Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/56

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48
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

successive Legislatures, and all possible measures have been taken to render the law perfect. As it now stands, it constitutes an entire chapter of the Revised Statutes, and embraces more than fourscore sections. A glance at its provisions will show that it is stringent enough to satisfy the most thorough-going believer in repressive legislation. It absolutely forbids the manufacture, sale, furnishing, or giving away of intoxicating liquors, among which malt-liquors and lager-beer are specifically included. Cider must not be sold at any place of public resort, nor may a man in his own house furnish any liquors to minors. The penalties in all these cases are a fine of ten dollars for the first offense, twenty dollars for the second, and three months in the House of Correction for the third. A "common seller" is to be fined one hundred dollars for the first offense, and two hundred dollars for the second, and for the third is to be committed to the House of Correction for four months. He may also be prosecuted for maintaining a nuisance, and in case of conviction he is to be fined from twenty dollars to two hundred dollars, and imprisoned from one month to three months; and his place of business is to be summarily closed, nor may he reopen it before furnishing a heavy bond to abandon the liquor-traffic. A person bringing, or assisting in bringing, liquor into the State, is to be fined twenty dollars for the first offense, and fifty for the second, and for the third is to be imprisoned for three months. A traveling liquor agent is to be fined one hundred dollars for the first offense of selling, and three hundred dollars for the second, and for the third is to be fined five hundred dollars and imprisoned for six months. All liquors kept, or supposed to be kept, for purposes forbidden by the statute, are to be seized by the police, who may for this purpose enter and search, without a warrant, any premises, public or private. A percentage of all fines imposed and collected is awarded the informer and the prosecuting officer. The statute furthermore contains provisions for the recovery of civil damages from liquor-dealers, for imposing a heavy fine upon one who rents premises to be used in the liquor-traffic, and for carrying out the design of the law in a thorough and efficient manner.

But the practical operation of this severe and sweeping law—there is the rub! It is a fact, which can not be controverted or denied, that for all practical purposes the law is an absolute dead letter. According to the returns of the United States revenue officers, the Government tax on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors in the State amounted last year to fourteen thousand dollars in round numbers. On the same authority, there are in the State at the present time four hundred and forty-six places where intoxicating liquors are sold; and, though the population is well-nigh stationary, there is a marked increase in the number of these places, last year's returns showing only four hundred and twenty-six, and those for the preceding year four hundred and nine. In the city of Burlington there are about