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ONCE more we must follow the course of civilisation westward, this time across the Atlantic, and in the New World we shall find much to interest us in connection with drinking habits and their effects upon society. Every phase of the subject may be studied in Americathe aborigines, with their primitive methods of preparing intoxicating drinks and their unbridled indulgence in them; the half-caste, who has acquired all the vices but few of the virtues of civilisation; the European emigrant, usually sober if a German; often intemperate if he comes from Great Britain or Ireland; and finally, we find there the Puritan spirit in full operation, and the law, backed by public opinion, effectually suppressing not alone drunkenness, but in many places even the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages.

A curious and very repulsive feature of our subject presents itself in that part of South America which is watered by the River Plate, but it must be referred to, first, because it exhibits in striking contrast the

drinking habits of civilised and barbarous races; and, secondly, because it almost places beyond a doubt the question of the aboriginal tendency to use native intoxicating beverages.


In the neighbourhood of the Plate there are three varieties of men-two of the Creole, descendants of the Spaniards, whose habits are quite dissimilar, and then the native Indians. All three indulge in alcoholic drinks, but in varying degrees. The inhabitants of the large towns, such as Buenos Ayres, Monte Video, Rosario, &c., are as civilised as Europeans, and much more sober than the majority. They usually drink light French or Spanish wine in great moderation, and mostly diluted with water. This is taken at meals, and at other times coffee, iced syrup drinks, and light beer are the customary beverages. Spirits are hardly ever tasted. The inhabitants of the interior are barely civilised, and the farther one recedes from the large towns the more distinctly the Indian blood may be traced. They are great drunkards and gamblers, and are only deterred by poverty (for they often work for food and lodging only), or by their distance from a camp-store, from habitual and continuous intemperance. They consume a raw spirit called caña, distilled from the sugar-cane, which is pure, very strong, and not disagreeable to the taste. As for the third variety, the Indians, they are men of the very lowest type, said, indeed, to have been brought under the civilising influence of the Jesuits some centuries back, but retaining only a portion of their sacred nomenclature, and a few of the rudest arts, such as

1 The author is indebted for these particulars to Mr. S. P. Wilding (son of a former American Vice-Consul at Liverpool), who has resided many years on the River Plate.


plaiting straw. These Indians are spread over an immense tract of country lying between the northern frontier of the Argentine Republic and the southern borders of Paraguay, and they drink, raw, a strong spirit which they distil from the sweet beans of the algaroba (the locust or carob bean). The process of distillation they have probably learned from the Europeans, though not from the Jesuits, who endeavoured to win them over from barbarism to civilisation, but they are said to have another mode of preparing an intoxicating beverage, which they adopt in common with the natives of the South Sea Islands. The drink, called cava, is prepared by masticating the root of the plant so called,1 and expectorating the chewed plant into a vessel; to this, water is added, and the whole is allowed to ferment. Morewood says that in the South Sea Islands no one is allowed to chew the root but young persons with good. teeth, clean mouths, and free from disease, and he describes at considerable length both the manufacture of the cava drink and its effects. It is an aromatic, stimulating narcotic, with sudorific properties, and to a stranger unaccustomed to its use it operates like spirits, quickly causing intoxication. The reader must pardon this reference to what is certainly a horrible and filthy process, but it is mentioned in order to show that the arts of civilisation are by no means essential to the gratification of the desire for intoxicating beverages. And here, in these three varieties of mankind, we have another illustration of the principle laid down in our first chapter, that the passion for drink is more un

1 Macropiper methysticum: Miquel. See Lindley's Medical and Economic Botany, p. 133. Bradbury & Evans.

P. 250; also Lindley's Medical Botany, loc. cit.

bridled in the savage than in civilised men. For whilst the cultivated race is remarkably sober, the halfcastes in their immediate contiguity are drunkards and gamblers, and the aborigines of the interior, with many of whom they rarely come into contact, are the most debauched of all. When they can procure spirits, or when they prepare their native beverages, they drink until they are intoxicated, and remain in that condition until the supply is completely exhausted.

In no people has the transition from intemperance to sobriety been so marked as in those of the United States. The accounts of their drinking habits in the early part of this century are hardly credible, and are repulsive beyond description; in fact, they are worse than anything to be found in modern European records. The price of the native spirits was exceedingly low, varying from Is. 3d. to Is. 6d. per gallon, and the consumption was enormous. We have some hesitation, after what has been said concerning Sweden, in accepting statistics as a guide, but Morewood gives a table, which he says was compiled by the marshals of the United States and the secretaries of the territories,1 and which shows that in one year the distillation and consumption of spirits reached 25,456,432 gallons; whilst according to another writer the quantity distilled in 1817 was about 25,000,000. But it must not be forgotten that a very large proportion of this liquid fire was used in barter with the Indians, with what effect history has but too faithfully recorded. Nor were these all the spirits which were consumed in the

1 P. 325, and Addenda. This table also appears in the first edition (1824), p. 177.



United States, for we find that as early as 1790 about 3,679,000 gallons were imported, and in the years immediately preceding 1806 the average annual importation had reached 9,750,000 gallons. Besides being manufactured from the usual substances, such as cereals, the native spirits were distilled from peaches, apples, and two kinds of maple; and not only was their price low, but the charge for licenses to sell them and other intoxicating drinks was equally so, varying from ten to twenty-five dollars; in fact, every possible encouragement was given to the production and consumption of home-made alcoholic beverages. Wines, too, were largely imported from all parts of the world, and in 1805 a company of emigrants planted what appears to have been the first vineyard in the United States, namely, in New Switzerland, Indiana, from which very excellent wine was manufactured.

With all these inducements to excessive indulgence in drink, it is not surprising that drunkenness was widespread; and the chief sinners and sufferers were the emigrants and the aboriginal races. The custom already existed at that time of drinking what may be called slang mixtures, " mint-juleps," "sherry-cobblers," &c., at bars; and although the habits of the people of the United States have since reformed, that still appears to be the characteristic form of intemperance, at least in large cities. Of the temperance societies which were started to counteract the terrible plague, we shall speak in the next chapter, but in proof of the condition of the people at that time it will suffice to mention two or three facts. In 1821, a law was passed which placed the property of habitual drunkards on the same footing as that of lunatics, handing it over to a committee of

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