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Then, to the ignorant men and women who could not understand doctrine, the saint became nearer if not greater than the Almighty, and made his bargain with heaven for his clients ; and so the supreme idea of the unity of God, daily asserted in creeds, was practically as inuch ignored as in any system of pagan idolatry.
Thus in carlier days the beauties of art were perverted by the waywardness and ignorance of the multitude, and became an instrument of enormous evil. And the lesson remains : as long as waywardness and ignorance and superstition exist among men, the danger stands before us.
I have hinted at the unreality of Christian art. By this I do not mean to refer only to that which is grotesque and unskilful, but also to those works which, however finished and lovely, do not represent to us the true ideal. It has been justly said by Ruskin, after a large review of the subject, that religious art has not been of service to man, because it has not been complete, just, and sincere. In this respect it is worse than bad preaching and bad music, for those may be more readily removed or corrected. If art is beautiful but false, it is the more injurious ; we are inclined to become devout towards it rather than towards God.
I have been confined, by the limits of this paper, to a few illustrations of architecture and statuary, brought together to commend a new method in the study of history as a science. The subject of painting is even richer in this relation, and the interest excited in the great numbers of our people who frequent the magnificent galleries of Europe gives it a popularity and intelligent appreciation in this country which never existed before.
If the American traveller would awake to this historic view, and not be satisfied with mere form and color, light and shade -with“ what pleases him”—but see in every great work its lesson of historic philosophy, in every period and school the interpretation of national character and progress, Art would not indeed cease to entertain, but would add useful instruction to entertainment, and exalt many a virtuoso and dreamer into a historian and philosopher.
TAXATION OF THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC.
PECIALISTS are prone to magnify, not perhaps the abso
lute, but the relative value of their work ; and if it lies in the direction of an attack upon any evil, to exaggerate the evil itself. But a man of the breadth of scholarship and of view of Dr. Temple, the present Bishop of Exeter, said, a few years ago, in measured phrase, that “ of all the preventable evils of the world intemperance was the greatest.” Whether the reader will assent to the whole sweep of this statement may resolve itself into a question of definitions. But it seems to us that there must be a general concurrence of all thoughtful minds in the declaration of Charles Buxton, the English brewer and Member of Parlia. ment: “ That if a statesman who heartily wished to do the utmost good to his country were thoughtfully to inquire which of the topics of the day deserved the most intense force of his attention, the sure reply-the reply which would be exacted by full deliberation would be, that he should study THE MEANS by which this worst of plagues can be stayed.'
Of course it will not be understood that " the means'' embraces only measures of legislation. The battle against intemperance is a battle against an inward as well as an outward foe ; and, as some one has tersely, put it, we are interested both to keep the man from the drink and the drink from the man." It is plain that the aggregate amount of drunkenness depends on the presence of the two factors, appetite and temptation, and that whatever diminishes either diminishes the product; and even beyond this the sight of the temptation not only involves the opportunity for the gratification of the appetite, but its excitement, its growth, and its persistence. Law, therefore,
which has to do with the temptation, has much to do with the solution of this great problem.
Even the most thorough advocates of what Huxley calls “ Administrative Nihilism" in government have had to acknowledge that the traffic in intoxicating liquors is of such an exceptional nature as to require, at least in the way of police regulation, unusual interference by the State. And in all highly civilized countries, especially in Great Britain and in the United States, the history of legislation shows a constant effort to restrict and restrain the traffic in the public interest. The general modes resorted to have been License and Regulation, both being more frequently combined ; the object of license being to determine who should sell, and the object of regulation being to determine how and when the sale should be made. Our forefathers seem to have had a long and persistent trust in the system of license. Their theory was that the fruits of the liquor traffic depended on the personal character of those engaged in it. It would have been wiser to have observed that, as a general thing, the personal character of those engaged in the traffic partook of the character of the traffic itself, and that the
* Nature is subdued
It is curious to see how long and persistently the double delusion was cherished, that it was possible to confine the traffic in intoxicating liquors to “respectable" retailers, and that, if so confined, the effect of the alcoholic poison would in some way be neutralized or modified by a transmutation into the liquid of the virtues of the rumseller. Thus, in Massachusetts, the old Puritans and their descendants for a long series of years required what has been called “ the double imposition of hands" to set apart men as worthy to deal out this poison to their fellow-citizens. After repeated amendments, the system of laws finally established required the selectmen of the different towns to take a special oath, “ faithfully and impartially, without fear, favor, or hope of reward, to discharge the duties of their office respecting all licenses, and respecting all recommendations." They were then to determine what number of licenses they judged "to be necessary for the public good,” and thereupon they
were to recommend to the County Court of General Sessions only such persons as they should approve “ as a person of sober life and conversation, suitably qualified and provided for the exercise of such an employment, and firmly attached to the constitution and laws of this commonwealth" (or, as expressed in another statute," he being, to the best of our knowledge and belief, a person of good moral character"); and armed with such a recommendation the applicants were to present themselves to the Court of General Sessions and undergo the ordeal of their judgment before they obtained a license. With all this machinery (and much more) a Committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, of which the Hon. Linus Child was chairman, reported in 1838 that "it may well be doubted whether intemperance would have increased with more rapid strides if no legislative regulation of the sale of intoxicating liquors had ever been made."
A similar despairing cry comes to us from the other side of the Atlantic after full trial of the system of license. Perhaps there is some exaggeration about it ; for we are disposed to assent to the position of Recorder Hill, of England, in his volume on “The Repression of Crime," that “the traffic in alcoholic drinks obeys that great law of political economy which regulates all other commercc-viz., that any interference with the free action of manufacturer, importer, vender, or purchaser, diminishes consumption.” And wherever the experiment of freetrade in intoxicants has been tried, this law has been verified inversely. But still it is true that as a remedy for the evils and dangers of the liquor traffic license has proved a sad and miserable failure.
Taxation, either in the form of a direct tax upon the liquors themselves, or as a special tax upon the occupation of the vender, is not entirely a new experiment. Taxation of spirits has been a constant source of immense revenue in Great Britain ; and since the civil war in the United States we all know the large contribution thus made to our own national revenue.
Nor have there been wanting attempts both in England and in our own country to restrict the traffic itself by such impositions. By the memorable act of the oth George II., chap. 23 (1736). it was enacted that spirits should not be sold in less than two
gallons without a license, for which £50 was to be paid ; and a direct duty of 20s. a gallen was levied when sold in such quantities. When we consider the relative purchasing power of money at that day, this was a severe tax both
the business and upon consumption ; and the striking words of the preamble’ show that it was intended to operate as a powerful check upon the traffic. But this well-meant effort proved an entire failure. The law abounded with fatal facilities of evasion, and though for a time the government strove vigorously to enforce it, yet the historian (Tindal) tells us that " within two J'ears of the passing of the act, although 12,000 persons had been convicted of offences against it, it had become odious and contemptible ; and policy as well as humanity forced the commissioners of excise to mitigate its penalties.". The sales even largely increased. The consumption of spirits in England and Wales rose from 13,500,000 gallons in 1734 to 19,000,000 in 1742, and there were within the bills of mortality more than 20,000 houses and shops in which gin was sold by retail. Dr. Lecs, recognizing the purpose of Parliament “ to annihilate the traffic in gin and strong waters," draws this conclusion :“ The fault lay in the want of progressive preparation for that final result most devoutly to be wished ; since the governmental power must never be strained too far nor exerted too suddenly without a moral power to support its tension."
The government yielded, and the act was repealed in 1743, but with a memorable protest in the House of Lords. While no subsequent act has had so distinct a purpose, yet it is evident that some incidental regulation of the traffic has entered into the revenue bills, and some favorable effect upon consumption has appeared to follow an increase of taxation. But, still, little reliance has been placed upon this as affording any substantial regulation or restriction of the trade.
*This ran as follows: “Whereas the drinking of spirituous liquors or strong liquors is become very common, especially among the people of lower and inferior rank, the constant and excessive use whereof tends greatly to the destruction of their health, rendering them unfit for useful labor and business, debauching their morals and inciting them to perpetratc all manner of vices, and the ill consequences of the excessive use of such liquors are not confined 10 the present generation, but cxtend to fuiure ages, and tend to the degradation and ruin of the Lingdom.