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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/605

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ABOLISH ALL PROHIBITIVE LIQUOR LAWS.

his fellow-citizens to violence against him or destruction of his worldly goods. For over one and all is the law of the land. Let our youth learn this, and not that others have obligations and stand at their peril, while he alone is free, if he only will sign a pledge and wear a blue ribbon!

In still another way the prohibitive liquor laws have worked, and are still working, hardship to our people. The liquor-drinking habit in large and metropolitan cities is palpably on the decline. Here the ever-increasing complexity of affairs, the immense demand of competition, the necessity of care and vigilance lest one be outrun in the race for success, and the strain of business methods, render it injudicious to drink much wine or liquor; large corporations exact a rigid temperance, often total abstinence, from their officials and employees. Either because edicts of fashion for once have followed the demands of business, or for some other cause it appears to be absolutely no longer fashionable in cities to drink deep or long at table. In the natural course there is reason to believe that this fashion might reach the interior, to prevail there. But, in the towns and cities of the liquor-law-ridden States, the more stringent the ordinances, and the more important and bustling the "smeller," it more and more becomes a point of self-respect, almost of honor, between man and man, to drink much and often, and liquor drinking increases daily. Even lads of tender years, clubbing together, buying a demijohn of what purports to be something of which they have heard their elders speak, and hiding in some cellar or bedroom, experience all the fearful joys of dissipation! In other interior precincts where there never was much liquor drinking, but where the itinerant reformer stands in lieu of lyceum or theater or assembly, the liquor habit will remain about the same, not increasing, but not allowed by the reformers to die out and their occupation be gone. So the maxim of Horace Greeley, that a habitual drunkard is quite as useful a member of society as a temperance reformer, remains unerringly true, not only, but he is positively a retarder of public progress. But once let every liquor law be expunged from the statute-books of our American States and the temperance reformer would disappear, the benign influences of the city would spread to the country, liquor drinking being no longer a matter of courtesy or self-respect, but an indifferent matter of taste, would decrease, as it always has decreased in the civilized communities when let alone and to itself. The horror of liquor would disappear, and only the horror of the drunkard would remain. And the enormous gain would not only be the salvage of the money wasted in pretending to enforce incompetent and disrespected laws, but in behalf of public morality, because with no sumptuary laws to break, there would be no