16 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 21


SIR,—Dr. Vemon's article on Liquor in War-Time shows such a lack of grasp of all but the statistics of the subject that I feel sustained to take up the cause of the poor who like alcohol. Dr. Vernon says : " . . in an inquiry made on 848 families living in the poorer working-class streets of York, it appeared that drink was responsible for 28 per cent. of the cases of poverty." But, good heavens, in how many cases was the poverty responsible for the drink? We are not told that, of course. Alcoholism is a symptom, not a disease. If people are sufficiently miserable, they must either have an occasional " release," in the form of getting drunk once a week, which does no harm to anybody, or else they must retire to a private mental world of their own, which may lead to insanity. If a person is dying of cancer his doctor does not deprive him of morphia on the ground that he is acquiring the habit. Until this country is prepared to raise the standard of living of the millions who exist in misery those persons are entitled to indulge in their sole means of escape—alcohol.—I am, Sir, your obedient servant, MAURICE ELLINGER. 86 Inverness Terrace, W. 2.