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- From Wealth to Poverty - 40/45 -
Act, but a volume of ten thousand pages would fail to tell of the suffering that was endured in hundreds of homes, by wives and mothers and little helpless children; or how far the wave of evil extended that was set in motion by the antis.
When six months had passed they thought it would be a good time to strike, as they were certain a majority of the voters were not satisfied with the working of the bill. There had been a great number of trials similar in character to the one we have already noticed; and though, in numerous instances, those who were notorious for their open and flagrant violation of the law escaped, because of the questionable evidence given by themselves and the wretched creatures who had been subpoened as witnesses, yet a great many were convicted and fined. They then carried out their pre-concerted scheme--appealed to the court over which Judge McGullet presided, and he postponed, from time to time, his decision. While the cases were thus remaining _sub judicia_, the hotel-keepers were selling and giving away liquor, thus making as many drunk as possible, and blaming the Act for the result. This, of course, produced the effect they desired upon the great mass of the unthoughtful, who began condemning it as a failure, and clamoring for its repeal.
The judge now gave, as his decision, that in his opinion the law was _ultra vires_, which, of course, postponed the punishment of the culprits until a higher court should settle the point at issue.
The liquor party were now jubilant, and the judge was toasted by them as a "brick," as his "just decision enabled them to laugh at the fanatics:" and as they now sold liquor with impunity, even a great many of the pretended friends of temperance began to lose heart, not possessing sufficient mental acumen to look back of the effect to the cause which had produced it.
A special meeting of the Bayton Branch of the association was convened at the Bayton House, and a great many of the members of that--in a Picwickian sense--honorable fraternity and their friends were present. But there were two who had formerly taken a very active part in its deliberations, who were now conspicuous by their absence: these were John Sealy, Esq, and Stanley Ginsling. The former had retired from public life to hide his disgrace and sorrow in almost monkish seclusion; while the latter had, before this, gone to "that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns."
The name of the former was mentioned, and a motion of condolence was unanimously passed expressing sorrow for his affliction; but it did not seem to occur to any present that the very traffic they met to defend by such unprincipled means had been instrumental in bringing about the result they affected to deplore; and no sorrow was expressed for the horrible murder of poor Mrs. Flatt, the orphanage of her children, nor the treacherous slaying of William Barton.
Reports were received from all parts of the country of the success which had attended their efforts in plying their traffic--in other words, the number they had succeeded in tempting to their ruin; and many a laughable story was related with great gusto, of how they had "fooled the fanatics," and had succeeded in getting on a jolly tear certain individuals whom the Dunkinites had fondly persuaded themselves they had reclaimed from intemperance. But not one seemed to ponder for a moment upon the lives that had been ruined by their machinations, nor upon what homes had been made wretched, what suffering had been entailed, nor what souls had been eternally lost through the success that attended their devilish treachery.
"Let us to business now, gentleman," said Rivers; "and permit me to remark we have two questions to consider. The first is, Could the repeal be carried at this time in the county? and the second is, If so, what means will it be best for us to adopt in order to make it a grand success? I will simply say that I am as certain as I can be of anything in this world of contingencies, we could carry it now with a sweeping majority."
"There is nothing surer than that," said Bottlesby. It was moved, seconded, and unanimously carried, that the attempt to repeal the Act be made at the earliest opportunity.
The question next considered was, What is the best means to adopt to make success certain?
"I suppose you will employ the Dodger?" said Bottlesby. "He is a whole host in himself, and though he values his services rather highly, it will pay in the end to employ him."
It was moved, seconded, and carried that his services be secured.
"The next thing to do," said Capt. Flannigan, "is to hire all the busses in the town; and all the rigs that can be secured in the county, then run them on the day of the election. We must spare no expense, for we will get all the backing we want. This is a test county, and the eyes of the whole of Canada are upon us, and the association knows it will pay to spend money here, for if we succeed in carrying the repeal in this place it will deter other counties from trying it, thus it will save thousands of dollars in the end."
"I am instructed by the president of the association," said Rivers, "to say that we need not spare expense for either speakers, horse hire, or liquor, if the money is judiciously distributed. So you see we need not be afraid to go ahead, as we shall have good backing."
"I move a vote of thanks to the association for its generous offer," said Joe Porter.
"I second the motion," said Michael Maloney, the keeper of a low groggery in the purlieus of the town.
The others present, who held both the mover and seconder in contempt, would much rather the initiative had been taken in this matter by men of little more respectability--for there is such a thing as caste even among grog-sellers--but as Porter and Maloney had taken the matter into their own hands, the others, though with bad grace, had to accept the situation, and it was put and carried unanimously.
That night the whole scheme was mapped out. What men could be approached, and who could best influence certain voters. They also decided how much each would be called upon to sacrifice, that the necessary ammunition might be furnished to carry on the campaign, and how much would be required from the funds of the "association." Captain McWriggler, the expected M.P., announced that a celebrated speaker from the west who, like himself, was a candidate for parliamentary honors, had intimated to him his willingness to assist them in the campaign, if his services were required. This announcement was received with uproarious applause, and it was moved, seconded, and unanimously carried, that this magnanimous offer be accepted with thanks.
That night the usual banquet was held, and all those who were present in the afternoon, and a great many invited guests who, of course, were sympathizers, were also present. Among others Judge McGullett was toasted because of his fearless, upright, and impartial decisions, and Captain Flannigan sang, "He's a jolly good fellow," etc., the others joining in the chorus.
Their drunken orgies were continued into the small hours the following morning. It is not, I suppose, necessary to state that during this period there were numerous songs sung--some of which, to say the least, were not of a high moral order--and speeches were delivered whose senselessness were only equalled by their blatant untruthfulness, when attacking men and women who were working and suffering for the welfare of their fellow-men, and the honor and glory of God.
I do not think it necessary to enter into the details of the campaign, which came on at the appointed time; and which, although the real and true friends of temperance did all that men and women could do to retain the law until it should receive a fair trial, ended in the complete triumph of the liquor party.
Augustus Adolphus Dodger, as usual, did yeoman's service for those who employed him, and prostituted his really fine speaking talent to the base purposes of giving impetus to a cause that every year-- in England and America--is sending over a hundred and fifty thousand human beings to drunkards' graves and to a drunkard's eternity, and which is costing civilized Christendom every year over a thousand million of dollars. He proved to be a complete master of that shallow sophistry which generally carries the unthinking multitudes; and none knew better than he how to appeal to the selfish instincts of those whom he was addressing. He demonstrated to them, as they thought conclusively, that the Temperance Act would have the effect of entirely destroying the market for their barley and rye, and even depreciate the price of their farms. Of course his nonsense was received as it should be by the educated and thoughtful; but it was not to these he was appealing, but to the ignorant, illiterate masses, and upon them it had the effect he desired.
Personally he was held in contempt by many of the respectable among those whose cause he, for hire, advocated. They admired his talents while they despised the man, and would no more associate with him than English gentlemen would with a demagogue who, because they knew he could influence a certain class, was hired to do the dirty work of their party. In fact, he was despised by the better class of hotel keepers, and was always called the "Dodger" by them, being viewed in much the same light as the treacherous miscreant was by the Italian nobleman of the dark ages, who, because he was skilled in the use of the stiletto, was employed to remove a hated enemy.
Capt. McWriggler and his western friend were also on the ground, speaking and working to carry the repeal. It was well understood they were catering for the liquor vote, and were willing to resort to any means, however low, to accomplish their end.
Not only were these unprincipled hirelings, and would-be M.P.'s, on the stump, to assist the liquor party in their endeavors, but, astonishing to relate, there was also a minister of the Gospel, who was actually engaged as a co-adjutor of these men and their drunken battalions. The person to whom I refer was a certain Mr. Turnwell. Dryden's picture of a celebrated personage in his day would equally serve as a description of him; for he certainly was "everything by turns and nothing long." He had, in his early manhood, belonged to a certain church, and owed the education and the culture he possessed to it; but because that body did not, as he thought, recognize his exalted ability, nor give him such
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