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of the adversary in all his shapes. We shrink, we tremble, at such responsibility as this. We grieve to see how little it is considered, and how great the evil distinctly resulting. We beseech the friends of temperance to be sure that they are acting the part of friends. Their sincerity is not the question. Neither is the sincerity of the zealots. The wisdom and responsibility of both are the chief matters to be weighed by both.
We turn to another view. There is one form of promotion, and one ground of objection to the cause of temperance at the present moment, which may be taken as the representative of all others. We refer to legislation. Upon this the controversy is now made to turn. We regret that it is so. It is exceedingly to be lamented, that a great moral reform should be committed to the mercy of party, and made to depend on the most uncertain of all instruments in a popular government, legal enactment. We have never believed this to be a wise course, to the extent to which it has been carried, or in the way in which it has been managed. That legislation should not be employed at all, is rather a ludicrous assertion, coming from people who have used it always. The only question is, and we choose not to be diverted from it, whether the aid of law, which has been invoked and employed from the first settlement of the country, shall be extended beyond the usual limit, and carried to higher degrees of restriction, amounting to a qualified prohibition. And this question, as a merely legal one, we have no thought of discussing. It is out of our province. Moreover, we consider it no longer in dispute, as a constitutional question. It has been decided. And no decision have we seen from any tribunal, no opinion have we read from any competent judge, that has not been in favor of the constitutionality of such laws, even as absolute and offensive as the late law in this state. Nor yet are we convinced, that the popular vote of the state, if thrown tomorrow, on this unembarrassed question, would not be in support of the license law. But that is not the inquiry. The expediency of the law, and the practicability of enforcing it, are the only points properly in dispute. And of these we have chiefly to say, that, in our poor opinion, the expediency has not yet been tested, and the practicability has been prejudged and defeated by the very men who alone could secure it. The practicability of any measure can never be
known, while magistrates, ministers, officers of justice, men of influence, and leaders of fashion, pronounce it impracticable the moment it is promulgated, and thus encourage and invite the spirit of opposition, smile upon the violators of law, chuckle at their cunning and their fraud, and cut off from the question itself, in whatever form it arises, the common privilege of an impartial and just judgment.
While, therefore, we earnestly regret that the question was ever brought to this issue, while we place infinitely more confidence in moral power than in any other for this and any reformation, we do lament to see men using their moral power against law, and as the case now is, against temperance. Besides, there do seem to us to be cases, on which, in our blindness perhaps, we see no possible chance for moral power to act, except through the arm of the law, which is itself one instrument and expression of moral power. In what way the law is to be brought to bear upon these cases, we do not know. But that it should in some way, that it always has in some way, that new states of society call for new applications of the law, and aggravations of the evil demand extensions of the power, is about as clear to us, as that government exists, or men are
We beg leave to illustrate our meaning in part, by telling the short story of ROSANNA. We suppose it to be founded in fact. At any rate, every one knows that its chief facts are common enough. Rosanna is a good Irish girl, who at the age of sixteen is induced to emigrate, by a letter from a young countryman here, who promises to make her his " darling wife." She lands in Boston, and Jerry McCarty first gets her a place in the family which he serves as coachman, and then fulfills his promise of marriage. In a short time he proves intemperate, and Rosanna's trials begin. She struggles with poor health, maternal cares, and the neglect of her husband, until death relieves her of two children, and she is soon thrown upon the cold world, the widow of one who has died a drunkard, with only the labor of her own hands to provide for herself and two surviving children. Alas, that is not the worst. She too has tasted the cup, and now resorts to it for oblivion. Of course she can find little employment, and that which she does get serves for poison more than for food. Her purposes are yet good, her self-respect is not gone, her children she dearly loves, and all would be well but for the solicitations
of appetite, sharpened by poverty, and tempted, fed, maddened by opportunity and facility of indulgence. It is hard to think, that there is no way in which such facility can be prevented, in any similar case, however peculiar. In this case, to be sure, it was furnished chiefly by a neighbor, a kind countrywoman, but of such habits herself, that her principal kindness consisted in giving to Rosanna and her children the "thimble-full," when nothing else was at hand. But how did she obtain it? For her means were also scanty, and she had some sense of right. "She was not ignorant; there were times when her conscience spoke loudly, and she resolved to take the intoxicating draught no more; but she could not resist, and still her steps wandered to the little grog-shop, which was ready to accommodate her with a quantity proportioned to her means."
There it is. The little grog-shop! ready to accommodate ! Yes, in any quantity, proportioned to the means of the poorest customers, taking in pay the last pittance they have for bread, the furniture from their wretched garrets, the clothes from their shivering children, the very beds on which they are dying inch by inch. And this cannot be prevented? The wretches who deal out to these deluded, friendless, helpless beings, the poison of body and soul, destruction for time and eternity, cannot be reached by the laws of an intelligent Christian people? Preach it till you are weary. Let all the rulers and judges of the land declare it, we will not believe it. While there is moral force in man, while there is civil government in the land, and a God ruling in the heavens, we will not believe it. Men, who are utterly dead to all other appeals, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron, on whom "moral suasion " has no more effect than on stone walls, men who will take a piece of meat in barter for rum from a drunken wife, when they know the poor husband has procured it with difficulty for his starving family, - men who will inhumanly push a woman out of their own doors, where she has come to beseech them, with tears and on her knees, not to give drink to her brutal husband, and then will lure that husband to drink again, and drink till he dies, or murders his wife, and abandons his children to wretchedness and loathsome vice, to say that such men cannot or must not be restrained, why, you may as well break up society, and laugh at justice, and mock at humanity and its God.
We did not finish the story of Rosanna. It is short. Bad
habits grew upon her, temptations pressed, she yielded, despaired, became frantic, and strayed towards the water, as if to end her sorrows in their quiet depths, but was arrested and taken to the house of correction, and there condemned to six months' labor, her family and friends supposing her dead. She is at last found, and by kind and judicious encouragement is restored to her children and herself. The tale is beautifully told, without pretension but with natural and touching simplicity. He who can read it without being moved to some good purpose and persevering effort, to at least the expression of interest in this work and the open vindication of right, is to be pitied.
"But what can we do? - all exclaim. It is not our purpose now to show. We are only arguing against the assertion and admission that nothing can be done, and especially that the law can do nothing. It is plain, that in all such cases, there is no power but law, and if that is powerless, we may at once fold our hands, and comfort our hearts as we can. In regard to the instances here given, there would probably be two replies made by those who condescended to make any. One, that they are extreme cases, exceptions; the other, that they must be treated as nuisances, and that the common law has always provided for such cases. To the first assertion, we must simply offer a negative in point of fact. We cannot see that their being exceptions would materially alter the case. But in truth they are not exceptions. They are common, to the full extent of degradation and turpitude just described, though of course in various forms. At no time probably, would it be difficult to find similar cases in all our cities, and in most large communities. If in the single year 1832, which we take merely because we know the fact, four hundred and fifty-three common drunkards were committed to the house of correction in Boston, beside the many that were not committed, and the various grades of intemperance coming short of common drunkenness, we must either infer that this city is worse than most places, or admit that the amount of this horrible evil, even in extreme forms, is not easily overrated. We leave others to judge how much of the evil might have been prevented, by a municipal government that gave in one year six hundred and ninety licenses! This seems very much like legislating for intemperance, though it may not be lawful or wise to legislate for temperance.
As to the alleged power of complaining of these vile panders as nuisances, and thus getting redress at the common law, we have been surprised to hear it proposed by good men as sufficient. To what does it amount? How many have, how many will or can obtain security in this way? Beside the obvious fact, that the very proposition implies the mischief is already done, it is idle to suppose that people generally, especially the poor and ignorant, will go through a course of legal prosecution and conviction, whenever the difficulty occurs. And suppose they do, how many are the chances of success, in such a community as ours, and with such an instrument as the law? Or, admitting success, if the abused husband should prove that a particular shop is a nuisance, and cause it to be closed, are there not a hundred others offering the same facility and equally "ready to accommodate?" Is the brokenhearted wife to go to every dealer in the city, and expostulate with him, till she is driven out or knocked down, and then prove that each and every one is a nuisance?
It amazes us, in this connexion, to hear so much said of the rights of traffickers, and so little of the rights of sufferers. Every one must be secured from the invasion of his liberty and property, but no one can secure the morals of his children or the peace of his family from the most outrageous wrong. If a man enters your house and takes a silver spoon or a pair of shoes, he may be reached; nay, he must be immediately seized, and fined or imprisoned. But let that same man lure your son into a grog-shop, or, without any unusual allurement, give him drink again and again, till his limbs fail, his mind reels, and his soul goes to its account, all steeped as it is, and the man must not be touched, or the many men who have wrought the destruction cannot be reached, and so they must be left to lure and destroy another and another. Which is worth most, a spoon or a life; a pair of shoes, or an immortal soul? We know very well, that it is easier to convict and control in the one case than in the other. But that, which we do not know, is that it is impossible to control in the latter case, and wrong to attempt it, lest it encroach upon rights and liberty. Are liberty and rights all on one side? Indeed, as to encroachment, what sort of consistency, what manner of regard for private property and liberty is that, which enters a man's house, his castle, and tells him it must be cut in two, or pulled down, to suffer a rail-road to come along, or make a