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It has been shown that the army would be benefited by the restoration of the canteen and it has been made apparent that the service has been affected to its detriment by the absence of the canteen.”
OUR ARMY'S SHAMEFUL RECord.
Hon. Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, has added his testimony to all that has preceded his administration, respecting the influence of the anti-canteen law on the American army. In brief, it is that the law, instead of making soldiers more orderly, has precisely the opposite effect.
His attitude presents the extreme opposite of that maintained by the advocates of the anti-canteen system. They have succeeded in preventing the soldiers from establishing their own “club houses” or canteens; and the result, which has been placed before the American people again and again, is given by the Secretary of War in this language: “Anti-canteen legislation has been responsible for much vice;" also forty-nine of the mobile army posts are "adjoined by dives and ill resorts of the vilest character.”
These conditions, the Secretary believes, are the ultimate causes "which make the record of our army in this respect shameful beyond that of the army of any civilized nation.”
Commenting upon the Secretary's report the Springfield Union says: "If the abolishment of the canteen had served to eliminate drunkenness among the enlisted men, as its advocates fondly hoped it would, too much could not be said in commendation of that course. On the contrary, however, its effect has been to drive the soldiers from a moderate indulgence in light beers to heavy dissipation in the cheapest and vilest forms of liquor sold in the dens and dives that have sprung up around military posts since the canteen was abolished, and to expose them to many other forms of vice that have had a demoralizing effect on the army. A fact that must be recognized is that a large number of the enlisted men do and will drink, and there is no way to prevent them, and the aim should be to regulate their drinking so far as possible that it may do the least harm to themselves and to the discipline and health of the army."...
The canteen controversy has been enlarged by the evidence of Brigadier-General Clarence R. Edwards and Surgeon-General G. H. Torney. General Edwards, speaking at the army conference recently held at Washington, said that the cocaine habit is rapidly
sapping the manhood and efficiency of the rank and file of the United States Army, and Surgeon-General Torney, speaking from the medical point of view, confirmed this sinister opinion. The cocaine habit, said both these experts, was acquired in the dives that have grown up like fungi around the army posts since the abolition of the orderly and supervised canteen. The owners of these dives are in the habit of giving an added horror to their liquid poisons by a drug still more insidious and still more fatal.
It is just as well that there should be a repetition of plain speech on this matter, observes the San Francisco Argonaut, although neither speech nor reason was ever yet known to be effective against stupidity and bigotry. The ban against the canteen was imposed by the influence of women. It is still defended and maintained by the same influence and in defiance of expert testimony overwhelming in its mass and unimpeachable in its veracity. The abolition of the canteen has been followed by a degradation that can be decorously described in some of its aspects, but that has still other features that can be adequately dealt with only in the medical text-book. Now the women who procured this disastrous "reform" have two alternatives before them. Either they can admit a mistake and so prove the reality of their benevolence for the soldier, or they can accept an inevitable verdict that an indignant public is already prepared to pass. The verdict will be to the effect that the sobriety, the health and the chastity of the enlisted men of the country have in a distinct measure been destroyed by the organized efforts of women reformers.
RESTORE THE CANTEEN.
Says the New York World:
"The resolution before the New York Legislature calling upon Congress to restore the army canteen embodies a legitimate concern of the State. Through the canteen, soldiers at the regular army posts were sold beer and light wines and provided with a social centre under official supervision. It was abolished in the name of temperance, and an intemperance unknown before has resulted. Its abolition was to promote morality in army life, and an immorality greater than that known in any other army has resulted from driving the soldiers for diversion into the dives which have been substituted outside the posts. Seldom has fanaticism in a good cause so over-reached and undone itself as in this case. Let us
have the help of Gov. Sulzer and the Legislature in restoring the army canteen.
The adoption of the local option principle in the army is suggested in a draft of the proposed bill submitted to the War Department. The bill would place the regulations of the canteen and liquor traffic in the hands of the officers of the posts. It is provided in the bill "that beer and light wines may be sold and used on or in any military post, reservation or premises under military control, under such regulations and restrictions as the Secretary of War may prescribe, when the commanding officer, the surgeon and a majority of the other officers on duty at such military post, reservation or premises unite in a representation that such sale of beer and light wines will constitute a lesser evil than proceeds from the commercial traffic in alcoholic beverages in proximity to such military post, reservation or premises."
THE FOREMOST BAD LAW.
Harper's Weekly comments: "If expert testimony is of any worth, the foremost example of a well-intentioned liquor law that has done harm is the anti-canteen law. The army struggles annually to get rid of it, making pathetic showing of its evil consequences, but it sticks."
A GOOD WORD FOR ALCOHOL.
In the London Lancet for November, 1912, there appears an address on "Drunkenness and the Physiological Effect of Alcohol," delivered before the Midland Medical Society by Dr. Charles Mercier, F.R.C.P. The paper is most notable and interesting, with a literary charm seldom found in the discussion of such theses, and a liberality and soundness of view that are equally refreshing. In some prefatory remarks the speaker states his position as follows:
"For my part, I abominate intemperance, but I recognize that intemperance is not confined to indulgence in alcohol. There is intemperance in speech and in statement, as well as intemperance in drink; and while it is admitted on all hands that the craving for alcohol is sometimes irresistible and insurmountable by any effort, I find it difficult to believe that the craving for using exaggerated language about it might not be resisted and surmounted by the exercise of self-control. The drunkard is at any rate sometimes
sober, but we have yet to wait for sobriety of language from some of the advocates of total abstinence. There comes into my mind a certain saying about compounding for the sins we are inclined to by damning those we have no mind to.
"I do not say that the cult of total abstinence has never been of use, or that it may not now have its value in certain of our oversea possessions, to whose support we attach so much importance, and to whose opinions we attach a value that seems to me exaggerated. What I say is that the cult has lost its value and its importance here and now, for the same reason that leper hospitals and precautions against ague have lost their importance in this country at the present day; that is to say, because the conditions of their usefulness have ceased to exist."
Turning to the motives that impel men to drink, Dr. Mercier said: "What the vast majority of persons who drink alcohol, drink it for, is not because they like the taste of it, nor because they are thirsty, but for what is sometimes called its psychological effect, and what ought to be called its psychological effect; that is to say, in plain terms, because it makes them feel jolly. It raises their spirits. It confers happiness. It gives them a good conceit of themselves. Is it any wonder that it is so much valued by the English, who are so wanting in this useful sentiment? Is it any wonder that the Scotch, who are not, as a rule teetotalers, are so richly endowed with this quality? It generates a sense of capability, which is one of the main elements in happiness. Now, there is nothing intrinsically or positively wrong in being happy. I have the temerity to assert that it is in itself a state of mind not blameworthy, but praiseworthy. It is not undesirable, but desirable. I know that this is a very unpopular doctrine; that it is looked upon by many as a very immoral doctrine; but I take my courage. in both hands, and I assert firmly that on the whole, and other things being equal, it is better for ourselves and for all around us that we should be happy, than that we should be unhappy.
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all; that is to say, it is better to be happy for an hour or two than not to be happy at all. The unfortunate thing is-and the whole case against alcohol rests upon this-that with use, the effect diminishes, and to obtain the same effect, the dose has to be continually increased. Still, although if alcohol is taken frequently, the dose must be increased to produce the same effect, this is not true if
taken seldom; and even if it is taken regularly, and always with the same moderation, although the full euphoric effect is not produced, some effect is produced; and the regular imbiber of moderate doses of alcohol is by so much better off than the abstainer, that though he does not attain to the hilarious exhilaration of his first dose, he reaches a placid contentment, a good natured geniality.
Dr. Mercier expressed his belief that the majority of drinkers take alcohol for this euphoric effect, but certainly this is not the motive with all of them. He then went on to set up this profoundly original and interesting hypothesis-we quote without modification:
"There is;another physiological effect of alcohol which is upon occasion of the utmost value, and which, as far as I know, has never been referred to by any writer on the subject except myself. Yet it is so manifest, that the only way in which we can account for the universal silence on the subject is that those who have written about alcohol have gone into the matter with the predetermination to find it all bad; and this prejudice has blinded their eyes to patent and clamorous fact. This unrecognized effect of alcohol is the effect for which many seek its aid, and is this:-Alcohol has the power to unlock the store of energy that exists in the brain, and to render available, for immediate expenditure, energy that without its use would remain in store, unavailable for our immediate needs. I may illustrate what I mean by one or two parallels. It is well known in agriculture and horticulture that the heaviest crops are not to be secured by giving manure ad libitum. If farmyard manure is given in increasing quantities, a stage is at last reached at which the yield is not increased, and may even be diminished. If, when we have reached the maximum crop that manure will produce, we give to our land, instead of manure, a dressing of lime, we get always an increase, sometimes an enormous increase, in the yield. Why is this? Lime is not a food for most plants, any more than alcohol is a food for most men; but yet by the administration of lime we may add enormously to the energy of the growth of plants, and by the administration of alcohol we can add very largely to the output of energy by men. The adversaries of alcohol tell us, with an iteration and reiteration that deserve Falstaff's epithet, that alcohol is not a food. They do not tell us that roast beef is neither clothing nor house room, yet the one statement is as good an argument against the use of roast beef as the other is against the use of