
people as many dollars. The expenditure of 
this vast sum of money is not only materially 
responsible for the misery, poverty, robberies, 
murders and crimes of our people, but for hun- 
dreds of thousands of deaths and the large 
army of ‘ intellectually dead,’ who are to be 
found in our insane asylums, feeble-minded and 
epileptic institutions. 

“ Recent studies of the vital statistics of 
the country have revealed an alarming increase 
in the diseases of degeneracy, and it has be- 
come necessary to take an inventory of the 
moral and physical stock of the people. This 
condition is principally due to intemperance, 


immorality and vice diseases, and unless there 
be a general reformation in the moral con- 
science and habits of the people our great re- 
public, like ancient Babylon, Nineveh, Greece 
and Rome, will in turn wither and die. 

“ From a careful study of the statistics of 
the country, it is believed that America is in- 
flicted with nearly a million degenerates and 
criminals at a cost of at least $250,000,000 

“Among these unfortunates we find: 

Insane 200,000 

Feeble-minded 250,000 

Deaf and dumb 100,000 

Blind 100,000 

Juvenile delinquents in institutions... 50,000 

Paupers 100,000 

Prisoners and criminals 150,000 

“ Which gives a grand total of . . . .950,000 ” 

Thus Colonel Maus, writing in the Medical 
Record; and for this widespread racial de- 
generation he holds responsible alcohol — “our 
racial poison.” And out of this degeneration 
comes crime, as pus comes from a sore. 



I admit that statistics are dreary things. 
They never seem to be alive and talking to 
one; the numerals file by like mutes at a 
funeral. But this army of one million drink- 
begotten criminals and degenerates is impres- 
sive. Only fourteen per cent, of them, re- 
member, are plain criminals — men and women 
of whom it may be said that crime delights 
’em; crime-delighting men, who bag their 
trousers at the knee praying for more crime; 
only fourteen per cent.; the others were 
draughted into the army of crime and degen- 
eracy by drink. 

“But I, thank Heaven! can drink and be 
sober,” you persist in saying; “just as 1 can 
drink and be honest.” 

And I admit that you do not belong to this 
wastage and refuse of our boozily organized 
society. You are a decent man fain to live in 
a decent state, but you cannot get that decent 
state in which you fain would live so long 
as the drink-bred million prowls in the mews 
and alleys or squats on your doorstep. The 
individual is linked to the mass; and you are 
tied to the million. (The rotten bees foul 
the whole hive.) Why should you laugh 


lightly at the suggestion that you — and yours 
— may be swept away into that criminal per- 
centage of the victims of alcohol? Of course 
the odds against it are heavy — from a statis- 
tical viewpoint. And you can take the long 
chance, because your special environment is 
not one that fosters crime. Your instincts are 
anti-criminal. (Even as a boy you never 
robbed an orchard or threw stones at the par- 
son’s cat.) And so, though alcohol may hob- 
nail your liver, it cannot put the leg-irons on 
you and lock on you the door of a cell. Prob- 
ably you are right. Like most moderate drink- 
ers you will probably die before degeneration 
has had its way with you; and your poisoned 
progeny will put up a tombstone over you, 
on which the uncynical may read: “He Has 
Stopped Drinking But alcohol is a curious 
thing. It is, often, as lawless in its mani- 
festations as electricity. Its ordinary way of 
work is to degenerate its man, making for gen- 
eral mental and organic degeneracy, with pro- 
gressive waning of the intellectual faculties. 
Now and then it has another way. Instead of 
slowly undermining its man, it attacks him 
furiously at intervals. Now and then; at an 


unforeseen moment, out of the blue, a drink- 
storm beats upon him and sweeps him away 
from his moral moorings. (You know all 
about that dipsomaniacal person; usually he 
is the man of finer brain and more delicately 
adjusted intellect.) • The best man, who drinks, 
is never sure that crime may not get him; that, 
when his moral discrimination is put to sleep 
by the drug, a strange new criminality may 
not start up in him. 

The chance is one in a hundred? 

If it be only one in a thousand, it is a 
bad chance to take and it is on the edge of 
this peril that one finds the most awful and 
the most sad tragedies of life. One such ad- 
venture in life haunts me. It has haunted 
me for many years; and will, I dare say, so 
long as I remember my life on this planet. 
So I might as well put it down in this book. 

Youth’s friendship for youth is very beau- 

The youth I loved most was an undergradu- 
ate at one of the English universities. Des- 
tiny had given him birth in a famous English 
family — near the head of it. He was a tall, 
slight boy, with the dreamy blue eyes of the 


mystic. I remember his long, white hands 
and a way he had of ruffling his grouse-colored 
hair. He was to be a statesman; it was a tradi- 
tion in his family; and as we walked the road 
— “ at Trompington, not far from Cantebrigge, 
there goeth a streme and over it a brigge ” — he 
built his dream. What a dream of world’s 
work it was! And what a Utopia he was to 
establish in the fair land where Sir Thomas 
More built up that earlier dream! Withal he 
took life on its hedonistic side. Once, I re- 
member, we had wandered far afield, debating 
the old Utopian book, and a winter night shut 
down on us. We went into a little wavside 
inn for dinner; and took what we could get. 
It was an ale-house and there was no wine to 
be had. And I remember his pathetic ex- 
clamation : 

“ How can a gentleman dine without a half- 
pint of claret? ” 

Now in the horoscope of this grave and gen- 
tle lad there was the maddest night ever writ- 
ten by the stars. I did not witness it; I was 
not even in England; but what happened I 
know and I know the end. He had been 
studying hard, and late in the afternoon he 

1 62 


rode out for an hour or so — those were the 
days when youth took its pleasure on a horse; 
and he came back and dressed to dine in town 
with some friends. There you have him at a 
trifle before eight o’clock. He had never 
been drunk in his life; he was the half-pint-of- 
claret sort of man; the man who wets his pipe 
with a glass or two of whisky-and-soda ; a 
clean-mannered man who had as soon think of 
drinking to excess as of rolling in the kennel 
like a dog. Where he went that evening I 
do not know. The bolt from the blue struck 
him. At ten o’clock he was a drink-mad 
maniac, scouring the streets of the town, with 
an American revolver (Heaven knows where 
he got it; I have forgotten) in his hand; and 
five minutes later he shot and killed a con- 
stable who expostulated with him in the kindly 
British way. They hanged that boy. In spite 
of the mighty weight of his family name, in 
spite of his dazed defense, in spite of the 
evident madness of that drink-storm, they 
hanged him on a gallows. I have no quarrel 
with the stern equity of English law; but on 
a higher gallows I had hanged the man who 
sold the poison that maddened him. 


“ I don’t remember anything about it,” was 
all he could say. How could he? Science to- 
day would have made clear that he was in 
an alcoholic trance. When he went out to kill, 
the real man in him — the man I knew and 
loved, the dreamer of Utopia — was dead and 
blind. I do not care to write any more about 
this boy’s life and death; only this: No man, 
who plays with the lawless forces of alcohol, 
knows where or when the bolt from the blue 
may strike. No man knows. For inexorably 
as a triangle is imbedded in a circle, there is 
hidden in alcohol the swift potentiality of 
crime. At just what period of super-saturation 
it will Hash out neither your physiologist 
nor your psychologist can tell. (Wherefore 
drink, dear man, and be sober, and bide your 

I knew another man — 

You may be aware that the medical men 
have studied with extreme attention, in recent 
years, what they call the periodicity of the 
drink neurosis. It is another way of talking 
about the bolt from the blue. There is, for 
example, the drink neurotic who abstains for 
distinct periods and then suddenly breaks out 



into drunkenness, which science can but attrib- 
ute to unknown (as yet) cyclic degenerations. 
And one of the alienists says: 

“ To the unreasoning public and the fool- 
ish theorist this is simply vice — an outbreak 
of the animal instincts and the beast part of 
the man. The most delusive and stupid 
theories have begot a great literature in ex- 
planation of these two widely differing con- 
ditions. The statement that it is simply a 
gathering and breaking of morbid energies and 
activities of the brain and nervous functions, 
governed by distinct physical laws, is not recog- 
nized to any great extent.” 

Had it been recognized — this scientific fact 
— many a man who has gone to the gallows 
had gone, more justly, to an asylum for the 
insane; and science must find a solution for 
the perplexing and menacing problem of those 
crimes for which alcohol, and not the man, 
is responsible. 


I knew another man who was hanged. 

(I would not have you think that an undue 
number of my acquaintances have gone that way. 


There were only these two; though when I 
think of some of the men I have known I won- 
der how they escaped it.) I cannot tell you 
this man’s name. He was a man of breeding 
and scholarly culture; and all this was evident 
when I saw him, first, in the filth and darkness 
of a jail. It was in a dreary town of West 
Virginia, whither I had gone to see him 
hanged. The town comes back to my memory. 
It was a town a hundred years old — perhaps 
more; it was a town of twenty thousand in- 
habitants — perhaps more; and in it there had 
never been anyone who was not just like 
everyone else; not a hero in the past, not an 
artist, not a man so slightly distinguished he 
was worth emulating or envying; a town as un- 
distinguished as a clay road. Collarless citi- 
zens, in slouch hats and frock coats and black 
trousers and muddy boots, lounged in the 
streets and spat tobacco juice at each other. 
The women seemed to spend most of their time 
pulling their stockings up. And I came to the 
jail and found my man in the cell. He had 
been convicted of murder and was to be hanged 
in four days. Facile journalism had dubbed 
him, “ The Man of Mystery,” for he had re- 

1 66 


fused to give his name and had been tried 
as John Doe. He had answered no questions. 
He had made no plea. Sullenly he had let 
them sentence him to death without a word. 
The sheriff, sprinkling me with tobacco-juice 
the while, had told me the story of the crime. 
A tramp in rags, the-man-to-be-hanged, had 
come into town begging for food. He was 
an amusing tramp from the viewpoint of these 
slouch-hatted West Virginians; in the first 
place, he was English and his pronunciation 
of the language, differing from that of West 
Virginia, was screamingly absurd; moreover, 
round his ankles were buttoned ragged spats 
— dirty insignia of fallen gentility. Where- 
upon the tavern-wags had sport with him; 
and filled his empty belly with the kind of 
whisky drunk in those parts. Then they 
kicked the gentleman in dirt and rags out of 
their town — which was equally distinguished 
both for dirt and rags. A few hours later 
they found him in a drunken sleep by the 
railway tracks. And thirty yards away, at the 
door of his shanty, lay murdered the old man 
whose duty it had been to watch the cross- 
ing — or switch the trains — at that point. So 


they tried the tramp (always sullen and silent) 
for the murder and ordered him hanged; and 
from forty miles about the interested natives 
were swarming in over the muddy roads to be 
on hand for the festival. 

He was crouched in the back of his dirty 
cell. I think what brought him forward to 
the bars in the door was the fact that I did 
not speak to him in West Virginian — a lan- 
guage he had taken a dislike to, it would 

seem. After a while the man who had been 

dumb so long spoke. Before the day was 

done he told me all he was ever to tell on this 
earth. There wasn’t much in the story — ex- 
cept that bolt from the blue. What had hap- 
pened to him was due to two things: First, 
he had come into two thousand pounds — a sum 
of no importance in itself, but full of possi- 
bilities when one is young; and, second, cer- 
tain real-estate speculators in the Southern 

States were printing glowing advertisements 
in the English newspapers — and he read and 
believed. He brought his money to the “New 
South,” with the pleasant hope of building a 
home and making a career. It took the sharp- 
ers of that part of the world exactly six months 

1 68 


to get his money away from him. He was 
ashamed to write home. A few months more — 
living on his rings and watch and clothes — 
and he was in the street. And he set out to 
tramp to the seashore, or some port where he 
might find a ship he could work his way home 
in. By what devious routes I know not he 
wandered into West Virginia. It was after- 
noon by the time he had told me this much 
of the story. My influence with the sheriff 
had grown during the day and now the cell 
door was open and the murderer and I were 
sitting together in the cell on the bench that 
served him for a bed; and smoking. 

“ Tell me about the tavern-wags,” I 
said; and he told me about the tavern- 

“ After that,” said he, “ I remember noth- 
ing — nothing at all — until I woke in a cell. 
I think someone kicked me in the face and I 

“ Did you kill the old man? ” 

“ God knows,” he said, and took his hairy 
head in his hands, “ I do not know. You 
see, I used to be a gentleman and I was never 
drunk before — I do not know.” He kept re- 


peating that the horror of it was that he did 
not know. 

Drink neurosis; alcoholic trance; the bolt 
from the blue — call it what you will. It is 
quite true; he did not know; in this world he 
never was to know; drink and the tavern-wags 
had plunged him into a cloud of nescience, 
and who was to say that murder had not hap- 
pened in the cloud? 

I wanted to do something; I wanted him to 
give me his name that I might telegraph to 
his ambassador; I wanted to get a lawyer and 
try for appeal; and his answer was: “What 
could I do with life now? Death is kinder 
than a cell for life.” He would have nothing 
done. John Doe was name enough to be 
hanged in. One thing he said at last. 

“ There is one favor you can do me,” he 

“Til do it, John Doe.” 

“ You see, I don’t mind asking you — you 
are the only man of my class I’ve met 
since ” 

He was not a snob and I was not a snob; 
he meant that we belonged to the bathing class. 
His request was that I should persuade the 



sheriff to let him have a bath. I got it for 
him, though the sheriff laughed like a loon — 
to him the bath habit was as ridiculous as the 
spat-wearing habit. And I had a barber sent 
in who cut his tangled hair and shaved the hair 
off his face — what looked out at me was a pale, 
tragic-faced boy not more than twenty-two 
years old. 

I said: “Good-night, I’ll come as early as 
I can in the morning.” 

He stood looking at his rags. 

“ And I’ll bring you some clothes,” I added. 

He laughed briefly in a sort of timid way. 

“ Have you got a suit of evening clothes?” 
he said foolishly. “ It would remind me of 
something. Perhaps you will understand.” 

I did not have evening clothes with me; 
in those days one did not take that sort of 
thing to West Virginia; but I telegraphed for 
them and they came. What the working of 
his mind was I do not know; I do not know 
what memory of another hour and another 
place was in his mind; but that winter morn- 
ing he stood up to be hanged in white linen 
and the livery society has ordained for even- 
ing. A few hours later they put his body, 


still dressed that way, in a pit of lime; and 
slouch-hatted men, as they covered it up, 
spat tobacco-juice on it. 

It was a grey morning, I remember, without 
rain. I went with him to the gallows; and 
together we looked out over the throng that 
filled the square — farmers and their wives and 
children in picnic-wagons, negroes, slouch- 
hatted men and lean women — stooping to pull 
up their stockings; a throng and a mob. It 
was a gallows with a trap. He stood erect 
while they tightened the fastenings on his 
legs. He threw back his head and looked 
away toward the East — over the mob, beyond 
the horizon, to the sea and the home beyond 
the sea. And from his mouth there came a 
cry so strange and compelling that still at 
night I hear it ringing in my ears and wake 
with a start — a wild cry, fierce and sudden 
as trumpets: 

“ Good-by, Nellie — Nellie — Nellie! ” 

Three times; and in some far-away English 
village it beat, I know, upon a woman’s heart, 
and struck her down. 

Then the trap fell; the boyish figure in its 
grotesque livery of black and white dropped 



out of sight into the strangling horror of death; 
and underneath the scaffold the hangman 
clutched the dying legs and hung to them with 
all his weight to make death sure. 

A bolt from the blue; that’s the way it struck 
one man I knew. His name was John Doe. 
Of course you, being Richard Roe, are not 
John Doe. You can drink and be sober, and 
are smilingly incredulous of these mythical 
bolts from the blue. 

Well; there is one thing worth thinking 
over; alcohol has two ways of getting its man — 
by increased doses and by the progressive poi- 
son effect of the same small dose regularly 
repeated; but even if you dodge those two ways, 
no man can say he is safe from the third wild, 
lawless and crashing way that strikes the brain 
into sudden confusion and makes for crime. 
Even the alienists have not uncovered that 
secret of alcohol; and who are you to boast that 
you are immune? Richard Roe is not a whit 
safer than John Doe — with his black moment 
of neuro-psychiatric alcoholism. 



Madame Tarnowsky — who is an honor to 
Russia and to the wider world of science — 
found, in her study of “ Female Offenders,” 
that eighty-two per cent, of sinning women 
were brought to vice by alcohol. An old and 
dark truth; let it stand here without com- 
ment. For these unhappy victims alcohol is 
that river Bulicame (in truer sense than Dante 
knew) whose waters were portioned out among 
the sinful women. Were it not for alcohol 
eighty-two women out of every hundred of 
the damned — would have pure faces and sinless 
eyes. That was the madness they drank of, ere 
they had the desperate courage to sink woman- 
hood in vice. A fact without comment. 

You have read this book to little purpose 
if you have not learned that the certain har- 
vest reaped by drink is insanity. I do not 
wish to knock you about the ears with statis- 
tics; that is an unattractive way of driving 
the truth home; but let me put it as an axiom: 

In the United States the proportion of in- 
sanity is in exact keeping with the consump- 
tion of alcoholic drink. 



The ratio is unfailing. 

Take New York State; one in every two 
hundred and ninety of the population is insane. 
Behind this army of mad men, mad women, 
mad children stand the thirty-five thousand 
two hundred and seventy-five liquor dealers. 
Look to the West and the Southwest; there in 
fifteen states there are only twelve thousand 
drink-vendors and in these states the insane are 
in the ratio of one to every eight hundred 
and eighty of the population. What do you 
think of the contrast? 

The last census of the United States shows 
that the institutional cases of insanity are in 
almost exact proportion to the amount of alco- 
holic consumption. 

New York with a population of 9,113,000 
has 31,265 cases of insanity, that is one out of 
every two hundred and ninety sons and daugh- 
ters of the state. Then look at droughty Kansas; 
you may not like to look at Kansas, but in this 
connection a study of Kansas will be for the 
good of your soul; it is, as you know, a drink- 
less state — to a certain, unideal extent; and 
here are the data: 

In ninety-seven out of one hundred and five 


counties there are no insane. In fifty-four of 
these counties there are no feeble-minded — non- 
alcoholic parentage being eugenic. In ninety- 
six counties there were no inebriates — not 
one. And thirty-eight county poorhouses were 
empty. In the entire state there are less than 
six hundred paupers. The jails in sixty-five 
counties were empty; and sixty-five counties 
sent up not one prisoner, convict and criminal, 
to the penitentiaries. 

The relative proportion of insanity in the 
various states is in exact keeping with the legis- 
lative policy concerning the sale of intoxicants; 
thus : 

Kansas 1 to 873 

Indiana 1 to 609 

Maine 1 to 590 

New Hampshire 1 to 473 

Ohio 1 to 449 

Illinois 1 to 437 

Rhode Island 1 to 436 

Michigan 1 to 419 

Wisconsin 1 to 376 

Virginia 1 to 3 73 

Connecticut 1 to 3 1 1 

New York 1 to 290 


And so enough of statistics if this truth has 
been driven home: insanity is the mad son 
of alcohol. Idiocy is its driveling daughter. 
Suicide is its despairing child. (The esti- 
mate is that seventy-eight per cent, of the sui- 
cides are due to alcohol.) 

Upon my word that man who called drink 
a racial curse — even he who called it a pan- 
demic plague — spoke without exaggeration 
and with measurable reserve. 

And I hear a voice as from very far off; 
it is your small persistent voice, repeating: 
“ I am a moderate drinker; I can drink, thank 
Heaven! and be sane.” Dear man, with your 
ounce or two a day, you may be mentally hale 
enough to keep out of a madhouse ; but on 
the higher functional levels you are already 
mad — morally you are as mad as a hatter. 




One of the wisest men of our generation — 
though he has chosen to wear the cap and bells 
of a public jester — is Finley Peter Dunne. 
Following the bad example of Thackeray — 
and with a wit as keen as his — he dresses his 
wise, far-seeing philosophy in antic and gro- 
tesque spelling; but Mr. Dooley’s philosophy 
is always a transcendent form of common sense. 
Were I writing a social history of the United 
States for the last two decades I should go 
for documentation to Mr. Dooley; from him 
I would best learn what has been the nation’s 
thought on all the great national questions, 
as one by one they rose above the horizon. 
Now Mr. Dooley when he pondered the 
war problem saw that the fact of most 
startling significance was that the nations at 
war had placed the ban on drink. And 

' 177 



in that bad spelling (which annoys me) he 
said : 

“ It’s sthrange, Hinnissy, how th’ wurruld 
has turned again its lifelong roommate, Jawn 
Barleycorn. Afther rollickin’ with th’ old fel- 
low f’r cinchries th’ fickle public has rounded 
on him an’ is rapidly chasin’ him off th’ map. 
I’ve told ye how it is in England. It’s th’ 
same ivrywhere. In Rooshya th’ polis has 
stopped th’ sale iv vodky, which is th’ name 
iv th’ Rooshyan naytional brainstorm. In 
France they’ve f’rbid th’ cityzin to take his 
tumbler iv absinthe. I niver tasted th’ deleery- 
ous dhrink since I was a child an’ we got it 
fr’m Mother Winslow, but it was in great favor 
in France. . . . 

“Jawn Barleycorn might have gone on f’r 
years if it hadn’t been that th’ wurruld begun 
to suspect that he was no good in a fight. That 
knocked th’ last leg fr’m undher him. I cud’ve 
told th’ wurruld so long ago. I’ve seen him 
start a millyon fights, but niver seen him win 
wan. He’s lived f’r years on his repytation 
as a warryor. No army was supposed to be 
anny good without him. He was welcome in 
th’ sojers’ tent an’ th’ gin’ral’s headquarters. 


People said about him: 1 He’s a scamp an’ a 
false friend, but he’s a divvle in a scrap.’ An’ 
now they know he aint anny good at that 
ayether. His bluff has been called.” 

And that is truly said. The first enemy the 
warring nations had to fight was drink. They 
had to kill that enemy before they could go 
about their business of killing each other. Men 
with drink in them cannot even fight. That 
mouse (of the anecdote) was not really a match 
for the cat. Drink does not give courage, as 
you have seen; all it does is to destroy the 
moral nature in the man. Unless I said a word 
or two of the atrocities committed in the early 
weeks of the war the black record of drink 
were incomplete. The way of the Germans 
through Belgium and Northern France — above 
all, through the tragic province of Alsace — 
was marked by rapine, murder, mutilation, 
looting and incendiarism. There need be no 
doubt of this; there can be no denial; I know 
whereof I speak. But these amiable, beer- 
drinking, song-loving Germans, you say, are 
not fiends? Man, man, they were drunk. They 
looted the cellars of Louvain before they set 
about murdering old men, mutilating children, 


violating women. The loot of the wine-cellars 
of Champagne fired the maniacs who sowed 
destruction in Northern France. I know a vil- 
lage in Alsace. With pathetic gayety it wel- 
comed the French liberators when they entered 
the province. When the French were driven 
back the Germans loosed a “ punitive expedi- 
tion ” on the hapless village, with orders to 
punish the traitors. And they punished them. 
They rode into the village square and (while 
the terror-stricken people took refuge in a 
church) they drank their fill at the tavern. 
Then, savage with drink, they fired the poor 
little cottages of the village. At the door 
of the church stood the old priest. He said 
there were only women and children and old 
men in the church and he begged for their 
lives. And the war-drunkards killed him where 
he stood. They rushed into the church and 
drove out the wretched villagers — hounded 
them through the burning streets and out into 
the meadows; murder, mutilation, violation, 
infamy beyond speech were the toll of the day. 
And what happened there happened over a 
twenty-mile strip of territory. Now these 
“ punitive expeditions ” were made up of men 


— but of men drunk and lust-maddened by 
alcohol. That is the real explanation of the 
atrocities. Germany had never been able to 
force her brave soldiers to carry out the “ pol- 
icy of frightfulness ” unless she had first let 
them lap at the drink. There was another 
side to it. 

I saw it in Alsace and Baden when the Ger- 
man officers and soldiery were trying to handle 
the fierce, panic-stricken crowds that swarmed, 
from both sides, across the frontier. These 
soldiers, slashing with swords, thrusting with 
rifle-stocks, screaming contradictory orders, 
were plain hysterics — hysterical from over- 
doses, or from interrupted doses of alcohol. 
The German war machine had been driven 
more swiftly over Brabant and Flanders had 
it been driven by sober men. And when Ger- 
many realized this fact she, too, put the ban 
on drink in the army. What happened in 
Dinant could not happen in any town seized 
to-day by German troops. What happened 
in Dinant? It was typical of the drunken days 
of the war — those first four weeks or so. There 
was no more picturesque city in Europe — lying 
beneath the mighty, church-crowned bluffs, 


with the white river at its feet. Beyond the 
bridge was the village square. Into this vil- 
lage square the Germans drove all the women 
and girls. On the terraces of the taverns sat 
the officers, drinking and looking on. The 
drunken soldiers were loosed on the women; 
each seized the one he would; and for hours 
they hauled them about in a mad dance — until 
darkness fell. And when darkness fell there 
were horrors unspeakable in the darkness. 
Then at dawn the drunkards fired Dinant and 
marched away. 

I do not think this was the reason Germany 
put the ban on drink in the army; it was be- 
cause she discovered — with Mr. Dooley — that 
“Jawn Barleycorn was no good in a fight.” 
After those first crazed weeks she fought sober; 
with what dark success you know. 

A boozily organized army cannot fight; a 
boozily organized nation cannot efficiently pro- 
duce war material or establish an efficient trans- 
port service. The danger of drunkenness in 
time of peace becomes in time of war a mon- 
strous peril. Every soldier realized it; every 
statesman saw it. 

But what was to be done? 


For generations science, religion, statesman- 
ship had fought this evil thing; they had pelted 
the evil thing with tracts and tied it up in red 
tape; all to no saving purpose. 

But when, in a world at war, the need of 
sobriety was imperative it did not take the 
nations long to find a way of killing the evil 
thing. It was as simple and practical as shut- 
ting off an electric current. It prohibited the 
manufacture and sale of the fiercer kinds of 
drink. (By way of compromise it left, to 
those so habituated to alcoholic poison they 
could not do without it, the less harmful solace 
of beer and wine.) Over the drunkenness of 
the soldiers in the field a death penalty hung. 
As for the peasant, the workingman, the citi- 
zen whose duties lay behind the lines, they 
were kept sober — by the prohibitive fact that 
they could not buy enough alcohol to get 
drunk on. 

France was first in this, as she is always 
first in the noblest missions of humanity; she 
is the light-bearer. France was first. The day 
after war was ruthlessly and lawlessly declared 
upon her, she prohibited the sale of absinthe 
in all France. This was a mere military de- 



cree; but as soon as the French parliament met 
it passed a law prohibiting forever the manu- 
facture, importation and sale of that worst 
kind of alcoholic drink. 

You cannot exaggerate the importance of the 
role played by absinthe in the drama of alco- 
holic degradation in France. The records of 
one institution (Charenton, I think) show that 
out of nine thousand nine hundred and thirty- 
two cases of alcoholic alienation four thousand 
eight hundred and eighty-two, or approxi- 
mately half of the entire number, were caused 
by absinthe. The serious element in the sta- 
tistics is that they reveal an increase (merely 
taking ten years) of fifty-seven per cent, in 
the number of insane in the thirty-six depart- 
ments of France. Long ago the fight on this 
bad kind of drink began; but insurmountable 
obstacles stood in the way. One obstacle was, 
of course, the banded forces of the drink- 
makers and drink-vendors; another was that 
absinthe paid a revenue of hundreds of mil- 
lions of francs a year to the treasury — and the 
ministers of finance stood, greed-centered, 
against giving up this spoil of drunkenness. 
Indeed, in every country state-finance has been 


the rock behind which the poisoners took shel- 
ter. “ Without the liquor-tax what a deficit 
there will be!” War gave swift answer to 
that cowardly plea. What was the tax-gain 
from liquor when dropped into the war-deficit 
of a billion a month? 

War gave the sudden lesson that you 
cannot measure a nation’s needs in terms of 

Torn away from petty considerations of 
greed, the state was forced to face the great 
question of the conservation of the race — the 
health and purity of its people on which the 
future depends. And in spite of distillers, 
drunkards and financiers France decreed the 
great reform — a half measure to be sure, but 
a great measure, because it lays down the prin- 
ciple of state prohibition. 

Then the voice of Russia — that mystic home 
of sacrificial brotherhood — was heard. By 
a signal ukase the Czar shut up all the fac- 
tories where vodka was made and all the 
shops where it was sold. This was his own 
reformation — one of the reforms that strange, 
little, bearded dreamer has been able to bring 
to pass in the face of his iron u advisers.” Let 

1 8 6 


it be to his credit. It was he, and no other, 
who prepared the way for this great step, by 
taking the traffic in vodka away from the dirty 
retailers who passed out the poison. I re- 
member Russia as it was in those days before 
he set up that reform. You could go into 
any village; there was the posting station, 
joined to it the tavern. And that tavern was 
the plague spot of the Mir. There the peasants 
drank; and when their money was gone they 
pawned their plows and carts, their tools and 
their clothes — pawned their unsown crops and 
mortgaged all they owned. The drink-shops 
and pawn-shops were one. And when the gov- 
ernment stepped in to save the slaves of the 
pawn-ticket and the bottle — when the tavern 
leeches were driven out and went wandering 
over the land wailing of persecution — there 
was the beginning of a new day in Russia. 
The government took over the sale of vodka — 
and sold it, like postage-stamps, at government 
depots. It could be got only in bottles; it 
could not be drunk on the premises; and it 
was a pure liquor — without base adulterations; 
and in a way it checked drunkenness. Of 
most importance was the fact that it set the 


whole bad business in one hand, so that when 
the hour struck one hand could throttle it. 
For years that has been the dream and pur- 
pose of the Czar. Against him were the liquor 
“interests”; against him was the official pro- 
tector of drunkenness, the Minister of Finance, 
who argued that one-third the revenues of the 
state came from vodka; but war gave the pa- 
tient little Czar his chance — and he struck. 
For the safety of the state, for the preserva- 
tion of the race, he struck down the monstrous 

War is sacrificial. 

It demands of a nation the supreme sacrifice. 
At such a time a nation more readily yields 
the lesser sacrifice. It throws into the melting- 
pot not only its jewels and fine gold, but its 
vices as well. 

I do not assert (one were a fool to assert) 
that France and Russia have gone abruptly to 
sobriety. A generation, drink-poisoned from 
youth, cannot be dragooned into clean living. 
Drunkenness has not vanished from Russia nor 
France; in spite of tolerably severe laws mur- 
der, forgery, adultery, false-coining still exist. 
But this is true: The great reform has been 

1 88 


accomplished. The state is no longer an ac- 
complice in the boozy organization of society. 
The official drink environment that bred drunk- 
ards — as a swamp breeds malaria — has been 
swept away. The drunkard is no longer state- 
bred; he is no longer a necessary creation of a 
poisoned environment. And now, definitely, 
he belongs to the penologist or to the alienist — 
exactly as the murderer or the madman. The 
state has not destroyed the drink habit. What 
it has done is to make it difficult for the citi- 
zen to satisfy it. Precisely the same thing it 
does for the man given to theft — it makes it a 
difficult trade for him and an unprofitable 

England, more timidly, attempted a similar 
reform; but in England the rights of the state 
have never been so emphatically declared as 
the rights of the individual; and the proposals 
of the government for dealing with the mis- 
chief of drink were framed on conservative 
lines. Their one object was to remove an 
obstacle to the more efficient production of war 
material. It attempted no broad “ solution,” 
as it is called, of the drink question. And yet 
Parliament, in its slow-moving, cumbrous but 


effective way, is working toward just such an 
end. It has faced the problem; thus: 

“ Clearly it would be an enormous gain if 
the direct personal financial interest of the 
liquor trader were eliminated, and all pushing 
of the sale of drink and all inducements to 
the seller to evade the law were abolished. 
That can only be done by taking the trade 
out of the hands of those who now conduct it 
and placing it under the control of persons 
whose only object would be to promote the 
public well-being, and who would have no 
interest in pushing the sale or conniving at 
breaches of the law: that is to say, by placing 
it under disinterested management.” 

This is the road to the state control of the 
manufacture and sale of alcohol, which is, 
after all, the simplest and most efficacious 
means of curbing intemperance; and it is well 
within the rather rigid lines of English policy. 

Why is it — let us put a question to each 
other — why is it that the first great problem 
of the nations, tested in the fire of war, was 
that of drink? That was not true of other huge 
wars, Grantian, Napoleonic or Caesarean. If 
you answer the question, you will get close 



to the heart of what is rottenest in our civili- 


Ours is the drunkennest civilization the 
world has ever known. 

Oh! I know, there are wonderful temperance 
movements, teetotal crusades, high and strenu- 
ous attempts to win mankind back to sanity 
of mind and bodv; I know. You have seen 
how decent society is pulling that way; how 
the Church is pulling that way. Glancing back 
at the memoirs of the Georgian period, even 
those of the early Victorian age — glancing back 
or listening to the hectic recollections of your 
great-uncle who lived and drank in the last 
century — you may fancy that was a drunken 
world. And you see and hear only a part. 
The duke and the brewer got drunk; the rich- 
ling got drunk; but the average man, being a 
poor man, stayed sober — reluctantly it may be, 
but at all events he stayed sober. Look up 
the facts. The annual output of drink was so 
small that the consumption “ per head ”■ — to 
repeat that dreadful phrase — was necessarily 
small. There was not enough liquor made in 


England, for example, to keep the population 
drunk. There was only a certain quantity — 
on the hither side of drunkenness — for each 
individual; and the man who got drunk was 
taking the share of five men, who were or- 
dained, thus, to be sober. 

With the rise of the age of a harsh and sav- 
age materialism, that was neither to bind nor 
to hold, there came strange things to pass. 
Some of them are doubtless in your mind. Sci- 
ence made wonderful discoveries; and in the 
trail of the sane laborious scientists there 
thronged all the mountebanks of thought — 
the Huxleys and Haeckels, who beat the drum 
in front of the booths of science. Came, too, 
the harlequins of a dirty and materialistic 
literature, from Zola (whose appropriate death 
was that he should be drowned in the vomit 
of his dogs) to that bad and sneering old 
man, Anatole France. Morality was kicked 
out of philosophy, as idealism was thrown out 
of literature. The world’s thought became at 
once mean and dirty. (In poor old England 
the most conspicuous “ intellectual ” was the 
dreadful Bernard Shaw; one nation fared no 
better than another.) 



Now it was in trade, manufacture and com- 
merce that materialism expressed itself in the 
most grotesque and irresponsible way; until, 
as a final illustration, you had the colossal 
Kultur of Germany — an iron monster splashed 
with blood. 

My business here and now is with the mak- 
ing of drink in a ruthless and materialistic age. 
Of old a nation made its drink; and drank it. 
Wine did not go far from home; or it went 
with difficulty and at an expense which made 
it a drink only for the rich. Beer was brewed 
for home needs. Liquors the same. Then 
began the “ boom ” in the manufacture of all 
things for man’s needs or vices — intoxicating 
beverages like the rest. Easy transport car- 
ried them everywhere; but in spite of easy 
transport there was over-production. Creating 
intoxicating drink in huge quantities, the in- 
dustrial world had to find means of making 
the people drink it. It had to find consumers. 
It was not, you note, providing drink to satisfy 
the thirst of the nations. What it supplied 
was far in advance of the demand. Like every 
other industry, its one aim was to increase 
its output. And there followed the grim need 


of finding new markets. It poured its torrents 
of wine, beer and alcohol into the home- 
markets and sought for markets abroad. 

(An illustration; I take it from the Boston 

“ After waiting three days for favorable 
winds, the four-masted schooner Orleans, Cap- 
tain Rutledge, sailed to the relief of the natives 
of the west coast of Africa with two hundred 
thousand gallons of rum in her hold. The 
vessel had been loading for two weeks with 
hogsheads, casks and kegs, and when she set 
sail every available space below hatches was 
occupied. There was scarcely room for casks 
of water for the crew. It was thought they 
would have to live on rum. When this was 
noised about there was a great scramble for 
berths. A complement of men was signed up, 
but all were made to sign the pledge before 
the boat left. The underwriters demanded 

Without comment.)' 

What were they doing, these “ industrials ” 
of beer, wine, spirits? 

Building up wealth, they would tell you. It 
was the slogan of their materialistic genera- 



tion. They were doing what other manufac- 
turers did — producing all they could and forc- 
ing the people to consume. Side by side with 
the making of drink went a crusade of adver- 
tisement to force the drink down. Wealth- 
building went on apace — at the mere cost of 
public health, sanity, morality, safety of the 
state. And that the profits to brewer and dis- 
tiller (these “industrials”) might be greater, 
fraud was called in to do its work. Chem- 
istry found dirtier and more poisonous com- 
pounds. Industry hailed with approval the 
German chemist who found a way of “ dis- 
tilling brandy from sawdust.” In floods tor- 
rential the alcoholic poison was poured over 
the lands. Waste and abuse. The govern- 
ments, one and all, looked on without disap- 
proval. Indeed, they shared gleefully in the 
plunder. Often they knowingly permitted the 
poison adulterations that their share of the 
unclean profit might be the greater. (Go, buy 
a bottle of beer made anywhere in the United 
States, set it out in the sunlight and see what 
will happen.) The conscience of the nation 
was as torpid as that of a brewer. It was 
blunted and deformed as the conscience of a 


distiller. Until war came and woke it. Said 
the State: “I have the right to ask of each 
man his life and goods in the face of this 
fierce aggression — now the Uhlans are at the 
gate — and surely I have the right to ask him 
to sacrifice his profits and his vices, even in 
time of peace, when they destroy the welfare 
of the state.” 

It had learned a lesson. You have seen the 
beginning. You have seen two great nations 
toss lightly overboard the private advantages 
of the distilling few for the sake of the gen- 
eral welfare. There had come home to them 
the plain truth that to abolish alcoholism 
it had but to stop the manufacture of alcohol. 

But the vested interests? 

I am going to say more than a word or two 
or three about these vested interests all in due 
time. Here let me make one blunt statement: 

There is no contradiction between ethics 
and economics. 

I say there is no contradiction between ethics 
and economics in a civilization which is not 
based upon greed, industrialism and a corrupt 
materialism. I will admit that the generation 
out of the influence of which we are pass- 



ing — with splendid strides — held to that bad 
conception; but it belongs to an ante-bellum 
past. We have gone back to Plato in this — 
not the wealth .of a nation but the highest wel- 
fare of the citizens is the thing to be promoted. 
And where there is discord between economics 
and ethics, it is the economical factor that 
must give way. The United States settled that 
question when she swept slavery off her map; 
and paid in blood. England, in no less noble 
a fashion, freed the slaves under her flag, and 
paid in gold. 

I do not see how there should ever be any 
debate as to which is to be destroyed — the huge 
profits for a few, or the immense losses in 
health, character, happiness, wealth for the- 
many. I, for one, shall never consent to weigh 
dollars against human welfare. No sane man 
would, did he understand the situation. Be- 
hind the whole economic argument against 
interference with drink-producers there is one 
lie that I want to bring out into the light. It 
is one of a dirty battalion of lies, for the brew- 
ers with their venerable scientists, the distillers 
with their “ health-apostles,” even the viticul- 
turists with their parade of poor hectic women, 


are prolific in false arguments. The one I have 
in mind, however, is the worst of them all, 
for it has a grave air of sincerity. It is the 
argument that “ the abolition of the liquor 
traffic will create a financial panic ” and, since 
“ a million toilers will lose their jobs,” it will 
create also a labor panic. 

The simplest answer would be a calm, indif- 
ferent, ethical retort: 

“Well, what if it did?” 

But, there is an ampler reply, which may find 
place (with your permission) in another 




To abolish alcoholism you have but to stop 
the manufacture of alcohol. 

But men, you say, will drink in spite of law; 
in some furtive way they will get their alco- 
holic poison. Possibly. Probably. There are 
stern laws against murder, but men kill their 
fellows. There are laws against theft, but bad 
men go on stealing. No law succeeds in pro- 
hibiting the crime against which it is enacted. 
All it can do is to set that particular crime 
outside the law and to punish the outlaw. Only 
when the social environment is favorable to 
prohibition will prohibition prohibit; only 
when the social environment is against lynch- 
ing will lynchers cease to lynch — be the law 
what it may; only when the social environ- 
ment is unfavorable to white-slavery will that 
bad business cease — no matter how repressive 


a Mann law be enacted. That is self-evident. 
In these instances, the nation, as exemplified in 
its laws, is against lynching and against white- 
slavery. It has not, with all its power, been 
able to suppress them wholly. Until a clean 
social environment has been created they will 
exist, though in an obscurely vicious way. In 
an imperfect stage of civilization one does 
not expect a governmental law to prohibit 
crime — but largely to prevent it and certainly 
to punish it. A law to prohibit the manufac- 
ture and sale of alcoholic beverages could be 
enforced as completely as any other law. 

In two-thirds of the territory of the United 
States the saloon has been abolished. And this 
is not an empty territory; it houses fully sixty 
per cent, of the population. How did these 
wise and civic-sane citizens get the kind of pro- 
hibition they have won? They got it in spite 
of the national government; they won it in 
local battles in township, county and state; and 
their mightiest enemy was the Federal Gov- 
ernment. To-day when they have established 
local laws of clean-living and sobriety — when 
they have closed the saloons and barrooms and 
prohibited the sale of drink, what, think you, 



the government does? Over the heads of the 
local authorities it issues licenses for the traffic 
in alcohol. And it uses all the forces of the 
interstate commerce laws to force the sale of 
drink in these states which have declared they 
would fain be sober. Maine is a prohibition 
state. It forbids the making and selling of 
alcoholic drinks. Does Washington respect 
this declaration? In spite of the state — in spite 
of the will of the people, their royal Will-to- 
be-Sober — the Federal Government has issued 
in Maine four hundred and thirty-four retail 
licenses and has licensed one hundred and 
eighteen druggists to dispense liquor. That is 
what “ Uncle Sam ” has done in Maine in the 
face of a state’s protest. More discreditable is 
the fact that the Federal Government has 
issued, in Kansas, licenses to the very criminals 
— “ boot-leggers ” and the like — who have been 
arrested and convicted for violating the Kansas 
prohibition law. And in these dry states it is 
using the United States mails for advertising 

How comes this to pass? 

Washington is the headquarters of the alco- 
hol forces of the nation. There are mobilized 



the congressional defenders of drink. Two- 
thirds of the nation has declared for the aboli- 
tion of the pandemic plague of drink. In two- 
thirds of the nation the saloons have been 
closed. Against the will and purpose of 
these two-thirds stand the distiller-owned and 
brewer-fed congressmen. What states do they 
come from? 

Four states in the union contain more than 
one-half of the saloons in existence. And these 
same states, mark you, are the homes of more 
than one-half of the congressmen who voted in 
the House of Representatives against national 
prohibition. And one state took the lead in 
this battle to thwart the will of the nation. 
That state was New York, which contains to-day 
more saloons than all the thirty-six states whose 
legislatures have the power to ratify and make 
effective a federal constitutional amendment 
prohibiting the liquor traffic. 

One-half of the representatives who voted 
against national prohibition came from the six 
largest and drunkennest cities in the country — - 
from cities brewer-ruled and distiller-directed. 
In other words, the final destruction of the 
liquor traffic has narrowed down to a contest 



with the vicious and immoral voting mobs of 
the great drink-controlled cities. It is in these 
cities the distillers and brewers are making 
their last stand. The drunkard’s vote and the 
corrupt congressman alone stand in the way of 
the nation’s will to be sober. Nothing else — 
save, of course, the tainted financial interests 
behind this traffic in poison. 

In Russia you had a government which held 
in its hand the entire business of drink — sale 
and production; when the nation’s life was at 
stake it closed an iron hand and throttled the 
bad business. In spite of protest — in spite 
of the outcries of the drink-bought press and 
drink-bought agitators. In the United States 
the situation is reversed, for it is the people 
that is straining forward towards sober living, 
while the national government — by its system 
of federal licenses and mail-carried drink — is 
trying to whip the nation back into drunken- 

So stands the case. 

What is certain is that in the end the people 
will have their way. The progress is steady. 
Already a “wet and dry” map of the United 
States shows that two-thirds of the territory 



has been written over with state or local enact- 
ments of prohibition. And the movement goes 
on? It cannot be stopped. Public opinion has 
spoken. What the war-startled nations did in 
their peril will be done in the United States — 
in the slower ways of peace. 

Against the will of the nation stands only one 
force: It is the dirty army of those who make 
a profit out of alcohol — and their dirtier political 

Who makes that profit? 

You are a reasonable man; and by grace of 
your sane reason you know that there is no profit 
in the business for anyone save for those who 
make and sell the stuff and for the gamblers, 
prostitutes and parasites whose profits come 
from the drink-fuddled citizens. You have 
heard a great deal of the losses that will fall 
upon brewer and distiller, saloon-keeper and 
the owner of property used by the drink trade; 
I do not fancy you are much perturbed at 
the thought of these losses. You have heard 
before a similar wail from the red-light dis- 
trict, for the white-slaver whines as whined 
the black-slaver of Jamaica. Money loss in 
the face of moral gain is negligible; in a clash 



between ethics and economics it is the latter 
that must go to the wall. 

But with the whine of the liquor dealers there 
goes a threat — a threat of national economic 
disaster. They hold in hand, they assert, “ the 
most disastrous panic in all history,” which they 
can loose upon the country if it goes against 

It is a serious thing, that threat. France 
heard it when she banned absinthe; Russia 
heard it when she prohibited the sale and manu- 
facture of all alcoholic drink; it was inevitable 
that it should be heard in this country. 

Let us hear the threat. At least it is the 
sort of thing one can answer. The whine is 
more difficult to meet — with its specious plea 
for “ human liberty,” for man’s “ inalienable 
right ” to break any social law of which he 
does not approve. A whine is an illogical emo- 
tional appeal; but a threat to create an eco- 
nomic disaster can be met. 


There is an official spokesman of alcohol. 
His title has a full-fronted pomposity about it, 



which should not be abbreviated. Joseph De- 
bar is the “ Secretary of the National Whole- 
sale Liquor Dealers’ Association of America ” — 
a ten-word pomposity. I shall let him state his 
threat and argument in his own words. 

Thus : 

“ Put as briefly as possible, the different 
effects of nation-wide prohibition may be stated 
as follows: 

“ Abolition of business representing a capi- 
talization estimated at from $3,000,000,000 to 

“ Absolute loss of a large proportion of the 
assets of this industry and tremendous depre- 
ciation in value of the remainder. 

“ Closing up of over two thousand four hun- 
dred plants manufacturing distilled, malt and 
vinous liquors, having a capital, by the 1909 
census, of $831,000,000, purchasing raw mate- 
rials valued at $169,000,000 annually and turn- 
ing out a product valued at over $630,000,000 

“ Closing up of over two hundred and three 
thousand retail liquor establishments with an 
investment running up into many millions of 

20 6 


11 Bankruptcy for thousands of these manu- 
facturers, wholesalers and retailers, who will 
find themselves facing a tremendous loss on 
property, the value of which is either wiped 
out or greatly depreciated and a large propor- 
tion of whose debtors in the same line of busi- 
ness will be unable to meet bills due. 

“ Switching thousands of these dealers to 
other lines of industry, where they will come 
into competition with their brains and what is 
left of their capital with manufacturers and 
merchants already in those fields. 

“ Loss to railroads of the country of revenue 
on traffic running up into millions of dollars, 
netting them a considerable percentage of their 
income from freight. According to the United 
States Statistical Abstract for 1913, the total 
movement of manufactures of the wine, whisky 
and beer industries in 1912 amounted to over 
seven million tons, or two and a half per cent, 
of the total traffic of all manufacturing indus- 
tries of the country. This does not take into 
consideration the shipment of grain and other 
raw materials to the distilleries, breweries and 
wineries, nor does it take cognizance of by- 
products like dried feed, which, when shipped 



away, represents from twenty to forty per cent, 
of the bulk of the grain going to these plants; 
nor does it take notice of shipments between 
wholesalers and retailers and retail dealers and 

“ Loss of billions of dollars to wholesale 
grocers, hotel-owners, restaurant-keepers, drug- 
gists, both wholesale and retail, most of whom 
ordinarily are not classed by the public with 
liquor industries.” 

And Mr. Debar goes on to argue that there 
would be “ billions of dollars ” of loss to barrel- 
makers, bottle-makers, printers, truck-manufac- 
turers, builders, yeast-makers; that the millions 
worth of grain and fruit used by the liquor- 
makers would go to waste — that everyone from 
the bag-man to the farm laborer would suffer 
financially, since brewers and distillers would 
have no money to pass on to them. And he 
notes : 

“ Loss of $230,000,000 annually in internal 
revenue and over $18,000,000 in customs reve- 
nue; a grand total of nearly $230,000,000, over 
one-third of the total annual income from all 

“Necessity of raising this vast sum in other 



directions. The difficulty of this will be ap- 
parent to all who recall the stress attendant 
upon the imposition a short time back of a 
$1,000,000,000 war tax.” 

Gloomiest of all is his apprehension of the 
cost of the maintenance of “ a vast army of 
United States officials to enforce the law ” — 
which is the prettiest argument ever advanced. 
I may suggest that one might merely take the 
police now occupied with the crimes and crimi- 
nals, created by drink, and set them to watch 
the liquor-dealers who did not obey the law. 
There would be plenty of police for the work, 
since it is a statistical fact that eighty-four per 
cent, of their work is due to alcohol-begotten 
crime. They would have plenty of time on 
their hands to look after the “ enforcement 
of the law ” against dealing in liquor — ample 
time, Mr. Debar. And I am not of the opinion 
that the nation would grudge the price it paid 
for that sort of police protection. 

Read on: 

“ Loss to the state of many millions; to coun- 
tries of other millions and to incorporated 
places having a population of two thousand 
five hundred and over, of $51,955,001, a 


grand total running up into the hundreds of 
millions every year in liquor license and tax 

“ Greater burden of direct taxation to fall 
upon all the population instead of upon those 
who now voluntarily pay the tax indirectly 
when they see fit to purchase liquors. 

“ How many banks would be forced to the 
wall along with the crash in other directions no 
man would undertake to say. How many mil- 
lions of unemployed would walk the streets for 
months and possibly years there is no way of 

There is the argument, put as strongly as it 
can be put by the shrewd, alarmed secretary 
of the traffickers in alcohol. When you analyze 
it you see it is only a threat — a money threat. 
In lesser proportion it is precisely the argument 
of the “ red-light district,” which showed how 
house property would suffer if the law were 
enforced — how thousands of employees would 
be thrown out of work and how the neigh- 
boring vendors of food and musk and rouge 
and silk kimonos would suffer. The argu- 
ment of Mr. Debar is quintessentially the 




And it smells bad. 

Unclean as the argument is — immoral as it 
is — it has been effective in terrifying the voter, 
especially the laboring man. So men of fore- 
sight and intellectual probity have deemed it 
worth answering. They have pulled to pieces 
its fallacy. They have carefully abstracted 
from it what was true and sought and found 
a remedy. Indeed, a group of important soci- 
ologists, of which Mr. Charles Stelzle is the 
head, has made a comprehensive survey of the 
economical aspects of the liquor problem. As 
clearly as Air. Debar, they recognize that 
“ there may be dislocation of a temporary kind 
in the labor world because of the change ” — 
the words are Mr. Roosevelt’s words — and they 
have formulated a plan to meet it. 

Three things they set themselves to do: 

To demonstrate that the abolition of the 
liquor traffic will not create a labor panic. 

To assist in establishing temporary labor 
exchanges to find work for those losing their 
jobs through prohibitory legislation. 

To promote the organization of adequate so- 
cial centers as substitutes for the saloon. 


2 I I 


First the demonstration; and I would ask you 
to read carefully this victorious reply to Mr. 
Debar’s money threat; it was written by Mr. 
Charles Stelzle and printed (for five million 
readers) in Mr. HearsCs newspapers: 

“ The argument that the abolition of the 
liquor traffic will create a financial panic is 
based entirely upon the absurd proposition that 
if the liquor dealers fail to get the money now 
spent for beer and whisky nobody else will 
get it. 

“ It is assumed that if a man doesn’t spend 
a dollar for booze, he will throw that dollar 
into the sewer or into some kind of a bottom- 
less pit, instead of using it to purchase some 
other commodity, which will do good instead of 
harm, which will have a permanent value, and 
which will give the workingmen of the coun- 
try more work, more wages and greater pros- 
perity every way than if the same amount of 
money were spent for beer and whisky. 

“ Every workingman knows that we are not 
suffering from over-production, but from under- 
consumption. He is painfully conscious of the 



fact that he doesn’t live as well as he should in 
comparison with others who do not work as 
hard as he does, and that he cannot give his 
family the benefits which they deserve. There- 
fore, it will not injure him particularly if the 
brewery and distillery owners were to put their 
1 brains and what is left of their capital ’ when 
the liquor business is destroyed into the pro- 
duction of materials which will give him more 
of the comforts of life here and now, and less 
of the torments both here and hereafter. 

“ As for the 1 poor farmer ’ who would suf- 
fer so grievously, according to the defender of 
the saloon, because the brewers and distillers 
would fail to buy his grain and grapes, his 
apples and cherries — there is no fear that he 
will buy fewer automobiles and less farm ma- 
chinery, and all the other modern conveniences 
which he now enjoys, because somebody else 
will buy his apples and cherries, his grain and 
grapes — besides, economists and farm experts 
are even now afraid that the American farmer 
will soon be unable to raise enough grain ade- 
quately to supply his country. 

“ Regarding the railroad man who would 
no longer handle the ‘ 2.5 per cent, of the total 



traffic of all manufacturing industries of the 
country,’ which the liquor business now fur- 
nishes — nobody doubts for a single moment that 
the railroad man will get as much business and 
as much money from the transfer of a given 
amount of grain, whether that grain is shipped 
to a brewer or a baker. As for the transpor- 
tation of the finished product, as well as the 
raw materials which the liquor industry now 
furnishes, other industries which would bene- 
fit through the transfer of trade from liquor 
to some other commodity would undoubtedly 
supply as much business for the railroad man 
as the brewers and distillers do.” 

The harshest edge of the liquor argument is 
turned towards the workingman. The liquor 
business, Mr. Debar avers, is the fifth in im- 
portance in the United States; and its aboli- 
tion would throw out of work one-fifth of the 
nation’s labor, you are to assume. The sug- 
gestion makes for misconception. There are 
6,616,046 workers in the industries of the coun- 
try. Of these only 62,920 are employed in the 
liquor industry — only about one per cent. 

“Taking five leading industries in this coun- 
try — namely, textiles and the finished products, 

2 14 


iron and steel and their products, lumber and its 
manufactures, leather and its finished products, 
and paper and printing, and comparing them 
with the liquor business (including the malting 
industry) with regard to the number of wage- 
earners employed, capital invested and wages 
paid, we arrive at some interesting conclusions. 
Based upon the figures found in the Abstract 
of Statistics of Manufacture, we discover that 
the number of wage-earners for each one mil- 
lion dollars invested in each of these industries 
was as follows: Liquor, 77; Textiles, 578; Iron, 
284; Lumber, 579; Leather, 469; and Paper, 


In plainer words, every million dollars in- 
vested in the drink industry gives employment 
to only seventy-seven men — while a similar sum 
invested in lumber, for example, gives a living 
to five hundred and seventy-nine men. 

What is all this boast about what the liquor 
industry is doing for labor? The ratio of wages 
paid to the workers in proportion to the capital 
invested is so criminally small that it should 
not stand for an hour — in the face of this so- 
ciological investigation which Mr. Stelzle and 
his associates have made. In the textile indus- 



tries — and that fairly represents all the other 
industries — the ratio of wages paid to capi- 
tal invested is 23.9 per cent.; a fair ratio; 
in the liquor business the ratio is 5.6 per 

It is not much that the laboring man gets out 
of the millions invested in alcohol. Small in- 
deed is the financial harm he would suffer were 
it taken away. 

What of the two billions the country spends 
a year in drink? 

Simply this: Were it spent for food and cloth- 
ing, it would give employment to nearly eight 
times as many workers, who would receive col- 
lectively five and a half times as much in 

So absurd is that threat of a “ labor panic.” 
In fact, the only workers who would be thrown 
out into a society in which there was no demand 
for their work would be the bona-fide brewers, 
maltsters, distillers and rectifiers, whose occu- 
pations are peculiar to the liquor industries; 
they would have to find new trades; but, in all, 
there are only fifteen thousand of them — and 
they could easily be fitted into a sober com- 

21 6 


One point more: the loss to the state of the 
tax in the making and selling of drink. 

“ All choice implies loss;” and over against 
this loss to the state there should be set the 
gain, which would come from the abolition of 
the crime, pauperism and insanity which is 
caused directly and indirectly by drink. In- 
deed, the loss in revenue, even were it one- 
third of the nation’s income — as in Russia — 
could be lightly borne by a nation that had 
regained the sober way of life. 

The saloon is an economic loss. There is 
no profit in alcohol for the laborer or for the 
state. The only profit goes to those who manu- 
facture it and dispense it — to them and their 
hangers-on, the Falstaff army of wasters and 
criminals, the vice-ridden and the morally im- 
potent. Nor is this evil profit a thing that may 
not be touched; neither law nor equity nor 
convention has drawn round it a magic circle 
of protection. The traffic in alcohol is inher- 
ently criminal. Every man who has engaged 
in the traffic has done so with the knowledge 
that the state has reserved the right to abolish 
it when and how it pleases. 

It is a maxim of law that impossibilities shall 



be required of no one; I am, therefore, under 
no obligation to convince the traffickers in drink 
of the dark fact that they are poisoning the 
springs of our national life. Of more impor- 
tance is the fact that the nation has been con- 
vinced and, by vote and enactment, seventy-one 
per cent, of the nation has recorded its convic- 
tion. But what I trust I have made clear, 
even to the brewer and distiller, to vendor and 
divekeeper, is that their threat of “ a national 
economic disaster” is an empty menace; and if, 
by any chance, the disaster does fall it will 
fall exactly where it should fall — on them alone. 




And this shall be a short chapter; for we 
have nearly reached the end of our little journey 
in the highways and byways of alcohol. 

The danger in studying a question so vital — 
a subject with such a surge and swing of emo- 
tion in it — is the tendency to become enthusi- 
astic and slop about. This is especially true 
when one’s concern is with the individual and 
not with the larger and colder aspects of na- 
tional reform. 

Civilization after all is a fight; and while 
this fight against alcohol is humanity’s fight, 
it is also — you know it bitterly — a battle for 
the life of many a man who is dear to you, 
of many a woman you love and for the life 
of the boy at your hearth; that is why the heart 
cries aloud in it. And thence come the wild 
emotionalism, the large, enveloping shallow- 




ness, which have confused and distorted the 
subject. All sorts of imaginative postulates 
have been set up. There has been strident and 
meaningless agitation against facts. You can 
understand the passionate anger of those who 
have been injured by drink; you can appreciate 
the sterner and more dangerous anger of the 
psychologist, the physiologist and the sociologist 
who have traced a major part of the nation's 
crime, insanity and degeneration to alcohol; but 
you find it difficult to study fair-mindedly the 
arguments brought forward by the apologists 
for drink. And, for my part, I admit that it is 
not easy to listen cold-bloodedly to the argu- 
ments of the viticulturists and the vendors of 
alcohol. Their skill in darkening facts — their 
shifty and greedy apologies for the traffic that 
brings them wealth — make for anger rather 
than acquiescence. 

And so, in discussing the alcohol question, 
the besetting danger is that of making a noise — 
of preaching and declaiming — instead of taking 
it as a matter for scientific research and for 
adjustment by scientific authority. 

I trust that in this little book I have gone 
round that peril. I am as convinced as you 



can be of the wild objectionableness of mere 
denunciation. Doubtless at one time it was 
necessary. Honor should be paid the men of 
days gone by — the men of to-day — who stormed 
against the evils of drink. Many of them 
were great men, stamped with the seal of fierce, 
swift and terrible eloquence. But their day has 
gone by. The emotional way of fighting drink 
is obsolete. 

The reason is that the hour of controversial 
issues is past. 

There is no longer any dispute as to the 
main and primary facts in the case against 

With a thoroughness of intellectual treatment, 
which none can gainsay, our masters in physi- 
ology, sociology and economics have pro- 
nounced judgment. 

The physiologist informs you that alcohol, 
even in the smallest quantity, is a poison, which 
begins its bad work of degeneration on the 
highest functional levels of the brain — which 
destroys its man from the top downwards. You 
have read what he has to say, for I have tried 
to make it both clear and emphatic. But let me 
add one fact. It will show you how even the 


22 1 

conservative medical men have broken away 
from an old habit of respect for alcohol as a 
“ drug.” Hitherto whisky, brandy and the 
like figured officially as “ drugs ” in the United 
States Pharmacopoeia, which is the authorita- 
tive list of medicinal preparations recognized 
by physicians. The list is now being revised 
and the committee in charge has voted to re- 
move from it whisky and brandy. Neither of 
them will be used in the future in making up 
medicines. The physicians, as you see, have 
lined up with modern science. 

The physiologist has declared against alco- 
hol; and the men of social science have found 
in alcohol the cause — the very causa causans 
— of the greater part of the nation’s pauper- 
ism, crime and degeneration. And lastly comes 
the economist, demonstrating that u the saloon 
represents an economic loss.” 

The case, you note, is tolerably complete. 

Modern science — always skeptical, always 
restrained in judgment — has investigated and 
pronounced: alcohol is a poison for the indi- 
vidual and for the state. It is a pest like any 
other, and should be fought as one fights a 
pest. In this pronouncement of science there 



is no weak and untrained vehemence; there is 
the cold and steely veracity of scientific state- 
ment. You cannot get away from it. It is 
plain as a rock — as a fact. What common 
sense saw long ago science has affirmed in words 

And the nation is awake to the truth. 

This is the immense implication of the local 
enactments against drink which are driving 
alcohol out of two-thirds of the territory of 
the United States. It means the nation has 
learned the truth about alcohol and that it is 
using the makeshift weapons it can lay hands 
on to fight it. The remedy is not a perfect one; 
so long as the Federal Government does not 
collaborate it will remain imperfect; but it 
implies that at last the people have broken 
the bad inertia of the habit which puts up 
with an evil because it cannot be wholly 

There is something almost pathetic in this 
struggle of a nation to free itself from alco- 
holism. You may study it from one end of 
the country to the other. Everywhere you see 
the Will-to-be-Sober asserting itself — oftenest in 
ways irrational and pathetically grotesque. One 


is to post up in public the names of those who 
drink too much for social quiet; another is to 
hold the drink-seller responsible for the pauper- 
ism and crime of his clients; while in a third 
state there has been built a “ dipping-vat ” 
for the ducking of drunkards; and there are 
many such grotesque attempts to palliate the 
evil done by drink. It is not by such make- 
shifts that a sober civilization will become pos- 
sible. They make only for sadness and deri- 

What, then, is the remedy — and I mean a 
remedy, possible of application, in the exist- 
ing stage of evolution? 

For mark this: Man is not perfected; he is 
something that is trying to be. The race is 
working itself out. It is going somewhere. 
And through war and plague and alcoholism 
evolution is working exactly as it is working 
in its interlocking atoms that whirl and quiver 
at the very heart of matter. In human nature 
it is working to make man more humane; it 
is striving to make a better race; and man’s 
first duty is to help on that evolution. But 
evolution does not advance by jumps. It goes 
forward by steps and degrees. You cannot 


expect to get any remedy that will safeguard 
the individual against alcoholism or sweep it 
out of the state. That is what should be done; 
that is the ideal end; and it is what science 
declares must in the end be done. To-day any 
practicable remedy must fit the times; it must 
be in harmony with our stage of national and 
individual evolution. I have shown you what 
therapeutic and psychologic way there is of re- 
generating the individual victim of drink, 
whether he be the conspicuous spree-victim or 
that masked victim who fancies he can drink 
and be sober. 

And now comes the question: What can the 
state do to alcohol? 

You have seen how Russia, quietly and in 
time of peace, took over the entire manufacture 
and sale of alcohol, so that when the time of 
crisis came she could strangle it with her auto- 
cratic hands. There is a lesson there. State 
prohibition is a step on the right road; local 
option is admirable; but one and the other are 
defective so long as the Federal Government 
refuses its collaboration. Only the power at 
the top can fight so big an evil. A federal mo- 
nopoly of the manufacture and sale of alcohol 


is the certain remedy for the worst evils of the 
whole, bad business. It would insure against 
the awful adulteration which is to-day uni- 
versal; it would shut up every public drinking 
place — for it should dispense alcohol only in 
sealed packages a qui le droit; and when the 
hour struck — when public opinion got itself 
heard in the houses of congress — it would close 
its hand and throttle the entire iniquitous trade. 
It could destroy this gift-quelle of a nation’s 
degradation with one gesture and one act. That 
is an ultimate ideal. I do not say that gov- 
ernment control of the making and selling of 
alcohol would stop (as one stops a train) the 
evil of alcoholism. There are forged bank- 
notes and false coins abroad in spite of the 
fact that the government issues the money of 
the land. There would still be fraudulent 
liquor and furtive alcoholism; but the ban 
would be on them and the law could act. It 
would not stop the sale and the drinking of 
alcohol, you say; no, it would not stop it; but 
it would make it more difficult for the drinker 
to get drunk — a distinct gain. Moreover, to a 
great extent, it would prevent the making of 
drunkards. There would be sporadic drunk- 



ards — whereof the alienist has spoken and for 
whom the asylum waits — even as there are 
sporadic murderers; but the state would not 
be in the dreadful business of making them. 
Its object would be to guard this poison and 
keep it from the race. What the alcohol indus- 
try is doing to-day is precisely the opposite. 
Like every other industry it is tempted by profit 
to produce more and more; and so it must force 
it into reluctant markets at home and abroad. 
While it sends cargoes of rum to Africa, it 
forces on the sale at home by every hypnotic 
suggestion of advertisement — by every pre- 
tense of health-making and food-value — 
by every temptation it can invent from 
the music of the tavern to the dance of the 

Where the devil can’t go himself he sends 
a woman. 

Where the distiller and brewer could not sell 
his poison unaided he called in the poor, 
painted, unhappy girls of the night to brisken 
up his trade. He has produced such torrents of 
drink that he cannot get it sold in normal ways 
of supply and demand; so he has called to his 
aid the lie that looks like an advertisement 



and the dreadful collaboration of sinful women. 
He has taken vice into partnership. This is his 
way of forcing drink on a nation that would 
fain be sober. Now all this wretched business 
of temptation would be halted were the gov- 
ernment to take over alcohol — as France has 
taken tobacco. Such a system would not take 
away man’s liberty (of which the brewers are 
so jealous), but it would put an end to the 
present method of coaxing, forcing and dra- 
gooning him into vice. It would indeed give 
man back his liberty — his essential right to 
stand for freedom of mind and body. It would 
in an hour destroy the drink-compelling en- 
vironment which the brewers and distillers 
have created in their dives and brothels, in 
their cabarets and dance-halls, in their bar- 
rooms of gilt and glass. 

I say that state control is only a stage on 
the road to a nation’s regeneration; but it is 
an etape that has to be gone through, if one 
may take example from other nations which are 
at almost the same degree of national evolution. 
Once the state has got the traffic out of the 
hands of the conscienceless traffickers who hold 
it now, a sterner reformation can begin. It 



can stop at once the poisonous adulteration on 
which the distillers and brewers found their 
profits. It can strip the drinking place of its 
infamous vice appeal. It can hold the evil 
down until such time as the voice of the nation 
can make itself heard over the clamor of the 
interests that fatten on drink — and over the 
oratory of the corrupt and purchased poli- 

A step on the road: I do not say I am 
against any method of fighting alcohol in the 
nation; I do not say I am against any of the 
devised forms of prohibition and abolition for 
which earnest men are striving; I distinctly 
say I am for them all — for any way of destroy- 
ing the pandemic plague of alcoholism; but 
the first necessary step is to give the govern- 
ment (which is, or should be, and may be the 
people) full control. It is a method which has 
been tried; and more than any other it has 
succeeded. It offers the fairest hope and the 
greatest certainty. 

Why should the government issue a license 
to any man to make or sell alcohol? 

If the government is to issue any license, 
it should be a license to the individual who has 



proved that he can safely drink his alcohol — 
and that revocable license should be issued to him 
only so long as he is at the safety point. When 
he can no longer drink and be sober — this side 
of social injury — the license should be with- 
drawn. Thus, his cherished liberty to poison 
himself would be in his own custody. He 
would forfeit it only when his progressive de- 
generation had made him obnoxious to family, 
friends, enemies and the community. 

The drink question is a national question; 
it is a question of the nation’s health — of its 
welfare and of its life. And the nation should 
settle it. Not here and there; not in scat- 
tered efforts toward local abatement of the evil; 
the remedy should be national; the state should 
take the whole bad business into its hands 
that it may — when the hour strikes — stran- 
gle it. 

An hour that has not yet risen over our 
dark intellectual horizon? 

The dawn is nearer, I think, than you fancy. 
The public mind is angrily awake. New la- 
borers are going forth to a new seed-time, 
whereof the harvest shall yet be. 

And then — just a moment — who is the worst 



enemy of the immediacy of this reform, for 
which you and I are looking so largely? 

Believe me, he is the man for whom this 
little book is written; he is not the rowdy 
drunkard, already marked with the plain stig- 
mata of alcoholic dissolution; he is, rather, 
that smiling, dangerous man who can drink and 
be sober, thank Heaven! and who, checking 
alcoholic degeneration in himself, passes on a 
deadlier degeneration to his daughters and his 
sons. He is in the forefront for all the argu- 
ments for drink. And proudly he poses there 
and does not see the ignominy of his posi- 

How should he see? 

Already he is poisoned atop; morally he is 
blind-drunk. And mentally he is darkening 
into irrationality. 

Dear man, you can drink and be sober on 
the physical level, but you cannot drink and 
be good and you cannot drink and be wise. 

When I had written this sentence Oliver 
Herford leaned over my shoulder and read it. 

“ I see what you mean,” he said, “ even the 
man who drinks soberly is a fool.” 



“ To an extent — he is mentally impaired.” 

“ You shouldn’t be too hard on him,” said 
Mr. Herford, “ when he puts an enemy into 
his mouth to steal away his brains, it is s only 
a petty larceny he is guilty of, anyway.” 

A thought I leave with you.