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How I Quit
This took some time. I didn't dash into it. I had done that...

When I Quit
For purposes of comprehensive record I have divided the var...

Why I Quit
First off, let me state the object of the meeting: This is ...

What I Quit
I had been drinking thus for practically twenty years. I di...

After I Quit
I had a good lively tilt with John Barleycorn, ranging over...

What I Quit

I had been drinking thus for practically twenty years. I did not drink
at all until after I was twenty-one and not much until after I was
twenty-five. When I got to be thirty-two or thirty-three and had gone
along a little in the world, I fell in with men of my own station; and
as I lived in a town where nearly everybody drank, including many of
the successful business and professional men--men of affairs--I soon
got into their habits. Naturally gregarious, I found these men good
company. They were sociable and convivial, and drank for the fun of it
and the fun that came out of it.

My business took me to various parts of the country and I made
acquaintances among men like these--the real live ones in the
communities. They were good fellows. So was I. The result was that in a
few years I had a list of friends from California to Maine--all of whom
drank; and I was never at a loss for company or highballs. Then I moved
to a city where there isn't much of anything else to do but drink at
certain times in the day, a city where men from all parts of the
country congregate and where the social side of life is highly
accentuated. I kept along with the procession. I did my work
satisfactorily to my employers and I did my drinking satisfactorily to

This continued for several years. I had a fixed habit. I drank several
drinks each day. Sometimes I drank more than several. My system was
organized to digest about so much alcohol every twenty-four hours. So
far as I could see, the drinking did me no harm. I was well. My
appetite was good. I slept soundly. My head was clear. My work
proceeded easily and was getting fair recognition. Then some of the
boys began dropping off and some began breaking down. I had occasional
mornings, after big dinners or specially convivial affairs, when I did
not feel very well--when I was out of tune and knew why. Still, I
continued as of old, and thought nothing of it except as the regular
katzenjammer--to be expected.

Presently I woke up to what was happening round me. I looked the game
over critically. I analyzed it coldly and calmly. I put every advantage
of my mode of life on one side and every disadvantage; and I put on the
other side every disadvantage of a change in procedure and every
advantage. There were times when I thought the present mode had by far
the better of it, and times when the change contemplated outweighed the
other heavily.

Here is the way it totted up against quitting: Practically every friend
you have in the United States--and you've got a lot of them--drinks
more or less. You have not cultivated any other line of associates. If
you quit drinking, you will necessarily have to quit a lot of these
friends, and quit their parties and company--for a man who doesn't
drink is always a death's-head at a feast or merrymaking where drinking
is going on. Your social intercourse with these people is predicated on
taking an occasional drink, in going to places where drinks are
served, both public and at homes. The kind of drinking you do makes
greatly for sociability, and you are a sociable person and like to be
round with congenial people. You will miss a lot of fun, a lot of good,
clever companionship, for you are too old to form a new line of
friends. Your whole game is organized along these lines. Why make a
hermit of yourself just because you think drinking may harm you? Cut it
down. Take care of yourself. Don't be such a fool as to try to change
your manner of living just when you have an opportunity to live as you
should and enjoy what is coming to you.

This is the way it lined up for quitting: So far, liquor hasn't done
anything to you except cause you to waste some time that might have
been otherwise employed; but it will get you, just as it has landed a
lot of your friends, if you stay by it. Wouldn't it be better to miss
some of this stuff you have come to think of as fun, and live longer?
There is no novelty in drinking to you. You haven't an appetite that
cannot be checked, but you will have if you stick to it much longer.
Why not quit and take a chance at a new mode of living, especially
when you know absolutely that every health reason, every
future-prospect reason, every atom of good sense in you, tells you
there is nothing to be gained by keeping at it, and that all may be

Well, I pondered over that a long time. I had watched miserable
wretches who had struggled to stay on the waterwagon--sometimes with
amusement. I knew what they had to stand if they tried to associate
with their former companions; I knew the apparent difficulties and the
disadvantages of this new mode of life. On the other hand, I was
convinced that, so far as I was concerned, without trying to lay down
a rule for any other man, I would be an ass if I didn't quit it
immediately, while I was well and all right, instead of waiting until I
had to quit on a doctor's orders, or got to that stage when I couldn't

It was no easy thing to make the decision. It is hard to change the
habits and associations of twenty years! I had a good understanding of
myself. I was no hero. I liked the fun of it, the companionship of it,
better than any one. I like my friends and, I hope and think, they like
me. It seemed to me that I needed it in my business, for I was always
dealing with men who did drink.

I wrestled with it for some weeks. I thought it all out, up one side
and down the other. Then I quit. Also I stayed quit. And believe me,
ladies and gentlemen and all others present, it was no fool of a job.

I have learned many things since I went on the waterwagon for
fair--many things about my fellowmen and many things about myself. Most
of these things radiate round the innate hypocrisy of the human being.
All those that do not concern his hypocrisy concern his lying--which, I
reckon, when you come to stack them up together, amounts to the same
thing. I have learned that I had been fooling myself and that others
had been fooling me. I gathered experience every day. And some of the
things I have learned I shall set down.

You have all known the man who says he quit drinking and never thought
of drink again. He is a liar. He doesn't exist. No man in this world
who had a daily habit of drinking ever quit and never thought of
drinking again. Many men, because they habitually lie to themselves,
think they have done this; but they haven't. The fact is, no man with a
daily habit of drinking ever quit and thought of anything else than how
good a drink would taste and feel for a time after he quit. He couldn't
and he didn't. I don't care what any of them say. I know.

Further, the man who tells you he never takes a drink until five
o'clock in the afternoon, or three o'clock in the afternoon, or only
drinks with his meals, or only takes two or three drinks a day, usually
is a liar, too--not always, but usually. There are some machine-like,
non-imaginative persons who can do this--drink by rote or by rule; but
not many. Now I do not say many men do not think they drink this way,
but most of these men are simply fooling themselves.

Again, this proposition of cutting down drinks to two or three a day
is all rot. Of what use to any person are two or three drinks a day? I
mean to any person who drinks for the fun of it, as I did and as most
of my friends do yet. What kind of a human being is he who comes into a
club and takes one cocktail and no more?--or one highball? He's worse,
from any view-point of sociability, than a man who drinks a glass of
water. At least the man who drinks the water isn't fooling himself or
trying to be part one thing and part another. The way to quit drinking
is to quit drinking. That is all there is to that. This paltering along
with two or three drinks a day is mere cowardice. It is neither one
thing nor the other. And I am here to say, also, that nine out of every
ten men who say they only take two or three drinks a day are liars,
just the same as the men who say they quit and never think of it again.
They may not think they are liars, or intend to be liars; but they are
liars just the same.

Well, as I may have intimated, I quit drinking. I drank that last,
lingering Scotch highball--and quit! I decided the no-liquor end of it
was the better end, and I took that end.

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