The Discipline of Drink. By the Rev. T. E. Bridgett.
(Burns and Oates.)—It is possible that this title may need some explanation. A fuller description of the subject of Mr. Bridgett's volume runs thus,— " An historical inquiry into the principles and practice of the Catholic Church regarding the use, abuse, and disuse of Alcoholic liquors, especi- ally in England, Ireland, and Scotland, from the sixth to the sixteenth century." The author of course repudiates, as partaking of the nature of heresy, the assertion that alcohol is evil in itself, and he characterises with a severity that is not more than is deserved the so-called Scripture argument of the abstainers. Perhaps, however, we might be allowed to demur when he suggests that the "Protestant Templars " bear the same relation to Catholic ascetics that the demoniac among the tombs did to John the Baptist. We must demur, again, to the statement that the abandonment of the practice of Confession by the Northern nations has been a main cause of the increase of drunkenness. What about Ireland? The chastity of Irishwomen is often credited to the Confessional. Why is it not efficacious against the intemperance of the men ? And if it is not efficacious, why is its absence invoked as the cause of Protestant drunkenness? That much may be done by the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, we do not doubt ; and we are convinced that Mr. Bridgett's friends are going the right way to work when they preach abstinence as a counsel, not as a command. At the same time, it must be allowed that the "discipline of drink," on the part of the spiritual authorities, has been too lax. It is easy to bring up instances where strong remonstrances have been made by individual teachers, and stringent rules imposed on this indulgence. But, on the whole, fasting has been too much confined to the matter of eating. We have known devout Romanists who never made any corresponding diminution of their drink, while they rigidly observed the abstinence from flesh. Of course, the one abstinence makes the other more need-
ful. Nor do we remember, in the annual pastorals about fasting, any rules about drink. Mr. Bridgett's is a learned and interesting book, and likely, we hope, to be really useful.