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merous bodies of highly respectable individuals, upon this interesting topic. Some of these petitions have asked nothing more than a repeal of all existing license laws. Such petitions, in one or two instances, have come from highly respectable sources, entitling the opinions of the petitioners to a respectful consideration. After much patient investigation of the subject, and a careful comparative analysis of the license laws of almost all the states, we hesitate not to express our full and decided conviction, that a mere repeal of all existing license laws for the sale of ardent spirit, would be a most injudicious and mischievous measure. Suppose it should prove so, the petitioners reply, it is only an experiment; let us try it for a twelvemonth ; we can try some other legislative provision, if the mere repeal should prove as you predict. We rejoin, that the friends of temperance, by asking for a series of ineffectual movements on the part of the legislatures, will diminish the confidence both of the legislature and of the people at large; that, so far from anticipating the least possible good, they clearly foresee incalculable evil, from the mere repeal of these laws; that the case is perfectly intelligible; and that a mere repeal of the license laws would be about as effectual, as an exacerbating lotion, when the palpable character and virulent condition of the cancer imperiously demanded the cautery or the knise. Procrastination, in such a case as this, is not only the thief of time, but of human life, and human happiness ; and we object to any measure, by way of experiment, which will consume time, and which, in our opinion, savors so strongly of sciolism, while a plain and sufficient remedy is at hand, in which we have the most perfect confidence. But we rely, say the petitioners, upon the efficacy of the common law; these offenders shall be indicted for an offense, committed, contra bonos mores. The common law, we again reply, is, in the words of a distinguished civilian, meretrir communis, and may be brought to serve the turn of him, who will pay most for her favors. The earliest colonial and provincial legislation recognized the licensing provisions of the mother country. For more than two hundred years, this traffic has been sanctioned by the laws of the land. Individuals of the highest respectability, through all that period, have been engaged in this lucrative business. Can it be supposed, that an act, legalized so long, and committed by so many thousands of respectable individuals, will be generally viewed as av offense, indictable at common law ? The grand jury of one county may perhaps be induced to find bills, and the grand jury of an adjoining county will not. In the first named county, the traverse jury drawn from one town will convict, and those from another town will acquit. The charges of judges will be not less variant, according to their respective views of the applicability of the common law. From the very nature of the case, the greatest embarrassment will attend the collection of evidence. Under the system which the petitioners propose to introduce, every person may sell rum, at his peril. Again, under the proposed system, while the facilities will be multiplied many hundred fold, it cannot be in the contemplation of the petitioners, to indict a man for drinking a glass of rum, nor for drinking two or three. Until he became drunk, and did mischief, it is not easy to perceive, in what manner the common law could be brought to bear upon his case. To be sure, the executive committee of the American Temperance Society believe it to be contra bonos mores, to drink ardent spirit in any quantity; and so do we. But this is of no importance. An ordinary jury would not be very likely to convict of drinking, though they might be of drunkenness. Look, then, steadily at the consequence of such a condition of things! What a multiplication of the means of temp tation! Instead of one or two dram-shops in every street, in certain streets there would be a dram-shop in almost every dwelling! Upon some of these petitions, it is true, we have noticed the names of highly respectable men ; but we have also noticed there the names of others, whose characters, occupations, or connections, have led us to marvel, by what means the cause of temperance had merited the assistance of such auxiliaries. There may be wisdom in the cautionary adage, which teaches us, occasionally to pray for protection from our friends!

We say to these petitioners for a mere repeal of the license laws, What is the end, and what is the aim of your petitions? Do you look upon this traffic as a sinful, as an immoral traffic? Undoubtedly you do, or you would not point to a prosecution under the common law, as a means of punishment. If such be your views, they entirely correspond with our own. say, that the traffic is sinful and immoral; and we desire to see an end of it, quite as sincerely as yourselves. What, then, in the name of a distinction without a difference,—what prevents you from uniting with us, in asking the legislatures for statutes, in their respective states, making the traffic in ardent spirit A PENAL OFFEnse? Thereby, we shall obtain the very thing which each of us professes to desire ; we shall repose upon a certainty, and not embark upon the unknown waters of an experiment; we shall gain our end at once; we shall work forward, by a rule of universal application ; and not depend, as you propose, upon the various and often directly contradictory decisions of innumerable petty tribunals.

We hold' the opinion, distinctly, that the legislatures of the states ought to enact laws, repealing all former license laws, for the sale of ardent spirit, and making the traffic in ardent spirit a penal offense. There is but one question to answer, for those who have settied their premises by the light of reason, and are willing to go forward under the direction of their consciences, and without any fear of

We

TRAFFIC

their conclusions: Is THIS

MORALLY WRONG? We should be pleased to argue this question here, on other grounds than those assumed in the report. Time and space forbid. We refer to the report itself, for a perfectly irresistible argument, that the the traffic is morally wrong. If the traffic be morally wrong, it is not so, simply because it is a slight deviation from the rule of right: but it is morally wrong, because it conduces directly to the production of all that is awful in human calamity, all that is loathsome and deplorable in crime, all that is tremendous in eternal punishment. It is the great master-key to the gates of hell, and the chambers of death. It is the prime minister of nine-tenths, in the opinon of the late lamented Mr. Wirt, of all our domestic misery. It is notoriously the chief disturber of all our civil, moral, religious, and political relations. It offers not the slightest imaginable good to the community, as an offset for all this tremendous aggregate of ill. Yet we approach our legislative assemblies with fear and trembling, upon this momentous question ; and, with the sum total before us, of all the evils we have described, resulting from this cruel and unchristian occupation, we doubt if it be yet time to ask for its prevention by the passage of a penal law! To steal a sheep, is a penal offense. To shoot a partridge, or catch an alewife, at particular seasons, in certain states of the Union, is a penal offense. In some of them, it is a penal offense to cast a paste upon the ponds and rivers, made of the poison berry of the cocculus indicus, to intoxicate the fishes! Yet it is not a penal offense to vend a poison, to intoxicate our fellow-creatures, and to beggar their families, and bring them down, perhaps, with their brown hair, in the spring-time of life, into the drunkard's grave.

A ragged and shivering little starveling is brought before the magistrate, for stealing a penny-loaf from a grocer's window. This is,

course, a penal offense. The grocer bimself is the informer; the testimony is perfectly conclusive ; and the judge is about to sentence the little wretch; when some kind-hearted counselor offers the following considerations, in mitigation of the offense: This child is the oldest of a miserable group. Their mother is an incorrigible sot; their father lies low in the drunkard's grave. Upon the morning when the little culprit committed this act of petty larceny, the mother lay drunk upon the floor, and her children were crying around her, from cold and hunger. The elder boy, unable to bear the contemplation of their misery any longer, rushed forth from the hovel. He was resolved to obey that paramount law of nature, which teaches us the principle of self-preservation, even in disregard of the laws of the land. He seized the penny-loaf at the grocer's window; and, returning speedily to the den of wretchedness, he cast the unexpected boon before the

of

miserable group, and bade them eat and live. He partook not himself; the very consciousness of the crime he had committed, and the fear of detection, supplied a more engrossing and oppressive feeling than that of hunger. The last morsel was scarcely consumed, before the officer of justice entered the door ; the offender was pointed out by the grocer, who led the way, and conducted before the public tribunal. In the very midst of such misery as this, and with the motive of the criminal before us, there is something to soften the heart of man, though we deng not, that the act is a penal offense. But the tale is by no means told. This little circle, now utterly fallen and forlorn, is the wreck of a family once prosperous, temperate, frugal, industrious, and happy. We have seen them, upon a sabbath morning, walking to God's holy temple in company together. The father, strange as it may appear, was once a member of the church. The very first drop of that powerful tincture of destruction, which he ever drank, and which conducted him through the paths of corruption to the grave, he received from the hands of another church-member, the very grocer who now pursues the starving child of his former victim, for stealing a penny-loaf! But this is a penal offense. The farm was encumbered; the community had turned its back upon the miserable victim of intemperance; the church had expelled its offending member ; the wife bad sought, in the same tremendous remedy for all-distracting care, an oblivion of her domestic misery; bome bad become a hell, whose only outlet was the grave. All this aggregate of human wretchedness was produced by this very grocer. He has murdered the father, brutalized the mother, and beggared the children. The whole text and context of this continued and complicated wrong, the destruction of a happy family, is LAWFUL AND RIGHT; the theft of a penny-loaf, by a starving boy, from that very shop, where his wretched father had laid down his last farthing, for rum, is a PENAL OFFENSE!

The principal obstruction in our way, while we solicit the legislature for the passage of such a law, making the traffic a penal offense, lies in our personal, pecuniary, and political relations, and not at all in the quantity or quality of our logic. If the getter of gain, and the seeker of political aggrandizement, could win riches and honors as surely, by promoting the passage of such a law, as they can by selling rum, and favoring the passions and appetites of the people, the law would speedily be passed. Among the nominal friends of temperance, there are covert enemies, whose influence is more pernicious “in the council,” than it would be, if they were open foes, in the open field. Their opinions are always compounded, with selfish admixtures. They are afraid of going “too fast and too far," not for the glory of God, and the benefit of man, but for the well-being of their political and pecuniary relations. This is holy ground, and it behoves us to put off our shoes.

This cause is the cause of God; and it is our duty to inquire, not, what is most agreeable to our constituents," the people, but, what is most acceptable in the sight of Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ?

ART. VII.--THE PRESENT STATE OF METAPHYSICS.

[We are indebted for the following article, to the Rev. LEONARD WITHINGTON, of Newbury, Mass., who wishes it to be considered as expressing simply his own opinions.)

What Socrates said of the natural philosophers of his time, may now be applied to the authors of new systems of mental philosophy: "they not only do not agree among themselves, but ibey appear actually mad and raving to each other."* It is obvious, that Mr. Locke considered the doctrine of innate ideas, held by his predecessors, as the height of philosophical absurdity : and Locke, in his turn, has been represented as dreaming over the doctrine of personal identity; and as even erroneous in the broad proposition, the foundation of his whole system,--that all our ideas are derived from sensation and reflection. President Edwards regarded the Arminian views of the determination of the will, as absurd and impossible : and Edwards himself has been accused of a strange oversight,—as not distinguishing between moral and physical causes, considering a motive as acting on the will, just as attraction or electricity acts on matter.† Nothing can be more wild and mystical, than most of the German systems, as for the first time they strike the mind of an uninitiated Englishman or American. Mr. Dugald Stewart's opinion of Kant, (the idol of his own school in Germany, and who has, perhaps, poured his spirit over the nation more than any man,) is well known. “As to his works,” says he, “I must fairly acknowledge, that, although I have frequently attempted to read them, in the Latin edition, printed at Leipsic, I have always been

* Memorabilia, Lib. I. Chap. i. Sect. 13.

“When they would represent this influence of moral motives as arising from 4 physical necessity, the very same with that which excites and governs the mo. tions of the inanimate creation ; here they confound nature's distinctions, and contradict the very principles they would seem to have established. The source of their mistake is this, that they imagine a similitude between things which admit of no comparison,-between the influence of a moral motive on mind, and that of mechanical force upon matter. A inoral motive and a mechanical force, are both indeed causes, and equally certain causes, each of its proper effect; but they are causes in very different senses of the word, and derive their energy from the most opposito principles.” Bishop Horsley's Sermons. Vol. VI.

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