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DUTY AND CONSEQUENT PROSPECTS.
AFTER What has been said concerning the nature and effects of alcoholic drinks, the duty of every patriot and of every Christian to abstain, cannot be a matter of doubt or hesitation. We have proved that, as articles of food, instead of being nutritious, they are poisonous; and that, as medicines, they might immediately be dispensed with. We have seen that disease, crime, pauperism, and death, are their invariable attendants, and that their baneful influence neutralizes and counteracts a very large proportion of our efforts to enlighten and moralize the people.
It has been shown, that the strongest, most handsome, athletic, and powerful of the nations, have been those who have drank nothing stronger than water. Never was there a period when men had such facilities for obtaining strong drinks as are at present possessed, and yet among us there are thousands who are never permitted to taste these inebriating liquors ; it is neither conscience nor principle, for we are not now speaking of the noble band of voluntary tetotalers, but of those whose circumstances compel them to abstain; it is neither conscience, principle, nor science, nor brotherly love, but want and poverty, or inability to procure these liquors, that keeps such from drinking intoxicating beverages, and still these very involuntary abstainers enjoy better health, and have more strength than their tippling neighbors. The most unquestionable evidence has demonstrated, that when they abstain from these drinks, our countrymen can brave any climate, breathe the air of almost every land, and endure the most arduous labors without any detriment. There is no doubt that the late expedition up the Niger owed its failure in a great measure to the intoxicating drinks, which the unphilosophical voyagers drank, as an antidote for fevers. As long as we continue to carry alcoholic drinks with us to Afri
ca, India, or Jamaica, we shall export fevers and miasmata of every description from our own stills and wine vaults. Poisoned and heated by these liquid fires, many of our countrymen expire almost as soon as they touch a foreign coast; and at home, the case is little better, for here the plowman complains of indigestion; the huntsman and the carpenter must carry about with them their box of anti-bilious pills; large-bodied men tremble like criminals, and must have gin, a smelling bottle, or Eau de Cologne, to keep them from fainting. Our tradesmen, mechanies, senators, and ministers of religion, are, almost to a man, suffering from nervousness, or some other complaint which alcohol has engendered; and our wives and daughters, smitten by this pest, are often unfitted for the common duties of domestic life, or drop into the grave in the very flower of their age. In a moral and religious aspect, the affair is too dark for us to look upon. The book that told all the crimes of drinking, would be too vile to read.
Since I have been writing this Essay, I have been doomed, in consequence of having arrived in a town by the mail early in the morning, to pass two hours, from four until six, in the kitchen of a respectable inn. The proprietor was there all the time, being up betimes to attend to his many customers, whom the early coaches brought to his house. He seemed a respectable man, and, had you met him in the street, would have passed for a gentleman. Some of the coachmen that lodged there, and took their early breakfast before starting, would, on the box, have passed for polite respectable men. But the inn-kitchen was liberty-hall; here, there was no restraint; and what I heard that morning, during two short hours, must not be repeated. Here were the proprietor, coachmen, guards, horsekeepers, porters, &c., all blended together, and the blasphemy, the filthy conversation and obscenity that formed the whole burden of their conversation, would not have been exceeded in a pandæmonium. This was the kitchen of a respectable inn, and in the morning between the hours of four and six, and consequently before their passions were but little, if at all, excited by drink; let any one then imagine what must be the language, the thoughts, the passions, and the deeds, that form the character
of the thousands of gin-shops, ale-houses and taverns, that infest our country.
Talk of pagan India; talk of Tyre or Șidon, of Sodom or Gomorrah; these were all chaste and holy compared with the drunkeries of our day. And yet these alehouses, &c., are said to be essential to the comfort of the people! and Christian people, by drinking, commending and dispensing home-brewed beer, wine, and spirits, are directly or indirectly contributing their influence and drinking example to keep open these hells. Sure I am that, as stated above, the book that repeateth but a thousandth part of what passes daily, and especially on the sacred Sabbath, in these alehouses and taverns, could not be read. The waste of health, life, talent, intellect, time, character, property, and comfort cannot be told. Drunkenness and moderate drinking present to us the blackest catalogue that ever polluted the light; and if we have any purity that crime can disgust, or any pity that misery can move, then ought we to use all our energies to stay this widely-spreading desolation.
Now as long as intoxicating drinks are in use, all kinds of iniquity will abound. A fiery stimulating poison is the only quality in these liquors that obtains for them the favor of the public; and so long as they are drunk, the stimulus they give will be followed by depression, the heat they impart will be followed with thirst, and these two sensations, like "the two daughters of the horse leech," will constantly be crying, "give, give." In every instance, intemperance is the child of that indefinite, undefinable monster, moderate drinking. When we drink these destructive beverages, though it be ever so moderately, we partake of a poison which can do us no good, which in the end may inflict on us an immensity of harm; and at the same time encourage others to use a bowl which, to them, may be death in both worlds.
Our first duty, then, is abstinence. We are responsible to God for our example. We may by our “ meat or drink destroy him for whom Christ died." And we may rest assured that when God maketh inquisition for blood, he will not hold that man guiltless whose example was the ruin of a neighbor or brother. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, caused Israel to sin; and
heavy indeed was the punishment that followed him and his house.
The impression has long been deep on my own mind, that one reason why the Holy Spirit is not poured out upon us is, that our needless and reckless indulgence in these liquors has grieved and offended that Divine Comforter. The money wasted on these drinks brands us with the crime of sacrilege; our spending it unnecessarily shows that we can spare it; and if we can spare it, we ought to bestow it on the missionary treasury for the conversion of the world, and thus make "to ourselves friends out of the unrighteous Mammon, who, when we die, may receive us into everlasting habitations." Thus, to spend on a vitiated taste what would supply our perishing brethren with the means of salvation, is to render us guilty of their blood. If we 66 warn not the wicked man, or send not to warn him, when we have it in our power to do so, his blood will be required at our hands." But we not only destroy by withholding the Gospel, but our example in using a poison, beguiles others to death. We walk on the verge of a precipice; others that have not our nerve, follow us to the same summit, and are dashed to atoms, and yet, instead of receding, we continue to regale ourselves with all the sang froid of a Cain, who said, “ Am I my brother's keeper ?" Surely it is time to amend our ways, and abstain from the fatal cup. Were the juice nectar, or the fruit of paradise, yet if its use is the occasion of crime, misery, and death to others, it would be our duty, both as patriots, philanthropists, and Christians, to spurn with the deepest dismay, so disastrous a bowl. And imperative as this duty, viewed under such an aspect, appears, its obligation is increased a thousand fold, when it is remembered, that the drink in question, so far from being ambrosia, is a most deleterious poison. Wherever there is alcohol, it may be said that "there is death in the pot ;" and while we sip it ourselves and commend the cup to others, we are, in many instances, guilty of murder and suicide; we betray our friends with a kiss, and, at the same time, effectually shorten and terminate our own existence.
But, besides abstaining ourselves, we must set our faces against the present drinking habits of society, which are asso
ciated with almost every engagement and relation in life, whether commercial or political, domestic or religious.
Pot-house clubs, and the paying of wages at public-houses, bowling-greens at the drunkery, and other amusements intended to allure men to drink these accursed liquors, should have our most energetic opposition.
We are not against rational exercise nor rational amusement, either for the poor or the rich; but let it be exercise, and let the exercise be rational and innocent, that it may neither reflect on our intellect, nor lessen our cheer by inflicting a sting on the conscience; and therefore, let every amusement be far removed from the alehouse, let the poor also be encouraged to lay up for sickness and old age, but let them not be mocked with the provision of the pot-house club. In how many instances, alas! have these falsely-named benefit societies proved the greatest bane and scourge. Thither the youth of much promise has gone to deposit a portion of his earnings for a time of need, but he has returned another man; the publican's bowl has bewitched him, and the provident young man has died a reckless spendthrift, who before he himself sunk into the grave, broke the heart of her, whom he tenderly loved until the hour that the poison of the beer-shop changed the heart of the man into that of a monster. What a robbery, too, is committed upon the wages, and a greater still upon the character, of the laborer, by paying him at the public-house, and, indeed, by paying him on the Saturday night! Why send him to the drunkard's school to receive his wages? Why tax him to the amount of a pot of beer before he is permitted to touch the fruit of his toil? Why expose his morals to the contaminated breath of the drunkery. The dead are there. Though whitened, still it is a sepulchre full of dead men's bones, haunted with the groans of broken-hearted, starving children and mothers, and execrated by the curses of the damned! Why send him where the harp, and the viol, and the tabret, and the pipe are played to beguile the unwary, and to make the simple forget that the house is none other than the house of demons and the gate of hell. Surely, also, the workman ought to have his pay in time for the market, that his wife may lay it out to the best advantage, and that