Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/408

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

alcohol per hundred of insane; from these it appears that after suffering a slight diminution on the application of the law, the proportion rose between 1878 and 1882.

From this summary I find that of the measures so far adopted against alcoholism those have produced the most important results which, taking account of human weakness and of the hardships of the struggle for existence in certain classes, have aimed to remove from the man the occasion for falling, in the adoption of which Norway leads among European states.

The repression which appears to me to be indispensable has so far played only a very secondary part; but I acknowledge that the German project presents a collection of repressive measures which may be of real efficiency.

If I could venture to formulate a few principles as the basis of legislation against alcoholism, I should propose: aiming at the dealers by limiting their number to a pro rata of the normal needs of* the population; raising the license fee to the highest possible amount; giving license, as the German plan contemplates, only to persons of known morality; imposing on them, by a system of inspections and frequent analyses of their stock, the obligation to sell only completely rectified spirits; prohibiting their selling on credit, and declaring drink debts null; forbidding their selling to youths of less than twenty years of age; making them responsible for all mischief committed by persons coming from their establishments; and absolutely refusing license to all commercial establishments other than those especially devoted to the sale of liquors.

If we add to this an increase of the taxes on alcohol large enough to make the price of a glass too high for the man's purse, complemented with a reduction of the taxes on natural wines, tea, coffee, and sugar; supplementing this with frequent lectures on the benefits of sobriety and the anatomical injuries and physiological disorders produced by alcohol; and especially if we endeavor to preserve the rising generation from promiscuous associations and the corruption of the great centers, and instill into their hearts from infancy the principles of sound morals; and if the repressive laws against intoxication are rigorously executed the penalties against it are faithfully inflicted, and the protection of children against demoralization and abuse by unworthy parents which I have had introduced into our laws is guarded, we may perhaps see the rising wave of alcoholism recede.

This is the course, in my opinion, upon which those governments which, having assured the grandeur of their countries, perceive how it is threatened by alcoholism and how urgent is the necessity of arresting the progress of the vice, should now resolutely enter.