C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.
Temperance (Prohibition and Abstinence)
What then is the conclusion of the matter? The destinies of the American people are practically in the grasp of a group of less than twenty liquor dealers! Were it not for certain moral restraints put upon this formidable power by public sentiment the outlook would be as black as midnight. As it is it behooves every lover of law and order and national prosperity to use his utmost influence against the dramshop. It is not for us at this point either to call in question or to concede the right of the individual to take a social or even a convivial glass. We are not talking about rights, but about Christian duties and privileges. There is one right which in the Christian life towers above all others; it is the right to surrender all rights for the sake of ones fellow men. This is the mind that was in Christ Jesus, who, possessing all the inalienable rights of Godhead, emptied himself and became of no reputation for us. This the mind that was in the Apostle Paul also when he said, If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth! Never was a grander manifesto of human rightsnever a sublimer declaration of independence than that! Oh, young men, to whom the welfare of the nation is presently to be committed, be on duty just there.
We are completely in bondage and slavery by the vile influence of the saloon in our country. We talk of our great and free institutions. We know, of course, that we have the grandest nation upon which the sun ever shines. We know that here with us the richest and rarest opportunities that have ever been known in the history of human civilization are presented to every man that he may avail himself of them to advance his position in life. We know that every mans rights and every mans privileges are guarded and protected by the grandest flag that it has ever been the privilege of free men to defend. We have no criterion of birth, of caste, of wealth, or of creed. The only criterion that we recognize is the criterion of individual merit and of individual worth. But yet we must stand before nations of the civilized world guilty of this gross and inexcusable folly of squandering enormous sums of money and wasting the life and strength of our people, year after year, in supporting this giant curse among us.
It is a fact and no fancy that we have all lived to see the abolition of slavery. Why is it incredible that some of us may live to see a greater evil, namely, the liquor traffic, made an outlaw by both state and national constitutional enactment? There is more money behind the liquor traffic than was ever behind slavery. Those who used to be called by Charles Sumner the Lords of the Lash never worked, or whipped, or burned, or starved to death in any circuit of the seasons before the Civil War so many victims as the liquor traffic now destroys every year in our republic. Slavery never added so much to the wastes and burdens of the nation in any one year before our military conflict began, as the liquor traffic now adds every year. Slavery never cost us a thousand millions annually. Slavery never destroyed eighty thousand lives a year. Slavery did not produce nine-tenths of the crime of the land. It is on account of the unity of the liquor traffic and its growing audacity that I predict its overthrow.
Here is a fearful enemy of God and manthe liquor traffic; it makes ruthless war upon the people; it blasts and destroys their homes as with pestilence and fire; it kills savagely, cruelly, more than a hundred thousand of them every year; robbing them first and driving wives and children to ruin and despair.
The man who is a drunkard has no intellectual freedom. Science declares that alcohol seeks the intellectual faculties, clogs the brain cells, distorts the reason, vitiates the mind, shatters the nerve centres, and he who is diseased with inebriety cannot enjoy intellectual freedom.
I say we, the people who create the governing power, have a duty to perform. What is it? That we shall exert our efforts and put forth our energies to hasten the dawn of that day when the sentiment which now sustains the drink traffic shall be replaced by a total abstinence sentiment.
We are here to confront the great enemy of our time; to handle the greatest living question. This monster has the world for a home, the flesh for a mother, and the devil for a father. He stands erect, a monster of fabulous proportions. He has no head, and cannot think. He has no heart, and cannot feel. He has no eyes, and cannot see. He has no ears, and cannot hear. He has only an instinct by which to plan, a passion by which to allure, a coil by which to bind, a fang with which to sting, and an infinite maw in which to consume his victims. I impeach this monster, and arraign him before the bar of public judgment, and demand his condemnation in the name of industry robbed and beggared; of the public peace disturbed and broken; of private safety gagged and garroted; of common justice violated and trampled; of the popular conscience debauched and prostituted; of royal manhood wrecked and ruined; and of helpless innocence waylaid and assassinated.
Now, if that sovereignty in the county says the saloon must go, we call it local option. It is the voice of the same authority in a limited area, which speaks in constitutional prohibition concerning the territory of an entire State, as in Maine or Kansas. The good results are small or great, in proportion as the area is limited or extended. The intelligent and robust temperance worker will contend for every inch of territory he can conquer; he will begin at the threshhold of his own home and not lay down the warfare while there is a dramshop in any spot the flag floats over.
Wanteda crusade; something objective; something all-enlisting; something to set souls on fire with indignation and resolve. That is the perpetual need of any organization with the breath of true and enduring life in it. That is the need of the united young people of all our churches, of whatever denomination, throughout America. Out of the Christian training-school into the Christian arenais not that the true law of spiritual development and accomplishment?
Think how the foremost champion, King Alcohol, is suffering defeat. He cannot now ingratiate himself into the stomachs of clergymen, as he once could; and now they are training their guns upon him. Not now as formerly does he find favor among thoughtful physicians. Science casts him out of the camp and brands him as an avowed enemy, while only a few years ago he was greeted as a trusted friend. Thoughtful people are waking up and taking sides against him. They are framing laws to expel him from the land, from many parts of which he has already gone. Girls and boys all abroad are being taught to see that he is wholly evil, and that continually; and that is a quiet work now, but will show itself in mighty power in the next generation.
If the strength and the sustaining force of the traffic were in the ballot box, there would be a possibility of dethroning it in that way. But, unfortunately, the root of the evil is not there, nor is it in the open saloon, nor is it to be found in the distillery, but it is grounded, and, I regret to say, it flourishes in the passions, the appetites, and the customs of the people, who are the governing power. Public sentiment is the basis of law, and public sentiment is simply individual sentiment taken in the aggregate. A spring cannot rise higher than its source. And prohibition, to be successful, must be the outgrowth of a sentiment which is based upon the self-sacrifice involved in total abstinence, enforced in the individual life of the nation. This involves agitation, education, and regeneration. To educate the public mind and to awaken the public conscience is equivalent to enacting laws upon the subject, because out of the mind and heart of the people the laws of the land are made. The people need to realize their responsibility as individuals; and we should lay down a principle that, while men are licensed to sell liquor, none have a license to take the cunning from the hand of any man, the genius from his brain, or the happiness from his home. If these are laid upon the altar of Bacchus, it is by the consent of the possessor of them.