THE PREMIER AND TEMPERANCE LEGISLATION.
_ The following letter appears io the Wei lington ‘ Post’ of Monday ;
Sir,—believe nothin" has done the cause of Prohibition more harm than such intemperate and unjust language as that which you say this evening was used by the Uev. b. M. Isitt in Melbourne respecting the Premier and temperance legislation. We have a great deal to thank Mr Section for in the matter of temperance legislalution, much of which lie would never have conceded to those who think no policy elfective with him but that of bullring.
'ihe sooner temperance people protest against tile utter unfairness with which ho has been treated by certain persona in this connection the better for the temperance cause, lb: has never hypocritically pretended any personal sympathy with Prohibition, but lie has maintained that the people must rule in this matter so far as public opinion will support legislation enabling them to do so. The stoutest Prohibitionist statesmen when in power in this colony could get no further, otherwise they are responsible that we did not get complete popular control long ago. From the earliest existence of the Alliance Mr Seddon has, at his several parliamentary contests, declared in writing, in response to Alliance questions, that lie was in favor of the popular vote respecting the existence of the liquor traffic, and without compensation. And this he did when the temperance question was much less popular than now, and in a constituency where conspicuously his own political interests would have been more certainly served by declaring for compensation as a means of obstructing popular control. On the iioor of the House also he has consistently protested against compensation when it has been proposed as a means of blocking his direct veto legislation. Directly we can prove to Mr Seddon that the
people will support him in rdl that the Temperance party rightly asks for he will give it ns, though not himself a Prohibitionist, and the most extreme Prohibitionist among us, if in his place, could not do it without that support. There is no political party more likely to give it ns than that which he leads, and which he is not likely to cease to lead until the party itself is overthrown. The folly and madness, therefore, of doing everything which can he done, and especially by exaggerations and untruths which grossly wrong him, to excite in him bitter antagonism to us should lie obvious. Whatever any man's faults may lie, when their arraignment takes this form, it compels those who have any sense of honor, and would join in a just arraignment, to fly to his defence. Statements, for example, have been reiterated upon the pul die platform respecting Mr Keddon's “progress” through the King Country, which not only upon the face of them, lint also upon perfectly trustworthy evidence, are utterly and shamefully falso._ It is hy such means that the cause of Prohibition is being dragged in the mire in the estimation of persons who have no political nor personal affection for Mr Seddon, but hold tiiay the unreasoning antipathy and recklessness which readily believe and voice any false and
exaggerated charges which the spirit of evil can suggest constitute a greater immorality. “ The author of clause 21 ' is an expression which lias passed into an opprobrious epithet. Hut whatever the facts may be, people who have been swayed by it may reflect that the charge conveyed by it remains to this day unproved, and that some such provisions as it contains are a necessity upon the Statute Boole, and were contained in the Direct Veto Bill which Sir Robert Stout introduced on behalf of the Alliance. In most of such matters I have observed generally that the forcefuiness of the denunciations is in the inverse ratio of the sufficiency of the evidence, but that the former sways the audiences. 1 have heard some speakers publicly say things of other persons which I have felt at the time they would not dare to say if those persons had been present. But they end their audiences
have seemed to regard it as tiile and fearless, when really 11 Dutch courage ” is the thing of which it has been most suggestive. It is to this sort of thing that the good cause of Prohibition is being just now mischievously sacrificed. These things are written in no spirit of unfriendliness towards any persons engaged in that cause, but because the time has come when the thoughts and feelings of a very large body of sympathisers with it about the evil which is thus being wrought need expression. Some of those responsible for it have rendered the cause magnificent service in other respects ; but to give a good pail of milk and then kick it all over profits nothing. Against this the time for public protest has fully come.—l am, etc., Edward 'Wai.keu.
Wellington September 1, 1897. [A reply from Sir R. Stout to the above will appear in Monday’s issue.]
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THE PREMIER AND TEMPERANCE LEGISLATION., Evening Star, Issue 10416, 10 September 1897
THE PREMIER AND TEMPERANCE LEGISLATION. Evening Star, Issue 10416, 10 September 1897
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