INTEMPERANCE IN SCOTLAND—NOT INCURABLE: STATISTICS are valuable in their place,
but they may be abused, and they may prove too much. They show quantity and quan- titative ratio ; they mark the area and boundaries of things ; but do little towards elucidating the intimate nature of anything. A curious illustration of what statistics can and cannot do, is af- forded by the Report of Mr. William Logan, Commissioner of the Scottish Temperance League, on the Moral Statistics of Glasgow. It shows, first, an extraordinary amount of zeal, diligence, and industry, in the compiler. Next, it shows how intemperance is con- nected with various social evils—insanity, crime, vice, pauperism, and the like.- But, thirdly, the interesting little volume shows in how great .a degree the causation of those evils is obscure, if not independent of intemperance. For example, "the total number of patients admitted to the Glasgow Royal Asylum for Lu- natics, from 1840 to 1846, was 1,900; of whom 375 had been deprived of reason by strong drink, or 19-7 per cent," —not a very striking proportion. But even that is doubt- ful: in 1840, the proportion was only 13.4; in 1843, only 9.4; and if in 1846 it was 25.3, it is admitted that insanity was stimulated by the speculative mania and its reverses ; so that the drinking may have been, and probably was, only an attendant and aggravating incident, not the cause. Much of the evidence on this point is very loose "opinion." Thus, Mr. Sheriff Alison thinks that drink produces two-thirds of the crime that comes under his notice ; but he assigns no reason for thinking so. Again, in making out the connexion of "intemperance and crime," Mr. Logan cites a Police return, showing that of 10,736 "prisoners," 4,597 were taken into custody for being drunk, or "drunk and disorderly,"—the intemperance itself being the " crime "; whereas the object is to show that the offence of in- temperance leads to other crime. Moreover, the figures represent "cases," and include those hardened offenders who appear many times, and so stand in a multiplied form; as if one daily drunkard were equal to 365 people so far gone in debauched habits as to be imprisoned. No doubt, instances are given in which offenders im- puted their first transgression to drink ; but the figured statistics on the point are very loose and vague ; and on the other band, many times another kind of transgression leads to drink, as in the case of the lower class of women registered by the Police of Paris, who drink to drive away care and keep up a gay manner in their miserable vocation. It is a fact not without its instructive bear- ing, if Temperance advocates knew how to use it, that the better class of the same women studiously abstain from drink. From statistics, then, as often happens, you are thrown back to the common sense of the matter; arid in this volume you have abundant data to corroborate the conclusion of common sense, that intemperance is very tinviholenoine, very fertile in. disease, misery, and crime, mixed sip with other causes,: and in fact producing even more wretchedness than can'be'distinctly proved. But what of the causes cif this cause? -Mr. Logan throws no fur- ther light upon those than the Committee of the General Assem- bly. The "drinking customs Of the country"la.re again and again mentioned as a proximate 'cause, but the inveatigators,sval not look at the broad facts that stare them in the'fice, and that is the reason Why they make so little progress. We mean no offence to our Scotch friends when we insist on this point—quite the re- verse. We with to see their zealous and really able medicators make a thorough diagnosis of the 'symptoms. Those symptoms are not obscure. Scotland is: beyond most, if not all countries of the size, in three things,—in ascetic opinions; in social re- strictions on physical excitenients and recreations other than drinking, and in drunkenness. We will not argue that coinci- dence proves causation ; but the' coincidence is remarkable, and might at least suggest a closer scrutiny of the feets, with respect not only to the influence of those coincident traits on each other, but to some common cause. "Teetotalism"- fails—we saw the universal testimony to that effect. It may be achieved in sectional bodies, as celibacy may among conventual orders but it seems to be against nature. The other agencies tried in orders; fail, on the report of her accredited servants in that behalf : hence the inevitable conclusion, that the causes are not clearly recognized, the remedies not learned directly from the knowledge of those causes. One writer of high authority, cited by Mr. Logan, hints a wiser lesson— 'Great as may be the present amount of crime," says Mr. Frederick Hill, In- sPector of Prisons, "I believe it tube much less than formerly, especially as re- sPects the most serious offences; and I attribute much of this change to the de- crease of drunkenness, caused in part by the Temperance Societies. " I should have little reliance on any attempt by the Legislature to suppress dnmkenness, by imposing great restricttens on the vendors of intoxicating drinks because I think that such a course would create a spirit of resistance, and would tend to drive the trade into the hands of disreputable people, who would not scru- Ple to practise a system of deception' in order to evade the law. I am therefore clad that the Temperance Societies have not called for legislative interference, and irra twoceeded in a way that can give no offence to any reasonable person. "The chief way in which Temperance Societies appear to me to have promoted the cause of sobriety, is by diffusing information on the injury to health and happiness consequent on an indulgence in intoxicating liquors; and by encoura- ging the substitution of rational pleasures. It is to the greater prevalence of such pleasures elsewhere, especially of those that can be followed in the open air, that the greater sobriety of several neighbouring Continental nations is no doubt chiefly due."