Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/793

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LIQUOR LAWS NOT SUMPTUARY.

ately stigmatized as "the height of human folly." One would think from his description—"it is-made a penal offense for one person to ask another to take a drink"—that even in the "castle" of one's own home one can not do this in any circumstances—so eager are the a law-makers to forbid the people "to wear, to eat, and to drink what they please." Passing the flippant tone in which it is asserted that a man who, "in the sanctity of his own house, gets quietly drunk and goes to bed," "has injured no living being but himself," it is to be said that there is nothing whatever in the penal features of the prohibitory statutes of Iowa that has anything to do with the "sideboard" in a private house.

It strikes one rather oddly, on the score of logical concinnity, that the prevention of a man's being "treated" to liquors, without any expense to himself, should be argued against as a "sumptuary" measure, whether the giving away of the liquors is done in a saloon or a parlor. A prejudice in favor of the free use and sale of intoxicants may indeed prevent one from seeing a ludicrous fallacy here.

A prohibition of giving away liquors to Indians, minors, and persons who are already intoxicated is quite an old affair in the Code of Iowa. It stands under the title "Offenses against Public Policy." To persons who have lived in States or Territories where Indians still linger it will be very clear at once what "public policy" has to do with it, and that the sumptuary question has nothing. A general provision years since against evasions required courts and juries to construe the whole chapter concerning intoxicating liquors "so as to cover the act of giving as well as selling by persons not authorized." Is not this according to public policy, anyway? Artful sales by pharmacists for other purposes than medicine were carefully provided against. Selling to voters within a mile of the polls during an election was forbidden, and the purity of elections further protected by forbidding to give them any intoxicants, including ale, wine, and beer. Is this any more sumptuary than making the sale unlawful within three miles of the State Agricultural College (save for sacramental, mechanical, medical, or culinary purposes), or within a hundred and sixty rods of any agricultural fair? On the other hand, all this was so far from interfering with the right of the people to drink what they please that the Iowa Supreme Court had decided that the act of giving is not in itself unlawful, that the keeping of liquors without intent to sell unlawfully is not affected, nor the character of liquors as property. "The statute," said Judge Beck, of the Supreme Court, in one case, "does not forbid the simple act of giving when no consideration, reward, or payment was given or promised, and none expected, and which was not intended as a subterfuge to conceal unlawful sales and evade