[from Hall Caine Drink]
"I HAVE had no practical experience of the effects of hypnotism on drinking people, but I have often wished I had the power. Ah, how thankfully would I have used it!
" I cannot but think that Christianity, in its most spiritual phase, is the occupation of the lower by the higher, but where through various causes this seems impossible, why should not a strong noble soul impart some of its undying hope and strength to a weak one ? The horror and agony caused by drink is so terrible that I am prepared to try anything to stem it. But when will Christian England awake to the awful tragedy of the drink crave ? "
" Where are we to look for the root of the evil of habitual intemperance ? Truly a difficult problem. Apart from private ruin and misery, intemperance is also associated too often with serious crime or other offences against the law. Let me state certain bald facts.
" (i) In one year the London police dealt with 62,000 cases of intemperance. (2) Some years ago it was said that 50 per cent. of the criminals arrested in New York and Chicago were inebriates, and that 75 per cent. of the crime of the United States was due to alcoholism. (3) In France crime was alleged to increase with the abundance of the vintage.
" If these allegations are even approximately true, can we afford to be too particular as to the method of curing the evil ? I make no pretence to any special knowledge of hypnotism, and perhaps I am not very sanguine of any permanent cure for alcoholism in general. Yet so long as the proposed remedy is not worse than the disease, in the name of common sense let it be tried. In combating this, or any peril of our country or race, let us not become the slaves of sickly sentimentality-a contemptible state of mind exhibited a trifle too often in our day. At the worst do we never set a thief to catch a thief ? Do we never make war to repel an aggressor or remedy a wrong ? Is poison never administered as an antidote to poison ? And are these things good in themselves ?
" I am not squeamish about the risk of tampering with. the drunkard's 'free will'; I disregard the pedantry of the learned in the choice ofa weapon if I mean to attack a hydra. In this matter I would ask theologians and scientists to sink dogma and prejudice. Hypnotism would appear to be dangerous chiefly in wicked hands. Surely the same objection may be urged against many remedies for human ills in daily use. The safeguard would be to entrust them only to honest and competent persons. At the same time I am clear no rule of thumb can be successfully applied to the treatment of intemperance--not even prevention. Individual cases must be treated according to surrounding circumstances.
"The bloodthirsty system of Draco, the Tarpeian Rock,' and the lions of the circus of -ancient Rome, our own forbears by their drastic laws, probably prevented this subject from becoming as acute as it is now ; for, by the frequent executions of those they deemed criminals, the community must havè been largely rid at the same time of the decadent and the alcoholic. Nevertheless, such severity failed to prevent intemperance. Not do I believe that any human agency will ever absolutely, prevent it. Amcliora- tion, therefore, by cure, whether hypnotic or-other, must always remain a necessity, unless a large section of humanity is to be abandoned to the chaos of lost souls."
"Mr. Hall Caine has done well to draw attention to the terrible curse of, strong drink, but he has done even better in stimulating thought in the direction of a possible cure. The evil of the habit could not be exaggerated ; it lies like a cancerous growth at the very core of our civilisation. Among the poor the mischief it works is incalculable. ' When we have said that the East End working-man is addicted to strong drink,' I wrote in my ' Seven Years' Hard,' ' we have said all we need as to his failings.' That is only too true. I have known little children who were mental, moral, and physical wrecks because of indulgence in this vicious habit by their parents, and especially by their mothers; for motherhood itself is threatened by this monster, and our very national existence imperilled. One hails with delight, therefore, any effort to draw public attention to the evil, and one is especially grateful for the help of so powerful a pen as that wielded by Mr. Hall Caine.
" Of course we must of necessity understand the cause of intemperance before we can attempt its cure. I agree with our author that 'drink' has both a physical and a moral basis ; that it is not only a sin, but also a disease ; and I venture to think that the clergy have erred in considering the matter exclusively from a spiritual standpoint, as our medical friends have erred in considering it exclusively from a material. But the mistake of the clergy, if I may express my meaning in the form of a paradox, has been on the right side. What I mean is that they have treated the drunkard as a moral being, albeit with an undeveloped moral sense, and have tried rather to help him to work out his own salvation than to attempt to work it out for him. Whereas medical science, if I apprehend its aims aright, has for the most part attempted to adjust the component parts of a disorganised machim. One hastens to add, however, that medical science is never so materialistic as to ignore the spiritual side of the question, and is at its best when it frankly recognises it. So that, as a matter of fact, we do find both doctors and clergymen working on the moral- and spiritual side, and endeavouring to make that negligible quantity, the conscience of the drunkard, not only non-negligible, but actually and pre-eminently serviceable in the process of reformation.
" There can be no doubt, therefore, that influence, suggestion, imagination-call it what you will-is already largely used in the emancipation of the slave to the drink habit. What limits, if .any, are to be imposed on its use ? That is the question; and it may, without exaggeration, be said to be the question of the twentieth century; For in the answer to it are involved the meaning and content 'of such stupendous terms as 'free swill,'. 'the liberty of the subject,' 'the duty of citizenship,' 'the survival of the fittest,' 'socialism,' ' individualism.' Does a man belong to himself ?-or is he merely the property of society, or at best a limb of it ? May you confiscate that property or lop off that limb for the.-good of the body social ? These are grave questions indeed, and the future of the race depends on the answers given to them.
" We require a large common sense in the consideration of such questions. So much that is logically defensible is practically in- admissible. It may be argued that because both priest and physician employ personal influence in their dealings with those suffering from the prepossession of drink., therefore the hypnotist may follow suit. Hypnotism, properly safeguarded, may have a useful future before it : I am not concerned to deny such a possibility. But I feel sure that the closer we keep to the practical, common-sense, and human view of things, the less we shall be likely to err. And I think Mr. Hall Caine feels this-and I am grateful to hini-when he makes the human hope of motherhood triumph where the mesmeric sleep of the professional hypnotist had failed. If it be true, as our author suggests, that drink itself is largely hypnotic, then the lesson we are to learn from his thrilling little story is, I take it, that the deadly hypnotism of intemperance is to be cast out by the living hypnotism of imagination and hope. And to that I say, Amen."
" Now that the writer can address a wider public than can the preacher, I rejcice that my old friend, Mr. Hall Caine, should write about the dangers and disasters caused by drink.
" I have no claim to speak, 'save more knowledge o£ the subject.' All who have lived for many years face to face with real life must acknowledge the incorrigible vitality of corruption in human nature, and yet must see again and again the intervention of God to heal and cure with or without human agencies.
" Our part is to pray and work for this, but even where we see perpetual failure, let us remember that this lie is in link with God. Eternity is His; and He has told us that 'he that is dead is freed from sin.' "
" I am impressed with the basis of absolute truth on- which this little story is made to rest. To parody a swell-known criticism, 'Truth will out, even in a novelette ! ' There is nothing in the experience of Lucy which may not be matched in thousands of English homes.
"Whatever may be said for the theories advanced by the distinguished author, it cannot but be matter for congratulation that the drink problem should be tackled, in however light a form, by one who exercises so powerful a hold on the imaginations of his readers as Mr. Hall Caine.
" It is not the least of the difficulties that beset the question that the universal prevalence of drunkenness should be accepted so much as a matter of course by all classes.
" Nothing seems to rouse sufficiently the moral sense of the community against an evil the magnitude of which it is quite impossible to overstate.
" Legislation, philanthropy, the zeal of the Rechabite, the whole-hearted efforts of missionaries from all the churches, each and all are at work in their different spheres to stem the evil and bring home to the public conscience the manifold horrors of intem- perance. And yet how vain and disheartening, it must be admitted, are the results ! Here and there a hopeful voice may be heard. Statistics may be proved to tell a flattering tale ; but in the main the great wave of drunkenness rolls on as before, with little or no sign of receding strength. Its full and almost stagnant waters possess the land from shore to shore-and there is poison in their depths. It is good, therefore, that Mr. Hall Caine should enter the lists with a new weapon forged for the encounter. The novel may be read when heavier literature has failed; and under the magic touch of the true artist the consciences of men and women may be aroused, sufficient to recognise the danger that afflicts the nation-more awful, in sooth, than any plague, more devastating than any war.
The only excuse that I can offer for intruding with any comment on pages that speak for themselves, is that as a police magistrate it is my fate, and has been for very many years, to hear daily witness to the effects of intemperance on the national life. What this experience really means, I almost shrink from confessing to myself. Never a day passes, it may be said with truth, that Some hapless drunkard does not figure on the charge list of the police court. The effects are seen in misery, poverty, lunacy, and crime. It is only to repeat a truism which has found expression on every judicial bench in the kingdom, to say that drink is the fruitful source of crime. Get rid of intemperance, and crime will so hide its diminished head that you may almost close your courts and dispense with your gaols.
"Mr. Hall Caine goes to the heart of the problem when he asks whether intemperance is a sin, or a disease, or possibly both.
Happily it is not required of a magistrate that he should express an opinion one way or the other, though, from a human point of view, it may well be doubted that sin can exist where there is no evil intent ; and, sin or no, where is the moralist who will not make large allowance for the terrible temptation which, under the form of a craving for drink, assails the free will with resistless force and fury;
" For the present, at all events, Parliament has decided that drunkenness must be viewed as a crime. It is at least a vice ; and it can hardly be said, therefore, that punishment, wisely dis- pensed, may not do good. It is ever administered. without un- necessary sting, nor in the more abandoned eases is the opportunity ever lost of having recourse to the beneficent and far-reaching effects of the Inebriate Home.
" Mr. Hall Caine suggests that the drunkard either cannot live without drink or thinks he cannot; and, rightly putting aside a remedy so full of lurking danger as hypnotism, he dwells with evident faith on what may be effected by imagination, and the mighty influence of hope. Few will be found to disparage these agencies; but above and beyond all the cures which may be devised and suggested by man, I would place my faith in the spread of a wider knowledge among the masses of the effects of intemperance. Nothing should be left undone to perfect their education in this respect. If monster meetings can be organised in the interest of 'religious education, why cannot equal zeal be employed to bring home to the poor and ignorant the vital issues to the home and the race of a healthy stock ? It should be the work of every patriot to teach people to think for themselves, to make them understand that, if the craving for stimulants is in itself natural, and cannot be entirely withstood, it is capable of being controlled and turned into an instrument of harmless delight.
"The lesson has been learnt at a price by the upper ranks of society. Is there any reason to doubt that it will not gradually percolate through the masses until it has reached and purified the humblest home ? In that way, and that way only, lies, I believe, the true hope of a lasting reformation."
"My experience leads me to the conclusion expressed on page iii., of the Appendix that intemperance is both a sin and a disease. They are not alternatives. Nor is it possible to separate the sin from the disease, and the disease from the sin. In some cases the sin is more prominent, and in others it is the disease that is the outstanding feature. I had a case that I battled with for fourteen years. The man was intelligent, capable, a wide reader, and ofstrong sympathy with social reform. When I first met him he belonged to the habitually intemperate. He became a total abstainer ; but he fell and fell again and again; and the last stage was that he went to Canada, and wrote to me from a spot where he was, he said, 180 miles distant from a drinking saloon. Drinking was a disease with him; but he knew it-knew what occasioned an outbreak of the disease ; knew how he could check the outbreak; and yet-I pitied him. But his own conscience condemned him after every fall.
"That is one case; but I could cite many others, all illustrative of the same position. All hands are needed to battle with this evil-the legislator, the physician, the educator, the minister."