Cornhill Magazine,  9 (1864), 480–86.

Club-House Sobriety

[William Gilbert]




Temperance, Narcotics, Class, Health, Statistics, Physiology

    Argues that it can 'without the slightest difficulty, be proved, and by undoubted statistics, that the middle and higher orders of Englishmen are now the most sober body of men in Europe', and that they are at last beginning to throw off their former 'reputation for intemperance' (480). Unfortunately, the 'darling vice of drinking' is still common with labouring men, and there remains a 'great [...] desire for stimulating drink among our working-classes' (483). Nevertheless, 'large numbers of the more intelligent working men are adopting temperance principles, not on account of any imaginary sin concealed in the beer they drink, but simply because they are better able to support excessive fatigue without it' (485–86). In a recent 'experiment in proof' in 'some brick-fields near Fulham', a 'gang of temperance men, drinking water or cold tea, challenged a gang of drinking men to a trial of strength' and made 'several thousand' more bricks than their opponents, thereby proving 'the advantages of temperance in a physiological point of view' (486). Also notes that because of 'the disgust which advocates of the Rev. Mr. Stiggins [a character in The Pickwick Papers] school of sobriety have occasioned in the minds of many, by their absurd denunciations of the most moderate use of stimulating drinks, the subject rarely obtains just consideration in the minds of the thinking public' (482).

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