Temperance at the Mansion House.
lu the Groat Hall uf the Mansion House, London, was gathered together on March 21 a goodly assemblage of men and women — the latter being in a vast majority, The only refreshment provided was water, though the Lord Mayor himself presided, and dispensed the hospitality of the city. The occasion was the meeting of the British Women's Temperance Association. An hour before the proceedings were advertised to commence—viz., three o'clock—the official abode of the Chief Magistrate was besieged by eager applicants for seals, and by the time the opening hymn was sung the hall was crowded in every part. To the tune of 1 St. Gertrude' the believers in nonalcoholism joined in chorus, aud made the rafters shake with — Onward ! frienda of temp'ranor, Annuel wi.h heavenly might; Truth shall bo vlotoilous ; God defends the right. Lo ! the truth is spreading Every day and hour ; Platform, press, and pulpit Aid its gracious power.
Few of those present could object to the obvious adaptation. Indeed, familiarity with the air caused the majority to join with true Salvation Army zest in the refrain. Then arose Mr Secretary Storey, a benevolent gentlemen, with a liking for depositing his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets, and a desire to bless everybody and everything. He even invoked a benediction on the Government, and wound up his oration with prayer, whioh was fervently joined in by the audienoe. When Mr Storey had retired to his chair, up rose my Lord Whitehead, who prefaced his remarks by an obvious inaccuracy. "I am not going to make a Bpeech," said he; but, nevertheless, a speech he made, and a good speech, too, from a teetotal point of view. He vigorously assailed the wine and spirit licenses of grocers ; he lauded Sir Wilfrid Lav/son, and he extolled local option. " I'm right glad to hear that he goes the whole hog," observed an enthusiastic old lady, battering the floor with her umbrella as His Lordship and badge of olWce subsided opposite the water bottles. "So am I; he's a real Cumberland wrestler," put in her neighbor, a young man with a blue ribbon of so ambiguous a tint that were he to go to the boatrace no one could tell whether he was a partisan of Oxford or Cambridge. Mrs Ward Foole is the next orator. She has a vigorous voice, which penetrates every recess, and raps upon the drum of every listening ear. She is great upon organisation, and has a rather monotonous way of introducing any statement with the words: "I find that." " I find that we did this or did that," ia her stock phrase, but nevertheless it is interesting to learn that drawing room meetings and cottage gatherings have been of great use in furthering the cause of temperance in the provinces. The system of " cottage meetings " ia particularly simple. The housewife of a convenient cottage is asked to invite as many of her neighbors as her parlor can hold to be present on a certain day, and listen to the gospel of Sir Wilfrid Lawson ovor tea and toast, Amid ringing cheers Mrs Poole declares that a young lady of her acquaintance made no fewer than fourteen disciples at one of these gatherings. The feelings of husbands, Dick, Tom, and Harry, on receiving the news of the conversion of their spouses, on their return from tho village alehouse, was not expatiated on. Mrs Poole told how the British Women's Temperance Socioty had worked in the election of county council lors, and sho wound up her discourse with a resolution condemnatory of all publicans and spirit-dealing grocors. Then up leapt a white-whiskered gentleman, Mr J. H. Raper, who declared that tho speech of tho chairman was " the greatest deliverance ever made by a Lord Mayor of London.'' His Lordship, in the opinion of tmny, distinctly blushed ; and, indeed, he had reason to exhibit modesty, for no piece of hot toast was ever more liberally anointed with butter. The more modest the Lord Mayor looked the more did Mr Raper plaster him with praiee. A round of applauso greeted the next speaker, Mrs Ormiaton Chant. This lady is a vocal dancer. She waltzes in her pathetic periods, gallops in her declamation, and polkas through her humorouß remarks. But tho band never stops. The time may be different, yet tho music goes on in one uuisterrupted flow. Were any worshipper of Bacchus present he would certainly bo converted to sobriety and sodawater by Mrs Chant's melodious eloquence. Then we have a parody on ' From Greenland's icy mountains,' also sung in chorus : Yc daughters of Old Krislanrl, Whatever be your lot, Vour station high or lowy, In mansion or in cot, Come, rally round the banner, And join with heart and hand To hiniah drinking customs From our beloved land. During the singing of this hymn a collection is made, but owing to the crowd the bearers of the velvet bags have great difficulty in getting possession of the shillings and sixpences—we dare not say pence ; and then Lady Sebright, daintily attired In black, takes up the talk. Her discourse is certainly the most amußing of tho afternoon—opening with bii apt illustration of a forge, and asking her audience whether they were not proud of being Englishwomen, " and lam Irish," She told the tale of a poor creature at Damascus, whom she had seen afflicted with the "jim-jam.B." "We have no word in our language for his malady," observed a Syrian, "We call it the English disease." Lady Sebright aßked if that were not a blot upon our nationality, a stigma on the Christian religion ? Need it be said that she was answered by a volley of cheers? Then she went on to narrate how poor little children of five years old were injured in health by having drink given to them by injudicious parents, and how one tiny maiden conveyed to a metropolitan hospital actually asked for a " drop of gfn" by way of refreshment. Lady Sebright was, indeed, full of anecdote. She related how an old man of eighty, with whom she was acquainted, was always accustomed to take whisky and water for lunch and dinner. " Why do you take whisky ?" she had asked tho octogenarian. "Because my doctor ordered it," was the reply. " When did he order it ?" queried tho temperance dame. "When I was about twenty." "And has it taken you sixty years to get cured ?" was the cruel inquiry of this disbeliever in the virtues of the "crathur." Then again Her Ladyship descanted on the change which had come over society in the matter of the inward application of cold water. " When I was stopping with Miohael Bass—old Bass, I mean," she remarked, "he was quite insulted when I asked for a Klass of water, Now he would have"—Homeric laughter drowned the conclusion of her speech. Lady Sebright certainly made tho most interesting speech of the dav. Canon Wilberforce made a happy bon viol when ho described the B.W.T.A. as thp Amazon branch of " this great movement," and ho emphatically protested against our wives, mothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts being described as " the weaker sex." One of tho most curiously interesting meetings ever held in the Mansion House closed with the 'Temperance Doxology.' And then there was another collection at the doors.
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Temperance at the Mansion House., Evening Star, Issue 7940, 22 June 1889, Supplement
Temperance at the Mansion House. Evening Star, Issue 7940, 22 June 1889, Supplement
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