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the Colonial Office, to prohibitionist legislation.” He asserts that drunkenness is now “very prevalent in Egypt, due to the introduction of British whiskey; in Cyrenaica and the Tripolitana, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco (French, Spanish, British and German forms of alcohol)." The Soudan, Northern Nigeria, and much of the Belgian Congo suffer also from the introduction of distilled liquors. In certain other colonies, German, British and Belgian, the authorities are doing their best to prevent the importation of alcohol.
Sir Johnston, "putting aside as much less serious in their effects, less easily accused of poisonous qualities, the wholesome beers and light wines," finds that "the real tyranny of alcohol consists in the manufacture of distilled spirits of forty degrees or more of alcohol, or the concocting of heavy wines and liqueurs which also exhibit a dangerous proportion of alcohol.” But he holds that so much has been achieved during the last sixty years in freeing the world from this tyranny that he looks forward to the time when "throughout the wide world alcohol—at any rate, above the strength of light wines and beers—will be universally prohibited as an article of human consumption.” The brewers will then have to use much of their plant and capital in turning out soft drinks. The distillers need not stop production, for alcohol as a chemical agent, as fuel, or motive power, can be put to an almost unlimited number of uses.
"But-if the opinion of the leading physicians be a true one—the voting masses of the people must be roused to force measures of virtual prohibition on all governments in regard to the consumption of distilled alcohol as a food.”
But he declares that if it is necessary to fight with determination the spread of alcohol poisoning, "prohibitionists and teetotalers must also apply their energies to finding some substituted stimulant, for the use of exhausted humanity which is liable to be overworked, temporarily weakened by shock; in fact, in a condition which calls aloud for a stimulant; and for something more palatable to the taste, more rapid in its restoration of vigor than smelling salts, sal-volatile or even of beef tea." He notes that "many of the pick-me-ups which are sold by chemists at home and abroad, and of which doctors do not seem to disapprove, contain an obvious proportion of ether. Yet we are told that ether drinking has been a serious vice in Ireland, as it is also in India and parts of Africa."
Turning to available drinks for daily use, he finds pure cold water attractive to taste, “a very difficult drink to obtain.” The water supply of a large proportion of the United Kingdom as well as of most countries abroad, he says, is tainted by sewage. “Most temperance drinks are unwholesome, because they contain too much sugar or on account of their fizziness. The taste and smell of beer are undoubtedly attractive to millions among us." He closes with the plea, which many voice with him: “We want substitutes—at any rate in some degree-in attractiveness of taste or in stimulating qualities for the various dilutions of alcohol which are inferentially declared to be so deleterious in their effect on mind and body."
WHOM NOT TO BELIEVE
There is reason for cautioning against implicit faith in Captain Hobson so far as his utterances on the drink question are concerned. His Merrimac halo has lately been dimmed by his exploits as a speaker and letter writer. Volubility and voluminosity proclaim him everywhere, but above all a peculiar disregard for temperate statements. Here is the proof.
In a speech before Congress opposing the increase in the Federal tax on beer, Captain Hobson ventured into the field of statistics (always dangerous to the inexperienced) in search of supporting evidence. It has been found "by exact scientific investigation," he asserts, that drink causes 2,000 premature deaths every day in the year, or 730,000 annually. Just how illuminating this is becomes clear when one consults the mortality reports of the United States Bureau of the Census.
Within the so-called registration area, now containing about two-thirds of the entire population, the deaths in 1912 numbered 838,251. Of those who died no less than 171,692 were seventy years of age or over, while nearly 9,000 had passed the ninetieth year, and 204,639 died while under the age of five, prematurely, of course, but would the Captain say that drink was the general cause?
, It seems reasonable to consider further that the 28,710 children who died at the ages of nine to fourteen years were not brought prematurely to their graves by drink. There would then remain 423,210 deaths within the registration area which, according to Hobson's method of "exact investigation," could be imagined to have come to an untimely end through alcohol.
Now we must assume that deaths occur in about the same proportion outside of the registration area as within it, and that we should make the same relative allowances for the numbers who died under the age of fourteen and over the age of seventy years. The resulting number (139,708) added to that for the registration area gives a total of 572,918 deaths for the whole country between the ages of fourteen and sixty-nine. And yet Captain Hobson asserts that 730,000 persons die annually in these United States, prematurely on account of the drink habit! What a hair-raising statement if true! Observe that one can make still more liberal allowances and include the deaths of all persons between the ages of sixty-five and sixty-nine and still be much short of the Captain's total.
In short, Captain Hobson has discovered "by exact scientific investigation” that there is but one cause of death, and that it carries off more people than actually die! And still the doctors are working overtime for the prevention of diseases of various kinds supposed to be fatal to poor humanity; and we legislate industriously to reduce the 50,000 deaths a year (within the registration area) supposed to be due to accidents.
But Captain Hobson should have discovered that the argument he used against the increased tax on beer runs directly counter to his own pet hobby. While pronouncing his conclusions about mortality, he also assured his hearers that 55 per cent. of the population of the country lives in dry territory, under local or State prohibition. In view of the number of premature deaths on account of drink announced by the unterrified Captain, it must be that all deaths within dry territory occur from the same cause, otherwise the total he gives would appear even more absurd than we have shown it to be. It is an unfortunate dilemma from which there is no proper retreat: either the Captain must say that his figures lie or that prohibition is a vain thing. Which will he choose ?
But Captain Hobson has other indictments against the drink traffic. He informed the House of Representatives of his "own knowledge” that there are now one million habitual drunkards in this country, four million heavy drinkers, twenty million regular drinkers and "unestimated millions” of occasional drinkers. Now,
applies the Captain's ratio of progression from habitual to regular drinkers to the “unestimated millions" of occasional drinkers, the latter must number approximately one hundred millions. Therefore the grand total of those who in some way are victims of the drink habit and incidentally of the increased tax on beer must be one hundred and twenty-five millions. Had the Captain taken the trouble to consult the official figures, he would have found that the total estimated population in the United States in 1914 is placed at about ninety-nine millions. He could then have demonstrated according to his methods of computation that the victims of the drink habit and incidentally of the beer tax exceeded by about twenty-six millions of the entire population, including babes in
arms, the total abstainers, inmates of hospitals for the insane, centenarians, etc.
Again it follows from the Captain's statistics that the fifty-five million people reputed to live in dry territory, under the blessings of prohibition, must be numbered among the habitual drunkards, heavy, regular or occasional drinkers, women and children included, otherwise there would not be enough people to make up the Captain's total. Many unkind and untrue things have been said about prohibition, but nothing so completely damning as this. Yet its high apostle would lead us to these very conclusions.
Perhaps no power of argument would persuade Captain Hobson or his followers that he overstated the case when asserting that there are one million habitual drunkards in this country, regardless of what modifications he might concede in regard to the other classes of drinkers. The point is, therefore, of special interest. For England and Wales the renowned Dr. Branthwaite, who really can lay claim to "exact scientific investigation," estimates that there is 1.42 inebriates to 1,000 of population; but Captain Hobson gives this country one for each hundred! Here is a difference with a vengeance. How it can be in the face of our smaller consumption of alcoholic drinks, not to mention the “fact” that more than one-half of our population lives under prohibition laws, is for Captain Hobson to explain.
That the Captain really believes his own figures is shown by the eagerness to have other people profit by the astonishing results of his investigations. He boasts that he sent out two million copies of his speech on prohibition made in December, 1913, and not content with this, he claims to have written 1,500,000 letters on the same subject—all in eight months. But allowing one minute to each letter he would need three years for the task, working twentyfour hours a day!
Such is the efficiency of the Hero of the Merrimac—when aided by the Government Printing Press and the Government's franks. His speeches and letters sent free by the Government must have cost it no less than $50,000, or at the rate of $75,000 a year. And why? In order to carry the most palpable misinformation to people which doubtless thousands of them are made to believe. That's the pity of it!