G. H Stockham.

Temperance and prohibition online

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all over the land, and no power of the Government
could prevent it.

We have shown in a preceding chapter the impor-
tance of the wine industry, which is bound to become
a source of incalculable wealth, notwithstanding all
opposition. It is impossible to legislate new habits
into the world. They are the outgrowth of successive
generations, and will no doubt be inherited, in a
measure, by our posterity for hundreds of years to
come. That universal temperance will one day be
achieved by our race, we have every reason to hope
and expect. It must, however, be effected by slow
processes. Man, like all other things in nature, must
grow into perfection. No human law can immediately
eradicate the desire for liquor in a confirmed whisky-
tippler, for there is no regenerative power in the prin-
ciple of force.


Intelligent beings must have the free exercise of
their faculties and proclivities, even though their tend-
encies are not always for the right. Evil can only
be cast out by an inborn desire for good. The prov-
ince of a law is not to coerce a man, but to protect
society from the wrong-doer.

While admitting the great good that temperance
societies, especially the Women's Christian Temper-
ance Union, have done, and are doing, for the young,
we are sorry to say their combined efforts have not
accomplished the reformation of the confirmed drunk-

The enormous amount of money expended annually
for liquor, and the untold misery resulting from habits
of drunkenness, have been persistently explained to
the people from both the pulpit and rostrum. Even
the eloquent appeals of a Gough or Ingersoll have too
often fallen upon barren soil and borne little fruit.
Probably the English language does not contain a
more graphic denunciation of the horrors of intemper-
ance than is found in Mr. Ingersoll's address to a jury
in a case where the question of alcohol was involved.
We quote a portion of it here:

" I do not believe that anybody can contemplate
the subject without becoming prejudiced against the
liquor crime. All we have to do is to think of the
wrecks on either bank of the stream of death, of the
suicides, of the insanity, of the poverty, of the igno-
rance, of the destitution of the little children tugging
at the faded and weary breasts of mothers, of weeping
and despairing wives asking for bread, of the talented


men of genius that it has wrecked, of those struggling
with imaginary serpents, produced by this devilish
thing; when you think of the jails, of the almshouses,/
of the asylums, of the prisons, of the scaffolds upon*
either bank, I do not wonder that every thoughtful
man is prejudiced against this damned stuff that is
called alcohol. Intemperance cuts down youth in its
vigor, manhood in its strength, and age in its weakness.
It breaks the father's heart, bereaves the doting
mother, extinguishes natural affection, erases conjugal
loves, blots out filial attachment, blights parental
hope and brings down mourning age in sorrow to the
grave. It produces weakness, not strength ; sickness,
not health ; death, not life. It makes wives, widows ;
children, orphans ; fathers, fiends ; and all of them
paupers and beggars. It feeds rheumatism, nurses
gout, welcomes epidemics, invites cholera, imports
pestilence and embraces consumption. It covers the
land with idleness, misery and crime. It fills your
jails, supplies your almshouses and demands your
asylums. It engenders controversies, fosters quarrels
and cherishes riots. It crowds your penitentiaries I
and furnishes victims for your scaffolds. It is the
life-blood of the gambler, the element of the burglar,
the prop of the highwayman and the support of the
midnight incendiary. It countenances the liar, re-
spects the thief, esteems the blasphemer and honors
infamy. It defames benevolence, hates love, scorns
virtue and slanders innocence. It incites the fathd
to butcher his helpless offspring, helps the husband
to massacre his wife, and the child to grind the par-
ricidal ax.


" It burns up men, consumes women, detests life,
curses God, and despises Heaven. It suborns wit-
nesses, nurses perjury, defies the jury box and stains
the judicial ermine. It degrades the citizen, debases
the legislator, dishoners the statesman, and disarms
the patriot. It brings shame, not honor ; terror, not
safety ; despair, not hope ; misery, not happiness ; and
with the malevolence of a fiend, it calmly surveys its
frightful desolation, and, unsatisfied with its havoc, it
poisons felicity, kills peace, ruins morals, blights con-
fidence, slays reputation, and wipes out national honor;
then curses the world and laughs at its ruin. It
does all that and more it murders the soul. It is
the son of all villains, and the father of all crimes ;
the mother of abominations, the devil's best friend
and God's worst enemy."

The second plank in the prohibition platform must
meet the hearty approval of every advocate of tem-
perance. We herewith insert it :

" That the accursed liquor traffic is the gigantic
' crime of crimes' of our age, nation, state and country,
desolating our homes, corrupting public morals, and
sweeping millions of our race into the drunkard's
grave and to the drunkard's doom, and should be
forever banished from the land and from the world."

Such a consummation is most earnestly to be de-
sired, but we have no faith in this being effected by
the present platform of the prohibition party.

It is not sufficiently expansive for it ever to become
a truly national party ; as it now stands it can be, at
best, but fractional and sporadic. Its influence can


never sweep like a tidal wave over the public mind
as did that of the Republican party in anti-slavery
times. The secret of the latter's power was that its
governing principle was the grand one of universal
liberty. Such a battle-cry gathered conquering hosts
around its standard. The shibboleth of the prohibi-
tionist, on the contrary, embraces the opposite mean-
ing the infringement of individual rights and the
subjugation of the whole people to his autocratic

It has been used as an argument by prohibitionists
that as chattel slavery was uprooted by the sovereign
power of the people, intemperance could be similarly
destroyed. This does not follow, however. Slavery
was upheld by an organized Government, and to effect
its overthrow and establish human liberty, it was nec-
essary to use force of arms. The position of the pro-
hibitionist is not a parallel one ; his object is the
abridgment of personal rights and not the champion-
ship of individual liberty.

In view of what we have said in the preceding
pages, and with the acknowledgment that all coercive
laws for the prevention of drunkenness have been
failures, it would seem the height of folly for prohibi-
tionists to still continue in the same course. Their
present system but intensifies one of the most impor-
tant attributes in man's nature the resistance to force,
however applied.

We have advocated the closing of saloons ; we still
do so, but doubt its policy at the present time. This
course may seem inconsistent with a desire to promote


temperance ; but, on the contrary, if the sale of spirit-
uous liquors were prohibited in these places which
would be perfectly legitimate it would be an im-
mense step toward their total suppression. This sys-
tem of regulation would meet with the support of the
better class of citizens, and many a poor inebriate,
also, would hail with joy the removal of what, to him,
is an ever-present temptation.

In upholding the sale of alcoholic liquors to be
drunk off the premises, in other places than saloons,
we do so because it is always better for a man to ob-
tain his whisky- legally since he will have it than
surreptitiously in opposition to constituted law. In
legislating on this subject we must recognize the act-
ual drinking habits of the people as they exist to-day,
and not make laws for an ideal condition of society
that may exist fifty or a hundred years hence. It is
useless to preach temperance to an inebriate, when at
the same time you hold a bludgeon in your hand to
compel him to do as you wish. This is not in accord-
ance with the Creator's plan, which leaves him the
liberty of choice between good and evil and endows
him with the godlike gift of reason for his guide.

If prohibitionists would dispassionately weigh the
facts and conclusions contained in this work, we could
confidently hope that, under wise guidance, their
future efforts for the reformation of the intemperate
would be crowned with success. To effect this, we
are convinced that they must wholly eliminate from
their policy the element of coercion, and, aided by


past experience, substitute the more conciliatory prin-
ciple of regulation.

4 If thou wilt observe

The rule of not too much, by temperance taught,
In what thou eat'st and drink'st, seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return:
So may'st thou live, till, like lipe fruit, thou drop
Into thy mothei's lap, or be with ease
Gathered, not harshly plucked, for death mature. "



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MAR 18

MAY 28



OCT 2 ,12
APft IS iv


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Online LibraryG. H StockhamTemperance and prohibition → online text (page 8 of 8)