Copyright
Marr Murray.

Drink and the war from the patriotic point of view .. online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryMarr MurrayDrink and the war from the patriotic point of view .. → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


RINK



AND



H WAR



FROM THE PATRIOTIC
POINT OF VIEW.



MARR MURRAY.



"The nation that will win
in this war will be the one
which is the most sober."

THE. KAISER.




NET



LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, Ltd.



DRINK AND THE WAR



DRINK AND THE WAR

FROM THE
PATRIOTIC POINT OF VIEW



BY

MARK MURRAY
H

AUTHOR OF

'BIBLE PROPHECIES AND THE PLAIN MAN," "THE CHRISTIAN'S
WAR BOOK," "THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE," ETC.



"The nation that will win the next war will be the one
which is the most sober." THE KAISKR.



LONDON

CHAPMAN AND HALL, LTD.
1915



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY

RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,

BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S.E.,

AND BUNOAY. SUFFOLK.



CONTENTS



CHAP. PA(JE

INTRODUCTION . . . . ' i * vii

I RUSSIA AND DRINK ., . . 1

II FRANCE AND DRINK , ...... ... ',.'-, 19

III DRINK AND FRIGHTFULNESS . . , . 28

IV WOMEN AND DRINK , . . . . 37
V DRINK AND THE SOLDIER .... 42

VI DRINK AND THE NEW ARMY . . 62

VII DRINK AND THE NEXT GENERATION . . 71

VIII DRINK AND THE FOOD SUPPLY ... 81

IX DRINK AND THE WORKER .... 84

X THE PROBLEM OF PROHIBITION . . . 100

XI THE ATTITUDE OF THE ANTAGONISTS . . 109

XII THE REMEDY 120

XIII TEMPERANCE AND THE BRITISH EMPIRE . 130

xiv THE GOVERNMENT'S ACTION . 149



INTRODUCTION

IN dealing with a subject so controversial as the
" Drink question " it is advisable, first of all, to make
it quite clear from what point of view the problem
is approached. I therefore hasten to state that I am
not a teetotaler and am in no way connected with
the United Kingdom Alliance or any other temperance
organisation. Neither am I interested, financially
or otherwise, in the liquor trade. In other words,
I am an ordinary person who is fond of an occasional
glass of beer.

But at the present moment I am chiefly concerned
with the winning of this war. Britain must come
out on top and must maintain her position among
the powers of the earth. Like every other Briton
I am prepared to make any sacrifice that will help
towards the achievement of that end.

Mr. Lloyd George has said that Britain is fighting
three enemies Germany, Austria and Drink. Were
his words to be taken literally or were they merely
a picturesque exaggeration ? That is the question
which the nation has to decide.

If the Chancellor's words were based on the truth,
then the nation will be prepared to sacrifice its habits
and pleasures in order to annihilate the third enemy,
just as the flower of its manhood is prepared to
sacrifice its life's blood in order to crush the other
perils.

There can be no two opinions as to whether Ger-
many and Austria are Britain's enemies, but in the
case of Drink the question is so obscured that the



viii INTRODUCTION

average man cannot be sure that alcohol is the danger
which some people would make it out to be. The
question is a tangle of prejudice. On the one side
there are the teetotal advocates telling us that alcohol
is a deadly poison, productive of nothing but evil and
misery; and on the other there are the vast trade
interests impressing upon us that beer is a valuable
drink which helps us to work better and keeps us fit
and healthy.

The prejudiced point of view may be all very well
in times of peace, but it most decidedly will not do
for war-time. The only point of view which counts
now is the patriotic. Britain has no use for fads and
individual interests when she is fighting for existence.
It is Britain that we have to consider to-day and not
the ideas of the temperance reformer and the bank
balance of the brewer. The nation wants to know
the truth of this matter.

It is the patriotic point of view that I have en-
deavoured to place before the public in the following
pages. I am not out to prove any theory. My aim
is simply to place the facts, so far as I understand
them, before the nation, soberly and calmly, so that
it may realise to what extent Drink is the enemy of
Britain.



DRINK AND THE WAR



CHAPTER I

RUSSIA AND DRINK

IN no country in the world have the evils arising
from drink attained such appalling proportions as in
Russia. The Russian peasant has become notorious
for his drunken habits. Every writer, whether native
or foreign, who has described Russian life lays stress
on the prevalent drunkenness. It is only necessary
to read a few of the works of Tolstoi, Maxim Gorki,
Andreev, Tchekov, and the other modern novelists
of Russia to realise how widespread the evil had
become. They write of drunkenness, and of all the
evils which follow in the train of alcohol, not as if
they were in any way reprehensible or to be deplored,
but simply as ordinary phenomena which do not call
for any special comment. Only the sober characters
arouse any sense of peculiarity. To be sober is to be
abnormal in Russian literature.

The extent of the evil can be judged from the
following words of Dr. Sergei Vesselitski, a Russian
Government official : " Russia loses every year
through death from lack of maternal milk four and
a half million children under five years of age; over
a million working men die every year in the prime
of their life from alcoholism; hundreds of thousands
of sufferers from various forms of alcoholism fill the



2 DRINK AND THE WAR

hospitals, not to mention some twenty-seven thousand
lunatics who remain at large for want of accommoda-
tion in the asylums; millions of women either sell
their bodies or submit to ill-treatment; there are
eight hundred thousand criminals in the gaols, besides
millions of more or less defective individuals who
contaminate, morally and physically, all with whom
they come in contact; innumerable public-house
keepers allow many thousands of peasants to drink
away all their possessions, including even their
furniture and houses, turning out the unfortunate
peasants to roam about the countryside throughout
the severe Russian winter."

These are not the words of an irresponsible advocate
of temperance reform, but statements which are
vouched for by the Government itself. For a quarter
of a century the authorities have been attempting
to grapple with the problem. In 1894 the Tsar, on
the advice of Count de Witte, who was at that time
the Minister of Finance, issued a Ukase which made
the sale of vodka, the national drink, a Government
monopoly. It was hoped that State management
would lessen drunkenness and at the same time benefit
the revenue. It was decided, too, to spend large
sums on educative temperance work among the
people and to provide counter-attractions to the
vodka shops. In this connection, nearly five million
pounds have been spent during the past ten years.

But the only object that was attained by means of
this step was the filling of the Imperial coffers. The
State Monopoly became the most lucrative source of
revenue. In the year 1913 out of a total revenue of
3,415,000,000 rubles no less than 900,000,000 rubles
was derived from the liquor monopoly, as against
813,000,000 rubles from the State railways, the next
largest source of income. The net revenue from
drink amounted to 69,500,000 sterling. During
the whole period of State control the consumption



RUSSIA AND DRINK 3

of alcohol and the attendant evils have steadily
increased. The quantity of vodka sold during 1914
was no less than 294,000,000 gallons. When it is
considered that vodka contains upwards of 40 per
cent, of absolute alcohol, it will be realised that
the Russian holds the doubtful honour of being the
greatest consumer of alcohol in the world.

When the Duma was established in 1905 it was
confidently expected that there would be a great
advance in temperance reform, but little practical
progress has been recorded. Many attempts to
grapple with the problem were made, but they
served chiefly to emphasise its many difficulties.
There was the question as to how the deficiency in
the revenue, which was a necessary corollary to
national sobriety, was to be made good. There was
the question of unemployment. Agriculture was
largely dependent on the State distilleries, and it
would have caused much ruin and misery if the rye
and potato production was interfered with in any
way. But most difficult of all was the problem of
the peasant himself. Every Russian is more or less
a fatalist ; and the peasants, though fully aware of the
evils arising from drink, had come to believe them-
selves incapable of exercising any self-restraint in
regard to its consumption. Thus, when a modified
form of local option was tried in some parts of the
country, the opportunity was taken of adding to the
number of liquor shops instead of reducing them.

Up to 1912 little was done in the Duma beyond
the passing of occasional resolutions, urging the
Church to take up a temperance crusade. In 1913
a commission was appointed to investigate the whole
subject and as a result of its report a very important
Bill was passed through the Duma and referred to
the Council of the Empire. The provisions embodied
in the Bill were : full local option to all communes,
townships and villages; the right of all local bodies



4 DRINK AND THE WAR

to prohibit or restrict the sale of liquor, and the
right of women to vote on these matters. This last
proviso practically assured a majority for prohibition
in every commune, for in Russia, as everywhere else,
it is the women who surfer most from the liquor
traffic. It was expected that the Council would
reject such drastic proposals, but instead it approved
the Bill with but a few minor modifications. That
Bill would doubtless have become law in due course,
but before it emerged from all the various legislative
processes, the war broke out and it was rendered
unnecessary.

It is not quite right, therefore, to assert, as is com-
monly done, that the war has made Russia sober.
The war merely expedited what was inevitable from
the moment when the Council of the Empire gave its
approval to the Bill. The evil had assumed such
appalling proportions that the authorities were deter-
mined to deal drastically with it. This attitude was
in very large measure due to the influence of the
Tsar. Early in 1914 His Majesty gave a strong lead
to the nation in the form of a rescript addressed to
M. Barck, the Minister of Finance : "I have come
to the conclusion that the duty lies upon me, before
God and Russia, to introduce into the management
of the State finances and of the economic problems of
the country fundamental reforms for the welfare of
my beloved people. It is not meet that the welfare
of the Exchequer should be dependent upon the ruin
of the spiritual and productive energies of numbers of
my loyal subjects."

These words met with an immediate response.
The peasants forwarded petitions asking that the
liquor shops should be closed. In many cases this was
done. But it soon became apparent that permanent
reform could not be thus quickly and easily attained.
After a few months of abstinence the enthusiasm of
the peasants began to wane, and they forwarded



RUSSIA AND DRINK 5

petitions asking that the shops should be re-
opened. It was obvious that to make any lasting
improvement it was necessary to provide some
attraction which would remove the craving for
vodka. Hitherto, vodka has been the only recreation
available for the vast majority of the peasants. The
necessary attraction was provided by the war.
Every peasant has been given something to do and
to think about, he has something to live and die for,
other than vodka. Hence Russia has changed
automatically from the most drunken nation in the
world to the most sober; a miracle without parallel
in the history of the world.

With the publication of the order for the general
mobilisation, all wine shops, beer saloons, and vodka
shops were closed, and the sale of all alcoholic liquors
forbidden. This was intended as a temporary measure
to assist in the process of mobilisation. Subsequently
it was extended for the duration of the war. Finally
it was decided that the State monopoly of vodka
should be formally abolished for ever. At present,
therefore, Russia is teetotal to all practical intents
and purposes, for the prohibition extends not merely
to vodka alone, but to wines and beers as well. After
the war the embargo on wine and beer will possibly
be relaxed, but in the meantime it is not usually
recognised how complete are the measures which
have been taken.

In view of the considerable doubt which exists as
to how far the measures taken in Russia approach
to prohibition, it may be well to give the Report of
the British Ambassador at Petrograd to the Foreign
Office. The Report is dated December 3, and runs
as follows :

" With the publication of the order for a general
mobilisation of the land and sea forces of the Empire,
all wine shops, beer saloons, and Government ' vodka '



6 DRINK AND THE WAR

shops were closed, and the sale of all intoxicants
absolutely prohibited, except in first-class restaurants
and hotels, until completion of mobilisation. This
order, with varying modifications, has been prolonged
from time to time, and remains in force at the present
moment.

" By an Order of the Council of Ministers published
3rd-16th September, it was notified that His Imperial
Majesty has been pleased, on 22nd August-4th
September to prohibit the sale of spirits and ' vodka '
until the end of the war.

" In the Bulletin of Laws, No. 275 (Series No. 1),
dated 10th-23rd October, the Council of Ministers,
on the authority of Article 87 of the Fundamental
Laws, Empowered local, municipal, and provincial
administrative bodies to petition in prescribed form
for a prohibition of the sale of all strong drinks.
Upon receipt of these petitions the local excise
officials, working conjointly with the administrative
(Government) authorities, must order the cessation
of all trade in intoxicants in the district in question
within at latest a period of three months. When
the order of prohibition takes effect previous to expiry
of the licence granted, licensees will be refunded a
proportionate amount of all dues they have paid for
the right to retail beer or spirits.

" In the future no trade licence will be granted
for a longer period than one year, and all licences
which were granted previous to the publication of
this Order of the Council of Ministers will cease to
have force on 81st December of this year (O.S.).

" The powers given by this Order to local public
bodies have been largely exercised, and the Press
daily report from all parts of the country of the
closure by local option of wine-shops, beer-saloons,
etc. In many places the prohibition is for all time,
but in the majority of cases provisionally until the
end of the war. The Municipal Council of Petrograd



RUSSIA AND DRINK 7

has restricted the sale of beer and wine to 49 first-
class hotels and restaurants, and it is rumoured that
this number is shortly to be reduced to 20. Light
red and white wine (16 per cent, strength) and cham-
pagne may be sold by wine merchants daily from
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Saturdays and the eve
of festivals, when the hours are from 10 a.m. until
2 p.m. On Sundays and feast days the sale of all
intoxicants (except in the 49 hotels and restaurants
above mentioned) is forbidden, and the shops remain
closed throughout the day. The sale of any drink is
prohibited after 11 p.m., at which hour all hotels
and restaurants without exception must close. The
sale of all spirits is absolutely forbidden. Vodka is
unobtainable, and the existing Government monopoly
for its manufacture and sale is to cease.

" The illegal sale of beer, porter, wine and spirits
is punishable by a fine not exceeding 3000 rubles or
three months' imprisonment, closure of the restaurant
or saloon, and perpetual disqualification to hold a
licence. Similar liability is incurred by the supply
of drink to persons already in an evident state of
insobriety.

" All liquors purchased in hotels and restaurants
must be consumed on the premises and may be
supplied only to customers having meals. Penalty
for a violation of this regulation is fine or imprison-
ment not exceeding 3000 rubles or three months.

" Persons found intoxicated or incapable on the
streets or in public places are liable to a fine of 100
rubles or in default three weeks' arrest.

" Other Temperance measures which have been
adopted are as follows.

" Numbers of beer saloons and third-class eating
and drinking houses in the towns of Russia have
been compulsorily closed by order of local public
bodies with the sanction of the Government, and
the numbers of streets in which the opening of such



8 DRINK AND THE WAR

establishments is prohibited has been increased.
The sale of all liquors has been forbidden in the
vicinity of barracks, camps, military training areas,
public market-places, and of all categories of educa-
tional establishments. The sale of intoxicants in
third-class railway restaurants, except where there
are second- and first-class restaurants also, is for-
bidden, and in all classes of railway restaurants the
sale of beer or wine is limited to a specified period
previous to the arrival and subsequent to the de-
parture of a train. The same regulations apply to
restaurants on wharves and to the bars on steamers
during their stay at any point of call. Licences for
music and other entertainments in popular restau-
rants and beer saloons will be granted with extreme
caution and in restricted numbers. The sale of beer
in public baths will no longer be allowed. On all
occasions of public assembly (elections, fair days,
sittings of the local courts or boards) the sale of beer
or wine in the village or township concerned will be
prohibited.

" Excise duty on beer has been increased from
1 ruble 70 copecks (about 2s. Qd.) per pood of malt
extract to 6 rubles (about 12s.), and the percentage
of alcohol has been reduced from 9 per cent, to
3' 7 per cent. The extreme penalty for the prepara-
tion or sale of beer of greater strength than above
stated is six months' imprisonment.

" In places under martial law, or in a state of siege,
or within the sphere of military operations, the sale
of all intoxicants is absolutely forbidden.'*

So far, then, as the army is concerned, the pro-
hibition is absolute. Reliable observers have also
stated that the measure has resulted in what prac-
tically amounts to the prohibition of all alcoholic
liquors among all classes of society. For instance,
Mr. Hamilton Fyfe, the Petrograd correspondent of



RUSSIA AND DRINK 9

the Daily Mail, describes the situation in the following
words : " Try to imagine all the public-houses in
London and all the towns and villages throughout
the British Isles closed; all the shops which now
sell wines and spirits filling their windows with
Perrier and grape-juice and non-alcoholic champagne ;
all the restaurants putting away their wine cards and
offering with lunch, dinner and supper nothing
stronger than cider or ginger ale. That is the state
of things in Russia. Strange it seems indeed, yet
there is one thing stranger. Nobody makes any
audible complaint. If such a suspension of the sale
of all intoxicating drinks were to be ordered in
England, think of the newspaper war there would be
about it ! Think of the numberless letters that
would be written ! Think of the meetings which the
trades affected would hold the brewers and publicans
hop-growers and wine merchants, bar-keepers and
restauranteurs ! Here there are no meetings, no
letters to the newspapers, no controversy. Breweries
are idle, beer shops stand shuttered and cheerless.
In the famous and fashionable restaurants, the
' Bear,' the ' Cafe de Paris,' the ' Astoria,' guests
drink kvass at a shilling a jug, and profits dwindle
to vanishing point. Yet there is no agitation.
Those who grumble, grumble behind closed doors.
. . . Cheeks which were grey and flabby have colour
in them again. The owners of these cheeks would
pay a ridiculously high price for vodka if they could
get it. I have heard of whisky changing hands at
thirty shillings a bottle. But the stocks which were
laid up in cellars and cupboards are mostly exhausted.
Private vendors are very hard to find now, and to
buy otherwise than in secret is out of the question.
There are no ' blind pigs ' as in Canada, and the
druggists, who in the United States will usually
oblige with spirits sold as medicine, are so terrified
here, that if you take them a prescription with



10 DRINK AND THE WAR

alcohol in it, they ring up your doctor to make sure
that you are not a fraud."

Russia to-day is, therefore, the most interesting
country in the world. It is providing an example of
the results of total and effective prohibition on a
people which has hitherto been exceptionally given
to drunkenness. True, the position is somewhat
abnormal owing to the war, but the chief effect of
the war has been to make the acceptance of projiibi-
tion voluntary. This is obviously essential for the
success of any scheme of reform. Forced reforms are
rarely satisfactory. All improvements entail some
degree of sacrifice, and that sacrifice to be effective
must be borne ungrudgingly. In the present instance
the war has paved the way for the sacrifice of ingrained
habits and much material wealth. The same thing
has happened in France. Over here, in Britain, the
peril for various reasons, chiefly the zeal of the
authorities for keeping all news secret, has not been
so fully realised as in Russia and France. Doubt-
less, however, if Scotland were in the same position
as the desolated portions of Poland and France the
British nation would accept prohibition or any other
drastic measure as readily as their allies have done.
In any case, leaving aside the question whether the
war has rendered prohibition necessary in Britain, it
is well worth while to note the effect of enforced
sobriety in Russia. What the war has rendered
possible in the dominions of the Tsar, education may
some day achieve in Britain.

The prohibition was determined upon purely
as a military measure in order to expedite the
mobilisation. That some such action was necessary
the authorities had learnt from bitter experience.
Owing to the vastness of the territories, the in-
adequate railway system and the scattered population,
mobilisation is more difficult in Russia than in any
other country. At the best of times it is a delicate



RUSSIA AND DRINK 11

operation which can easily degenerate into a hope-
less muddle. During the Russo-Japanese war the
inveterate drunkenness of all ranks reduced the
mobilisation to a state of chaos. Weeks, nay,
months, were wasted in straightening out the muddles
arising from drunkenness. In the present instance
Russia was determined to run no such risks. The
authorities did not wait until the trouble manifested
itself, but very wisely prevented it from arising at
all. The result was that the mobilisation of the
Russian army was a miracle of organisation. Not
a drunken soldier or peasant was to be seen and the
whole process was effected several days sooner than
the official schedule time, and no less than three
weeks sooner than the German military staff had
considered possible. When it is remembered that
in those early days of the war the German armies
were hacking their way through Belgium and on
towards Paris, the military value of this speedy
mobilisation on the part of Russia becomes obvious.
Instead of being able to neglect her eastern frontiers
Germany found herself seriously menaced from that
direction. Thus the pressure on the Allies in the
west was relieved, and it is not an exaggeration to
say that prohibition in Russia saved Paris from
falling into the hands of the enemy and altered the
whole course of the war.

The military advantages of sobriety have by no
means been confined to the mobilisation. In the
first place, the conduct of the troops, in contrast to
that of their enemies, has been exemplary. Early
in the war a number of articles appeared in the
German papers pointing out that the Russian armies
suffered under a tremendous disadvantage owing to
the addiction of the soldiers of all ranks to strong
drink and the large quantities allowed them. Then
an article appeared in the Vorw'drts by a refugee from
Eastern Prussia stating that whatever the Russian



12 DRINK AND THE WAR

soldier might have been in the past, he is anything
but a drunkard now. The refugee told how when
the dreaded Cossacks arrived at his village, he
offered one of the officers some wine. Much to his
amazement the offer was refused. " We are not
taking a drop of alcohol on this campaign," explained


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryMarr MurrayDrink and the war from the patriotic point of view .. → online text (page 1 of 12)