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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 5. April 28th, 1948

This Demon Drink

page 5

This Demon Drink

In a letter to this paper a correspondent has brought up the old question of Booze. He seeks help in combating this "rampant evil" the cause of' "lost Tournaments" and "bawdy Extravs." He puts the blame for the "low morals" of this "institute of higher learning and culture" on beer and thus his letter adds just one more page to the volumes of absurd and muddled writings on this subject. "Sick-of-it" will undoubtedly receive the support he seeks for there have always been plenty of vigorous and bitter opponents of the consumption of alcoholic beverages, many of whom have been equally as ardent in their condemnation of smoking, dancing, the stage and even of music, but I have yet to see a calm, reasoned and convincing case for prohibition. What I have heard is undeniable proof of the evils of drunkenness and let me state here that nobody is so healthily contemptuous of and distressed by drunkenness as the steady and wise drinker. Temperance to me means, as it does to most people, moderation whether it be in the field of alcoholic drinks, food, religion or anything else, in all cases excesses are equally repulsive and equally dangerous. Temperance is not to be confused with prohibition.

The overwhelming majority of people in the world regard the moderate use of drink as a healthy and simple addition to the pleasures of this life. It is only when, as in most Anglo-Saxon countries, alcohol is subjected to barbarous legal restrictions that people impute to it powers it does not possess and apply to it a silly and misleading terminology. In the hope that I may shed some light and perhaps stimulate further investigation of this definitely absorbing subject I am quoting here some of the more illogical expressions and more interesting facts, for which I am deeply indebted to O. A. Mendelsohn's book "The Earnest Drinker's Digest."


Firstly, can anyone explain to me the logic in referring to "drink" as if it were synonymous with alcoholic beverages?

And why to we apply this term "drunkard" only to excessive consumers of this type of drink and not equally to babies who do nothing but drink for their first six months?

The word "intoxicated" literally means "poisoned." Like caffein, alcohol is only one of hundreds of intoxicating agents. Nobody does or could drink alcohol for it is an extremely distasteful poison rare in its state.

The peril of mixing drinks is a favourite fallacy and most drinkers believe in its mystic potency. It arises from the neglect of two facts first, it is the total quantity of alcohol consumed within a given time that counts. Secondly, the alcoholic ratio of drinks varies, e.g., for beer, wine, and most spiritits it is approximately 1, 3, 10. Thus to switch from beer to spirits is the equivalent of stepping up the rate of drinking ten times. To a [unclear: ran] drunk enough to stand the taste of mixed drinks the effect of ten extra glasses of beer drunk in the time normally taken to drink one, is to say the least, disastrous.

It is almost impossible for any drinker to pick differences in alcoholic strength and the "kick" of mixed spirit drinks is largely imagination.


It is also a fallacy that salt or cigar-ash increases the potency of beer. Nor is brandy any more potent than whisky. All spirits contain about 45 per cent. alcohol and there is a greater range in qualities of a spirit than between equal qualities of different spirits. Stout is no more nutritious than beer.

Alcohol does not make men happy, though it may do so. It dulls the higher nerve centres whose work is partly repressive. A drunken man loses his normal restraint and is shown in his true colours, be they good or bad. The sincere man remains substantially the same sober or drunk.

Alcohol moderately used is not a habit forming drug despite the warnings of rabid prohibitionists. Temperance ginger-beer as brewed in the home has often a higher alcoholic content than beer.

Many of the tonics and patent medicines so loved and so needed by the wowsers contain so much alcohol that they ought really to be called cocktails or even liqueurs.

The suppression of alcoholic beverages by law or by entreaty has always and, I feel sure, will always be found impossible. This is a tribute to the sanity of human beings. There is little trouble in suppressing narcotics because men recognize them as harmful but the rantings of moral cranks on alcohol arouse only amusement or resentment Men can see for themselves that the effects of alcohol are not in truth as deplorable as the reformers assert and they do not intend to be deprived of the pleasures of drink because a few abuse it.

The Latin races should be our model. Drinking is universal, but over-indulgence is rare.

Photo of a man at a window drinking a beer

T. H. Q.