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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 di...

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

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

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

Why I Quit

First off, let me state the object of the meeting: This is to be a
record of sundry experiences centering round a stern resolve to get on
the waterwagon and a sterner attempt to stay there. It is an entirely
personal narrative of a strictly personal set of circumstances. It is
not a temperance lecture, or a temperance tract, or a chunk of advice,
or a shuddering recital of the woes of a horrible example, or a
warning, or an admonition--or anything at all but a plain tale of an
adventure that started out rather vaguely and wound up rather

I am no brand that was snatched from the burning; no sot who picked
himself or was picked from the gutter; no drunkard who almost wrecked a
promising career; no constitutional or congenital souse. I drank liquor
the same way hundreds of thousands of men drink it--drank liquor and
attended to my business, and got along well, and kept my health, and
provided for my family, and maintained my position in the community. I
felt I had a perfect right to drink liquor just as I had a perfect
right to stop drinking it. I never considered my drinking in any way

I was decent, respectable, a gentleman, who drank only with gentlemen
and as a gentleman should drink if he pleases. I didn't care whether
any one else drank--and do not now. I didn't care whether any one else
cared whether I drank--and do not now. I am no reformer, no lecturer,
no preacher. I quit because I wanted to, not because I had to. I didn't
swear off, nor take any vow, nor sign any pledge. I am no moral censor.
It is even possible that I might go out this afternoon and take a
drink. I am quite sure I shall not--but I might. As far as my trip
into Teetotal Land is concerned, it is an individual proposition and
nothing else. I am no example for other men who drink as much as I did,
or more, or less--but I assume my experiences are somewhat typical, for
I am sure my drinking was very typical; and a recital of those
experiences and the conclusions thereon is what is before the house.

I quit drinking because I quit drinking. I had a very fair batting
average in the Booze League--as good as I thought necessary; and I knew
if I stopped when my record was good the situation would be
satisfactory to me, whether it was to any other person or not.
Moreover, I figured it out that the time to stop drinking was when it
wasn't necessary to stop--not when it was necessary. I had been
observing during the twenty years I had been drinking, more or less,
and I had known a good many men who stopped drinking when the doctors
told them to. Furthermore, it had been my observation that when a
doctor tells a man to stop drinking it usually doesn't make much
difference whether he stops or not. In a good many cases he might just
as well keep on and die happily, for he's going to die anyhow; and the
few months he will grab through his abstinence will not amount to
anything when the miseries of that abstinence are duly chalked up in
the debit column.

Therefore, applying the cold, hard logic of the situation to it, I
decided to beat the liquor to it.

That was the reason for stopping--purely selfish, personal, individual,
and not concerned with the welfare of any other person on earth--just
myself. I had taken good care of myself physically and I knew I was
sound everywhere. I wasn't sure how long I could keep sound and
continue drinking. So I decided to stop drinking and keep sound. I
noticed that a good many men of the same age as myself and the same
habits as myself were beginning to show signs of wear and tear. A
number of them blew up with various disconcerting maladies and a number
more died. Soon after I was forty years of age I noticed I began to go
to funerals oftener than I had been doing--funerals of men between
forty and forty-five I had known socially and convivially; that these
funerals occurred quite regularly, and that the doctor's certificate,
more times than not, gave Bright's Disease and other similar diseases
in the cause-of-death column. All of these funerals were of men who
were good fellows, and we mourned their loss. Also we generally took a
few drinks to their memories.

Then came a time when this funeral business landed on me like a
pile-driver. Inside of a year four or five of the men I had known best,
the men I had loved best, the men who had been my real friends and my
companions, died, one after another. Also some other friends developed
physical derangements I knew were directly traceable to too much
liquor. Both the deaths and the derangements had liquor as a
contributing if not as a direct cause. Nobody said that, of course; but
I knew it.

So I held a caucus with myself. I called myself into convention and
discussed the proposition somewhat like this:

"You are now over forty years of age. You are sound physically and you
are no weaker mentally than you have always been, so far as can be
discovered by the outside world. You have had a lot of fun, much of it
complicated with the conviviality that comes with drinking and much of
it not so complicated; but you have done your share of plain and fancy
drinking, and it hasn't landed you yet. There is absolutely no
nutriment in being dead. That gets you nothing save a few obituary
notices you will never see. There is even less in being sick and
sidling around in everybody's way. It's as sure as sunset, if you keep
on at your present gait, that Mr. John Barleycorn will land you just
as he has landed a lot of other people you know and knew. There are two
methods of procedure open to you. One is to keep it up and continue
having the fun you think you are having and take what is inevitably
coming to you. The other is to quit it while the quitting is good and
live a few more years--that may not be so rosy, but probably will have

I viewed it from every angle I could think of. I knew what sort of a
job I had laid out to tackle if I quit. I weighed the whole thing in my
mind in the light of my acquaintances, my experiences, my position, my
mode of life, my business. I had been through it many times. I had
often gone on the waterwagon for periods varying in length from three
days to three months. I wasn't venturing into any uncharted territory.
I knew every signpost, every crossroad, every foot of the ground. I
knew the difficulties--knew them by heart. I wasn't deluding myself
with any assertions of superior will-power or superior courage--or
superior anything. I knew I had a fixed daily habit of drinking, and
that if I quit drinking I should have to reorganize the entire works.

Next: How I Quit

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