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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Temperance & Prohibition. — An Address

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Temperance & Prohibition.

An Address

[unclear: At] the Tuam street Hall, last night. Mr Davie delivered an address on "Temper[unclear: ance], from the moderate drinkers' and [unclear: makers'] points of view." There was a only Urge attendance. Mr Davie read a [unclear: after] of apology for absence from his [unclear: Word] the Mayor, who was to have presided, proceeded with his address without a [unclear: drman].

Mr. Davie, in his introductory remarks, that he was present at the request of any friends to deliver an address on Temperance. He stood there by the right [unclear: there] to accorded to every free man in this [unclear: be] country to express his sentiments or [unclear: ons] upon a public question, and he [unclear: limed] also the right of criticising the [unclear: public] remarks of previous speakers. But [unclear: above] all he stood before them as [unclear: be] small particle of that moderate mass mankind, which, perhaps fortunately for [unclear: self] and others was not fond of rushing to [unclear: stremes] a mass which had always been, [unclear: morever], a zealous guardian both of its own [unclear: ities] and those of others. (Applause.) [unclear: having] said so much by way of introduction [unclear: be] would bring under their notice the wide [unclear: subject] of temperance. Perhaps moderation [unclear: was] the nearest word in the English language [unclear: quivalent] in meaning to temperance. Both [unclear: words] indicated a certain idea of restraint governing power. The moderate or [unclear: temperate] party applied the word to [unclear: dividual] restraint of self. The prohibi[unclear: tionist] or fanatic party seemed rather to consider the word as inviting ilium collectively to restrain others. In the English language there existed no word of more beautiful meaning than temperance. That it was which framed our laws, regulated our social relations, made life happy and pleasant, guided us from the cradle to the grave, and even after death the kindly voice of temperance while keeping our good qualities in remembrance had yet a word of pity for our many failings. (Applause.) Much more might be said of temperance, but the qualities just attributed to it were enough to give a keen sense of its opposite. Like many English words, it was often made to denote some meaning altogether foreign to its nature: and here Jet him express his joy that the prohibitionists had at last discarded a title to which they could never honestly lay claim, and had adopted one which lilted them like a glove. The opposites of temperance were nasty subjects. In some cases they became our masters, and were then more dangerous as social pests to their owners than the possession of the largest sheep run in New Zealand could ever be. (Laughter and applause.) For centuries he master minds of kings, emperors, statesmen and philosophers throughout the world had failed to devise any plan where by these evils might be abated. Some prohibitionist gentlemen in Chrishtchurch however, seemed to have settled the question in a few months. The chief object of attack page 2 with them was the demon of intemperate drink. He was also called by other names, such as the "Liquor Traffic," &c. Like most of his fellow opposites, he was a good servant but a bad master. He was bad enough in all conscience, but not so black as some of the others. He (Mr Davie) would mention a few of them, as he would have more to say about drink later on. Intemperate speech did more harm to the world than all the wines and spirits ever manufactured by man. (Applause and a voice—"No.") A pound of salt or a gallon of water swallowed quickly might kill one man; an intemperate word might ruin a nation. (Applause. He would here advise prohibitionists to train themselves to the use of temperate language before they ventured to instruct others. By the use of temperate language no trade would suffer, no families would be rendered homeless, and social life altogether would be made more pleasant. By its use hot only the intemperate section of the prohibitionists, but every reader of a newspaper would be a great gainer. Intemperate deeds were more often than not the direct outcome of intemperate speech. They varied from the comparatively harmless to the blackest bad. The worst kind affected the persons, the next worst the liberties of others. The writers of the Bible and the experience of centuries concurred in placing intemperance in food almost at the head of the black list. It included food and drink of every description. The death of one of our English Kings by an over-feed of lampreys, and the recent death of the intemperate water drinkers in Paris were well known instances which at least "pointed a moral." (Laughter and applause.) A special note of warning was also intended to be sounded to those who might rill themselves to repletion, even with such apparently harmless articles as ginger beer or buns. (Renewed laughter.) Intemperance in truth was very deadly. It struck at the base of our national, political and social fabrics, and was strong enough to shatter all or any of them. It destroyed the natural grace of childhood. It blasted youth. It crowned the white hairs of the old with lasting dishonour. He thought he had mentioned enough opposites for his purpose. Though one he had forgotten, and it was intemperance in religion. King Solomon warned us against being too religious. (Laughter.) By this time they would probably guess what he was about to say, and that was that temperance or moderation was our only safe guide. Intemperance was not only faulty as regarded but even virtue over-cultivated [unclear: is] direction had much the same final [unclear: eff] vice. Those who had studied [unclear: lunacy] tell you that religious mania was as less as madness caused by any [unclear: other] (Applause.) Bright truth herself mi carried to such a pitch that she [unclear: beca] offence. Courage, another God-[unclear: given] bute, might by excessive cultivation [unclear: into] brutality; and a man might [unclear: so] charity that while helping others [unclear: his] children suffered. Intemperance [unclear: in] doing one reform had much [unclear: the] effect. Ralph Waldo Emerson s this subject. "Many a [unclear: reformer] in his removal of rubbish, and [unclear: that] the offensiveness of the class. [unclear: They] partial; they are not equal to [unclear: the] they pretend. They lose their way assault on the kingdom of [unclear: darkness] expend all their energy on [unclear: some] evil, and lose their sanity and [unclear: pove] benefit. It is of little moment [unclear: that] two, or twenty errors of our [unclear: social] be corrected, but of much that [unclear: the] in his senses. The criticism [unclear: and] institutions which we have [unclear: witness] made one thing plain, that [unclear: society] nothing, whilst a man, not [unclear: himself] vated, attempts to renovate [unclear: things] him. He has become [unclear: tediously] some one particular, but negligent or in the rest, and hypocrisy [unclear: and] often the disgusting result. It [unclear: is] somer to remain in the [unclear: establish] better than the establishment, [unclear: and] that in the best possible manner, [unclear: the] make a sally against evil by some [unclear: single] provement without supporting it by a regeneration. Do not be so vain [unclear: of] one objection. Do you think there one? Alas, my good friend, there is of society or of life better than any part. All our things are right and together. The wave of evil washes [unclear: all] institutions alike. When we see at assailant of one of these wrongs, [unclear: a] reformer, we feel like asking [unclear: him]—right have you, sir, to your one [unclear: virti!] virtue piecemeal? This is a jewel [unclear: amide] rags of a beggar." This writer was [unclear: a] study for the [unclear: prohibitionist] (Laughter.) He would give a [unclear: short] history taken from an authority [unclear: which] Isitt, as a minister of the gospel, [unclear: would] doubt acknowledge, though in [unclear: commo] other prohibitionists he would [unclear: probably] claim its teachings wherever it [unclear: venta] cross the sacred line of prohibition. [unclear: So] ture throughout affirmed the [unclear: desirab] page 3 [unclear: drink] though it warned us against excess [unclear: or] drink as well as in food. He might say [unclear: that] the Rev. A. Chodowski had, in the [unclear: public] press effectually disposed of the [unclear: probition] theory that the wines of Scripture [unclear: are] non-intoxicating. (Cries of "No.") [unclear: We] were told that Noah was the first who [unclear: planted] a vineyard and made wine. [unclear: Prohiionists] doubtless revelled in the fact [unclear: that] Noah got drunk. (Loud laughter). Many [unclear: cient] writers were of opinion that Noah's [unclear: stemperance] was caused by his previous total abstinence. (Renewed laughter). We [unclear: and] no reason to believe that after his first [unclear: experience] he became either a drunkard or a [unclear: rphibitionist]. The history of moderation with [unclear: occasional] excesses, flowed smoothly along [unclear: till] we came to the time of Sampson, who [unclear: was a] Nazarite. This sect neither cut their [unclear: hair] nor drank wine. A man joined the [unclear: seet] by his voluntary vow, which lasted in [unclear: some] few instances for life; in the greater [unclear: number] for short periods. When the time [unclear: originally] fixed by the vow had expired [unclear: the] Nazarite again lived like other men. [unclear: The] world rolled on its years with varying [unclear: periods] of sobriety and drunkenness, of [unclear: moderation] and excess. During all this a Jewish sect called Rechabites conentiously avoided liquor, and they had several Christian imitators. Some fifty or [unclear: sixty] years ago a crusade set in against the use of drink. The teetotallers, [unclear: so] called from one of their leaders who summered when pronouncing the [unclear: word] "t-t-t-total abstinence" were among the assailants of drink. After a while these [unclear: societies], while distinguished by many [unclear: different] names seemed to adopt by mutual [unclear: consent] the name of "temperance," a name wholly at variance with their practice. These men did much practical good in their time they made the Bible their standard, reclaimed the drunkard, helped the fallen, and generally set an example well worth limitation. But this was too good to last, and he would now speak locally. Since the [unclear: teetotallers] became prohibitionists they [unclear: seemed] to have dropped their old practical work. The Salvation Army and the Magdalen Asylum had taken over the work of reformation. (Applause.) The prohibitionist's one idea seemed to be "Do away with drink, get into Parliament, and govern the country." (Laughter, and a Voice—"A little more light.") The Prohibitionists had given their opinion of the drunkard; they had treated every moderate drinker as a potential drunkard, a view from which he strongly dissented. (Applause). He would present the prohibitionist with an estimate of his position from the moderate point of view. He would divide our population into three classes. The prohibitionists occupied one extreme, the drunkards the other; but the vast mass of temperate or moderate men tilled in the space between. (Hoar, hear). The great temperate party, bound together only by the rules of commonsense and the force of education, practically, though quietly, governed the world. Its views represented our religions, laws, trades, and customs; its energy kept our industries going, its moderation prevented (or ought to prevent) our being hampered with too many laws. This patty the prohibitionist, with his usual assurance, put quietly on one side. He (the speaker), could take off his hat to the man who, from choice or conviction, touched no intoxicating liquor, who mingled freely with hie fellow-men, and whose actions in other respects were marked by temperance. He could admire the moderate drinker, whose deeds, words and actions were in all respects temperate. He could feel sorrow and pity for the drunkard, who might, however, have fallen into more debasing sins than that of drink. He had very little respect for one who had fallen so low in his own estimation that he was complled to join a society to keep himself sober—(applause)—or who entertained such a low opinion of his fellow-men that he imagined they could not keep sober without his help. (Laughter.) He placed such a man above the drunkard, but infinitely below him who could trust himself. Such was the prohibitionist of to-day. Elevated on the platform of his own self-sufficiency, he presumed to instruct temperate people. In some kinds of intemperance, he was more intemperate than the average drunkard, as could be seen. What right had the prohibitionist to his one virtue, if it be a virtue, cultivated so carefully to the exclusion of others? Who asked him to govern us, and from whence was the authority with which he spoke derived? Rudyard Kipling, in one of his prefaces, said—" The drawback of collecting dirt in one corner is that it gives a false notion of the filth of the room. Folk who understand and have knowledge of their own will be able to strike fairaverages." He (the speaker) accused the prohibitionists of their collection of moral and physical filth. He accused them further of grossly exaggerating its amount as sub-sequent details would prove. Confining what he might say of their disadvantages page 4 to their own published utterances, he would first take their chief apostle, the Rev. L. M. Isitt. (Applause.) There was much to admire in this gentleman's public character. He had the courage of his opinions, which unfortunately were at times somewhat narrow. The young men of Sydenham were much indebted to the rev. gentleman for their gymnasium, and it was said that lie taught them proficiency in the noble art of self-defence. (Laughter.) And they would give him credit for this and other good works But set Mr Isitt on his favourite hobby of prohibition, and they lose the man but find the fanatic. (Laughter.) Governments, Judges, Bishops were invited to cower beneath the lash of his sarcasm. Even the memory of the dead was not spared. (Hear, hear and hisses.) His statement that more drink was sold in the Christchurch hotels on Sunday than on a week-day was at least an intemperate statement. His sweeping denunciations of the drunkenness of England, Germany and France were general. How such ordinary mortals as Bismarck must wince when they saw of what fearful material that great, victorious German Army of 1870-71 was composed. He (Mr Davie) could pick out plenty of other instances, but had, he thought, shown that Mr Isitt was at least intemperate in speech, if not in fact. (Cries of "No.") The Rev. J. Hosking usually posed in the role of a Christian minister. (Laughter.) Several articles of his in the correspondence columns of the Pressvouched alike for his scholarly training, broad views and intimate knowledge of the Hebrew language. (More laughter.) Certain detective instincts had induced him to pass the usual bounds of temperance in his attacks upon Mr A. B. Worthington. (Hear, hear.) Possibly he regarded that gentleman as the incarnation of his Satanic Majesty. He (the speaker) owed Mr Hosking a personal apology. He once answered one of Mr Hosking's letters in the Press. Never having seen that gentleman until Mr Collins' meeting, he was for the first time enabled to form his own opinion of his intellectual capacity as evidenced by the questions he asked. Permit him now formally to apologise for ever having taken the trouble to answer an effusion emanating from that gentleman. (Loud laughter.) Mr G. J. Smith appeared as a candidate for Parliament upon his own recommendation and that of his friend and co-prohibitionist Mr T. E. Taylor. It was the speaker's misfortune never to have met or heard Mr Smith. Mr Taylor, however, publicly refers to him as a square-headed man. [unclear: K] little about this subject he (Mr [unclear: Davie] down to the Museum and [unclear: inspeai] skulls. (Laughter.) One [unclear: previouse] longing to a Flat-head Indian [unclear: came] Mr Taylor's description, and the ca kindly explained that the [unclear: skull] £ denote a high order of [unclear: intelligence,] laughter.) The owner of that [unclear: skill] ably passed his life in the [unclear: pursuit of] Mr Smith apparently spent a [unclear: large] of his in the chase after drink. He say nothing of Mr Smith's [unclear: intempe] except that he publicly [unclear: app] in the company of the [unclear: geat] he had mentioned. Mr T. E. [unclear: Taying] had prohibition badly—([unclear: laughter]—somewhat virulent. (Renewed [unclear: laughter] was a practiced orator, and his ehu words was said to be remarkable From his published speeches, he ([unclear: Mr] would insult Mr Taylor if he did [unclear: not] him with his full share of [unclear: intempe] The prohibitionists as a body [unclear: were] placing themselves in positions [unclear: retraj] which was impossible save by [unclear: de] their own words or equivocation. [unclear: As] Sydenham licensing election [unclear: only] months' ago they were for absolute i prohibition. Now they were only [unclear: and] to direct the matter, and to give [unclear: the] an opportunity of saying what was done. (Hear, hear.) Mr Isitt had published statements of his speeches Taylor had also denied them on beh Mr Isitt. If they really wished to public sympathy they should deal fairly squarely with those around then—hear)—infuse a little more true liber into their views, and treat those differed from them more charitably. [unclear: The] plause.) They had restored, thought what soiled by their handling, the sp name of Temperance. Let them be how they borrowed the sacred mab Liberty to cloak their one desiga, hear.) Mr T. E. Taylor has quoted the London Weekly Times concerning drink question, and lie would quote tracts from the leading article of paper of May 19th, 1893, which i be taken as being fairly up to ("If the printing of Bills could solve 'Drink Question,' we ought to be soberest people on earth by the end of present session. Numerous rem for excessive drinking have been laid be Parliament, and three of them have I introduced on high authority, and subject to a certain degree of discussion. Government have undertaken to deal [unclear: was] page 4 the matter in the drastic and oppressive fashion which commends itself to the more advanced apostles of freedom when they propose to operate at the cost of other people That project, however, has been so completely riddled both inside and out-side the House, that very little more is likely to be heard about it from anybody, except the Opposition, who may be relied upon no doubt to keep its memory green in the minds of the masses whose comfort and convenience if so seriously menaced. The real evils of all plans of this kind were indicated in the short but sensible speech with which Lord Salisbury brought the debate to a close—'Everybody in these days is opposed to excessive drinking, and if any measure could be devised which held out a reasonable probability of exterminating or even of greatly diminishing this terrible plague, without inflicting injuries wo[unclear: i]se even than those caused by drink itself, such a measure would be eagerly welcomed by all classes, and carried out at all costs, But no such measure has been devised, or seems indeed to be possible. Schemes like those proposed by the Government are at once [unclear: mi] just and futile.' They are based on principles which, if logically pursued, would lead as they have led before to what Lord Salisbury called 'ethical persecution,' and all attempts to cram them down the throats of the people will surely lead to a reaction, dangerous to the cause of true temperance. That cause, as Lord Salisbury pointed out, has made very marked progress among the upper and middle classes of this country within the last hundred years. In the reign of George IV., and even later, hard drinking was no uncommon thing in good society. The barbaric vice has almost died out among the classes, with the progress of education and refinement. Refinement and education are spreading year after year among the masses in an ever-progressive ratio. Is it quite unreasonable to hope that, long before any amongst the various schools of temperance advocates have hit upon an acceptable and practicable plan for reforming the drink traffic, the people will have reformed it altogether themselves."' That was from a leading article in a leading paper in the leading city in Mr Isitt's "Drunken England." (Applause.) Now for a few temperance figures with regard to New Zealand. The London Times, dated 26th May last, said, "Since 1878 the consumption of alcoholic spirits in New Zealand has decreased to the extent of 48 per cent., the consumption of imported ale has fallen off 60 per cent., and that of the local beer 22 per cent. In 1882 the population of New Zealand was 517,707, in 1892 it was 650,000. showing a gain of 132,726, which may be roughly stated as an increase of about 25 per cent. Amount of duties paid on liquors in 1882 amounted to £549,447, in 1892 this amount only reached £464,209, showing a decrease of £85,238." These figures went far to prove that New Zealand was even more temperate in the use of liquor than England. Lord Salisbury ascribed the improvement in England to education and refinement. Mr Collins ascribed the improvement in New Zealand to education and comfort. The "Prohibition Party" would doubtless with its usual modesty ascribe the improvement to its own efforts. (Laughter and applause.) In considering the duration of life of total abstainers and moderate drinkers the following extract from the Wellington Evening Press would be of interest:—"The British Medical Journal of the 23rd June contains the report of the Collective Investigation Committee appointed for this purpose, and it will, we are sure, be a surf rise to the general public, and a shock to extreme Temperance advocates, to learn that the report is by no means favourable to the theory that total abstainers live longer than other people. The inquiry was conducted in this manner. No fewer than 187 members of the British Medical Association obtained particulars regarding the habits of 4234 persons, aged twenty-rive years and upwards, recently deceased. These were divided into five classes, namely, total abstainers, habitually temperate, careless drinkers, tree drinkers, and decidedly intemperate. The age of death of those in each class was registered together with the cause of death, and the average age at death for each class was found to be as follows:—Total abstainers, 51.22 years; habitually temperate, 62.13 years; careless drinkers, 59.67 years; free drinkers, 57 59 years; decidedly intemperate, 52.03 years. According to this the total abstainers died at an earlier age than any other class, not excepting habitual drunkards. It was quickly seen, however, that this was an error arising from the fact that total abstainers are on an average much younger than persons who use stimulants; which means in other words that few people carry the habit of total abstinence through life, by far the greater number of persons above the middle age coming under class B, namely, habitually temperate. In order to correct this error therefore the Committee set to work to prepare a second table, con- page 6 sisting of two columns, from one of which all persons who died under thirty were omitted, and from the other all who died under forty. This gave the following results:—Total abstainers under 30 57.51, under 40 62.74; habitually temperate under 30 64.48, under 40 67.71; careless drinkers under 30 61.52, under 40 64.65; free drinkers under 30 58.87, under 40 61.98; decidedly intemperate under 30 53.42, under 40 57.47. The effect of this is to show that as the younger lives are eliminated, the difference between the abstainers and the moderate drinkers becomes less marked, but that throughout the moderate drinkers have the advantage. It will be seen from the third column that, even when all lives under forty are eliminated—that is to say, shutting out of the calculation the great number of young people who died before the age when on an average the habit of using alcohol is contracted—the moderate drinkers were still found to live live years longer than the total abstainers, and the careless drinkers two years longer. The British Medical Association seems to nave adopted these figures as conclusive, and the Post Magazine and Insurance Monitor, the recognised insurance organ, in an able article on the subject, endorses that view." The figures quoted afforded one more instance, if that were needed, in favour of moderation. It would hardly be fair on his part to dwell in detail on the difference in the physique of the average moderate drinker, when compared wish that of the average prohibitionist in this city—(hear, hear)—but without offence he would mention the fact that as yet no total abstinence cricket or football team had here proved its superiority to those composed of moderate drinkers; no four-oared crews, no rifle shooting team, no other branch of athletics had here marked the total abstainer of Christchurch as possessing qualities of endurance or application superior to those of ordinary mortals. (Applause.) No building worthy of note marked the interest of the prohibition party in this city in which they live; no charitable institution wholly theirs distributed its benefits to those around them. Vet they could raise large sums of money to contest the law of the country. Could they say the same of the great temperance party, the real workers of the world, whose very existence they so contemptuously ignored. If prohibitionists had their way we could not but think they would be quite as intolerant as were the Protestants under Elizabeth, or the Catholics under Mary, both of which parties impartially burned their religious opponents at the stake. (Applause.) Looking at these events in the calm light of history, had we not good reason to make a stand against intolerance of any kind? Was it not an acknowledged fact that, even at the present day, tens of thousands of hypocrites used religion to cloak their swindles? Would any moderate thinker condemn religion as a whole, and endeavour to wipe it out altogether because a few thousand scoundrels had prostituted that which was in itself good? Why then compel every man to be an abstainer because the few drink to excess? The Rev. Mr Isitt had said that it was impossible to regulate the drink traffic. (A Voice—"So it is.") It had just occurred to him that the same drink traffic had been regulated in one instance at least since the time of Moses. (Laughter and cheers.) Take the Jewish people. Such a thing as a Jewish tetotaller was almost unknown; such a thing as a Jewish drunkard was almost equally unknown. (Applause.) What was the reason why we could not be as good as they were? His opinion was that the laws of Moses were and are the best sanitary and physical code that the world had ever possessed. With all our boasted civilisation we declined to take advantage of laws that were engraved for our use many thousands of years ago. (Applause.) It was only fair to conclude that being particular in their choice of meat, the Jews were equally particular in their choice of drink. He really thought that if ministers, who endeavoured to teach us the ways we should go, would look into these laws of Moses and put them before the people, the whole drink question and temperance would be settled in three months' time. (Hear, hear). With a certain degree of duplicity, the prohibitionists had two distinct ways of talking in public on the direct veto question. One way seemed to be their way of thinking, the other was apparently adopted to catch support from outside. If the great temperate body which, as he pointed out before, contained neither drunkard nor prohibitionist desired the direct veto it will become law. (Hear, hear.) He took it, however, that the prohibitionist party by their intemperate actions, intemperate speeches, and total disregard of the wishes of others have done more than perhaps they thought in killing their own pet measure. (Applause, "No, no," and interruption.) The statistics of the decrease of drink in New Zealand, previously quoted page 7 from official sources, were more reliable evidence as to the amount consumed than the verbal statements of men whose public utterances had been remarkable neither for accuracy nor straight forwardness. He took it also, that even had this not been the case the bulk of our "great temperate body" would be disinclined to trust all or any of its Liberties to the tender mercies of prohibition. The remarks made by Lord Salisbury on the subject represented as nearly as possible the average temperate view, for if his remarks were correct with regard to England, they were trebly true in regard to New Zealand, which statistics proved was a far more sober country. He took it that the Great Temperance Body would not move in the Direct Veto matter (except for the sake of stopping it) till better reasons than had yet been set forth were adduced in its support. Concerning the social evil, he said the question afforded a worse illustration of badly attempted reform than the matter of drink, and more terrible evils lay in the wake of the hideous policy of repression than all the accumulated evils of all the drunkenness which had vet been under the sun. (Applause.) If he had shown that intolerance, intemperance, untruth, and extreme views were things to be avoided; if he had demonstrated that a general good average was a higher and better possession for any man than one virtue cultivated at the expense of others; if they harboured one more kindly thought, or did one more kindly action to the downtrodden; if any remark of his had led them more to appreciate the state of freedom in which we lived, and for which our forefathers bled; if, in short, temperance in its widest sense seemed fairer in their eves than mere abstention from drink, that evening had not been spent in vain, (Loud applause. He concluded by leading an extract from Spinoza's works, Ethic IV., proposition 45, and said he was prepared to answer reasonable questions. (Appfause.)

In answer to questions, he said the betting was about level on drunkards coming from moderate drinkers and total abstainers. The same exercise of moderation which would cure intemperate speech and inculcates charity would not only cure drunkenness, but would prevent any man from getting drunk. (Loud applause.) He then returned his thanks to those who were present for listening to him, and especially did he thank those members of the prohibitionist party for the way they had treated him, for he expected they would have made it warm for him. (Applause, and a voice—" They'll deal tenderly with you"; laughter.) He imagined they did because he had let them down so lightly. (Renewed laughter.)

The proceedings then closed.


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