Review of Dr. Crosby's
Calm view of Temperance (1881).
An Address before the Association of the Ministers
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in Tremont Temple, Boston
, January 24, 1881.
This is the only address in this volume which was read from manuscript, and probably the only one Mr. Phillips
ever delivered in that manner.
I am to offer you some remarks on a lecture delivered here a fortnight ago by Chancellor Crosby
He denounced the Temperance movement as now conducted.
The address was not very remarkable for novelty, or weight of argument, or the correctness of its statements.
Indeed, it was rather noticeable for the lack of these qualities.
And it was so well handled and so fully answered in several of our pulpits that I thought it needed no further notice.
But you thought otherwise, and perhaps it does deserve it, considering the source from which it comes.
And when the health of the chancellor becomes the standing toast in the grog-shops of our city, and when the journal which publishes these Monday lectures is obliged to print a second and third edition, day after day, to supply that class of customers, it is evident that Temperance men have a text on which an effectual Temperance sermon can be preached,--one that will probably arrest the attention of just those we seek to reach.
laments the divisions among Temperance men, and lays it down as a principle that we “cannot
conscientiously object to the means employed by others, unless they contain an immorality.”
I beg leave to dissent from this.
We have had sixty years experience in Temperance methods, and certainly may claim to have learned something.
Now, when these new converts-these nursling babies of grace-mislead by their crude suggestions the Temperance public, obstruct its efforts and waste its means, are we bound to sit silent and make no protest against such waste and recklessness?
The treasury of reform is not rich enough to bear such extravagance on the pretence of harmony; much less are we bound to silence when a neighbor's mistake seriously harms and hinders the movement.
lived, as it did in 1806, with no steam fire-engine,--only leather buckets hanging in each man's front entry,--cheerfully would I stand with Dr. Crosby
and a hundred more to pass buckets of water up to the firemen on a burning building.
But in 1881, I should not obstruct the engine, and crowd it out of its place, merely that Dr. Crosby
and I might have a chance harmoniously to unite in passing empty
buckets toward the flames.
Life is too short for such false courtesies; too short for us to postpone working on our line until we have educated every new convert up to our level.
This might do very well before the Flood.
as Sydney Smith
suggests, when Methuselah could consult his friends for a hundred and fifty years in relation to an intended enterprise, and even when live to see the working of his plan, and its success or failure, for six or seven centuries afterward.
But life now is limited to an average of seventy years, and practical men must put their hands to the plough in the best way they know, and if children stand in their way, move them gently but firmly out of the path.
I think before Dr. Crosby
spoke he should have studied the history of the Temperance movement.
If he were as
familiar with the literature of our enterprise as he is with that of Greece
, he never would have repeated criticisms and suggestions that have been answered over and over again during the last fifty years. As I turn over his essay, and find how tediously familiar we all are with his objections, I am reminded of Johnson
's objection to Goldsmith
's plan of travelling over Asia
in order to bring home valuable improvements: “Sir, Goldsmith
is so ignorant of his own country that he would bring home a wheelbarrow as a new and valuable invention.”
The address turns back on its path frequently, and repeats its chief criticisms again and again.
If we analyze it, I think it may be fairly summed up thus:--
1. Dr. Crosby
objects to the Total-abstinence theory and movement that it insults the example of Jesus; that its advocates undermine and despise the Bible
, while they strain and wrench it to serve their purpose; and he asserts that the “Total-abstinence system is contrary to revealed religion ;” and that the Bible
, correctly interpreted, repudiates total abstinence and such a Temperance crusade as has existed here for the last fifty years.
2. Dr. Crosby
objects to this movement as immoral as well as unchristian; and as “doing unmeasured harm to the community.”
He considers it as the special and direct cause of the “growth of drunkenness in our land, and of a general demoralization among religious communities;” asserts that it is exactly the kind of movement that rumsellers enjoy, and that it ought not to succeed, never will, and never can.
3. The pledge is unmanly, and kills character and self-respect.
4. The assertion that moderate drinking leads to drunkenness is untrue.
5. The total-abstainers bully and intimidate the community, and disgust all good, sensible men.
6. That what is needed to unite sensible men in a movement sure to succeed, is a license system recognizing the distinction between moderation and excess, between harmless wines, and beer and strong drink.
Such a system, “free from taint of prejudice, and instinct with practical wisdom, will establish order and peace, and save us from a moral slough.”
The looseness of these statements is noticeable.
says, “The Total-abstinence system is contrary to revealed religion.”
What is the “Total-abstinence system” ? It is abstaining from intoxicating drink ourselves, and agreeing with others to do so. How is this contrary to revealed religion?
Can any one cite a text in the Bible
or a principle laid down there which forbids it?
Of course not; no one pretends that he can. But Dr. Crosby
's argument is, that Jesus drank intoxicating wine and allowed it to others.
There is no proof that he ever did drink intoxicating wine.
But let that pass, and suppose, for the sake of the argument, that he did. What then?
To do what Jesus never did, or to refuse to do what he did, are such acts necessarily
“contrary to revealed religion” ? Let us see.
Jesus rode upon an “ass and a colt, the foal of an ass.”
We find it convenient to use railways.
Are they “contrary to revealed religion” ? Jesus never married, neither did most of his apostles.
Is marriage, therefore, “contrary to revealed religion” ? Jesus allowed a husband to put away his wife if she had committed adultery, he himself being judge and executioner.
We forbid him to do it, and make him submit to jury trial and a judge's decision.
Are such divorce laws, therefore, “contrary to revealed religion” ? Jesus said to the person guilty of adultery: “Go and sin no more.”
We send such sinners to the State
Are our laws punishing
adultery, therefore, “contrary to revealed religion” ? There were no women at the Last Supper
We admit them to it. Is this “contrary to revealed religion” ? We see, therefore, that Christians may, in altered circumstances, do some things Jesus never actually did, and that their so doing does not necessarily contravene his example; nor, unless it violates the principles
he taught, does it tend to undermine Christianity.
But the learned lecturer will perhaps urge: “I did not mean exactly what I said.
I meant to point out that the means you use — methods with which you urge and support the Total-abstinence theory — are contrary to revealed religion.
You strain and pervert the Bible
to get the example of Jesus on your side, and so undermine the authority of the Scriptures.”
It would have been better if Dr. Crosby
had originally said exactly what he meant, and on so grave a subject we had a right to claim that a trained and scholarly man should do so. But, waiving that, let us allow him, as the courts do, to amend his declaration.
The Total-abstinence system is “contrary to revealed religion,” because we strain and distort the Scriptures and wrest them to serve our purpose; and the chief instance upon which the Doctor
mainly dwells is our assertion that wherever drinking wine is referred to in the Bible
with approbation, unfermented
wine is meant.
Upon this claim the Doctor
pours out his hottest indignation, indulging in a wealth of abusive epithets, and returning to it again and again, ringing changes on it, and turning it like a specially sweet morsel under his tongue.
Indeed, this may be considered the chief thing he came to Boston
Now, there is a class of Biblical scholars and interpreters who do assert that wherever wine is referred to in the Bible
with approbation, it is unfermented wine.
Of this class of men, Dr. Crosby
says “their learned ignorance is splendid;” they are “inventors of a theory of magnificent daring;” they “use false texts” and “deceptive arguments;” “deal dishonestly with the Scriptures;” “beg the question and build on air;” their theory is a “fable,” born of “falsehoods,” supported by “Scripture twisting and wriggling;” their arguments are “cobwebs,” and their zeal outstrips their judgment, and they plan to “undermine the Bible
This is a fearful indictment!
Who are these daring, ridiculous, and illogical sinners?
As I call them up in my memory, the first one who comes to me is Moses Stuart
, of Andover
, whose lifelong study of the Bible
and profound critical knowledge of both its languages place him easily at the head of all American commentators.
His well-balanced mind, conservative to a fault on many points, clears him from any suspicion of being misled by enthusiasm or warping his opinions to suit novel theories.
's Scripture view of the wine question” was the ablest contribution, thirty years ago, to this claim about unfermented wine, and it still holds its place, unanswered and unanswerable.
By his side stands Dr. Nott
, the head of Union College, with the snows of ninety winters on his brow.
Around them gather scores of scholars and divines on both sides of the Atlantic
In our day Tayler Lewis
gives to the American
public, with his scholarly indorsement, the exhaustive commentary by Dr. Lees
on every text in the Bible
which speaks of wine,--a work of sound learning, the widest research, and fairest argument.
The ripe scholarship, long study of the Bible
, and critical ability of these men entitle them to be considered experts on this question.
In a matter of Scripture interpretation it would be empty compliment to say that Dr. Crosby
is worthy to loose the latchet of their
You would think me using only sarcasm if I said so.
Now, imagine Moses Stuart
, with his “learned ignorance,” “using false texts,” “dealing dishonestly with the Scriptures,” “begging a question and using cobwebs for arguments,” “wriggling and twisting the Bible
;” at the ripe age of sixty years his boyish “zeal outstripping his judgment,” --imagine him, with his infidel pick axe, zealously digging away up there on Andover Hill to “undermine the Bible
” ! Of course all Andover
will at once recognize the fidelity of the portrait, and cordially thank the New York Greek
professor for informing them of his discovery of this Stuart
conspiracy with Dr. Nott
to bring the authority of the Scriptures into contempt.
One thing Dr. Crosby
wishes to be distinctly understood: he does not charge such men as Stuart
with meaning to lie. “I Their main arguments are falsehoods.
They take up these weapons without sufficiently examining them.
They see they can be made effective, but do not stop to inquire whether they are legitimate.”
Now, this is very kind in our New York professor.
We had never discovered the superficial character of Stuart
's scholarship, which left him open to such mistakes, or his mischievous haste and culpable carelessness in logical methods, and it is very generous in this new Daniel
to assure us that, in spite of these faults, he “can [with effort, of course, and some struggle] believe in the purity of motive” of such men, even when they “trample on reason and Scripture in blind rush.”
Now, the truth is, the only “castle built on air” in this matter is the baseless idea that the Temperance movement uses dishonest arguments or wrests the Scripture, because it maintains that where the drinking of wine as an article of diet is mentioned in the Bible
wine is meant.
The fact is, there are scholars of repute on both sides of the question; but we do not claim too much when we say that the weight of scholarly authority is on our side, and not on that of the Doctor
But suppose the weight on each side were equal, what then?
One theory makes the Bible
contradict itself, puts it below the sacred books of many other nations in the strictness of its morality, and sets it as an obstacle to the highest civilization.
The other reconciles all its teachings one with another, lifts it to the level of the highest moral idea, and makes it the inspirer and the guide in all noble efforts to elevate the race.
Which theory ought the believer in the Bible
to prefer, if both were equally well supported?
Are those who degrade the Bible
below other scriptures entitled to charge us with “undermining” it?
There are other claims besides that of unfermented wine which are “magnificent in their daring” and, let me add, in their insolence.
Some of the Doctor
's young hearers might have been surprised to see a divine flinging the Bible
in the way of the Temperance movement.
But we older ones and Abolitionists are used to such attempts.
Forty-five years ago the Princeton Review
, representing the Presbyterian Church, denounced the Antislavery movementat a time when Garrison
stood surrounded by divines and church-members without number — as infidel and “contrary to revealed religion.”
Its argument was the exact counterpart of Dr. Crosby
's against our Temperance enterprise.
In vain we showed that the word “slave” in the New Testament did not necessarily or probably mean a chattel slave, and in vain did Weld
's “Bible argument” --which was never answered — prove the same to be true of the Old Testament.
Still, we were denounced as
“--twisting and wresting and straining the Scriptures, and undermining the Bible
This Crosby Bible was flung in Garrison
's face for thirty years. But since his great hand wrote Righteousness
on the flag, and sent it down to the Gulf
, and since we boast that no slave treads our soil,--since then nine hundred and ninety-nine church-members out of every thousand will call you a libeller and suspect you of infidelity if you say the Bible
anywhere or in any degree upholds slavery; and I see your lecturer last week closed his eloquent and able address by triumphantly claiming that the Gospel abolished slavery,--which is true, only he should have stated that it was the Gospel of Jesus Christ
, and not the gospel of the Church
of that day.
Hence, I am not impatient nor distrustful.
I rest quiet in serene assurance that by and by, when our Temperance cause is a little stronger, men will blush to think they ever belittled and dishonored the Bible
by such claims and arguments as these.
At that time ninety-nine out of every hundred Christians will look askance upon you, and suspect your Orthodoxy, unless you believe Jesus never drank any fermented wine, and that the Bible
's precepts touching wine-drinking can only be reconciled with each other, or with its claim as a revealed religion, by recognizing the distinction between fermented and unfermented wines.
In my active life of fifty years I have seen more men made infidels by these attempts to prove the Bible
an upholder of slavery, than I ever saw misled by the followers of Paine
; and I think this sad exhibition of New York partisanship will have the same result.
The misled men to whom I refer, were not ignorant, careless-minded, or unprincipled, but men of conscientious earnestness of purpose, good culture, and blameless lives.
It is, indeed, mournful to look back and notice how
uniformly narrow-minded men, hide-bound in the bark of tradition, conventionalism, and prejudice, have thrown the Bible
in the way of every forward step the race has ever made.
When the Reformation claimed that every Christian man was his own priest and entitled to read the Bible
for himself, the cry was: “You are resisting and undermining the Bible
Even before that, the most advanced and liberal churchmen denounced their own (unrecognized, but true) spiritual brothers — the democracy of their day in Holland
and elsewhere — as infidels and contemners of the Scriptures.
When the English Puritan
saw dimly a republican equality of rights, Sir Robert Filmer
and the High-Churchmen tried to frighten him with the scarecrow of their Bible.
The chief Apostle says, “Honor the king!”
and this fellow leaves us no king to honor!
But even Dr. Crosby
would, in spite of Saint Peter
, hardly acknowledge the Declaration of Independence
to be “contrary to revealed religion.”
One of the strongest proofs that the Bible
is really a divine book is, that it has outlived even the foolish praises and misrepresentations of its narrow and bigoted friends.
When Antislavery lecturers first entered Ohio
, some forty years ago, they carried the Bible
before them as their sanction for the movement.
Certain doctors of divinity, horror-struck at this profanation, proposed to form a society whose object should be to prove that the Bible
was then considered somewhat of an infidel; but on the principle of the forlorn sailor who puts up with any port in a storm, these divines sought out Wade
, asking him to be president of the proposed society.
received them most courteously.
“Certainly,” said he, “gentlemen, I will serve you gladly, and do my best to make this thing
But, you know, when we've proved that the Bible
supports and demands slavery as an institution, folks will ask you to show them what is the worth of such
a Bible, here and now. And in that matter I cannot be of any help to you, gentlemen, at all.”
But some adherent of Dr. Crosby
may say: Still, the New Testament does not anywhere specifically and in so many words describe a system of moral observance like Teetotalism.
Possibly not; and hence the Doctor
claims that this suiting Christianity to the needs of the age is disguised infidelity.
But look at it a moment.
The New Testament is a small book, and may be read in an hour.
It is not a code of laws, but the example of a life and a suggestion of principles.
It would be idle to suppose that it could describe in detail, specifically meet every possible question, and solve every difficulty that the changing and broadening life of two or three thousand years might bring forth.
The progressive spirit of each age has found in it just the inspiration and help it sought.
But when timid, narrow, and short-sighted men claimed such exclusive ownership in it that they refused to their growing fellows the use of its broad, underlying principles, and thus demanded to have new wine put into old bottles, of course the bottles burst and their narrow, surface Bible became discredited; but the real Bible soared upward, and led the world onward still, as the soul rises to broader and higher life when the burden of a narrow and mortal body falls away.
This is that kind of literal and starved ignorance which lays its unworthy hand on the Scriptures, and tells us that, because Solomon said, “He that spareth the rod spoileth the child,” he meant every child must be mercilessly whipped; thus dragging down the wisest of men to the level of their own narrow and brutal nature,
ignorant that the poet-king, putting the concrete for the principle involved, meant only to emphasize the truth that the training of a child must include subjection,--by what method obtained each case and each child's nature must decide.
And thus many a brute and ignoramus has complacently fathered his absurd blindness and passionate temper on Solomon and the Bible
Had not the lecturer of last week, Dr. Crooks
, so ably and eloquently pointed out this characteristic of Christianity, its opening to the moral and spiritual need of each age, its ready and complete adaptation of itself to the most unforeseen and immense changes in the moral life of succeeding ages,--one of the proofs of its divine origin,--furnishing the principles needed for each larger development of civilization, and giving its sanction to the new methods which keener temptations and more threatening dangers demanded, I might have troubled you with something on this point.
You will allow me to quote what will show you that even the old divines, and those whose Orthodoxy will not be suspected, have again and again affirmed that a moral agency's being new was no evidence at all that Christianity did not include and intend it. Robinson
, in “Address to the Pilgrim
If God reveal anything to you by any other instrument of his, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth by my ministry; for I am verily persuaded — I am very confident — the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of his Holy Word.
The Hon. Robert Boyle
As the Bible was not written for any one particular time or people, . . . so there are many passages very useful which will not l)be found so these many ages; being possibly
reserved by the Prophetic Spirit that indited them . . . to quell some foreseen heresy, . . . or resolve some yet unformed doubts, or confound some error that hath not yet a name.
, in his “Analogy” (1737) says:--
Nor is it at all incredible that a Book which has been so long in the possession of mankind, should yet contain many truths as yet undiscovered.
For all the same phenomena and the same faculties of investigation from which such great discoveries in natural knowledge have been made in the present and last age, were equally in the possession of mankind several thousand years before.
And possibly it might be intended that events, as they come to pass, should open and ascertain the meaning of several parts of Scripture.
A day is coming when Scripture, long darkened by traditional teaching, too frequently treated as an exhaustive mine, will at length be recognized in its true character, as a field rich in unexplored wealth, and consequently be searched afresh for its hidden treasures.
, in his “Lectures,” says--
Even now, after eighteen centuries of Christianity, we may be involved in some tremendous error of which the Christianity of the future will make us ashamed.
Dean Stanley says:--
Each age of the Church has, as it were, turned over a new leaf in the Bible, and found a response to its own wants.
We have a leaf still to turn,--a leaf not the less new because it is so simple.
passes to the great weapon of the Temperance movement,--the pledge.
This he calls “unmanly,”
“a strait-jacket;” says it kills self-respect and undermines all character.
Hannah More said: “We cannot expect perfection in any one; but we may demand consistency of every one.”
It does not tend to show the sincerity of these critics of our cause when we find them objecting in us to what they themselves uniformly practise on all other occasions.
If we continue to believe in their sincerity, it can only be at the expense of their intelligence.
is, undoubtedly, a member of a church.
Does he mean to say that when his church demanded his signature to its creed and his pledge to obey its discipline, it asked what it was “unmanly” in him to grant, and what destroys an individual's character; that his submission to this is “foregoing his reasoning,” “sinking back to his nonage,” etc?
Of course he assents to none of these things.
He only objects to a Temperance pledge, not to a church pledge.
The husband pledges himself to his wife, and she to him, for life.
Is the marriage ceremony, then, a curse, a hindrance to virtue and progress?
I have known men who, borrowing money, refused to sign any promissory note.
They thought it unmanly and evidence chat I distrusted them.
Does Dr. Crosby
think the world should change its customs and immediately adopt that plan?
Society rests in all its transactions on the idea that a solemn promise, pledge, assertion, strengthens and assures the act. It recognizes this principle of human nature.
The witness on the stand gives solemn promise to tell the truth; the officer about to assume place for one year or ten, or for life, pledges his word and oath; the grantor in a deed binds himself for all time by record; churches, societies, universities, accept funds on
pledge to appropriate them to certain purposes and to no other,--these and a score more of instances can be cited.
In any final analysis all these rest on the same principle as the Temperance pledge.
No man ever denounced them as unmanly.
I sent this month a legacy to a literary institution, on certain conditions, and received in return its pledge that the money should ever be sacredly used as directed.
's principle would unsettle society, and if one proposed to apply it to any cause but Temperance, practical men would quietly put him aside as out of his head.
These cobweb theories, born of isolated cloister life, do not bear exposure to the midday sun or the rude winds of practical life.
This is not a matter of theory.
It must be tested and settled by experience and results.
Thousands and tens of thousands attest the value of the pledge.
It never degraded; it only lifted them to a higher life.
“Unmanly” ? No. It made men of them.
We who never lost our clear eyesight or level balance over books, but who stand mixed up and jostled in daily life, hardly..deem any man's sentimental and fastidious criticism of the pledge worth answering.
Every active worker in the Temperance cause can recall hundreds of instances where it has been a man's salvation.
In a railway-car once, a man about sixty years old came to sit beside me. He had heard me lecture the evening before on Temperance.
“I am master of a ship,” said he, “sailing out of New York, and have just returned from my fiftieth voyage across the Atlantic
About thirty years ago I was a sot; shipped, while dead-drunk, as one of a crew, and was carried on board like a log. When I came to, the captain sent for me. He asked me: ‘ Do you remember your mother?’
I told him she died before I could remember anything.
‘ Well,’ said he, ‘ I am a Vermont man. When I was young I
was crazy to go to sea. At last my mother consented I should seek my fortune in New York.’
He told how she stood on one side the garden-gate and he on the other, when, with his bundle on his arm, he was ready to walk to the next town.
She said to him: ‘My boy, I don't know anything about towns, and I never saw the sea; but they tell me those great towns are sinks of wickedness, and make thousands of drunkards.
Now, promise me you'll never drink a drop of liquor.’
He said, ‘I laid my hand in hers and promised, as I looked into her eyes for the last time.
She died soon after.
I've been on every sea, seen the worst kinds of life and men. They laughed at me as a milksop, and wanted to know if I was a coward; but when they offered me liquor, I saw my mother across the gate, and I never drank a drop.
It has been my sheet-anchor.
I owe all to that.
Would you like to take that pledge?’
My companion took it, and he added: “It has saved me. I have a fine ship, wife and children at home, and I have helped others.”
How far that little candle threw its beams!
That anxious mother on a Vermont hillside saved two men to virtue and usefulness; how many more, He who sees all can alone tell.
But our agitation of the Drink Question
is “bulldozing” and “intimidation.”
This is only an unmanly whine.
What is the pulpit?
Does it not take admitted truths and press them home on conscience?
Or does it not seek to prove principles the listener does not admit, and then urge him to their practice?
Does it not criticise and affirm and denounce, seeking to waken the indifferent, convince the doubting, and claim consistent action of all?
Does it wait until the sinner acknowledges its principles before it denounces his action as a sin?
By no means.
Is church discipline visited only on those who see and confess their sins?
Is it not used to rouse them to a sense of the principle they will not acknowledge, and hold them up to the rebuke and take from them the respect of their fellows?
If our Temperance agitation is “intimidation,” then nine tenths of the land's pulpits are bulldozers, and the other tenth is useless.
What does the Bible
say of those who prophesy smooth things, and whose order was Nathan obeying when he said, “Thou art the man” ?
I have known even a Greek professor, when speaking in downright earnest, fling about the keenest and roughest words in :;he dictionary in the most reckless and biting manner;1
yet I never dreamed of charging him with seeking to intimidate his opponents.
says it is false, our constant assertion that moderate drinking makes drunkards.
Will he please tell us where, then, the drunkards come from?
teetotalers do not recruit these swelling ranks.
Will he please account for the million-times-repeated story of the broken-hearted and despairing sot, and of the reformed man, that “moderate drinking lulled them to a false security until the chain was too strong for them to break” ? Will he please explain that confession forced from old Sam Johnson
, and repeated hundreds of times since by men of seemingly strong resolve: “I can abstain; I can't be moderate” ?
Do not the Bible
, the writers of fiction, the master dramatists of ancient and modern times; the philosopher, the moralist, the man of affairs,--do not all these bear witness how insidiously the habits of sensual indulgence creep on their victim, until he wakes to find himself in chains of iron, his very will destroyed?
says, “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary,” Dr. Crosby
, you suppose, interprets it as meaning that boys should frequent gambling-hells and such resorts, in order to prove their strength of resistance.
But no; he does not mean any such thing.
He only thinks they should face the drink temptation; none other.
When you hear that the New York Central Railway prohibits the sale of flash literature in its cars, perhaps you expect to hear Dr. Crosby
denounce that corporation as emasculating the virtues of their travellers and making them unmanly.
Not at all. He approves it. It is only drink temptations that he considers good training for heroic men.
You might suppose that Dr. Crosby
would recommend to colleges to substitute, in their study of the literature of fiction, the works of Eugene Sue
, and Balzac
, in the place of George Eliot
, Walter Scott
, and Jane Austen
, since these last would afford no proof of a lad's ability to withstand the harm of pernicious
I assure you that is a mistake.
confines the new discovery of fortifying virtue by steeping it in temptation wholly and exclusively to rum. Hannah More's demand of “consistency,” he thinks of no consequence whatever.
But our movement is the delight of rumsellers and the great manufacturer of drunkards.
How is it, then, that anxious and terror-stricken rumsellers assemble in conventions to denounce us, and plan methods of resisting us?
No such conventions were ever heard of or needed until the last twenty years. How is it that they mob our lecturers and break up our meetings?
Was Dr. Crosby
or any of his class ever mobbed by rumsellers?
How is it that the moment we get one of the prohibitory laws “which delight rumsellers” passed, these delighted men form parties to defeat every man who voted for it, crowd the lobbies to repeal it, and never rest until, by threat or bribes, they have repealed it?
If rumsellers long and pray for the coming of the millennium of prohibition, why don't they all move down to Maine
, and get as near to the desired heaven as they can?
If rumsellers delight in our Total abstinence labors, how ungrateful in them to allow their organs all over the world to misrepresent and deny what little success even Dr. Crosby
allows we have had in Maine
They ought to chuckle over it, and scatter the news far and wide.
When Dr. Crosby
has answered half these questions, we have some more difficulties to propound which trouble us, about the unaccountable freaks of these delighted rumsellers, who, delighted as they are with our work, yet never can bear or praise the very men who, Dr. Crosby
says, are constantly employed spending time and money in “delighting” these unreasonable fellows.
We are the cause of all this drunkenness, the Temperance
movement is a failure, and always must be a failure, and ought to be so.
I will prove that Christianity is a failure in the same way. The famous unbelievers, down from Voltaire
to the last infidel critic, prove Christianity, by the same sort of argument, to be a failure and the cause of most of the evils that burden us. Exaggerate all the evil that exists, especially those vices that will never wholly die while human nature remains what it is; belittle and cast into shade all the progress that has been made; dwell with zest on the new forms of sin that each age contributes to the infamy of the race; keep your eyes firmly in the back of your head, and insist that there's nothing equal to what we had in old times,--not even the snow-storms or the St. Michael
pears,--and the thing is done.
Before our movement began, three quarters of the farms of Massachusetts
were sold under the hammer for rum-debts.
You could not enter a public-house in country or city, of the first-class or the smaller ones, except through a grog-shop.
Their guests felt mean if they did not at dinner order some kind of wine, and often ordered it when they did not wish it. Now the grog-room is hidden from sight; men slink into it; and not more than one man in ten at the most fashionable hotels, and not one in fifty in common inns, orders wine at dinner.
Then the sideboard of every well-to-do house was covered with liquors, and every guest was urged to drink; the omission to do so would have been held a gross neglect, if not an insult.
No man was buried without a lavish use of liquor; no stage stopped without the traveller being thought mean if he did not help the house by taking a drink.
Now one may travel hundreds of miles on railways which allow no liquor in their stations.
Every farmer furnished drink
to his men; famous doctors went drunk to their patients; the first lawyer in the Middle States
was not singular when he held on by the rail in order to stand and argue, half-drunk, to the Supreme Court of the United States
; rich men saw to it that every clergyman who attended a convention was plied with wine; and the preacher of the Concio ad Clerum
was fed on brandy-punch to be on a more exhilarated level than his hearers.
If a man caught sight of a grog-shop, he was as sure he had arrived in a Christian land as the shipwrecked sailor felt when he got sight of a gibbet.
then had every man, lay and clerical, on his side in construing the Bible
; whereas now we are in a healthy majority.
Then a few scattered Temperance tracts, like rockets in a night, only betrayed how utterly the world was in the desert on this subject; now a Temperance literature, crowded with facts, strong in argument, filled with testimonies from men of the first eminence in every walk of life, in every department of science and literature, challenges and defies all comers.
Then the idea of total abstinence was not so much denied as wholly unknown; now, if New England
were polled to-day, our majority would be overwhelming.
Then all men held liquors to be healthy and useful; now seventy men out of a hundred, whatever their practice, deny that claim, and the upper classes, well informed and careful of health, lead the way in giving up the use. Then the medical profession waded in the same slough of indulgence and ignorance as their patients; now the verdict of the profession is undoubtedly and immeasurably against the use of intoxicating drinks at all in health, and but seldom in favor of it in disease.
We have driven the indulgence in drink into hiding places, and for the first time the legislature is obliged and willing to prohibit the use of screens to hide rumdrinkers
from the public view they dread.
Is not this skulking evidence of weakening?
Sixty years ago the legislature passed a few formal laws perfunctorily, and dismissed the whole subject.
But ten years ago Liquor gathered at the state-house all the experts of social science, the lights of the medical profession, all the famous science from Harvard College, and retained an ex-governor, at vast expense, to marshal this host, in order to resist Dr. Miner
and a few Bible-twisters, whom Liquor seemed somehow to dread, although they had disgusted and repelled all the sensible men in the State
Of course this was before Dr. Crosby
had communicated to the liquor dealers the comforting fact that the Temperance movement was a failure, and that they ought to be delighted with it and with Dr. Miner
and his Bible-twisters, and that they were delighted with it, whether they themselves knew it or not!
And far above all, set on a hill, a great State, Maine, challenges the world to show her equal in an intelligent, law-abiding, economical, and self-restraining population; while smaller examples cluster round her, here and across the Atlantic
; and the haughty Episcopal Church, hardest and last to be roused to any reform, has put on record in its Convocations the most convincing and the most instructive array of facts and evidence on total abstinence that any ecclesiastical body ever contributed to social science.
It is the ocean-wave kissing the Alps
You would weary if I continued the summary.
Even if the statistics showed that the amount of liquor consumed increased as fast as our population and wealth do,--which they do not show, but just the contrary,--that would not be sufficient evidence to prove that our movement has failed.
Tile proper comparison is between what we were in 1820, and what we should
have been now
had not some beneficent agency arrested our downward progress.
These evils left to themselves increase by no simple addition, but in cubic ratio.
Does Dr. Crosby
fancy this active movement and vast mass of fact, opinion, and testimony can exist without beneficial influence in an age ruled by brains?
He does not, then, understand moral forces or his own times.
When, twenty-five years ago, Frederick Douglas
was painting the Antislavery movement as a failure unless we would load our guns, Sojourner Truth
, is God dead?”
When I see the Doctor
's unbelief in the efficacy of the moral power and the weight of this mass of conviction, I am tempted to ask him: “Is your God dead?”
closes by stating his plan and panacea.
It is a regulated license.
I will not delay you by criticising his or any other license plan.
The statute-books in forty States are filled with the abortions of thousands of license laws that were never executed, and most of them were never intended to be. We have as good a license law in this State as was ever devised, and yet it leaves such an amount of gross, defiant, unblushing grog-selling as discourages Dr. Crosby
and leads him to think nothing at all has been done.
His own city, with license laws, is yet so ruled and plundered by rum that timid statesmen advise giving up republicanism and borrowing a leaf from Bismarck
to help us.
License has been tried on the most favorable circumstances and with the best backing for centuries,--ten or twelve, at least; yet Dr. Crosby
stands confounded before the result.
We have never been allowed to try prohibition, except in one State and in some small circuits.
Wherever it has been tried it has succeeded.
Friends who know claim this.
Enemies, who have been for a dozen years ruining their teeth by biting files,
confess it by their lack of argument and lack of facts, except when they invent them.
With such a record may we not say that, even if we have no claim to be considered Crosby Christians, we have a right to ask one fair trial of what has, at least, never been, like license, demonstrated a hundred times to be a failure?