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result. But what has actually been the case in our own country up to the present time? The faithful ministers of the gospel have increased; Bibles have been multiplied and sent into almost every house; religious tracts universally distributed; home missionaries have been employed, Sunday, National, and Lancasterian schools instituted beyond any former precedent, and yet, with all these benevolent energies at work, crime has awfully abounded. From this fact the enemies of knowledge have asserted that our schools have been a curse rather than a blessing.
It seems to have escaped the notice of these objectors, that every human being who employs the use of his faculties, and has arrived at maturity, is a person of education. The savage has been educated to be a savage, the Turk to be a Turk, and the clown to be a clown. The question therefore is, not whether the people shall be educated, (that every one must be), but whether they shall be educated aright. Now, for some years past, the people have been taught the great truths of the Gospel on a much larger scale, and in a much more rational and engaging form than at any previous period, and yet crimes have terrifically abounded; to attribute the multiplication of offences to education in the truths of religion, or to reading and writing, is as unphilosophical as it is absurd; nor is it a jot more rational to suppose that if people were educated in clownishness and vandalism, they would make better members of society. The increase of population also cannot properly be said to have been the cause of increasing iniquity, for we have statistics to show that there is less crime in the densely crowded, than in the thinly peopled parts of the country. The multiplicity of Bibles, of religious and scientific books, and of faithful preachers of the word, cannot have originated or cherished vice. We must therefore look after some other cause, and to discover a cause in every respect adequate to these results, no lengthened scrutiny is necessary. On the authority of superintendents of police, of sheriffs, of coroners, of jailers, and chaplains to Houses of Correction, we are assured that “nine-tenths” of the crime that has come under their notice originated directly or indirectly in the use of intoxicating drinks. Mr. Wontner
asserted, "that ninety-nine cases out of a hundred were owing to intemperance." Several military gentleman of high respectability and extensive observation, declared, to the committee of the House of Commons, that every crime committed in the army was occasioned by drunkenness. If we will also open our eyes to what must have occurred under our own individual notice, we must all confess that the far greater number of crimes can be traced to habits of drinking. We have another striking testimony confirmatory of this reasoning, in the fact that crime has increased in proportion as beer and spirit licences have multiplied. In 1818, the number of beer and spirit licences was 86,459, but in 1833 they amounted to 139,007, giving an increase of 52,548. The consumption of spirits and beer had also advanced at an equal ratio. In 1801 the number of gallons of distilled spirits was 3,547,388, but, in 1831, the consumption amounted to 8,941,072, so that in the latter year 5,393,684 gallons more than in 1801 had been swallowed of these deleterious liquors. A reference to the malt-duty will present a similar result. It was also shown by more than one witness before the committee, that whenever an increase of duty, or any other circumstance, caused a decrease in the consumption of intoxicating drinks, that crimes immediately decreased; and that the contrary was the case whenever the people obtained facilities for procuring them.
Facts also will not allow us to conclude that crime is chiefly connected with the drinking of ardent spirits. In Gloucestershire probably there is as little ardent spirits drunk as in any part of the country, while, on the contrary, beer-shops have been multiplied to an enormous degree; and in the year 1835 crime increased nineteen per cent. The Parliamentary returns for 1836 state, that, in twenty-three agricultural counties having the largest agricultural population, crime has increased in twenty, and in some to the amount of thirty-two per cent. These are beer-drinking counties, and the beer-shops and crime have very naturally increased together. We know also that in Preston in Lancashire, drunkenness chiefly arose from beer drinking, and that while this was the practice, criminals were constantly committed from that town, but no sooner had total
abstinence decreased the consumption of beer, than crime began to decrease also. And why should not this be the case? The intoxicating principle in beer, in wine, and in spirits, is the same, and therefore differs only in the degree or quantity, and we know that the beer-sellers vie with each other in endeavoring to manufacture the liquor that shall be most efficacious in destroying the reason and inflaming the appetites of their customers. The hop may be stupifying, but still it is only to enter an alehouse, and observe the language and manners of the company, to perceive that a man may be as perfectly equipped for theft and murder in a beer-shop as in a gin-palace. Country thieves generally prime themselves in a jerry-shop. At Woodchester in Gloucestershire, in 1836, a dispute arose in a publichouse between two beer drinkers who were partially intoxicated, and one of them drew his knife and stabbed the other to death on the spot. In the city of Gloucester also, about the same time, a similar murder was committed by a beer drinker. Hence we perceive that intoxication, whether by beer, wine, or spirit, drowns the reason, sears the conscience, and hardens the heart, and therefore qualifies the victim that it poisons for the committal of every crime.
Of the 22,451 criminals committed in 1834, by far the greater number consisted of thieves. In giving this enumeration, it must be remembered that we include only those who were actually committed, and when it is considered that perhaps onehalf of those who are guilty of theft or dishonesty escape apprehension, it will be seen that the number just stated will give us but a very imperfect idea of the actual amount of offenders. And yet these, whether detected or not, have been chiefly induced, through the use of strong drinks, to disgrace themselves and injure their neighbors. In some instances the youthful purloiner has been educated in dishonesty by his drunken father, mother, or other associate. In others, want and starvation, induced drinking, have prompted him to steal. Habits of extravagance, in which beer, wine, and spirit-drinking form a principle ingredient, have brought many a man to ruin, and led him to commit those crimes which have doomed him to a prison. How often too, in the beer-shop, have plans of theft and dishon
esty been concocted and matured, and how many a strippling, while under the influence of liquor, has been beguiled to cast in his lot with desperadoes. Many also find it absolutely necessary to drink largely before they can muster courage to take their neighbor's property, or threaten his life. Take away from them the intoxicating cup, and if you do not make them honest, at any rate you bereave them of the demon, without whose aid many are incapacitated to bring themselves and others to ruin. Hence the incalculable blessing of total abstinence.
He who never drinks intoxicating drinks can never become a drunkard, while he who uses them has nearly all the chances against him. In proportion to the quantity of spirit in what he drinks thirst is created, the nerves are excited, the brain is affected, moral feeling is benumbed, and reason thrown off its guard. He is thirsty, but reason does not guide to the best liquor to satisfy his appetite, and he drinks the very beverage which, instead of allaying, increased the sensation. He is disposed for action, but his reason is impaired, and therefore, cannot prudently guide his volitions. He views, at least until he is dead drunk, every object under the greatest excitement, and consequently cannot exercise that calmness of judgment which is so essential to human proceedings. The power that animates him is unnatural, it is neither from his body, nor from his mind, but from a senseless exciting spirit which he has introduced to his frame, and which rules his nerves and diminishes his judgment. Just in proportion as alcohol stimulates him, his intellect is weakened. He barters away his natural animal spirits and his reason, and receives in exchange the vile inspirations of strong drink. Hamlet upbraids his mother with having been accessary to the death of a handsome, noble, and generous husband, and of throwing herself into the arms of an ugly and ruthless murderer. The tippler is guilty of similar wickedness and folly, he dethrones his own reason, and introduces in its stead a tyrant and an assassin. David, the man after God's own heart, is deposed, and the impious Absalom is advanced to the empire. Now when a man has thus voluntarily sacrificed the whole, or a part of that discretion, which was given him to regulate his conduct, he is in danger of making a
thousand mistakes, and of being the dupe of every designing knave, and hence the pot-house and the taverns are as regularly the gymnasia of vice and dishonesty, as the academy or the college are the schools of useful learning. There are few thieves who are condemned, and few persons who have watched their career but must acknowledge this fact, and consequently admit, that if you can annihilate the taste for strong drinks, you will cut the sinews and pierce the very heart of dishonesty.
On looking at theft, it behoves us not merely to consider the amount of property which is abstracted and generally wasted; this can bear no proportion to the value of that moral principle and character, which must be sacrificed, before any one can be guilty of stealing, or unjustly taking or withholding his neighbor's goods. The dishonest person commits the greatest depredation upon himself; his respectability is in many instances destroyed for life; even if he repent, he is viewed with suspicion. Hypocrisy is not deemed impossible to him who has been guilty of robbery, and therefore, the sincerity of his penitence is questioned by many; so conscious are those who have become dishonest, of the difficulty of retrieving their characters, that few make an effort to do so. Having once passed the boundary of integrity, they often become reckless, and hurry to commit some crime, which shall terminate their infamy by transportation or death. As we have no balances that will correctly show the value of human life, or of a human soul, so also have we no standard that can fully estimate the price of that character and integrity, which give to our existence and immortality their chief worth and importance. Heaven bars its gates against an impenitent thief, earth shuns his society, as a wretch that cannot be trusted, and even in perdition, the lot of impenitent thieves will be one of no common degree of infamy. The fondest parents have been known to disown the child that has been convicted of pilfering; the tenderest of mothers has spurned him from her breast, and the kindest of fathers driven him from his door, and few persons have charged either of them with injustice.
We have mentioned these facts only to show that the crime of dishonesty is greater than may at first be supposed. And