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Prohibitionist’s presumption

19 July 2019

July 18th, 1909.

IF AN Englishman went over to America to organize a propaganda for the moral reform of its citizens against their better judgment we know what they would think, and can imagine what they would say, of him. So far as we are aware, none of our countrymen has been guilty of such impertinence, and we feel justified accordingly in resenting the intrusion of Mr Pussyfoot [William E. Johnson]. This gentleman, it seems, intends to appeal to us on religious, moral, and sentimental grounds to agree to the policy of going “dry”. He is confident that he will move what he calls “the Churches” with his passionate entreaties and crushing arguments. Perhaps he will succeed: some of them, perhaps, are convinced in advance of his coming. But the Church is not and is scarcely likely to be, for it holds that the doctrine he preaches is an ancient heresy in a modern guise. Moreover, it is an insult to address us as though we were a drunken nation. To anyone whose memory goes back fifty years, nothing is more surprising or more gratifying than the contrast between the drinking-habits of the Sixties and those of the present day. Public opinion has advanced steadily in the desired direction, making it possible for the Government, during the war, to make restrictive regulations which once would not have been tolerated. It is thus, and not by the ravings of fanaticism, that sobriety will be furthered. If we are not mistaken, Mr Pussyfoot’s interference will have no other effect than that of making the cause of temperance odious to many who would listen to sane reasoning, but whom crazy preachments might drive into “utter wretchlessness of unclean living”.

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