Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/252

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heard of the old laws; the women drank just as heavily as the men. All the writers—Pliny, Juvenal, Seneca, Tacitus, Athenæus, and many more—are full of bitter complaints against the prevailing habits. No order, no decency, was observed at their feasts. They rapidly became regular drinking bouts, where not only host and guests, but even the freedmen and slaves, drank themselves to unconsciousness.

Prizes were commonly offered, at these, to the heaviest drinkers, and it was customary to use drugs to increase the normal capacity for liquor. A separate chamber adjoining the dining room bore the suggestive name of vomitorium. The emperors themselves did not disdain to encourage these orgies. Under Claudius a certain Caius Piso was promoted at court for drinking consecutively for two days and nights. One man, Torquatus, was actually knighted under the name of Tricongius, or "Three-gallon Man," for taking that quantum of wine, so it was said, at a single draught. The populace, the home army, and the court were all equally intemperate; and it is no wonder that, when once the outer defenses of the empire were broken through, the rest collapsed and fell to pieces before the onslaughts of the hardier, even if no less intemperate, Northern races.


THE opponents of the system of free, tax-supported public schools never have been answered. That they are wrong in their position is not proved, as so many seem to think, by a simple reference to the great growth and seeming success of the free public-school system and its attendant free public library system in this country. An institution may thrive, may apparently fulfill the purpose for which it was designed, and may at the same time be working great harm to the people who have adopted it and maintain it and trust in it—a harm which may become apparent only after a long series of years, and apparent at first, even then, only to the most careful observer. It is a familiar fact that a great change in governmental policy may not produce its full effect for many decades. We are still in the dark as to what will be the final outcome, and especially the final effect on character, of the free public educational system.

The individualist opponent of that system says that the individual is the important thing. He contends that the individual is happiest when he has the maximum of freedom; that he best develops when he most fully reaps the rewards of his own exer-