What are the Claims of the Band of Hope Movement upon the Citizens of New Zealand?
For the purposes of this present paper, I ignore [unclear: image not readable] State all-glorious though it be; I ignore the Government, wise and patriotic though it be; I [unclear: re] the Parliament, that arena of chaste [unclear: elo] and pure legislation; and I now appeal appeal [unclear: ty] solely to the duly-qualified citizens of New Zealand, both male and female. The claim of the Band of Hope movement upon our citizens [unclear: image not readable] one that demands a profoundly sympathetic [unclear: nce] from them, for it has reference to an [unclear: ct] of training for our children which is a [unclear: rock] position in all well-regulated families [unclear: image not readable] communities; for the basal principle of our [unclear: k] is self-denial in the interest of others; and [unclear: image not readable] claim that no nobler principle was ever [unclear: ciated], no safer ground was ever occupied, [unclear: image not readable] no more exalted ideal ever set up for our than this.
But permit me now, at the outset, to define [unclear: t] I mean by a claim. It is a demand of a [unclear: t] or due from another who is entitled to and [unclear: e] to give it. I shall make several demands in [unclear: image not readable] course of this paper, each one of which I [unclear: image not readable], to be, and hope to prove, is your right, [unclear: image not readable] due to our movement.
Our first claim is a very simple one. It is that [unclear: image not readable] give us a hearing. We believe that many [unclear: image not readable] citizens are in a state of indifference or [unclear: tion] to us, because they have not heard us. Calm and judicial hearing of our aims and [unclear: ects] will unfailingly convert many of our [unclear: ent] into active friends. Hitherto we [unclear: image not readable] only been partially heard, and sometimes [unclear: ngly] heard. The man who hears but a part a story is in danger of missing its point. And who wrongly hears is liable to give to [unclear: image not readable] relation a false colouring. We claim that [unclear: image not readable] are of our New Zealand citizens who [unclear: image not readable] only partly, and some who have wrongly, [unclear: image not readable] us. Nor does the fault he with us; it [unclear: image not readable] not lie with the teller, but largely with the [unclear: image not readable]. We have told the whole story in its [unclear: leteness]; but our hearers have only had [unclear: ce] or capacity to carry away but a part. [unclear: image not readable] have either failed in judicial hearing, or medium of communication has been defective [unclear: image not readable] distorted, and hence the results have been [unclear: isfactory]. We claim, then, from all our [unclear: image not readable] citizens a full, fair, and impartial hearing, we have a story to tell which must largely [unclear: image not readable] them and their posterity through all time. [unclear: image not readable] story, then, in simple, is that we, a number men women who are abstainers from all [unclear: ting] liquors, believing their use to be unnecessary and evil, have banded ourselves together in order to bring before the children of this nation the great truth that intoxicants are not only not necessary for the well-being of then bodies, but most decidedly injurious to them that they are not only not necessary to the stimulation and strengthening of their minds, but, more than any other causes known, are the means of enfeebling and wrecking them; that the liquor is not only not a help Godward, and Christward, and heavenward to their spirits, but, on the other hand, their use will sensualise and make earthly and decrepit their spiritual power—will clip the wings that should soar upward to infinity, and bind those powers which God made to be immortal in their duration, and practically unlimited in their scope. Then, we also teach your children that nothing so spoils the home, so robs it of all its sanctity, and so loosens its hold upon heart and conscience, and so invades and corrupts those holy and tender associations which make the memory of a good home so elevating and purifying, as intoxicating drink; and that, where it enters as a welcome guest, love flies away in shame, and selfishness ascends the throne of empire. We teach them that it destroys wealth; that it hinders individual, social, and national progress; that it dethrones virtue, exalts vice, and is even a destroyer, and never a builder. We do not merely make these assertions to be believed without test or inquiry; we give you our authorities, and our working motto is, "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." We claim also that multitudes of children have adopted our principles during the past half-century, and that to this fact it is largely due that the death-rate is a diminishing ratio; that the average of life is higher; that the wealth of our nation is greater, its social privileges more numerous; and that labour is gaining a hearing for its complaints, and such a hearing as it has never before received. Believing that nothing has so hindered the righting of social wrongs, and impeded the social legislator and reformer, as the drink, we denounce it as the foe to the workman and his family, and as the very spirit of hard, narrow, relentless conservatism, which, for the upraising and enrichment of the few, would crush, grind, and torture the many. Our principles are all instinct with democratic liberty, and make a grand provision of means towards that gracious work of self-help, by which the citizens of a free nation may achieve a position of exaltation and honour.page 2
Having presented our claim for a hearing, we now continue with an earnest claim for a social status. We ask to be placed in such a position by your citizen suffrage of good-will and fair play, that we may get a wider area for our work, and a larger audience to appeal to. We claim to rank as progressive educators of the young, and we further claim that, without the education our principles are calculated to impart, your children cannot benefit as they should from the ordinary curriculum of the common school. For a generation of educated men and women will be a bane and a shame to our civilisation unless the principles of our union and movement underlie their lives, and are the motives of their actions. We do not ask you to tax yourselves in support of our educational system; we make no direct appeal in any way to your pockets, but we ask that our standing shall rank with that of other educators, and we ask you as citizens to guarantee this to us. We do the work, and, very largely, the workers provide the necessary funds. Adequate finance and untiring labour are the legitimate offspring of the spirit of our movement. In the abstract it will appear singular that we should have to claim from you who will benefit by our work, at no cost to yourselves, what you are ever ready to give to your system of common school education, which costs you so much. We claim that, if you interest yourselves in this movement in recognition of its importance, that then we shall find it fairly and amply represented by the Press of the colony, by the Churches and societies of the land, and its sanctions will ramify and touch all parts of our social order, and make themselves felt as does the labour question, or the position of capital in its relation to labour. We claim this, from the immense social results that will flow to you from the successful working of our movement—results so great and beneficient that, before they cease to act, society shall have reached a higher plane, and life have become a nobler gift than ever before. We contend that our touch of social life is always blessed in its results. We aim at making sober citizens, order-loving citizens, patriotic citizens, independent citizens, citizens far above the bribery made possible by liquor lust, and equal to every duty, however exalted. We claim that our movement will diminish your paupers, your lunatics, your prisoners, your police and magistrate charges; that a marked and singular reduction will take place in the votes for gaols, asylums, hospitals, refuges, and kindred institutions; that peace will rule, and not the police, and plenty will disarm the needy and disorderly. We do not merely speculate and theorise on these things; but we point to districts in Great Britain, to States in America, and to isolated patches in our own New Zealand home, where the conditions of life are in accord with this claim. In order to hasten the consummation we desire, we ask you as citizens to allow the facts as they exist, as to the nature and operation of intoxicating drinks, to be fairly and properly taught in our common schools. You commend the teaching there of sanitary science; you glory in the fact that physiology is now a part of the common course. You an anxious for the children to learn and understand the laws of health; yet here in the drinking [unclear: toms] is an existing evil which is the cause of more moral and physical unsanitariness than all else combined. Here is a destroyer of the physiological system second to none, and here is a foe to health that is simply gigantic and all pervading; and yet, forsooth, because it forms an article of trade, because many are making [unclear: rapid] fortunes out of its manufacture and sale, and because it is sanctioned and recognised by a purblind Government, and last, though by no [unclear: mea] least, because you do not see, because many have never yet tried to see, the curse and [unclear: mani] evils of the thing, you hold back from insisting an it forming a subject in the ordinary lessons for the day. And while you are thus [unclear: supi] allowing your rights in this to be bartered away for a few flattering phrases from those who are becoming wealthy by the making and sale of the liquor, we are strenuously striving to hold the pass against the hosts, and insisting that your children shall at least know what they can of that which lurks in their pathway at almost every step in their life. We claim your [unclear: ho] backing to our efforts to obtain these right from a liquor-suborned public, who, having been [unclear: tored] into submission in the past by the traffic, are now being pitifully beseeched not to let this blow fall upon its devoted head, and surprise at the change of attitude on then part of the acute dealers, the soft-hearted public on yielding when they should above all things firm.
Oh! friends and fellow-citizens, the time [unclear: image not readable] and the present opportunity is yours! Use it a once, and give to us the stalwart social support you give to many burning questions of the [unclear: b] and we shall be victorious, and your children shall be safe. Or, if you will not at present insist, by your united voice, on our children being enlightened as to that evil which has been described by the foremost English statesman in language almost appalling, though he has [unclear: image not readable] sympathy with our aims; if, after readings [unclear: this] verdict of men who, from their special standpoint, certainly have no teetotal bias; if, [unclear: image not readable] having weighed such utterances from men who away the opinions of the civilised world on [unclear: tics] and statecraft, you still feel that you [unclear: c] speak and vote for the Temperance teaching [unclear: image not readable] our schools, then, at least, as free citizens, [unclear: i] upon our teachers being silent and [unclear: uninflu] upon the other side of the question; let no [unclear: image not readable] public servant in so responsible a position [unclear: image not readable] schoolmaster be permitted to open his mouth is defence of the drink before his scholars, [unclear: image not readable] indeed, in ridicule of the foes of the drink. [unclear: We] may, at least, claim this at your hands, that, [unclear: image not readable] only shall there be no overt teaching or [unclear: influ] on the side of the drinking customs, but that your power of opinion and conscience shall be a well known that it shall be as impossible for a teacher or inspector to be an habitual drinker-[unclear: image not readable] a frequenter of hotels, as you made it [unclear: impossi] for the City Council to lease our springs for [unclear: image not readable] page 3 poisonous occupation at the rental of £5 per year. It is intolerable that men should bend over our children, while in the performance of their duty, with a breath redolent with the fumes of alcohol. It is awful to think of the possible awakening this may cause to the hitherto slumbering tiger drink last in some youth or maiden who has inherited the fatal thirst. We claim with confidence, parents, citizens, your aid here, that, in their most impressive youth, our children shall not be brought into familiar contact with the drink in the habits of their teachers; that the bloom of their innocence shall not be rudely brushed away by a practice on the part of those who should in every way seek to maintain this virgin bloom of simplicity as long as possible. But allow me to suggest here a means of educating or children in these very important truths, which shall be a compromise, acceptable only, until the time comes when our whole secular school system shall take up and deal with the question as they do now with questions of homework of holidays, of punishment, of teaching staff etc. I would ask our citizens who labour in the Sunday-schools of the colony, those truly democratic institutions, which are commonly ruled by the teachers and executive without regard to any higher authority—I claim from you that one entire Sunday every four shall be devoted [unclear: lely] to the teaching of truth in relation to the drink, and that the afternoon school address shall gather up and focus the themes that have been taken in the classes; and I would further suggest that these lessons be specially prepared at one or more meetings of the teachers, in which they shall be able to compare their work and make it both effective and in strictest accord, that it may be resistless in its pungency. I claim this measure only as an instalment on the general measure, and I claim it the more confidently because our citizens who are Sunday-school teachers have thereby proved their unselfish regard for the interests of the young, and their desire that true righteousness shall be the [unclear: dation] upon which the life of the future nation shall be built. Again, we claim that no child shall, in any case, be sent to a liquor-selling grocer even for the necessaries of life. Let your citizen privilege and liberty be felt here, and let the grocer see and feel that so much do you fear your child's contact with liquor in any phase or [unclear: m] that, if he must sell liquor, he must at the same time lose your custom. Oh! it is hideous that, in the surroundings of a grand and legitimate business, there should lurk that which is chargeable to-day with the destruction of the happiness many innocent women and tender children. Again, we claim that the wine be banished from your social festivities and parties. There is surely excitement strong enough in the [unclear: ming] together, for mutual pastime and fun, of a number of youths and maidens without pouring spirits the fire to make it blaze and burn. I have mixed largely with my fellow-men, both in their working and their festive life, and I can unhesitatingly say that I have never seen evil or [unclear: image not readable] flow from abstainers' parties, where all alike refused the drink; but I have known and feel sure evil has come to those who, after the fatigue of prolonged amusement in a hot, vitiated atmosphere, have taken wine or spirituous refreshments. The same serpent leaves the same trail everywhere, whether in the buoyant, laughing festivities of beautiful youth, or amid the bacchanalian orgies of the older topers. We claim that you refuse to allow your sons and your daughters to go where the wine will be given; that you give your reason for not permitting them to go, so that the leaven so placed may gradually permeate the lump, and the bad practice be ultimately driven from society.
We claim your attention to the fact that nearly two million pounds per annum are spent in drink in Now Zealand alone; while public works halt for moans, and schools and asylums are all overcrowded, because money is not available for new and larger buildings. We claim that, as a result of that outlay, there are thousands in New Zealand arrested for drunkenness, not to speak of the thousands who also get drunk, but are never cited before our courts. We claim that, of the 25,000, more or less, who are proceeded against for crime in this colony every year, that at least three-fourths are in that position through drink. We claim that, of the nearly 2,000 lunatics that crowd our asylums, a considerable percentage are there through drink. We claim that the nearly 2,000 vagrants dealt with every year are mainly made so, and kept so, through drink. We claim that the thousands of children in our industrial homes, and who are worse than orphaned, are so largely because of the drink. We claim that every year hundreds of deaths occur in a variety of sudden shocking and terrible forms through drink, and drink alone. We claim that drink curses all conditions of men; that it is the curse of the priest and of the people alike; it is the curse of the home, the Church, and the nation wherever it appears. It is impertinent in its claims; its ill-gained wealth has given it unseemly prestige; its votaries are greedy of gain, and so greedy that they will break the laws of the land in order to get it. They sell liquor to young children, contrary to law; they sell in prohibited hours, contrary to law; they offer inducements to decoy the unwary and make them drunken, contrary to law. "The trade" ignores law as it ignores right, and aims only at enrichment at any price. We claim that the same law that binds you should bind also the liquor trafficker; but it does not, and it does not because you are apathetic and make no sign. If a man, in a passion of madness, slays his fellow, you cry aloud, and rightly, for the punishment of the guilty; but if a man, by slow and deliberate steps, seduces your husband or your son until he dies a sot, you turn from the doer of the evil to the victim, and, if any power of blame is left in you, it is the victim, and not the drink, that you charge with folly and iniquity.
"But when we in our viciousness grow hard,
The wise gods seal our eyes:
In our own slime drop our clear judgments, make us
Adore our errors; laugh at us while we strut
To our confusion."
Oh! let not this fell doom be yours, but, rising in your might, with your face to that foe of your race and country, lift aloft your arm of warning and cry in every drink trafficker's ear the appealing words—
Blood for blood, and blow for blow:
Thou shalt reap as thou didst sow.
D. J. Wright, Printer, "Leader" Office, Albert Street, Auckland.