Sunday, 28 August 2011
Bennett on alcohol
Would I, if an autocrat, prohibit the use of alcohol? To ask is to answer. A million times no! Alcohol is one of the greatest institutions in the civilized world. It is an object of almost universal affection. It has been the accompaniment of nearly all the finest social events in history. For thousands of years it has celebrated every triumph, and softened every defeat. A liquid with this unique record deserves a better fate than to be prohibited.
To prohibit alcohol would be to show an odious lack of historic sense. And think of the innumerable varied forms of it: the varied colours of it shining in the uplifted glass, the varied exquisite physical reactions of it as it slides down the human throat, the varied ecstasies (all too brief!) it produces in the human head!
There is a fundamental wisdom in human nature which laughs very composedly at the misguided prohibitionary activities of all one-eyed earnest persons. Alcohol may be physically "bad for you," though the men of science, after exhaustive inquiries, seem to have come at last to the conclusion that a little of it is physically good for you. But in other and more subtle and (I should say) more important ways, it is extremely good for you; and whatever the physical price paid, it is worth that price because it is indispensable to a complete life.
Arnold Bennett - The Savour of Life - published in 1928