PERJURY AND PROHIBITION.
Thnu shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. TO THE EDITOR. Sir,— The terrible vice of drunkenness is an admitted fact. “ The drunkard’s fault is nob the wine’s, but his own,” is a Chinese aphorism some three thousand years old. Perjury and Prohibition being so closely allied may fairly be represented by the algebraic sign of P2— i.e., where we attempt to enforce the one the other unfortunately is
rampant. Why is this? Because sentiment and superstition are the component parts of our nature, and in this question of alcoholic drinking—alcohol is, of course, in nearly all foods—men aud women say they will not be coerced, even by drastic legislation. The prohibitive laws against smuggling— vide 'Smuggling Days and Smuggling Ways,' by Commander Shore, R.N. demonstrate beyond doubt the impossibility of enforcement, and the determination to evade at all hazards even to loss of life. Sentiment either will not or cannot determine any evasion of the liquor laws to be a grave offence, and in the attempt at enforcement the more serious one of perjury becomes apparent. In our own courts this isalmo3tof daily occurrence, and witnesses soon find out the art of evasion by misleading when they think there is a good jusla causa : (1) By supposing a material lie—that is, an untruth which is not a lie; (2) an equivocation ; (3) an evasion ; and (4) silence. All the subtle arts of casuistry are brought to bear in believing that the just cause is present for misleading, which, of course, is held by almost all authorities not to be a sin. Now, if this is practised and becomes familiar in all cases brought before our courts, subordination will be one of the cultured academical professions.
In the Navy drastic means failed to suppress liquor being surreptitiously taken on board Her Majesty's ships ; in the Army it also failed. In the civil courts it sometimes succeeds, but at what a fearful cost of perjury is only too apparent. All of us wish temperance, and Parks sums up his remarks on spirits in these words : " Spirits are, for the most part, merely flavored alcohol, and do not contain the ingredients which give dietetic value to wine and beer. They are also more dangerous, because it is so easy to take them undiluted, and thus to increase the chance of damaging the structures with which they come first in contact. There is every reason, therefore, to discourage the use of spirits, and to let beer and wine, with moderate alcoholic power, take their place." The remedy lies not in the vilification of the weak, who cannot refrain any more than the absinthe society lady can, but in moral suasion and the. establishment of inebriite homes. Well-cooked and wholesome food is also a decided factor in favor of temperance, yet how many women neglect this for tho trivialities of "bike" posture and parading the block ! In spite of all that is said and written (and the writer has had some experience) we are not the drink " soakers " many would have us believe, and if our Prohibition brethren would only devote more attention to the
young, and follow in the footsteps of the Great Master's teaching, their desires would perhaps, in a generation or two, be accomplished. One fears politics has too much to do with this, a3 with many other questions. Men and women can never be made sober by parliamentary draftsmen, any more than they can by made honest by any and every system of audit. Nons verrons.—l am, etc., ~ Ad Rem. Dunedin, September 13.
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PERJURY AND PROHIBITION., Evening Star, Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement