Under the guidance of Commissioner Cox I inspected a number of the London Women’s Institutions of the Army, first visiting the Hillsborough House Inebriates’ Home. This Home, a beautifully clean and well-kept place, has accommodation for thirty patients, twenty-nine beds being occupied on the day of my visit. The lady in charge informed me that these patients are expected to contribute 10s. per week towards the cost of their maintenance; but that, as a matter of fact, they seldom pay so much. Generally the sum recovered varies from 7s. to 3s. per week, while a good many give nothing at all.
The work the patients do in this Home is sold and produces something towards the cost of upkeep. The actual expense of the maintenance of the inmates averages about 12s. 6d. a week per head, which sum includes an allowance for rent. Most of the cases stay in the Home for twelve months, although some remain for a shorter period. When the cure is completed, if they are married, the patients return to their husbands. The unmarried are sent out to positions as governesses, nurses, or servants, that is, if the authorities of the Home are able to give them satisfactory characters.
As the reader who knows anything of such matters will be aware, it is generally supposed to be rather more easy to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to reclaim a confirmed female drunkard. Yet, as I have already said, the Salvation Army, on a three years’ test in each case, has shown that it deals successfully with about 50 per cent of those women who come into its hands for treatment as inebriates or drug-takers. How is this done? Largely, of course, by effecting through religious means a change of heart and nature, as the Army often seems to have the power to do, and by the exercise of gentle personal influences.
But there remains another aid which is physical.
With the shrewdness that distinguishes them, the Officers of the Army have discovered that the practice of vegetarianism is a wonderful enemy to the practice of alcoholism. The vegetarian, it seems, conceives a bodily distaste to spirituous liquors. If they can persuade a patient to become a vegetarian, then the chances of her cure are enormously increased. Therefore, in this and in the other female Inebriate Homes no meat is served. The breakfast, which is eaten at 7.30, consists of tea, brown and white bread and butter, porridge and fresh milk, or stewed fruit. A sample dinner at one o’clock includes macaroni cheese, greens, potatoes, fruit pudding or plain boiled puddings with stewed figs. On one day a week, however, baked or boiled fish is served with pease pudding, potatoes, and boiled currant pudding, and on another, brown gravy is given with onions in batter. Tea, which is served at six o’clock, consists—to take a couple of samples—of tea, white and brown bread and butter, and cheese sandwiches with salad; or of tea, white and brown bread and butter, savoury rolls, and apples or oranges.