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Title: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition - The Human Side of What the Eighteenth Amendment and the - Volstead Act Have Done to the United States
Author: Towne, Charles Hanson
Language: English
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  THE RISE AND FALL
  OF PROHIBITION



  [Illustration: (Publisher’s logo)]

  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
  ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

  MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
  LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
  MELBOURNE

  THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
  TORONTO

[Illustration: I have seen hulking men enter a shop at nine in the
morning, hastily tear off an ice-cream soda containing I know not what
flavoring and dash out again into the world of business. No habitual
drunkard could show a worse record. The soda-fiend is a sensualist,
knowing nothing of the healthy ecstasy of comradeship. He is a solitary
drinker of the worst sort.]



  THE RISE AND FALL
  OF PROHIBITION

  THE HUMAN SIDE OF WHAT THE EIGHTEENTH
  AMENDMENT AND THE VOLSTEAD ACT HAVE
  DONE TO THE UNITED STATES

  BY
  CHARLES HANSON TOWNE

  New York
  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  1923

  _All rights reserved_



  PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


  COPYRIGHT, 1923,
  BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1923.


  Press of
  J. J. Little & Ives Company
  New York, U. S. A.



  TO MY FRIEND
  JOHN M. DENISON



AUTHOR’S NOTE


The chapter from Mr. John J. Leary, Jr’s, book, “Talks with T. R.,”
entitled “On Prohibition,” is used in this volume by permission of, and
by special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, the authorized
publishers.

Thanks are also due the editor of _Harper’s Magazine_, for his kind
permission to include portions of E. S. Martin’s article, and to the
Rev. W. A. Crawford-Frost, for his consent to reprint extracts from his
sermon.

Messrs. Funk & Wagnalls have been most helpful in permitting the use
of their files of _The Literary Digest_; and Mr. William L. Fish, Mr.
Frederic J. Faulks, Mr. Thomas K. Finletter and Mr. Herbert B. Shonk
rendered much assistance in the preparation of this volume.

Two chapters are reprints of articles which originally appeared in the
New York _Times_.

I must also thank Mr. Markham, Mr. Le Gallienne and Mr. Montague for
the use of their poems.



CONTENTS


   CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
      I THE PHENOMENON OF PROHIBITION                                  1

     II  OUR GREAT UNHAPPINESS                                        10

    III  OUR ENDLESS CHAIN OF LAWS                                    17

     IV  TOO MUCH “VERBOTEN”                                          26

      V  MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DE-MOCKERY-CY                      46

     VI  THE INFAMOUS VOLSTEAD ACT                                    62

    VII  A TRIUMVIRATE AGAINST PROHIBITION                            83

   VIII  “THE FEAR FOR THEE, MY COUNTRY”                              88

     IX  DRYING UP THE OCEAN                                         109

      X  THE MULLAN-GAGE LAW, THE VAN NESS ACT AND THE HOBERT ACT    120

     XI  BOOTLEGGING AND GRAFT                                       129

    XII  “DON’T JOKE ABOUT PROHIBITION”                              138

   XIII  HOW CANADA HAS SOLVED THE LIQUOR PROBLEM                    150

    XIV  CRIME AND DRUNKENNESS                                       156

     XV  THE LITERARY DIGEST’S CANVASS                               163

    XVI  LITERATURE AND PROHIBITION                                  176

   XVII  AMERICA TODAY                                               183

  XVIII  OTHER REFORMS                                               194

    XIX  IS EUROPE GOING DRY?                                        202

     XX  WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?                           208



THE RISE AND FALL OF PROHIBITION



CHAPTER I

THE PHENOMENON OF PROHIBITION


The strange phenomenon of Prohibition, after an appearance amongst us
of over three years, is still non-understandable to the majority of a
great, and so-called free, people. It is one of the most astonishing
manifestations the world has ever witnessed. It came upon us like a
phantom, swiftly; like a thief in the night, taking us by surprise. Yet
the Prohibitionists will tell you that no one should be amazed, since
for years--for almost a century--quiet forces have been at work to
bring about this very thing.

Most of us can remember how, not so many years ago, when we wished
to throw away our vote, we cast it for the Prohibition ticket. Some
unknown “crank” was running for office on a dry platform. “What a
joke,” we said, “to give him the weight of our affirmation, to enlarge
his pitiful handful of white ballots! It will be a good way to get even
with the arrogant Mr. So-and-So.”

And into the box we laughingly dropped the bit of paper which might
cause a mention to be made of the crank in the next morning’s news
columns. Delightful, insincere flattery, which could not possibly do
any harm. How well, how thoroughly, how consistently we gave it, never
dreaming that the solemn hour would strike when our gesture would no
longer be a joke.

The morning came when the headlines in our newspapers proclaimed
the fact that State after State was following the road of Kansas,
Washington, Maine and Oregon, to mention only a few States which
for some time had elected to make laws that were almost blue. Local
option--yes, we had heard of it in the effete East. There were
districts, we knew, which chose the path of so-called virtue; and
they were welcome to their sanctimoniousness. In our hearts we rather
approved of them for the stand which they had taken--particularly
when we learned, on an occasional visit, that it was mighty easy to
give a dinner-party with plenty of liquid refreshment. All one had to
do, it seemed, was to lift the telephone receiver in Bangor, and ask
that Boston send over a supply of whatever one desired. There were no
restrictions against the transportation of liquor over the State line,
though it was impossible to purchase wines and spirits in the holy
community itself.

Our national insincerity began right there. The hiding of the ostrich’s
head in the sands--that is what it amounted to; and we all smiled and
laughed, and went on having a perfectly good time, and we told one
another, if we discussed the matter at all, that of course the worst
could never, never occur. What rot even to think of it; what idiocy
to take seriously a state of affairs so nebulous and remote. It was
like predicting a world war--which eventually came about; it was like
dreaming of the inconvenience of a personal income tax--which also
came about; it was like imagining that man would be so uncivilized as
to break all international law--which, only a few years later, he did.
Who foresaw the use of poisonous gas in the most frightful conflict of
history? Who had vision enough to tell us that noncombatants would be
killed, as they were in Belgium, though treaties had been signed which
forbade such wanton cruelty? Who could foretell the bombing of cities
far beyond the firing line? Yet these atrocities occurred with singular
regularity once the world entered upon that stupendous struggle which
began in August, 1914. We came to take such happenings for granted. We
grew accustomed to terror, as one grows used to pain; and all that we
had built and dreamed went crashing to dust and ashes.

Prohibition, I venture to say, was the last thing in the world the
American people expected to have come upon them. Though temperance
advocates were thick through the country, the brilliant bar-rooms held
their own; and we came to look upon them as an essential part of the
pageant of life, especially in cosmopolitan cities, with Salvation Army
lassies entering them to pass the tambourine. Men in their cups gave
generously; and I often wonder if the revenue of pious organizations
has not seriously diminished, now that there are no haunts of vice
for holy workers to penetrate. Surely they must miss this casual
liberality--the coin or the bill cast with a grand and forgotten
gesture into the extended hand.

But do not imagine I am holding a brief for the corner saloon. The sins
of an enforced Prohibition are many, as I shall seek to prove; but the
passing of the common drinking-place cannot be deprecated. No sane,
thinking citizen wishes to see a return of promiscuous debauchery.
A glimpse now of the London “pubs” in the poorer districts of the
English capital is enough to convince any American that he should
thank his stars--if not his three-stars--that one phase of our social
consciousness has vanished forever. If we could have sensibly rid
ourselves of these rum-hells, without punishing a vast multitude of us
who knew how to drink wisely, much good would have been accomplished.
But, American-like, we had to go the whole gamut; we had to make
ourselves ridiculous before the rest of the world, in order to bring
about a check upon the gross appetites of a scattered few.

There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a reaction. The
pendulum has swung too far, as any observer must admit. The present
conditions throughout the country are so disgraceful that something
must be done to remedy them. Our personal habits became a matter for
federal investigation; our daily conduct is now given to the scrutiny
of the authorities--to our everlasting discredit. We are a nation of
self-appointed law-breakers, rejoicing alike in our secret and open
wrong-doing. We are the laughing-stock of Europe; we are the jest of
Canada and Mexico, our neighbors, and decent Americans feel that a
stigma has been put upon them. We stammer explanations to visiting
foreigners, who, confused and confounded, ask us what it all means;
we are confused ourselves at the muddle our Government is making of
the whole wretched business; and yet, being Americans who tolerate all
kinds of injustices, we meekly submit, the while we complain, and are
too lazy, most of us, to lift up our voices, to utter one word publicly
in derision of this monstrous foolishness.

What is to happen to us? Are we to become a race of machines, supinely
submitting to autocratic mandates? We have always allowed ruffians to
rule us in our civic politics; and though once in a while we bitterly
cry out, the ruffians, knowing our weaknesses only too well, pay no
attention. We are like the worm that turns; but who cares, since no
change is evident when the worm shows its other side?

One of the great troubles with America is that only in rare instances
will the finer type of young manhood enter politics. We leave the high
business of running the Government to men of inferior caliber, whereas
in a land like England, a political career is a distinction, as much to
be chosen and sought as the Church. Until we come to a realization of
the peril that confronts us through our spirit of _laissez-faire_ we
shall deserve, as Plato says, exactly the kind of Government we get.

With all our recognized national gusto and verve, there can be no
denial of the tragic fact that we are mentally indolent when a
political cause is in the balance. I have known men of worth in the
professions and in the world of business to neglect the polls on
Election Day in order to indulge in a game of golf; yet these are the
first to cry out when the low-brow politicians triumph. We permit our
jury-boxes to be filled by incompetent German-American grocers and
butchers, clerks with little imagination, played-out failures and cab
drivers and chauffeurs who are morons. Even the women, who were so
anxious for equal suffrage, find, in many cases, that civic duties are
a burden, and avoid their obvious responsibilities. We let George do
everything which we find in the least unpleasant.

Well, there is a price for such lethargy. It is terrifying to read
over the names of the judges and magistrates on the American Bench,
and see how many are of foreign origin. Listen to the roll-call in
any court-room. The Poppelfingers and Morinos and Sauerkrautzers
predominate. Where are our first American families? It might be well to
ask, indeed, where they will be in another generation or two.

You and I walk along the streets and see a man suddenly stricken.
A crowd quickly gathers about his pitiful form, stares into his
countenance. A policeman calls an ambulance. A gong rings, and he
is carried off to a hospital. You and I go our way, with perhaps a
momentary tug at our heart. But it never occurs to us that the man in
the street might have been ourselves. Such things happen to others--no,
they could never, never happen to us. The lightning may strike a
neighbor’s house or barn--but not our own. Death or disaster may come
to the other fellow--never to us.

“It never can happen” might be our national slogan. Thus has a stupid
Pollyanna optimism penetrated our civic thought, our political
consciousness, our spiritual being; and the false doctrine is screamed
from every housetop from Manhattan to Gopher Prairie. Pretty little
poems, printed in neat frames, greet us wherever we turn. They urge us
to cheer up, that it is not raining rain, but only flowers, and that
God’s in His heaven and all’s right with the world--forgetting that
Browning, when he penned his immortal line, referred to a particular
morning for a particular man of vision, and by no means intended to
be quoted out of his context, as a basis for the silly “gladness” of
hoards of people who think they think. Our music-halls are crammed
with comedians who sing, in loud voices, something about what’s the use
of worrying, it never was worth while, and bidding us smile, smile,
smile. And we clap and giggle and stamp our easy-going feet, and go
out into the night, and are shoved and pushed into an over-crowded
subway train, and still fondly cherish the delusion that we should
keep on smiling, though a brutal train-guard’s boot is jammed into our
reluctant back, so that we may become one more sardine in the steel box
he is so expert in packing.

It would all be very amusing were it not so serious. Sinclair Lewis,
who is becoming the best photographer this country ever produced, has
not given us a false picture of our towns and cities. He tells the
brutal truth, bravely. But we read him, smile, and say that of course
it’s all very well, and such localities may exist, but they are not
those in which we dwell. And all the while, about us, are the very folk
his deft pen has drawn. _Babbitt_--what a stupid old fool he is, and we
may have seen him in smoking-compartments; but we never will admit that
he is our next-door neighbor.

The day may come when we will have to admit that he is our very self.
We have the superiority complex. Which of course is nothing but a
confession that we are inferior. And in allowing restriction after
restriction to be put upon us, how, in the name of common sense and in
the words of the man in the street, do we get that way? We are the
most governed people in the world today. There are plenty of laws, but
little order; and the millennium that the Prohibitionists promised with
the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment is farther away than ever.

Let us wake up, and face conditions as they are. Let us not try to
delude ourselves into a state of false happiness, when, at heart, we
are the most unhappy nation now breathing the celebrated air. It is
high time we did some solemn thinking. The writing is on the wall. It
is our business to read the words inscribed there in letters of fire.



CHAPTER II

OUR GREAT UNHAPPINESS


Are the American people any worse than other people, that they should
be put _en masse_ upon the water-wagon? Who is it that sits in judgment
over them? What unseen Kaiser, Czar, autocrat passes sentence upon
their morals? We fought a War to get rid of such leaders and rulers;
and now, ironically enough, we find ourselves under the domination of
far stronger task-masters.

I have recently been traveling through a great portion of this great
country. Everywhere I found a curious unhappiness. People may not be
articulate about their sorrows, just as the poor may not speak of
their poverty; yet the canker is there, the worm i’ the bud is eating
away the heart of the flower. Perhaps I should use the word discontent
rather than unhappiness. Or restlessness. Or resentment. At any rate,
the feeling, whatever it is, exists; and there is a new menace over
our days. The placid reformers, resting between reforms, smack their
lips in sadistic glee. In the face of repeated and open violations of
the law, they give out interviews to the effect that all is moving
serenely; that the people are under beautiful control--though they
have to admit that they squirm once in a while. Here again it is a
case of stupid optimism. They _want_ all to be well, and they fondly
imagine that all _is_ well. They will have a great awakening; for this
smoldering discontent and anger is bound to rise in a great tide one of
these days.

[Illustration: At the trial, the package in evidence was placed on a
large green-covered table, in the presence of the jury and the court.
The prosecuting attorney worked himself into a fine fury of eloquence.
The majesty of the law must be upheld.]

Listen to a lady reformer in Chicago, speaking after a church league
meeting, in September, 1922. Evidently she is out of touch with the
world, secure in the sanctity of a liquorless home. She has never
attended a real dinner-party, poor dear; and somehow my heart goes out
to her.

“The law is being enforced, and the results are more than satisfactory.
The brewers are skulking opponents. What are they doing now?” she
inquired blandly of her audience. “Some are making candies, some soft
drinks, some other things; but they are all making money, and are
happy. Prohibition is a wonderful thing, and I am proud to be a citizen
of the country that has adopted it.”

How sweet and cheerful! But as she spoke, I wonder if she knew that
almost around the corner real beer and whiskey were easily procurable.
That as she uttered her oracular words, men with hip-flasks passed the
door behind which she was speaking, on their way to joyful occasions.

The law was never less effectively enforced, dear lady. You are living
in a world of dreams and fancies. You should get about more, and meet
the flappers and _jeunesse dorée_, who could tell you and show you a
thing or two. Your rhapsodies are all very well; but your smug delight
in conditions has a note of pathos to one who has observed the country
as it is, and not as you would have it. Alas! you are but deluding
yourself, and my heart goes out to you in your simplicity.

Is the law being upheld when, at a dinner-party at a certain country
club, two policemen in uniform were sent by the local authorities
to “guard the place” while much liquor was poured? These minions of
the sacred law were openly served with highballs, and they laughed
at the Constitution of the United States. I saw them and heard them
myself. They came to get drunk--and certainly succeeded. Everyone at
that party deplored the company’s behavior, was loud in denunciation
of Prohibition and what has come in its wake; yet went on eating
and drinking and dancing with the casual remark that it was of no
consequence whether or not they broke the law, since everyone was doing
it.

Is there any veneration for the law of the land when advocates of the
Eighteenth Amendment, men who sponsored it publicly, in private deride
it, and, at the mention of Mr. Volstead, sneer and jeer, and purchase
cocktails in New York restaurants at a dollar apiece, gulping them down
openly?

I asked such an advocate--a politician who would like to be called
a statesman--why it was that, if he believed in the Volstead Act,
he continued to consume his daily quota of Scotch. I don’t believe
anybody had ever ventured to put such a frank question to him. His
wife, on my left, blanched--she, by the way, never touches a drop; but
her exalted husband is fond of the cup that cheers--and inebriates.
He has held high office, and has been loud in his advocacy of
Prohibition--for the other fellow. He glared at me when I rashly put my
question to him, lifted his glass high and cried out, intending to be
witty (I thought him merely disgraceful, and drunk, as usual), “I drink
as much and as often as I can, in order to lessen the supply!” And then
he had the effrontery to add: “Of course I mean to see to it that the
law is upheld, when liquor cases come up before me.”

Yet I had read a statement of his in the newspapers when he was running
for office, declaring that wine was a mocker, and that whosoever was
deceived thereby was not wise. Oh, yes, he could quote Scripture with
a vengeance, this minion of the law. My lady friend in Chicago, seeing
him on the street, would count him as among the holy band who have put
their O. K. upon Volstead, Anderson, et al. Yet behind closed doors
he is a Mr. Hyde who takes a fiendish pleasure in his dual nature. I
like him not. The lady in Chicago is at least consistent. Were I a
W. C. T. U. worker or an Anti-Saloon member--or even a judge who tried
bootleggers--I think I should strive for a similar state of holiness,
and always be willing to let my left hand know what my right hand was
doing.

The truth is that laws of intolerance defeat their own ends. The
instant you tell people not to do something, they have an irresistible
desire to do it. There cannot be laws greater than the people
themselves. And that law is the most insidious and dangerous of all
which discriminates between the rich and poor.

I am, by temperament and training, a Conservative; yet I confess that
were I a workingman deprived of my beer, I would find it hard to remain
calm, when, returning from my day’s labor, I was forced to go to an
arid tenement, passing the homes of those who possessed well-stocked
cellars--and who replenished them at will.

Those who labor ceaselessly for the cause of Prohibition will tell you
that it will not always be possible to obtain liquor; that the rich,
too, will come to a state of drouth; and I have even heard some of them
say that, after all, there are many things the rich have always had
which the poor could not possess, and drink is but another symbol.

For such light arguments I have no use. I could only say to so profound
a student of human nature and the humanities that he, along with his
kind, is sowing the wind, and will reap the whirlwind. With money, we
seem to be able to purchase anything we desire in this land of lost
liberty. One of them is a wine-cellar. Mr. Volstead did not quite dare
to make it illegal to drink in one’s home. There might have been a
serious exodus from the country had such a drastic law been passed--or
even seriously considered. Since Magna Charta a man’s house has been
his castle; and an invasion of the sacred precincts would cause
unlimited chaos. Yet in certain of our States, John Doe search-warrants
may now be obtained, and officials may enter one’s dining-room to
ascertain if drinking is going on. It is unthinkable, but it is so.
But, then, there are many foolish legislative blunders made from year
to year, and a placid and long-suffering people pay little attention
to them. I have heard men complain of the laws in their community, who
would not lift a finger to see that they were changed.

In the Far West recently, learning of a certain intolerable mandate, I
could not resist asking a lawyer why his State stood for it. His only
reply was that they gave it little thought--until someone from outside,
like myself, came along and drew its horrors to their attention. Then,
with the going of the stranger from their midst, they settled down
once more to calm acquiescence; or else they openly disobeyed the
law, and, when they thought of the possible consequences, roared with
laughter. For no one had ever been put in prison for a violation of
the statute--and of course no one ever would be. Then why have it on
the books? Oh, well, what difference did it make? The women wanted it
there, but of course they didn’t mean it, and it was a joke anyhow, and
it wasn’t worth worrying over, when you came to think of it, and maybe
the Legislative body had to earn its salary, and how about a little
game of golf to forget it?

I suppose we have come to be such a hodge-podge nation that we are
losing sight of all the old ideals our forefathers fought for. The
passage of the Eighteenth Amendment may have been the best thing
that could have happened to us, since it has, in a sense, aroused
us to the point of anger, whereas piffling restrictions put upon
our liberty have left us cold and indifferent. But here, at last,
is something big enough to cause most of us inconvenience--and the
American people do dislike to be inconvenienced. We could get together
on this burning subject, where we would fail to dovetail on lesser
questions. Our heterogeneous citizenry is inflamed, as one man; for
the German-American wants his beer, the Italian-American his red wine,
the Irish-American his grog, the English-American his ale and port,
the Russian-American his vodka, the Swedish-American his punch, the
French-American his champagne and light wine, and so on down the line
and through the maze of races that go to form our vast Republic.

Is it too late to get together? Here again we may fail to act in
concert; for the foreigner within our gates, feeling the contagion of
our national slothfulness in a Cause, and waiting to get his cue from
us, sits back and wonders why we do not act.

And many an American waits and wonders too.



CHAPTER III

OUR ENDLESS CHAIN OF LAWS


When we sit back and rail at the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead
Act, we lose sight of other laws equally tyrannous which, however, do
not happen to affect us.

Is it generally known, for instance, that in the State of Utah there
is a statute which makes it a misdemeanor to purchase, sell or smoke
cigarettes? One may not puff in a public place; yet one may do so
in private, the law contends. The Mormon Church is opposed not only
to drinking and smoking, but to coffee-drinking as well; and as the
elders in that church are the big property owners in Salt Lake City,
controlling the hotels and other public buildings, when I went there
not long ago I wondered if I would be permitted to light a weed.

With soda-fountains gracing the lobbies of the smartest caravanseries,
I had my doubts; but when I casually asked where the cigar-stand was,
I was directed to a garish counter, and beneath gleaming glass cases
I saw, to my amazement, all brands of cigarettes on sale. I asked how
this could be.

“You don’t take this law seriously?” a native said to me.

“I am getting so that I cannot take any law seriously,” was my natural
answer--as it undoubtedly would have been yours, dear reader. Yet you
and I call ourselves perfectly decent, God-fearing American citizens,
do we not?

I hadn’t the slightest trouble in purchasing everything that I wanted;
yet a new fear possessed me. After dinner, would it be possible to
smoke in the main dining-room?

To make a long story short--it was. Everyone was doing it, just as
though a law had never been heard of; and I saw Mormons consuming
coffee, too. Think of it!

For almost two years now the farce has gone on. No one thinks it
curious any more that the mandate is not obeyed.

They told me of a case recently tried out there. A small tobacco
merchant--an Italian, if I recall correctly--was arrested for selling a
package of cigarettes to a detective. (To remind people of the august
legislature and to give the tax-payers another reason for being taxed,
a minion of the law must go about now and then, on a fat salary, to
investigate conditions.) At the trial, the package in evidence was
placed on a large green-covered table, in the presence of the jury and
the Court. It was all very incriminating. The prosecuting attorney
worked himself into a fine fury of eloquence, denouncing the pitiful
little culprit in high-faluting language that the wretch on trial
could not possibly understand. The majesty of the law must be upheld.
This was terrible; it was atrocious--though nothing was said of the
fact that down in the heart of the city, every hour of the day, this
same law was openly violated. The judge solemnly charged the jury--and
hastened out to luncheon.

But the twelve good men and true were out only a few moments. They
brought in a verdict of not guilty.

“How can this be?” cried the Court, in wrath. And the counsel for the
people tore his hair, metaphorically, if not literally. The detective
looked blank. Then the foreman arose and said that the jury had had
no evidence presented to them that cigarettes had been sold, as the
package covering the alleged malignant little weeds had never been
opened.

And so the money of the good citizens of Utah is being spent on such
opera-bouffé trials--and they continue to stand for it.

A delightful state of affairs, my masters. Such incidents should get
into the papers more frequently. For we can all stand anything but
ridicule. And when the law is thus made ridiculous, it is to laugh,
isn’t it?

Or should one remain serious in the face of such nonsense--as of course
the reformers would have us do.

Well, I am afraid they will have to pass laws against smiling before I
can be brought to terms. And even then I may break another law--and go
to jail for it. Or more likely remain peacefully at home, as I do now,
breaking so many that I have stopped counting them.

I fear that I break the speed laws--as do you. I am afraid that most
of us do. Yet I am not conscious of good ladies of any N. S. L. S.
(National Speed Law Society) giving up tea-parties that they may get
out on the highways to watch us, and report us, and, if need be, arrest
us themselves. Yet when you and I dine at a restaurant in a city like
New York, we are apt to note a policeman in uniform standing in the
doorway, his eagle eye upon us, to see that we do not take flasks from
our pockets. I wonder what would happen if, under the very nose of this
representative of law and order, one should pour from a bottle some
harmless iced-tea. Alas! I fear that the law is not to be trifled with
in that way. The dignity of our jurisprudence must not be disturbed.
One might be hauled up and arraigned for disorderly conduct, or for
some such trumped-up charge.

But it _is_ a pretty picture, isn’t it, to see perfectly good
tax-payers watched and spied upon while they eat their meals? Ye gods!
and in a supposedly free country! How our ancestors must turn in their
graves--they who wrote something, didn’t they, about “life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness”?

Who shall define that last phrase today? I wonder what it means--what
anything means--in these topsy-turvy times.

Not long ago, in solemn conclave in an eastern city, a holy body of
men and women aroused the whole country to its first volume of fury
by suggesting that gatling-guns be used to enforce obedience to the
Prohibition law. In their fanatical zeal, they were seriously for
murdering a number of us, and they saw no humor in their announcement.
What were a few lives, if the LAW was upheld?--a law, by the way,
which millions of thinking people do not believe should ever have been
put upon our statutes. No more shameful resolution was ever made at a
public meeting; yet I would not have been surprised had it been passed,
to such a state of imbecility have we come. Why stop where we are? Let
the digging in go on; let the teeth of the law sink into your flesh
until we groan in agony. Let the busybodies and the cranks become as
thick as flies and locusts in time of pestilence. Let them gather in
battalions around us, sting us, flay us, torture us--until at last the
vestige of manhood which is left in us may cause us to turn upon them.

I fear that the law which makes it illegal for a minor to be admitted
to a theater or a motion-picture palace is broken every day in every
city of our broad and beneficent land. Yet I do not find pickets from
Children’s Societies, standing about to see that the letter of the law
is obeyed. We pretend to be deeply interested in the welfare of the
coming generation--so interested, in fact, that the present generation
is forced to give up its harmless toddy, that the children of tomorrow
may be robust supermen and superwomen.

The fact is that, to the fanatic, no law is sacred except the
Eighteenth Amendment.

The Fifteenth? Oh; why talk of it? The South knows its problems, and
can cope with them. Besides ... well ... Ahem!... That’s another
matter, and has no bearing upon the issue at hand.

Why hasn’t it? Yet if you ask ten people in the street what the
Fifteenth Amendment is the chances are that only one will be able to
tell you.

If the negro was enfranchised, he was enfranchised, and should be
permitted to vote. That is the law of the land. It is part of our
glorious Constitution.

But do you hear anyone raising a row over the fact that no one pays any
attention to it in certain parts of the South? Few zealots work for
the rights of negro voters--none, I should say. It matters little to
us that they are denied that privilege which belongs to every citizen
here, whether he is black or white, or what his previous condition of
servitude.

Why should we respect one Amendment to the Constitution, and be allowed
to hold in contempt another?

Truly, the logic of the fanatic is hard to follow. If one of them reads
these words, he will merely smile and pass on, and do nothing at all
about it. For just now he is fearfully concerned over Mr. Volstead and
the carrying out of his policies. One thing at a time, please.

His interest may keep him busy for so many years to come that he will
have the excuse of no free moment to study the Fifteenth Amendment. But
all the Amendments should be enforced, or wiped off the books.

Riding in a train once through the sanctified State of Kansas, where
long they have refused to let you and me buy a cigarette, I asked for a
package in the dining-car.

“Can’t let you have ’em,” was the answer of the steward. “We’re on
Kansas soil.”

“Then why don’t you inform passengers before we cross the State line,
in order that they may stock up?” I inquired--humanly enough, I thought.

“They should look out for themselves,” was his rather unkind reply.

I thought a moment. I did want a smoke, and I was determined to have
one, despite all the laws in Christendom. I told my feelings to the
steward. He saw that I was in earnest. In fact, he came to see the
justice of my suggestion that passengers, unaccustomed at that time to
so many restrictions (this happened in the halcyon, prehistoric days
before Prohibition) should be given some hint of the approach of the
State line.

He came over and whispered in my ear, first looking about him--as we
are all doing nowadays, the while we laugh at Russia and Prussia:
“Say, if you’ll drop a quarter on the floor, I’ll pick it up; and
there’ll be a package of cigarettes under your napkin in a minute.”

Thus was another holy law disobeyed.

And it is done every day, O proud fanatics, who think you are cleaning
us up. And it always will be done. For poor old frail human nature is
just what it is; and spiritual reformation can never come, as you would
have it, from without, in. We must all work out our own destinies,
from within, out. Somehow we like the little battles with our souls.
They add a piquancy to life. They give a spice and zest to the level
days. Our appetites are our own affairs. The moderate drinker is not
a drunkard; and to place restrictions upon him, in order to cure the
ne’er-do-well is as unjust as it would be to put the petit larceny
prisoner in the death chair along with the murderer.

Gertrude Atherton, who is wise and broad-minded, once wrote an article
against Prohibition, which began with these sharp, incisive sentences:

“I am a woman. I never drink. But I am against Prohibition.”

My own sentiments, exactly.

Temperance--yes; but never absolute restrictions. And if we continue to
place them upon the people, we shall have nothing but broken, shattered
laws all down the line; and finally something else will be broken and
shattered.

I mean the dream of this great Republic. I mean the illusion which all
of us had that we were not to live under despots. I mean the hope of
a race which believed in democracy, and finds itself suddenly in the
grasp and under the domination of bitter tyrants, who seek to chain us,
and imprison not only our bodies, but our very souls.



CHAPTER IV

TOO MUCH “VERBOTEN”


One hears a great deal about the way the Volstead Act and the
Eighteenth Amendment were “put over” on the American people. It is
true, as I have said, that the legislation came upon us suddenly;
but everything was done in a perfectly legal and orderly manner. The
people did not realize how far the Anti-Saloon League, and kindred
organizations, had gone in their work. Also, deny it as they will, the
advocates of Prohibition used the War as an excuse, as a cloak for
their propaganda. It was perfectly right for the Secretary of War and
the Secretary of the Navy to forbid the sale of liquor to our men in
uniform after we got into the conflict. We were at War; and it would
have been as foolish for our boys to get drunk as it would be for an
actor to go on the stage intoxicated. Moreover, in the heroic glamour
of those now happily vanished days, it was so easy for soldiers and
sailors to be “entertained” by any and everyone. Better, then, to clamp
the lid on tightly. It was a time for efficiency; and no one is so
foolish as to contend that the consumption of whiskey in large doses
makes for a hardier race. One believes, with St. Paul, in “moderation
in all things.” Youth, in a period of stress, needs direction, just
as children do. Having arrived at an age of reason, man should be
permitted to go his own way. But just as we needed discipline in the
ranks--physical discipline--we needed spiritual discipline in wartime.
There can be no real argument about this, I think.

But even here we failed, partly. Liquor _was_ sold to men in uniform.
And men in uniform wanted it, and found many ways to obtain it. The
forbidden apple is always the sweetest; and the more we restrict and
preach and restrain, the more eager certain natures will always be to
achieve the very thing we decry and withhold.

The war, of course, was responsible for many upheavals. We could not
enter such a fiery conflict without feeling its bitter after effects,
any more than one can drink immoderately and not feel ill the next
morning. That we fought to make a weary world safe for democracy is now
nothing but a joke--a Gilbert and Sullivan joke worthy of a deathless
lyric. Indeed, a short time ago, had a librettist put into a comic
opera some of the happenings between 1914 and 1918--only some of them,
mind you--his book would have been hissed off the stage.

There are some things that are true to life, but not true to fiction.
For instance, think of the irony of our boys being sent across the seas
to shoot guns at the Prussians and begging them to free themselves
from an autocratic Kaiser, and, during their necessary absence, being
deprived of a glass of beer when they came back home.

It would be the most laughable farce comedy were it not the deepest
tragedy. I can conceive of a brilliant first act, wherein some
doughboys, parched and thirsty, arrive in a German village and for the
first time in their lives taste real Münchner beer--the beer of their
enemy--learn to like it, decently enough, get the recipe, and decide
to take back to their home town the one good and harmless thing the
enemy country gave them. Then, as a climax, they arrive, wounded and
depressed, a tatterdemalion battalion, glad that the filthy war is over
and done, and ready now to drop back into calm, blissful citizenship,
with their young wives and families.

But no, say a delegation of legislators on the pier (a charming comic
chorus this!), with palms extended upright,

 “You are all wrong, bo,
  And you really ought to know,
  That we’ve rearranged the show,
  And it’s bone-dry you will go,
  And though honors we bestow,
  Now, alas! no beer will flow!
    For we’ve put one over on you--
            Pro-hi-_bi_-tion!”
  (Curtain, amid general consternation.)

Now, if a libretto with this plot development had been offered to a
Broadway manager six years ago, it would have been turned down at once
as impossible. I can see the first reader’s report:

    “A great deal of whimsical imagination is shown by the author; but
    the American people are very sensible, and even Barrie and Gilbert
    could not be allowed to take such liberties with life as it is.
    Isn’t it too bad that writers do not know the public better? What a
    pity it is that they cannot evolve plots that will be a revelation
    of life as it is, not as it might be in a mad, whirligig world of
    fancy? This is not good, even as satire, for the situation could
    not exist, even in a realm of dreams.”

But see what has happened! This plot would have proved a prophecy and
made several fortunes for the author and the manager.

“What!” I hear some character saying in the course of the first act,
just before the curtain descends, “do you mean to say that the boys
who fought for this democracy stuff had no voice in the passing
of the law that made it a crime to sip a glass of good beer?” And
the answer would be, “Of course not! How behind the times you are!
America is a free country, you know. The people who dwell in it
boast of their superiority of intellect, and rejoice in their form
of self-government--though they abrogate their votes to a pack of
politicians who are--well, to put it bluntly, dishonest. For they drink
themselves, while they bow to lobbyists who don’t believe in drink--for
the other fellow. America, my good sir, is the land of the spree no
longer; it is the home of the grave.” (Business of laughter. Solemn
music is heard, and the entire chorus of legislators pass with stately
steps to the Capitol, dressed in heavy mourning.)

But nothing is being done about anything. The American people, whipped
into obedience, as Prussians were never whipped, take their medicine
(from which all but one-half of one per cent of alcohol has been
extracted--and why this modicum should be permitted to remain is only
another joker in the whole stupid business) and obey the law.

Only, they don’t. They go out and break it to bits, as I have shown;
and our legislators wonder why they have so many bad children on their
hands, and isn’t it a strange world, and why is it that folks won’t be
good and do as they are told, and what are laws for, anyhow, and this
disrespect of the law is awful and must be punished, and someone has
got to go to jail, and why is Bolshevism growing when we are all so
happy?

Ah! there is the answer in one word! We are not happy--every one is
decidedly, unequivocally, wretchedly, miserably, gloomily, stonily,
fearfully, terribly unhappy!

And why? Because one has to fight so hard for his fun nowadays. A lot
of laws have been passed, and more are threatened, which blast one’s
hopes of the simplest kind of good times. These laws are based on a
complete misunderstanding of poor old human nature, which needs, every
now and then, say what you will, an escape from the dreariness, the
tedium of life. The harmless diversions which in childhood take the
form of playing ball and cricket and tennis experience a metamorphosis
as we grow older--a perfectly natural metamorphosis; and we crave just
a tinge of excitement after the harsh, unyielding day’s work. Most
Americans work hard--there is no doubt of that. Except for a Cause.
But, seriously, American business is a strenuous, glorious thing--a
delightful game, if you will; but it is also a serious note in the
scale of our national consciousness.

We need relaxation after eight or nine hours at a desk; and the lights
of a great city are the lure that lead us forth--not to get drunk, God
knows, but to get just that fillip the weary body and brain need when
an honest day’s work is done.

The people who don’t understand this, and who are trying to rule and
run America, are in a class with those who fail to understand the
psychology of Coney Island, or any other simple pleasure resort; who
are unable to distinguish between a happy sobriety and filthy gutter
intoxication; who never heard Stevenson’s line about Shelley, “God,
give me the young man with brains enough to make a fool of himself.”

How a glass of light wine or beer is going to hurt a fellow is more
than I, for the life of me, can see; and if he takes his wife along, as
he usually does, or wishes to do, there is precious little danger that
one will ever fall over the terrible precipice of intoxication and go
down into the bottomless pit of complete disaster.

One might say to the reformers that for the most part our ancestors
imbibed a bit; and here we are, thank you, and doing very nicely.

There has never been a particle of evidence presented to prove that
teetotalers live longer than moderate drinkers; indeed, one doubts if
they live as long. And it is well known that those races which refuse
absolutely to drink do not produce anything of importance in the way of
art; and surely they contribute nothing to the cause of science. Take
the Mohammedans. Name one great artist among them, if you can, known to
you and me.

Had Americans been a race of drunkards, I could understand this sudden
drastic legislation against booze. But we were far from that. Drink was
beautifully taking care of itself. It was _infra dig_ to consume too
much; and the young business man who made it a practice to indulge in
even one glass of beer at luncheon, lost caste with his employer--yes,
and with his fellow workers. He soon discovered the error of his ways,
and no longer found it expedient to feel sleepy in the afternoon, when
others were alert and thoroughly alive. It was only honest to give to
the concern for which he worked the flower of his brain and heart; and
so he passed up the casual glass, with little if any reluctance, and
joined that great army of temperate men--and women. He did not wish to
be left behind in the race for glory; and where he had taken, without
a qualm, four cocktails before a dinner-party, now he took only one,
and sometimes left a drop or two of that in the glass.

I can recall the time, not so many years ago, when everyone drank like
a glutton. Country clubs were but excuses for dissipation, locker-rooms
were nothing but bars, with waiters running in and out with trays of
refreshing drinks. (Alas! they are worse than that now, thanks to our
reformers!) But this brief era passed--through the common sense of the
people themselves. We did not require legislation to cause us to see
whither we were drifting. Out of our own consciousness we knew--all but
a few congenital drunkards--that “that way madness lies.” And so we
quit, of our own volition, this heavy and stupid drinking. The “society
fellow,” worthless from the beginning, was cut out; the man of sterling
qualities and action took his place. The “lounge lizard” became a
deservedly abhorrent creature, unfit for the companionship of decent
men. We came, as I see it--and I have observed American life in many
spheres--to a sense of our own foolishness.

Big Business didn’t want the toper. Big Business scorned the young
clerk who followed the gay lights along the gay White Way--the fool who
sat up all night, taking chorus-girls to lobster palaces. With that
alertness for which the American is famed, our young men realized that,
to succeed in the realm of business, they would have to turn over a new
leaf.

And they did it. I ask the reformers to deny this if they can. There
has been no menace from drink in this country for many and many a year.
We never drank as the English laboring man drinks--or even as the
Germans consume beer. We were, as the whole world is aware, a race of
moderate drinkers--omitting always those few and necessary exceptions
which only serve to prove the rule.

Yet, as a nation, we were indicted, held up to ridicule and scorn.
We were told that we could not control our appetites, and so our
benevolent Government would control them for us. And this in the face
of the fact that we _had_ learned to control them.

I can likewise recall the time, not so long ago, when crowds of
children would follow some forlorn drunkard being hauled to the
station-house. Even though the corner-saloon continued to flourish long
after you and I grew up, how many years is it, I ask anyone, since we
have seen this sorry spectacle? And as for seeing a man lying prone in
the gutter--that seems a prehistoric incident to me. Yet such incidents
ceased long before national Prohibition became an outrageous fact.

Taking care of ourselves, still we had to be taken care of! Ah! in our
frenzy to become too pure, let us remember the dangers of benevolent
autocracies. The State has one definite function, the Church another.
The mingling of Church and State--is not that one of the pitfalls we
have long sought to avoid? If the former looks after our souls, the
latter should be satisfied to see to our bodies--and that would be
duty enough.

Let us do a little figuring.

There are, approximately, 110,000,000 people in the United States of
America. Of these, let us say that 40,000,000 are men and 40,000,000
women. Of minors there are perhaps 30,000,000 more. Among the last
named there would be very little drinking. I imagine that of the male
population, a considerable number do not imbibe at all. I would rather
err, giving the opposition the benefit of the doubt; and so I will say
that 20,000,000 males drink in moderation, and that 10,000,000 females
do the same. This gives us, out of a total population of 110,000,000,
only 30,000,000 people who care anything at all about liquor. Of that
number, how many, do you think, are what might be called immoderate
drinkers? Five million? That, it seems to me, would be a fair
estimate--more than fair. But let us be generous to a fault.

Of that five million, how many are congenital drunkards? A million?
Perhaps; though I doubt that even that number have sunk so low. But let
us say that two million have done so.

Then it has become necessary to deprive 30,000,000 people of a simple
form of pleasure because 2,000,000 do not know how to manage their
souls and bodies. It would be equally ridiculous to put an end to
connubial bliss because there are a few libertines in the world.

I remember, as a boy, an unjust teacher who kept the whole class in
because one pupil whispered--and she could not discover the culprit. I
never could understand her perverted sense of justice. We were guilty
along with the disloyal little rascal who had violated a rule. We must
suffer because he would not declare himself.

But drunkards cannot conceal their wickedness. We know them. We spot
them. They are obvious in any community. “The town drunkard” was as
well known as the town pump. It has always been on our statutes that
intoxication in public constituted a misdemeanor. The penalty for a
misdemeanor is arrest, trial, and, if found guilty, imprisonment or the
payment of a fine.

Few would get drunk if they knew they would be arrested. We had that
law; we failed to enforce it. Hence the present inelastic laws--heaps
of them--which only complicate matters, and make public morals no
better than they were before.

No better? Worse. For drunkenness is rampant in the land, as it never
has been. Prohibition does everything but prohibit. The very thing it
sets out to do it fails to do. That is as self-evident as the misery
in crowded tenement districts in great cities. There is no denying it.
People who never drank before, drink now--in enormous numbers.

Why is this? Because it is perfectly human to wish to do what one
is told not to do. You know the story of the woman who, just before
leaving the house, said solemnly to her children, “Now, my dears,
while I am gone do not play with the matches.” When she came back the
house was on fire.

All the emphasis having been placed on _not_ drinking, people are
thinking of nothing _but_ drinking. Public bars have been transferred
to public coat-rooms, and we have the spectacle of numerous “souses”
before a banquet, premature roisterers who become so tight that they
can hardly get through a course dinner. It is disgraceful, but I fear
it will never stop. For impositions breed contempt for all law and
order.

Passive content finally breeds active rebellion. Our lawmakers should
have the wit, the vision, the common sense to realize that. For a whole
nation to be forced to be moral by statute and mandate is so ridiculous
that it must make the gods laugh--particularly the goddess Hebe when
she brings in the flowing bowl. She must almost spill the contents of
her famous cup which she has been carrying these many cycles.

There is always a reaction against enforced goodness--against enforced
anything. But no sour-visaged sarsaparilla drinker ever realizes that.
He puts over his “reform” and imagines that all is well. He cannot hear
the shuffling of feet, the movement of armies in the dim distance. If
he does, he mistakes it for applause.

The fact that Americans were taking care of themselves, so far as
the drink question was concerned, makes the sudden appearance of the
fanatics all the more non-understandable. They came upon us with gusto.
They are pathological--any doctor will tell you that. And the American
people, who believe, I am told, in life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness, permit themselves to be governed by a pack of pathological
cases who, themselves, should be in wards, if not in padded cells.

And they are not content with this initial victory. As the Irishman
put it, “If this is Prohibition, why didn’t we have it long ago?”
And a visiting Englishman exclaimed, looking our country over,
“Prohibition?--When does it start?”

They are going after our tobacco, our golf and motoring on the Sabbath;
and they are going to dip into our cellars and rob us of that which
we used to keep there, oh, so seldom, but now have in great and wise
abundance.

It never occurred to any of us in the old, halcyon days when one could
loll on the back platform of a horse-car or trolley with the glorious
multitude, and smoke there, to keep a supply of liquor in our homes. If
we were giving a dinner, and wished to oil the social wheels just a bit
to start the machine going, we may have sent to the corner and bought
a bottle of gin and a little vermouth, and perhaps a quart of simple
California claret, and let it go at that. No one disgraced himself. It
was all very quiet and serene and sane and nice. We hurt no one; we
did ourselves no injury (any physician will tell you that; he needs
whiskey in his practice, if he is the right kind of physician), and a
pleasant time was had by all, as the country newspapers say.

But from that undramatic drinking what, because of Mr. Longface, have
we leaped to? To the hip-flask, the sly treating in coat-rooms--and
other places I need hardly mention--long before dinner begins, so that
one may be sure of a sensation which no decent man should care to
experience.

A nervous tension is in the air, putting us all back twenty years. I
assure the reader that never once in my life did I carry a flask of
brandy, even when I was going on a long and dusty and tedious journey;
yet my dear mother was as certain that I should take one as that I
should wear rubbers when it rained; and I let her believe I did both,
for the sake of her peace of mind.

Was my mother a criminal, for her quiet advice? Not then; but she
would be considered so now, with Mr. Volstead’s act on the records of
my beloved land. Actually, I am a criminal if I take a sip outside
my home--in my club, in my travels. If I transport a little of that
whimsical stuff of which poets have sung so beautifully and often, I
can be dragged to jail--if I am caught. Boo! What a mockery of personal
freedom it all is!

I heard a fine citizen say not long ago--a man of wealth and position,
a publicist, a man of affairs (I am using the word in its proper
sense!), a man who loved, very definitely, the great America that
used to be--that for the first time in his life he had the despicable
thought that he would like to withhold something, if he could, on his
income tax. He felt little compunction for the base thought. Why should
he hand his hard-earned money over to a Government which deprived him
of so much of his personal liberty and held over his head the dire
threat of further deprivations?

What was this man getting out of America? he asked me. Just a dull
time, to be truthful. He was but one more waffle from the great
national waffle-iron. When he wanted diversion he must pack up and
fare to other lands, where living is still living, crave a passport,
swear that he had paid last year’s tax, produce a receipt he had never
received, and promise to pay this year’s, and either not stay away too
long or see to it that his lawyer attended to it for him.

Everyone is ticketed, docketed, labeled, put in a card-index. This
tabulation of citizens--how we smiled at it when the Prussians carried
it to the extremes they did! Poor creatures, we said of them, to stand
for such arrant nonsense.

A jolly state of affairs! It makes one feel so loving toward one’s
Government, doesn’t it? We are all children, and Uncle Sam is no longer
a symbolical old figure, but an avuncular autocrat who goes about,
nosing everywhere, almost invading the sanctity of our homes (ah! he
may do it yet!) in his senseless quest for this and that. But just as
Santa Claus could never get down every chimney in the world, one feels
certain that Uncle Sam cannot pry into every wine-cellar, and examine,
if he had all eternity, every tiny bank balance. Moreover, my friend
will not cheat on his income tax. He, at least, is decent.

Let us not delude ourselves that we are living in a democracy any
longer. Laws were passed from time to time in the history of our great
country, without the people’s vote; but they were laws that served
our best interests and did not interfere with our personal liberty.
When our rights as citizens were molested, we got up on our hind legs
and yelled. “What is this?” we naturally inquired. “Why, it is what
has always been done,” came the answer from the bar of injustice. And
that was literally true. Only we didn’t know it. “You can’t break the
Constitution,” was a further argument. “Once a Federal Amendment,
always a Federal Amendment, you know.”

And why, pray? If the good old iron Constitution cannot be tampered
with, it is high time that it was. If our forefathers who framed it
meant it to be an utterly inelastic document, they didn’t count on
the elastic minds of the American people. “New occasions teach new
duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,” said the wise James Russell
Lowell once; and nothing is more certain than the fact that the moment
has come when the people should be heard, and not a handful of
legislators, who rushed madly to lay in a stock of wine and spirits
when they saw which way the wind was blowing their straws.

It grieved me, as a good American, to hear an Englishman say the
other evening before a lot of my fellow-countrymen that his idea of a
complete life would be to spend nine months of the year in England as a
British _citizen_ and three months in the United States as an American
_subject_. There was much mirth; but somehow I could not laugh and I
hope these Constitutional Amendments, coming so thick and fast, are not
causing me to lose my sense of humor.

It was a statement in which so much of truth was compressed that I
shuddered; and I thought of all the forms of _verboten_ that have
lately been foisted upon us. I recalled how, ten years ago, a friend
of mine had returned from Germany and told me, laughingly, how the
poor subjects of the Kaiser were eternally forbidden to do this
and that. It was _verboten_, _verboten_, _verboten_ everywhere the
eye turned--in the parks, in restaurants, in the galleries, in the
theaters--everywhere. Always some petty restriction, some tyrannical
interference with the masses. And he said then how contrary to the
broad American spirit was this constant stress on “Thou shalt not.” We
both smiled over it, and pitied the much-ruled and controlled Germans.
“What a glorious land we live in,” we said, in unison, lifting our
glasses, “and how proud we are of our freedom.”

But could we honestly say that now? Do not let us be hypocrites. Before
foreigners, we bravely and loyally uphold our form of Government,
because one does not like to cleanse his soiled linen in public or
reveal a family quarrel; but deep down in our hearts--I hear it
discussed everywhere I go--is a feeling of apprehension; and the
everlasting question is being asked, “Whither are we, as a people,
being led?”

If the political machinery is being clogged with too many foolish and
unnecessary laws that are merely jokers and venemous restrictions, why
do we not speak out in meeting, call together groups of citizens, as we
are privileged to do under the Constitution (unless another Amendment
has been added since this was written), and protest against this
extravagant misuse of power?

The reason England has always been such a comfortable country to live
in is because of the spirit of constructive criticism that has filtered
through the nation. If a Londoner does not like the service on the tram
roads, he writes to the _Times_ about it, and the matter is adjusted.
He has the backing of all his neighbors--and ten to one they have
written, too. But how many Americans, insulted in the subway or by some
public servant, will sit down and write a letter of complaint?

We stand meekly like droves of cattle behind tapes in motion-picture
“palaces,” pressed by eager little ushers endowed with a momentary
authority, until released and permitted to fumble our way down dark
aisles to such seats as we can find. We allow grand head-waiters to
hold us in check when we enter a smart restaurant, not indeed behind
tape, but behind a silken cord--which does not mitigate the insult,
however; and we humbly beg them to see if they can get us a table--and
some of us slip them a greenback to gain their august favor.

We allow ticket speculators to buy up all the best places in our
theaters, adding what profit they demand, and say nothing--though there
is a statute forbidding such extortion. “Ah, we’re here for a good
time, and we don’t care what it costs us,” is the answer of the average
visitor to the metropolis when he is asked why he does not protest
against such unjust measures. I have known only one rich man to refuse
rooms at a fine hotel, simply because he felt it wrong to pay seventeen
dollars a day, no matter what his bank balance. It is people like that
who help the rest of us to a return to normal conditions. He thinks of
someone but himself.

Yet we talk of Prohibition as though we were manfully trying to save
the next generation from the perils of drink! We are doing nothing of
the sort. We are merely bowing our craven heads to a mandate because
we have neither the courage nor the energy to speak loudly against a
stupid law foisted upon us by an organized minority. Our altruistic
purpose is not apparent, for it never existed.

“Ah, but,” someone whispers, “the majority want this and that; so we
must give in to them.”

Even so, why should we give in to them? The majority of people prefer
flashy, meaningless movies and Pollyanna and Harold Bell Wright and
chewing-gum and cheap jewelry and Gopher Prairie and slapstick humor
and loud laughter and a crowded beach on Sunday, and hideous neckties
and shirts and summer furs, and a hundred and one other things entirely
foreign to my desires; why, then, should I walk in their path, jump
over the hurdles that the multitude puts in front of me?

Arnold Bennett once said that the classics were kept alive, not by
the man in the street, but by the passionate few. He was dead right.
In the words of your beloved majority, he said a mouthful. Now,
because my neighbor and my neighbor’s neighbor have a weakness for the
best-sellers (not the best cellars), and find a robust pleasure in
never thinking of anything beyond baseball, I do not see why I should
be forced to indulge in a stupid Pollyanna optimism and forget and
neglect my Keats and Shakespeare.



CHAPTER V

MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DE-MOCKERY-CY


What psychological effect will this constant contempt for the law of
the land have upon us as a people? Surely something dire and dreadful
is seeping into the national spirit, and we are in grave danger of
coming to a human dislike of all laws, in consequence.

We talk of Prohibition as a good thing for the generations to come;
but how about disregard for the law as it will affect our children and
our children’s children? Drunk, they might not be responsible; sober,
to their higher selves they are accountable for their shortcomings in
regard to our statutes. A lack of veneration for an orderly carrying
out of a mandate is a serious thing. But to hear the young people
talking these days about the sanctity of the Eighteenth Amendment is
not a heartening experience. They jeer at it, and openly roar with
laughter when it is mentioned.

No one wishes danger to overwhelm us; but it will, unless something
is done to remedy the present abhorrent conditions, which, I repeat,
are making most of us unhappy. We are entangled in too many legal
nets; and it is not pleasing and edifying to see an ex-Judge or
jurist who came out strong for Prohibition sitting night after night
in a certain restaurant, imbibing his cocktail, creating scandal in
a more than crowded room. He is not in his cups these days--only in
his demi-tasses. I wonder if he knows what an example he sets to the
flappers down the room, and with what derision his high-and-mighty
public utterances are now greeted whenever he opens his mouth to speak
between drinks?

I hear men and women saying all the time, “America is no place to live
now. The streets of our large cities at night look like villages in
some remote district. Dull, dull, and drab, drab. One more tyrannical
law, one shadow of that deep blue which imperils us, and we will go and
live abroad--anywhere but here.”

Is that pleasant talk to listen to? Does it make one proud to be an
American? It is not well to have such feelings fomenting in the hearts
of those who honestly and sincerely love their native land--love it so
much that during a terrible war they were proud to offer to die for it,
or allow their sons to die for it.

But this is not the time to desert the old Ship of State. Now, as never
before, the United States needs its best blood, its best workers, its
best citizens, to put the country back where it belongs.

It is because I love America so, that I do not wish to see her make
a complete fool of herself--as she is doing every day now. And I say
it as loudly as I can, that these pernicious laws, this spirit of
_verboten_, is only making the world safe for De-mockery-cy.

It was Montaigne who said that he was “of the opinion that it would be
better for us to have no laws at all than to have them in so prodigious
numbers as we have.” And that was how long ago? What would he write and
think of America if he could live among us today?

And further he said, knowing human nature as few of us know it: “There
is no man so good, who, were he to submit all his thoughts and actions
to the laws, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.”

Yet the silly law-makers go on with their silly codes, piling Pelion
on the top of Ossa, till all sight of man’s frailty is lost. “A little
folly is desirable in him that will not be guilty of stupidity.”

Yet the letter of the law must be upheld, and the very men who make our
statutes continue to break them.

The joke may go too far. The American people may remember that “eternal
vigilance is the price of liberty” and be willing to watch and wait,
lest that most precious of all things be taken away from them.

There can be no disputing the fact that a law that is not enforced
is worse than no law at all. Law and order--that is the phrase. But
America is a country of law and disorder; and the worst of it all is
that the reformers refuse to stop where they have. They are preparing
to plunge us into even deeper gloom. Why should they rest, having been
so eminently successful already?

We used to laugh tolerantly at the compulsory military service of
the Germans, under the Kaiser; but isn’t a compulsory seat upon the
water-wagon just about as autocratic?

“Dry Country, ’Tis of Thee,” should be our national anthem--since
we are seriously looking for one to take the place of the
too-difficult-to-sing “Star-Spangled Banner.” But no; the words would
not ring true. For there is a wetness all around us, and the lyric
of a national anthem should at least seek to express the ideals and
aspirations of a people, in terms of truth.

Yet before Prohibition, who would have thought of picking out America
as the wettest of all countries? We were just moderately so. We had no
desire to get a reputation for excessive dampness. It is the drys who
have given us that reputation--against our will. And the pity of it is
that the tag will remain--even after we are sanely and becomingly wet
again.

The reformers wish no going back to even a semblance of the old ways
and days. They wish us to conform, sedately, forgetting that Emerson
once wrote, “Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.”

And somehow I go on believing in Emerson.

There was some wild talk, not so many months ago, that it might become
lawful to dispense government-approved beer from the soda-fountains;
but sensible people who care for their toddy--delectable word!--were
not thrilled. They no more wish beer served from soda-fountains than
they wish soda-water served from soda-fountains. They want their toddy.
And when they say so, firmly, “Oh, dear!” and “Oh, my!” and “This is
awful!” cry the Prohibitionists.

I always somehow get back to that argument of the upholders of
the Eighteenth Amendment to the effect that Prohibition is a good
thing--particularly for the next generation. I feel like asking them,
in absolute seriousness, Then why not look to the soda-fountain?

When I was a lad we used to drink simple little things like vanilla,
strawberry and chocolate sodas--at five cents apiece. And we were
happy over harmless lemon and cherry phosphates. Yet the other day
when I chanced to step into a confectionery shop, I was nonplussed to
hear sophisticated flappers (what tautology!) ordering raspberry nut
sundaes and banana splits with chocolate sauce, and other concoctions
which my bewildered brain refuses to remember. And when I saw the
little silver dishes heaped with these vicious sweets, I was horrified.
Gluttony, pure and simple. And what of dyspepsia, and indigestion, and
complexions, after partaking for a few weeks of such stuff? Does no
one care enough for the coming race to do something about it?

I have seen hulking men enter such a shop at nine in the morning,
hastily tear off an ice-cream soda, containing I know not what
flavoring, and dash out again into the world of business. What must the
lining of their stomachs be like? No habitual drunkard could show a
worse record, I imagine. And of the two evil-doers, I would prefer the
latter. At least he is human. The soda-fiend is a sensualist, knowing
nothing of the healthy ecstasy of comradeship. He is a solitary drinker
of the worst sort; and though he may not stagger out of the place, he
is certainly unfit to begin his day’s work--just as unfit as the fool
who makes it a practice to take a nip of Scotch before breakfast.

Seriously, here is work for the reformers. Let them investigate the
kind of mixtures that are served to our youngsters at soda-counters.
One-half of one per cent of raspberry should be all that is permitted.
A solemn bill should be introduced into the next legislature, and
carried by an overwhelming majority. It is unthinkable that our youth
should be exposed to the evils of sundaes, sold openly all along our
avenues and boulevards, in every city and town and hamlet. It is
madness to let this traffic go on.

And there are not even any swinging-doors to hide the sundae fiends.
Shamelessly they imbibe their drinks with the world passing the
unshaded windows, looking in at them. A shocking state of affairs.
Yet who is doing anything about it? No wonder little Alice, of the
pale face, does not eat much luncheon. Her mother worries over her
anemic condition; yet she will not take the time to investigate the
child’s daily habits. She never inquires how she spends her allowance.
And young Bobby, who formerly was so rosy and plump, deteriorates
into a consumptive-looking boy. No, he doesn’t smoke; and as yet he
has not acquired the hip-flask habit. What, then, is the matter with
him, that he drops out of baseball and has no heart for tennis; that
he is backward in his studies, and sleeps restlessly? On his way to
school he stops in at the soda-fountain. And on his way home, he stops
in once more. Surely the Government should issue cards, and make
it a misdemeanor for a clerk to serve more than one soda a week to
minors--and grown-ups. The Board of Health should do something about it.

You see, if it isn’t one thing it’s another in this troubled world. No
sooner do we mop up the saloon than we find other places in need of
mopping. Parents and social workers, here is a job for you. Get at it,
at once. Forthwith. Instanter. Immediately. The future welfare of the
race is at stake.

If it were only ginger-pop that the children drank! But here again one
cannot control the appetites of human beings. We have closed the corner
saloon. Is there no way of closing the corner soda-fountain?

It is curious, in these days when there is so much understanding, even
among flappers, of psycho-analysis and complexes, that no one seems
to have called attention to the fact that the prohibitionists are the
greatest living examples of certain distressing inhibitions.

That the majority of us should find ourselves suddenly dictated
to--told, literally, what we should and should not put into our own
little private tummies--is beyond belief. What does a man who has
never taken a drink know of the psychology of drink? What does he
know of good-fellowship, of the poetry of the toast, of the beauties
of _Brüderschaft_? I would as soon think of Dr. Mary Walker telling
_Romeo_ and _Juliet_ how to make love.

The set lips of the fanatical reformer are the outward evidence of an
interior set of corroding inhibitions. Unable to get relief from the
tedium of existence in, say, a town like Gopher Prairie, the subject
moves, in his or her later years, to Minneapolis or some other larger
city, and is next heard of as a professional reformer of one sort or
another.

I remember a young man in my class at school who was impossible as
a playboy because he always wanted to rule the roost, to dictate
everlastingly the manner in which any game we sought to enjoy should be
played. He was never content to be just one of us. Oh, no! He must run
things, order us about, be a dictator and a little czar, an autocrat
of the most unbending kind. We despised him. He could never fall into
line and be boyishly human. He could not yield; he could not adjust
himself to the spirit of fun which we others abandoned ourselves to
with youthful ease. He was just a common scold.

He disappeared from our school-yard, and from our lives. Years later,
when the War broke out, he turned up in a remote town as a shrieking
radical. Nothing was right. He had worked out his destiny in the only
way such a nature as his could possibly do. He wasn’t a good sport.
Worse, he wasn’t even a good citizen. He didn’t amount to a row of
pins. He wasn’t even worth interning. He wasn’t interesting enough to
get the slightest notoriety--he wasn’t what the newspapers term good
copy; and that broke his heart.

I have no doubt that now, with the War over, he is a professional
prohibitionist--or do I mean inhibitionist?--with a soft job at some
desk. He would never be happy anywhere; but in such a position,
interfering with normal people’s happiness, he would be as happy as he
could be.

It is exactly men and women like him who have slipped over some of
the laws we now have and who are planning statutes against staying
away from church on Sunday. But it’s an old story. The intelligent
people in every community are forever allowing themselves to be duped
by fortune-tellers and ouija-board manipulators, table-tippers, snake
doctors and bell-tinkling “mediums.”

A dog-in-the-manger spirit is in the land. “I don’t like a glass of
wine--I’ve never tasted the nasty stuff--so I don’t want you to taste
it!” This is the cry of the paid reformers who eke out a living by
taking up some fad, and, having nothing interesting of their own to
reveal, peep and eavesdrop and reveal the interesting traits of their
innocently jovial and erstwhile happy brothers.

We have enough complexities in our modern life without having the
complexes of these would-be and self-constituted evangelists made
public day by day. Of course, the natural human being is he who
indulges in everything--in moderation. Show me the man who constantly
denies himself something, and I will show you an abnormal man. He
becomes obsessed with his “goodness,” as he dares to call it; and he
cannot talk ten minutes without mentioning his _idée fixe_. He revels
in it. He gloats over it. He delights in it, just as the monks of old
delighted in the hair-shirt and self-flagellation. He thinks he is
better than we are. Soon he begins to preach. He is like the old woman
who committed a sin in her early youth and still loves to talk about
it. He does not know how boring he is. He does not know how little a
part he plays in society. He is just a bit “off,” a trifle queer.

The next step in this form of madness is to try to impose one’s own
ideas upon one’s neighbors. Soon proselytizing must be done. The
pent-up energy of years must be released in middle age. Steam must be
let off. Blood pressure must be reduced. If these “cases” would only
lock themselves up in cells and flagellate themselves, they would find
comfort and release from their agony of mind, and a weary world would
be grateful. But no! they must stalk through the land, imposing their
so-called moral rectitude upon the rest of us.

Good-naturedly we have, up to now, humored them, smiled tolerantly at
them, secretly pitied them. But with shrewdness and cruelty they have
plotted and planned for years, quietly banded together, until now they
are joined in a great brotherhood; and instead of locking themselves
up, they have locked us up--and maliciously, gleefully thrown away the
key. We should have been their keepers. Instead, they are ours.

An occasional little spree, as a wise Frenchman once said, never hurt
anybody. It is necessary for people of imagination to romp and play
once in a while. What form that romping and playing takes is their
own affair--so long as they do not injure their neighbors. They may
express themselves in terms of smoking, of flirting, or sitting up all
night and talking their heads off; or they may take a long walk in
the rain; or go to the movies for several hours; or read an exciting
but impossible detective story--which is by no means a waste of time;
or dance; or go fishing; or attend an Elks picnic; or buy their wives
a diamond bracelet; or indulge in an after-dinner speech; or see a
foolish musical comedy. There are a thousand and one ways to let off
steam. They come back from any one of these “dissipations” a hundred
per cent better in mind and body, and plunge into the serious business
of life with a fresh stimulus, a new zest.

But the prohibitionist--what form do his inhibitions take? _His_
orgy is one of complete surrender to an orgy of holding in, forever.
He never lets go--never--not for one second. And just as the hermit
enjoys his self-imposed solitude, he revels in his self-inflicted
punishment; and, without wishing to be cynical, I say that he gets a
certain drab satisfaction in this stupid disciplining of himself. The
remorse of the morning-after is unknown to him. But without realizing
it, every morning he experiences a mental hang-over. He has never lived
through one normal day. The pendulum, for him, swings completely in
the other direction; and he is happy only when he is unhappy. But--and
here’s where you and I come in--he is not content with this exquisite
unhappiness. He wants us to be unhappy, too!

Pathological, you see. Heretofore, the temperance people looked upon
all drinkers, heavy or light, as wounded souls--medical cases. But
we who drink and smoke and laugh in moderation are the normal people
of the world. The others are those who are in need of treatment. The
tables have been turned, thanks to psycho-analysis, and Freud, and the
open door that leads to the light of medical science. A bunch of sour
grapes have robbed us of our sweet grapes. Why? Because they could not
stand the thought of Joy being in the world. They want everyone to be
as miserable as they are.

Having succeeded so easily in taking away one of our joys, do you think
these fanatics are content? If so, you know them not. Their victory has
been accomplished so simply that, of course, they are now looking about
for new worlds to conquer. They set their mouths, grit their teeth,
look us over, impale us on a pin and see where next they can turn on
the screws. They take a fiendish delight in inflicting punishment. That
is part of their disease. Their suppressed desires find expression in
robbing us of our natural pleasure. They are cunning and keen and wise,
with the curious and dangerous wisdom of the insane. They think they
are sent into the world to redeem it. They have the Messiah complex.
They have the delusion of greatness. And when we venture to question
their methods and motives, they hurl invectives back at us and cry,
“You are persecuting us!” They have paranoia, you see. They would kill
us, actually, rather than give us one sip of beer.

And these are the people who have, temporarily, gained the upper hand!
Mad on one subject, they appear perfectly balanced while lobbying in
the legislatures of the land. Obsessed with one idea, they can talk
intelligently on every other subject; but sooner or later they will
switch the conversation to their pet theory--and then I ask you to note
the gleam in their eyes, see their lips twitch, watch how nervous they
become! Yes, pathological cases, every one of them!

When will the hard-shelled prohibitionists understand that it is not
drink _per se_ that thinking people are fighting for? The people are
roused to action and alarm because of the dangerous precedent that
has been set. If we, as a nation, are to be deprived of legitimate
and friendly egg-nog (lovely word again!) when New Year comes round,
why, in the name of heaven, can we not be deprived of eggs? They make
one bilious, I am told. And biliousness is bad for one. Come, let us
correct it.

But, having taken away the dangerous egg, let us poke about and see
what else one can remove. Ah! there it is, of course! Coffee! Coffee
makes one nervous. Nervousness is awful. Coffee keeps one awake. But
why remain awake in a world that has lost its glamour? Remove our
coffee, then! Gladly we permit you to take it; for then we can go
blissfully to sleep and forget our worries and cares.

It has been loudly denied that lobbying is being done to bring about
the passage of further drastic laws; but the busybodies are secretly
working, night and day. The deadly work goes on, unabated. Of course
they are not crying their methods from the housetops. Sinister forces
are burrowing deep, and frightened legislators will be forced to follow
the path they took before the Eighteenth Amendment went through.

You remember that wonderfully satirical story of Mark Twain’s, “The Man
That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” don’t you, and what happened to a town that
imposed righteousness upon the inhabitants? All temptation having been
beneficently removed, when one little chance came to misbehave, the
entire village leaped at it and was thoroughly corrupted.

There is some fun in passing a saloon, in going voluntarily on the
water-wagon, in refusing that extra cocktail; there is none whatever in
having someone else do it for you.

Our prayers may be dictated to us next. But something tells us that if
prohibitionists formulate them, they have no more chance than ours of
being heard in heaven. A world made safe for us by reformers is the
last kind of world we care to dwell in. For reformers are the kind of
people who paint heaven as a stupid city of golden streets and pearly
gates, and incessant singing and playing of harps. Well, as Omar said,
“thy heaven is not mine.”

Prohibitionists, I am genuinely sorry for you. You need not pity me,
for I shall go on doing as I please, despite you. And so will millions
of other good Americans. Does that make you frantically desperate? Does
that make you have another attack of your symptoms? Do you puff up with
rage and despair when you hear me say such things in open defiance of
you?

Keeper, bring in the straitjacket, and sweep out, as Goldberg
says, padded cell No. 7,894,502,431. For the pathological ward is
overcrowded today. They have just brought in a frightfully red-faced
man who believes in the Blue Laws; and he must have gone quite mad, for
he is singing what he claims is the new national anthem, “Three Cheers
for the Red, White and Blues!”



CHAPTER VI

THE INFAMOUS VOLSTEAD ACT


There are seven Articles in the original Constitution of the United
States of America.

There are nineteen Amendments (to date).

The Fifteenth Amendment has never been taken seriously in certain of
the Southern States; and the Eighteenth Amendment has caused more
dissension than any law ever placed upon our statutes. The Volstead
Act, which is but an enforcing act of the Amendment, is highly
unpopular. After three years of trying to coerce the people into
obeying a mandate in which millions of them do not believe, are we to
continue to do so, or are we, sensibly, to wipe it out?

The money consumed by the Government in attempting to have this vicious
law obeyed and respected should cause every American to blush. We are
gradually--nay, swiftly--getting to a point where practically every
citizen will be watched and guarded by another. One’s daily habits will
be observed--perhaps by one’s next-door neighbor, or the janitor in
one’s basement. There is no telling who is a detective nowadays. And
there is no telling who is a bootlegger. Maybe one is the other.

How far away we have wandered from those early principles of the
signers of the Declaration of Independence and the makers of the
Constitution! “O Liberty! Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy
name!” cried Madame Roland; and Bertrand Barère exclaimed, “The tree of
liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants.”

The Volstead Act is the most tyrannous document a people have ever had
thrust upon them. I wonder how many Americans have read it, studied
it, pondered over it? I wish we might read the thoughts of all the men
who cast their votes for this infamous piece of legislation. I wish we
might search their consciences, know of their secret emotions when they
assented to its restricting sections.

It would be folly to reproduce the entire document here, with its
tangle of legal verbiage, its intricate twists and turns, its
complicated sentences which, to the layman, mean so little, but to the
law-makers mean so much! Through a thick underbrush of paragraphs the
legal mind wanders at will, delightfully and miraculously at home,
and finally imagines that it emerges into the sunlight of knowledge
and wisdom. Plain folk like you and me find it difficult to follow
the gypsy patteran and patter; yet somehow we get the sense of this
appalling mass of words--words that seem to have handcuffs attached
to them; words that hint of prison cells and donjonkeeps; words that
mystify and frighten us. We feel so guilty as we traverse them; and
remembering the violations of this sacrosanct paper which we have
witnessed since its solemn passage, we marvel at the energy expended to
make us all good and holy--citizens, I was going to say; but I think,
with the Englishman, subjects would be nearer the truth.

For a high and mighty absolute monarchy never weighed its people down
with heavier bonds. No Kaiser-ridden land ever knew more complete and
devastating tyranny. The burdens heaped upon the shoulders of the
already weary tax-payers so that the “dignity” of this Act may be
upheld--ah! few of us ever consider these. We have grown so used to
added packs that one more dollar seems to make little difference. But
it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back; and who knows how
much longer we can stand these accumulating and distressing burdens?

Section 7, of Title 2, reads as follows:

    “No one but a physician holding a permit to prescribe liquor shall
    issue any prescription for liquor. And no physician shall prescribe
    liquor unless after careful physical examination of the person for
    whose use such prescription is sought, or if such examination is
    found impracticable, then upon the best information obtainable, he
    in good faith believes that the use of such liquor as a medicine
    by such person is necessary and will afford relief to him from
    some known ailment. Not more than a pint of spirituous liquor to
    be taken internally shall be prescribed for use by the same person
    within any period of ten days and no prescription shall be filled
    more than once. Any pharmacist filling a prescription shall at the
    time indorse upon it over his own signature the word ‘canceled,’
    together with the date when the liquor was delivered, and then make
    the same a part of the record that he is required to keep as herein
    provided.

    “Every physician who issues a prescription for liquor shall
    keep a record, alphabetically arranged in a book prescribed by
    the commissioner, which shall show the date of issue, amount
    prescribed, to whom issued, the purpose or ailment for which it is
    to be used and directions for use, stating the amount and frequency
    of the dose.”

This would be ludicrous were it not so serious. But let us pass on to
Section 12:

    “All persons manufacturing liquor for sale under the provisions of
    this title shall securely and permanently attach to every container
    thereof, as the same is manufactured, a label stating name of
    manufacturer, kind and quantity of liquor contained therein, and
    the date of its manufacture, together with the number of the permit
    authorizing the manufacture thereof; and all persons possessing
    such liquor in wholesale quantities shall securely keep and
    maintain such label thereon; and all persons selling at wholesale
    shall attach to every package of liquor, when sold, a label setting
    forth the kind and quantity of liquor contained therein, by whom
    manufactured, the date of sale, and the person to whom sold; which
    label shall likewise be kept and maintained thereon until the
    liquor is used for the purpose for which such sale was authorized.”

And Section 13 specifies again about records--I wonder if these are
carefully kept, as the law provides!--

    “It shall be the duty of every carrier to make a record at the
    place of shipment of the receipt of any liquor transported, and he
    shall deliver liquor only to persons who present to the carrier a
    verified copy of a permit to purchase which shall be made a part of
    the carrier’s permanent record at the office from which delivery is
    made.

    “The agent of the common carrier is hereby authorized to administer
    the oath to the consignee in verification of the copy of the permit
    presented, who, if not personally known to the agent, shall be
    identified before the delivery of the liquor to him. The name and
    address of the person identifying the consignee shall be included
    in the record.”

    “SECTION 14. It shall be unlawful for a person to use or induce
    any carrier, or any agent or employee thereof, to carry or ship
    any package or receptacle containing liquor without notifying
    the carrier of the true nature and character of the shipment.
    No carrier shall transport nor shall any person receive liquor
    from a carrier unless there appears on the outside of the package
    containing such liquor the following information:

    “Name and address of the consignor or seller, name and address of
    the consignee, kind and quality of liquor contained therein, and
    number of the permit to purchase or ship the same, together with
    the name and address of the person using the permit.”

How simple they make it for us! And of course free speech on the
billboards has been squashed. For Section 17 has this to say:

    “It shall be unlawful to advertise anywhere, or by any means or
    method, liquor, or the manufacture, sale, keeping for sale or
    furnishing of the same, or where, how, from whom, or at what
    price the same may be obtained. No one shall permit any sign
    or billboard containing such advertisement to remain upon one’s
    premises.”

    “SECTION 18. It shall be unlawful to advertise, manufacture,
    sell, or possess for sale any utensil, contrivance, machine,
    preparation, compound, tablet, substance, formula, direction, or
    recipe advertised, designed, or intended for use in the unlawful
    manufacture of intoxicating liquor.”

How the very stills themselves must tremble at these ominous words!

But I think for its far-reaching effects, Section 20 takes the palm:

    “Any person who shall be injured in person, property, means of
    support, or otherwise by any intoxicated person, or by reason of
    the intoxication of any person” (though we thought intoxication was
    to be wiped out with the passage of the Volstead Act!) “whether
    resulting in his death or not, shall have a right of action against
    any person who shall, by unlawfully selling to or unlawfully
    assisting in procuring liquor for such intoxicated person, have
    caused or contributed to such intoxication, and in any such action
    such person shall have a right to recover actual and exemplary
    damages.” (Yet it is not quite clear how a dead man can bring an
    action in the courts!) “In case of the death of either party, the
    action or right of action given by this section shall survive to
    or against his or her executor or administrator, and the amount
    so recovered by either wife or child shall be his or her sole
    and separate property. Such action may be brought in any court
    of competent jurisdiction. In any case where parents shall be
    entitled to such damages, either the father or mother may sue alone
    therefor, but recovery by one of such parties shall be a bar to
    suit brought by the other.”

So Mr. Volstead anticipates trouble for years to come--as long as it
would take to settle an action for damages in our already-clogged
courts. We make laws, it seems, which we expect to be broken. Deep
down in his heart, then, Mr. Volstead feared that people would go on
being--just people. Drunkenness is rampant in the land; and I suppose
drunkenness will always be rampant in the land. Even Mr. Volstead
cannot stop it. What a pity!

But do not think for a moment I am putting in a plea for drunkenness.
I am bitterly opposed to drunkenness. Prohibition has not cured it.
We have had it long enough now to see its terrible errors. The lions
have heard the crack of the whip, but instead of being overcome,
overpowered, cowering in corners, we have the spectacle of a
determination to pay no attention to the lashings of the law. Half of
us willfully disobey this iniquitous legislation--and are proud of our
disobedience. What is to be done about it? The more teeth that are put
into the Volstead Act, the more teeth the lions show. They growl and
fight. They will not be mastered.

Read Section 23.

    “Any person who shall, with intent to effect a sale of liquor, by
    himself, his employee, servant or agent, for himself or any person,
    company or corporation, keep or carry around on his person, or in
    a vehicle, or other conveyance whatever, or leave in a place for
    another to secure, any liquor, or who shall travel to solicit,
    or solicit, or take, or accept orders for the sale, shipment,
    or delivery of liquor in violation of this title is guilty of
    a nuisance and may be restrained by injunction, temporary and
    permanent, from doing or continuing to do any of said acts or
    things.”

Have our army of bootleggers read this Section? But they are worth a
whole chapter to themselves, so important a part have they become of
our national life.

    “SECTION 26. When the commissioner, his assistants, inspectors,
    or any officer of the law shall discover any person in the act of
    transporting in violation of the law, intoxicating liquors in any
    wagon, buggy, automobile, water or air craft, or other vehicle, it
    shall be his duty to seize any and all intoxicating liquors found
    therein being transported contrary to law. Whenever intoxicating
    liquors transported or possessed illegally shall be seized by
    an officer he shall take possession of the vehicle and team or
    automobile, boat, air or water craft, or any other conveyance, and
    shall arrest any person in charge thereof. Such officer shall at
    once proceed against the person arrested under the provisions of
    this title in any court having competent jurisdiction; but the said
    vehicle or conveyance shall be returned to the owner upon execution
    by him of a good and valid bond, with sufficient sureties, in a sum
    double the value of the property, which said bond shall be approved
    by said officer and shall be conditioned to return said property
    to the custody of said officer on the day of trial to abide the
    judgment of the court. The court upon conviction of the person
    so arrested shall order the liquor destroyed, and unless good
    cause to the contrary is shown by the owner, shall order a sale
    by public auction of the property seized, and the officer making
    the sale, after deducting the expenses of keeping the property,
    the fee for the seizure, and the cost of the sale, shall pay all
    liens, according to their priorities, which are established, by
    intervention or otherwise at said hearing or in other proceeding
    brought for said purpose, as being bona fide and as having been
    created without the lienor having any notice that the carrying
    vehicle was being used or was to be used for illegal transportation
    of liquor, and shall pay the balance of the proceeds into the
    Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts. All liens
    against property sold under the provisions of this section shall
    be transferred from the property to the proceeds of the sale of
    the property. If, however, no one shall be found claiming the
    team, vehicle, water or air craft, or automobile, the taking of
    the same, with a description thereof, shall be advertised in some
    newspaper published in the city or county where taken, or if there
    be no newspaper published, in said city or county, in a newspaper
    having circulation in the county, once a week for two weeks and by
    hand-bills posted in three public places near the place of seizure,
    and if no claimant shall appear within ten days after the last
    publication of the advertisement, the property shall be sold and
    the proceeds after deducting the expenses and costs shall be paid
    into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.”

    “SECTION 27. In all cases in which intoxicating liquors may be
    subject to be destroyed under the provisions of this Act the court
    shall have jurisdiction upon the application of the United States
    attorney to order them delivered to any department or agency of the
    United States Government for medicinal, mechanical, or scientific
    uses, or to order the same sold at private sale for such purposes
    to any person having a permit to purchase liquor, the proceeds to
    be covered into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of
    miscellaneous receipts, and all liquor heretofore seized in any
    suit or proceeding brought for violation of law may likewise be so
    disposed of, if not claimed within sixty days from the date this
    section takes effect.”

One is happy to realize that the Government may, even while the
Volstead Act is in force, receive some small emolument and revenue from
John Barleycorn.

Section 37--or a part of it--reads as follows:

    “A manufacturer of any beverage containing less than one-half of
    1 per centum of alcohol by volume may, on making application and
    giving such bond as the commissioner shall prescribe, be given a
    permit to develop in the manufacture thereof, by the usual methods
    of fermentation and fortification or otherwise a liquid such as
    beer, ale, porter, or wine, containing more than one-half of 1
    per centum of alcohol by volume, but before any such liquid is
    withdrawn from the factory or otherwise disposed of, the alcoholic
    contents thereof shall under such rules and regulations as the
    commissioner may prescribe be reduced below such one-half of 1 per
    centum of alcohol: _Provided_, That such liquid may be removed
    and transported, under bond and under such regulations as the
    commissioner may prescribe, from one bonded plant or warehouse to
    another for the purpose of having the alcohol extracted therefrom.
    And such liquids may be developed, under permit, by persons
    other than the manufacturers of beverages containing less than
    one-half of 1 per centum of alcohol by volume, and sold to such
    manufacturers for conversion into such beverages. The alcohol
    removed from such liquid, if evaporated and not condensed and
    saved, shall not be subject to tax; if saved, it shall be subject
    to the same law as other alcoholic liquors. Credit shall be allowed
    on the tax due on any alcohol so saved to the amount of any tax
    paid upon distilled spirits or brandy used in the fortification of
    the liquor from which the same is saved.”

Don Marquis’s Old Soak must rejoice when he reads such stipulations!
And, being a tax-payer, like the rest of us, Section 38 must fill him
with added delight:

    “The Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Attorney General of
    the United States are hereby respectively authorized to appoint and
    employ such assistants, experts, clerks, and other employees in the
    District of Columbia or elsewhere, and purchase such supplies and
    equipment as they may deem necessary for the enforcement of the
    provisions of this Act, but such assistants, experts, clerks, and
    other employees, except such executive officers as may be appointed
    by the Commissioner or the Attorney General to have immediate
    direction of the enforcement of the provisions of this Act, and
    persons authorized to issue permits, and agents and inspectors
    in the field service, shall be appointed under the rules and
    regulations prescribed by the Civil Service Act: _Provided_, That
    the Commissioner and Attorney General in making such appointments
    shall give preference to those who have served in the military or
    naval service in the recent war, if otherwise qualified, and there
    is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the
    Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sum as may be required
    for the enforcement of this Act including personal services in the
    District of Columbia, and for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1920,
    there is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not
    otherwise appropriated, the sum of $2,000,000 for the use of the
    Commissioner of Internal Revenue and $100,000 for the use of the
    Department of Justice for the enforcement of the provisions of this
    Act, including personal services in the District of Columbia and
    necessary printing and binding.”

And how is the law enforced?

Our journals do not make pleasant reading for good Americans these
days. They are filled with headlines, which concern the Prohibition
law, morning after morning. Not long ago I picked up my newspaper and
found no less than seventeen columns devoted to stories of what the
police in New York City alone were doing, or trying to do, to make the
Volstead Act anything but a huge joke.

Up the State, where farmers are paying good taxes, I found a delicious
item in a newspaper, to prove the sincerity of the Federal authorities.
It seems that in a small town near Utica, an Italian was suspected of
having some whiskey on his premises; and three stalwart officers, in
plain clothes, pounced down upon his shop (it was not a rum shop) to
see what they could find. The man was out; but his wife was at home,
and a careful search of the pitiful premises revealed a quart of
Scotch, which may or may not have been on sale.

It took three husky men three hours to make this startling discovery.
And how much of the taxpayers’ money, I wonder? It was all-important
that an arrest should take place, but there was no evidence, and
nothing further was ever heard of the matter.

And this which sounds as though it had occurred in benighted Russia,
greeted my eyes at breakfast one morning, in the New York _Times_:

    “ACCUSE JERSEY POLICE OF BRUTAL DRY RAID

    “Formed Way into Women’s Rooms and Insulted Them, Resort Residents
    Charge.

    “The conduct of eighteen of the New Jersey State Police who
    participated with Federal prohibition agents in liquor raids on
    hotels and other places in Lake Hopatcong, N. J., Tuesday night,
    was such that indignant residents threatened yesterday to complain
    to Governor Edwards.

    “At the Great Cove Hotel at Nolan’s Point, the police are alleged
    to have gone to the room of a waiter and his wife and demanded
    that they show their marriage certificate. It is also charged
    that they went to the room of two girls, one of whom was praying,
    and insisted that they open the door. The police searched the
    belongings of the girls for whiskey.

    “It is charged that at the Espanol Hotel, Nolan’s Point, the police
    went to the room of a mother and her three children, awakened her
    and charged there was a man in her room. She was compelled to open
    her door.

    “Rented cottages, it is charged, also were visited and searched. It
    is charged by the complainants that the State police drank the beer
    and whiskey they seized.”

But of course this is all right--to a prohibitionist. The law must be
enforced. It makes no difference how enforcement is accomplished.

If the police were honest, if they themselves approved of the
Eighteenth Amendment, the country could be made bone dry tomorrow. But
when the politicians who voted for Prohibition have no respect for
the law they put upon our statutes, why should we expect integrity and
honesty down the line?

How can there be any respect for a law which the minions of the law
disobey, repeatedly? In a great city like New York, in the Autumn of
1922, innumerable policemen were found drunk while on duty--so much
drunkenness had occurred that it was said on reliable authority that a
murder a week occurred.

  “POLICE MUST TELL HOW THEY GOT RUM”

was the heading in the New York _Times_ on October 16th. “Drastic
regulations for dealing with policemen who drink” have been framed, and
have been circulated in the Police Department. This is the text of the
orders. Think of their being necessary!

    “1. To the commanding officers:

    “The following memorandum from the Police Commissioner is for your
    information and guidance.

    “In Mount Vernon any person found publicly intoxicated is arrested
    and required to make an affidavit stating where he obtained the
    liquor causing the intoxication. This affidavit is made the basis
    of a search warrant, directing a search of the place selling the
    liquor.

    “This is but one of the many means which might be employed to put
    an end to violation of the Prohibition law. The plan seems to work
    out successfully in Mount Vernon.

    “2. Intoxicated members of the force:

    “Hereafter when members of the force are found to be suffering from
    alcoholism to such an extent as to warrant charges signifying the
    liquor has been obtained from persons who are violating the State
    prohibition law, request the officers to make an affidavit stating
    where they obtained this liquor. Take appropriate action in the
    premises. If it is found that the officers have failed to take
    proper action where the law has been violated additional charges
    should be preferred against them and if the case is a serious one
    they should be suspended from duty.

    “3. Cabarets and dance halls:

    “Cabarets and dance halls having resumed business for the Fall
    and Winter season will be carefully inspected from time to time
    and properly regulated. The majority of these places disregard
    provisions of the prohibition law and should be given rigid
    supervision.

    “Commanding officers will see that music and dancing at these
    places is stopped at 1 A.M., and that these places do not harbor an
    undesirable element after that hour.”

I have spoken of uniformed men standing guard over a roomful of
citizens in New York restaurants and cabarets. Alas! it is shockingly
true. It is as though no other law existed, as I have said. To one who
loves his country, his city, it is disgusting. The people writhe under
the presence of the officer--but do nothing about it. What can they do?
Could they not request the Mayor, or the Police Commissioner to stop
such nonsense? And if the thing occurs in one restaurant, why not in
all of them?

With my own eyes I have seen this petty exhibition. It is outrageous.
Only one officer was in the place I visited. Yet I could not believe I
was in free America.

The room was filled with beautifully dressed men and women. The dance
floor was crowded. Upon every table, directly under the eye of the
officer, was a drink. I am not saying that in each tumbler there was
an alcoholic beverage--and probably the man in uniform did not wish to
think so, either. But I wonder how any intelligent being could imagine
that a lot of sophisticated Manhattanites would go out of an evening
to a gay cabaret, and order lime-juice--unless they intended to mix
something with it? Such folk are not plain ginger-ale consumers, as
a rule--they purchase it to mingle with gin. White Rock is not their
favorite beverage; neither is Clysmic. Yet bottles of these were
evident everywhere. Anyone save a moron would have known why.

Yet solemnly up and down that room the officer walked, glancing here
and there, hobnobbing now and again with a friendly waiter--who seemed
to be on excellent terms with him. His journeys were rhythmically
conceived and executed. For a moment or two he would stand glaring
about him, his arms folded, after the manner of a soldier in the late
War standing guard over military prisoners. Then he would amble, almost
to the time of the music, to the farther side of the room. Instantly
two hundred hands would slip under the tables, and flasks would be
drawn forth, and a liquid that was certainly not water would be poured
swiftly and deftly into various goblets. Then, when the officer swung
back again on his rounds, the folk at the other side of the room would
go through the same unbelievable performance. The man in uniform had
eyes, but he saw not.

You see, the authorities had come out with a statement not long before,
to the effect that it was not the man with the hip-flask whom they were
after--only the citizen foolish and daring enough to slam his flask
down openly upon a cabaret table. In other words, so delicate are the
nuances of the law, that it is not an offense to drink behind your
napkin, or behind a closed door; but it is a very terrible crime to
reveal the fact that you have a container of alcohol on your person.
Think of seriously pronouncing such a ukase, with the Mullan-Gage law
still upon the records. I do not understand how City Magistrates, in
New York, know how to interpret the law.

I was told that almost every evening an arrest or two is made in these
hitherto happy cabarets; but generally the case is dismissed. The
proprietor bails his patron out, and then the merry-go-round starts
again next evening. Since this was written, the police have been
withdrawn from New York cabarets--another confession of the failure to
enforce the law.

But New York is full of insincerities. Conventions take place there,
and we read a sanctimonious announcement in the papers that of course
nothing alcoholic will be served at the banquets--that goes without
saying. But up in Eddie’s room, on the eighteenth floor, a lot of
grown-up men, in the city to discuss solemn business problems, find
that sustenance which they desire and demand. The authorities, alarmed
at the influx of so many virtuous men, give out the statement that
it is well that they _are_ so virtuous, and not the kind of fellows
who crave a drink; for the hootch in New York is notoriously foul
(of course it isn’t, but that makes no difference to a Prohibition
officer) and it would be unsafe to consume any of it. Many of these
safe and sound business men, from all parts of the country, came out
strong for the Eighteenth Amendment. They were Puritans--when it came
to the other fellow’s habits. The little clerk would never rise to a
position of importance--like theirs--if he took so much as a glass of
beer. They forgot that they, in their youth--and ever since--had taken
a daily nip. I am not saying that they are any the worse for it. I do
know, however, that they are none the better, judging by their public
utterances and their private behavior.

If there is one kind of human animal I have a supreme contempt for it
is the so-called man who believes in Prohibition for you and me--but
not for himself. I have heard bankers and Wall Street potentates hold
forth with fervor on the salutary effects of the Volstead Act, since it
has forced the poor laboring man to give up his ale and beer. He gets
to work early now--there’s no need to worry about Monday morning in the
factories throughout the land. There is no Saturday-night debauchery;
and the bulging pay-envelope is taken home to the wife and children,
with no extractions on the way at the corner saloon. Happiness reigns
where penury and travail abided before. Production is mounting; there
are no strikes to speak of, the prisons are emptying, crime has
diminished, wife-beating is unheard of, and so on, _ad infinitum_.

Which would be delightful if it were true. Home brew goes rapturously
on; and if Tim doesn’t bother to make it himself, he has a pal who
does, and he purchases all the gin and beer he needs.

I am not saying this with any intention of approval. I am merely
stating conditions as I have observed them. Those who shut their eyes
to the facts and go blandly on their way, announcing that the country
is bone dry when it is nothing of the sort, do immeasurable damage.

I remember when the Volstead Act first went into effect that I had a
serious talk with myself. I came to the conclusion that nothing was
more dangerous to this land of ours than a state of things which made
it possible for the rich to drink continuously and the poor to be able
to obtain nothing. I felt that I could not, with a clear conscience,
go on having an occasional cocktail, if the laboring man down the
street was deprived of his grog. For a month I absolutely followed
the whisperings of that Inner Voice. Then I happened to go to a
manufacturing town near Boston, and the work I was doing brought me
into contact with the men in the shops there. Somehow the subject came
up--I forget in just what way; and when my plan became known, a laugh
greeted my ears.

“Don’t be such a jackass!” one of the fellows cried. “Why, we’re
getting all we want, in spite of Mr. Volstead--we’re making it
ourselves!”

My self-inflicted martyrdom ceased from that moment; and I must confess
that I felt a bit foolish.

More people are drinking heavily now than in the old days--and,
drinking inferior stuff, they are suffering more in consequence. The
results of this have been put into a delightful rhyme by the clever
James J. Montague who, in his way, is a genius. He turns out happy and
technically fine verses every day for a syndicate, until one is amazed
at his cleverness and seemingly endless chain of ideas. Listen to him:


_THE ELUSIVE MORAL_

  Before there was a Volstead law
    The village gossips used to mutter
  In pitying accents when they saw
    A friend and neighbor in the gutter:
  “How dreadful was the fellow’s fall!
    How terrible is his condition!
  He wouldn’t be that way at all
    If only we had prohibition!”

  They knew the drunkards all by name,
    And when they came around with edges
  Some elderly and kindly dame
    Would get their signatures to pledges.
  And if they all appeared next day
    Still far too merry and seraphic,
  The troubled townsfolk used to say
    Hard things about the liquor traffic.

  To-day, when some good man goes wrong,
    The villagers with whom he’s mingled
  Observe his frequent bursts of song
    And thus discover he is jingled.
  “Too bad about that chap,” they cry,
    “He might have kept his high position
  If Volstead hadn’t made us dry--
    What ruined _him_ is prohibition!”

  There is some moral in this tale--
  I fancied so when I designed it--
  But I have searched without avail
  For nearly half an hour to find it!



CHAPTER VII

A TRIUMVIRATE AGAINST PROHIBITION


How many Americans know that on August 6, 1833, Abraham Lincoln, with
two other men, took out a license to sell liquor? Through the kindness
of my friend, William L. Fish, I am permitted to reproduce it (see page
84).

Times were different then, it is true; but one has the feeling that
Abraham Lincoln was not a Prohibitionist. He was temperate in all
things.

[Illustration: (liquor license)]

In his amazingly interesting book, “Talks with T. R.,” Mr. John J.
Leary, Jr., includes a chapter wherein Theodore Roosevelt speaks in no
uncertain manner about the prospect of the country going dry.

    “Colonel Roosevelt was not of those who favored the Eighteenth
    Amendment,” Mr. Leary points out. “To his mind Prohibition was
    certain to cause unrest and dissatisfaction; he doubted the
    fairness of removing the saloon without providing something to take
    its place in the life of the tenement-dwellers; and he was inclined
    to think the liquor question was settling itself.

    “‘You and I can recall the time,’ he said to me one day, ‘when
    it was not bad form for substantial men of affairs, for lawyers,
    doctors--professional men generally--to drink in the middle of the
    day. It is good form no longer, and it’s not now done. It is not
    so long ago that practically every man in politics drank more or
    less, when hard drinking, if not the rule, was not the exception.
    Now the hard drinker, if he exists at all among the higher grade,
    is a survival of what you might call another day.

    “‘Take Tammany. No one holds that up as an organization of model
    men, yet I am sure that were you to make a canvass of its district
    leaders, you would find pretty close to a majority if not an
    actual majority are teetotallers. Tammany no longer sends men
    with ability, and a weakness for liquor, to Albany. It may and it
    probably will send another of Tom Grady’s ability, but it will not
    send one who drinks as hard.

    “‘This, you may rest assured, is not a matter of morals. It is,
    however, a matter of efficiency. Tammany wants results and it is
    sufficiently abreast of the times to know that drink and efficiency
    do not go hand in hand in these days of card indexes and adding
    machines.

    “‘It is the same in your profession. Not long ago most of the
    boys were fairly competent drinking men; some I knew were rated
    as extra competent by admiring, perhaps envious, colleagues. Now
    the drinking man, at least the man who drinks enough to show the
    effects, is rare. The reason: your editors won’t stand for it. As
    Jack Slaght put it the other day--I think it was Jack--a reporter
    in the old days was expected to have “a birthday” about so often
    and nothing was thought of it. Now, as Slaght puts it, he is
    allowed but two. The first time, still quoting your friend Slaght,
    who at times is inclined to use plain language, he gets hell; the
    next time he gets fired. That is so, is it not?’

    “I assured him that Slaght was substantially correct.

    “‘It’s not a matter of morals there, though’ (with a laugh). ‘I
    will admit you boys do not lack morals. As with Tammany, it is a
    question of getting results, exactly as it is with the doctor, the
    lawyer, and the judge.

    “‘Drinking declined once it became an economic question, or at
    least as soon as it was recognized as an economic factor. It then
    began to be unfashionable--at least to overdrink--and the man who
    never drank at all ceased to be unusual in any trade or calling.

    “‘I am, however, sorry that they are pressing Prohibition so hard
    at this time. It is, I think, all right, desirable, in fact, to
    limit or perhaps prohibit the so-called hard liquors, but it is a
    mistake, I think, to stop or try to stop the use of beers and the
    lighter wines.

    “‘If this thing goes through, where does the social side of life
    come in? We both know that a “dry” dinner is apt to be a sad sort
    of affair. It will make dining a lost art.

    “‘Likewise, I do not know how the working-classes will take to the
    change. You and I have no need of the saloon. We have other places
    to go. But you and I know that the saloon fits into a very definite
    place in the life of the tenement-dweller. I do not know what he
    will do without it; what substitutes the reformers will think they
    can give him for it. I do not believe they have thought of that, or
    that they care much.

    “‘Frankly, I do not know what will be the outcome. Prohibition,
    if it comes, will cause ill-feeling and unrest--it will be a
    disturbing factor--but I do not look for anything serious, for
    after all is said and done, the fact remains that the American
    workman is a law-abiding individual.

    “‘When it comes, Prohibition may or may not be permanent. You may,
    however, be sure of one thing--it will be extremely difficult to
    repeal, once it becomes part of the Constitution.’

    “Responsibility for Prohibition Colonel Roosevelt placed squarely
    upon the shoulders of the liquor dealers good and bad.

    “‘Some liquor dealers I have known,’ said he, ‘were good,
    well-meaning citizens, who kept decent places. Take the Oakeses,
    father and son, who own the Oyster Bay Inn. I should be very sorry
    to see them lose their license. Theirs is a clean, respectable
    place. Again, there is John Brosnan’s place in New York. No one
    ever heard a complaint against John. His place has been no more
    offensive than if he sold dry goods.

    “‘I shall take no part in the contest one way or the other. It must
    be settled without me. I shall not allow it or anything else to
    swerve me from the work we’re now in.’

    “The ‘work we’re now in’ was the effort to speed up the war by
    arousing the American people to the necessity of winning a ‘peace
    with victory.’”

Thus Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act. He saw at once its undemocratic
features, its danger to the country.

As to following Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow
Wilson--do you prefer their leadership, or that of Mr. Volstead and the
fanatics?



CHAPTER VIII

“THE FEAR FOR THEE, MY COUNTRY”


THE Prohibitionists contend, when we who are but human suggest that
the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act should be changed, that
the law is the law; and now that these are part of our statutes, they
are there to stay, that they must not be tampered with or altered in
any way; that it is up to every good American to accept them, not to
complain, not to make any utterance which would be apt to disturb the
sweet peace these laws are intended to bring to us.

They forget that it is they themselves who saw fit to change our laws.
Are they bad Americans because they did so? When the shoe is on the
other foot.... But the analogy is so obvious that there can scarcely be
any necessity of arguing the matter.

I have written, in a previous chapter, about a few of the laws which
are disobeyed. Am I a bad American, a poor sport, for instance, because
I refuse to believe in capital punishment? It is the law of my State
that a man found guilty of murder in the first degree must go to
the electric chair. Called to serve upon a criminal jury, I plainly
say that I do not believe in capital punishment. I am excused. My
conscientious scruples are taken into consideration. I imagine that
only a small percentage of us believe in sending a man to his death,
even for so serious a crime as murder; yet the statute abides. We
continue to send men to the gallows, or the chair--though some States
have been wise enough to abolish the barbarous habit.

I have conscientious scruples about trying a man for violation
of the Volstead Act; for it would hardly be possible for me to
convict a fellow citizen who had been spied upon by a detective in
a bathing-suit, as I read not long ago that one man had been. I am
against the manner in which evidence is obtained; and I would distrust,
even under oath, statements of witnesses who hired themselves to the
Government as plain-clothes men to visit beaches and bathing pavilions
in order to discover some unlucky devil in the act of taking a nip from
a pint bottle after he was shivering from his plunge in the ocean.
There is a human element in such a case. I may be too emotional for
perfect jury service. Granted. But that is something beyond my control.
I cannot change my temperament. I loath the spectacle of one part of
the population striving to discover something evil in the other part.
It seems unnecessary to me. Peeping Toms are a far greater menace
than the people peeped at. I do not feel morally bound to respect a
law which so many respectable fellow citizens likewise disrespect. I
think stupid legislation is an abomination; that the world would be a
happier place were it not for censorship of morals and manners. I think
that most people instinctively know the difference between right and
wrong, and that, through education, they can be made to understand and
see all those little differences and shades which sometimes confound us.

There are divorce laws upon our Statutes which millions of people
violently and bitterly oppose. Is a good Roman Catholic a bad American
citizen because his conscience refuses to let him condone the rulings
of our Courts in divorce trials?

On April 24, 1922, in St. Mary’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Emmerton,
Maryland, a sermon was preached by the Reverend W. A. Crawford-Frost on
the subject of “Obeying a Disreputable Law.”

The minister took as his text the verses from Esther 1:7 and 8: “And
they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one
from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of
the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel:
for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that
they should do according to every man’s pleasure.”

He said in part:

    “Recently President Harding and Secretary Hughes have made pathetic
    appeals to the people of America to respect the law. That such
    a request should have been considered necessary is itself a sad
    commentary on the state of affairs existing in our republic. There
    is a difference between obedience and respect. All good citizens
    are called upon to obey the laws, whether they respect a particular
    law or not; but they are not called upon to respect a law that is
    not respectable.

    “There are disreputable laws just as there are disreputable men.

    “When is a man properly looked upon as disreputable? That depends
    on the time and place and the people who do the looking, but in
    most ages and countries there are some things that the universal
    conscience of man holds to be not respectable. Thus lying, robbing,
    cruelty and blasphemy are disreputable, and a man who lies, robs,
    is cruel and blasphemes is a disreputable man.

    “Accordingly, if a law can be shown to lie, to rob, to be cruel,
    and to blaspheme God, it is a disreputable law and does not deserve
    respect, though all good citizens should obey it until it is
    repealed.

    “To call upon the people of America to respect a law that is not
    respectable is fundamentally dishonest, for it breaks down the
    distinction between what is respectable and what is disreputable
    and calls upon us to admire and look up to that which we should
    despise and abhor.

    “Now I will give you reasons why I consider that the Volstead
    Act lies, robs, is cruel and blasphemes God. It may be that my
    arguments are not sound, but they appear to me to be so, and all
    that a man can do is to go according to his conscience and his
    common sense.

    “It seems to me that it is a lie to say that all beverages
    containing more than one half of one per cent of alcohol are
    intoxicating. No man’s stomach can hold enough of a drink
    containing twice that proportion of alcohol to become inebriated
    thereby. It is a physical impossibility. He would have to absorb at
    least a gallon at one time to do it....

    “The Volstead Act robbed thousands of men whose capital was
    invested in what they considered to be an honorable industry and
    one that promoted the health and happiness of mankind on the whole,
    even though five per cent injured themselves by it.

    “It robbed them by taking away their property from them without
    compensation. It robbed their employees of their living by throwing
    them out of work. It robbed the taxpayers, who now have to pay out
    of their own pockets by compulsion the billions of dollars that
    were formerly spent cheerfully and voluntarily by the users of
    alcoholic beverages.

    “The Volstead Act is cruel to invalids who under it cannot afford
    to get the proper alcoholic beverages needed to preserve their
    lives. I could quote scores of the highest medical authorities to
    prove this, but only have space for a few:

    “Dr. Paul Bartholow, of the Jefferson Medical College: ‘Beer, ale
    and porter are much and justly esteemed as stomach tonics and
    restoratives in chronic, wasting diseases. Alcohol is an important
    remedy in the various forms of pulmonary phthisis. In convalescents
    from acute diseases there can be no difference of opinion as to the
    great value of wine as a restorative.’

    “Dr. Samuel C. L. Potter, of the Cooper Medical College, San
    Francisco: ‘In anemia and chlorosis good red wines are almost
    indispensable. It is an absolute necessity in the treatment of
    lobar pneumonia. In fevers, alcohol is often most serviceable.’

    “Dr. Frederick C. Shattuc, of Harvard University: ‘In typhoid
    fever if the heart shows undue weakness I consider it a grave
    error in judgment to withhold alcohol. The danger of forming the
    alcohol habit is practically _nil_ in the subjects of acute general
    infection. They are more likely to acquire a distaste than a liking
    for it.’

    “Dr. Daniel M. Hoyte, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania:
    ‘Alcohol has long been used to abort a cold. The patient takes
    a hot bath, and after getting into bed drinks a hot lemonade
    containing one or two ounces of whiskey. This produces diaphoresis
    and aids in the elimination of the toxins.’

    “Dr. Binford Throne, writing in _Forschheimer’s Therapeusis_: ‘All
    cases of diphtheria have more or less myocarditis, and all should
    be given stimulants from the first. The best is good whiskey or
    brandy.’

    “Dr. Charles P. Woodruff, Surgeon in the United States Army in the
    Philippines, wrote in the _New York Medical Journal_, December
    17th, 1904, as follows:

    “‘In 1902 I obtained a mass of data on the physical condition
    and drinking habits of a regiment of infantry which had about
    three years in the Philippines. I must confess to being somewhat
    disconcerted and disheartened at first by the total; the excessive
    drinkers were far healthier than the abstainers, only one half as
    many were sent home sick and one sixth as many of them died. I had
    hoped to prove the opposite.... The damage done to these young
    men by occasional sprees is not so great as the damage done by
    the climate to the abstainers. What a lot of misstatements have
    we received from our teachers, text books, and authorities!’ He
    concludes:

    “‘I suppose some medical editors would advise hiding these figures
    on the ground that they would be an advantage to the whiskey
    dealers who buy Kansas corn from Prohibition farmers. They would no
    doubt rather see our soldiers die than let them know that a drink
    of wine at meals might save their lives.’

    “In his report he had stated that approximately 11 per cent of the
    abstainers died, while about 3½ per cent of the moderate, and less
    than 2 per cent of the excessive, died. About 15 per cent of the
    abstainers were invalided home, about 9 per cent or 10 per cent of
    the moderate, and about 8 per cent of the excessive drinkers.

    “And yet in the light of stupendous facts like these the Volstead
    Act is passed, hampering physicians in their work of mercy and
    making it sometimes impossible for them to give the remedies that
    God intended to prevent suffering and preserve human life. Could
    diabolical cruelty go further than that?

    “To torture an invalid is as devilish as it is to burn a well man
    at a stake.

    “More. It is a thousand times worse because it is so much more
    widely spread. Hundreds of invalids are being tortured all over the
    United States to-day for every white man that ever was burned at
    the stake by the Indians.

    “Every loyal member of the Protestant Episcopal Church should hold
    that the Volstead Act is a blasphemy against God. Jews, Unitarians
    and others who do not consider that Jesus was God, are entitled
    to hold different views from us regarding the religious aspect of
    this Act, but for us there is no escape. We believe that Jesus was
    God, and we believe that He made wine at Cana and that He ordered
    it to be drunk publicly in His memory for all time to come. Our
    Church has declared that unfermented grape juice is not wine and
    should not be used for it in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. A
    law to say that wine containing more than one half of one per cent
    alcohol should not be allowed to be made and carried about freely
    from place to place, implies that Jesus did wrong in making it and
    ordering it to be used publicly by Christians. If He did wrong, He
    was not God. Therefore, the Volstead Act from the standpoint of our
    Church, blasphemes God.

    “Every true Churchman, consequently, should despise and abhor the
    Volstead Act as lying, robbing, cruel and blaspheming and unworthy
    of respect, although it must be obeyed by all good citizens till
    it can be repealed. We give it obedience, but not respect.

    “‘But,’ some will say, ‘if this is so, why should we obey such a
    law? Would it not be better to rebel against it, to flout it openly
    and take the consequences?’ It is unjust. It is tyrannical. It is
    un-American. It is due to a combination of religious and universal
    ignorance of physiology. It is the result of active political
    propaganda carried on by money of persons who are financially
    interested in prohibiting alcoholic beverages. The weapons used
    have been trickery, deception, falsification of statistics,
    lobbying, slander and abuse. It has been forced on legislators
    by intimidation of the grossest kind. Good men have been afraid
    to oppose it, for fear of being called ‘boozers,’ ‘bootleggers,’
    lawbreakers,’ and other opprobrious epithets. It was smuggled in as
    a war measure when our young men were overseas, and later on was
    made more and more stringent, till it far surpassed in tyranny any
    thought entertained by its supporters in the beginning. Why should
    we obey such a law? Would it not be more American to treat this
    piece of iniquity as our forefathers treated the Stamp Act?

    “No. It is our duty to obey it. We could not repeal the Stamp Act,
    and we can repeal this. In the case of the tyranny of George III
    there was no legal redress. All that freedom-loving men could do
    was to rebel. That tyranny was forced on us from the outside. This
    we have allowed to be imposed on us in our supineness by tyrants in
    our own household. The two cases are not similar. We must obey the
    Volstead Act till we can repeal or amend it....

    “Bolingbroke declared, ‘Liberty is to the collective body what
    health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can
    be tasted by man; without liberty no happiness can be enjoyed by
    society.’

    “I refuse to be silent when I see America, the hope of mankind,
    likely to be bound hand and foot by the tyranny of ignorance and
    religious fanaticism....

    “The maxim of John Philpot Curran, ‘Eternal vigilance is the price
    of liberty,’ was never needed in America more than it is at this
    moment. This is no time for patriots to be silent.

    “According to Burke, the people never give up their liberties but
    under some delusion. In this case the delusion is that they are
    following Christ while they are really following Mahomet, the
    anti-Christ. That delusion must be exposed until everybody sees it
    clearly.

    “We must not forget what Colton said: ‘Liberty will not descend
    to a people. A people must raise themselves to liberty; it is a
    blessing that must be earned to be enjoyed.’

    “How can this be done? Listen to Savonarola: ‘Do you wish to be
    free? Then above all things love God. Love one another and love the
    common weal; then you will have liberty.’

    “It is all right to regulate drinking by law, provided it is the
    right kind of a law.

    “The extraordinary thing about our text is that it shows the legal
    regulation of drinking to be no new thing, for it existed in the
    time of Queen Esther, 510 B.C., or just 2432 years ago, because our
    text says ‘and the drinking was according to the law.’

    “But the law allowed all the liberty that was right and proper. It
    says: ‘None could compel; for the king had appointed to all the
    officers of his house that they should do according to every man’s
    pleasure.’

    “It was a joyful and festive occasion, like the wedding at Cana,
    and Ahasuerus then, as did Jesus later on, recognizes that the
    proper use of wine would Promote happiness and health and that the
    guests present would be trusted not to abuse it.

    “But though laws regulating drinking may be necessary to well
    ordered society, these laws must be equitable and sensible,
    regulation, according to the scriptures, not prohibition. The
    drinking should be ‘according to the law.’ One great trouble about
    the Volstead Act is that the drinking goes on just the same but it
    is not ‘according to the law,’ and instead of getting pure liquors
    people are being poisoned by the thousands all over the country.

    “Would it not be better to follow the Bible and have the liquor
    drunk according to the law?

    “This can only be done by modifying the law so as to make it
    conform with the Bible. If the law is dishonest, cruel or unjust,
    we must vote to change it if we love God, and love our neighbor and
    love the common weal. We must either repeal it altogether or amend
    it, so as to make it honest, kindly and fair, so that we may have
    law and liberty at the same time.

    “And Americans will do it. In the immortal words of Daniel Webster:
    ‘If the true spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it
    will burn. Human agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth’s
    central fire, it may be smothered for a time; the ocean may
    overwhelm it; mountains may press it down; but its inherent and
    unconquerable force will heave both the ocean and the land, and at
    some time or other, in some place or other, it will break out and
    flame up to heaven.’”

This is powerful language which strikes at the very root of things, but
Dr. Crawford-Frost is not the only fearless clergyman who has spoken
his mind on this all-absorbing question. Archbishop Glennon, of St.
Louis, has scored the Eighteenth Amendment. In an interview given at
Atlantic City in August, 1922, he bravely said:

    “The Constitution has been considerably weakened by the addition of
    the Eighteenth Amendment, for the Prohibition clause limits rights,
    while the rest of the Constitution grants rights. Matters referring
    to alcohol and drugs should be left to the police courts of the
    various cities and states.”

When he was asked if he thought Prohibition a benefit to the country,
he said:

    “For those who drink too much, yes.”

The Most Reverend James Duhig, D.D., Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia,
interviewed in New York, in the late summer of 1922, deplored the
dry law. He admitted that he had not observed any drunken men in the
streets of the metropolis, but that fact, he said, was beside the
issue, because it was the principle of Prohibition with which he took
issue. He said:

    “In Australia they are against Prohibition. I myself have written
    strongly against it, and all that I have been able to learn of the
    results of it in the United States has only served to confirm my
    belief that Australia has taken the right view.

    “Australia was amazed at America going dry. You cannot make men
    sober by an act of Parliament. What we need is a reasonable control
    of the liquor trade, not its total abolition. Extremes are always
    dangerous, and I consider Prohibition an extreme course.”

In the State of Nebraska recently an attempt was made to put through
the legislation many autocratic laws. People were not to be allowed to
speak a foreign language, and certain restrictions were to be placed
on the wearing of religious garb, etc. A visitor to that State, George
A. Schreiner, of South Africa, deprecated such legislation, and stated
that “laws of intolerance defeat their own ends.” It is interesting to
see the reactions on those who come to our country for the first time.
Mr. Schreiner expressed himself wisely when he said:

    “It all reminds me of the attempt recently made in Japan to put a
    law on the statutes against bad thoughts. Of course, that was very
    absurd and still, in a way, it was a very honestly meant piece of
    legislation. The author of the bill wanted to get at the root of
    what he considered an evil--a danger to Japan. Elsewhere and in
    your own State the same thing has been attempted by being aimed at,
    as it were. I feel that a great deal of intolerance has been born
    of the War, but we ought to be fair even with Jupiter and Mars.
    Much is blamed on the War, when, in reality, the War served simply
    as an excuse to waken latent passions in man.”

_The Outlook_, which is certainly a sane periodical, whose editorial
integrity cannot be doubted, sees a menace in too much legislation.
Only confusion and distrust can result when the people are confronted
with a mass of judicial arguments and interpretations of those
arguments. In a sensible editorial recently, entitled “Why Not
‘Limitation of Legislation’?” the editors spoke their minds thus:

    “This harassed old world needs ‘limitation of legislation’ as well
    as ‘limitation of armaments.’ Statutes, laws, and regulations of
    all sorts make each year confusion worse confounded. It has been
    asserted that every person in the United States, unwittingly, in
    99 cases out of 100, violates every day some Federal State or
    local law or regulation; perhaps the honest judge himself in going
    from his home to the court room where he hands down every day
    his judgments of justice breaks some minor regulation, for which
    offense a policeman, if he were nearby and had studied his book of
    regulations carefully enough, could place the eminent judge under
    arrest.

    “A leading authority on American police administration recently
    estimated that the average policeman, to enforce the city
    ordinances, State laws, and Congressional enactments, committed in
    whole or in part to his charge, must have a working knowledge of
    at least 16,000 statutes. This fact was pointed out in a recent
    speech in Washington by James A. Emery before the American Cotton
    Manufacturers’ Association.

    “Why not a Congress sometime which would subtract 500 useless or
    foolish or annoying laws from the statute-books, instead of adding
    500 laws to those same bulky volumes? Such a Congress might earn
    recognition as the greatest the world had yet seen.

    “In one of our State legislators a few years ago an extreme
    illustration occurred of the desire of a member to have his name
    attached to some piece of legislation. This particular member was
    sent to the Legislature from a more or less rural district. He
    introduced a bill providing that a bounty of five dollars be paid
    by the State for the hide of every loup-cervier (the Canada lynx or
    wild cat) killed in the Commonwealth. Most of the members did not
    know what a loup-cervier was and had to consult the dictionary, or
    some other member who had beaten them to the dictionary, to find
    out what this particular animal (popularly known in some places
    as Lucy Vee) was. The legislator who desired to have his name go
    down in history as the author of an addition to the laws of the
    State is said to have traded his vote on practically every other
    piece of legislation which came up at that session for votes on his
    pet measure, which was passed. The State pays as much as twenty or
    thirty dollars some years for the animals killed on which this bill
    offered a bounty!

    “If there is one place above all others where there is pride of
    authorship, it is in the halls of America’s State and National
    capitols; and, as in the field of belles-lettres, there is plenty
    of plagiarism. Similar bills also are frequently introduced by a
    half dozen or more members, each hoping his may be the one which
    will stick and bear the mark of fame.

    “The United States ‘easily holds first place in the manufacture
    of statutory law,’ declared Mr. Emery in his speech. ‘A single
    Congress,’ he added, ‘usually receives some 20,000 bills. Many of
    the States consider not less than 1000. During the year 1921, 42
    legislatures were in session. Judging from past years, Congress and
    the States annually enact an average of 14,000 statutes. The State
    and National legislation of a single year recently required more
    than 40,000 pages of official print.’

    “Certainly, it is time for a Congress on limitation of legislation.”

The same paper has this to say, editorially, on “The Achilles Heel of
Prohibition”:

    “National Prohibition has not been long on trial. The final effect
    of the fundamental change in our Constitution involved in the
    enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment has not been, and cannot be,
    yet determined. All the evidence which we have seen, however, tends
    to show that the nation is better off materially and physically
    under Prohibition than under the system which permitted the
    sale of intoxicating beverages. Benefits to be derived from the
    elimination of the drink traffic did not wait upon our National
    experiment for demonstration. They have been obvious for centuries
    in the experience of peoples from whom alcohol has been barred by
    religious authority. There remains, however, a very serious problem
    confronting the defenders and advocates of national prohibition.
    It is the problem of maintaining the respect for law and order and
    that mental habit of ready acceptance of legal enactments which is
    one of the strongest bulwarks of applied democracy.

    “We do not doubt for a minute that the majority of the people of
    the United States are in favor of national prohibition. Even in
    great cities where the liquor interests have had their stronghold
    we suspect that the number of men and women who would vote for
    national prohibition, were it put to the popular test, is much
    larger than the ‘wets’ are willing to admit. We say this in order
    that this editorial may not be considered as an argument for the
    repeal of prohibition amendment by those who are working for such
    ends upon premises which we regard as distinctly unsound.

    “To say that there is a majority in favor of the amendment does
    not imply that there is not a large and active minority in favor
    of its repeal. The greatest problem confronting advocates of
    national prohibition lies in the fact that this large minority has
    not accepted the amendment with that good faith and willing spirit
    which we have grown to look upon as characteristic of the spirit of
    the losers in our political controversies. There have been great
    changes in our government prior to the enactment of the Prohibition
    Amendment, but almost invariably these changes, once effected,
    have been acquiesced in by their most ardent opponents. We are
    not speaking of individual violators, but of the public attitude
    towards the law.

    “One of the strongest denunciations of those who have failed to
    acquiesce in the Eighteenth Amendment was recently voiced by Judge
    Ben B. Lindsay, of Colorado, in a statement to the press. Judge
    Lindsay said:

    “‘Is the Eighteenth Amendment going to be enforced? At the present
    time it is not being enforced with any degree of success, but has
    raised up a trail of evils in its wake which are as bad, if not
    worse, than those it sought to avoid.

    “‘So far the great majority of prosecutions have been against the
    poor and uninfluential people who are victims of the tremendous
    temptations afforded by the example of the rich.

    “‘Just what do I mean? I mean that the wealthy and more favored
    class in this country must accept a responsibility which is now
    being ignored. They must be willing to give up their pleasures and
    abide by the law intended for the good of all. So far they have not
    set the example.

    “‘The theaters, jokesters, and parodists are encouraged in making
    a mockery of the Constitution of the United States. When a rich or
    influential citizen fills his cellars with smuggled liquor and the
    police are called off, in nearly every case the “conspiracy of the
    rich” is immediately set in motion. What is this “conspiracy”?

    “‘It consists of their influence in reaching officials and
    suppressing newspaper publicity concerning themselves. So long as
    some of these officials and some newspapers are lending themselves
    to this “conspiracy,” they are creating class prejudice. An example
    of this occurred in our city within the past week. A friend of one
    of our most influential newspapers became involved in a bootlegging
    case and was successful in suppressing all mention of it in that
    particular paper which pretends to be against this evil.

    “‘The greatest need in this country to-day is to abolish “special
    privileges,” and the new “special privilege” which the Eighteenth
    Amendment has created is the right of the rich to have their booze
    while the same right is denied to the poor.’

    “Judge Lindsay has laid his finger upon a moral danger which exists
    in the widespread levity towards an important section of our
    National Constitution. The same menace was singled out for warning
    by Prohibition Commissioner Haynes when he recently said: ‘One of
    the greatest dangers now confronting the Republic is that we may
    lose our vision of the sanctity and majesty of the law.’

    “How shall we guard ourselves against this menace? The protection
    cannot be found merely in increased activity of the enforcement
    officials. It cannot be wholly met by the vigilance of the police.
    It is a moral danger, and it must be met with moral weapons.

    “If we turn to the States which experimented with prohibition
    prior to the enactment of the National Amendment, we shall find
    precedent an uncertain guide to an understanding of the situation
    which confronts us. Maine, which has the longest record under
    prohibition, has almost the poorest record in maintaining respect
    for its prohibition laws. Kansas, on the other hand, after a
    generation of disturbance and conflict, settled down to obedience
    to the law backed by a wholesome and widespread public opinion.

    “Will the Nation follow the precedence of Maine or of Kansas?
    The determination of this all-important fact depends on the sum
    total of the attitude of our individual citizens towards the
    maintenance of our fundamental law. It is the right of any one to
    work for the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment if he or she so
    desires, but it is the bounden duty of every one to see that so
    long as the Eighteenth Amendment is part of our Constitution it is
    accorded that respect upon which the whole structure of democratic
    government rests.”

But here we get right back to where we started. Citizens cannot be
_forced_ to respect a law for which, inwardly, they have a great
contempt. Even a spiritual energy cannot be brought to bear, I fear,
which is strong enough to bring about this desirable end. The youth
of our land, at least in our great cities, laugh at the Eighteenth
Amendment--which means that they will laugh at other laws, and finally
express nothing but derision for the Government.

This concentrated feeling is far more serious than scattered
inebriety. It strikes at the very base and roots of society, and,
once having gained a sure hold on the people, cannot be checked. An
observer who loves America cannot but see in the youth of the land
a total disrespect for order and the old sanctities; a violation of
moral codes, and a failure to establish rectitude in niches of the
heart. There are no convictions, no principles among the young and
growing population. There is no desire to conform, no aspiration for
a betterment of conditions as they are. Instead, there is intolerant
laughter, and one is called an old fogy who attempts to assert that
marriage vows mean something and that girls who drink cocktails in
taxicabs out of thermos bottles are in grave peril.

There is a studious avoidance of responsibility. Yet one should not
be surprised. The example set is none too worthy. It is known that
hypocrisy exists in high places; that inconsistency is a national
trait; that men in office say one thing and do another.

I heard a young man remark not long ago: “Oh, they think it’s wrong,
do they, to drink? Well, how many Congressmen in Washington have
replenished their wine-cellars, do you suppose, since Mr. Volstead
ran this country, eh? I’d like to get affidavits from bootleggers in
Washington, as to just what stock has been laid in.”

That feeling--how can one counteract it? One has no answer for such
a sage youth. Alas! he does some thinking, after all; but our silly
legislation has caused his thoughts to run in a direction from which we
would gladly divert his mind. The fact of the matter is that most of
his elders have thought long and solemnly on these same things.

It is not a pretty topic to consider. We will not face the facts--that
is the trouble with America, as I see it. I know one Assemblyman in
New York State who bravely ran on a wet platform in a dry community,
as a matter of principle. He was weary of lying to himself, and to
his constituents. He said that as long as he kept a wine-cellar, and
deliberately transported some of its contents when it suited him, in
his car, he could not face his friends. He must come out in the open
and accept their blame or their approval. He ran for office with a
clear conscience; but others will not thus declare themselves. Behind
veils of verbiage they discreetly conceal their political faces; alone
with one another, or with you and me, they will speak their true mind
on Prohibition--particularly if their tongues are loosened by one or
two glasses of whiskey.

These are the men who are a danger to the Republic they pretend to
serve. Janus-faces have they. They are all things to all men. The time
will come when, before we go to the polls, we shall know just where
each candidate stands on every issue. There will be no equivocation.
Declarations must be made. Masks must be off.

Of the menace of hypocritical office-holders and senators, Edwin
Markham has spoken eloquently in these ringing lines. They should be
known to us all in these times of shattered dreams and false avowals.
The old established Ship of State could weather the gale if the crew
were honest and remained on deck.


THE FEAR FOR THEE, MY COUNTRY

  In storied Venice, where the night repeats
  The heaven of stars down all her rippling streets,
  Stood the great Bell Tower, fronting seas and skies--
  Fronting the ages, drawing all men’s eyes;
  Rooted like Teneriffe, aloft and proud,
  Taunting the lightning, tearing the flying cloud.

  It marked the hours for Venice: all men said
  Time cannot reach to bow that lofty head:
  Time, that shall touch all else with ruin, must
  Forbear to make this shaft confess its dust.
  Yet all the while, in secret, without sound,
  The fat worms gnawed the timbers underground.

  The twisting worm, whose epoch is an hour,
  Caverned his way into the mighty tower;
  Till suddenly it shook, it swayed, it broke,
  And fell in darkening thunder at one stroke.
  The strong shaft, with an angel on the crown,
  Fell ruining: a thousand years went down!

  And so I fear, my country, not the hand
  That shall hurl night and whirlwind on the land;
  I fear not Titan traitors who shall rise
  To stride like Brocken shadows on our skies:
  These we can face in open fight, withstand
  With reddening rampart and the sworded hand.

  I fear the vermin that shall undermine
  Senate and citadel and school and shrine;
  The Worm of Greed, the fatted Worm of Ease,
  And all the crawling progeny of these--
  The vermin that shall honeycomb the towers
  And walls of State in unsuspecting hours.



CHAPTER IX

DRYING UP THE OCEAN


There is a little town in Wyoming which, outwardly, is as arid as that
waste of desert not so many hundreds of miles away from it. Yet for
a consideration one may obtain all the moonshine and gin one desires
at another village near by. The lady prohibitionists, all members of
the W. C. T. U., as they pass the erstwhile village drunkard (on their
way to some sanctimonious meeting), remark what a wonderful thing the
cleaning up of the town has been. Poor devil! only a little while ago
he was literally in the gutter. Now, look at him, as he sits in the
merry sunshine on the porch of the post-office, whittling his life
away, where aforetime he drank it away. (They do not know that the poor
devil is about the only person in the village--except themselves--who
fails to obtain whiskey, though his reasons for the lack are hardly
similar to theirs. He simply cannot afford the price.) It costs a few
pennies to get to that neighboring wet village; and, after one is
there, it costs a little more to procure the stuff he once drank with
such avidity. But the flappers--oh, yes, they have them even in Wyoming
small towns!--and the boys who are their friends, can dash over in a
Ford and get all they want. Concealed on the hip, they feel no lack of
stimulation when the evening shadows fall. They do not get tight in
public, as the town drunkard used to do--not at all. But they are up
to all the tricks of sly drinking. If they were burglars, they would
be called sneak-thieves. America has taught them a thing or two; and
where the previous generation, at their age, never dreamed of taking
a cocktail, they think of nothing else, and will get it at any price.
This is true the country over. But the obviously enforced reformation
of many a village souse is pointed to as perfect evidence that all is
well. I suppose those virtuous W. C. T. U. ladies go to bed o’ nights
and sleep serenely, happy in the consciousness that they have helped
the race. And even as they slumber, hip-flasks are opened, corks are
popping, and an enjoyable time is being had by all.

Thus do reformers blind themselves to conditions as they are. The
village drunkard, tottering to his grave, has been reformed--if he was
worth reforming at all--while the arriving host of youth is dancing and
singing and jazzing its way “down the primrose path to the everlasting
bonfire.”

This is but another evidence of our national hypocrisy. And not content
with making the land dry--which we haven’t done at all--we must go
out and make the sea dry. Our holier-than-thou attitude has caused us
to lose our sense of humor, verily; for to dry up the ocean is going
Moses and the children of Israel one better. Moreover, the day of
miracles is past.

It was in the early Fall of 1922 that we suddenly discovered that our
ships were a part of sacred American soil. International law had long
since told us so, but somehow, in the confusion following the passage
of Mr. Volstead’s vaudeville act, we had forgotten it. Perhaps we were
too busy, like the Wyoming ladies, trying to make our citizens good on
shore to get around to those sensible enough to leave the country for
an ocean voyage. That is the American way.

At any rate, our boats continued, under Mr. Lasker, to be pleasant
oases on the desert of the sea; and fortunate indeed were those
who lived along the coast and could jump aboard if things became
unbearable at home--which they hadn’t. Yet it was good to know that
there the ships lay in harbor, ready for each and all of us, stocked
with pleasant and rare vintages. Again the rich were in luck. If one’s
pocketbook were fat enough, one could obtain anything one desired. God
pity the poor workingman, but life was life, and there were plenty
of luxuries which had always been denied the impoverished, but which
the wealthy took as a part of the strange scheme of things, and oh,
yes, it was awfully unfair, but that was that, and after all what was
one to do about it, and it was too bad, and oh, dear, and oh, my, and
goodness gracious and a lot of other stuff which I have overheard but
mercifully forgotten.

It took us two and a half years to discover in one minute that Uncle
Sam himself had been a bootlegger at sea. A long, long time to have
had our own eyes sealed! But when Attorney General Daugherty finally
issued his decision that American boats must be dry, all sorts of
complications arose. We told foreign governments that their ships, too,
must not enter our ports with liquor aboard. All the ocean, within the
three-mile limit prescribed by international law, was to cease to be
wet. It mattered not that Italian sailors were supplied with red wine
as part of their fare; they must throw it overboard before they came
into our sanctified precincts. And even if foreign bars were sealed and
padlocked and double-padlocked, they would be anathema to us. Whether
the liquor brought over on them was intended to be sold here, or merely
kept on board for the return voyage, mattered not. We were going to put
a stop to rum-running, and now, Mr. Foreigner, what are you going to do
about it?

As this is written, England has already protested against such drastic
and high-handed action. One of the British ships has been seized, and
a test case is to be made of her seizure. We, who held aloof so long
from all sorts of entangling alliances; we who preached the doctrine of
staying at home and minding our own business, suddenly find ourselves
rushing in where angels fear to tread; and, losing our humor, we may
likewise lose our friends.

The powerful Anti-Saloon League is responsible for our foolhardiness.
We will ruin American shipping, we will commit maritime harikari; but
it is all right, since, having slipped our heads into the noose of
the fanatics, what difference does it make how soon or how slowly we
strangle to death?

Of course there will be all sorts of confusion, all kinds of delays
in the courts--for naturally other nations will make test cases, and
it will be many months--perhaps years--before America knows how she
stands with Europeans and how Europeans stand with her. It is one thing
to manage our own citizens--quite another to guide the conduct of our
neighbors.

It is curious how ships and shipping enter into our governmental
affairs again--how history repeats itself. Deny it though we will, we
got into the World War only after our shipping had been interfered
with. We accepted German insults and taunts; but the moment our
business interests were at stake, we took up our guns and rushed to
save the Allies and make the world safe for democracy. A utilitarian
reason for saving our own necks--that is all that it was; and we cannot
close our eyes to our spiritual shortcomings.

Now we have the effrontery to interfere with the ships and shipping of
foreign countries. Let us see what will happen to us. Remember that
there is no War going on, to fill people with emotion and ecstasy.
This is to be a cold, steel-like remedying of troubles. Why should our
laws be respected, and those of other nations treated with contempt?
Who are we to say that a Latin sailor should not consume a glass of red
wine with his rations?

No one can tell what the Supreme Court will do; but it is rather
obvious that if America has closed up the saloons on shore she should
close them up on sea. If, walking a street in one of our cities, you
are under the protection of the Stars and Stripes, you are also under
that protection pacing the deck of an American liner. Prohibition must
follow the flag.

But some of the American lines are talking of changing the flag under
which they have been sailing! Here’s a howdy-do, here’s a pretty mess.
It is unthinkable that a liner should alter her citizenship, just
to carry a bit of beer. Yet that is what those staid old ladies are
contemplating. To what dreadful deportment are we driven, with Mr.
Volstead ruling us!

If our ships have to go dry, we will cut off the large freight business
in the West Indies, since much rum is exported from these islands.
There can be no transportation of wine to countries like France, Spain
and Italy; and, with such loss in revenue, how can our boats ply to
and fro? At this writing, hundreds of passengers have cancelled their
sailings on American vessels, incensed at the Attorney General’s
ruling.

The New York _World_, which has been a consistent and fearless enemy of
Prohibition, has published many fine editorials on the subject of a dry
sea; but none states the case better than this:

“Despite Mr. Lasker’s protest that it will ruin the American merchant
marine, the opinion of Attorney General Daugherty regarding the
sale of liquor on vessels flying the flag of the United States is
fairly certain to be upheld by the Courts. There is plenty of law and
precedent behind it. But every phase of law and precedent that supports
the opinion as it touches American shipping runs counter to the opinion
as applied to liners under alien flags.

“Ships chartered in the United States, according to Mr. Daugherty,
are subject to the laws of the United States, are, in fact, American
territory; but ships chartered in foreign countries are not foreign
territory. As soon as they enter American waters all vessels subject
themselves to American law, which means, of course, the Volstead Act.
How this comes about is not clearly explained. It would naturally be
supposed that if an American ship were American territory a British
ship would be British territory, and so on. Mr. Daugherty cannot have
it both ways. On one point or the other he must change his mind or have
it changed for him.

“But even though the enforcement law did not apply to European vessels
within the three-mile limit, it is difficult to discover in what
way they would violate it by carrying a sealed supply of liquor.
Possession of liquor, as defined by the courts, must include a change
of ownership. It is not legal for a manufacturer to ship liquor to
a consumer through the United States, but it is legal for an owner
of bonded liquor to remove it from one place to another within this
country. Alien ships traversing American waters with sealed liquor
aboard would be guilty of nothing which American citizens are not
allowed on land by judicial decision.”

Well, if the bars are closed forever on American ships, it will but add
to the present discontent; and again there will be an expression of
our national hypocrisy. It does not take much vision to see what will
inevitably happen. For just as people drink now on land when they feel
so inclined, they will drink upon the ocean; and every steward on every
American liner will become a bootlegger, whispering into the ears of
passengers something like this:

“Say, I have some fine old Scotch--the real thing--only twelve dollars
a bottle. Want some? I’ll see that it’s brought to your state-room. Oh,
no; there’s not a particle of danger. Everybody’s doing it.”

And thus will the comedy go on; thus will the playing of the farce be
extended beyond the three-mile limit, and within it, too; and once more
we will appear before the world in our cap and bells. No arrests will
be made. Things will simply drift along; and by and by, even though the
Eighteenth Amendment remains in the Constitution, and the Volstead
Act continues to be a part of our laws, both may be forgotten, just as
some of the old statutes of the Puritans, still upon the Massachusetts
records, have been allowed to float into a limbo of dreams.

The quandary which a ship finds herself in, sailing from Great Britain
to the United States, is laughable. John Bull demands, under his
democratic laws, made for freemen, that a certain amount of brandy be a
part of every cargo; whilst Uncle Sam, a tyrant now--refuses to permit
even a single jug of ale to enter the sacred three-mile limit. Between
Scylla and Charibdis the hardy mariner finds himself. On what reefs of
the mind a captain plunges as, dazedly trying to obey both laws, he
reads first one ruling and then the other. If he follows John, he is
out with Sam; if he sticks to Sam, he is the laughing-stock of John.

This might be the sad song of any sea-captain these days:

  Tweedledum and Tweedledee,
    Battledore and Shuttlecock!
  Alack! alas! no more at sea
    Is one allowed his rolling-stock!

But the end is not yet. Of course there will be concessions, many
wise shakings of the head, a profound slumber over tangled legal
documents, and then--perhaps--an awakening to the fact that after all
a holier-than-thou attitude scarcely pays in these times of human
frailty. We may realize, with our native intelligence, that we have
made a foolish, a terrible, a hideous mistake. Worse than being hated
by other nations is being laughed at by other nations. Can America
stand up against the mirth of Europe over our pig-headedness and smug
sanctimoniousness? If laughter has killed politicians, can it not kill
nations? If ridicule can end a career, can it not end national nonsense?

But somehow, despite heavy mandates and injunctions on the part of the
drys, something tells me that the ocean is going to remain indubitably,
irremediably, habitually, irritatingly and everlastingly wet.

No one seems to know just where we are destined, as a nation, to
take our way. We fuss and fume and fret. In the race of life, we put
endless obstructions along the track, and leap the hurdles clumsily,
falling now and then, picking ourselves up, falling again and otherwise
behaving rather ridiculously. What it all means no one seems to know.
Instead of letting well enough alone, we seem obsessed with the idea of
interfering incessantly with goodly folk. Suppression is in the air.
The skies are clear, but we put clouds in them--clouds that rise from
the earth because they are of our making. The dust of the world shuts
out the clean prospect ahead of us. We run about in circles, when, so
simply, we could march on a straight line. We are very, very stupid;
and though we know it now, we are afraid to admit it to ourselves.

Again our hypocrisy. Unable to respect ourselves and our own
institutions, how can we ask other peoples to do so?

In their eagerness to make the ocean round about the United States dry,
Prohibition officials even suggested to the Government that the Bahama
Islands be purchased from Great Britain. In this heavenly haven, it was
pointed out, rum-runners foregathered; perhaps England would help us
to make such conditions impossible in the future, and would be willing
to let the Islands come to us, in part payment of the old War debt.
But our own territory in that direction--Porto Rico and the Virgin
Islands--are still far from dry. With the problem of these localities
still unsettled, it would seem to be a piece of folly to lay hands on
the Bahamas, in the hope of “cleaning them up.”

Yet why stop, in our fanatic zeal, at the Bahamas? Why not reach out
and get the Canary Islands--indeed, everything everywhere. We who
preached aloofness until we were blue in the face, seem suddenly bent
upon interfering with all countries, no matter how remote they may
be. When men were actually, not potentially, in danger of death and
destruction, we would not lift a finger to aid them in Europe; but now,
with a mock holiness that ill comports with our attitude of a few years
ago, we are for saving a handful of drunkards from a terrible end.

And the pity of it is that we do not see how funny we are!



CHAPTER X

THE MULLAN-GAGE LAW, THE VAN NESS ACT AND THE HOBERT ACT


The Empire State, not certain that the teeth of the Volstead Act were
biting it hard enough decided on April 4, 1921, that it would pass what
is known to the man in the street as the Mullan-Gage Law. It begins as
follows:

    “SEC. 1. The penal law is hereby amended by inserting therein a new
    article, to be article one hundred and thirteen.”

    It goes on to say: “The possession of liquors by any person not
    legally permitted under this article to possess liquor shall be
    prima facie evidence that such liquor is kept for the purpose
    of being sold, bartered, exchanged, given away, furnished or
    otherwise disposed of in violation of the provisions of this
    article; and the burden of proof shall be upon the possessor in any
    action concerning the same to prove that such liquor was lawfully
    acquired, possessed and used.”

As every one knows, in ordinary cases a defendant is considered
innocent until proved guilty. But here we see a dangerous reversal
of that idea in jurisprudence. Anyone carrying a flask would be
considered, in the eyes of this law, a bootlegger, a purveyor of
illegal goods--in fact, a criminal even though no evidence had been
produced to prove him so. In our anxiety to purify the nation, we have
distorted old established laws, turned reasoning topsy-turvy, and once
more made ourselves ridiculous--in the Empire State at least.

“Of making many laws there is no end,” one might paraphrase
Ecclesiastes. In his remarkably interesting book, “Our Changing
Constitution,” Charles W. Pierson points out the growing dangers which
confront us, because of our repeated amendments and addenda. He sounds
many a warning, and every American should read his brief but profound
volume.

    “Whatever view one may hold to-day,” he writes, “as to the question
    of expediency, no thoughtful mind can escape the conclusion that,
    in a very real and practical sense, the Constitution has changed.
    In a way change is inevitable to adapt it to the conditions of the
    new age. There is danger, however, that in the process of change
    something may be lost; that present-day impatience to obtain
    desired results by the shortest and most effective method may lead
    to the sacrifice of a principle of vast importance.

    “The men who framed the Constitution were well advised when they
    sought to preserve the integrity of the states as a barrier against
    the aggressions and tyranny of the majority acting through a
    centralized power. The words ‘state sovereignty’ acquired an odious
    significance in the days of our civil struggle, but the idea for
    which they stand is nevertheless a precious one and represents what
    is probably America’s most valuable contribution to the science of
    government.

    “We shall do well not to forget the words of that staunch upholder
    of national power and authority, Salmon P. Chase, speaking as
    Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in a famous case growing out of
    the Civil War:

    “‘The preservation of the states, and the maintenance of their
    governments, are as much within the design and care of the
    Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance
    of the National Government. The Constitution in all its provisions,
    looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible
    states.’”

Yet today what do we find? The States renouncing their sovereignty,
abrogating their authority to the central government, time and again
diminishing their own strength, losing sight of one of the very things
on which the safety of our country depends. Worse than that, some of
them have attempted to pass laws which seem totally unnecessary, in
the light of the already rigid Volstead Act. Witness the State of
New Jersey, for instance, with the iniquitous Van Ness Act, which,
fortunately, was deemed unconstitutional.

Early in 1921, Mrs. Frank W. Van Ness, while a member of the New
Jersey Assembly from Essex County, of which Newark is the county seat,
introduced the act which provided that “whenever a complaint is made
before any magistrate that a person has violated one or more of the
provisions of this act, it shall be the duty of such magistrate, and
every such magistrate is hereby given full power and authority to issue
his warrant to arrest any such person so complained against, and,
summarily, without a jury and without any pleadings, to try the person
so arrested and brought before him and to determine and adjudge his
guilt or innocence.”

The Volstead Act plainly states that anyone violating the provisions
of that act is guilty of a crime. Mrs. Van Ness’s Act was an attempt
to have such persons, in the State of New Jersey, guilty of disorderly
conduct, which would not require a trial by jury.

The New Jersey Legislature passed the Van Ness Act, and other State
prohibition laws, at its session of 1921; but on February 2, 1922, the
Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey held that a number of the
provisions of the Van Ness Act were unconstitutional. The prevailing
opinion was written by Chancellor Walker, but there was a difference
among the judges as to the constitutionality of some of the different
provisions of the act, and other opinions were also written. The Court
of Errors and Appeals is the Court of last resort in New Jersey,
and by its judgment it reversed the Supreme Court finding which had
theretofore held the Van Ness Act to be constitutional.

Mrs. Van Ness was a candidate for reëlection in the fall of 1921, but
was not reëlected. Is there no significance in this fact?

As old as Magna Charta is the right of any citizen to a trial by jury,
when convicted of a crime; and as old, too, as that sacred document, is
the theory that one is innocent until proved guilty. Yet the Volstead
Act has paved the way for politicians without vision to seek to
destroy these inalienable rights.

    “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Among other things, in the opinion handed down in 1922, Chancellor
Walker wrote:

    “The act entitled ‘An act concerning intoxicating liquors used or
    to be used for beverage purposes,’ passed March 29, 1921, the short
    title of which is ‘Prohibition Enforcement Act,’ commonly called
    the Van Ness Act, authorizing convictions for violation of its
    provisions by magistrates without trial by jury, violates Article
    1, Sec. 7, of the Constitution of New Jersey, 1844, which provides,
    inter alia, that the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate;
    and also Id. Sec. 9, which provides, inter alia, that no person
    shall be held to answer for a criminal offense unless upon the
    presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”

And another judge rendered this opinion:

    “The Van Ness Act is invalid to the extent that it makes violations
    of its provisions disorderly acts as distinguished from those which
    are criminal in their nature because, prior to its enactment, the
    Congress of the United States had already declared by necessary
    implication in the federal statute, commonly known as the Volstead
    Act, that a person who violated any provision of the Eighteenth
    Amendment to the Federal Constitution, should be guilty of crime.”

The constitutional provision in the State of New Jersey has long been
known to be as follows:

    “The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate; but the
    legislature may authorize the trial of civil suits, when the
    matter in dispute does not exceed fifty dollars, by a jury of six
    men.”

Chancellor Walker further pointed out that the Constitution of 1776 had
contained this provision:

    “And ... the inestimable right of trial by jury shall remain
    confirmed as part of the law of this colony, without repeal,
    forever.”

But though the Van Ness Act was declared unconstitutional the work of
suppression went on. The Hobert Act took its place. The Association
Against the Prohibition Amendment (New Jersey branch) protested to
Governor Edwards when the Bill was passed. They pointed out that
Chancellor Walker, in his opinion in the Court of Errors and Appeals,
on page 18 of the decision dated February 2, 1922, had said:

    “New Jersey need not have passed any enforcement act and could have
    left the field wholly to Federal endeavor under the Volstead Act.”

They likewise pointed out that there were no advantages whatsoever
to the State of New Jersey proceeding from such an act; but the
disadvantages were numerous and severe. It put upon the State courts
all the work, and upon the citizens of the State all the expense of
enforcing the national law. They also showed how tyrannical the Act was
in certain sections. Section 16 reads as follows:

    “Any officer engaged in the enforcement of this act who shall
    search any private dwelling, as herein defined, which is occupied
    as such dwelling, without a warrant directing such search, or who,
    while so engaged, shall, without a search warrant, maliciously and
    without reasonable cause search any other building or property,
    shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall
    be punished for a first offense by a fine of not more than one
    thousand dollars, and for a subsequent offense by a fine of not
    more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more
    than one year or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

It was shown that this section had been taken, word for word, from the
Amendment, forced upon the United States Senate by the House in the
Willis-Campbell Bill and passed by the Senate on November 18, 1921.
The Stanley Amendment originally offered in the Senate for the purpose
of serving as an enforcement act to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to
the Constitution was passed unanimously by the Senate after a thorough
investigation and after having been accepted by Senator Sterling who
had charge of the Bill. The House refused to accept the Amendment and
put into the Bill the following section:

    “That any officer, agent, or employee of the United States engaged
    in the enforcement of this act, of the national prohibition act, or
    any other law of the United States, who shall search any private
    dwelling as defined in the national prohibition act and occupied
    as such dwelling, without a warrant directing such a search, or
    who while so engaged shall without a search warrant maliciously
    and without reasonable cause search any other building or property
    shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” etc., etc.

Senator Ashurst, of Arizona, a dry Senator, and one who said he had
never cast a wet vote in his life, refused to sign the conference
report on the ground that the language of this section did not protect
the people in their rights. He was joined by other dry Senators for the
same reason. Senator Reed, of Missouri, than whom there is no greater
Constitutional lawyer in the United States, in calling attention to
the words, “shall without a search warrant maliciously and without
reasonable cause,” had this to say:

    “What is the plain inference to be drawn from that language? First,
    you must have a warrant to search the house. Second, if while you
    are searching the house you proceed without a warrant to search the
    other building or property you are not guilty of offense unless two
    things concur: First, you must have been without any reasonable
    cause to search the other buildings or property, and, second, you
    must have acted maliciously. Notice the language. It is worth
    your while. You are legislating for 110,000,000 people and you
    are putting this authority into the hands of irresponsible men,
    proceeding without bond, armed with big guns, and sent out among
    the people.”

The Hobert Bill invites Prohibition agents and officers to go anywhere
they desire _without_ a search warrant, with the absolute assurance
that in their unlawful occupation they are immune under the law.
“Malice” is the most difficult thing in the world to prove--with the
possible exception of “without reasonable cause.”

As a friend of mine, William L. Fish, says, “The Van Ness Act was the
_Bill Sykes_ of legislation, while the Hobert Act is the _Iago_.”
Between two such arch villains there is little choice. We are not
reforming the country, but deforming it.

If the people are to lose such cherished rights, there is little hope
for America. Blind indeed are those who cannot read the writing on
the wall. Surely there must come a reaction against such intolerable
legislation.

Already one senses a change of feeling; for millions of us cannot
be wrong when we claim that disregard of the laws of the land is as
serious a problem as the old problem of the corner saloon. If, in
correcting one evil, we bring to life greater evils, are we on the
right track?

[Illustration: Solemnly up and down that room the officer walked,
glancing here and there, after the manner of a soldier in the late war
standing guard over military prisoners.]



CHAPTER XI

BOOTLEGGING AND GRAFT


Prohibition, being a phenomenon, has inevitably bred other
phenomena. The most ardent fighters for a dry United States are the
Prohibitionists themselves--and the bootleggers. A new industry, which
flourishes every day, despite the honest attempts of the Government
to suppress it, has arisen. It brings in a fat profit to those who
enter it. An incredible army of active workers is marching--or rather
driving in motor-cars--through the land, doing a prosperous business.
They do not deposit their earnings in our banks; for if they did so,
the federal authorities could force them to pay an income tax. Instead,
they put them in the proverbial stocking; and after a sufficient number
of bank-notes--for it is usually a cash business that is carried
on--are available many of the bootleggers, who are mostly foreigners,
sail for parts unknown. There they intend to spend the rest of their
days in peace and comfort and opulence. Why not?

I am writing of the evils of bootlegging not only as they apply
to a great city like New York. In a certain western city of some
250,000 inhabitants--a city in a State which went dry long before the
constitutional amendment--a woman told me that all she had to do was
to ring up her favorite bootlegger when she was giving a dinner-party,
and practically anything she desired would be delivered at her door
within fifteen minutes. It is very difficult to get evidence against
these diligent business men, and I have encountered only a few people
who have conscientious scruples about dealing with them. It is hard to
be consistent concerning Volsteadism. If the Act itself plays merry
pranks on sea and shore, why should not human beings likewise forget
their dignity once in a while?

The bootlegging evil has begotten another evil. Graft is stalking
through the land, hand in hand with it. They are boon companions. They
are inseparable. Where one is, there you will always find the other.
Brothers in sin; Siamese twins. Damon and Pythias, Ruth and Naomi, were
not more devoted. But their unholy alliance has none of the virtues of
those ardent and ancient friendships.

There is always, in any illicit transaction, a man higher up who must
reap his share of the illegal profits. Usually, the American public
rebels at the middleman, resents his grasping proclivities; but
nowadays, being humanly thirsty, it has no time to quibble; and so
long as it gets its modicum of spirits, it has little fault to find
with the humanly fallible protector of the bootlegger who must receive
some attention. It is willing to pay almost anything for whiskey
or gin, and, used to being “done,” it good-naturedly recognizes
the authorities along the way who are in a position to open stores
of the desired stuff, and see that it is delivered to the crowding
bootleggers. It is an endless chain; and to become wealthy overnight
has always been the dream of the average American. With Prohibition,
he sees an opportunity such as never existed before, and thousands are
taking advantage of the situation.

When one considers the amount of revenue which formerly poured into the
coffers of the United States treasury because of the tax on alcohol,
and what the loss of that money must mean today to the Government, one
realizes that in some manner the deficit must be made up. The good
old genial public is again the goat, to fall into the vernacular.
Prices have risen since the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment. Hotel
proprietors, who formerly counted upon a considerable income through
their bars, now find themselves forced to charge higher prices for
food. Time was when, if one failed to order wine with one’s meals, an
extra twenty-five cents was asked. It was taken for granted that red or
white wine was a part of one’s ration, as it were; and those who failed
to indulge in the luxury were looked upon as rather curious specimens
of humanity. A table d’hôte, with _vin rouge_, was the regular thing;
and the wine was included in the price of the dinner. With the going
out of all forms of drinks, naturally there had to be a readjustment
of menu-cards. There is a tax now almost everywhere for bread and
butter; and a cover charge is made in practically all the metropolitan
restaurants. Gradually, one notes, these “extras” are creeping in. One
cannot blame the hotel-keepers. Rents and wages have increased since
the War; therefore they must ask more for their rooms, as well as for
their dining-room service. And where one formerly tipped in moderation,
the average waiter scorns anything less than fifteen or twenty per
cent of the amount of one’s check. The good-natured and long-suffering
American people are imposed upon at every turn. And, denied the
privilege of consuming liquor openly, they give dinners in their homes,
where at least there can be a semblance of harmless gayety. This causes
fewer people to go to the smart restaurants in a city like New York;
and generally there is no supper crowd at all. Lights are dimmed early;
and while I am holding no brief for late hours, I do think that human
beings should be permitted to organize their own lives, and decide for
themselves whether a supper-dance after the theater or the Opera is
harmful. At luncheon time the hotels present another aspect. They still
do a thriving business; but, as I have said in a previous chapter, for
many and many a year there had been little drinking in the middle of
the day.

With fewer people to serve, and fewer meals to serve, hotel men have
been driven to ask more for that service which they continue to render.
The one bright thought in this painful readjustment is the fact that
the Prohibitionists must help the rest of us to make up the loss of
revenue. Their checks, hitherto much less than ours, are now quite the
same. But, then, I imagine few of them have ever cared for brilliant
lights and smart napery, preferring to dine in the dim sanctity of
basements and back rooms at an hour so early that daylight has hardly
gone when the “supper bell” rings. The color and joy of the Ritz or the
Plaza would scarcely appeal to a fanatic.

But to get back to the bootleggers. There are many degrees of them.
Some are honest; others are not. Once in a while a gin bottle will
contain nothing but water; and sometimes whiskey will have been
diluted, and near-beer sold as the regular thing. Yet with an
established trade, and recognized business, conditions are improving.
Even as there is honor among thieves, the latest model of bootlegger
must play the game squarely; and those of the better class frown upon
chicanery, and are disgusted when spurious material is sold. They
realize that if inferior liquor is delivered, sales may soon cease
altogether. Therefore those who have their best interests at heart--and
their name is legion--are cautious and painstaking, and will honestly
tell a customer whether he is buying synthetic gin or pre-Volstead
stuff.

I do not pretend to know the workings of this nefarious trade; but
I do know this: that many Italians and Germans and Frenchmen, among
others, are doing a thriving business, and are only too glad to donate
part of their enormous commissions to the local ring who, in return,
offer them complete protection. And from talks which I have had with
various restaurant proprietors who likewise pay graft regularly, I
know that our Government has lost the respect of practically every
foreigner; for he sees not only his own people defying the law, but
the Americans disobeying it under his nose. He says that so long as
there are grapes on vines and apples on trees; so long as fermentation
is a natural process, there will be drinking in the world; and he
cannot understand why it is against the law to take a sip of red wine
with one’s spaghetti, or a nip of brandy with one’s coffee. It is all
incomprehensible to him. His children grow up, seeing him have no
reverence for the laws of the country he has adopted.

Of course the Prohibitionist will say that there is a very simple
solution of this. These foreigners within our gates should succumb to
the inevitable, and obey the law. True. I wish that everyone would
obey the law. The way for children not to be punished at school is for
them to behave themselves. But it is difficult to force people to do
something which it is inherently distasteful for them to do. We invite
immigration. We welcome hordes of people to our shores--people who, we
know, are accustomed to taking wine and beer with their meals; and then
we impose strict measures upon them, suddenly, and expect them to fall
into line. We should educate them first. We should let them know what
the Constitution means, what it stands for. We should insist that they
learn our language, study the history of the United States, absorb the
meaning of America before they attain citizenship. We are loose with
them; why should they not be loose with us? They see that we are none
too careful when we allow them to cross our threshold; why should they
help us tidy up the house after they are safely within it?

The truth is, if we would but face it, that we are thorough in
few things. We make a great pretense at civic virtue and national
righteousness, and we neglect the fundamentals. To the core of things
we seldom wish to go.

The bootlegger, laughing in his sleeve at the boasted and vainglorious
spiritual integrity of America, is but the natural result of our own
folly. He is as inevitable a part of so-called Prohibition as feathers
are a part of birds. As time goes on, his business now conducted in
secret may be conducted openly. He may become a recognized figure
in society, since we can never suppress him utterly. He is like the
bounder in every club, the _nouveau-riche_ in every drawing-room.
He has come to stay, more’s the pity. For an enormous percentage of
Americans approve of him, the while they disapprove of him. They know
his faults; but they say to themselves that even Congressmen have
faults; and they know down deep in their hearts that many a Congressman
and many an exalted Judge patronize the bootlegger, receive social
calls from him, and even speak to him on the telephone when they are
“out” to others. The bootleggers know all this. Why should they,
therefore, venerate a system which is not treated seriously by those in
the highest places? We are asking of them something superhuman. And the
latest development is that the bootleggers are now paying income taxes,
openly stating the source of their earnings, with no fear of getting
into trouble.

Meanwhile, the propaganda of the Anti-Saloon League goes on in the
newspapers, with this and that report of how a “ring of bootleggers”
has been wiped out. We read of sensational raids in the big cities; and
there is a cry that federal officers have “broken” the whole system to
pieces. Thousands of quarts of Scotch have been confiscated--where it
is placed, no one seems to know. Dry agents, in their zeal, even search
hearses, and make the undertakers--to say nothing of the bereaved
relatives of the deceased--quite angry. The time may come when X-rays
may be taken of innocent citizens, to discover whether they have been
drinking liquor. Do not smile. Anything is possible when a great
country allows itself to be governed by an organization of fanatics
who have intimidated Congress and seem bent upon ruining our shipping
industry.

But it would appear almost impossible to get honest men to act in
the capacity of spies. There is an everlasting “shake-up” of federal
officials who are supposed to see that the Volstead Act is enforced.
Here again the human element enters--that element which the fanatics
never recognize. The temptations are too great for the average man.
He knows that bootleggers are getting rich. And soon he sees that if
he closes his eyes and opens his hand, he too can become a Crœsus. At
first, it may be that he hesitates. There is danger of being caught.
Well, why not take a chance? he says to himself. Others are doing it.
After all, one has to live, and a six-cylinder car _would_ be nice.
Thus is the voice of conscience quieted; and soon it ceases to whisper
at all. That little Italian restaurant in his district--ah, yes! they
dispense drinks to the favored few who know the ring the bell must be
given. It would be so easy to pretend that he does not know of its
existence; and Tony, after all, is not such a bad sort. He’ll hand over
the kale, without a question, without a murmur.

And so one more federal official goes to the dogs, a man who until
yesterday was honest. Knowing that his lucrative career may be brief,
he has determined to make hay while the sun shines. And Prohibition has
created another crook in the wicked city, though of course it has cured
a drunkard in the virtuous country. And the Anti-Saloon people are
perfectly satisfied.

Are you?



CHAPTER XII

“DON’T JOKE ABOUT PROHIBITION”


Not content with forcing us to close our lips to liquor, the
Prohibitionists recently sent out a request, which amounted to an
order, that no one should open his lips to speak disparagingly or in
jest of the sacred Eighteenth Amendment. We were to be denied the
blessed privilege of laughing at ourselves, even! I suppose that a
few fanatics--oh, merely to study life, bless their hearts!--had gone
into a vaudeville theater and had been incensed at the ribaldry of
the actors and the shrieks of mirth of the audience over Prohibition
wheezes. I have seen an assemblage in convulsions when some light
mention was made of Mr. Volstead; and whenever a flask is displayed on
the screen of some movie house, there never fails to follow a round of
loud applause.

Our comic weeklies and newspaper supplements continue to print
Prohibition jokes, much to the delight of their readers. One fearless
periodical, _Judge_, has come out openly for light wines and beer--and
lost a valued contributor thereby. Another paper, on the contrary,
solemnly prints this editorial, headed “There Are Jokes and Jokes”:

“A great concern operating vaudeville theaters in most of the large
cities has issued an order that all performers must cut out their jokes
about Prohibition. This is progress. It should be followed by orders
to eliminate Prohibition jokes from our legislatures, courts, police
stations, city halls, and all other places where men supposed to be
serious and doing serious work are to be found. The outstanding fact
about Prohibition seems to be that people forget that it came about
through an amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Meanwhile, the mother-in-law joke is tolerated, and roared at. It is
perfectly all right for a man to make fun of his wife’s mother, since
there is no formal statute against such jests; but it is unthinkable
that he should laugh at himself because he can’t get a simple glass of
beer. The country he fought for, and was willing to die for, denies
him an ancient form of enjoyment. He could make fun openly of negroes,
though the Fifteenth Amendment tells him that they are his peers.

The reformer, you see, never counted upon the chaffing which the
Volstead Act would have to stand. Ridicule can kill anything, and they
know it now. Therefore, they must stop ridicule by mandate. Heaven
knows there is little to smile at these days--except Prohibition. Are
we to have that luxury taken from us too?

It looks that way. Yet no law can control people’s innermost feelings.
No request--amounting to an order--can coerce a nation to do something
it is not impelled to do, of itself. One remembers a sad time, not so
long ago, when we were begged to remain neutral in thought, word and
deed; and notices were printed in theater programs, urging us to make
no demonstration when the troops of the Allies crossed the screen; to
give no sign when the German army did likewise. Yet there was a burst
of applause or a burst of hisses, just the same. The minds of a people
cannot be controlled. It is nonsense to try to control them.

Now the fanatics would seek to rob us of the joy of laughter. For of
course they despise and detest laughter. Laughter--ridicule--is a
sword that can be used against them. We can make this whole business
of Prohibition so ludicrous that we can laugh it out of the statutes.
Guffaws have disturbed many a solemn meeting; and a single cartoon has
broken many a promising politician. One may be able to stand up against
a serious argument; but lampooning has destroyed even men of genius.

All was to be well the moment the Eighteenth Amendment became a fact.
Everyone was going to sit still and take it very seriously, just as
the Prohibitionists had planned. The lid was on, and on it would
remain--forever and ever. Puritans have no sense of humor, or they
would not be Puritans. They had not dreamed that someone would overturn
the can on which the lid was placed, and, through sheer joy of living,
shout and sing as of old. The habits of generations cannot be changed
in a moment. We who had been accustomed to decent drinking did not
intend to stop at once. We would “taper off,” as the topers put it. We
had laid aside a little supply of jollity, and the word would go about
that So-and-so had a large enough and deep enough cellar to permit him
to entertain for at least three or four years.

One of the strange things about Prohibition was the fact that, with
its coming, everyone imagined that everyone else would turn miser
concerning treating. But here again the human element was forgotten.
Everyone seems more anxious than ever to prove that his bootlegger has
an exhaustless supply; and a certain pride is taken in handing out
innumerable drinks. An aristocracy has arisen that even serves liqueurs
after coffee--as though a plethora of _crême de menthe_ and yellow and
green chartreuse were in the land. The proverbial generosity of the
American was never more in evidence. Where one was niggardly, perhaps,
in the old days, one can scarcely afford to be so now; and those who
accept drinks without returning them are frowned upon as unworthy. They
are the outcasts of a new society, the lowest form of hanger-on. Of
course they are not nearly so numerous as of old; therefore they are
more conspicuous.

And so the laughter goes on; but even when the reformers do not hear
it, they writhe, knowing of its existence. Once in a great while some
echo reaches them, no doubt. Things have not “straightened out” as
they had anticipated; and so they squirm, and rage, and puff up, and
devise ways and means to call a complete halt on all merriment, whether
it is directed at them or not.

In all seriousness a woman’s temperance society sent a mandate to every
editor in the United States not long ago, bidding them cease satirizing
Prohibition. It would not do, they contended, to continue to smile at
the sacred Eighteenth Amendment. Mr. Volstead, also, was sacrosanct;
and it was outrageous the way piety was pooh-poohed, and what did the
editors _mean_ by such conduct, and why didn’t they stop it and obey
teacher and be good?

And every government official, when he gets up at a banquet to make a
speech, begs his hearers to heed the law--though he knows full well
that down the street another banquet may be going on, attended by
officials equally high, where the law is never thought of. It is a
sad commentary on our government when it is necessary thus to address
the people. “We must be one people, one union--and that the American
Union,” shouted one representative of the government speaking in
Chicago before a business men’s convention. And he went on to say,
“Whenever a newspaper ridicules a law, plays up a policy of contempt
for law and its enforcement and in its news and editorial columns
fosters law-breaking, that newspaper is doing more to destroy American
institutions than a Federal Judge can do to maintain them.... No
man in public life who is possessed of vision and realizes his
responsibility to Government would favor regulation of the public press
by law, but it is obvious that the power of the press must not be used
to foster disrespect for our Government and disobedience to its laws.”

Free speech will not be tolerated, if the fanatics have their way. Yet
the first article in the Amendments to the Constitution says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom
of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In order that the Eighteenth Amendment may be upheld, the First may be
forgotten.

But to get back for a moment to the ladies of the something-or-other
temperance society. A brilliant writer, Mr. Edward S. Martin, answered
them delightfully in _Harper’s Magazine_; and with the kind permission
of the editors of that periodical, I am privileged to make extracts
from his article. Mr. Martin never loses his temper, as the ladies
certainly did. He remains, as ever, the tactful, urbane, pitying
occupant of the editor’s easy-chair. He does not even frown. He speaks
from a long experience, gently but to the point:

“The enforcement of Prohibition meets with some obstacles and furnishes
food for thought to two large groups in the community--the people
who want it enforced and the people who occasionally want something
to drink. Just at the moment it seems as if the people who want a
drink are somewhat ahead of the other group in the competition; at any
rate, the group that wants enforcement seems to think it necessary to
make extra effort. To _Harper’s Magazine_, as doubtless to hundreds
of other periodicals, has come a communication from the Committee for
Prohibition Enforcement of a much-respected and powerful organization
of women, which announces that the committee has adopted a program,
the items of which it communicates. The fifth item is to the effect
that all the ministers be urged to preach and teach the necessity for
respect for and observance of the law. The sixth item runs, ‘That every
theatrical manager, movie manager, and editor, whether of a daily,
weekly or monthly publication, be requested to see that all jokes
ridiculing Prohibition and its enforcement are eliminated from any
production, film, or article coming under his jurisdiction, and that
the matter be treated with that seriousness that the subject merits;
and that this resolution be thrown on the screen and printed in the
different papers and magazines throughout the country.’

“The demand for protection from jokes is often made and always implies
that there is something that needs to be joked about. There is a sin
called ‘sacrilege.’ If we joke about things that are sacred to enough
people, it gives a kind of offense which, even if the law does not
punish it, it is not safe to excite. There is a sin of blasphemy, which
we suppose the law will still punish if it is gross enough. It will be
agreed that the considerate people do not jest about sacred things, nor
even about things which, though not sacred to themselves, are sacred
to the people they are talking to. Well, then, is Prohibition one of
these sacred things we must not talk about? Are amendments of the
Constitution and the Volstead law to rank with the Ten Commandments and
the Sermon on the Mount as not being safely subject to derisive comment?

“Something like that seems to be in the minds of the women whose
communication we have received, who include item six in their program,
but if so, their attitude is wrong. A constitutional amendment is not
sacred, much less a Volstead Act. It is the Volstead law that the jokes
on Prohibition are aimed at more than the amendment. If we cannot joke
about an act of Congress, then indeed things have come to a restricted
pass. If a law is bad, one of the ways to beat it is to laugh it out
of court. If that is being done about the Volstead law, the ladies who
want that law enforced would do well to examine it and see why it is
not enforced, rather than try to stop jokers from laughing at it.

“A letter writer to a newspaper says, ‘If it is true that a community
gets the kind of government it deserves, it is equally true that a
law gets the kind of obedience it deserves.’ His assertion may be
disputed, but still, if the Volstead law is not being respected, is
it certain that it deserves respect? It is a law in the process of
being tried out. If it is good we want it enforced. If it is bad we
want it amended, but we do not want to be choked off from discussing
it or testing it. There is no power in Congress to say what is right
or wrong. The most that Congress can do is to say what is lawful or
unlawful. The distinction is important. The practical judge of whether
a law is right or wrong is the general community to which the law
applies. If that community will not back up the enforcement of the
law, it will not be enforced. It is yet to be demonstrated how far
the Volstead law, as it stands, is enforceable. If its fruits do not
please a majority of the people who live under it, it may have to be
modified so that it will stand for something that is near enough to be
the popular judgment of what is right to win popular support. There
is a great deal of good in the present Prohibition movement. It put
the saloons out of business. It checked the brewers and distillers in
their over-strenuous efforts to sell their products. It accomplished
benefits which probably could not have been accomplished except by the
kind of clean sweep that the amendment was. But it was necessarily a
rough job--an experiment to be tried out in practice. If its rules need
modification, they may get it or they may not, but if not, they may be
practically modified in enforcement.

“Who is boss in this country? Is it the President, the Senate, the
House, the Supreme Court, the state authorities, the newspapers, the
lawyers, the ministers, the doctors, or possibly the women?

“None of them! Public opinion is the boss. In the long run, what public
opinion demands it gets. Laws to be of any worth have to have sanction.
That is, there must be something to make people who violate them feel
that they are doing wrong. The laws of nature have abundant sanction.
If you fool with the law of gravitation, you get bumped. There is no
trouble about the enforcement of the law of gravitation. Nobody goes
around begging you not to ridicule it. It takes care of itself, and
if you flout it you pay the consequences. The Ten Commandments have
a sanction of long experience. Some of them are obsolete, but the
others are respected, and, though they are not directly enforced by the
courts, laws based on them are so enforced. Public opinion hereabouts
rests very considerably on the Ten Commandments. They have shaped the
habits of thought and deportment of many millions of people, including
most of those now living in this country.

“The trouble with the present enforcement of Prohibition is that it
has not yet got moral sanction enough to make it effective. Public
opinion will back up the law in closing the saloons and restricting
and regulating the sale of intoxicants, but it does not follow it,
for one thing, in defining a beverage with an alcoholic content of
one half of one per cent as intoxicating. When it comes to that,
public opinion laughs, because that is contrary to its experience.
Furthermore, public opinion shows as yet no particular fervor about
achieving a total stoppage of alcoholic supplies from those who want
them. No serious stigma attaches to violations of the Volstead law
by private buyers. Fines and like embarrassments may result, but not
disrepute. A good many fairly decent people seem to buy what they
want, and do not conceal it. The people who thought before the law was
adopted that it was wicked or inexpedient to drink intoxicants, still
think so. The people who thought otherwise continue to think otherwise.
Many people drink less than before the law began to operate, but a good
many other people drink more, and buy much worse beverages at much
higher prices. To some extent Prohibition seems to have made drinking
popular by diminishing the individual discouragement of it and putting
the responsibility for the maintenance of temperance on a law and the
officers who enforce it. That may be only a temporary effect, but if it
turns out that the Volstead law, as it is, cannot be enforced at the
present time, there may possibly be an effort to tinker it--to put it
into such shape that public opinion will stand back of it and give it
a sanction. The alternative would be to wait and see what effect time
will have on men and habits. There is no one to tell us that we shall
be damned if we disobey the Volstead law, and so long as juries refuse
to convict persons who violate it, it stands modified in practice....

“The organizations, political, commercial, religious, that seek to
shape public opinion all use propaganda. We all know what that means
because we have all had such a surfeit of it. During the War we were
flooded with it and everyone learned what it was and how to use it.
It is put out by speakers, on the movie screens and in print wherever
possible. Organization secured Prohibition, but organization is not
public opinion and may for a time override it. Organization works
on the run with noise and big headlines and meetings and even with
threats. Public opinion slowly takes form in the minds of individuals.
There comes in Lincoln’s saying about the impossibility of fooling all
the people all the time. Propaganda may overwhelm private judgment
for a time, but private judgment keeps on working after propaganda
ceases. It digests what has been offered to it. The common facts of
life continue to appeal to it and impress it. It views what propaganda
has accomplished and slowly and deliberately considers whether it is
good, and if it concludes that it is not good it ceases to back it and
then there has to be something different, something that looks like
improvement....”



CHAPTER XIII

HOW CANADA HAS SOLVED THE LIQUOR PROBLEM


  Sing a Song of Montreal,
    A barrel full of rye;
  Four-and-twenty Yankees
    Feeling rather dry;
  When the barrel was opened
    They all began to sing,
  “Oh, to hell with Mr. Volstead--
    And God save the King!”

The Dominion of Canada has solved its liquor problem, for the most
part. It is interesting to note that in those Provinces which are
technically dry, a wretched state of things exists, as in the United
States; and those Provinces which have government control are well
ordered. For instance, Nova Scotia has absolute Prohibition. I went
there in May and June, 1922, and, as in the States, I never lacked for
a drink when I desired one. Practically every chemist is a bootlegger.

To show you how badly the system works, let me tell of a personal
experience. I found myself one week-end in a little village which shall
be nameless. I inquired of the inn-keeper if it would be possible to
obtain a bottle of whiskey. “Certainly,” he said. “Simply go to the
drug-store, tell him you are a guest of mine, and I think you will
have no difficulty in getting a good brand.”

I was surprised, to say the least. It chanced to be a Sunday morning.
The church bells were ringing, and as I got to the door of the shop,
the druggist was just leaving it--he lived above it, I believe--for
morning service. I told him my errand; and immediately, without the
slightest hesitation, he opened the door, took me in, and sold me what
I wished. He hadn’t the slightest idea who I was; yet perhaps it was
evident that I was an American traveler. No questions were asked, and
openly I carried my bottle through the streets back to the inn.

In New Brunswick I obtained ale openly in a hotel; and the waitress
told me that almost on every other corner of the city in which I was
stopping, a bootlegger could be found; and if I made my wishes known
there would be no difficulty in purchasing anything I wanted. As it
happened, I wished nothing there; but it was good to know that it could
have been bought any time of the day or evening.

But in the Province of Quebec and in British Columbia quite another
state of affairs will be found. The Government controls the liquor
trade, and guarantees the quality of the alcohol sold. Neat little
Government Liquor Stores, as they are called, are in every city and
town, and a vendor has charge of each one--a regular Government
employee who is “responsible for the carrying-out of the Government
Liquor Act and the regulations so far as they relate to the conduct of
the store and the sale of liquor thereat.”

Everything is done in a most orderly and systematic way. If one
wishes to purchase whiskey, he merely applies to the vendor in his
neighborhood. A small fee is charged; and it is a gratification to
know that this fee goes directly to one’s Government, and not into the
pockets of bootleggers. Supplies are delivered in sealed packages, duly
inscribed; and again it is a gratification to know that one is in no
danger of drinking poison, with the added fear of death or blindness.

There are restrictions--a great many, indeed; but they are wise and for
the best interests of the Province. For instance, it is against the law
to drink in the Government stores; but one may, of course, in an inn
have a supply of liquor in one’s room, or drink light wines and beer in
the public dining-room. Drunkenness is taboo, and one sees very little
of it. The people are prosperous, and everyone is as happy as one can
be in this troubled world. Canada had enormous war debts. I was told
that British Columbia had paid her quota, and in addition had made many
improvements of public highways--all through the revenue derived from
the Government’s sale of liquor.

In British Columbia, great care is exercised that no spurious permits
are received at the stores. The law provides that “no permit shall be
delivered to the applicant until he has, in the presence of the Vendor
or official to whom the application is made, written his signature
thereon in the manner prescribed, for purposes of his identification as
the holder thereof, and the signature has been attested by the Vendor
or official under his hand.”

Permits are not issued to corporations, associations, societies or
partnerships. Therefore the opportunities for fraud are diminished.
And on polling days all the stores are closed. In pre-Volstead times
in the United States the law distinctly said that our saloons should
remain closed on Election Day in many of the big cities; yet was this
regulation--a very wise one--ever enforced? That is one reason why we
have Prohibition today--we simply would not obey even those moderate
and salutary laws enacted for the welfare of the community. The
saloon-keeper paid not the slightest heed to them; in fact, he scoffed
at them; and that is why he has no sympathy from the rest of us, now
that his foul places are gone forever.

One would not be so foolish as to assert that a state of perfection
has been reached in the Government-controlled Provinces. Bootlegging
goes on--but principally because this country is dry. If the States
were also under Government control in the matter of the liquor
traffic, there would be no temptation to transport stuff illicitly
over the border. I imagine that the Canadians are quite as guilty
as the Americans when it comes to these secret transactions; for if
it takes two to make a quarrel, it is equally true that it takes
two to consummate a sale of any kind. There would be a cleaner slate
if we had the common sense to do as, say, Quebec has done. There
are no swinging-door saloons; but there are tidy shops where one is
not ashamed to go. No one is drinking on the sly, pretending to be
consuming coffee out of a cup which really contains a high-ball. “In
vino demi-tasse” is not the motto of Canada, as it is that of the
United States.

It is significant to note that in British Columbia, when that Province
was completely dry--even without beer--141,057 prescriptions for liquor
were issued; yet in the fiscal year which ended March 31, 1922, only
6,568 prescriptions were issued.

And while our own Government continues to ask for mighty appropriations
for the enforcement of Prohibition, the reports from the Province of
Quebec state that for the fiscal year ending in June, 1922, a profit of
$4,000,000 was realized, and that the regulations have proved quite as
successful morally as financially.

Can we say that, in the matter of morals, the Volstead Act has worked
advantageously? It has undermined the whole country; and under
fanaticism, we have shown ourselves to be a total failure. The New York
_World_ says:

    “The Quebec law is a good law because it has city and country
    solidly behind it and it can be enforced. It provides for local
    option, it restricts the purchase of spirits, it allows the sale
    of wine and beer in cafés and it creates no enforcement problem.
    It affects every legitimate reform advocated by the professional
    Prohibitionists of the United States, but quietly, sensibly,
    profitably and without friction.”

If we could but come to the sanity of Canada, in her
Government-controlled Provinces!



CHAPTER XIV

CRIME AND DRUNKENNESS


Promises were made by the reformers that with the advent of
Prohibition the country would witness a great lessening of crime and
drunkenness. Our prisons were to be almost emptied. Unemployment would
be practically unheard of; and the health of the people would be
infinitely better.

Never has the country suffered more from strikes than during that
period between 1920 and the present time. Labor is still restless, for
all the sanctimonious predictions of the Anti-Saloon League. We see,
then, that law and order do not come when we harness a people’s will.
Would that they did! Life would be simple then. People are bound to
burst their bonds and fetters now and then. The spurt of the geyser
goes on, no matter how we seek to suppress it. Old Faithful performs
every hour in Yellowstone Park; and I suppose that until time is no
more, men will go on shouting about their rights, despite such empty
reforms as Prohibition; will go on holding grievances, demanding a
remedy of wrongs, and generally raising Cain. Obstreperous behavior
is not the result of drunkenness--always. People are humanly fond of
cavorting, even without the aid of a stimulant. And so the strikes go
merrily on, and workingmen who were placid under beer are found to be
thinkers under Volsteadism.

The headlines in our papers continue to be sensational, in these times
that were to be so quiet. Murders still occur, strangely enough;
and hold-ups of the most brazen kind take place everywhere. Diamond
ear-rings are snatched from ladies driving in the Park of an evening,
houses are entered by ruffians who tie up the servants and the master
and mistress and calmly go through the premises, taking what they wish.
It is all very shocking, very terrible; but human nature has a way of
remaining what it is. It was thought that only drunkards committed such
heinous crimes. We find that men of sobriety are equally culpable.
The millennium has not arrived; and our prisons are still densely
populated, much as the reformers may deny the disconcerting fact. One
is shocked at the continuance of outrageous crimes; and if, after three
years of experiment with the abolishment of booze, we still face a wave
of disorder and confusion, there seems little hope of that future of
roses and sweetness and light so glibly prophesied.

Hard times continue to confront us, though the fat pay-envelope to
the wife and children of the workingman was to be a weekly event. An
analysis of official figures shows an increase of 44 per cent in the
arrests for drunkenness in 1921 over 1920, and Stuyvesant Fish has
shown that the largest industrial life insurance company reports an
increase of 50 per cent in deaths due to alcoholism in 1921, the second
“dry” year. The statistical Bulletin of the Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company, April, 1922, contained these words:

    “There have been marked increases in the death rates for heart
    disease, Bright’s disease and apoplexy in recent months among
    the industrial policyholders of the Metropolitan Life Insurance
    Company. Small increases in the mortality from these diseases
    had been noticed early in November of last year, but the change
    attracted little attention and caused little comment. The
    possibility that it marked a definite check in the favorable
    tendency shown for several years for each of these diseases was
    not seriously considered. By December, however, the death rate
    had taken a more decided upward turn for each disease. Organic
    heart disease registered a rate of 124.9 as compared with 118.4
    in November; the apoplexy rate rose from 62.9 to 70.6, and that
    for Bright’s disease from 69.1 to 71.9. By January it had become
    apparent that for two of these diseases, at least, a definite
    upward tendency was in progress. The heart disease rate increased
    sharply from the December figure of 124.9 to 137.2, and that for
    chronic nephritis went up nearly three points over the December
    figure. The apoplexy rate for this one month fell somewhat. In
    February the heart disease figure rose even more sharply than for
    January (to 153.4), the nephritis rate again increased slightly (to
    75.8) and that for apoplexy returned to approximately the December
    level. By March the rate for organic heart disease had reached
    168.2 per 100,000, one of the highest figures ever recorded in any
    one month among Metropolitan industrial policyholders. The March
    rates for chronic nephritis (87.5) and for apoplexy (75.8) are
    both the highest registered for those diseases since March, 1920.”

The Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, Inc., has collected
statistics to prove that crime has by no means diminished since the
passage of the Volstead Act; and with their kind permission I give a
tabulated list of twenty cities in the United States, which, under
Prohibition, have revealed an increase in arrests for all sorts of
crimes. These are the official figures in each city.

At random I have taken some statistics from various parts of the
country, to show how drunkenness has not disappeared since the passage
of the Eighteenth Amendment. Rather, has it increased. In Baltimore,
Maryland, for instance, the arrests for drunkenness during the period
between January and April, 1922, were over two-thirds as many as for
the entire year of 1921.

  April, 1922                      354
  April, 1921                      238
  April, 1920                       69
  January to December, 1921      3,258
  January to December, 1920      1,785

In the State of Wyoming, the total number of prisoners in jail on July
1, 1922, was 561. On July 1, 1917, there were but 452.


_CRIME UNDER PROHIBITION IN THIRTY AMERICAN CITIES_

                                                    _Drunkenness and_
                                    _Arrests_          _Disorderly_
                   _Population_    _All Causes_          _Conduct_
                        _1920_    _1920_    _1921_    _1920_   _1921_
  Philadelphia       1,823,779    73,015    83,136    20,443   27,115
  Detroit              995,678    43,309    50,676     5,989    6,349
  Boston               748,060    58,817    72,161    22,341   31,794
  Baltimore            733,826    41,988    54,602    13,443   20,496
  Pittsburgh           588,343    36,572    41,820    14,373   16,990
  Buffalo              506,775    24,436    32,377     8,491    9,650
  San Francisco        506,676    26,672    30,106     2,794    6,005
  Milwaukee            457,147    10,545    15,520     2,400    3,481
  Cincinnati           401,247    14,175    21,973     2,062    3,106
  Minneapolis          380,582    10,608    17,874     2,982    6,051
  Portland, Ore.       258,288    18,445    30,856     3,654    4,379
  Denver               256,491    12,947    19,649     1,847    3,163
  Louisville           234,891     7,857     9,601     1,092    2,361
  St. Paul             234,698     5,638    10,077     1,902    4,319
  Oakland, Cal.        216,281     3,706     4,497     1,261    2,191
  Akron, Ohio          208,435    12,558    10,104     5,228    3,939
  Birmingham           178,806    16,786    21,488     2,886    4,612
  Richmond             171,667    12,706    15,532     1,563    1,953
  New Haven            162,537     7,934     8,465     3,186    3,184
  Dallas               158,976    26,058    35,848     1,219    1,338
  Hartford             138,036     8,072     7,395     4,057    3,207
  Paterson             135,875     4,058     3,809     1,637    1,509
  Springfield, Mass.   129,614     3,757     4,574       625      920
  Des Moines           126,468     4,465     4,982     1,530    1,598
  Trenton              119,289     5,693     5,577     1,550    1,426
  Salt Lake City       118,110     7,728     7,505       883      909
  Albany               113,344     3,216     4,168       578      900
  Cambridge, Mass.     109,694     3,822     4,664       871    1,423
  Spokane              104,437     6,478     7,237       933    1,311
  Kansas City, Kas.    101,177     4,774     4,129        45      133
                    ----------   -------   -------   -------  -------
    Total           10,417,227   516,835   640,402   131,855  185,808

       Total in 30 Cities             _1920_        _1921_   _Increase_
  Violation of Prohibition Laws        9,375        18,976     102.0%
  Drunken Autoists                     1,513         2,743      81.0%
  Thefts and Burglary                 24,770        26,888       9.0%
  Homicide                             1,086         2,124      12.7%
  Assaults and Battery                21,147        23,977      13.4%
  Drug Addictions, etc.                1,897         2,745      44.6%
  Police Department Costs        $31,193,639   $34,762,196      11.4%

Judge Cavanagh of Chicago estimated that there were from 7,500 to 8,000
cases of murder and manslaughter in the United States in 1921. But the
Special Commission on Law Enforcement of the American Bar Association,
in its official report made on August 10th, 1922, stated that there
were no less than 9,500 “unlawful homicides” in this country in 1921.
The average per day was twenty-six. In the previous year there were
at least 9,000 such homicides. In the first nine months and a half of
1922 there were 101 “unlawful homicides” in Philadelphia alone, as
compared with the same number during all of 1921. In the same city, the
arrests for violation of the dry law numbered 32,281, for the period
between January and September, 1922. Of these, 25,925 were “drunk and
disorderly.”

In Providence, Rhode Island, drunkenness has increased 85 per cent
since 1919. In Rochester, New York, crimes of violence in 1921 numbered
607, as against 488 in 1917. In the latter year there were 323 arrests
for burglary, while in 1921 there were no less than 502. It has been
reported that the western part of the State has become the victim of a
new crop of young, educated and what are called “polished” crooks.

Sing Sing prison deported no less than sixty prisoners to Auburn in
May, 1922, because of overcrowding.

The warden of Sing Sing, to whom I wrote, asking for figures as to the
inmates received at his prison, very graciously and with unprecedented
promptness sent me the following report, and told me I could make my
own deductions:

  Fiscal year ending June 30th, 1917      1071
    ”     ”     ”     ”    ”    1918      1197
    ”     ”     ”     ”    ”    1919      1073
    ”     ”     ”     ”    ”    1920      1490
    ”     ”     ”     ”    ”    1921      1414
    ”     ”     ”     ”    ”    1922      1613

Figures do not lie.

Yet the Prohibitionists insist that conditions are better than ever
before, and I have seen otherwise intelligent citizens take it for
granted that the figures given by a speaker at some uplift meeting were
correct. Few of us go to the trouble of verifying statistics. But the
fact remains that passionate crimes continue, murders of unprecedented
cruelty are committed all the time, and a heaven on earth is, I fear,
remote from us.



CHAPTER XV

THE LITERARY DIGEST’S CANVASS


The cry has gone up from time to time since the passage of the Volstead
Act that the country at large wanted--nay, had demanded, Prohibition.
_The Literary Digest_, hearing and noting these reiterations, decided
to investigate the feeling of the land. They would have a referendum of
the people through a straw vote; and they would get, in that way, at
the truth.

Many of us were not at all sure of the sentiment in communities like
the Far and Middle West. We knew that the South, for reasons best
known to itself, had favored large arid territories; but the East had
remained insistently wet. Therefore, it was a big surprise, when the
_Literary Digest’s_ returns began to come in, to discover that in
many sections a reverse feeling flourished from that which had been
anticipated. It must have proved a shock to the Anti-Saloon League, in
its smug complacency, to learn that many citizens, like a man I met in
Omaha, declared that he was greatly in favor of Prohibition--until we
got it.

Indeed, many feel just like that. Conditions are certainly intolerable
wherever I have been. Drunkenness may have disappeared from the
sidewalks, but it has taken to the taxicab; and though the corner
saloon has gone (I hope forever) the hip-flask has taken its place, on
the south-east corner of many an individual.

So much had been said and written of the feeling of the country, that
the _Digest_ (the editor-in-chief is a Prohibitionist, if I am not
mistaken) went right to the heart of the thing, in no uncertain manner.
Much discussion had taken place as to the temper of the people, and
there seemed no way of arriving at the truth.

Ten million blanks were sent out, to every kind of voter. The Bonus
for Soldiers and Sailors was more or less tied up with Prohibition.
Therefore it was deemed wise to try to get the popular sentiment on
both questions at the same time.

The questionnaire, in the form of a ballot, was as follows:

  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .
  :  Secret Ballot on Prohibition and Soldiers’ Bonus  :
  :      No Signature--No Condition--No Obligation     :
  :               Mark and Mail at Once                :
  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

  _PROHIBITION:_ (Put a cross (x) in the square only
  opposite the policy you favor)

  A. Do you favor the continuance and              +---+
     strict enforcement of the Eighteenth          |   |
     Amendment and Volstead Law?                   +---+

  B. Do you favor a modification of the            +---+
     Volstead Law to permit light wines            |   |
     and beers?                                    +---+

  C. Do you favor a repeal of the                  +---+
     Prohibition Amendment?                        |   |
                                                   +---+
                                         Mark (X) in ONE
                                           Square Only
  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  SOLDIERS’ BONUS: (Put a cross (x) in the square)
                                           _Yes_    _No_
  Do you favor a Federal Bonus for all     +---+   +---+
  American Soldiers and Sailors who        |   |   |   |
  wore the Uniform during the World        +---+   +---+
  War?

  It is important to Mark and Return This Ballot Immediately.

Every precaution was taken to obviate dishonesty; but I suppose as
there never was an election without trouble at the polls--it would be
expecting too much of human beings to believe otherwise--so in this
solicitation there may have been a few duplicate votes to swell the
general average, one way or the other. Yet the _Digest_ had confidence
in the returns; and through their canvass of the various States we have
come to see that there are not only “wets” and “drys,” but a third
enormous party of what we might call “moists.” By this term is meant
the people who wish a modification of the Volstead Act, permitting the
sale of light wines and beer. Indeed, this party predominated in the
final returns.

The Anti-Saloon League has scorned the _Digest’s_ figures; yet one has
a feeling that if the showing had been in favor of a strict observance
and upholding of the present Prohibition law, a different attitude
might have been observed on its part. It is but human, after all, to
wish the tide to turn in the direction one has spiritedly advocated.
Even the “moists” must have been surprised at their own brilliant
showing.

It was in July, 1922, that the first reports were made; and the
_Digest_ was amazed when the ballots of the first hundred thousand
poured in.

Those in favor of a strict enforcement numbered 32,445.

Those in favor of a modification numbered 39,665.

Those in favor of a repeal of the Prohibition Amendment numbered 22,547.

As to the Soldiers’ Bonus, the vote was almost even. Yes, 46,609. No,
47,469.

“Dampness seems to predominate,” the _Digest_ said. “The most startling
fact revealed by this first tally is that the early voters are against
the continuance and enforcement of the present Prohibition law by the
proportion of nearly two to one. On the other hand, the voters show
themselves in favor of the Prohibition Amendment, or, in other words,
in favor of some sort of a Prohibition law, by the even larger ratio of
72,000 to 22,500.”

The editors were exceedingly fair in their appraisement of conditions.
They stated that “In Kansas, the votes run 111 for strict enforcement,
34 for modification and 14 for repeal of the Amendment. Thus the
Prohibitionists, it is seen, outnumber the combined ‘moists’ and ‘wets’
by almost three to one, a situation that is duplicated in no other
State. Since this early vote was tabulated, a large number of returns
have come in for Kansas and, even though we may be anticipating next
week’s report of votes, it may be mentioned that this large vote is a
striking verification of the conditions indicated by the small vote
shown here. Kansas is for Prohibition, by approximately three to one.
It is a significant fact, also, that this State has tried a dry régime
for a number of years, and knows better than most others how it works.”

But here again no thinking man, it seems to me, has a right to find
fault with a State which wishes earnestly to go dry. Local option is
sensible and reasonable; a certain territory could fence itself in,
as it were, guarding itself from a menace, making all the strict laws
it desired to protect its people from what it considered a tremendous
evil. But it has no right to inflict its statutes upon its friendly
neighbors, any more than the United States has a right to restrict
drinking on the ocean, forbidding foreign vessels to enter our ports
with cargoes of sealed spirits.

It is interesting to note how the various States voted in this
preliminary canvass.


_DETAILED TABULATION OF THE FIRST RETURNS ON PROHIBITION_

  NEW ENGLAND        _For_            _For_            _For_
  STATES         _Enforcement_    _Modification_     _Repeal_
  1--MAINE             24                17                17
  2--N. H.             16                13                 3
  3--VT.               16                 6                 6
  4--MASS.          4,242             4,862             2,805
  5--R. I.              7                14                17
  6--CONN.             34                39                20
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES    4,339             4,951             2,868

  MIDDLE ATLANTIC STATES
  1--N. Y.          6,169             9,315             4,966
  2--N. J.             29                45                27
  3--PENN.          8,307             9,139             6,573
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES   14,505            18,499            11,566

  EAST NORTH CENTRAL STATES
  1--OHIO             829               716               250
  2--IND.             152                73                33
  3--ILL.           9,312            12,012             6,621
  4--MICH.            125                84                36
  5--WISC.             75                69                22
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES   10,493            12,954             6,962

  WEST NORTH CENTRAL STATES
  1--MINN.             89                82                17
  2--IOWA             113                88                23
  3--MO.              100                67                33
  4--N. DAK.           16                17                 1
  5--S. DAK.           21                 9                 2
  6--NEBR.             72                44                19
  7--KANS.            111                34                14
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES      522               341               109

  SOUTH ATLANTIC STATES
  1--DEL.               6                 4                 3
  2--MD.               15                27                36
  3--D. C.             14                27                 8
  4--VA.               28                27                 9
  5--W. VA.            18                20                 4
  6--N. CAR.           32                14                 7
  7--S. CAR.           10                11                 4
  8--GA.               24                27                12
  9--FLA.              11                 4                 8
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES      158               161                91

  EAST SOUTH CENTRAL STATES
  1--KY.               27                25                28
  2--TENN.             42                17                10
  3--ALA.              23                19                 5
  4--MISS.             13                11                 5
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES      105                72                48

  WEST SOUTH CENTRAL STATES
  1--ARK.              15                12                 1
  2--LA.               12                13                 3
  3--OKLA.             43                29                 7
  4--TEXAS            116                62                21
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES      186               116                32

  MOUNTAIN STATES
  1--MONT.             11                16                 8
  2--IDAHO              9                13                 5
  3--WYO.               2                 5                --
  4--COLO.             31                30                11
  5--N. MEX.            5                 5                 1
  6--ARIZ.              8                 3                --
  7--UTAH               8                16                 6
  8--NEV.               1                 1                 1
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES       75                89                32

  PACIFIC STATES
  1--WASH.            830               951               247
  2--OREG.             28                22                 6
  3--CALIF.         1,204             1,509               585
                  -------           -------           -------
     TOTAL VOTES    2,062             2,482               839
                  -------           -------           -------
  GRAND TOTAL      32,445            39,665            22,547

After the first and second polls had been taken by the _Digest_,--that
is, after 200,000 votes had been classified,--the editors asked for an
expression of opinion from William H. Anderson, State Superintendent of
the Anti-Saloon League of New York and President of the Allied Citizens
of America. He admitted the honesty, good faith and fairness of the
canvass, but deemed it “unwise.” And he went on to say:

    “There is a clear and fundamental distinction between taking a
    poll on a question which is yet to be decided and taking a poll
    on a question which has been decided. In the latter case the
    issue inevitably presented to many minds is whether the law which
    represents the decision shall be enforced.”

There are millions of citizens who look upon the Eighteenth Amendment
as cause for a grievance; and the First Amendment states very clearly
“the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.”

Surely it is no breach of the peace to ask for an expression from
voters concerning a matter so serious as Prohibition, on which they
never voted. How else could a clear comprehension be gained of the
wishes of the people, save through the press in a country so vast as
ours? Naturally, there would be resentment in the dry camp at any
attempt to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment; but I hope there are no
Americans who would honestly favor a supine obedience to a law which
is abhorrent to such a number of us. Intolerance is not a worthy
sentiment. It is a healthy sign when people disagree. The clash of
minds leads to larger prospects of final understanding; and if it is
found in the end that Prohibition is ardently wanted by the majority,
we shall continue to have Prohibition, with, I trust, a perfect
carrying out of the law. The _Digest’s_ desire to learn the truth is an
admirable one. The advocates of Mr. Volstead have nothing to fear from
it. If they are right, and people like myself are wrong, then right
will prevail. Meanwhile, nothing is gained by cantankerously bidding us
behave ourselves, and bow to the inevitable. This is but an added form
of Prohibition which only serves to stir up enmities, to create further
discords, and muddle matters even more. Your honest opinion and mine
are quite as valuable to the country as that of Mr. Volstead and Mr.
Anderson.

And so the _Literary Digest_ evidently thought. For it continued to
publish returns as they came flooding into the editorial office.
Innumerable letters accompanied the votes. People from all sections of
the country “spoke out in meeting,” advocating Government control of
the liquor traffic. From Omaha and New Jersey this advice came, and
from practically every State of the Union. The people were being heard
from.

The second hundred-thousand voted as follows:

  For strict enforcement      76,597
  For modification            85,151
  For repeal                  45,646

A poll was taken in many factories where both men and women are
employed. In the Edison works in New Jersey, the poll was taken under
the supervision of Charles A. Edison, “who saw to it that the ballots
were distributed one to each worker. They were marked secretly,
and deposited by the individual workers in sealed ballot boxes,
later opened by representatives of the _Digest_. The result shows a
proportion of slightly more than twenty to one against the continuation
and enforcement of the present liquor laws.” This is the vote:

  For enforcement                 93
  For modification               976
  For repeal                     966

A careful poll of the establishment of Parke, Davis & Company,
manufacturing chemists, of Detroit, revealed the following results:

  For enforcement                218
  For modification             1,081
  For repeal                     211

Combining these two polls, the attitude of the workers in two
representative factories would be summarized as follows:

  For enforcement                311
  For modification             2,059
  For repeal                   1,177

In connection with factories and labor, one inevitably thinks of Samuel
Gompers. The _Digest_ asked him for an expression of opinion, wishing
to get all sides of all subjects, and he sent this strong statement:

“In addition to the vile and poisonous substitution for whiskey so
largely consumed, and in addition to the increased drug habit since
Prohibition, Prohibition has made a nation of grouches. It has taken
the joy out of the American people, as can be attested by almost every
social gathering. The whole scheme is unwarrantable interference with
the personal freedom of the people, and increases discontent and
resentment in the knowledge that those who have it, have it. I firmly
believe that a modification of the Volstead Act so that beer and light
wines may be manufactured and sold under proper regulations would solve
the whole question rationally and helpfully.”

The discontent of the worker is something to be considered--even
by fanatics who would rule us by force, and seek to restrain too
thoroughly man’s natural appetites. One must take into account the
wishes of that vast army who do the drudgery of the world; and it
does not require an immense amount of imagination to understand what
the years may bring. If there is an apparent stolid indifference now
in the realms of labor, the _Digest’s_ poll would seem to contradict
any such belief. That the workingman is beginning to realize that a
distinct form of class legislation has taken place there can be no
doubt. I think the authorities would never dare to encroach upon a
laborer’s rights in the matter of home brew. Yet they must be aware
that, deprived of his only club, the corner saloon, the workingman who
still desires a glass of beer occasionally is methodically producing
it. Against the law? To the devil with the law, says the hard-working
day laborer, when the rich disobey it every hour of their lives.

Another factory, which employs women, was also canvassed. This was
the establishment of the Campbell’s Soup Company in New Jersey.
Approximately 30 per cent of the workers polled were women; yet the
vote is against the present laws by a proportion of 9 to 1. This is how
the voting ran:

  For enforcement                162
  For modification               720
  For repeal                     750

But the final figures are the most interesting of all. A summary
of 922,383 ballots revealed this result, which must have proved
disheartening to the Anti-Saloon League:


_SUMMARY OF 922,383 BALLOTS ON PROHIBITION_

               _For Enforcement_  _For Modification_     _For Repeal_
  Main Poll     306,255--(38.5%)   325,549--(41.1%)   164,453--(20.4%)
  Women’s Poll   48,485--(44.5%)    39,914--(36.7%)    20,448--(18.8%)
  Factory Polls   1,453--( 8.4%)    10,871--(62.1%)     4,955--(29.5%)
                ----------------   ----------------   ----------------
  TOTALS        356,193--(38.6%)   376,334--(40.8%)   189,856--(20.6%)

Is it necessary for anyone to say anything further about the temper of
the country? Facts are facts.

To repeat what my friend in Omaha said:

“Prohibition was all right--until we got it!”



CHAPTER XVI

LITERATURE AND PROHIBITION


The Young-Old Philosopher has recently been traveling over the country
as far west as the Coast. He had heard that conditions, so far as
Prohibition was concerned, were excellent out there; but he wished to
observe for himself.

He found them quite the contrary. In states like Oregon and Washington,
which went dry long before national Prohibition became an established
fact, the people were obtaining anything they desired. Close to the
border, there is plenty of bootlegging, endless daring adventuring in
the liquor traffic, many a bold plunge over the line to bring whiskey
and gin into United States territory.

And they certainly bring it. Meanwhile, the propaganda of the Puritans
goes on--or, rather, the impropaganda; for it is not true that people
are behaving themselves. There is just as much discontent and disorder
among westerners as among easterners, so the Young-Old Philosopher
observed.

But in cities like Omaha, which is about in the center of the country,
there is a dryness which is depressing. Passing through a hotel
corridor one day at noon, the Young-Old Philosopher heard male
voices, chanting in unison. He stepped to the open door of a private
dining-room, and was much amused to see a group of forty or fifty solid
business men, all wearing little badges proclaiming their allegiance
to some organization or other, standing about the tables, lifting high
their glasses of water, and shouting these words:

 “With the _feed_ on the _ta_-bull,
  And a good song _ring_-ing clear!”

There was a desperate attempt at gaiety, a look in the eye of each
prospective luncheoner which seemed to say, “We _will_ have a good
time--in spite of Prohibition!” But my friend turned away at this
travesty on mirth and good fellowship. He wondered if Richard Hovey
was not turning in his grave at the cruel editing of his deathless
“Stein Song,” and he counted it a pity that pewter mugs had been
superseded by ice-water goblets; and he saw that Gopher Prairie was
indeed a dreadful reality. Not that he would have wished to see the
law disobeyed. He merely deprecated the tragic fact that this was the
pass we had come to; this was the drab social order we had definitely
arrived at. He went disconsolately down the hallway, brooding of all
those ancient poets who had held it no shame to sing of the vine and
the flowing bowl. No one had ever written a song in praise of food. And
he thought if Hovey could be edited, soon the Bible itself would hear
the snip-snip of the shears, as certain boisterous passages were cut
out; and as for poor old Omar, he wondered how soon it would be before
he was paraphrased by the reformers somewhat in this manner:

  Here with a little Bread beneath the Bough,
  A Flask of Milk, a Book of Verse--and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
  Ah! Paradise were Wilderness enow.

And of course quatrains like this would soon be omitted from all
editions:

  Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare
  Blaspheme the twisted tendril as a Snare?
    A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
  And if a Curse--why, then, Who set it there?

The story of the Marriage Feast at Cana must make sorry reading for any
Prohibitionist; and the Young-Old Philosopher doubts not that it will
be torn from the records in years to come. We shall not even be given
the pleasure of reading about the jubilations of vanished times--times
rich in banquets. Think of imperial Rome without golden goblets! They
were as much a part of the feast as the fruit and the lights; and if we
are to be deprived of the vicarious joy of dipping into the pagan past,
might we not just as well renounce life entirely? Red wine will be as
antiquated as the ermine and crowns of kings, my friend believes; yet
who can deny the picturesqueness of the scepter and the court fool?
They may not have been important, but they gave a glamour to dreary
days. “And some of us may prefer them,” says the Young-Old Philosopher,
“to the dandruff-covered collars of stupid senators and congressmen.”

There is an old song of Abraham Cowley’s, written somewhere between
1618 and 1667, which must give pain to any Prohibitionist. Will they
strive to Bowdlerize the anthologies, erase from literature so true
and human a poem as this, which voices a thought almost as old as the
world? It is after Anacreon.

  The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
  And drinks, and gapes for drink again;
  The plants suck in the earth, and are
  With constant drinking, fresh and fair;
  The sea itself (which one would think
  Should have but little need of drink)
  Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
  So filled that they o’erflow the cup.
  The busy sun (and one would guess
  By’s drunken fiery face no less)
  Drinks up the sea, and, when he’s done,
  The moon and stars drink up the sun:
  They drink and dance by their own light;
  They drink and revel all the night.
  Nothing in nature’s sober found,
  But an eternal “health” goes round.
  Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high--
  Fill all the glasses there; for why
  Should every creature drink but I?
  Why, men of morals, tell me why?

Think of losing from English literature lines like these, from the
“Last Poems” of A. E. Housman:

  Could man be drunk forever
    With liquor, love, or fights,
  Lief should I rouse at morning
    And lief lie down at nights.

  But men at whiles are sober
    And think by fits and starts,
  And if they think, they fasten
    Their hands upon their hearts.

And so modern and exquisite a poet as Richard Le Gallienne has had
much to say metrically of the follies of attempting to regulate by law
the natural appetites of man. He sounds a warning in this tragic-comic
ballade, spurning the busy-body reformers:

  They took away your drink from you,
    The kind old humanizing glass;
  Soon they will take tobacco too,
    And next they’ll take our demi-tasse.
    Don’t say, “The bill will never pass,”
  Nor this my warning word disdain;
    You said it once, you silly ass--
  Don’t make the same mistake again.

  We know them now, the bloodless crew,
    We know them all too well, alas!
  There’s nothing that they wouldn’t do
    To make the world a Bible class;
    Though against bottled beer or Bass
  I search the sacred text in vain
    To find a whisper--by the Mass!
  Don’t make the same mistake again.

  Beware these legislators blue,
    Pouring their moral poison-gas
  On all the joys our fathers knew;
    The very flowers in the grass
    Are safe no more, and, lad and lass,
  ’Ware the old birch-rod and the cane!
    Here comes our modern Hudibras!--
  Don’t make the same mistake again.

                  ENVOI

  Prince, vanished is the rail of brass,
    So mark me well and my refrain--
  Tobacco next! you silly ass,
    Don’t make the same mistake again.

It would be sad indeed to lose such a song as “Drink to Me Only with
Thine Eyes!” How much poorer the garden of Poetry would be without such
bibulous planters of rhyme as Burns and Poe and Verlaine! I suppose the
paid Puritans would have even our poets walk the humdrum way, so that
we would have no news of life from taverns and inns. The picturesque
vagabond, the rapscallion son of song must be pulled in from the
pleasant highways and made to “conform.”

Conform to what? A three-room flat with kitchenette and running water,
and a clerk’s desk downtown, with methodical rides on a heaving Subway
train at eight in the morning and again at six in the evening. Well,
there are other modes of living that seem a trifle sweeter to the
dreamers of dreams, the makers of beauty. Art is not produced like so
many bricks or like so many waffles in a waffle iron. It is shot with
wonder; and just as the water-lily emerges in its white perfection from
dubious slimy stems, so a great work of loveliness may sometimes rise
from the meanest sources. That is what your Pharisee does not--and
cannot--understand. He would cast us all into one mess-pot, stew us
all in the same juice, and bid us all conform to some stupid “ideal”
which he has the effrontery to hold before the artist as the ultimate
goodness.



CHAPTER XVII

AMERICA TODAY


My friend, the Young-Old Philosopher, is worried about America. He
sees a drift toward old-time Puritanism--with the hood of hypocrisy
used as a general covering. He knows a distinguished judge who
recently sentenced a little bootlegger to thirty days in jail, and
excoriated him in the court-room with all the power of language at his
command. Then he dismissed court for the day, as he had an important
social engagement uptown. On the way, he suggested to the Young-Old
Philosopher that they drop in at a smart club. He was very weary after
his heavy day’s work, and needed a bracer. He got it.

On an evening a little later, this same personage--a man greatly
respected in his community, whose utterances on civic affairs are often
quoted in the papers--attended a dinner at one of the big hotels. Many
eminent jurists and publicists were gathered together to do honor to
one of their number. A little bar, with a man in a neat white jacket in
charge, had been set up in a room not too remote from the dining-room;
and thither the Great Men repaired to refresh themselves after the
arduous duty of imposing fines and prison sentences on ruffians who
dispensed alcohol through the city to those who, like the Great Men,
could pay for it. But--“Judge not, lest ye be jugged.”

And the Young-Old Philosopher told me that once he stood in the private
office of a well-known lawyer when the telephone bell rang. He could
not help hearing the conversation, which ran somewhat like this:

“Yes? That you, Pete?... A dozen cases of the same--_you_ know.
Tonight, if possible. Try to get it there. Same price, of course....
Without fail; and I have a friend who wants to see you. Here’s the
address: 000 Sherman. Call him up. He’s all right. Good-bye, Pete.”

The Young-Old Philosopher has himself told me that he has no scruples
about disobeying the liquor law; yet somehow it gave him no little
pain to listen to this monologue, uttered by one whose life is given
to forensic pleadings, whose maledictions pour forth in cataracts of
eloquence when some shuddering nobody stands at the Bar of Justice. It
is as though a priest left the altar to abscond, immediately after a
high-minded sermon on the duties of Christians.

In a far western State my friend saw the Governor take many highballs
during and after a banquet in a public room. He saw the Mayor of the
city do likewise; and he was conscious that a gentleman of the cloth
was slowly but surely growing unconscious as the dinner went on its
merry way. He had never before seen this happen.

He was told by a fellow traveler, whose word he could not doubt, that
all but 25 per cent of the Legislature of another western State went
out and got beastly drunk, after they had voted for Prohibition.

He has heard the jibes that foreigners, seeing what he has seen, fling
at us every day; and he has had no answer to give them.

He has come upon boys trying to open the lockers in country clubs--not
little rowdies, but the sons of influential members--that they might
steal some of the old man’s whiskey. They have boasted of their
attempted and successful thefts.

He has seen flappers disgustingly intoxicated. He has observed them
putting their hands up to the hip-pockets of their boy companions, to
see if a flask was there. Alas! it was.

As limousines and taxis have flashed by him, he has caught glimpses
of youngsters who, five years ago, would not have been allowed to go
out without a chaperone, in such close proximity that for a moment he
thought it was but one strange enigmatic form in the car.

He has seen college boys in groups of three and four disappear into
a small compartment on a train--and emerge ten minutes later with
downcast eyes and sheepish grins, flushed with liquor; and he has seen
the same boys repeat the proceeding ten or a dozen times on a journey
lasting but a couple of hours.

He has seen a woman, injured in the streets of one of our big cities,
lying almost unconscious. A hotel was close by, and a doctor in the
crowd suggested that someone rush to get some brandy. The man who
volunteered to go came back without any--none was available, nor could
the proprietor be induced to send any out, even if he had had it. He
was suspicious of a stranger, making such a request--he was suspicious
of everybody. Police in civilian clothes--oh, they were all too common
these days, that he knew; and no one was going to catch _him_, even
though a wounded woman lay prone and groaning at his door.

He has heard the social service worker in a New York hospital say
that, while conditions had slightly improved during the first few
months of Prohibition, they were now worse than ever. In the old
days, a workingman spent, say, $2.50 on grog out of his weekly wages,
and was content to let it go at that; now he spends ten and twelve
dollars--he’ll get his liquor at any cost; and the wives and families
of such men are in despair. With the passing of time, the people have
learned how to get drinks, and how to make them, and they are becoming
more expert every day. But they drink poison--anything they can lay
their hands upon--and become all but raving maniacs for a while.

He has seen form letters from bootleggers in New York, giving price
lists, just as though there were no law forbidding such transactions.
Deliveries were promised within the city, at rates commensurately low.
It was even stated that “prices were going down,” and that the best gin
could be obtained, as well as other materials of alcoholic content.
A printed address was given, and the mails were boldly used for this
questionable business.

He has known friends who had been on the water wagon for years to take
to home-brewing as a natural course. Their excuse was that they could
not afford the prices asked by professional bootleggers; and they
were certain that they could not possibly give a dinner party now--of
all times--without offering some stimulant to their guests. In the
old days they would have ventured to do so. Since Prohibition people
expected--and usually received--plenty of wet refreshment. They did not
care to be segregated from their acquaintances; they did not relish
the idea of having their invitations refused. So they gladly became
law-breakers, and swiftly acquired skill in the preparation of all
sorts of wines, gin and beer.

He has seen, in a Southern city, the wife of a leading judge serving
a punch made of apple juice and peach juice--oh, a very heady punch
indeed!--to State officials, who had no qualms about accepting it,
though they were aware that the law was being broken. And he saw young
men made quite tight on this same punch.

He has observed people entering a restaurant in New York with packages
which obviously contained bottles. These, under the eye of a policeman
in uniform, were taken from them by the employees of the hotel. One,
a bottle of champagne, was poured into a great pitcher--the customers
were graciously permitted to watch the process in a private room--and
then served openly, again under the officer’s eye and nose, in the main
dining room. So twisted has become our legal logic, that it seems it
is one thing to drink from a bottle and quite another to drink from a
pitcher. A nation of sophists, as well as hypocrites.

He has seen motors searched on public highways, without a warrant; and
he has known innocent occupants of the car to be told that “they could
go on--the police had nothing on them.”

He entered a small police station in California with a friend who had
lost a valuable cigarette case--a friend of distinction. The officers
instantly recognized him, opened a desk, exposing dozens of quarts of
whiskey, and offered both the Young-Old Philosopher and his friend
a drink. These officers were quite drunk. They laughingly told the
complainant that they had just “pinched” a roadhouse, and were going
to sell to another roadhouse the stock which they did not consume--and
“pinch” the second man in due season, taking the pre-arranged graft
which would come out of his profit.

He remembers the case in the State of New York--no doubt others have
forgotten it, as they forget much that they should remember--of an
innocent farmer driving his motor through the countryside one day at
dusk. He was ordered to stop by an officer who suddenly appeared on
the road, and when he refused to do so he was instantly shot. Senator
Wadsworth aired this frightful incident in the Senate, and the chief
Prohibition enforcement officer of the State announced that it was the
duty of automobilists to halt when they were ordered to do so, or they
might suffer a like fate.

He has seen in many a woman’s club, bottles of liquor smuggled in,
cocktails made by the employees and served in private rooms. Then,
because it was strictly against the rules to drink openly, like cats
who had just stolen the cream, the ladies and their men guests walked
guiltily but airily into the dining room, imagining that there were no
evidences of their wrong-doing. The neat little leather or silver cases
which contained the forbidden alcohol were automatically returned to
their owners, who in turn handed them to their waiting chauffeurs--the
latter, of course, were omitted from the happy function--and were taken
home to be replenished at the next gathering.

He has known an old lady, very ill, who craved, as she had never craved
anything, a single glass of champagne; but even her druggist could not
get it for her, at any price, on a doctor’s prescription. And she was
denied the exhilaration of this simple luxury, in order, so my friend
supposes, that some worthless drunkard who might better be under the
sod, should be saved.

Indeed, he has known many an invalid who might have gone to his grave a
bit happier for some momentary stimulant which stupid reformers saw fit
to withhold.

He was told by the proprietor of several supper places in one of our
great cities--and he cannot doubt his word, since he has known him for
a long, long time--that one of the federal Prohibition officers who
live on graft receives not less than five dollars for every case of
wine which passes the Customs. Very swiftly this official is growing
unbelievably rich; he does not wish, naturally, to see a return to
what might now be considered the old, calm days. Not long ago, this
grafter decided that it was about time to make a spectacular “raid”
and close up, for a while, the cabarets along the route where he
acted as supreme czar. For Washington might take his long inaction
as neglect of duty. Therefore he set a night when he visited various
restaurants in a limousine, warning the proprietors that they must shut
down. But he added, in the ear of each, “Don’t worry! this is only a
bluff--a spectacular gesture. You’ll all be free to sell stuff in a
little while.” He meant that phrase, “a little while,” for, of course,
his graft ceased during the interval of grayness. But the federal
government, getting his report, seemed pleased at his attention to
his duties, and all was serene for him. Champagne was purchased soon
afterwards in all these cabarets, and the jazz struck up a livelier
tune, and everybody was happy.

He has read with astonishment that the student-governing body in
several of our colleges has found it necessary to take formal action
for the suppression of intoxication among under-graduates. Was this
ever done in “the good old days”? Think of it! Your boy, whom the
Volstead Act was to protect from the scandal of drunkenness, must have
what is comparable to the Mullan-Gage Act and the Hobert Act pressed
upon him in his college, so that he may be made to see the dangers that
lurk in alcohol. The great and holy Government cannot control him; a
minor form of tyranny and suppression must come into existence to aid
the already heavy machinery of the law to run smoothly.

He has known of an exalted judge who purchased liquor from a police
officer, had it delivered at his door in a patrol wagon; and that wagon
was guarded by a man in uniform.

He has known another minion of the law who admitted that, though he had
not violated the Volstead Act, for conscientious reasons, had never so
much as had a case of bought-and-paid-for whiskey or beer carted to his
door, he had somehow “found” a bottle or two in his home, left there by
sympathetic friends, he supposed; yet he did not inquire. “Conscience
doth make cowards of us all,” as _Hamlet_ said; but how one absolves
himself is a matter of private concern. Rationalism could go no further
than this minion’s processes of reasoning. Strange indeed are the
ways of powerful public officials, obeying one law to the letter, and
letting their ethics slip and slide when it comes to some other law
which they do not really wish to keep, and do not really wish to break.

He has heard a dapper young society man in Massachusetts glibly state
that the best bootlegger in his town is a federal Prohibition officer,
who can “get him anything he wants from beer to whiskey and liqueurs.”
And the dapper young man thought this was “perfectly all right, and
rather good to know in these arid days.” Moreover, one was perfectly
certain that what one purchased from this scoundrel was the real
thing--no chance of wood-alcohol blindness, or anything of that sort.

You will notice that what the Young-Old Philosopher has seen is
not confined to any one section of the country. He has traveled
considerably to make his observations.

This is the America of today, as the Young-Old Philosopher sees it. He
says he is not so worried about the present generation as about the
generation that may come after it. Surely the potential mothers and
fathers of children a decade hence are not fit to take upon themselves
the responsibilities and burdens of parenthood. What kind of offspring
will they produce? So long as we are looking ahead, providing for
the welfare of the race to be, let us wisely look far enough ahead so
that our eugenics may mean something. It is folly to pretend to be
altruistic, to dip into the immediate future, at the expense of the
present. We will produce a decadent race if we are not careful.

Do you like this America of today? The Young-Old Philosopher says
frankly that he does not.

Neither do I. And neither do you--if you are a good American.

And what about the America of tomorrow?



CHAPTER XVIII

OTHER REFORMS


When books of the quality of “Jurgen” can be suppressed--happily this
romance of James Branch Cabell has been restored to the libraries
and book-stalls of the land--we are facing a dangerous precedent.
“Casanova’s Homecoming” was likewise censored. But the Vice Society
might be about better business. I could name a dozen volumes which they
have stupidly imagined should be withdrawn from circulation, but it
would be merely an idle repetition. The principle remains the same.

Publishers and authors have become frightened. If the realm of art is
to be invaded by reformers who fail to distinguish between beauty and
filth, it is self-evident that there will be precious little art in
America in the next hundred years. The pictures that we hang upon our
walls may be torn down next, and the passion for dreariness may cause
the entire United States to become one sad Sahara of utilitarianism,
with no gleam of loveliness. The mania for standardizing us is growing;
it is strange that the authorities do not pounce upon a play like
“R. U. R.,” lest it put false notions into the minds of the simple
people. There is a tremendous lesson in that drama. Crush us too
much, make too many automatons, and one day the lifeless, bloodless,
unimaginative host may rise in sudden might and defeat the very purpose
of their masters.

The easy triumph of Prohibition gives the reformer little to do--save
to seek other avenues of sadistic expression. If we are to be dictated
to as to which books we shall read, we will find a way to discover
smut--and nothing but smut--just as we have found synthetic gin. And
if the lifting of an elbow--a necessary gesture when one takes an
old-fashioned drink--got on a Puritan’s nerves, I cannot think that the
smoke curling from your cigarette and mine gives him anything but pain
and genuine anguish of mind. Tobacco companies are worried, and some
of them have been spending vast sums to offset the crusade against the
weed. Meanwhile, the easy-going American says, “Well, of course, they
did put Prohibition over on us, but--oh, they would not dare rob us of
our cheroots. We simply wouldn’t stand for _that_.”

But I am afraid that we are as spineless as ever. When meetings
are organized to protest against the reformers, they are often ill
attended. A dash of rain dampens the ardor of the lackadaisical citizen
who prefers his own fireside to speeches that hit hard at this and that
false cause. The trouble is that the fanatics have not made things
quite hard enough for us. If there were a real lack of liquor; if
complete drouth settled down over the land, we might rise in a great
body and speak what we inwardly feel. But most of us are too lazy to
fight back. Meanwhile, the organized minority gird on their armor,
devising ways and means to torture us further. And in slippered comfort
we sip our home brew or our dearly bought bootleg toddies, and decide
that the effort required to get together is too great. We will let
things drift. There must come a change; and after all, so long as
Prohibition hasn’t really succeeded, what’s the use of worrying?

The reformer knows this characteristic lethargy of the American people,
and he smiles, assembles his cohorts, calls us, in the vernacular of
the day, “easy marks,” and proceeds with his reforming.

The return of Blue Laws is not improbable. A few towns have already
adopted them, and in these movies are not tolerated on the Sabbath,
newspapers are not allowed to be sold, even the trolley cars are
stopped. A man may be arrested for painting his roof on Sunday; and
as for a game of baseball on that day--it is unthinkable in many a
community. One may not walk--except to church. The Puritan spirit is
not dead. It lives in many a hamlet, dreary enough under the best
conditions. The American people have come to a point where it is a
matter of living or existing.

For my own part, I am perfectly willing for the _Babbitts_ of this
country to do as they please; all I ask is that they let me alone
as I certainly shall let them alone. I have said elsewhere that I
firmly believe in local option. That is because, perhaps, I think
that contrast is the greatest thing in art and in life. I have never
cared for regions of perpetual sunshine, just as I have never cared
for localities where it rains, seemingly, forever. Give me a little of
each. The Gopher Prairieite must feel an impulse to see a metropolis
now and then; just as we who live in tremendous cities feel the urge
every so often to seek the stillness of the woods.

It so happens that a few people--nay, a great many--prefer to hive in
cities, because there they find a certain amount of culture. They like
the opera, and good plays, well acted--the sparkle which city life
gives to them. They like dining out in restaurants, and they happen to
care for the jeweled beauty of, say, Fifth Avenue or Michigan Avenue on
a winter evening. The monotony of the life of a Kansas farmer does not
appeal to them. They can scarcely understand that passion for seclusion
which he craves. But they find no fault with his mode of living. They
even look with a sort of amused tolerance upon those curious beings
who sneer at women who smoke cigarettes. They know perfectly well
that there are many virtuous women who smoke cigarettes, and it is
difficult to understand why everyone cannot be possessed of the same
knowledge. But they do not seek to impose their beliefs upon others.
They do no proselytizing. They are not anxious to convert people to a
way of thinking and reasoning that seems to them simple and natural.
They understand that what is one man’s meat is another man’s poison;
but they do resent being told that what they consume as meat should be
labeled poison--by someone who has never tasted it.

The Eighteenth Amendment tells us, practically, that it is wrong to
drink. You and I know that it is not wrong to drink. But we do know
full well, without being told, that it is very wrong to get drunk.

In Kansas, the people are told that it is wrong to smoke; whereas
anyone at all knows that it is in no wise wrong to smoke; but it is
exceedingly wrong to over-smoke until one’s nerves become shattered and
one’s hands tremble.

The reformer, seeing only the ill effects upon those who overdo
anything, and refusing to note the normal lives of those of us who
never overdo anything, cannot differentiate. Hence the hullabaloo, the
trouble, the mess the world is in today.

Reformers, you see, lack discrimination. One might as well deplore
Niagara Falls because a few fools plunge into its roaring torrents;
cease to enjoy its beauty because suicides have taken advantage of
its power and height to hurl themselves into eternity. One might as
well say that no more skyscrapers are to be built, simply because now
and then a man leaps from the top of one, and makes a ghastly mess of
himself on the pavement below.

Robert Louis Stevenson used to say that the little superfluities of
life were what made it lovely--yes, and bearable. Living does not
consist in a mere drab drudgery from day to day, proving oneself
“efficient,” turning out, in orderly fashion, so many mechanical
instruments, with no release from humdrum. Life must contain zest and
ardor and variety. That zest and ardor and variety we human beings
ourselves give or bring to it. There must be a garnishing of the
dish of existence once in a while. We cannot have our days served up
monotonously on a dull platter, see them flung upon the banquet table
without a surrounding decoration of loveliness. Ugliness must be
hidden; and sane fun must play its part in the scheme of things.

Now it is obvious that drunkenness is a form of bestial ugliness, and
should never be encouraged. Even we who are not professional reformers
recognize that. But the right kind of mild drinking--the drinking of
wines, which helps digestion by giving the proper spur to the gastric
juices--is a salutary habit, and does no one any harm. In France I
have never seen anyone intoxicated--except a visiting American; and I
fear, with Prohibition, that more than ever will the cafés and streets
of Paris be littered with shameful and shameless fellow countrymen
of mine. The French learn from childhood how to drink; and a picture
in a recent Parisian journal showed a group of three generations of
wine-growers chosen at hazard from among many others. I never looked
upon sturdier representatives of what some of our forlorn know-nothings
would doubtless call a “decadent” people.

Alcoholism is practically unknown among the Latin races. To go over
the border into a sodden state of imbecility is well-nigh unthinkable
to them. France got rid of absinthe when she realized the danger of
that fiery liquid. She did not have to close up and seal and nail down
every café in every city and hamlet just because a handful of ribald
artists thought it smart to sit all afternoon and dream dreams of pink
elephants. And, the instant absinthe became unlawful, the French obeyed
the edict, accepted the truth that a menace had been removed, and went
on consuming an occasional aperitif and light wines--never cocktails
and highballs.

But the American people, through their reformers, always have to go to
extremes. We could not see the wisdom of cutting out or controlling
hard drinking. We had to slam every door of every saloon; and,
not content with that, we had to “mop up” the entire country--or
ridiculously try to do so--until there should be no drop of beer, even,
on anybody’s premises. Then, the moment we had done that, we forthwith
craved a little liquor--because we couldn’t get it. Humanly enough,
we were sorry that we had been so rash. True, we had rid ourselves of
one of the most abhorrent evidences of our so-called civilization--the
saloon with the swinging-door; but in doing so we had destroyed, or
attempted to destroy, the harmless pleasure of men and women who had
never entered a saloon. We punished everybody, in order to punish a few.

This was not the right process. The folly of our reformers is working
incalculable harm to the entire country. And the end is not yet.



CHAPTER XIX

IS EUROPE GOING DRY?


If William E., otherwise known as “Pussyfoot,” Johnson has his way,
Europe, too, will know the great drouth. It is something to have lost
one’s eye in a cause, and still to retain one’s nerve and enthusiasm.

There is no doubt that the liquor interests in Great Britain have
become frightened, just as the tobacco interests have become alarmed
here; and there are rumors of large sums being spent to contravert the
propaganda of the temperance advocates in England. Lady Astor has come
out strong for Prohibition.

The London “pub” is a notoriously shocking place. In the meanest
sections of the city, I have witnessed scenes which made one realize
that Dickens did not exaggerate when he drew a character like _Bill
Sykes_. I have seen thinly clad, anemic children waiting on the steps
of a public house for not only their fathers, but their mothers, to
emerge. And when they finally did so, they were so drunk that they
could scarcely toddle to their wretched homes. The British could find a
way to shut up these disreputable resorts without interfering with the
liberty of that portion of the population which knows how to drink in
moderation.

During the war, and long after it, the hours were rigidly regulated
with respect to bars. One could not obtain a drink until noon; then
the bars were tightly closed again at 3:30 P.M., and not reopened
until 6 o’clock, closing again at 9. There was little disorder, less
drunkenness than ever before in the history of the country; and, with
true British loyalty, everyone obeyed the law. No one even thought of
disobeying it. That is a way they have over there. I don’t suppose one
could have tempted an inn-keeper to sell one glass of ale, though he
offered him a thousand pounds. I remember the shock of a bar-maid in a
tiny town in the south of England when I, a visitor, not knowing the
regulations, asked for a beaker of beer. “Why, we’re closed, sir, until
suppertime,” she informed me; and turned away, not expecting--and not
getting--any argument.

Had we respected our laws we would not have had Prohibition today.

In Sweden, in the summer of 1922, a referendum was taken on the
all-important question of Prohibition; and the wets won. The returns
were as follows:

  Against      930,655
  For          901,053

As in America, certain localities were decidedly in favor of complete
Prohibition; but in the large cities one found the desire for what
might be termed “dampness.” The female vote was preponderately
anti-Prohibition.

A sensible system has been evolved in Sweden. They regulate the liquor
traffic under what is known as the Bratt system. Only one organization
in the country is permitted to dispense alcoholic beverages. This is
known as the Wine and Spirits Central, and, as in the Province of
Quebec, tickets are issued to citizens, and it is almost impossible to
acquire more than one’s allotted quota. There is a widespread desire
for a continued restriction of alcohol, but naturally quiet forces
are at work all the time to bring about complete Prohibition. Certain
reformers are attempting, by means of local option, gradually to make
the whole of Sweden as dry as a desert; but Dr. Bratt is equally firm
for the present system, which he contends--and figures would seem to
confirm his contention--that it is better for the people than anything
which could be devised. He has pointed out that in 1913, before liquor
restriction, drunkenness was amazingly common. In 1921, drunkenness
decreased 27 per cent. Arrests for drunkenness have gone down 49 per
cent under his system. There is little doubt that government control in
Sweden, as elsewhere, has worked remarkably well.

Russia went dry. Now the Soviet government has decided that Prohibition
is a complete failure, resulting in the secret manufacture, as in the
United States, of much vile hootch. There will be a return to good
vodka, and the proceeds coming from the sale of it will be used to
educate the people. Doesn’t this sound sensible?

It is unthinkable that Europe will ever be a Sahara; yet a few years
ago it was likewise unthinkable that our own country would come to
the arid state it now pretends to know. Anything is possible, and
most things are probable in these days of delirium and stress. But a
wineless France or a beerless Germany does seem rather grotesque. I
have been told that many French wine merchants, certain that America’s
going dry is but a phase that will pass, are keeping vast stores of
champagne in readiness to ship to us as soon as our laws are rescinded.
They simply cannot understand our Eighteenth Amendment; yet perhaps
they will have written into their own statutes some equally drastic
article in the not very distant future.

That is how the Prohibitionists feel, at any rate. “Pussyfoot”
Johnson at this writing is working hard in Australia to bring about
this consummation. France knows already the Ligue Nationale Contre
L’Alcoolisme, with offices in Paris; Switzerland has the Ligue Suise
des Femmes Abstinentes; and both countries are being well peppered with
depressing posters, showing the evil effects of booze. Such works of
art take the place of old songs like “Father, Dear Father, Come Home
with Me Now,” and plays like “Ten Nights in a Barroom.” They have
their definite function, they will prove a power among the lower and
middle classes, scorned though they may be by the manufacturers and
dispensers of liquor.

But as yet the economic questions involved tease and torment the
thrifty Latin. He is wise enough to see that his country will suffer
in another way if wine and other drinks are totally abolished; and, as
always, he looks to America for some solution of his problem.

The question therefore arises, Are the drys in the United States strong
enough financially to aid Europe in her campaign against liquor? That
the movement has started there in deadly earnest cannot be denied
by anyone who has his eye on the situation. But it will require
capital to keep it going, and just now all the European countries are
notoriously poor. Is the cause of temperance deep-rooted enough to
grow and flourish, despite the handicap of lack of funds? There may
be multi-millionaires in the United States who will finance campaigns
abroad, just as it has been rumored repeatedly with what regularity
certain rich advocates of Prohibition have contributed to the American
cause. In this event, the European movement would gain a tremendous
impetus; and what the result will be cannot, of course, be foretold.

The thing happened to us. It is ridiculous to prophesy that it cannot
happen to Europe. The pendulum having swung all the way for us would
seem to indicate that it may swing all, or part of the way, for
Britishers and Latins alike.

It will be interesting to watch and wait. Then we shall learn whether
benevolent autocracies are better than autocratic democracies; whether
crowns and ermine are more to be desired than top-hats and frock-coats.

Europe dry? Do not smile. This is an age of unexpected events, a period
of transition, the like of which has not been known before.

But would Europeans obey laws that infringed upon their personal
liberty? There were those who held that there would never be rebellion
and riots in Germany, since the Germans were too docile a people to
rise up against their government. Yet we know what the Germans did, and
where the Kaiser is today.

The spectacle of America’s going bone dry is not a heartening one.
Ambassadors from other lands have seen our contempt for the law; and
it is doubtful if any of them would recommend to their countries a
counterfeiting of our methods and manners. We have come to little
else than disruption and heart-breaking failure in this matter of
Prohibition. Imitation of our ways would amount almost to madness.



CHAPTER XX

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?


One finds it hard to believe that a law is just and right and proper
which so many splendid minds consider otherwise. There have been
numerous societies formed to combat the Volstead Act, and in their long
lists of members one may read the names of honorable citizens who feel
impelled to express their views. Hundreds of influential newspapers
stand solidly against the Eighteenth Amendment. The fight has not
been taken up in one section of the country only. Mass meetings have
been held in far separated localities, and protests have been voiced
everywhere.

In the last election--that in November, 1922--the voice of the people
was heard in several States. Prohibition was an issue, and the victory
was almost overwhelmingly for the wets. Wisconsin, for instance,
elected seven candidates who had declared themselves for a modification
of the Volstead Act. Senator Reed, of Missouri, an avowed foe of
Prohibition, and Governor Edwards, of New Jersey, an even more ardent
“wet,” won over their opponents, having made their views definitely
known. Edwards now goes to the Senate.

[Illustration: The Prohibitionists fail to realize that Prohibition,
for them, is in itself a debauch, a kind of wild orgy, a sadistic
spree. To strap us all to the water-wagon, snap the whip and keep us
there for life seems to be their idea of a good time.]

The citizens of Massachusetts defeated a bill for additional State
machinery to make the Volstead Act more effective; and in Illinois
there proved to be a feeling of three-to-one in favor of light wines
and beer. The rural districts of Ohio caused the Prohibitionists to
gain a victory in that State; but there is little doubt that a change
is sweeping through the country. In New York State the Democratic
candidate for Governor ran on a light-wine-and-beer platform, against
a Republican candidate who had signed the wretched Mullan-Gage Act.
The former won by a vast majority. The people were well aware that
the federal laws would not be changed simply because the Empire State
wished a return to moderate drinking; but thousands of Republicans
voted for the avowedly “wet” candidate as a matter of principle. They
felt that at least a splendid gesture had been made, and that those
who looked on from other parts of the country, sensing the will of the
people of New York, might come to realize that hereafter the candidate
for office who announces his stand on the topic which is forever being
discussed has the better chance of victory. The time for equivocation
has gone by. The people want to know how politicians feel about
Prohibition; and the defeat of Mr. Volstead himself for re-election was
a significant circumstance.

The Anti-Prohibitionists now know that they will have to organize and
fight--and fight hard. It requires no tremendous amount of vision
to see that, if both the big parties at present in power refuse to
consider a change in the interpretation of the Volstead Act, a third
party will arise, with Prohibition as the foremost issue before the
people.

President Harding has said that whether the country is to remain wet
or dry will be a political issue for years to come. Statesmen and
politicians alike are beginning to see and admit a change in the
feeling of the people on the all-important subject of Prohibition.
It is nonsense to say that a matter which is discussed everywhere
at all times is a dead issue. Wherever men--and women--congregate;
around every dinner-table; in every club; at every evening party, the
topic invariably comes up. Is no significance to be attached to this
circumstance? And not long ago the English and French were complaining
about American visitors, since they found it rather boresome to listen,
day in and day out, to nothing but their talk on the engrossing
subject. We eat, sleep and (I was going to say drink) Prohibition.

We have made a ghastly mistake. The unforeseen evils that have come
in the wake of Prohibition far outweigh the good. We have never had
anything but Poor Man’s Prohibition; and if it is true that those who
feel the pinch of poverty have derived benefit from the closing of the
saloon--as indeed they have--it is equally true that the moderately
well-to-do have had their expenses increased. Used to drinking all
their lives, they were not to be whipped into obeying a law with which
they had no sympathy. They intended, humanly enough, to continue to
get their grog--at any price. And they have done so, even though they
afterward had a rendezvous with debt.

The poor do not get their liquor, simply because they cannot afford it.
I have seen clerks buying beer at seventy-five cents a bottle, which
must have made quite a hole in their pay-envelopes. The honest laboring
man could scarcely afford that extravagance; and so he goes beerless
to bed, not because he wishes to, but because he has to. And you and
I, whenever we desire liquid refreshment, know where we can obtain
it. If an investigation were made of the savings of the great middle
class during the past three years, I doubt if a good showing would be
discovered. And is it not of some importance that this great group, who
are the mainstay of the Republic, should be laying aside something for
the future?

The Prohibitionists will say that they have no sympathy with anyone who
willfully breaks the law. But you cannot argue with people who count it
no sin to disregard a statute. With clear consciences a vast body of
people take not the slightest heed of the Eighteenth Amendment. They
are simply bent upon getting what they wish, despite the Volstead Act,
and nothing will convince them that they are not right. A law is of
absolutely no value unless it meets with response from those whom it
seeks to improve. After a long trial, anyone but a blind person must
see that our Prohibition laws are violently opposed by millions of
otherwise good citizens. The situation, instead of becoming better, as
the Anti-Saloon League has all along predicted, has become steadily and
obviously worse. There are danger signals confronting us. But there is
a way out of our mess. That way lies through compromise.

The Prohibitionists compromised, as of course they are well aware,
when they did not make it against the law to drink in private homes.
As I have said, they did not dare go quite that far. Had they done so,
serious consequences would have followed. They likewise compromised
when they gave us one-half of one per cent of alcohol in our beer. Why
even that? To make it a little more distasteful, perhaps.

The fact is that the American people are tired of Constitutional
Amendments. I have heard sound-thinking men say that when our own
private constitutions need an amendment, we can be depended upon to add
one. We are not fools--in spite of the reformers. We still believe that
there is something in the old judgment of the survival of the fittest.
The worthy emerge; the unworthy remain where they belong, or sink to
the depths.

It is all very well to say that those who become blind through the
drinking of wood-alcohol deserve their wretched fate; that if one takes
such chances he deserves to lose his eyesight, if not his life. For
myself, I cannot look at the matter quite so coldly. I have the deepest
sympathy for those who, in good faith, drink something which turns out
to be something else. They have simply humanly slipped; and but for
this one lapse from grace they may be most estimable citizens. I think
it is far more terrible that a decent manufacturer should go blind
because an unreasonable and unenforceable law is on our books than
that a million worthless imbeciles should lie in the gutter, drunk.
I have known only a few “reformed” drunkards who ever amounted to a
continental in after years; they were hardly worth saving. It is not
very pleasant to think of an able citizen stricken at the height of his
career; and his loss to the community is much more important than the
so-called salvation of a dozen roustabouts.

During the Christmas holidays of 1921, in and around New York City
alone, there were twenty-six persons made blind, or killed outright,
through wood-alcohol poisoning. And during another Christmas season
wood-alcohol caused fifty-nine deaths in Massachusetts alone. Somehow
I do not like to contemplate such catastrophes. But the professional
reformers may be made of sterner stuff than I.

Let us have done with the folly of something so radically false as
Prohibition. In the old days, when a man got drunk, he broke the social
code; now, he breaks not only that, but the penal code as well,
thereby committing two offenses against society. But it is curious how
little he cares about the second offense. With an easy conscience he
deliberately goes about it--in fact, rather rejoices that he has proved
himself such a devil.

Drink, as no one will deny, is an inherently evil thing--a terrible
force. But so is electricity a terrible force. Yet, rightly used, both
are the reverse of evil.

But just as the Prohibitionists will not recognize the good to be found
in alcohol, they refuse to admit the evils resulting from the present
drastic laws. They fail to realize that Prohibition, for them, is in
itself a debauch, a kind of wild orgy, a sadistic spree. To strap us
all to the water-wagon, snap the whip and keep us there for life, seems
to be their idea of a good time.

But it is hardly ours. We have begun to think that this strange and
perverted conception of a Bacchanalian orgy has lasted quite long
enough. And when the tide turns, the Prohibitionists may know something
of the horrors of a hangover, and wonder if they are on the verge of a
nervous breakdown. “The morning after” some approaching election may
not be a pleasant one for them.

But why not compromise before the inevitable day arrives? Rid of the
saloon, the Prohibition triumph is complete enough. Local option will
continue; and if the little places elect to go dry, of course they may
do so; but as for the great cities, especially the metropolis, looking
at the skull of its oldtime happiness one can but say, with _Hamlet_,
“Alas! poor New Yorick!”

Senator Frelinghuysen of New Jersey said not long ago that Prohibition
was one of the most serious problems with which the American people
have to deal. “In the country districts the people are in favor of
upholding the Volstead law,” he made it clear. “The church people also
are against any modification of the dry law. But when it comes to big
industrial centers and to the working classes, to say nothing about the
foreign-born population, they are all clamoring for a change in the law
to permit the sale of light wines and beer.”

If we would enact laws tomorrow giving the various States the right to
control the liquor traffic within themselves, corruption would cease,
and a sense of peace and happiness would descend upon the country.
The constant agitations of this hour cannot go on. There is a nervous
tension in the air; and so long as the Volstead Act remains, there will
be disturbances comparable to the rumblings of earthquakes.

Those of us who love America yearn for a return to truth and sanity.
The present conditions are intolerable. Each political party is
striving to evade this big issue. Each claims that neither the
Democrats nor the Republicans gave the people Prohibition; yet the
people are looking to one or the other party to take a stand on the
question. The last elections proved that.

Not forever can there be a process of evasion. A third political party
will come out boldly and strong with a wet plank, and as soon as the
politicians sense the will of the people there will be an immediate
change. But how long will it take them to sense that will?

Recently, a number of doctors brought suit to test the
constitutionality of the Volstead Act as it affects the limitation
on liquor which they may prescribe. Not all physicians oppose
Prohibition--indeed, many have stated that whiskey is not essential in
the practice of medicine; others hold a divergent view. But no one can
deny that things have come to a strange pass when Congress, and not our
doctors, treats patients ill with pneumonia and other diseases. Surely
an issue as clouded as this should be cleared up.

Light wines and beer will return--there is little doubt of that; but
many people hold that we should adopt the Swedish and Canadian methods
of Government Control. We have seen that, with the federal authorities
managing the liquor traffic, a decent business is done, bootlegging is
practically stopped, and revenue pours into the governmental coffers.
Contentment takes the place of discontent, and those who drink pay the
price--which they are more than willing to do. It is so obvious that
this is the right method to pursue that it seems strange there should
be any argument, that there should be any line-up of opposition.

Yet the Prohibitionists, in the light of their failure in the United
States, continue to make prophecies of a “bone dry” world in the years
to be. With amazing clairvoyance a member of the World’s Women’s
Christian Temperance Union has predicted that in 1924. Uruguay will
go dry, and likewise Argentine; Austria and Denmark in 1925; Chili in
1927; Great Britain in 1928; Germany in 1929; France in 1933; Japan in
1936; Italy in 1938; Spain and China in 1939; and Cuba in 1940.

Foreigners have frequently been heard to say that they cannot
understand why Americans have not protested with a louder voice against
the legislation which concerns Prohibition. They forget--or they do not
realize--that the United States is a vast melting-pot, and that there
are, alas! too few Americans left to make much of an impression. The
links that draw together the individual nations of European countries
are lacking in our own land. We have absorbed every race on earth; and
these aliens do not know how to band together. They are not really part
of us, and they are naturally confused at our methods of government.
Many of them are strangers in a strange land, and perhaps they do not
feel justified in protesting, even though they are citizens now, saying
to themselves that if the Americans tolerate such rigid reforms, who
are they to utter words of rebellion?

Is it not self-evident that Prohibition has miserably failed when the
President finds it necessary to call a solemn conclave of Governors
to see what can be done, after three years, to force the people to
obey the law in the various States? The Federal authorities, by that
gesture, admit their inability to cope with the situation, which has
now become intolerable. Scandal after scandal is being unearthed in
sanctimonious Washington, the seat of the Government, and the home of
Prohibition. It is being revealed that many Congressmen and Senators
preach one thing and practise another. Is it not high time that
their dishonesty is shown up? They should be made as ridiculous as
possible. They should be made to see that they are the worst Americans
in existence, pretending to be virtuous, invoking the law for their
constituents, and bootlegging in secret. For at least the rest of
the people who conscientiously break the law, are not on record as
approving it.

No one is sacrosanct on this flaming issue. Government buildings are
said to contain plenty of liquid refreshment for the parched throats of
these eloquent advocates of a “dry” country. So long and loudly have
they proclaimed their insincere doctrine that at the end of a forensic
day they doubtless require a long, cool drink. Let them be seen in all
their inglorious hypocrisy. Let the whole land laugh at them; for it is
only through laughter that they can be reached and hurt. A law that is
winked at by those who framed it is not worth the cost required to set
it up in type.

But of course nothing will be done. No names will be named. The
same hypocrisy will be practised here. When someone higher up is to
be uncovered, the loudly proclaimed “investigation” will come to a
sudden end. There are too many criminals in exalted places. We are
the laughing-stock of the world as it is; but if the whole truth were
known!...

Economically, the people will have to have it driven home to them that
Prohibition is a mistake. We are forever talking about the tariff;
yet the most that our tariff can bring in is about $350,000,000 a
year gross. The year 1914 was the banner year in the United States
in producing beer. There were 66,000,000 barrels sold. If we had not
had Prohibition thrust upon us, the normal growth would have been
a production of about 100,000,000 barrels. The Government always
collected revenue at the source--there was no bookkeeping, merely a
stamping, a labeling of each barrel, and that was all there was to it.
Think of the tax upon this one product alone which we are losing!

In 1918 Canada imposed a tax of 15c on a gallon of beer. In 1922 it
was 42½c a gallon. There are thirty gallons in a barrel, which means
$13.60 a barrel now, or more than two and a half times as much as
before. Multiply 100,000,000 barrels by $13.60, and you arrive at
$1,360,000,000 revenue collected at the source, with no obstructions.
This is four times as much as our tariff bill would give to the
country. Moreover, if beer were restored, innumerable collateral
businesses would be given new life. The bottling industry, corking,
glassware--all these would be resuscitated, everyone would be happy,
and personal taxes would be immeasurably lessened. As things now are,
we are burdened with surtaxes, etc., which impoverish all kinds of
industries and make for intense ill-feeling.

Crying out for no change in our laws, it is the Prohibitionists
themselves who have altered our statutes. Can they not be changed again?

It may be that the Eighteenth Amendment will never be annulled. There
are those, however, who are hopeful even of that. But Congress is
privileged to define what constitutes an intoxicating beverage; and the
Volstead Act is not static. The people will elect men to represent them
at Washington who will liberally interpret the Eighteenth Amendment.
Therein lies the remedy for much of our discontent.

Prohibition rose, like a great wave; it is falling back now. The tide
comes in, but it goes out again. And one can begin to hear the surge of
a mighty people. They will speak at the polls, in every election; for
Prohibition, until it is modified, will never be taken out of national
politics.

A sane compromise would clear up the situation almost overnight. And
when the people speak, the Government must heed their voice.



Transcriber’s Notes


Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.





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