Extracts from the speech of Dr. F. A. Lees, of Leeds, England, in Metropolitan Hall
"MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--For a short time, you may permit me to express what we conceive to be the great truths lying at the basis of this movement, and to give you a bird's-eye view of the principles as we view them, as they stand before our national eye of truth. The first evidence presented to us, in the face of ancient custom and the fears of the population, as to abandoning the use of intoxicants, was connected with the supposition that they were necessary to our health and to our enjoyment; but the first answer to this, which came with every day, and multiplied with every year was experience. We tried the principle, and soon men rose and declared the great truth that they were better in every respect, in body, in disposition, and in soul for the higher duties of earth, and better and clearer as regarded their hopes of the future, as the practitioners of a pure cold-water doctrine, than when they used any quantity of liquor, which defiled the brain and polluted the blood. Logic and common sense came to our aid, and we said, that if vast bodies of men were better without these drinks than with a limited use of them, then they must be worse with them than without them; and the people embraced the doctrine, seeing this truth. Experience having settled the question, we were prepared to battle upon the ground of science. There is a mighty difference in advocating the Temperance cause in America and Britain. We in England must be battled out of our prejudices step by step, and we must have an argument for everything; but you, with your young heart responsive to the social and political reform of your time, spring forth to political action more readily than we do. This is your glory; see that you abuse it not. This young and bursting energy of your race is to accomplish wonders for the future. Step by step we nave combated for the doctrine of Teetotalism with the chemist and the political press. We went upon the broad basis of philosophy, and declared that our doctrine accorded to the true interpretation of nature, was true, and could not be gainsaid. The more we investigated the matter, were we more fully convinced that God, in humanity, in nature, in history, and in the ancient records of inspiration, speaks one great truth, and that truth is in favor of the doctrine of Total Abstinence from that which intoxicates. (Loud applause) Man, upon the ground of science, beginning with A B C,
[p. 53]said that which God has provided for us is good, else why is it made? We appealed to nature as the best chemist, and we discovered that it was not so. Our answer to this was, "Nature knew nothing of alcohol--she rots the grape upon the vine, but she produces not alcohol or wine." The production of these drinks is the result of art and human ingenuity--man as applied and perverted the good things that God has given him. Then came the physiologists who told us that it was necessary to take, daily, a quantity of those things. We said no: he who made man and woman in Paradise--the first perfect man and woman--gave them no alcoholic drink, and that we, as believers in nature, in God, and revelation, could not believe that such drinks were admitted into the category of nature's productions, and that it was necessary to a healthy and a happy life. (Loud applause.) Shortly after this came the great discovery of the German chemists, and then, based upon the pillars of science, the teetotal temple was raised up in glorious beauty, never more to be disturbed, firm as the pillars of the universe itself. I refer here to the great discoveries of Liebig and others, who analysed all the products of fruit and grain. Those chemists cast their eyes upon the products of nature, and they discovered by simple analysis, that all the products given by God for human use consisted of two kinds--fuel for the human body, and nourishment to build up the various organs and tissues of the living structure, and that nothing affected man so suddenly, and so injuriously to his vital energies, as the alcohol, from which we abstain. Gentlemen, we have seen and understand all this, and year after year our disciples are multiplying, and at this time, no respectable press, or accredited review, in Great Britain, dare take a stand in hostility against us, for although they may differ from us in opinion, yet they have the prudence to decline the contest, although, perhaps, they have not the honesty to confess their weakness. Our cause is sanctioned by Scripture and by science, which must be true, and whatever is against truth should be destroyed. Truth is mighty, and it must prevail. (Loud applause.) Gentlemen, it is said that Scripture is against us. We look this matter in the face. There is no land or country in the world where liberty of speech is more fully entertained than in England, and this is one of the proudest boasts of Great Britain. I do not wish to wound your national pride, for you are a noble and a great people; but, perhaps it may be only humility on your part to think you are a young people. (Applause.) Wisdom comes only with age. 'When I was a boy, I spake as a boy!' but at that period of life I committed many foolish actions, and so may you. (Applause and laughter.) We believe in England that every man has a full right to the expression of his opinion--we listen to him, and when he has finished, endeavor to refute his arguments. I believe that the cause I advocate is true. I believe that the Bible and nature are wonderfully in unison upon this question, and with the church and the priest on the one hand, and the skeptic upon the other, I take my stand and defy the entire world to show that God in the Bible ever sanctioned the use of the drunkard's drink. (Loud applause.) We went into the inquiry, and I will tell you the result. What was the first thing that God gave to man? Was it intoxicating drink? No? but products of the vegetable order, and he did not say that such food was given for brewing beer or wine, but that it should be for food. There is no evading that law. Three thousand years after that period, Moses proclaimed in Deuteronomy, 'When you go forth to besiege a city, see that you out not down the fruit trees, for these have not sinned against you.' They are the products of the Almighty hand; he made and gave. them to his children, and therefore, in the exigencies of war, it is a sin
[p. 54]against humanity and against the Father of all men, to destroy the food which he has given to his children. Moses read the law as you read it-- the noble advocates of the Maine Law, who seek to put down the traffic. Its consequences are evil, because it goes against the primitive truth of nature. We went to the Bible, and saw that this was in harmony with the Divine mind. Go wherever you will in antiquity--to the classic regions of Greece, to the deserts of Arabia, or the wilds of Scythia, and you will find that this doctrine is practiced. It is necessary that the body should be pure in order to the soul being pure and active. This must be the appropriate temple for the Spirit of the living God, and if you defile that temple in which the Spirit dwells, you defile the Spirit itself. We borrowed this doctrine from you, and we return it to you with our hearty commendations. (Loud applause.) We will adhere to it forever. Intemperance interferes with the health, the temper, the social prosperity--with the laws, with the political economy, with the courage, with the advancement, with the education, and with the religion and virtue of the human race, and the highest sanctions of earth and heaven, of the past and future, demand that we should, as far as we can, exterminate the great destroyer. You dwell in a wonderful age. To you the nations of the East are now looking--to you, in whose bosom burns the love of liberty exhibited by the old Puritan Fathers--to you we are looking for the future steps in this work. (Loud applause.) Finish the work so nobly commenced, and the magnificent destiny and glorious opportunity before yon will make you the future glory of the world and the wonder of all ages."