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some spend nearly all their time there-we may conclude that the calculation just made is not very incorrect.
It is computed that there are "six hundred thousand drunkards" in the United Kingdom; these are, many of them, the best workmen, and get very high wages, and, on an average, do not work half their time; and, therefore, independent of what they spend in money, sacrifice, in the mere loss of time, the worth of some thousands, if not millions, annually. But beside these, there are the moderate drinkers, that occasionally lose a day; or, in consequence of the disease which alcoholic drinks generate, are doomed to spend many days in idleness and a sick chamber; and thus, on a moderate calculation, waste a vast sum every year. And many of these, be it remembered, must be superintended by their wives and daughters, and therefore keep their nurses from other labor. Let all these things be duly weighed, and it will be found that the estimation given is not far short of the truth. The amount may seem large, but we are persuaded that our countrymen are not at all aware of the magnitude of the loss that the nation sustains from the consumption of these liquors.
Should the calculation, after all, be objected to, we may mention another source of needless expenditure connected with drinking. From the disease that alcohol induces, vast sums are spent annually in medicine and medical men. Druggists and doctors have increased to an alarming extent, and all seem to prosper amazingly, and yet all are gaining their wealth from the aboundings of disease. Could we get a correct enumeration of the druggists and medical men of Great Britain at the present time, we should be startled. Now, the goods sold by druggists and dispensed at a high price by apothecaries, are those on which but little manual labor is bestowed; and, therefore, while millions every year are spent in medicines, yet the country derives but little advantage therefrom; and thus the productive energies of the laborer and mechanic are doomed to idleness, because the money, which, if spent in clothes and wholesome food, would have given them ample employment and remuneration, is wasted in drugs, medicine, beer, or gin.
Let all these items be put together and we shall perceive that
upwards of one hundred millions are annually wasted through the use of these poisons.
In the Parliamentary returns for the year 1838, our exports are valued at fifty millions; but grievous oftentimes are the complaints, and gloomy in the extreme the forebodings lest this foreign demand should be decreased by the competition of other nations. It is only for us to look at what is wasted at home in drinking, to perceive that when the attention of the people shall be aroused to contemplate the consequences of this vice, and to adopt, as we are persuaded they will adopt, the principle of total abstinence, that then a sum of money equal to twice the value of our foreign trade will be spent on the produce of our agriculture and manufactories. It is well known that if what is now wasted in gin, beer, and wine, were not thus spent, it would, nevertheless, be laid out in the British market, and circulated through the country. I know of few persons that have enough of the good things which the fields, the looms, and the various arts of the nation can produce. The families of drunkards, and also of moderate drinkers, in hundreds of instances, want more food, clothing, furniture, and other comforts of life. More cottons, silks, woollen cloths, books, and domestic utensils, would be bought were the sum mentioned above differently circulated. More also of the ornamental productions of our ingenious countrymen, more of the works of artists, and more of foreign luxuries would likewise be purchased.
Now the prosperity of a people mainly depends upon the manner in which the wealth of the nation is distributed. If a hundred millions of property be disbursed so as to be confined to a few hands, or to employ but few individuals, then but comparatively little good arises to the community; but if, instead of this, you can lay it out in such a manner as shall give full employment to the bulk of the inhabitants, you then benefit all. The poor man's ability to labor is national wealth, quite as valuable as the gold or the lands of the nobleman, and therefore if the time and talent, and muscle of the artizan and ploughman are wasted in an alehouse, or doomed to idleness, you have a national calamity quite as great as would arise from letting the
fields lie fallow, or allowing the gold of the rich man to slumber in his coffers.
The wealth of the nation, whether consisting in money, lands, talent, or labor, may be compared to the blood in the human system, and the various members of society to the blood-vessels through which this nutrient fluid glides. The health and strength of the body depend upon having this precious juice sent through every part of the frame. Were only the larger vessels supplied, the body must waste and decay. There are millions of smaller tubes that are spread over the whole system, or are deeply imbedded in the recesses of our constitution, that every moment need this valuble aliment; and when this living and invigorating stream flows through the whole, visits every part, fills every vessel whether large or small, and supplies and satisfies the natural cravings of every organ, then perfect health must be the result. So in the civil constitution, let the capital of the country be duly distributed, let the whole political body be employed, and you must have a prosperous and a happy people. We are much more dependent on foreigners than we suppose. By giving up the use of intoxicating drinks we can instantly give an order to the British market that shall double our foreign trade, and thus become to ourselves our best customers. The progress of machinery as a productive power, cannot be stopped; we must therefore increase the consumption, and this would instantly be done were the time, talent, and money wasted in drinks, turned into a different channel, and circulated through the hands of drapers, grocers, and mechanics of every trade and calling.
It may be said that money spent on beer, gin, &c. is circulated and therefore the community is benefited. From what has been said already, it will be seen that the circulation through this medium is diseased, inflammatory and deadly, and, therefore, destroys rather than enriches the nation. An acquaintance of mine, an accountant, who had an extensive experience and knowledge of the manner in which money is disbursed through the firms of various trades and mercantile houses, had the curiosity to investigate the amount of manual labor requisite to manufacture a pound's worth of ale, or to produce clothes, furni
ture, &c., to the same amount; and he found that in making strong drinks, the paltry sum of fourpence in the pound was all that was paid to the laborer, while in the manufacture of clothes and other useful articles not less than six shillings in the pound came into the pocket of the mechanic. What a great difference there is between fourpence in the pound and six shillings in the pound! The former dividend is only one eighteenth of the latter! But even this calculation will appear to fall very far short of the truth; if we consider the vast amount of manual labor necessary to prepare the raw material before it can be made into garments, &c. by the mechanics and others. And thus, were our money differently spent; were it withdrawn from poisons, and laid out on what is nourishing and useful, the trade and happiness of the nation would receive an increase to the amount of seventeen-eighteenths, or upwards of ninety per cent.
The day is fast coming when it will be seen by all, that what is unjust or wicked or corrupting is, at the same time, impolitic to an equal degree. The sum which the revenue receives from the duties on these destructive and demoralizing liquors is little compared with what it would obtain from the taxes arising from other articles that would immediately be consumed were drunkenness and the use of inebriating liquors immediately abolished. The farmer too would perceive that if there was a less demand for barley and apples, there would be a triple demand for corn, meat, hides, and indeed everything that his farm can produce. And even the brewer, and the inn-keeper, the gin-seller, and the malster, would soon find a more honorable and useful channel for their capital, and if they did not get so much, what they obtained would spend better. There is a fatality attends the money which has been won from the sale or manufacture of alcoholic drinks. In few, if any instances, does it spend well. It often never reaches the second generation, and rarely gets into the hands of the fourth. The ire of heaven seems to rest on what destroyed the health and corrupted the morals of the people.
The physiological, domestic, and moral history of brewers, spirit-sellers, and pot-house-keepers, is one of the gloomiest pages that we can turn over. The venders of these drinks have
had before their eyes the destructive effects of their traffic, and therefore ought, from principles of humanity, to have been the first to declare for total abstinence. They might have made a momentary sacrifice, but God would have amply compensated their philanthropy. The increase of national prosperity in every department that would have been the consequence, would not have passed them by without a blessing. From what has been advanced, we have therefore seen that the morals, the health, and the prosperity of the country, are deeply injured by the use of stimulating liquors, and that intelligence, morality, health and prosperity must be the happy effect of their abandonment, and therefore that total abstinence is the best policy.
In speaking of the waste and loss occasioned by alcoholic drinks, we must not pass over the enormous quantity of barley consumed in brewing and distillation. Forty millions of bushels of barley are, some years, in a great measure destroyed by being converted into malt, and afterwards into a liquid poison. We all know that wheat, or potatoes, or peas, or onions, are not so good after they have begun to sprout and grow. We consider it a great calamity when, in a wet season, the corn has grown before it could be housed. We know that in such cases a great part of the nutrition is destroyed, and that what remains is scarcely wholesome. We cry out in language of deep execra tion against the miller, or the baker, that buys up grown wheat and converts it into bread. We should not think of making soup of peas after they have sprouted; and we all know how insipid potatoes and onions become after they have begun to shoot. We are fully convinced that in all these examples a considerable portion of the substance of the seed or root is gone. In fact, it is this substance which produced and fed the sprout. Why then adopt this very plan with barley?
The reader probably may know, that the first process of malting is to make the grain sprout, and in doing this the malster exactly imitates what would take place at the proper season of the year were the barley thrown into the ground. Barley, in the degree of nourishment it contains, is next to wheat. Sir Humphry Davy ascertained that 1000 parts barley contained 920 parts that are nutritious, or that twenty-three parts out of twenty-five