John Barleycorn HTML version

Chapter 38
The foregoing is a sample roaming with the White Logic through the dusk of my soul.
To the best of my power I have striven to give the reader a glimpse of a man's secret
dwelling when it is shared with John Barleycorn. And the reader must remember that this
mood, which he has read in a quarter of an hour, is but one mood of the myriad moods of
John Barleycorn, and that the procession of such moods may well last the clock around
through many a day and week and month.
My alcoholic reminiscences draw to a close. I can say, as any strong, chesty drinker can
say, that all that leaves me alive to- day on the planet is my unmerited luck--the luck of
chest, and shoulders, and constitution. I dare to say that a not large percentage of youths,
in the formative stage of fifteen to seventeen, could have survived the stress of heavy
drinking that I survived between my fifteenth and seventeenth years; that a not large
percentage of men could have punished the alcohol I have punished in my manhood years
and lived to tell the tale. I survived, through no personal virtue, but because I did not have
the chemistry of a dipsomaniac and because I possessed an organism unusually resistant
to the ravages of John Barleycorn. And, surviving, I have watched the others die, not so
lucky, down all the long sad road.
It was my unmitigated and absolute good fortune, good luck, chance, call it what you
will, that brought me through the fires of John Barleycorn. My life, my career, my joy in
living, have not been destroyed. They have been scorched, it is true; like the survivors of
forlorn hopes, they have by unthinkably miraculous ways come through the fight to
marvel at the tally of the slain.
And like such a survivor of old red war who cries out, "Let there be no more war!" so I
cry out, "Let there be no more poison- fighting by our youths!" The way to stop war is to
stop it. The way to stop drinking is to stop it. The way China stopped the general use of
opium was by stopping the cultivation and importation of opium. The philosophers,
priests, and doctors of China could have preached themselves breathless against opium
for a thousand years, and the use of opium, so long as opium was ever accessible and
obtainable, would have continued unabated. We are so made, that is all.
We have with great success made a practice of not leaving arsenic and strychnine, and
typhoid and tuberculosis germs lying around for our children to be destroyed by. Treat
John Barleycorn the same way. Stop him. Don't let him lie around, licensed and legal, to
pounce upon our youth. Not of alcoholics nor for alcoholics do I write, but for our
youths, for those who possess no more than the adventure-stings and the genial
predispositions, the social man-impulses, which are twisted all awry by our barbarian
civilisation which feeds them poison on all the corners. It is the healthy, normal boys,
now born or being born, for whom I write.