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SPARKS FROM THE ANVIL.

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SPARKS FROM THE ANVIL. By Jet Haumsehmith. I eee that a great deal of abusp has been heaped of late upon the men who abstain from alcoholic liquors. A number of licensed victuallers met together at the Bush Hotel. and after a. big feast, washed down probably with something stronger than lemon squash, they went for the poor "teetotaler.' They called him a faddist, a crank, a lunatic, a busybody, a fanatic, a spy, and heaven knows what besides. Thpre are a few abstainers, I suppose, even in Merthyr. How are they going to survive this attack ? The teetotaler may be all that the publi anssaidjhe was. He may be a fanatic, with his poor head full of fads. And yet he is not altogether devoid of virtue. As a rule he goes to work regularly he does not spend his earnings on selfish pleasures, leaving his family to starve he does not beat his wife, or drive his hungry children out of the house; he does not have to pay visits to Mr. North at the Police-court on Monday mornings, and there are no ten shillings or ten days" in his history hs is respected by his neighbours, and looked uiw>n as a reliable man; he plays his part as a citizen honeatly and well, refusing to sell his birthright for a pot of beer. These tilings oan hardly be said of every drunkard. Low as he is, vulgar and despicable all he is repre- sented to be, the teetotaler can yet give a few points, I venture to think, to the drunkard. If I wanted some- one to do an important bit of work foi me, I think I would choose a teetotaler to d o i t rat her than a d ru n kard. You can trust a teetotaler, as a rule you cannot always place absolute confidence in a drunkard. Did anyone ever hear of a teetotaler being'urged to liecome a drunkard ? We are continually exhorting drunkards to become abstainers. Does any father advise his son to take to drink and grow up a drunken sot ? Does any mother recommend her daughter to cultivate a thirsty soul, and make a gin-sponge of herself ? On the whole, and looking at the subject from every possible point of view, I cannot resist the conclusion that the abstainer, with all his fads, is a better man than the drunkard. If I were a publican I don't think I would abu-e the ahstainer. It is bad business form. I never pay any- thing derogatory of tbe people who do not pation'se my Smithy. If I did, people would soon attribute motive", and insinuate that I spoke evil things of them simply becHiise they did not favour me with their custom. The public would side with them, and go against me. And the public would bo right. The abstainers do not indulge in personal abuse of the publicans. It is not the publicans they blame, but; the habit of drinking. And when the publicans pour the vials of their ridicule on the abstainers, they may rest assured that the sympathy of the community is given not to them, but to those they denounce. The Rctelery meeting aCCardiff was a sight to remember to one's dying hour. I have seen many big meetings in my time, but never have these weary eyes of mine witnessed a night comparable to the central portion of the Canton pavilion, the standing area," as it was called. It was one solid, compact mass of humanity. Never, in the annals of the race, I veritably believe, were so many human beings wedged in the same area of space. I do not think that a single one of them could have turned round to save his life. How they managed to inhale enough oxygen to shout Mahon is a mystery that will never be solved bv mortal intellect. And what an army of pressmen I should say there were enough of them to make up a eouple of Tory smoking concerts. The audience, before the meeting proper com- menced, took the reins of government into their own hands, and bade this man do one thing and that man another thing. They ordered Mabon to sing, and told him what to sing. Like a wise man, Ma!>on obeyed the orders of the sovereign people. They commanded Mr. Lloyd George to make a speech. Which incident, duly considered, is an instructive one. There were several Welsh M.P's on the plat- form. Sir George Osborne Morgan was there, a man who was a veteran almost before Lloyd George was born. Some South Wales members were there, who were in Parliament years before Lloyd George was heard of. Tom Ellis was there, the hope and pride of his nation three years ago, then the Parnell of Wales." And yet Lloyd Geonge was the man whom those ten thousand people in Canton commanded to mount the rostrum and make a speech. Four years ago his name would have been known to but very few of them. They would then have called for Tom Ellis, or Sam Evans, or some other South Wales member. But now they call for a man from the extreme end of North \I: ..les, a young solici- tor with neither money nor influential family connec- tions to help him fight the battle. He has conquered by the might of his own intellect, by the exalted ardour of patriotism, by the charm of eloquence. He has done things which but few other M.P's would have dared to do. There is in him the courage and pluck to lose his life so that he may save it. The retention of his seat is not the paramount object in his view. He acts according to nis conviction, come what may of the seat. Will he be the leader of the Welsh party in the future ? Time will show. Perhaps he had better not be leader. Possibly lie may serve his country more effectively hy being a freelance. At all events, he has won the love and confidence of his fellow country- men in all parts of the Principality. The incident referred to at the Rosebery meeting bears witness to the place lie occupies in the hearts of the Welsh people. Though the poorest of our M.P.'s, he has not sacri- ficed his nation on the altar of personal advancement. Three years ago the one we all looked to as the deliverer of Israel was Tom Ellis. Tom is now lost to us. He will make his mark in imperial politics, and I wish him success from the bottom of my heart. But to Wales he is for ever lost. He cannot be to his countrymen what they thought and hoped he would be. Intellectually he is by far the ablest of our members. His defection is one of the saddest trag- edies in our modern history. Concerning Rosebery's speech, we of the Smithy fraternity do not all agree. Of course we all regard the Premier's pronoi>;cement on Disestablishment as completely satisfactory. But the question is, will the speech, as a whoh', Strengthen his position as Prime Minister and leader cf the Liberal Party'! Some say it will, and that all his detractors have been silenced for ever. Others shake their heads, and doubt whether the f peech was one of those "large utterances" which we expect from first rank statesmen. They say it was too academic, that it was smart and clever rather than great. For my own part, I take a neutral jxjsition. Time only will show whether Lord Rose- bery is strong enough to lead his party. He is a man of many good qualities, and I sincerely and heartily h >pe that he will prove equal to the task imposed upon him. On Monday morning the postman handed me a letter addressed as follows: "Joe Hammersmith, Esq., The Merthyr Smithy, Merthyr." It is fiom my brother Bill, who is a youth of great promise and many virtues. He writes thus:- Dear Joe,âI am your little brother, Bill 'Ham- mersmith but until I saw you occupying a prominent seat at Lord Rosebery's meeting at Cardiff last Friday I did not know that you were doing such good work, the result of your Sparks in, as well as out of, the thickly-populated coal metropolis of gallant little Wales, Merthyr. How you have grown since last we met Doesn't that sound a bit thick ? I mean dramatically thick. Being the recipient of a free copy (keep it dark) of the Merthyr Times each week, I wander through the Sparks 'very greedily, appreciating the good advice that is meted out to the weak enjoying the pills that are cast at the heads of the strong but reckless beings who help to make up the important local governing bodies. If your readers would hut follow your advice, much good work could be accomplished in the future, but the attention and labour of individuals are required to do it. There is a danger of thinking, dear Joe, that the affairs of the towns in which we live do not concern us, that they are matters with which we have nothing in common. But we have everything to do with wnat is going on we have everything to do with what has been going on, politically as well as socially, from the very beginning of the world. As a result of the interest whicn men take in such matters, people are more enlightened, more happy, more near perfection. And believe me, Joe, your columns of advice and comment will have a beneticial effect upon your readers as wall as the general community. You have a splendid correspondence column, Joe, through which the .people may air their grievances and upbraid the men whom they have elected to legislate locally, or to doll out parish relief, if they fail in their duty; that is, providing correspondents conform to the rules of your smithy. Without intending to imply that there are any shortcomings on the part of the new District Council, it is a healthy sign when the ratepayers interest themselves in the manner in which their representatives conduct the business of the district. In the absence of the sym- pathy or criticism of their constituents the coun- cillors may do too little or too much. As liberty in national affairs has to be preserved by eternal vigilance,' healthiness in local government can only be achieved by cordial co-operation between those who be achieved by cordial co-operation between those who provide the money and those who spend it. I T J ^OW I Potest against the idea that is'taking root, I do not say in Merthyr especially, that increased concern in lo^al affairs must hear a political hue. There was too much of this spirit infused into the District Council election, and it's unhealthy. In some places contests are being fought by one political party against another. The Conservatives, I need hardly sav, particularly are the offenders in this respect. They set up as indeper d nt;<, and use all the local Conservative, I beg pardon, dear Joe, I mean unionist'organization, such as it is, and influence to support a candidate simply because he is a Con. servative and to defeat another candidate simply because he is a Liberal. Some of the pamphlets sent cut within the past few weeks stunk of politics, to say nothing of a perfume called 'Bung.' Such a proceeding is calculated to sap the vitality of local government, and to bring about a political deadlock in which the real business of a District Council ffoes to the wall. I am thankful, dear Joe, that you are fighting against this spirit; all conscientious men are rtound to support your views. Allow me to suggest, dear Joe, that a word of wi. rn mg m tins respect may be specially useful at the pre- sent time, when candidates are being sought for the County Council. The men wanted to form County Councils, District Councils, Boards of Guardians. &:c are those who are ablf! to take a common sense view of such questions as sewerage, lighting, water suppiv the safety and cunvemence of buildings, financial, and other, affairs. What connection a man's views on these matters has with Disestablishment, Home Fvule tor Ireland, or Local eto, it is difficult to see. Thecandidatesfor the District Council whooppor-ed the old and tried hands contend that the rat4 are tQO lush, and that there has been extravagant expeu- f diture, the water coming in for a good criticism. If the new candidates, whose only programme was the half-crown rate, put forward thie contention simply to gain votes for themselves, they did not act on the square. If they really believe the money of tbe rate- payers is spent extra vaeajitly, where was the need to claim the support of the "Unionist" organisation? But has there been any extravagance? A pure and ample water supply is the greatest need of any com- munity. There is, as you Know, dear Joe, such a thing as false economy, and care should be taken that this mistaken jjolicy does not come to prevail in Mer- J thyr. Though I do not say that the present rate could not have been lightened to some extent by a ) committee composed of good financiers, I contend that ¡ if low rates be synonymous with bad drainage, ¡ defective lighting, insufficient and impure water, then surely all sensible members of the community will wish to avoid falling into this error. I Now, dear Joe, I must olose, trusting you will do I your btat to put down the wrangling that was characteristic of the meetings of the now defunct I Local Board, and which has already shown itself to t be present in the new Council. Why, how now, Billy Bowles i Sure the priest is maudlin How can you, d d your eouls, Listen to his twaddling.' I (Btrox.") I

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