Father Hays at the Oddfellows' Hail.
There was a very largo attendance at the Oddfellows' Hall last evening, when Father Ilayp, the well-known Temperance advocate nddressad an Ashburton audience. Mr C. J. Harper (Chairman of the County Council) Oo2up c l th« chair, whilst; amongst those oa tie j lalform v-ere Mr John MeLHChlan, M.H.K., Messrs G. W. Liadley, Chas. R<;id, £. 6. Chapman, and |lhe E<ws. G. B. Inglis, E. Whitehouse, W. L. Sal'er, J. Hall, end others. The Chairman, in introducing the speaker, said thai; he did so as the official representative of the County of .Lshburton. He had heard very good reports of Father Hays, and considered that he was doing a noble work. The Key, E. Whitehouse said he had been asked to represent tbe various religious bodies of Ashburton for the purpose of acoording a welcome to Father Hays. Although Father Hays came to them, he might say " undenominationalised," he was still a prie3t of God, and as such was engaged in the work of promoting Godliness generally. Father Hays' work was not therefore entirely confined to coping with the evils of intemperance. He had much pleasure ia welcoming Father Hays on behalf of the religious bodies of Ashburton. Father Hays (who was received with applause) said that he felt; that he had come to the wrong place. He had come to a town where there were no public houses, and this had rather surprised him. He did not know why the citizens of this town had asked him to speak here, as the hotels being closed, the greatest temptations of liquor had been removed. If there were any slaves to drink among his audience, they could not blame the Government of New Zealand or the people of Ashburton for their condition. Living in close contact with the people, in his own country, the fact had been borne in upon him that the drunkard should not be treated as a criminal, but as the victim of physical disease. It was wrong for any Government to allow the temptation of the open bar to be placed before its people and then to punish them for falling into the trap thus left open. The effects of drink were farreaohing, destroying love, truth, honeßty and sympathy in the human breast. He was once advertised to. address a large meeting in England, and on his arrival at fche_ town he found a letter from a man asking if he would give an interview to a man who wished to see him. The man was not a Christian, and not an Englishman, he was black, but; in his own way he was a gentleman. This tnan in the course of the interview, asked him "why Britain tried to do hi 3 people good by sending them whisky ?" The speaker found that a very difficult question to answer. It was very often the case that where Britain started to colonise a country, the introduction of strong liquor went far to crush out of existence the native inhabitants of such place. In the working men were spending one-sixth of their incomes on drink every year. This meant that children had to go breakfastless to school. He had seen a school boy fall fainting on the floor for want of food, and he had ascertained that his father was in receipt of 35s per week as wages, 15s of which went in liquor. The ultimate result of this man's drinking habits was that his employer discharged him. Another pupil, a girl, told him her sister could not come to school that morning, as she was too weak from want of food, but would come in the afternoon if her father got " a shilling's worth of work." He could give instances where persons in all classes of society had been stricken down by the curse of drink. Drink filled workhouses, hospitals, gaols, lunatic asylums, and cemeteries. How was this frightful evil to ba coped with. Some people said that we ought to "pray for people to lead sober lives." Well, prayer was a good thing, but it must be the right kind of prayer. God helped those people who made the besc of the opportunities Ho gave them. We must work out our own salvation. He knew nothing about N.Z. affairs as he was a stranger. He was only a learner so far as this country was concerned, but if their men and women were to do what was right, they must not only pray, but must live theh lives and shape their actions so as to keep out of all temptation. The man who prayod and did not act with all the manliness of which he waa oapable was no true man. A man, in the true sense of the word, was determined to overcome all difficulties and temptations, and in doing such he arrived at the fullest degree of liberty. He thought N.Z. would one day be the leader of all Colonies beneath the Southern Cross, and he appealed to his audience, as citizens of N.Z., to use their utmost endeavours, both for their own sake and that of posterity, to put down the drink evil as far as their Colony was concerned. Tn all the North and South of England he did not think he he could find six children over the age of seven who could say they had never seen a drunken man. In the Catholic School he had sonfetimeu asked those pupils of the classes who had seen a drunken man to hold up their hands. To his horror a host of hands were raised. Then be asked for those who had seen a drunken woman to raise their hands, and again many hands went up. He asked them then which they considered the worst, a drunken man or a drunken woman. They all considered a drunken woman was the worst. It was to the honour of Ireland that in that country no barmaids were employed. He hoped the time would come when England and other countries would be in the same position. We were a very long way from having the same law for both rich and poor. There were evidences of class legislation on every side. Many people asked why he did not try to get drunkards to church, to reform them by religious means. The trouble was that the people who were addicted to drink were dead to all thoughts of an immoral life, and cared nothing for God Almighty. In a community like this, even in the absence of public houses, people were not entirely safe. He wished to appeal to men's hearts through their intellects. Men must use the poweis that God had given them in order to work out their own salvation. He would give any reformer credit for honest jgonviction, no matter what methods he j.utended to employ. It was perhaps as well t hat there were many methods of reform, as hat meant many good workers. In his experience of large masses of working classes he had found only one method which was certain of success in coping with the liquor evil, and that was personal total abstinence. He knew that if he preached a doctrine of "moderation" he would be cheered to the echo, but his doctrine was a harder one. It; was the crucifixion of self. Alcoholism was a disease recognised by medical men throughout the world, and he knew men, once men of ability, holding honourable places in life, who had fallen victims to the curse of immoderate drinking. He felt thrvt for his own safety he must keep far away from any danger, and he was therefore a total abstainer. What wero the obstacles to total abstinence ? The doctor, we are told, advocates a glass of wine or of stout. If any doctor said that, they must not believe it, Sir Henry Thompson said that he considered the habitual use (not the abuse) of alcoholic liquor injured the body and diminished thai mental powers to a degree not suspected by many people. Sir William Gull expressed similar sentiments. Men would enjoy far better health, and live longer longer Yiy.es if they abstained from intoxicating liquor. It was well known that Life insurance Companies charged lower rates to total abstainers. General Wokeley said the best soldier was the total abstainer, while on one American railway, employees must all be total abstainers. In an ironworks at Philadelphia he saw men toiling very hard, toiling their very liyes out. He wondered why these men woro ! such fools as to toil so hard, and then throw away their money in the public house, tie was pleased, when, at one part of the works he was told that the men there were all tofeal abstainers. The work was too dangerous for any but men of clear intellect- Ho went into a prison one day and saw an old prisoner, a man steeped in crime. This man said to hjm, " It ia too late for me, Father, save the bqys." Cardinal Manning hag. said to the speaker, "> Go on with this work. It is a battle between Heaven and Hell, and you must stand on one side or the other, Get young priest to sign the pledge, and look af cer the ohiU dren of your congregation." The speaker appealed to all young women in the audience not to marry any man who would not promise to give up liquor altogether. The speaker concluded with an eloquent appeal to hia hearers to do their best to forward the cause of total abstinence. (Loud and continued applause.) £ MrC. Reid, in a few suitible words, proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Father Hays. Mr T. M. Jones seconded the motion. He said he did not know the taste of intoxicating liquor. Father Hayes had given those present some excellent advice, and ho hoped they would profit'by it, — Carried by acclamation, The Chairman, in conveying the vote
to Father Hays, said he hoped his lecture would bear good fruit. Ashburton County was ia a peculiar condition, as it was twothirds no-license and one-third license, but there was no doubt that the carrying of nolicenso in the town of Ashburton was something to be thankful for. Father Hays, in replying, said he wanted all good, honourable aod innocent people fo plodge themselves to give up intoxicating drink, for the love ot Goi and for the sako of their children. He then pat the following pledge to tho audieuce, asking those who desired to take the pledge to repeat the words after him:—" For glory to God, for example to man, and for my own personal safety, I resolve, with God's help, to abstain from ail intoxicating liquors, and to promote the holy cause of temperance.' 1 Many of the audience repeated the words of the pledge. The meeting closed with the singing of "God Save tho King."
Permanent link to this item
Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6555, 27 April 1905
Father Hays at the Oddfellows' Hail. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6555, 27 April 1905
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.