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47
THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

below the dignity of an effendi, the poison-vice is actually confined to the upper-ten: temperance reigns in the cottage, while opium-smoking and secret dram-drinking prevail in the palace. In Scotland, where all classes have to conform to the moral by-laws which discountenance holiday recreations, total abstinence is extremely rare. For—"Nature will have her revenge, and, when the most ordinary and harmless recreations are forbidden as sinful, is apt to seek compensation in indulgences which no moralist would be willing to condone. The charge brought against the Novatians in the early ages of the Church can, with equal plausibility, be brought against the Puritans in our own day. One vice, at all events, which Christians of every school, as well as non-Christian moralists, are agreed in condemning, is reputed to be a special opprobrium of Scotland; and the strictest observance of all those minute and oppressive Sabbatarian regulations to which we referred just now has been found compatible with consecrating the day of rest to a quiet but unlimited assimilation of the liquid which inebriates but does not cheer. And under the old régime to be drunk in private, though of course not sanctioned as allowable, would have been accounted a far less heinous outrage on the dignity of the Sabbath than to whistle in the public street."—(The "Saturday Review," July 19, 1879, p. 75.)

There is, indeed, no doubt that the "snuffling, whining saints, who groaned in spirit at the sight of Jack in the Green,"[1] have driven as many pleasure-seekers from the play-ground to the pot-house as despotism has turned freemen into outlaws and robbers. For the practical alternative is not between conventicles and rum-riots, but between healthful and baneful pastimes. Before we can begin to eradicate the poison-habit we must make reform more attractive than vice; and, as long as the champions of temperance shut their eyes to the significance of that truth, their legislative enactments will always remain dead-letter laws. Our worst defects we owe, in fact, less to the shrewdness of our beer-brewing opponents than to the blindness of our Sabbatarian allies. A free Sunday-garden, with zoological curiosities, foot-races, and good music, would do more to promote the cause of temperance than a whole army of Hudibras revivalists,[2]

  1. Macaulay's "History," vol. i, p. 371.
  2. "Every one who considers the world as it really exists, and not as it appears in the writings of ascetics and sentimentalists, must have convinced himself that, in great towns, where multitudes of men of all classes and all characters are massed together, and where there are innumerable strangers, separated from all domestic ties and occupations, public amusements of an exciting order are absolutely necessary, and that, while they are often the vehicle and the occasion of evil, to suppress them, as was done by the Puritans of the Commonwealth, is simply to plunge an immense portion of the population into the lowest depths of vice." (Lecky,—"History of Rationalism," vol. ii, p. 286 (cf. ibid., vol. ii, p. 350.) "Sir," said Johnson, "I am a great friend to public amusements, for they keep people from vice."—("Boswell," p. 171.) "Insani fugiunt mundum, immundumque sequuntur."—Giordano Bruno (Moriz Carrière, "Weltanschauung," p. 396).