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The Ethics of Drink and Other Social Questions by James Runciman

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possession, the day is kept. Alas, how dreary it is for the hearts that
are craving for home! The moon rises through the majestic arch of the
sky and makes the tamarisk-trees gorgeous; the warm air flows gently;
the dancers float round to the wild waltz-rhythm; and the imitation of
home is kept up with zeal by the stout general, the grave and scholarly
judge, the fresh subaltern, and by all the bright ladies who are in
exile. But even these think of the quiet churches in sweet English
places; they think of the purple hedges, the sharp scent of frost-bitten
fields, the glossy black ice, and the hissing ring of the skates. I know
that, religiously as Christmas is kept up even on the frontier in India,
the toughest of the men long for home, and pray for the time when the
blessed regions of Brighton and Torquay and Cheltenham may receive the
worn pensioner. One poet says something of the Anglo-Indian's longing
for home at Christmas-time; he speaks with melancholy of the folly of
those who sell their brains for rupees and go into exile, and he appears
to be ready, for his own part, to give up his share in the glory of our
Empire if only he can see the friendly fields in chill December. I
sympathize with him. Away with the mendicants, rich and poor--away with
the gushing parasites who use a kindly instinct and a sacred name in
order to make mean profit--away with the sordid hucksters who play with
the era of man's hope as though the very name of the blessed time were a
catchword to be used like the abominable party-cries of politicians! But
when I come to men and women who understand the real significance of the
day--when I come to charitable souls who are reminded of One who was all
Charity, and who gave an impulse to the world which two thousand years
have only strengthened--when I come among these, I say, "Give us as much
Yule-tide talk as ever you please, do your deeds of kindness, take your
fill of innocent merriment, and deliver us from the pestilence of quacks
and mendicants!" It is when I think of the ghastly horror of our own
great central cities that I feel at once the praiseworthiness and the
hopelessness of all attempts to succour effectually the immense mass of
those who need charity. Hopeless, helpless lives are lived by human
creatures who are not much above the brutes. Alas, how much may be
learned from a journey through the Midlands! We may talk of merry frosty
days and starlit nights and unsullied snow and Christmas cheer; but the
potter and the iron-worker know as much about cheeriness as they do
about stainless snow. Then there is London to be remembered. A cheery
time there will be for the poor creatures who hang about the dock-gates
and fight for the chance of earning the price of a meal! In that blank
world of hunger and cold and enforced idleness there is nothing that the
gayest optimist could describe as joyful, and some of us will have to
face the sight of it during the winter that is now at hand. What can be
done? Hope seems to have deserted many of our bravest; we hear the dark
note of despair all round, and it is only the sight of the workers--the
kindly workers--that enables us to bear up against deadly depression and
dark pessimism.

_December, 1888._


Even in this distressed England of ours there are still districts where
the simple reapers regard the harvest labour as a frolic; the dulness of
their still lives is relieved by a burst of genuine but coarse
merriment, and their abandoned glee is not unpleasant to look upon. Then
come the harvest suppers--noble spectacles. The steady champ of resolute
jaws sounds in a rhythm which is almost majestic; the fearsome
destruction wrought on solid joints would rouse the helpless envy of the
dyspeptics of Pall Mall, and the playful consumption of ale--no small
beer, but golden Rodney--might draw forth an ode from a teetotal
Chancellor of the Exchequer. August winds up in a blaze of gladness for
the reaper. On ordinary evenings he sits stolidly in the dingy parlour
and consumes mysterious malt liquor to an accompaniment of grumbling and
solemn puffing of acrid tobacco, but the harvest supper is a wildly
luxurious affair which lasts until eleven o'clock. Are there not songs
too? The village tenor explains--with a powerful accent--that he only
desires Providence to let him like a soldier fall. Of course he breaks
down, but there is no adverse criticism. Friendly hearers say, "Do yowe
try back, Willum, and catch that up at start agin;" and Willum does try
back in the most excruciating manner. Then the elders compare the
artist with singers of bygone days, and a grunting chorus of stories
goes on. Then comes the inevitable poaching song. Probably the singer
has been in prison a dozen times over, but he is regarded as a moral and
law-abiding character by his peers; and even his wife, who suffered
during his occasional periods of seclusion, smiles as he drones out the
jolting chorus. When the sportsman reaches the climax and tells how--

We slung her on our shoulders,
And went across the down;
We took her to a neighbour's house,
And sold her for a crown.

We sold her for a crown, my boys,
But I 'on't tell ye wheer,
For 'tis my delight of a shiny night
In the season of the year

--then the gentlemen who have sold many a hare in their time exchange
rapturous winks, and even a head-keeper might be softened by the
prevailing enthusiasm. Hodge is a hunter by nature, and you can no more
restrain him from poaching than you can restrain a fox. The most popular
man in the whole company is the much-incarcerated poacher, and no
disguise whatever is made of the fact. A theft of a twopenny cabbage
from a neighbour would set a mark against a man for life; a mean action
performed when the hob-nailed company gather in the tap-room would be
remembered for years; but a sportsman who blackens his face and creeps
out at night to net the squire's birds is considered to be a hero, and
an honest man to boot. He mentions his convictions gaily, criticises the
officials of each gaol that he has visited in the capacity of prisoner,
and rouses roars of sympathetic laughter as he tells of his sufferings
on the tread-mill. No man or woman thinks of the facts that the squire's
pheasants cost about a guinea apiece to rear, that a hare is worth about
three-and-sixpence, that a brace of partridges brings two shillings even
from the cunning receiver who buys the poachers' plunder. No; they
joyously think of the fact that the keepers are diddled, and that
satisfies them.

Alas, the glad and sad times alike must die, and the dull prose of
October follows hard on the wild jollity of the harvest supper, while
Winter peers with haggard gaze over Autumn's shoulder! The hoarse winds
blow now, and the tender flush of decay has begun to touch the leaves
with delicate tints. In the morning the gossamer floats in the
glittering air and winds ropes of pearls among the stubble; the level
rays shoot over a splendid land, and the cold light is thrillingly
sweet. But the evenings are chill, and the hollow winds moan, crying,
"Summer is dead, and we are the vanguard of Winter. Soon the wild army
will be upon you. Steal the sunshine while you may."

What is the source of that tender solemn melancholy that comes on us all
as we feel the glad year dying? It is melancholy that is not painful,
and we can nurse it without tempting one stab of real suffering. Each
season brings its moods--Spring is hopeful; Summer luxurious; Autumn
contented; and then comes that strange time when our thoughts run on
solemn things. Can it be that we associate the long decline of the year
with the dark closing of life? Surely not--for a boy or girl feels the
same pensive, dreary mood, and no one who remembers childhood can fail
to think of the wild inarticulate thoughts that passed through the
immature brain. Nay, our souls are from God; they are bestowed by the
Supreme, and they were from the beginning, and cannot be destroyed. From
Plato downwards, no thoughtful man has missed this strange suggestion
which seems to present itself unprompted to every mind. Cicero argued it
out with consummate dialectic skill; our scientific men come to the same
conclusion after years on years of labour spent in investigating
phenomena of life and laws of force; and Wordsworth formulated Plato's
reasoning in an immortal passage which seems to combine scientific
accuracy with exquisite poetic beauty--

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us--our life's star--
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, Who is our home.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows;
He sees it in his joy.
The youth who daily farther from the east
Must travel still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the man perceives it die away
And fade into the light of coming day.

Had Wordsworth never written another line, that passage would have
placed him among the greatest. He follows the glorious burst with these
awful lines--

But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a creature
Moving about in worlds not realized;
High instincts before which our mortal nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised.

That is like some golden-tongued utterance of the gods; and thousands of
Englishmen, sceptics and believers, have held their breath, abashed, as
its full meaning struck home.

Yes; this mysterious thought that haunts our being as we gaze on the
saddened fields is not aroused by the immediate impression which the
sight gives us; it is too complex, too profound, too mature and
significant. It was framed before birth, and it proceeds direct from the
Father of all souls, with whom we dwelt before we came to this low
earth, and with whom we shall dwell again. If any one ventures to deny
the origin of our marvellous knowledge, our sweet, strange impressions,
it seems to us that he must risk bordering on impiety.

So far then I have wandered from the commonplace sweetness of the shorn
fields, and I almost forgot to speak about the birds. Watch the swallows
as they gather together and talk with their low pretty twitter. Their
parliament has begun; and surely no one who watches their proceedings
can venture to scoff at the transcendental argument which I have just
now stated. Those swift, pretty darlings will soon be flying through
the pitchy gloom of the night, and they will dart over three or four
thousand miles with unerring aim till they reach the far-off spot where
they cheated our winter last year. Some will nest amid the tombs of
Egyptian kings, some will find out rosy haunts in Persia, some will soon
be wheeling and twittering happily over the sullen breast of the rolling
Niger. Who--ah, who guides that flight? Think of it. Man must find his
way by the stars and the sun. Day by day he must use elaborate
instruments to find out where his vessel is placed; and even his
instruments do not always save him from miles of error. But the little
bird plunges through the high gulfs of air and flies like an arrow to
the selfsame spot where it lived before it last went off on the wild
quest over shadowy continents and booming seas. "Hereditary instinct,"
says the scientific man. Exactly so; and, if the swallow unerringly
traverses the line crossed by its ancestors, even though the old land
has long been whelmed in steep-down gulfs of the sea, does not that show
us something? Does it, or does it not, make my saying about the soul
seem reasonable?

I have followed the swallows, but the fieldfares and the buntings must
also go soon. They will make their way South also, though some may go in
leisurely fashion to catch the glorious burst of spring in Siberia. I
have been grievously puzzled and partly delighted by Mr. Seebohm's
account of the birds' pilgrimage, and it has given me hours of thought.
We dwell amid mystery, and, as the leaves redden year by year, here
recurs one of the chiefest mysteries that ever perplexed the soul of
man. Indeed, we are shadowed around with mystery and there is not one
red leaf whirled by the wind among those moaning woods which does not
represent a miracle.

We cannot fly from these shores, but our joys come each in its day. For
pure gladness and keen colour nothing can equal one of these glorious
October mornings, when the reddened fronds of the brackens are silvered
with rime, and the sun strikes flashes of delight from them. Then come
those soft November days when the winds moan softly amid the Aeolian
harps of the purple hedgerows, and the pale drizzle falls ever and
again. Even then we may pick our pleasures discreetly, if we dwell in
the country, while, as for the town, are there not pleasant fires and
merry evenings? Then comes the important thought of the poor. Ah, it is
woful! "'Pleasant fires and merry evenings,' say you?"--so I can fancy
some pinched sufferer saying, "What sort of merry evenings shall we
have, when the fogs crawl murderously, or the sleet lashes the sodden
roads?" Alas and alas! Those of us who dwell amid pleasant sights and
sounds are apt in moments of piercing joy to forget the poor who rarely
know joy at all. But we must not be careless. By all means let those who
can do so snatch their enjoyment from the colour, the movement, the
picturesque sadness of the fading year; but let them think with pity of
the time that is coming, and prepare to do a little toward lifting that
ghastly burden of suffering that weighs on so many of our fellows.
Gazing around on the flying shadows driven by the swift wind, and
listening to the quivering sough amid the shaken trees, I have been led
far and near into realms of strange speculation. So it is ever in this
fearful and wonderful life; there is not the merest trifle that can
happen which will not lead an eager mind away toward the infinite. Never
has this mystic ordinance touched my soul so poignantly as during the
hours when I watched for a little the dying of the year, and branched
swiftly into zigzag reflections that touched the mind with fear and joy
in turn. Adieu, fair fields! Adieu, wild trees! Where will next year's
autumn find us? Hush! Does not the very gold and red of the leaves hint
to us that the sweet sad time will return again and find us maybe riper?

_October, 1886._


"Men of all castes, if they fulfil their assigned duties, enjoy in
heaven the highest imperishable bliss. Afterwards, when a man who has
fulfilled his duties returns to this world, he obtains, by virtue of a
remainder of merit, birth in a distinguished family, beauty of form,
beauty of complexion, strength, aptitude for learning, wisdom, wealth,
and the gift of fulfilling the laws of his caste or order. Therefore in
both worlds he dwells in happiness, rolling like a wheel from one world
to the other." Thus the Brahmans have settled the problem of the life
that follows the life on earth. Those strange and subtle men seem to
have reasoned themselves into a belief in dreams, and they speak with
cool confidence, as though they were describing scenes as vivid and
material as are the crowds in a bazaar. There is no hesitation for them;
they describe the features of the future existence with the dry
minuteness of a broker's catalogue. The Wheel of Life rolls, and far
above the weary cycle of souls Buddha rests in an attitude of
benediction; he alone has achieved Nirvana--he alone is aloof from gods
and men. The yearning for immortality has in the case of the Brahman
passed into certainty, and he describes his heavens and his hells as
though the All-wise had placed no dim veil between this world and the
world beyond. Most arithmetically minute are all the Brahman's
pictures, and he never stops to hint at a doubt. His hells are
twenty-two in number, each applying a new variety of physical and moral
pain. We men of the West smile at the grotesque dogmatism of the
Orientals; and yet we have no right to smile. In our way we are as keen
about the great question as the Brahmans are, and for us the problem of
problems may be stated in few words--"Is there a future life?" All our
philosophy, all our laws, all our hopes and fears are concerned with
that paralyzing question, and we differ from the Hindoo only in that we
affect an extravagant uncertainty, while he sincerely professes an
absolute certainty. The cultured Western man pretends to dismiss the
problem with a shrug; he labels himself as an agnostic or by some other
vague definition, and he is fond of proclaiming his idea that he knows
and can know nothing. That is a pretence. When the philosopher says that
he does not know and does not care what his future may be, he speaks
insincerely; he means that he cannot prove by experiment the fact of a
future life--or, as Mr. Ruskin puts it, "he declares that he never found
God in a bottle"--but deep down in his soul there is a knowledge that
influences his lightest action. The man of science, the "advanced
thinker," or whatever he likes to call himself, proves to us by his
ceaseless protestations of doubt and unbelief that he is incessantly
pondering the one subject which he would fain have us fancy he ignores.
At heart he is in full sympathy with the Brahman, with the rude Indian,
with the impassioned English Methodist, with all who cannot shake off
the mystic belief in a life that shall go on behind the veil. When the
pagan emperor spoke to his own parting soul, he asked the piercing
question that our sceptic must needs put, whether he like it or no--

Soul of me, floating and flitting and fond,
Thou and this body were life-mates together!
Wilt thou be gone now--and whither?
Pallid and naked and cold,
Not to laugh or be glad as of old!

Theology of any description is far out of my path, but I have the wish
and the right to talk gravely about the subject that dwarfs all others.
A logician who tries to scoff away any faith I count as almost criminal.
Mockery is the fume of little hearts, and the worst and craziest of
mockers is the one who grins in presence of a mystery that strikes wise
and deep-hearted men with a solemn fear which has in it nothing ignoble.
I would as lief play circus pranks by a mother's deathbed as try to find
flippant arguments to disturb a sincere faith.

First, then, let us know what the uncompromising iconoclasts have to
tell about the universal belief in immortality. They have a very
pretentious line of reasoning, which I may summarise thus. Life appeared
on earth not less than three hundred thousand years ago. First of all
our planet hung in the form of vapour, and drifted with millions of
other similar clouds through space; then the vapour became liquid; then
the globular form was assumed, and the flying ball began to rotate round
the great attracting body. We cannot tell how living forms first came on
earth; for they could not arise by spontaneous generation, in spite of
all that Dr. Bastian may say. Of the coming of life we can say
nothing--rather an odd admission, by-the-way, for gentlemen who are so
sure of most things--but we know that some low organism did appear--and
there is an end of that matter. No two organisms can possibly be exactly
alike; and the process of differentiation began in the very shrine. The
centuries passed, and living organisms became more and more complex; the
slowly-cooling ball of the earth was covered with greenery, but no
flower was to be seen. Then insects were attracted by brightly-coloured
leaves; then flowers and insects acted and reacted on each other. But
there is no need to trace every mark on the scale. It is enough to say
that infinitely-diversified forms of life branched off from central
stocks, and the process of variation went on steadily. Last of all, in a
strange environment, a certain small upright creature appeared. He was
not much superior in development to the anthropoid apes that we now
know--in fact, there is less difference between an orang and a Bosjesman
than there is between the primitive man and the modern Caucasian man.
This creature, hairy and brown as a squirrel, stunted in stature, skinny
of limb, was our immediate progenitor. So say the confident scientific
men. The owner of the queer ape-like skull found at Neanderthal belonged
to a race that was ultimately to develop into Shakespeares and Newtons
and Napoleons. In all the enormous series that had its first term in the
primeval ooze and its last term in man, one supreme motive had actuated
every individual. The desire of life, growing more intense with each new
development, was the main influence that secured continuance of life.
The beings that had the desire of life scantily developed were overcome
in the struggle for existence by those in whom the desire of life was
strong. Thus in man, after countless generations, the wish for life had
become the master-power holding dominion over the body. As the various
branches of the human race moved upward, the passionate love of life
grew so strong that no individual could bear to think of resigning this
pleasing anxious being and proceeding to fall into dumb forgetfulness.
Men saw their comrades stricken by some dark force that they could not
understand. The strong limbs grew lax first, and then hopelessly stiff;
the bright eye was dulled; and it soon became necessary to hide the
inanimate thing under the soil. It was impossible for those who had the
quick blood flowing in their veins to believe that a time would come
when feeling would be known no more. This fierce clinging to life had at
last its natural outcome. Men found that at night, when the quicksilver
current of sleep ran through their veins and their bodies were
quiescent, they had none the less thoughts as of life. The body lay
still; but something in alliance with the body gave them impressions of
vivid waking vigour and action. Men fancied that they fought, hunted,
loved, hated; and yet all the time their limbs were quiet. What could it
be that forced the slumbering man to believe himself to be in full
activity? It must be some invisible essence independent of the bones and
muscles. Therefore when a man died it followed that the body which was
buried must have parted permanently from the mystic "something" that
caused dreams. That mystic "something" therefore lived on after the
death of the body. The bodily organs were mere accidental encumbrances;
the real "man" was the viewless creature that had the visions of the
night. The body might go; but the thing which by and by was named
"soul" was imperishable.

I can see the drift of foggy argument. The writer means to say that the
belief in immortality sprang up because the wish was father to the
thought. Men longed to live, and thus they persuaded themselves that
they would live; and, one refinement after another having been added to
the vague-minded savage's animal yearning, we have the elaborate system
of theology and the reverential faith that guide the lives of civilized
human entities. Very pretty! Then the literary critic steps in and shows
how the belief in immortality has been enlarged and elaborated since the
days of Saul, the son of Kish. When the witch of Endor saw gods
ascending from the earth, she was only anticipating the experience of
sorcerers who ply their trade in the islands of the Pacific. Professor
Huxley admires the awful description of Saul's meeting with the witch;
but the Professor shows that the South Sea islanders also see gods
ascending out of the earth, and he thinks that the Eastern natives in
Saul's day encouraged a form of ancestor-worship. The literary critic
says ancestor-worship is one of the great branches of the religion of
mankind. Its principles are not difficult to understand, for they
plainly keep up the social relations of the living world. The dead
ancestor, now passed into a deity, goes on protecting his family and
receiving suit and service from them as of old. The dead chief still
watches over his own tribe, still holds his authority by helping friends
and harming enemies, still rewards the right and sharply punishes the
wrong. That, then, was the kind of worship prevalent in the time of
Saul, and the gods were only the ancestors of the living. Well, this
may be admirable as science, but, as I summarized the long argument, I
felt as though something must give way.

Then we are told that our sacred book, the Old Testament, contains no
reference to the future life--rather ignores the notion, in fact. It
appears that, when Job wrote about the spirit that passed before him and
caused all the hair of his flesh to stand up, he meant an enemy, or a
goat, or something of that species. Moreover, when it is asserted that
Enoch "was not, for God took him," no reference is made to Enoch's
future existence. The whole of the thesis regarding the Shadow Land has
been built up little by little, just as our infinitely perfect bodily
organization has been gradually formed. It took at least thirty thousand
years to evolve the crystalline lens of the human eye, and it required
many thousands of years to evolve from the crude savagery of the early
Jews the elaborate theories of the modern Buddhists, Islamites, and

Certainly this same evolution has much to answer for. I utterly fail to
see how a wish can give rise to a belief that comes before the wish is
framed in the mind. More than this, I know that, even when human beings
crave extinction most--when the prospect of eternal sleep is more than
sweet, when the bare thought of continued existence is a horror--the
belief in, or rather the knowledge of, immortality is still there, and
the wretch who would fain perish knows that he cannot.

As for the mathematically-minded thinkers, I must give them up. They
say, "Here are two objects of consciousness whose existence can be
verified; one we choose to call the body, the other we call the soul or
mind or spirit, or what you will. The soul may be called a 'function' of
the body, or the body may be called a 'function' of the soul--at any
rate, they vary together. The tiniest change in the body causes a
corresponding change in the soul. As the body alters from the days when
the little ducts begin to feed the bones with lime up to the days when
the bones are brittle and the muscles wither away, so does the soul
alter. The infant's soul is different from the boy's, the boy's from the
adolescent man's, the young man's from the middle-aged man's, and so on
to the end. Now, since every change in the body, no matter how
infinitesimally small, is followed by a corresponding change in the
soul, then it is plain that, when the body becomes extinct, its
'function,' the soul, must also become extinct."

This is even more appalling than the reasoning of the biologist. But is
there not a little flaw somewhere? We take a branch from a privet-hedge
and shake it; some tiny eggs fall down. In time a large ugly caterpillar
comes from each egg; but, according to the mathematical men, the
caterpillar does not exist, since the egg has become naught. Good! The
caterpillar wraps itself in a winding thread, and we have an egg-shaped
lump which lies as still as a pebble. Then presently from that bundle of
thread there comes a glorious winged creature which flies away, leaving
certain ragged odds and ends. But surely the bundle of threads and the
moth were as much connected as the body and the soul? Logically, then,
the moth does not exist after the cocoon is gone, any more than the soul
exists after the body is gone! I feel very unscientific indeed as we put
forth this proposition, and yet perhaps some simple folk will follow

God will not let the soul die; it is a force that must act throughout
the eternity before us, as it acted throughout the eternity that
preceded our coming on earth. No physical force ever dies--each force
merely changes its form or direction. Heat becomes motion, motion is
transformed into heat, but the force still exists. It is not possible
then that the soul of man--the subtlest, strongest force of all--should
ever be extinguished. Every analogy that we can see, every fact of
science that we can understand, tells us that the essence which each of
us calls "I" must exist for ever as it has existed from eternity. Let us
think of a sweet change that shall merely divest us of the husk of the
body, even as the moth is divested of the husk of the caterpillar. Space
will be as nothing to the soul--can we not even now transport ourselves
in an instant beyond the sun? We can see with the soul's eye the surface
of the stars, we know what they are made of, we can weigh them, and we
can prove that our observation is rigidly accurate even though millions
of miles lie between us and the object which we describe so confidently.
When the body is gone, the soul will be more free to traverse space than
it is even now.

_February, 1888._

Extracts from Reviews of the First Edition.

"Mr. Runciman is terribly in earnest in the greater part of this volume,
especially in the several articles on 'Drink.' He is eminently
practical, withal; and not satisfied with describing and deploring the
effects of drunkenness, he gives us a recipe which he warrants to cure
the most hardened dipsomaniac within a week. We have not quoted even the
titles of all Mr. Runciman's essays; but they are all wholesome in tone,
and show a hearty love of the open air and of outdoor amusement, in
spite of his well-deserved strictures on various forms of so-called
'sport,' while sometimes, notably in the Essay on 'Genius and
Respectability,' he touches the higher notes of feeling."--_Saturday

"Mr. Runciman is intensely earnest, and directs his arrows with force
and precision against those 'joints in our social armour' which his keen
vision detects. There is a purpose in all Mr. Runciman says; and
although one cannot always share his enthusiasm or accept his
conclusions, it is impossible to doubt his sincerity as a moral reformer
and his zeal in the cause of philanthropy."--_Academy_.

"Few sermons, one would fancy, could do more good than this book,
honestly considered. It speaks plain sense on faults and follies that
are usually gently satirised; and makes fine invigorating reading. The
book warmly deserves success."--_Scotsman_.

"Mr. Runciman expresses himself with a vigour which leaves nothing to be
desired. He leaves no doubt of what he thinks,--and he thinks,
anyhow, on the right side.... Altogether a very vigorous

"No one can read these pleasant thoughtful essays without being the
better for it; all being written with the vigour and grace for which Mr.
Runciman is distinguished."--_Newcastle Daily Chronicle_.

"Essays which form a most important contribution to the literature of
social reform."--_Methodist Times_.

"Mr. Runciman has produced a book which will compel people to read, and
it has many pages which ought to compel them to think, and to act as
well."--_Manchester Examiner._

"Mr. Runciman is endowed with a vigorous and pleasing style, and his
facile pen has obviously been made expert by much use. In dealing with
some of the more threadbare problems, such as the drink question and the
sporting mania, he brings considerable novelty and freshness to their
treatment, and when fairly roused he hits out at social abuses with a
vigour and indignant sincerity which are very refreshing to the jaded
reader ...He has been successful in producing a delightfully readable
book, and even when he does not produce conviction, he will certainly
succeed in securing attention and inspiring interest."--_Bradford

"The essays are a fine contribution in the cause of manly self-culture
and elevation of moral tone."--_Pall Mall Gazette_.

"To those who enjoy essays on current topics, this will be found an
acceptable and instructive volume."--_Public Opinion_.

"His essays are always entertaining and suggestive ...Mr. Runciman, as
is well-known, has a forcible and effective style."--_Star_.

"Mr. Runciman is a bard hitter, and evidently speaks from conviction,
and there is such an honest and clear-minded tone about these papers,
that even those who do not agree with all the conclusions drawn in them
will not regret having read what Mr. Runciman has to say on social

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