[from Hall Caine Drink]


IN my ignorance of medical science I dare not take any responsibility whatever for the theories advanced in that part of this little novel which deals with the claims of hypnotism.

I have only attempted, in the rôle of the autobiographical story-teller, to dramatise, as far as a layman may know and understand them, the conflicting opinions of those who have written or spoken on the subject in England, France, and Germany. My own contribution to the discussion of the great drink question is the simple and human one of exhibiting the power of imagination on a victim of alcoholism, and the mighty influence of Hope on a mind diseased.

Drink itself is the great hypnotist.

It seems to me that the problem of intemperance is one of the gravest and most urgent that has ever confronted humanity; and that the first necessity is that of a clear comprehension of the root of the evil. Is habitual intemperance a disease or a sin ? If it is a disease the victim is an object for compassion, and the cure lies at the doors of the physicians. If it is a sin the transgressor is a subject for reproof and punishment, and the duty of moral regeneration is In the hands of the clergy. If it is both a disease and a sin the legislators share with the physicians and the clergy the task of healing and controlling it.

Which is the true place for the habitual drunkard - the hospital, the reformatory, or the prison ? On the answer to that question the welfare of a vast proportion of the human family seems to depend. Would it wrong the truth to say that neither the law nor the church nor medical science seems to have made up its mind?

Besides the general question of intemperance, my little novel is intended to deal with the particular problem of alcoholism among women. If it be true that inherited alcoholic poisoning in mothers is a pregnant cause of physical and moral degeneration, then the momentary momentousness of the question of "Chinese Labour," or the fanatical tyranny of "Clause IV," is surely as nothing compared with the age-long urgency of the problem of motherhood and drink. Is there, indeed, any graver question on which the conscience of humanity sleeps ?

H. C. Isle of Man.
July, 1906.


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