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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/609

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stroy either the body or the soul. The best evidence obtainable by medical industry intimates that, while, as everybody knows, the temperate outlive all other classes, even the habitually intoxicated man may, and does, outlive the rigid and inexorable total abstainer who refuses to his organism the stimulant which overworked or overstrung human systems sometimes insist upon.[1]

I do not know what evidence can be subpoenaed as to the loss of souls. But, admitting the occasional loss of a soul, the question might arise as to whether a soul could not be saved at too high a price. Should an entire community like the State of Vermont, or of Maine, or of Kansas, or like Boston, or the city of New York, for example, imperil its sanitary existence to save any one given human soul? Or how large or how small a community should be allotted to peril per soul? It requires a strong stomach and a tranquil nervous system to absorb ice water, and dyspeptics and excitable persons are not always deserving of death at the hands of the State.

I know that the easy-going humanitarian answer to this is, that all prohibitive liquor policies carry within themselves the seeds of their own dissolution, since they are only agitated in sparsely settled localities, from which, as populations thicken there, they gently disappear.[2] But, meantime, if the traffic in liquor is dangerous, these policies are working an enormous harm to the communities where they are tolerated. All history proves that there is no institution or system in the world which it has ever been attempted to stifle by legislation which is not to-day as fixed and immutable as the hills. The efforts of the English Puritans to abolish the theater made theatrical performances parcel of English civilization. The attempts of the middle ages, the Inquisition, and the Index, to destroy the printing press made the printing press a necessity of life everywhere. If liquor is dangerous to the United States of America, philanthropists and patriots should be careful how they pass laws against it!

  1. I believe the figures are claimed to be as follows: Out of 4,234 cases of mortality from ordinary causes, the lengths of life were:
    Temperate livers 62·13 years.
    Careless drinkers 59·67 "
    Free drinkers 57·59 "
    Habitually intemperate 52·03 "
    Total abstainers 51·22 "

    According to a recent report of the British Medical Association, in their journal in the year 1891.

  2. The little town of Westfield, N. J., has two or three active prohibition societies, and I am told that all the churches (except the Roman Catholic and the Episcopal) preach prohibition from their pulpits. Ten years ago, with a population of two thousand, the town cast three hundred prohibition votes; last year, with a population of thirty-seven hundred, as I am informed, it cast just fourteen!