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TEETOTAL PLATITUDES., Issue 8054, 2 November 1889, Supplement
TO THE KDITOH. Sir,—Last Friday Messrs Glover and Goad inaugurated a crusade against “the poison shops” of our City. They openly avow their determination “ to knock down all the public houses,” being—so they allege —factories of pollution, misery, and death. Mr Code is the chief gun, and, indeed, he is brim fall of heart-rending anecdotes, imparted in very grotesque phraseology, while he is singularly free from any eccentricities of deportment. He is a tolerably fluent speaker, and, in virtue of his queer sayings and humorous illustrations, can easily call forth roars of laughter or showers of tears. “The cursed liquor traffic” is marring the peace of society, and God has raised up men like Sir William Fox, who act as “ His handkerchief to wipe away the tears from off the eyes of widows and orphans.” Mr Goad is a better sponge himself than the Fox napkin. We must have clean, white napkins—free from stains of tippling and smoking—to wipe the eyes of the people. God, it appears, never called a man to be a brewer or publican. Indeed ! May not the publican—not the Roman taxgatherer—and the harlot be nearer the Kingdom of Heaven than the Pharisee or sanctimonious hypocrite ? Is net the hypocrite more odious than the liquor-seller? Drunkenness is not— with due deference to Goad or the cunning old Fox—the reproach of New Zealand, nor yet the besetting sin of Dunedin. The rising generation’s vice is not addiction to the cup. But they have more odious vices which Mr Goad should condemn. In vino veritas. A man before his glass is seldom a knave, or a hypocrite, a cheat, a rogue, or a swindler. Why does he not denounce horse-racing, gambling, fornication, and prostitution? Teetotallers vitiate their cause by gross exaggerations and fabrications, by senseless declamations and sophistical denunciations; but declamation is not ratiocination, neither is denunciation argumentation. Mr Goad is sanguine that we shall soon see the last “poison shop knocked down.” Well, we do not wish to destroy this pleasing hallucination. Had we a Parliament of old women the thing should be done in an hour! lam not so sure of that, Mr Goad. Perhaps, on deeper reflection and more minute inquiry, Mr Goad may discover that all the evil is not altogether on the male side of the house. The poison—if poison it is to be called—can be procured elsewhere than in public-houses. It can be, and is being daily, procured in a more clandestine way than by the backdoors of liquor shops “on Sundays.” Mr Goad is a good ad captandum vulgm orator; but his style of argument will not make many rational converts. I sometimes wish that teetotal agitators could be thrown into the Grand Canal—64o miles long, 3ft deep, and six wide—filled with beer, wine, and spirits, so that they might get a pleasant and drenching sail from John o' Groats to the Land’s End ! According to Mr Goad the devil’s liquid poison, consumed annually in Great Britain, could fill up such a fiery river to waft teetollers on its salubrious brine. During the past seven years the colonists of New Zealand spent fifteen millions sterling upon grog! “How much better had that money been spent on railways ?” True, Sir Oracle ! and how much better a world weshouldhaveif mankind were not a pack of fools! But folly has prevailed, and shall abound to the day of doom. But, after all, wine and whisky and beei are not poison; neither are they the main cause of human woe. “The poison that hath universally seized upon human nature” —as Charnock phrases it—is of a more malignant character and quality than even the vilest dregs of the dirtiest liquor shop. The prohibition of alcoholic spirits cannot remedy the miseries and follies emanating from humanity’s inveterate and congenital sin, guilt, and constitutional proneness to drink iniquity of every kind as water. Till men learn to act upon the divine maxim—“ to keep the heart with all diligence, since out of it are the issues of life ” —neither prohibition of liquor nor any other quaekish nostrum can, in any appreciable degree, meliorate the condition of man, who, as Lord Byron said, has been, is now, and ever shall be, an unlucky rascal. No, no, Mr Goad. Christ was the greatest physician and philosopher that ever lived. And what does he say? A good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and a bad tree corrupt fruit. Precisely so 1 Purify the heart—the source of action—and all will be well. If that is not done all other sorts of agitation and reformation will be fruitless. “ Can troubled and polluted springs a hallowed stream afford ? ” “ Purge the fountain” is the dictum of reason, religion, and common sense. Until this is done Mr Goad may be allowed to put his total abstainers in Paradise, where no grog shop may enter, and still we can assure him that his Utopia will very soon degenerate into a Pandemonium; for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and other forms of wickedness shall spring forth like sorrel from that vicious soil of unregenerated humanity.—l am, etc., J. 6. S. Grant. Dunedin, October 30.
TEETOTAL PLATITUDES., Issue 8054, 2 November 1889, Supplement
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