It would be hard to say why historians have not rated the effect of strong drink as the significant factor in nineteenth-century history that it undoubtedly was. Its importance stands out from every page of the contemporary record. The most prominent factor in every disputed election was bestial drunkenness. . . . Drunkenness caused endless trouble to the employers of labour, as for instance the builders of the railways found to their cost. The results of strong drink were patent in disgusting forms at the appropriate times in most of the streets and market places of Britain. . . . In the background there was always present the degradation, the cruelty, particularly to the weak and defenceless, which resulted from drunkenness. The cause of its prevalence was no doubt an unfortunate historical tendency made much worse by intolerable living conditions. In many cases indeed the terms on which life was offered is a complete explanation of any drunkenness. — J. Kitson Claek, The Making of Victorian England

Alcohol and Alcoholism in Literature and Art

Last modified 16 March 2022