Sabbatarians vs Sunday sots

May 14, 1864.

May 14, 1864.

Mr Somes saw, as every thinking man sees, the evils which flow from drinking - the sottish debauch which certain classes make of their weekly holiday at the Sunday beer shop in town and country, with its horde of noisy, beery roysterers. He wished to redeem the day and those who take such sodden “enjoyments” out it; but he made two signal mistakes.

The first was to forget the sober many in thinking of the drunken few; the next to mix up Sabbatarianism with sobriety. Because the professional toper makes a beast of himself hebdomadally, Mr Somes would have made the honest labouring man and artisan go without his beer on Sunday. He would actually have spoiled the dinner of hundreds of thousands of people, and cut off reasonable refreshments from hundreds of thousands of decent excursionists, to strip ale-benches or empty bars of a handful of sots.

But that was not his only object, or the country would have canvassed his measure with more patience. He and his followers meant, by a Sabbath Maine law, to give underhand support to the Sabbatarians, and make the Sunday in England the same dismal day which it is in Scotland.

In Scotland a native may get drunk at home, but he must not take a glass of ale or whiskey abroad; to booze in his own house is orthodox - to visit picturesque scenery, or indulge in the slightest rational recreation, is to be reprobate and ungodly.

Mr Somes thought that if he could close every place of refreshment on Sunday, he should stop what drunkenness now disgraces England, and at the same time the excursionists and the excursion trains. Thus, as Mr Roebuck put it, the two muddy streams of Sabbatarianism and Teetotalism were untied into one stream still muddier in a measure which its author called legislation, and other people bigotry and injustice.

He learned nothing from North Britain, where such an observance has simply driven the miserable inhabitants to drink away the Sunday in private; or Maine, where though brandy and beer are forbidden you can buy as much as you like of brandy “cough drops”.