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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/600

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

five years past, perished from being poisoned by liquor—by alcohol, an extremely mild toxicant that in some form or other chemists tell us exists in almost all our food, solid or liquid! Did it not, perhaps, occur to the orator, or possibly to another of his audience besides the present writer, that in the million of cases assured, say in two or three, even in one of them, a latent or contributing cause might possibly have mitigated the responsibility of this murderous alcohol; that one of those million of men may have been, perhaps, indiscreet in something else besides drinking beer, or had somewhere latent in his system some congenital or local contributive cause; or perhaps had met with some accidental incident to his alleged untimely taking off?

But this is a single sample only of the intemperance, not to say the voluptuous dalliance with tropical statistics, of the prohibition orator, who asserts that liquor has slain more than wild beasts, than wars, pestilences, famines and even deluges and Johnstown floods (which latter, by the way, were bursts of water and not of alcohol, which therefore has not, even in the mouths of prohibition orators, achieved the record of water, which certainly did wreck Johnstown, and which, according to Holy Writ, in one case did actually destroy the whole world). Indeed, nothing is more common upon their lips than the maxim "Liquor destroys both body and soul." But if the annual deaths actually and beyond question traceable to liquor were arrayed against the annual mortality (which is said to be a constant figure indifferently as to wars, famines, tidal waves, and the like cataclysma), it might be disputed as above if liquor always destroys the body, while as to the soul what mortal can depose and say? The danger of the tropical statement which appears to be inseparable from prohibition politics, however, is a very great one. Falsehood is falsehood and lying is lying, even in the mouths of lecturers and reformers; and temperance is a cardinal virtue in speech as well as in liquor drinking. Were such opulent misrepresentation and dishonesty confined only to the so-called "temperance" orators or "reformers," it would be bad enough, as teaching looseness and unreliability of statement and an irresponsibility of language, which would be and is dangerous to any community at large. But not only the tramp and the circulating itinerant, but eminent men, men of brains and personal worth, whose influence for good in their own neighborhood might be very large, are often so warped in their very fiber by this sort of misfortune as to become incapable of seeing things as they are—dealers in untruth, wrapped in untruth as in a garment. I have in mind one eminent gentleman, a man of large affairs and of otherwise unblemished integrity, who has the misfortune of being a prohibitionist leader, and