Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/604

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nog, for those sturdy and starving patriots! But this worthy lady lived in rural New England, and had been taught from her youth of the terrors and misery that lay hidden—not for fools only, but for everybody—in a bottle! And she could not see that God's gifts to men sometimes have come to his perishing creatures in the liquor form. The public inconvenience of this belief is not inconsiderable. Not only are its citizens deprived of the sanitary potency of liquor in emergencies (for I have heard apparently sane persons, in a village not a thousand miles from the city of New York, declare that they would rather die than have their lives saved by a glass of liquor), but the youths are taught, not to be virtuous and sober, and to shun drunkenness, but to persecute liquor sellers and to waste liquor by emptying it into the gutters: that the unfortunate who drinks himself into imbecility, or into becoming a public nuisance, is not a criminal or a lawbreaker, but an example of the wickedness of the hotel keeper—and so not the sinner but the sinned against! Not he to be disciplined or chided, but the innocent liquor is to be cursed, and the liquor dealer to be deprived of his property! It would appear to most of us that to preach a little less about the holy horror of rum, and a little more about the political obligation of the citizen to keep himself from drunkenness—to notify him that the law locks up the wretched drunkard, not because he is not a citizen who can not drink if he please, and not because liquor is a sinful thing, or because his neighbor has no right to invest his capital, if so pleased, in hogsheads of liquor and to retail it by the glass or spoonful, but because he is drunk, and because a drunkard is a nuisance and a threat to the community—would be an experiment worth the trying. Another experiment would be to rely upon such an administration of what laws we have as will encourage temperance by punishing the drunkard, not the liquor which he drinks or the manufacturer or the seller of it, nor yet the community whose misfortune and for whose sins it is that the drunkard is a part of it. We can not reclaim our wayward youth by sending their parents to Sunday school; we can not rid the community of drunkards by refusing to sell liquor to the sober man. But it requires no statute to refuse to sell it to the debauchee. This land of ours is ruled by law. The trend of progress is toward a larger and a more enlightened, not a lesser and more ignorant liberty; and civilizations move not backward. In the calm eye of the law, the owner of pipes of liquor is as much entitled to his own as is the owner of a "temperance" newspaper, as long as he injures not his neighbor. He of the wine pipes must not sell to the habitual drunkard, or to the hereditary victim of alcoholism who works damage in his cups; neither shall he of the printing press libel in words him of the wine pipes, or invite