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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Isitt, the shrieking prohibitor!! and how he pocketed £42 by his harlequinade and Merry Andrew performances at the Theatre Royal, Nelson, July, 1893; exposure and refutation of his claptrap, rant, and cant

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The Shrieking Prohibitor!!

Printed at "The Colonist" Office, Waimea-street, Nelson.

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Tempenance v. Prohibition

Or The Rev, H, M Asitt, methodist Parson

As others see him.

When you wake with heavy he head, take a B. and S. in bed,
It will cure you of the dizziness you felt, sir!
Then to breakfast you can go 011 a little bloater roe,
As a relish fora pint of hock and seltzer.
And of course you won't refuse just a drop of green Chartreuse,
Or a Kummel or a little drop of noyeau;
Or perhaps, if you prefer not to meddle with liqueur,
Trying a fizzing little bottle of the Boy oh!

WWho, that has lived in London, has not heard the immortal Arthur sing the above comic at the Gaiety in the character of "a parson about town," who, as "he winked the other eye, took his liquor on the sly." And who has not beard of the costermonger from the back slums of Whitechapel, who was converted into and became a Methodist parson, but who, nevertheless, continued to "always find it handy to begin the day with brandy, and out of his 'collection' pay, take on the spree a little girl to Hampstead for the day." Yet this Methodist parson's orthodoxy was considered unimpeachable, and, as he "winked the other eye," consoled himself with the belief that his way of getting a living was quite as respectable as being on the Stock Exchange, or proprietor of a newspaper. He was a veritable Thor and Odin in the pulpit and on the platform, and his fervour in preaching "Prohibition" reminded one of the Aissowa Arabs who eat scorpions for a thrill, and swallow red hot coals by way of a sensation.

Madame Blavatsky might have been able to afford us an intelligent solution of the Protean' performances in the Theatre Royal here during the past week, and tell us whether the Astral spirit of this costermonger Methodist parson had not been transmitted from the invisible world, or rather, in this case, the corridor of Hades, to the earth plane of Nelson, into the form and person of another "Prohibitionist Methodist parson," L. M. Isitt.

Mr Isitt, at his performances on the stage of the Theatre, has painted Nelson as a hecatomb of sots, of irreclaimable drunkards; a people who are a reproach to the white skins of the world. This reverend traducer of our Christian citizenship told us this, and a good deal more, and for it, and the rest of his page 4 foul insults to the men and women of this fair city, he has got away, not only with a whole skin, but with a substantial lining to his breeches pockets of some £42 odd or more into the bargain.

Psychometrists are rare, and the most gifted would be baffled by the palimpsest of impressions this protoplastic "reverend" has left on our minds. His picture of us must have been communicated to him by his departed brother parson, who is now "winking the other eye," in the vestibule of hell, for I need not explain to you that there is no impossibility in the instantaneous communication of intelligence from one brother in the inferno to another of the sixth sense on earth. To some it comes in the form of clairvoyance, to others as clairaudience, whilst to the third it comes in the shape of what is called automatic writing, or telepathy.

We will vivisect Mr Isitt, and show that what he has painted black is in reality white; that his mendacity is as stupendous as his Biblical jeers are impious; that truth and his impudent assertions are as far as the poles assunder; that the lever with which he works is a rope of sand; his pretended facts and figures chimerical and mendacious. We will show that Prohibition, where tried, both in the Old World and the New, has proved a dismal and costly failure, a legislative abortion. We will show that it has brought about increased drunkenness, excessive taxation, increase in crime, extra police, retrogressive movement, tho exclusion of emigrants, and almost utter ruin to countries which have tried it.

Before proceeding to vivisect the rev, Methodist calumniator, and, under the hypnotic state, extract from him a complete refutation of his pretended facts and figures, let us see what an eminent authority says on Temperance or moderate drinking:—

In the June number of Blackrood's a Magazine there is an article by Dr Farquharson, member for Aberdeenshire, on moderate drinking:—Dr. Farquharson protests against the "staggering sot" theory, and, as against the visionary preachers of a pure water Utopia, defends the use of alcohol both as a harmless pleasure and a physical at necessity in tho modern development of man We are," he says, "artificial products of an artificial age, often depressed and worried, eating bad food badly cooked, breathing bad air, and crushed down by money difficulties, At these times, when responsibilities are around us, and the troubles of the world begin to close in over our heads, a cheering glass, in strict moderation and at carefully selected times, is of real use, and can be defended both by physiology and common Bense.

On the chemical properties of alcohol, not only as a stimulant and sedative, but as a food, Dr. Farquharson strongly insists. "Alcohol," he says, "has every right to be called a food. We can prove it in this way: A certain amount of alcohol enters the body, and hardly any, if any, can be shown to leave it unchanged; what then becomes of it? Science gives the reply. page 5 Within the organism it is used up, consumed, or oxidised, thereby developing vital force and heat, and interfering so far with the oxidation of other substances as to lessen tissue waste and make nourishment go further, so as to he not only a food but a food-saving substance. This is clear and definite enough and admits of no denial, and it is confirmed by common observation. We do not need a professional diploma to remember cases, more especially at the extremes of life, where wine and spirits seem to enable an utterly insufficient dietary to keep people alive. Consumptive boys in particular will subsist on port wine long after the power of digesting nourishment is practically suspended." And when we put aside the excesses which all must loathe, the 'four-bottle men and boozy judges, soaking gentlemen and neckcloth-loosers.' think of the merriment, the rich warm tints, the full-bodied accomplishment of the men who could take their liquor. Summon them up, from Horace to Tennyson, names taken at random—Shakespere, Scott, Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, Lamb, Coleridge, Byron, Burns—how many immortals are in the list?

Coercion is required when individual liberty overlaps the safety and convenience of others, and drunkards must be shut up when they become dangerous to themselves or neighbors. But to tell a peaceful working man, who takes his glass of beer with his dinner and feels the better for it, that he must have no more cakes and ale because somebody else cannot stand a glass of gin would be tyranny unworthy of a civilised country. This is just how the matter stands. A large section of the community partake moderately of stimulant and feel that it does them good; they cannot explain why, but they know perfectly well that if they leave it off altogether they decline in health and seam to live less happy lives. This argument is backed up by the universal craving of every tribe of people, be they savage or cultivated, for something in the way of stimulant or sedative. Alcohol, no doubt, is an acquired taste; but all varieties of the animal creation quickly acquire it, and those who are not forbidden by their religion to touch the 'accursed thing' soon find out for themselves how to extract it from root or herb. And many of those who have no scientific knowledge, when asked why they drink, cannot give any other answer than that they like it, and it does them good. We all remember the old Scotch story of three or tour men entering a publichouse; 'bring me a glass of whisky,' cries one,' because it is a cold day;' 'and me one,' cries the next, 'because I am thirsty;' 'and me,' explains the third, 'because the doctor tells me to drink it. 'But,' roared the fourth, bringing his clenched fist down on the table with a bang, 'Bring me a giass of whisky, because I like it.' "

What strikes the intelligent traveller in New Zealand is that it is over-legislated, and now this Isitt and his wretched little clique would howl for legislating for the domestic conduct of the individual. In spite of all the Isitt maniacal shrieking to the con- page 6 trary, in spite of all the ignominy he would cast upon the country the economies we have effected have enabled us to carry on our marvellous material development not only without leaning unduly on the Banks, but absolutely, in the year 1892, furnishing the Banks, in the shape of deposits, enough money for the whole of their New Zealand business, leaving their subscribed capital and accumulated funds to go, in the shape of banking accommodation, to the relief of our fellow-colonists in Australia. Is it necessary to say any more? Yes; it is important to declare that our accumulated capital must now be expended in the further development of our natural resources, else we shall soon find ourselves becoming mere shrivelled money-grubbers in a land flowing with milk and honey, whilst others more enterprising, not nearly as fortunately placed, will have cut us out of our markets, and relegated us to the ignoble position of the pawnbrokers of the Southern hemisphere.

Further on will be found how wonderfully the consumption of spirits has decreased with the prosperity of the country; that, whilst the consumption of spirits in the United States is 1.34 per head of the population, it is only 0-78 in New Zealand. Mr. Isitt, in declaring the contrary to be the case, must have known the trick he was playing upon those of his audience who trusted him—if any.

His "carryings on" in the Theatre Royal here during the past week takes one back to the buffo-comic, harlequinade, and juggling performances got up for the special benefit of "Jack ashore and his Poll" at the old Vic. on the Surrey side. He reminds us of the howling Dervisher of fanatical Mahommedan lands; of the Fakir of India running a-muck under the hellish influence of bang, with blood-red ptyalistic secretions issuing in maddened foam and froth from mouth, nose, and nostrils until the fiend within him is exorcised by expiation with the wild beasts of the jungle.

If Mr Isitt were not posing before the world as the "servant of Christ," it would be impossible to treat his "carryings on" other than those of an itinerant demagogue stumping the country for what he could get out of it. As it is, however, and as he is still a Methodist parson, he says, and not an actor pandering to the obscene ribaldry of a fourth rate music hall or "penny gaff" in the Seven Dials, or Ratcliffe highway in Whitechapel, we can only look upon his conduct as an odious and impious insult to religion and morality, and to the respectable part of the audiences to which he played. No man with an atom of religion about him would have held up Daniel and the Prophets to the contempt and derision of the multitude as did the rev. performer. I will not soil the minds of my readers by repeating his wretched and miserable jests on Scriptural matters He insulted and scandalized the men and the women of Nelson by his coarse, low, vulgar, and blasphemous bellowings. He bellowed to the tune of money, however, for, as I have already said, he got away from page 7 Nelson with a lining to his breeches pocket of £42 odd. Now, if he can manage to diddle "little Nelson" out of £42 in a week, how much will his bellowings diddle out of larger towns and cities? His diddling performances against the bottle and the Bible bring him in something like £2,000 a year. And this, too, by an easy, irresponsible, and rackety life. It pays, you see . The rev, to his name is the bait, the means to the end. He is not a "drivilling lunatic," he said, nor does he "spout stuff that fits him for a lunatic asylum," Oh! no; his "lunacy" brings him in £2,000 a year. There is method and astuteness in his madness Look at him as he "winks the other eye!"

"Servant of Christ" call'st thyself! Out! hypocrite, out! His pure life thou besmerchest! We read in St. Mat. of the hypocrite "compassing sea and land to make one proselyte," and that that proselyte is "two-fold more the child of hell" than the hypocrite himself. I might quote Scripture from the beginning of the Old to the end of the New Testament to show that Mr Isitt is a mocker of Holy Writ in more ways than that of holding it up to ribald ridicule. Our Saviour himself advocated the use of drink, and made wine at the marriage of Cana, His Apostles advocated it in moderation, and the patriarchs of old drank, and grew, and brewed wine. Wine is to this day the drink, the only drink in Palestine and the Holy Land. They know nothing of tea, these brewers of wine. Mr Isitt, however, the rev. performer at the Theatre Royal, said he would rather be a scavenger in the streets than a brewer or dealer in wines. He "prohibits" that which our Saviour expressly commanded; he, Isitt, takes upon himself to set himself up against our blessed Lord and Saviour. Out I hypocrite! out! Go to scavenging. It, at least, would be an honest life.

Though I am an upholder of the liquor traffic carried on in a legitimate manner, I am dead against its abuse as manifested in the sale of a vile compound bought in Holland by English traders, and bartered to the Natives of Africa at 9d. per gallon under the name of whisky, rum, and gin.

On my return from exploring in Africa two years ago, I wrote strongly on the subject in the Fortnightly Review, The Daily Graphic, 'The Christian Commonwealth, and other of the London Press, secular and religious. The matter was brought before the House of Commons, and a Commission of of Enquiry was to be sent out, of which I was asked to be a member. I spoke at an institution for the suppression of the abuse of the liquor traffic amongst native races, of which the Duke of Westminster is President, and the Right Hon. and Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London, Chairman. I also addressed another similar Society, with which the Prince of Brewers and philanthropists is associated. Sir Fowell Buxton, Bart., M.P.

I have documents, papers, letters, and other matter with me page 8 from those of eminence and distinction in these matters, and whose names are as household words to us. I have also letters in. French from distinguished Frenchmen on the subject, and I have critiques by the Press on my writings. One critic writes:—"The pride of Britons is severely physicked by Mr. P. Buxton in the December number of the Fortnightly Revieu. Strong feeling is manifest in his representation of the state of things created or connived at by British authority; but there is nothing to account for the vigour of expression except the reality of the facts disclosed. And these facts would warrant any degree of forcible speaking."

All true advocates and lovers of the Temperance cause must deplore the proceedings of such as this Isitt, just as truly as the loyal and patriotic Irish deplore the proceedings of the enemies of their cause and country—the traitor and paid Agitator.

Sir Henry James, the great legal authority, said just recently: "I assure you I am as anxious as any member of your Association to see the cause of temperance (not prohibition) prosper throughout the land. We differ only as to the best means of supporting the cause. Intemperance can never be checked by intolerance. To attempt to restrain men by individual or legislative intolerance produces a sense of wrong and a determination to resist tbe restraints imposed. The Government Bill appears to me to go far beyond the desirable end of lessening the opportunities of excessive drinking. It seeks to deprive the temperate man of all power to obtain any intoxicating liquor at all. So long as I enjoy the full privilege of consumning such liquor in my own house at my own will I know of no right which justifies me in depriving my fellow-man of exercising, even under different conditions, the same right. Still leas can I, whilst approving of the rich man being allowed the opportunity of exercising this right at his club or at an hotel, deprive the poorer man, only because he is poorer, of any power to exercise the same right under exactly the same conditions. I also regard the attempt to destroy property without compensations to holders as unjust in the extreme I know that you will reply there is no property in a publichouse business. In one sense that view is correct, but there is an equitable interest which, in all justice, must now be regarded as property deserving protection. It is too late to maintain the contrary. The continuous renewal of licenses unless misconduct causes them to be determined, the vast sums paid to the State by licensed victuallers when exercising their trade, prevent any one saying that the trade is so immoral that the property connected with it should be confiscated. I think the sense of justice of the people of this country will defeat the Bill. If it should pass, it will take the Temperance cause years to recover from tbe effect which a senee of intolerant action and injustice will produce. The mere fact of the introduction of the Bill has already provoked results much to be regretted. A powerful trade interest is naturally arrayed page 9 in active opposition to a measure so calculated to injure or perhaps destroy its property. The working classes are also strongly condemning the Bill as restrictive of the freedom of individual action. Contest with such forces by the friends of Temperance must be at the expense of their cause."

Prohibition was tried in certain parts of the Continent, with the result that every house became a distillery. The banks of that classic lake, Lac Leman, immortalized by Byron, began to reek with the fumes of bad spirit, illicitly distilled from garbage and other foul matter; fumes that penetrated the very walls down to the dark and watery dungeon of the "Prisoner of Chillon." I have passed along the road from Vevy to Clarens, and the health resort of Montreux, when one might be overpowered and the brain almost paralysed by the intoxicating vapours unlawfully emanating from the crude still of an outraged peasantry. Prohibition there became, not a blessing, but a curse. Now, however, that the infringement of the rights of the populace is repealed, and Government have the direct control of the liquor traffic the country is prosperous, and the people contented and sober.

Prohibition in America has been a dismal failure. Mr. J. R. Jones, druggist, of Kansas Avenue, Topaka, says that prior to the introduction of Prohibition into the States of Maine and Kansas, theirs was a city advancing rapidly; since then it has been retrograding. There is in Prohibition States more drunkenness and more crime than before. Taxes have been increased, and the police doubled in trying to carry the law into effect. Men that were sober men in licensed districts having gone to work where they found Prohibition, immediately set to work to find whisky and get drunk, thinking it a "smart" thing to evade and break the law, and in this way thousands of young men have become drunkards. There are men who so long as they can get a thing do not want it, and do not care for it at all, but the moment you say you shall not have it, they make up their minds they will have it, and you cannot prevent their doing so; they will not be forced. Men who had never been known to be drunk previously to the passing of the Act, were, after the passing of it, to be seen in a state of blind drunkenness in the public streets. Prohibition having been proved abortive, a costly trampling on the rights of the people, the whole liquor traffic will now be put in the hands of the Government. The Americans have proved, as those in the Old World have proved, that it is a mistal on idea that by removing the publichouses you have taken away the temptation, or the possibility of creating an appetite for strong drink.

Prohibition cranks are too ignorant of history to know that in past ages Prohibition has been tried over and over again to as often ignominionsly fail. Mahomed established the strictest Prohibition Government yet known, and those disobeying his commands with regard to drinking received a hundred blows each page 10 on the soles of their feet, yet his efforts to establish teetotalism amongst his enthusiastic followers were, as we know from history and the literature of Mahommedan kingdoms in Europe and Asia, ineffectual. Powerful is was the sway of Mahomed, Prohibition was as great a failure with him as it was in any of the neighbouring Christian States.

Archbishop Walsh is strongly against closing publichouses, even on a Sunday, because the evils of the "bogus club" spring up at once, he says. With reference to these bogus clubs, we read that in the course of a discussion in the Dublin Corporation, on June 6th, Councillor Tallon said that there were at present in Dublin 56 clubs. He had a list of 38 of them with a membership of 8,257 houses. These houses were only open when the houses of legitimate traders were closed. A club in Francis street was opened one morning at 6 o'clock and closed at 2 o'clock, and during these hours 926 men entered. They opened again at 7 o'clock, and closed at midnight, and during that time 617 entered. The James, Gate Brewery-men's Court, Usher's Island, opened at 6 a.m., and closed at 2 p.m., and during that time 1,2651 men entered, and from 7 to 11 o'clock 315 entered. At the Labourer's Club, 55 Bolton street, from 6 to 2 o clock yesterday 1,533 men entered, and from 7 to 12 o'clock 614 men.

Mr. Isitt said that the consumption of spirits per head in the United States was below that of New Zealand. The very contrary, however, is the case. The United States consume 1.34 gallons per head, whilst that of New Zealand is only 0.78. Mr. Isitt has denounced this Colony at the expense of every principle of truth, and I am at a loss to find expressions in the English language strong enough to reprobate his proceedings. The Colony, in spite of what Mr. Isitt says, is thriving wonderlully, Its prosperous condition is due solely to the habits of industry and economy of the people. A careful analysis of statistics proves this. For our encouragement and a stimulus to strenuous effort let us chrystalise the experience of more than a decade, so that he who runs may read. Take the consumption of spirits, wine, beer, coffee, chicory, and tea, and consider the evidence of thrift afforded. The comparative returns from the year 1878 to 1892 show tht consumption of imported spirits, wine, and ale has decreased to the remarkable extent, exhibited in the following table, with marked evidences of economy in other articles of consumption:—
Spirits 48 per cent. between 1878-1892
Wine 61 per cent. between 1878-1892
Ale and Beer imported 64 per cent. between 1873-1892
Ale and Beer, New Zealand 22 per cent. between 1881-1892
Coffee, Cocoa, and Chicory 44 per cent, between 1878-1892
Tea 3 per cent.

Curiously enough the convictions for drunkenness have fallen very much in the ratio of the consumption of spirits. Does not this show that for the most part we are a sober people, and that the excessive drinking was done only by a limited number?

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Now, it ia this limited number of excessive drinkers Mr. Isitt should get hold of and convert. Remove temptation by shutting up every publichouse in the land bawls Mr. Isitt from his dunghill. Do not remove temptation, said a righteous and God-fearing Judge here the other day. We are here to be tempted, said Judge Richmond, and it is for us to resist temptation, Christ was tempted, but He taught us how to resist temptation. The late Bishop of Manchester advocated not tee-totalism, not prohibition, but "temperance." He could, belaid, preach a much better sermon after be had had a glass of sherry than he could without one. That good Bishop reclaimed thousands of drunkards, and made more converts to temperance and morality than all the paid ribald agitators in the world ever did, or ever will do. When he died, rich and poor of every sect and denomination followed him in mourning to the grave.

There is a Publican Parson in England, In the heart of Sussex stands a uayside inn kept by a clergyman of the Church of England. It is called the Anchor, and stands on the old turnpike road from Lewis to London. The rustics play "Shove-a-penny" on an evening for beer, and they have a room with papers, cards, dominoes and draughts, &c. The curate of the parish often apenda an hour in this room initiating some of the young into the mysteries of chess. The vicar, the Rev. Frederic Willett, is a man in the fifties, with a healthy, jovial face, and no suspicion of the bigot or faddist about him. He is a man who understands human nature, gained by many years parochial work in manufacturing towns. For many years he laboured among the miners and ironworkers of Wolverhampton, and there he saw what convinced him that a properly conducted public-house was a greater power towards temperauce than the teaching of teetotalism. He therefore, 11 years ago, bought that public-house and became a licensed victualed When be came there the Anchor was a source of trouble, but now drunkenness has almost ceased, and there is neither poverty nor sickness in the parish. At the same time the proceeds from the publichouse have more than doubled. Mr. Meynell-Ingram, Burton-on-Trent, has just opened a publichouse on the same principle as this publican parson. Yet the "Rev. Mr. Isitt" pretends to tell us that he would sooner be a scavenger than a publican and brewer. Well, the sooner he turns scavenger and commences to earn an honest living the better for humanity, for morality, and religion. "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter," for "within thou art full of hypocrisy and iniquity"—Mat. xxiii.

Mr. Isitt's sensational experiences and marvelous anecdotes may be true; I do not say they are not, but they lack the ring of the true metal, of the metal of truth. A mother, he says, wished to give her ailing son a little wine, but he, Mr. Isitt ordered the boy not to touch it. "Honor thy father and thy mother says the Sacred Commandment. Dishonor them says page 12 the Rev. Mr. Isitt! It is Mr, Isitt's business to go out into the highways and the byways and reclaim the individual drunkard. Does he do this? No! he "winks the other eye, as he looks on, on the sly." It would not suit his book to try and convert the individual. He has his living to get, and must pose before the world! ihat is his game. Why should he denounce the brewer, and the publican, and the poor man, as he does, and leave the rich man and the clubs alono is universally asked? He knows better than to attack the rich and the clubs, they say. That would not suit his book either. He attacks the helpless and the poor, the dying; those lying in the throes and agonies of death. He denounces, in his exalted claptrap jargon the dying States man, Mr. Ballance. The weak, the poor, the helpless the credulous, the ignorant are the game he flies at. He has said things so libelous, so provocative, and so untrue, that I wonder he got away from Nelson without a horsewhipping. He has insulted the whole city, dragged its fair fame in the mire, scandalised the community, this breeder ot mischief between husband and wife, child and parent, and he has exploited the inhabitants of £42 into the bargain. I knew of a rather similar case at Amiens, in France, where an English crank, a remittance man, took upon himself something in the Isitt style of business, with this difference, however, that he traded on his own money, and not on that of other people. He went on with his jibes, and jeers, and insults, and lying, and interferings, until the victimized and outraged women put a summary stop to his little game. Their indignation against the fellow led them to yell à la fintaine with him, and at the sound of that significant threat from scandalized women, he was glad to sneak off over the frontier as fast as his legs could carry him. For a la fontaine means, not lynch him exactly, not tar and feather or tin-can him, but to the horsepond with him!

F. Buxton,

C.E., M.S.L.A.S. Nelson,