“Some drink when friends step in,
And some when they step out;
Some drink because they’re thin,
And some drink because they’re stout.
Some drink because ‘tis wet,
And some because ‘tis dry,
Some drink another glass
To wet the other eye”
– C.H Spurgeon
This curious find was discovered hidden away in the bowels of the library by one of our very own reader services staff.
These images are all taken from a book of cuttings, collected from various Temperance Movement publications. The illustrations featured depict impressions of the physical and moral consequences of imbibing alcohol, with the characters falling into states of disarray, abandoning reason, wits and families in favour of drink.
The Temperance Movement urged personal moderation in the consumption of alcohol. It advocated abstinence and used its political influence to pressure the government to enact alcohol laws to regulate the availability of alcohol or its complete prohibition. The movement started to fade in the 1930s, with prohibition being criticised as encouraging unhealthy drinking habits and increasing criminal activity.
Such biased images were designed by the Temperance Movement to shock people into concerning themselves with the dangers of alcohol. They played upon the fears people had of becoming dissolute wretches, cast aside from the conventions of society and losing their status. They also created a sense of moral panic in the viewer, perhaps reaffirming their prejudices against the working classes who were seen to be most at risk of falling prey to destructive alcohol fuelled behaviour.
There was also a spiritual dimension to these images, with many featuring inebriated characters being led away down a path of darkness by the devil. In these depictions sobriety is symbolically represented as a path of light, a road to heaven not taken by the drunkard.
There has been a tendency throughout history for groups to attempt to control human behaviour through the use of biased images, and such material emphasises how this attempt to correct society is done with the best intentions out of concern for the drunkards’ spiritual wellbeing.
However as the following poem from the cuttings book indicates the fight for society’s sobriety is probably a losing battle.
“Whenever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil’s sure to build a chapel there;
And t’will be found, upon examination,
That the latter has the largest congregation.”
If you would like to look at more images from this Temperance Movement cuttings book please contact the Reader Services Team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 275 3764.