John P. Hale.
In our issue of Saturday morning, the reports of the proceedings at the Woman's Temperance Convention, were necessarily curtailed. We append sketches of the remarks of Rev. John PIERPONT and Hon. JOHN P. HALE, as made at the evening session of the Convention on Friday:
The first speaker of the evening was Rev. J. PIERPONT, of Massachusetts. Upon his being introduced, he was received with much applause. He said: I have been requested this evening to limit my remarks to one point. I therefore have no scintillation [?]
What is a moral act? I do not know that I can better define it than in this way--that it is an act resulting from or consisting in the activity of one of the moral sentiments. We do not characterize it by the instrumentality through which it is effected, but by the motive from which it presents. Pardon the metaphysics of the argument, my friends. Take a case by way of illustration. Suppose a man, in a fit of desperation, go and hang himself, and I find him shortly after. What will I do? Leave that man to "his liberty," as was argued for this afternoon--allow him entire liberty to hang there till he died I think that humanity says no--his freedom, in that instance, must be restricted. What do I do? Perhaps I would endeavor to untie the rope, but cannot, and then I take my jack-knife and cut the rope across, and take him down. Is that, on my part, a moral action in saving that man's life? I want you to say whether that is a moral action or not. ("Aye" here rose from the entire audience) Where is the morality?--is it in my jack-knife?--is it in the hand that holds the knife?--is it in any part of the animal organization? Where do you find it?--trace it back and you will find it to proceed from the moral sentiment, prompted by the love of my neighbor. As many as think with me, say aye. (A loud "Aye.") O. K. (Laughter.) Take another case: Suppose the Good Samaritan, instead of finding one poor traveler, bruised and wounded, had found twenty men in the same condition, all of them imploring him to attend to their individual case. He would tell them he could not attend to
The Bouquet Man here came forward, and placed some of his choice wares in a conspicuous point of view. Mr. P. continued:
The moment the politicians wash their hands and wipe them, that moment there is no wrong is political action. We want a law that will hold a shield over the family of the intemperate man. We cannot get that in the present form of society, except through the medium of political organization; and God placed us in society that we may affect those benevolent objects through that means. Am I understood? Have you come with me to the conclusion that moral activity can be brought out through the medium of political organization? Where, then, is the impropriety of bringing in political action in aid of a moral object? It has remained under one touch of metaphysics. (Laughter) Now, let us hear no more, gentlemen rum-sellers, if you have heard the argument, and do not mean to be laughed at, about keeping confined to moral action alone in this movement. They also say that "we cannot push a man into the Kingdom of Heaven at the point of the bayonet," when we speak of legislative restrictions upon the sale of alcohol. Well, but we do not ask for the Maine Law with an immediate view to the drunkard--he is not named or alluded to in the law. The law is intended to bear on the drunkard-maker.
Religion--the Church, if you please--has one function in especial and that is to bring men from darkness to light--from the power of evil to the living God. The State, as a State, has another function, and that is to protect every individual in the State in the enjoyment of his every right. When that is done, the State, in the language of the law, is functus officio--it has finished its business. The State says every parent has a right to the services of his child; and it would be wrong for any other member of the community to withdraw the child from the power, discipline, influence, instruction, or service of the parent. Every husband has a right to the affections of his wife, and vice versa. So, until all those rights are secured, the State has not discharged its function. In likewise, the State has a right to see that the men whom she may possibly be obliged, at one day or other, to call to her service, be capable of discharging the duties incumbent on them. No one, therefore, has a right to impinge upon the ability of the citizen to serve the State. [Much ironical applause, and stamping and shuffling of feet]
The Chairman--I appeal to the sense of courtesy of the Convention to preserve order.
Mr. P. continuing--Any other claim for liberty is 'anarchy' in its worst form. Now what is my argument? [More shuffling of feet and applause.] Nothing fur [?] her. [Laughter]
LUCRETIA MOTT, well known to Maine as a Temperance and Abolitionist speaker, then came forward, and made one of her characteristic speeches. She earnestly recommended teetotalism in its broadest sense, the disuse of green tea and other stimulants by women, and also the disuse of snuff as an article of mastication by the fair sex. She was much applauded throughout the course of her remarks.
Hon. JOHN P. HALE then came forward, and was received with hearty applause.
Mr. PRESIDENT, ladies and gentlemen, said he--I think I can assure you, without any affectation, that the last thing that I expected was to have addressed you this evening; and when I have gone off the stage, you will believe in my sincerity, when I tell you that I came utterly unprepared to address you. And, friends, nothing but the determination, while I have a will, never to turn my back upon a cause that commends itself to my judgment, and the sympathies of my heart, has prevented me leaving the hall before I responded to this call. (Loud applause.) As I have said, I have nothing to say, and you must permit me, friends, to give you what illustrations I may from some of the experiences which, within the last few days, come to my recollection, suggesting something that may possibly afford profitable subjects for thought upon this occasion. A week ago today, I was riding upon a train of cars, through my native village, a remote country town in New Hampshire. The hour was late, and the engineer began to fear that he would not make his trip in time to form the necessary connection, and he put on all the extra speed, and hurried through the village, and the result was, that an old woman, 85 years of age, who happened to be upon the track, was struck by the engine--her head thrown against it, and in an instant she was lifeless. It sent a thrill of horror through that whole village. Nothing else was talked of, and deep and loud were the execrations and denunciations against the Company and the conductor of the engine, through whose carelessness this fearful accident happened; and when I arrived in this City last evening, upon going to my place of business, the first letter which I opened was one from this very village, inquiring if such an act as that might be committed, and the law afford no remedy. That is not a solitary instance. Who does not remember the fearful catastrophe that took place a short time ago upon the New Haven Railway, where something like 50 human beings, without a moment's warning, were summoned to close their connection with the affairs of Time, and enter upon the unnamed realities of another world. What was the result, from one end of the country to the other? Why, newspapers, and politicians, and legislators, and philosophers, were examining the question, to see if some mode could not be adopted; if Government was tamely to sit still, and have such scenes enacted, and see such wanton carelessness as this, by which so many lives of those who were entitled to the protection of the law were wantonly, ruthlessly, and carelessly thrown away. And it did not stop here. The legislature went to work; and the Legislature of the State in which this accident occurred immediately introduced into its deliberations a stringent bill, which became a law. And the State of Connecticut have done what they could to guard its citizens in all coming time, and those that may travel through its borders, from any calamitous catastrophe that should happen by means of a draw-bridge. Now if the wise Legislature of Connecticut will extend the sphere of their inquiry, and ask if there is not in Connecticut, and within every state of this Union, causes which summon, if not as suddenly, a great deal more surely to their last account, hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of its citizens, it seems to me they would find out that draw bridges are not the only things which they have to fear within their borders. (Applause.) Again, my friends, whose sympathies have not been excited, whose heart has not bled, whose pity has not been excited as they have dwelt upon the fearful tale which tells us of the ravages which pestilence is working in the neighboring city of New Orleans? Why, they are now visited by a pestilence "that worseth is darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noonday." Suppose it were told, in addition to this, that there was to be found in the city of New Orleans a set of men who make their living fortunes, nay, grow eminently wealthy, by selling to the devoted inhabitants of that city, articles of food which were found to be a fruitful source of yellow fever. Would you give any money to aid the victims of that disease and that pestilence in New-Orleans, until the authorities of that town had done what they could to put down the business of those who were dealing in those articles which had produced this pestilence? I think not. Is there not another pestilence, compared with which your fever is bought, and in comparison with which the railway accidents do not deserve to be mentioned? Is not this pestilence visiting its victims, not only in the heat of Summer, but in the cold of Winter? The citizens of New-Orleans hope that as the Summer passes away, and the cooling breezes of autumn come, the epidemic will go away in the winds of heaven, and health will again smile upon the streets and dwellings. But there is another pestilence that knows no climate, no season and no locality. It strikes its victims in the crowded haunts of men, and pursues him to his desolate home in the forest. It strikes amid the heat of summer, and the cooling winds of Autumn bring no relief from the attack. Even Winter winds will not assuage it; but in all times, in all seasons, and in all climes it goes forth, striking victims with a malady, compared with which the yellow fever or any other plague which may be cured by the practitioners of the healing art, is as nothing. They may find local causes for this pestilence. They may have low marshes from whose stagnant pools come up miasma loaded with death. But there is another stagnant pool whose
Mr. GARRISON was called for, and made a few remarks, the substance of which was that he could not conscientiously vote for a Temperance Candidate, if he stood alone on his Temperance principles, and was opposed to the great cause which he (Mr. G.) had been the champion of for years.
Miss LUCY STONE then offered a few observations.
It was moved, seconded, and carried unanimously, that the thanks of this Convention be given to the Amphions, who had so kindly contributed to the pleasure of the audience; and to the reporters of the public Press.
A gentleman proposed a vote of thanks to the President, which was carried unanimously, amid much applause.
The Convention then adjourned sine die.