Before the six degrees of separation were the degrees of drunkenness. I

can't find all of them now, but one of my earliest is this, from the New-York

Mirror, 21 May 1825, pg. 343, col. 2:

A gentleman perceiving a man swallowing liquor from a thermometer,

inquired of a bystander the reason of such strange proceeding; to which he

replied, "Oh! he is getting intoxicated _by degrees_."