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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/606

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

decent and honorable citizens turned into law-breakers; no personal and paternal statutes to evade, and so no statute evaders.

But until we wipe out all these present restrictive liquor laws we can not hate the drunkard. We must be charitable with him, even cherish as well as pity him; we must even respect him as a man who is upholding the liberty of the subject at the expense of his health; as a sort of public martyr. We must reverse many a popular maxim in his behalf. Instead of "Drunkenness leads to poverty" or "Drunkenness leads to wretchedness" we must read it "Poverty leads to drunkenness" "Wretchedness leads to drunkenness." Instead of worrying lest the horrible inebriate go home and brain his family and smash his furniture, we must cry, "Poor man, he is out of employment," "Poor man, he has an unhappy home, a shrewish wife and bad children, and there was nothing left him but drink" "It is not his fault, it is the fault of that horrid liquor seller." And so on, as if the selling of liquor and not the besotting of one's self with liquor, were the crime; as if the seller and not the drinker were the criminal; as if one who would not drink could be made a drunkard by the selling of liquor; or as if the fruits of the earth expressed or distilled were unholy and abhorred, when in any other form they were God's best gifts to man.

Like most admirable servants, liquor is apt to be a bad master if allowed the upper hand or permitted to get into politics. But there are many persons, not habitual drunkards themselves, who actually believe that malarious and impure water is a circulator of disease, but can be disarmed and rendered safe by the dilution with whisky. The boards of health of cities (New York city, for example), in their printed directions to the public for the prevention of cholera, advise that the water given to infants and very young children in the heated season be diluted with a few drops of whisky. But liquor laws are legislation, not against sick babies, but against the few drops of whisky which might save their little lives, and if the poor parents can not afford to pay a physician for a slip of paper giving the Latin name of whisky, the poor baby must die, or run the risk of death, by drinking malarious water. If there is any such thing as a salutary liquor law, not derived from excise or police jurisdiction, it would be perhaps a statute insuring the purity of liquor; reviving that old English functionary, the "ale-taster," with his care over all drinkables publicly offered for sale. This would be a legitimate and a constitutional law, as providing for the public safety (which is, after all is said, the origin and the summit of all laws). There is no greater charm to the tourist in rural England than the certainty that, no matter how small the village through which he passes, he will find at the inn refreshment and comfort, "eatable