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INTERNATIONAL TEMPERANCE CONGRESS,
IN THE YEAR 1887.
A REVIEW OF THE OFFICIAL REPORT
THE UNITED STATES BREWERS' ASSOCIATION.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
INTERNATIONAL TEMPERANCE CONGRESS,
IN THE YEAR 1887.
Three years ago, when about to prepare for publication his review of the proceedings of the First International Congress against the abuse of alcohol, the writer, astonished at the indifference displayed by American prohibitionists to so important an event, yet unwilling to content himself with accepting the only reasonable conclusion that could be drawn from it, sought to obtain authoritative information as to this point; and with this object in view visited a prohibition meeting, where he entered into conversation with an elderly gentleman, who proved to be an enthusiast on the question of prohibition. After some general remarks on the progress of "the cause," the writer asked why the first attempt at universalizing the temperance movement received so little attention-and that little of a doubtful character-at the hands of prohibitory newspapers, and whether it was, as it manifestly appeared to be, solicitude for the cause that prompted them either to entirely ignore the Antwerp Congress, or to distort its doings by palpably false reports. With more candor than could have been expected, had the questioner's position been fully understood, the gentleman replied by propounding this counterquery: "Do you suppose a Republican paper would publish anything designed to help the Democratic party?" And without waiting for a rejoinder, the gentleman, applying the supposed parallel to the case in question, proceeded to explain, why such a thing could not be done consistently, and
that consistency-a jewel, as the proverb has it should ever be regarded as the paramount consideration in the management of a successful paper devoted to a great cause.
Others expressed similar opinions, but not one of them appeared to be aware of the moral obliquity which their conception of consistency implied. As the writer felt no particular inclination to enter into an ethical discussion on this point, he concluded that he had heard enough for his purposes.
Consistency in suppressing Truth, in distorting facts, in twisting out of their true meaning and intent the words and deeds of men, and in misrepresenting the meaning of eventsthis sort of consistency may be a policy, precious as a jewel to those who practice it for their advantage; but, whether employed in a good cause or a bad one, it does not deserve, nor does it ever elicit, the approbation of the righteous. It is true, unfortunately, that, exercised in this sense, it frequently is attended with success, but a success ephemeral in itself and tending only to pave the way to ultimate disaster.
This much, at least, the advocates of prohibition might have learned from their past experience, if they were not as consistently and wilfully blind to the signs of the times, as they are consistently stubborn in falsifying them. As they have done from the beginning, so do they now persist in either ignoring every event, no matter how closely related it may be to the question of temperance, which does not afford at least a semblance of support to their Utopian schemes, or in so coloring their representation of it as to give it the appearance, however flimsy, of such support.
This was the reason assigned for the publication of an epitomized report on the Antwerp Congress, and it is the raison d'être of the present review of the work accomplished by the second international meeting. In preparing the latter, the writer had the incalculable advantage of personal observation, having been present, by invitation, at the Congress held at Zürich, and the further advantage of a personal interchange of thought with many persons foremost in the movement for temperance reform on the continent of Europe. Yet, all that is contained herein rests principally upon the official report.
Considered as an educational agency, as a centre of information, supplied by channels ramifying all over the globe, and in turn sending its radiating streams of enlightenment throughout the civilized world, this second international congress most assuredly excels its predecessors in a manner and measure far surpassing the expectations of the most sanguine.
The selection of Zürich, as the place of meeting, constituted in itself a powerful incentive and tended to stimulate interest in the congress; because Switzerland, after having finished a series of most thorough and absolutely scientific inquiries, stood at that very time on the threshold of an era of practical reform, which her people, her government and her institutions of learning had helped to inaugurate.
In addition to this, wishing to adjust their final actions to the experiences of other nations, the Swiss authorities had, in the course of their inquiry, compiled a complete history of the reform movement in nearly all civilized countries, and it was to be expected that the representatives of these countries, attending the Zürich Congress, would throw additional light, both on the facts as stated and the conclusions which the Swiss compilers had drawn from their material.
Thus the success of the meeting was assured from the beginning, and the Committee on Permanent Organization* had cause to congratulate itself, not only upon the choice of place, but also upon the readiness and efficiency with which the local committee, headed by Dr. A. Forel, professor at the University of Zürich, engaged in the work assigned them.
Two hundred and fifty-one persons attended the Congress, representing nine countries and about thirty temperance associations. America was represented by but two persons, viz.,
*This committee consisted of the following persons:
Houzeau de Lehaie, Member of the Belgian House of Representatives; Dr. Desguin, member of the Medical Academy at Antwerp; Dr. Du Moulin, professor at University of Ghent; Grattan, British Consul-General at Antwerp; Lahaye, attorney at law, Brussels; Dr. Moeller, corresponding member of the Medical Academy at Brussels; Dr. de Vaucleroy, professor at the War College, Brussels; Jules Van der Heyde, attorney at law, Antwerp; Dr. Barella, member Medical Academy of Belgium; Belval, corresponding member Medical Academy of Belgium, Brussels; Frédéric Delaet, attorney at law, Antwerp; Delisse, director of the People's Bank at Namur; Franz Gittens, corporation counsel of Antwerp; Dr. Herpain, chief medical officer, Penitentiary at St. Hubert; Dr. Petithan, army surgeon; Dr. Ronvaux, Namur; Max Rooses, Antwerp; Miss Charlotte Gray, London.