Saturday, December 13, 2014

"True Temperance"

Kristen D. Burton posts the above "cartoon from Puck magazine [that] presented a different image of temperance, one that struck a balance 'Between Two Evils'" — Blurred Forms: An Unsteady History of Drunkenness. An excerpt:
    To the right, an Intemperate Teetotaler appears, snobbishly refusing to even gaze upon a repulsive glass of alcohol. To the left, an Intemperate Drunkard, who, in many ways, reflects the same physical deterioration as described by temperance writers like Arthur. In the middle, though, sits a man who represents True Temperance. He holds a mug of beer, but no bodily decay marks the Temperate Man’s features; he is well dressed and of amiable countenance. While anti-liquor advocates long promoted the physical decline incurred by drinking, this figure represents quite the opposite. T. S. Arthur scoffed at the idea that alcohol could provide any source of nutrition. Benjamin Rush claimed that drinking at all would create an insatiable appetite for stronger drinks, leading, inevitably, to incurable drunkenness and death. Samuel Clarke warned that alcohol would open the drinker to possible corruption from the Devil.

    Sitting between these two extremes, the Temperate Man grasps his mug of beer and, with a small smile, resolutely states, “I want nothing to do with either of you!”


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