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for two centuries is fearful to relate. European civili-
sation has been bent upon the subjugation of the
so-called inferior races, and wherever they have stood
in its way they have had to be exterminated, either
by the sword, or, what is worse, by the insidious
poison of the liquor it introduced."

It must be admitted that there is a great deal of
truth in these remarks. Western civilisation has
undoubtedly brought many blessings to the Eastern
peoples, but it has also brought many vices and evils.
And it is only within recent years that the Western
Powers are beginning to realise their responsibilities
in the matter. For long the Empire was regarded
simply as a business proposition for the benefit of
the few. It is only within recent years that the
ideal of a brotherhood of nations has been put into
practice with such splendid results. But the short-
sightedness of the past generations has left the
present many problems to deal with, and not least
of these is the problem of the drink traffic which has
been forced upon the peoples who had no desire for it.

Nowhere is the problem more difficult than in
India, Ceylon, and Burma. In the first two countries
drink has been practically forced upon the people,
but in Burma the case is somewhat different. Here,
as in Ceylon, the greater portion of the population
is Buddhist and by virtue of its religion teetotal.
Instead of forcing the liquor upon the people the
authorities, in deference to the very strong appeals
made by the native rulers and priests, prohibited


the sale of intoxicating liquors to the Burmese, but
established large numbers of drink shops for the
" convenience " of the non-Burmese population. At
first this decision was acclaimed as a splendid example
of liberal-mindedness, but it is obvious that the
system leaves much to be desired. In the first place
it places a very strong temptation in the way of the
natives. They are taught to believe that the British
are a superior race and that Christianity and every-
thing else connected with the Western man is superior
to the native institutions. Nevertheless they see
practically the whole white population indulging in
alcoholic liquor, and it is not to be wondered at that
many decide to follow the example of their masters.
In the second place, by confining the drinking chiefly
to the white population the evils of alcoholism are
impressed upon the natives. This may be good for
the natives, but it is bad for British prestige. The
natives are naturally inclined to regard British rule
in the light of their experience of the Britons with
whom they come into contact, and much good work
has been hindered in Burma by the drunkenness of a
portion of the white population.

The actual state of affairs has been described by a
resident in Burma in the following words : " Ninety
per cent, of the drunkards here are Christians, while
of the Buddhists, Mohammedans, and Parsees 95 per
cent, are total abstainers. Of the Hindus 80 per cent,
are abstainers, the percentage being lowered by the
Pariahs, or outcast Hindus, who are, to all intents
and purposes, Christians. We have a population
of some 13,000,000 in Burma, of which not
more than 50,000 are Christians. That is why
there has been no legislation for dealing with the
liquor traffic. The educated Hindu and Buddhist
laugh at the Christians chattering about temperance
when the Christians import every drop of spirit that
comes into the country and consume 90 per cent, of


it. They regard us as hypocrites. ... If the Chris-
tians could be removed from Burma there would be
prohibition in less than six months."

In Hong Kong the growth of the liquor evil has
made restrictive legislation necessary. But here, as
everywhere else, the chief obstacle to the satisfactory
settlement of the problem is the loss to the revenue
which is an inevitable corollary to increased sobriety.
In 1912 it was decided that women and girls should
not be allowed to serve in drink shops ; and it is now
proposed that all private licences should be abolished
and the whole traffic taken over by the Government.
Whether such a scheme would prove successful is
doubtful. There are many advantages in state or
municipal control, but unfortunately these advan-
tages extend only to theory. In practice the scheme
always results in more drunkenness and increased

It is not generally known that stringent restrictions
have been placed on the liquor trade throughout the
greater part of Africa, and that in some districts
what practically amounts to prohibition has been in
force for many years. In 1889 a conference was held
in Brussels for dealing with the slave and liquor
traffics throughout the Continent. The nations repre-
sented at the conference were Great Britain, France,
Belgium, Germany, the United States, Italy, Holland,
Austria, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal.
In 1901 the regulations in regard to the liquor problem
came into force. These regulations were

(1) That throughout tropical Africa, extending
from 20 N. to 22 S., that is between, roughly speak-
ing, Egypt and Bechuanaland, the manufacture of
all spirituous liquors is prohibited in those regions
where the natives, for religious or other reasons, are
not in the habit of taking alcohol.

(2) That in those districts which did not come


under this prohibitionary measure the duties on spirits
were to be raised to a high level.

These regulations have met with a large measure
of success. The natives have been protected from
the attentions of the unscrupulous trader in fiery
spirits and the white population has benefited by
the restricted facilities for drinking. Indeed, it is
difficult to over-estimate the advantages which have
accrued from the measures. In no quarter of the
globe does alcohol deserve the epithet " deadly
poison" more' than in tropical Africa. Any white
man who has lived there knows that abstinence or
at least the strictest moderation is essential not
merely for health but for life itself. To drink spirits,
and especially the raw " fire water " which is usually
supplied by the traders, is to court certain death.

The story of the drink traffic in Madagascar is one
of the foulest blots on the records of Western " civil-
isation." Alcoholic drink was first introduced into
the island in the early part of the nineteenth century
by some traders of Mauritius who began to send
supplies of rum. The evil spread to such an alarming
extent that King Radama I ordered the destruction
of all the spirit in the island, compensating the owners
out of his private purse. He also attempted to pro-
hibit the importation of alcoholic drink, but the
British Government interfered and he was forced to
be content with the imposition of a duty of 33 per

In 1867 the United States Consul suggested that
the duty be reduced to 10 per cent. It was dis-
covered afterwards that his suggestion was by no
means disinterested, for his son had a large liquor
business. The United States Government took up
the matter and forced the King to fall in with the
suggestion of the Consul. As a result the Consul's
son made a fortune and excessive drinking became


the curse of Madagascar. King Radama II drank
himself to death in company with many of his sub-
jects. In 1876 Queen Ranavolona issued an edict
prohibiting the importation and sale of all alcoholic
drinks. The Great Powers protested, but the Queen
kept to her determination to free the island from the
curse. For twenty years the prohibition remained
in force. Then trouble arose with France over the
question of the relaxation of the prohibition edict.
French traders felt that they were suffering, and their
government upheld them. The result was that the
Queen was deposed, Madagascar became a French
colony, and the drink traffic was re-introduced. Now
the authorities are attempting to find some means of
coping with the traffic which will not cause any undue
loss to the revenue or to the traders. Thus have
three of the greatest nations in the world, Britain,
the United States, and France, violated in turn the
interests and wishes of the natives.

That the drink problem has become serious in the
Union of South Africa is proved by the fact that in
1913 three days were spent by the Senate in debating
the following resolution : " That in the opinion of
this House it is desirable that the issue of licences
for the sale of intoxicating liquors should be con-
trolled by the people of the Union; and with that
object in view the House is of the opinion that legis-
lation should be introduced for providing for the
establishment of a system of direct popular veto,
whereby the people shall be enabled through the
ballot boxes to decide at stated intervals either (a)
that the number of licences shall continue as it exists
at the time of voting; or (b) that the number of such
licences shall be reduced ; or (c) that no such licences
shall be issued."

The licensing laws differ in the various states
forming the Union, but generally speaking the sale
of alcoholic liquor to natives is prohibited. Unfortu-


nately, this prohibition cannot be enforced owing to
the facilities for the consumption of drink among the
white population and the consequent difficulty of
rendering the law effective. As a result, a vast
illicit trade has sprung up for supplying the natives
with liquor, mostly of the most harmful description.
This traffic has got almost beyond control. In one
case it was proved that a trader had sold no less than
37,000 dozen bottles of raw spirits in the course of a
year to the natives through his agents.

When it is realised that the coloured population is
largely in excess of the white, it is not to be wondered
at that the " Black Peril " has become increasingly
serious during late years. At least 90 per cent, of
serious native crime is due to the illicit liquor traffic.
If the laws prohibiting that traffic could only be
enforced then there can be little doubt that such
crimes as attacks upon the honour of white women
would assume comparatively insignificant propor-
tions. Such crimes have been increasing at an alarm-
ing rate during recent years and popular opinion has
been rapidly rising in favour of drastic measures. A
Commission has been appointed and has reported in
favour of various restrictive measures and the inflic-
tion of heavy penalties on the illicit liquor traffic.
However, the fact that prohibition in the Southern
States of America has practically stamped out the
Black Peril has led to the formation of a very strong
party in favour of a similar measure for South Africa,
and it seems likely that the drink traffic will be rooted
out in the course of a few years.

Canada has always been well to the fore in the
matter of temperance legislation. Even in the early
part of the nineteenth century, when to be a tee-
totaler was to be considered a lunatic, Canada had
prohibition in many districts. This prohibition was
not the result of any excessive zeal for sobriety. It
was simply due to common sense. The settlers


found that alcohol was bad for them, especially
during the winter season when they had to withstand
exceptionally low temperatures, and so, like sensible
men, they decided to do without it. But as the popu-
lation of the country increased, the old laws became
ineffective and new legislation was necessary in order
to cope with the traffic before it became a deeply
rooted evil. In 1878 the Dominion Government
passed the Scott Act, which, with various emendations,
remains in force to-day.

The Scott Act is a most comprehensive local
option measure, giving power to any city or county,
by the vote of the electors, to suppress the ordinary
sale of intoxicating liquors. The Act is divided into
two parts. The first provides the machinery by
which, on a petition signed by 25 per cent, of the
electors, a vote must be taken to determine whether
the second part of the Act shall be put into operation.
The second part provides for the extinction of all
licences and for the punishment of those who attempt
to carry on an illicit trade in drink. Unlike most
laws for dealing with the illicit sale in other countries
the Scott Act provides really effective deterrents.
It is no hardship for a man who is making some
thousands a year out of the illicit liquor traffic to
pay a fine of ten pounds or so, as often is the case
in South Africa, when the police take the trouble to
prosecute. But such men have a very real objection
to four months' imprisonment with hard labour as is
provided for by the Scott Act.

The Canadian Temperance Law is perhaps the most
effective that the world has seen. It is essentially
democratic. It places the control of the liquor traffic
in the hands of the people themselves, with the result
that the traffic is really controlled by moderate,
unbiassed opinion. It has prevented the traffic de-
veloping into a national evil and the trade from
acquiring any inordinate power and influence, as in


the Mother Country. While not inflicting prohibi-
tion upon those who do not desire it, the Act has
kept Canada sober. There is no civilised country in
the world possessing a cleaner record than Canada
in the matter of drunkenness, crime, insanity, and all
the other evils which usually go hand in hand with
the drink traffic.

Each province in the Dominion is responsible for
the regulation of the traffic within its borders. Hence
different regulations are in force in various parts of
the country. Generally speaking the sale of intoxi-
cating liquors is prohibited throughout the North-
west Territories to the Indians ; and the sale to per-
sons under the age of eighteen is also prohibited. In
most provinces the saloons are closed from 7 p.m. on
Saturday until 8 a.m. the following Monday. All
saloons are closed on election days. No saloons are
allowed to open within a certain distance of any
public works or mine. A saloon keeper is responsible
for the acts of any drunken person who has been
served with liquor by him. In Quebec the wife of
an habitual drunkard can claim damages from the
saloon keepers who serve him after the receipt of a
notice placing the man on the Black List.

In Australia temperance legislation is not so
advanced as in Canada, but much progress is being
made. Unfortunately the liquor trade was per-
mitted to build up vast interests before the problem
was tackled, and, therefore, a satisfactory settlement
is all the more difficult to arrange. That public
opinion is becoming increasingly in favour of strong
measures is evident from several facts. For instance,
the new capital of the Commonwealth, Yass Cam-
berra, will not have any licences. Canteens have
been abolished in connection with the training of
troops, and all drinking facilities have been pro-
hibited in connection with the great Trans-Australian


Labour troubles have provided the Australians with
an object-lesson in the value of enforced sobriety.
During the great strike at Brisbane in 1912 the atti-
tude of the strikers became so threatening that the
authorities decided to close all the saloons for one
week, for the next week they were opened for three
hours only, for the next for twelve hours, and after-
wards for the usual time. The convictions for
drunkenness during those weeks were as follows

Week previous to entire closing . . .50

Week of prohibition 5

Week of three hours' sale daily ... 6
Week with twelve hours' sale daily . . 40
First week of full time . . . ^- f . 67

The hospitals also benefited by the scheme. During
the two weeks of prohibition and restricted sale the
refractory ward of the Brisbane General Hospital,
which had been fully occupied for months past, was
entirely out of commission.

Each State in the Commonwealth has its own
licensing laws. In New South Wales alone is there
local option. The law was passed by one vote
only and came into force in 1906. Besides providing
for local option the Act introduced several other
reforms, such as the prohibition of the employment
of barmaids under twenty-one years of age, the
serving of children and other matters. In regard
to local option the Act provided for a popular vote
on the liquor question on the occasion of every
general election. Three questions are submitted to
each voter : (1) lor or against the continuance of
the liquor traffic; (2) for or against a reduction in
the number of licences; and (3) for or against no
licence. For prohibition to be carried into effect a
majority of three-fifths is necessary together with a
vote of 80 per cent, of the electorate. A bare majority
is sufficient to secure the continuance or reduction of


the traffic. The present state of affairs can be judged
by the voting at the last three elections

For 1907. 1910. 1913.

Continuance . 210,371 825,963 382,087

Reduction . . 72,721 38,689 44,788

No Licence . . 178,600 212,840 246,395

In the other states the condition of affairs is more
or less the same as in the Mother Country. Local
option, however, will come into force in Tasmania
in 1917. In these states any sweeping reforms will
have to emanate from the Commonwealth Parlia-
ment, the trade interests being very strongly repre-
sented in all the State Parliaments. As has been
already mentioned above, the Federal Parliament is
becoming increasingly in favour of advanced legisla-
tion, and it seems likely that within the next few
years there will be marked changes made in the
control of the liquor traffic in Australia.

Local option was introduced in New Zealand in
1894, and in 1908 a majority of 33,331 votes was
secured for no licence. The three-fifths rule, however,
prevented the no-licence scheme being put into effect
in more than twelve districts. In 1910 the law was
changed and the electors were called upon to decide
for or against national prohibition or no licence.
To secure either of these measures a majority of
60 per cent, was necessary. The figures show how
strong is the popular demand for the elimination of
the traffic from the island. They were as follows

Electorate . . 590,042

For prohibition . . . . . 259,943
Against prohibition . . . . 205,661

Majority for 54,282


The majority, therefore, was only 55*83 per cent.,
or 4' 17 per cent, short of the majority required for

To sum up. Throughout the British Empire more
or less stringent measures are being or have been
taken for dealing with the liquor traffic. The problem
is most difficult in those colonies and dependencies
where the short-sightedness of the authorities in the
past has resulted, as in the case of the Mother Country
itself, in the traffic obtaining a firm grip on the
finances of the country and acquiring an exaggerated
importance. But the whole trend of moderate opinion
throughout the Empire is in favour of " root and
branch " methods. In every colony the liquor trade
is fighting a losing battle. The tide of public opinion
is steadily rising against it, and although it may
never be actually abolished, as was the case with the
slave trade, there can be little doubt that the next
few generations of Britons will see reforms which will
at least extirpate the liquor evil.

The war is forcing the Mother Country to take
strong measures for dealing with the evil at home.
There can be little doubt that her action will give a
great impetus to temperance legislation in every
corner of the Empire. If it does then the war will
not have been fought in vain. With the liquor trade
reduced to its proper level, and the liquor evil effec-
tively abolished, the British Empire need have no
fear for the future.



PERHAPS it would have been better to have headed
this chapter " The Government's Inaction." In
February the nation was informed that drink was
seriously hindering the successful conduct of the
war. Since then there has been a vast amount of
brave talk. The whole nation was prepared to
accept any sacrifice that might be necessary in order
to cut away the evil. But weeks were allowed to
pass into months, and still the Government talked
and did nothing. Naturally, the nation came to the
conclusion that the whole matter had been greatly
exaggerated and that there was no need for the
heroic measures which were gravely discussed early
in March.

But the evil had been in no way exaggerated.
Indeed, if anything, it was worse than even the most
eager temperance reformer had dared to hint. Speak-
ing on the authority of reports made by the War
Office, Admiralty and Home Office, Mr. Lloyd George
made the following revelations as to the extent of
the evil, in introducing the Government's scheme for
dealing with the problem

" Reports received from the Clyde, Tyne and
Barrow districts are in agreement. About the end
of March the amount of work put in by the men is
much less than reasonably could be expected. Briefly,
the position is that now, while the country is at war,
the men are doing less work than would be regarded
as an ordinary week's work in peace days. We must
state these facts, however unpleasant they may be.



" The normal hours worked, I think, are higher
than at Portsmouth they are 53 or 54. The problem
is not to increase their normal output, but how to
get them to do a normal week's work of 51 to 53
hours, as the case may be. I am quoting from
Admiral Tudor's reports

" 'The reasons for the loss of time are no doubt
various, but it is abundantly clear that the most
potent is in the facilities which exist for men to
obtain beer and spirits, combined with the high
rates of wages and abundance of employment.
Opinion on this point is practically unanimous.'

" He goes on to say that in the larger armament
firms the output is also adversely affected by the
drink question. Take the yards first. This is a
week's work by 135 fitters in a particular yard.
They are turning out submarines. I need hardly say
how important the work is to us at this moment.
On Monday, out of 135 men, only 60 worked a full
day. Out of 1282 hours they ought to have worked,
the time lost was 366 hours. On Tuesday 90 of them
worked a full day; on Wednesday only 86 worked a
full day ; on Thursday only 77 ; on Friday 91 ; and
on Saturday 103. There was no Sunday work.

The number of hours they ought to have worked
on the basis of an ordinary week's work in peace
time is 7155. The actual hours they worked was
5533. They lost 1622 hours, or 30 per cent., on a
week's work on the basis of peace times.

" I have also been supplied by Admiral Tudor
with a statement of lost time in works of first-class
importance to us. The employers do not care to
give names, but they are prepared to do so if neces-
sary. During seven weeks' work for riveters on a
basis of 50 to 54 hours a week, the percentage of
time lost in the first week was 32; next week, 32;


third week, 35; fourth week, 37; fifth week, 35;
sixth week, 37; and seventh week, 35 per cent.

" Take the platers. They are better, but there
again the loss of time ranges from 22 to 30 per cent.
The other workmen range from 19 to 28 per cent.
That is the loss of time in the particular works for
seven weeks on that basis.

" Then came an advance in wages, and the per-
centage of absences went up. Because the men earn
more money they lose more time.

" It is necessary to repeat that this is not a charge
against the whole of the men, because there are some
men working not merely beyond reproach, but
deserving of every commendation which the State
can give.

" There has been an analysis of the hours worked
by the men in about 30 or 40 firms ; 24 per cent,
are working more than the normal week. That com-
pares favourably with the work in the Royal dock-
yards. Of the remaining 76 per cent., 40 per cent,
are working 40 hours, against a normal week; 53
and 36 per cent, are working under 40 hours; 493
men out of every 1000 in time of war are working
fewer than 45 hours a week.

" These are the deplorable facts. I am dealing
now purely with shipyards. I know it is said these
men are working very hard and cannot work more
than 40 hours a week. But I take a firm where
there is no Sunday labour. There Monday is usually
the worst day. This firm gave three days' holiday

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Online LibraryMarr MurrayDrink and the war from the patriotic point of view .. → online text (page 11 of 12)