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He has endeavoured, in a general but very superficial way, to follow the course of human history, commencing with a reference to some traces in the prehistoric period, and then selecting tribes or nations whose habits present features of interest in the history of drink. The earlier chapters are devoted to the drinking customs of those countries which constituted what has been called "the cradle of the human race; and, at the risk of being a little wearisome (for the whole topic is necessarily monotonous), the author has dwelt at some length on this phase of the subject, inasmuch as it presents a completely untrodden field of investigation and philosophical study. Following the migrations of the human race westward, the drinking habits of the Greek and Roman peoples, and their moral condition in various stages of their national life, have been briefly reviewed. The ancient and modern Germans have received a fair share of attention, for their love of ethical studies has led to the publication of numerous treatises on German drinking customs in all ages, and their relation to the fortunes of the "Fatherland." The habits of our own people throughout their whole history, followed by an account of Swedish and American drinking habits and legislation,
serve as a tolerably full outline of drinking in the modern world; and the remainder of the essay is taken up with the consideration of some of the debated questions connected therewith in the present day, and in the immediate future.
That the attempt to follow the history of drink will, however, be pronounced extremely superficial, the author cannot doubt for a moment; and also that his imperfect judgment will often have led him astray in the selection of facts and authorities. Still he is not without hope that, the effort having been made in an impartial spirit and with a desire to cast some light on a question of momentous import, it may not have been in vain, and that it will lead to the publication of some work on the subject, of a more accurate and comprehensive description.
But there is a consideration in connection with this essay which, with many readers, will have far more weight than its fulness, its literary merit, or, the author fears he must add, than even its accuracy, and that is the question of its tendencies. Is it a temperance or a teetotal book? or does it advocate the use of intoxicating drink? For every one reader whose criticisms.
are directed to its style or its historical value, there will be many (if many favour it with a perusal) who will be curious to know how it tallies with their particular "ism." It will afford but little satisfaction to such readers to hear that in this respect the author wishes the book to speak for itself. To promote sobriety was certainly one of the objects for which he undertook his task, and where debated questions have come under discussion which necessitate an expression of opinion, it will be found that, whether correctly or not, the opinion has been given without any reservation. But whether the work would go far enough to please the members of the "United Kingdom Alliance," or whether it would give offence to those who profit by the sale of drink, these are questions which never entered into the author's calculations; and if the work should prove to possess any value as an aid to temperance, it will be simply because it has sought faithfully to record the history of drink and its effects upon men and nations.
In concluding this brief preface, the author desires to express his obligations to the numerous friends who have helped him with references to authorities, or with
their personal experiences; and he has no hesitation in admitting that if the essay possesses any merit, it is to the aid which he has thus received that it must be largely attributed,
CLAUGHTON, BIRKENHEAD, June 1878.