Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/August 1899/Recent Legislation Against the Drink Evil I
|RECENT LEGISLATION AGAINST THE DRINK EVIL.|
FIVE years ago it was sought in these pages to discover the cause or causes of the total failure in the United States of prohibitive legislation.
Our conclusion, so far as a conclusion could be said to have been reached, was that the failure lay in the misapplication of ways to means, rather than of means to ends—namely, that an attempt to abolish the crime (or misdemeanor) of drunkenness by punishing, not the criminal, but the community in which he committed the crime, and to prevent law-breaking by legislating out of existence the neutral instrument which happened to form the particular temptation to the particular law-breaker (or with which he found it convenient to commit the crime), was quite too logical to be practicable; as, for instance, laws abolishing the use of spoons, as so many temptations to housebreakers; or of railways, because trespassers on railway tracks were often killed; or steamboats, because steamboat boilers sometimes burst, would be quite too logical for public convenience. Whence it followed that there was no demand for prohibitive liquor laws, and therefore only failure had resulted from attempting to enforce them.
In the five years since that paper was printed almost every one of the United States (in fact, all, with but one exception) have recognized such failure and striven to so recast each its statutes as to plant the responsibility for breach of public order upon the real offender without hardship to the law-abiding classes. The results of these attempts have evolved many novel and unusual contrivances and much curious operation of statutory and statistical wisdom, and some remarkable propositions—so much so that it is believed that an effort to digest them (not by States, but by the principles, or rather by the remedies, attempted) will be interesting consideration for readers of the Popular Science Monthly. If the following summary shall develop two apparent paradoxes—first, that the fewer the places where liquor is sold the larger the consumption of liquor; and, second, that the larger the consumption of liquor the less drunkenness—the present writer can only submit that these paradoxes are not his own, but seem to arise from the official statistics submitted under the oaths of the authorities commissioned to collect them, as hereinafter will more fully appear:
Of the forty-nine States and Territories in the United States, the solitary exception above noted is the State of Maine. With a heroism that is actual of self-interest and convenience, the State of Maine has clung with imperious tenacity to her policy of absolute prohibition, and to the logic of the report of her citizen, who, sixty-three years ago, carried her first prohibition law through her Legislature. Said that report: "The objection will doubtless be made that had we such a law it could not be enforced. Now, admit the validity of this objection, and it proves the utter hopelessness of the case; for no one, we presume, will venture the supposition that you can accomplish, against law, that which you could not effect with it."
Admitting, as all the world does admit, that the abolition of drunkenness is desirable, against such pitiless, such iron, logic as this, there is no appeal, and from it there is no escape even to-day. But the trouble was, and is, that it is placing an entire Commonwealth in time of peace under martial law. It was in the fitness of things that General Appleton, a soldier, who had seen intoxication in a form most likely to impress him with dangers to the public—i.e., in soldiers to whom the safety of the State in time of war was intrusted—should have brought in the first prohibition law on record; and that, in the teeth of more than two generations of failure, the sovereign State of Maine should have adhered to his martial logic, with the loss of her commerce and the reduction of her census, is a tribute to both the logic of a soldier or the self-insistence of the State which must compel admiration! In sixty-three years Maine has seen her commerce disappear and her population dwindle. She has seen not only her contemporary sister States, but those admitted yesterday and the day before, pass her in affluence and prosperity. But the only remedy for her failure she will listen to the suggestion of is an severity of prohibition statutes and an increased crucifixion of her law-abiding citizens, lest one of her own or a single stranger within her gates should obtain a glass of alcoholic compound within her borders.
But, cling as the State of Maine may to the fierce logic of prohibition, it appears that her forty-eight sisters have found its unappealable rigor too rigid, and have modulated it in the divers ways now to be considered.
In these remaining forty-eight States and Territories of the Union the statistics regulating liquor seem to divide themselves, as to the remedies attempted, into ten heads, as follows:
I. Abolish all liquor laws except those for revenue.
IV. Government control of all warehousing and sales.
V. Regulation of hours for retailing liquors.
VI. Refusal of employment to drinkers. Change of pay-day.
VII. Personal damage law.
VIII. Encourage the use of light wines and beers; remove all duties or imposts on food products; quality inspection.
IX. High revenue—national, interstate, or State.
X. Local option.
For No. I, pure and simple, we have but a single report, perhaps (as of a frontier State) not exemplary, or safe to guide the more interior States, but given exactly for what it may be worth. The Governor of Montana (a State which boasts the bad eminence of having proportionately more liquor-sellers paying license fees than any other State in the Union—having, in fact, one licensed liquor-seller to every fifty-five inhabitants) reports as follows:
"Saloons are run wide open night and day; while there is a great deal of drinking there is very little drunkenness, and one in an intoxicated condition is promptly arrested and fined." One other State, however (Louisiana), has the continental idea that liquor laws are for "revenue only." Louisiana, therefore, has an elaborate excise, guiltless of any suggestion of reformative objects. So far as her statistics go, she is the most temperate State in the Union.
II. Example.—This may be called the apostolic cure—the one laid down by the apostle St. Paul (I Corinthians, viii, 13)—though we find a prominent English ecclesiastic, Dean Hole, on being asked if he was not aware that people ought to abstain for the sake of their example to others, replied: "I have never seen any one converted by example. I have often challenged teetotalers to produce Mr. Jones converted by the example of Mr. Brown, but I am waiting for him. I don't see why I should make a fool of myself because others do." I should not deal with the matter quite so summarily myself. Doubtless the example of a thrifty, wholesome, prosperous laborer, if left (without exhortation or impertinence of third parties) to work upon his dram-drinking, wretched neighbor, might have its laudable effect: such example not being deprived in advance of its value by the fetters of a written pledge which a man's personal pride might force him to ostentatiously observe—or if the exemplary person does not get his living by denouncing liquor—or by the coercion of a Ladies' Temperance Union! But as the person converted by the example would be certain not to parade the fact, no statistics could even then be attainable. The case or cases, if genuine, would be hidden in the consciences of the converts and beyond any marshaling in figures. All we can do is to hope and trust that our good examples may prevail, and that, like the apostle St. Paul (whom our British ecclesiastic begs to differ with), there may be some among us strong enough physically as well as spiritually to say, "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth."
These considerations have not, however, deterred certain States from ingrafting example upon the statute-book, as nearly as it could be made a subject of legislation, by enacting that there shall be held before the eye of the possible drinker the spectacle of his neighbors drinking rum: trusting, doubtless, to the rum itself to work a condition in the drinker to afford the example required, and so add to the unestimated but hoped-for good example to bad example at hand. Three States—i.e., Indiana, Michigan, and Utah—and the city of Atlanta, Georgia, by municipal ordinance, provide that the premises on which liquor is retailed by drinks shall have no screen or other obstruction before its windows, so that passers-by may see the drinking which goes on therein and its horrible accompanying circumstances. The reports from these States, however, are not such as to commend this policy of example to universal acceptance.
III. Education.—"Within the past four years several States—"Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Nevada—have enacted statutes providing that pupils in the public schools should be particularly instructed in so much at least of the science of toxicology as relates to the uses and abuses of alcohol, and of its effect upon the human system. Such instruction, if honestly imparted by capable teachers and by honest text-books, can not fail to be of the highest value. Capable teachers and honest text-books could not possibly teach, for example, that alcoholic liquors were an unmixed evil, could not deny their medicinal value, or their stimulative aid in fortifying against disease or exposure, or in supplying the waste of age; could not teach (as I gave instances fanatical teachings) that it were better to die for the need of a glass of whisky than to have one's life saved by the use of it, or that the use of liquor "destroys both body and soul" (in the teeth of the facts that only the most flagrant and protracted abuse of liquor ever, and that after a long term of years, destroyed a human body, and that statistics as to the soul are not attainable). Much is to be hoped for under this benign instruction. It is not possible that our youth will not miss to acquire much important information, such as that "wine is a good servant if well used"; that total abstinence is a regimen only to be pursued by advice of a physician; that the vast majority of human beings can and do partake moderately of alcoholic liquors, not only without injurious consequences, but with positive benefit; and that, as it is a source of much enjoyment, and much discomfort often springs from its discontinuance, it is difficult to say why such use should be discontinued under ordinary circumstances. Our youth will learn, too, that there are many nations that thrive without alcoholic drinks—nations, for example, professing the Mohammedan faith, to whom alcohol is forbidden by their religion; but that among them the use of stronger narcotics, such as opium and Indian hemp, is extremely common, and the exchange from alcohol to these narcotics can hardly be looked upon as a gain. The result of this State instruction may be confidently looked for, and can not possibly do harm. It is too early as yet to procure data for discussion of the amount of good accomplished by this legislation. We must wait until the adolescent pupil has grown to man's estate, to middle age, until his mortal change, and search his record, and the record of the family he leaves behind him, for the benefits of the paternal legislation. In short, it is exceedingly doubtful if data upon this subject, in the nineteenth century at least, will ever be collected at all. It is noticeable, however, that in the States' scheme of education the peripatetic temperance lecturer, with his lurid colored charts of the human stomach in the horrors of suffering from what he calls "the flowin' bowl," have no place, and no salary is provided for such "university extension" processes. A suggestion lately made in these pages that temperance lecturers as well as liquor dealers being obliged to take out licenses (at least as caterers to the public amusement) is conspicuous by its absence from the educational plan.
IV. Government Control of Traffic.—The idea of a government monopoly in liquor is from continental Europe, and, like most ideas from that source, is paternal and monarchical pure and simple. The idea reached perfection in what is known as the Gothenburg system, which, attracting considerable attention from students of the liquor problem, was introduced into the statutes of Georgia, where after a brief trial it was discarded. The State of South Carolina, however, adopted its principal features, calling it the "dispensary system," and is still maintaining it.
The story of the Gothenburg system is as follows: Since the days of Gustavus Adolphus III there had existed in Sweden and Norway a policy making the distillation of a liquor called bränxin, or brandy, a right running with the ownership of land first, afterward with a tenancy of land, and ultimately a right secured to tavern-keepers. This brandy being distilled from grain or potatoes, and containing about fifty per cent of alcohol, was cheap, and in consequence of the poor food supply grew into universal use, until not only men and women but very young children drank it. Drunkenness became the rule, and pauperism and crime prevailed in startling proportions, outrunning the range of either charity or police to control them. In this state of affairs a Dr. Wisselgren, Dean of Gothenburg, a Swedish city, arose, and from his exertions grew the famous Gothenburg system.
Stripped of detail, this system provides that stock companies called brandy companies shall receive from the crown a monopoly of liquor sales, on condition of maintaining eating houses, reading rooms, lodgings, and other conveniences for the community, and out of surplus profits contribute to the police, the poor, and the educational, funds of the community. The companies shall be under inspection of the royal governor, with no appeal from his discretion, and also under inspection of officers of the three funds entitled to the surplus profits. The companies must close their places of sale on Sundays, can sell only to persons over eighteen years of age, and in the rooms devoted to drinking alone there must be no chairs or settees. After drinking, the purchaser must depart. Such rooms must not be in communication directly with the eating and lodging rooms. In these latter cleanliness and cheapness must prevail, but the company may raise the price and dilute the strength of the brandy sold.
With much amendment and revision, this system appears to be to-day substantially in effect, with what good results opinions differ. It was speedily rejected after brief trial in Georgia for a high-license system pure and simple. In South Carolina its introduction from Georgia provoked riot and even bloodshed on account of the right of search which it involved. The main feature is, of course, that the State becomes the real buyer, jobber, and retailer of all ardent spirits. Here it has been found difficult of complete administration, and, unless its success should be more distinguished than at present, it probably is but a short-lived expedient.
V. Regulation or Hours of Sale.—All the liquor-licensing States and Territories regulate the hours of opening and closing drinking places. They all agree in closing them during the small hours (that is, from midnight or one o'clock a. m. until about sunrise or an hour after). It is difficult to all what effect for good or ill these statutes can have upon either the decrease of drunkenness or the increase of revenue. Doubtless they are convenient for the public force of cities or the constabulary of the smaller towns, so that they may know when to be prepared for possible breaking of the public peace. But in no State, so far as we can discover, are they applied to Sunday, the day when, in large cities especially, and in the heated season, the inconvenience of hermetically closed ale and beer houses is most exasperating to the wayfarer, and intolerable and even (from a sanitary standpoint) dangerous to the wage-earning and poorer classes, packed in torrid and fetid tenements on the figment of a danger of "disturbing a public worship" (I say "figment" because no instance of a disturbance of public worship by the sale of liquor can be found in the history of this planet). Why in torrid weather the worthy poor man and his family who can not afford ice-boxes can not quench a natural and normal thirst, and so avoid contracting disease by drinking stale and impure water in the superheated apartments of city tenement houses where an average of three families to a window pane has been said to be the rule, I for one have never been able to comprehend. A good Sunday law, as in London, not allowing but compelling the opening of beer houses on certain hours on Sundays, would be a most desirable thing, especially in our great cities. The fact, too, that at present the streets of our American cities are woefully lacking in other sanitary conveniences, which are only supplied meagerly by an occasional drinking place, would appear an additional reason why a Sunday-opening law would be quite as convenient and quite as welcome as a Sunday-closing law. Such a law would have the effect of at least meeting public convenience, and might well be substituted for the present ridiculous closing laws. Into what legislative intellect it ever first entered to conceive that the cause of temperance would be assisted by closing liquor saloons seven hours out of the twenty-four (and those seven the hours when all Nature, drunk or sober, is asleep) it passes imagination to conjecture. Most Legislatures have followed the first one, however, and enacted such provisions.
VI. Refusal of Employment to Persons known to be Habitual Users of Liquor.—In two States—viz., New York and Ohio—clauses have been introduced forbidding the employment by railways and other common carriers of passengers, of persons known to be addicted to the use of intoxicants. In the latter State the common carrier must be notified that such person has been known to be intoxicated while in said carrier's "active" employment, in order to bind the carrier with knowledge. Such a provision as this may be criticised as the Czar of Russia's proposition for a universal disarmament is likely to be criticised—as admirable and millennial, but of no value if gradually adopted, and impossible of instant adoption. No public industry, not even the liquor industry, could cease and disappear in a day without throwing tens of thousands of wage-earners out of employment, and it would be hardship indeed if the family of the drinking man, the toiling wife, scheming to save a morsel of the weekly wages from the dram shop, should be forced to accept the alternative of no wages at all. The suggestion presents, again, a maze of presumption from which, once entered into, no practical exit would present itself. Supposing that no skilled laborer, no finisher, no engineer, no oiler, no fireman, etc., could be found who was a total abstainer for any one factory or railway service, let alone a hundred or a hundred thousand cases? Clearly this discussion could only be pursued as a curiosity (or, say, a fascinating speculation as to the effects of an industrial chaos). The first item in the recipe for making hare stew was to catch your hare. To run our commerce with totally abstaining employees we must find our totally abstaining employees. To pause to create them would bring commerce, and with it society, including the churches, the schools, and the Temperance Unions themselves, to a standstill like that of Joshua's moon in Ajalon! In connection with this employment question, however, a practical suggestion has been made. It is suggested that, as Saturday night is the workman's "night off" and the ensuing Sunday is his holiday, it might work well to make the weekly pay-day of a Monday instead of a Saturday. The experiment is worth a trial. The change could be made abruptly, and the bad half an hour to the workman would occur but once. Let him be handed his wages some Monday morning when the Saturday night's spree and the long Sunday's headache had been novel and conspicuous omissions. The necessity of good shape for Tuesday's stint would prevent a Monday night at the bar room, and the probability is that the wife and family might realize a substantial instead of a marginal proportion of the weekly wage. At any rate, compared with some of the suggestions made for remedying the drink evil, this is superbly sensible. Indeed, one who has not had occasion to examine these matters can have little idea of the absurdity to which otherwise perfectly sane persons will go in combating an evil with which they are very properly impressed, but to the consequences of an abrupt removal of which it has not occurred to them to pay any attention whatever; for example, the seriously proposed law against "treating"—that is, against inviting a friend to "take a drink" with him. Granted that the tippling habit is encouraged by the social instinct, and that the great peril of drunkenness comes (as an old New England farmer expressed it) "not from drinkin', but from drinkin' agin," a law to prevent treating, like a law forbidding a man from inviting his neighbor home to dinner, or his wife inviting the other man's wife over to luncheon, would be obliged to first find its lawgiver. But gentlemen who solve the liquor question are not apt to be particular to find a jurisdiction and a source for the laws they propose. It is interesting to note that in one State (Nevada) an anti-treating law was once actually passed, but repealed, "having proved impracticable" (at least, that is the official record of the reason for its repeal, no particulars being given).
VII. The Personal Damage Law—that is, the holding of a seller of liquor to a person known to be dangerous when in drink responsible for damage caused by his intoxication. This principle has now become ingrafted in the laws of seventeen of the United States, sometimes coupled with high license and local option and sometimes not. It is really only an application of the principle of the common law that a man must so use his own as not to injure his neighbor; that communities had the same right to hold a supplier of intoxicants to a violent drinker as a criminal as it had to punish the keeper of a dangerous beast (of a biting dog, for example, knowing it to be such—i.e., if the animal has once bitten a human being or killed a domestic animal kept for revenue, as a cow or a sheep). This civil damage law has been made statutory in many ways. In Ohio the seller is held indefinitely for the "expenses of any one who takes charge of the intoxicated person" after notice to the seller not to sell to that person. In Michigan the damages may be exemplary. In Vermont, if the drunkard is imprisoned the seller must pay two dollars per day to his wife or minor children in addition to suffering an imprisonment. In New Hampshire and Nebraska, and in several other States, a person arrested for drunkenness is given his liberty if he will disclose the name of the person who sold him the liquor on which he became intoxicated. In most of the other States (as in New York) the damages are not limited except by the facts of such case. In New York, too, the preliminary notice is insisted on. In other States (as Idaho) the seller's damage is the loss of his license, if notice not to sell has been properly served upon him. In Arkansas the liquor seller as a condition of his license must give a bond to pay all damages awarded. In Nebraska the seller must give a bond to support all widows and orphans, and pay all legal expenses of prosecution as well as all damage resulting from any intoxication induced by or traceable to his sales.
VIII. Encourage the Use of Light Wines and Beers.—The suggestion has often been made that this would undoubtedly solve at one swoop a respectable proportion of the problem. The practical difficulty would be to institute the reform in any but the cities and larger towns. Everybody has remarked that, to see the true and distinguished squalor of drunkenness, one must seek the villages, sparsely settled communities, the rural districts whence come the "come-ons," the willing victims of the green-goods men, anxious to cheat their Government (and so, one might say, at least a shade less estimable than the sharper who only proposes to cheat a fellow-citizen). It seems to me that the reason for this difference lies distinctly in the fact that the countryman, who will gratify his appetite for drink, has no choice but the concoction of ardent spirits, high wines, or whatever it is which the local publican sets before him. To him the word "wine" suggests a luxury beyond his venture or his purse. And so for the price at which, in a large city, he could obtain half a bottle, or even a bottle, of wholesome red wine, the consumption of which at a settling would do no possible harm, he throws into his stomach a glass of biting poison, and, horrible to relate, another and another; whereas the whole bottle, or at least the half bottle, probably shared with a neighbor, would have satisfied his craving without ruining his digestion or stealing away his brains. This clause of our discussion runs largely into our IX. But meanwhile here are some figures which may startle prohibitionists as completely as did the figures given in these pages four years ago, which went to prove that habitual drunkards lived longer than total abstainers. (These figures have been strenuously denied in declamation and denouncement. I have yet to learn that any attempt has been made by industry in collection of counter-figures to demonstrate their fallacy.) But here are certain other figures: It appears by the official report of Dr. Nagle to the Health Department of the city of New York for the first thirty-one weeks of the year 1893 (the city then prior to the consolidation or to the present "Raines" law) that in the community (as it then was of 1,765,645 inhabitants) out of 29,080 deaths only twenty-nine were directly traceable to the use of liquor. And this in a community where 10,749 liquor saloons were in operation from sunrise to midnight daily, not to mention the use of wines and liquors in hundreds of hotels and clubs and of wines and malt liquors on tens of thousands of private tables. These figures are startling, and read quite as extravagantly as those quite to the reverse conclusion with which the prohibitionists are wont to appall us. But they are from the official sources, and, unlike the awful figures which show a larger mortality from the use of liquor alone than the mortality from all known causes (liquor included), can be verified by taking the trouble to consult the files of the (New York) City Record. As for the part which drinking wine has to do with this official summary, I may mention the difficulty of approximating to the sales of what may be properly called "light wines." But I have been able to ascertain (as some indication of it, perhaps) that in the fifty-two weeks of this same year (1893) there were consumed in the same city 265,414 cases of champagne! So it would appear that even champagne is a mitigant, rather than an aggravator, of at least the public horrors of drunkenness.
I am not unconscious of the fluent answer to these figures. It will be of course urged by the prohibitionist that they only show deaths the "direct" cause of dram-drinking. But such answer is correspondingly unsafe. For, since death, albeit normal to us all comes from some cause (notably from old age, for example), a better formula would be that, since many deaths are caused by old age, and as old age is caused by living too long, we should be careful not to live too long. Hence, as life is prolonged by eating, as well as shortened by drinking (granting that contention), to abstain from the use of food is the only course of wisdom!
This encouragement to the drinking of light wines has, so far, only positively found its way into the statute-books of the one essentially wine-growing State, California, though in other States it has made its limited appearance. Nor does there seem to be any reason why every State should not include in its laws such a provision, for example, as that of Oregon (certainly not known as per se a "wine-growing State" at present), which provides that "owners of vineyards may sell their products without license"; or of Utah, which, however, adds to a similar provision that the sale must be in quantities not less than five gallons. Even Kansas provides that wine or cider, grown by the maker for his own use or to be sold for communion purposes, is not within the prohibitions. However, as in most of the States, the price of a license to sell only wines, or wines and beers, is less than the price of a license to sell ardent spirits, it may fairly be said that an encouragement to drinking wines in preference to distilled liquors has become parcel of the public policy in most communities. In Georgia the sellers of wines who are also manufacturers thereof are exempted from paying any license. The State of Michigan is justly proud of its Dairy and Food Commission, which provides for the examination and secures the purity not only of fruits, butter, milk, cheese, but of buckwheat flour, jellies, canned goods, lard, vinegar, coffee, sirups and molasses, chocolate, cocoanuts, powder, flavoring extracts, mustard, and other spices. And this same law (elsewhere considered as to adulteration of liquors) seems to encourage light wines by a distinct provision that "the blending of liquors will be permitted if spirits or other ingredients are not added." In Rhode Island, if manufactured from fruit or grain grown in the State, no license is required for the manufacture of cider, wine, or malt liquors; and (with a thrift not uncharacteristic) alcohol, while subject to a heavy license for home consumption, may be produced for exportation without any license at all.
IX. Remove all Duties, Taxes, Imposts, or Burdens of any Sort on Food Products, Serials, or Meats, in order that the food supply may be unfailing everywhere.
Ten years ago the Hon. Edwin Reed, of Boston, Massachusetts, published a pamphlet in which he had the courage to say that, if a man were well fed, liquor could have no terrors for him. "Take care of the eating and the drinking will take care of itself." Repeal all laws that in any degree and on any pretext tend to enhance the market prices, was Mr. Reed's thesis, and he nailed it boldly to the Massachusetts State-House door! Mr. Reed proceeded with figures to remind us that the countries where drunkenness existed to the most alarming degrees were those countries where the masses of the people eat the least, see meat perhaps once or twice a year, and perhaps never; where the year's labor barely suffices to pay the year's taxes!—in Italy, Russia, or Sweden, and parts of Germany, for example, where life is a struggle for bread enough to keep life in the body. The figures Mr. Reed gives are too appalling for an Anglo-Saxon to read calmly. "If Russia," says Mr. Reed, "could reduce her infant mortality to that of Great Britain she would save annually a million of lives. Half the Russian mothers can not nurse their children. The whip and spur of poverty drives them to labor in the fields, where they follow the plow three days after confinement, and where the death rate is forty-eight per thousand.… In France many a factory hand lives on a slice of sour bread for a meal, over which he is fortunate if he can rub an onion to give it flavor.… In Italy, where taxes are imposed to twenty-five per cent of the laborer's income, the average length of life is twenty-seven years, and the whole kingdom is mortgaged to an average of seventeen per cent." In Würtemberg Mr. Reed assures us that "in this garden of Germany the peasant lives on black bread and potatoes with meat only once a year." And even in England Mr. Reed (quoting his authority) declares that the collier breakfasts on bread soaked in hot water and flavored with onion, dines on bread and hard cheese, with sour, thin cider, and sups on potatoes or cabbage greased with a bit of bacon rind. And precisely the identical testimony, varying only the staples of starvation, comes from Switzerland, Poland, and other countries. Now, all this requires something, and that something usually takes the form of something alcoholic. Poor Edgar Allan Poe produced his fascinating prose and marvelous poetry on dinners of herbs, and the well-fed, fat, greasy Honey-thunders and Podsnaps recognize the crime, not in the fact that such a man was left to eat such dinners, but that he took a glass of whisky to keep the life in his poor unnourished body while he wrote. Therefore Mr. Reed would make food as plentiful as Nature has enabled man to make it. In other words, a condition of unfedness requires the human system to crave alcoholic stimulants, and what the human system craves it must find, since the craving becomes functional, and impossible to disregard, malgre laws, systems, or statutes whatsoever. Even the children in Switzerland, says Dr. Schuler (quoted by Mr. Reed), are fed whisky between meals in order to sustain their tiny lives, the low regimen of whose mothers has given them the frailest possible hold on life to live at all. Mr. Reed believes also that, on public grounds, other effort for amelioration should be made by the State, such as shorter hours of labor, two holidays a week, etc. But as to these we will not follow him here. He makes his point, however, and his pamphlet is worth the consideration of philanthropists. It can not be denied that, with the exception of the shorter hours for labor and the general tendency to increase the number of holidays ("Labor Day," Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Lincoln Day, etc.), much of Mr. Reed's theories have got into our statute-books. And the general tendency to ameliorate the condition of the laborer, which is everywhere apparent in the United States, may fairly be alluded to here as among statutory efforts to the universal betterment.
[To be concluded.]
- The Popular Science Monthly for February, 1894.
- Report of General James Appleton to the Legislature of Maine, July 15, 1837.
- General Appleton was commander of the First Brigade of the Second Division of Massachusetts infantry in the War of 1812-1815, his resignation dating 1828.
- Perhaps for convenience of reference the figures heretofore found so startling may be repeated. Of 4,234 deaths collected by the British Medical Association, divided for reference into five classes—namely: a, total abstainers; b, habitually temperate; c, careless drinkers; d, free drinkers; e, habitual drunkards—the ages of death of those in each class were registered, together with the causes of death; and the average of death for each class computed with the following result:
Total abstainers lived on an average 51.22 years; Habitually temperate lived on an average 62.13 " Careless drinkers lived on an average, 69.67 " Free drinkers lived on an average 57.59 " Habitual drunkards lived on an average 52.03 "
To cancel such a statement as this, some industry is required on the other side; at least a collection of 4,234 other cases. Anybody can say that a laboriously tabulated statement is false. But it requires patience to demonstrate it.
- A New View of the Temperance Question. By Edwin Reed, Boston, 1889.