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have adopted the same rule; and there is good reason to believe, that the pernicious custom is gradually wearing away, and will eventually become entirely obsolete.”
18 Extract from Darwin's Zoonomia, Sec. 30. “When the expediency of laying a further tax on the distillation of spirituous liquors from grain was canvassed before the House § of Commons some years ago, it was said of the distillers, with great truth, they take the BREAD from the people and convert it into POISON!' Yet is this manufactory of disease permitted to continue, as appears by its paying into the treasury above £900,000,* near a million of money annually.-And thus, under the names of rum, brandy, gin, whisky, usquebaugh, wine, cider, beer, and porter, alcohol is become the bane of the Christian world, as opium of the Mahometan.
19 "I shall conclude this section on the diseases of the ! liver, induced by spirituous liquors, with the well known story of Prometheus, which seems indeed to have been invented by physicians in those ancient times, when all things were clothed in hieroglyphic, or fable. Prometheus was painted as stealing fire from Heaven, which might well represent the inflammable spirit, produced by fermentation ; which may be said to animate or enliven the man of clay : whence the conquests of Bacchus, as well as the temporary mirth and noise of his devotees. But the after punishment of those who steal this accursed fire, is a vulture gnawing the liver; and well allegorizes the poor inebriate, [drunkard, ] lingering for years under painful hepatic [liver] diseases.”
20 But it is almost as useless to expostulate with veterans in the ranks of Bacchus, as with those who are confident that they are under the power of witchcraft. This fact is well illustrated by the reply of a boozy tippler to a Friend, who was representing to him the terrible consequences of intemperance, “I have no doubt, said he, but that all you say is true, but you might as well sing psalms to a dead horse as to talk to me.”
21 Yet let us not forget that these unfortunate victims of their own weakness and imprudence are still men, and claim our sympathy and commiseration for their want of discretion. And if warnings and entreaties will not prevail, let us resort to more efficacious means for their relief, as well as for the protection of the common interest against the effects of
* About 4,000,000 dollars.
their conduct. Reproachful denunciations, however, are not only useless, but injurious and uncharitable.
22 Too often, it is true, men of genius and learning, are seen whirling, with delirious apathy, in the frightful vortex of intemperance and destruction ;-but much the greatest proportion of the cases of mental debility and disa ease of this kind, must be attributed to the want of proper education, and an early taste and opportunity for reading. It is lamentable, as well as astonishing, that só few of our citizens have granted this subject its lawful weight either in the scales of policy, morality, physics, or religion. It has been too long treated with levity and scorn.
23 Is there an individual who is not now affected, more or less, in some shape or other, from the immense deficit in the national wealth, occasioned by the appropriation of 20,000,000 dollars annually, during the last twenty years, to a threefold worse purpose than annihilation? Twice we have bravely resisted and spurned political despotism, and at length we have prostrated our necks under the sceptre of king Alcohol.*
24 With an incredible infatuation, we have sacrificed the golden presents of Ceres on the hissing copper altars of crazy, Bacchus. Were I allowed the privilege of obliterating the two greatest scourges of mankind, I would select the art of distilling food, and the art of war.
25 I am not disposed to attach any degree of moral turpitude, to manufacturers or sellers of ardent spirits; but it does seem to me, that if they would revolve and scrutinize the subject in its real genuine character, they would not hesitate to renounce an employment which involves in its consequences, the propagation of so much human misery and wretchedness.
26 A merchant of Virginia, by the name of Sholfield, listened to his conscience, and burnt all his distilled liquors publicly on the summit of a mountain. Another in Delaware, beat in the heads of his rum casks. A respectable French gentleman having purchased an estate at Buffalo, (N. Y.) on which was a distilling establishment, demolished it immediately on taking possession, saying he “had done' one good deed.
27 And it would undoubtedly be a national benefit if ninetenths of the wholesale and retail merchants and distillers in America, would adopt “this great and universal truth, that
* Intoxicating spirit distilled from wine, beer, cider, &c
with a pure heart one is never unhappy,”* and secure to themselves the applause of their own consciences, and the admiration and gratitude of mankind, by imitating these illustrious examples of heroism in the cause of human happiness. Let them.consider another equally great and universal inverse truth, that without a pure heart one is never happy, with all the lucre that avarice can grasp.
28 “ No man (says Dr. Rush) ever became suddenly a drunkard. It is by gradually accustoming the taste and stomach to ardent spirits, in the forms of grog and toddy, that men have learned to love them in their more destructive mixtures, and in their simple state. Under the impression of this truth, were it possible for me to speak with a voice so loud as to be heard from the river St. Croix, to the remotest shores of the Mississippi, I would say, Friends and Fellow Citizens, avoid the use of those two seducing liquors, whether they be made with brandy, rum, gin, Jamaica spirits, whisky, or what is called cherry bounce.
29 “It is highly probable not less than 4,000 people die annually from the use of ardent spirits, in the United States. Should they continue to exert their deadly influence upon our population, where will their evils terminate ? The loss of 4,000 American citizens by the yellow fever in a single year, awakened general sympathy and terror, and called forth all the strength and ingenuity of the laws to prevent its recurrence.
30 “ Why is not the same zeal manifested in protecting our citizens from the more general and consuming ravages of distilled spirits ? Let good men of every class unite and besiege the general and state governments with petitions to limit the number of taverns; to impose heavy duties upon ardent spirits," &c.
31 Another writer who has given a lively picture of the devastations of distilled liquors, says, “ let men who wish well to their country, unite in petitions to government, to impose still heavier duties upon imported spirits, and our own distillers; and to regulate taverns and retailers of spirits ; and secure the property of habitual drunkards, for the benefit of their families.”
32 It is the more indispensable to obtain the sentiments of the people at large, on this momentous question, in the manner here proposed, on account of an erroneous prejudice
indulged by some law-makers, that legislative restrictions upon the manufacture, sale, and consumption of spirituous liquors, would violate the civil rights of the people, and excite disaffection and rebellion. With respect to the former objection, the fact is precisely the reverse.
33 The citizen who squanders his property, or his time and health in dissipation, and, consequently, exposes himself or a family to suffer for the necessaries of life, unless relieved by his neighbors or the public, violates the civil rights of, and his own moral and political obligations to, society. And there is no doubt that taxes on spirits will, generally, be cheerfully paid by the consumer, when he is assured that the revenue is to be applied to the education of his children, or, perhaps, ultimately, to his own support.
34 The probability is, that a more formidable resistance will spring from importers, manufacturers, and venders of ardent spirits, than from the consumers.
But it must be a very unwise and unsound policy that permits the general good to be sacrificed to individual gain.
35 Let the question, therefore, be fairly submitted to the people at large, who are the legitimate sovereigns of the land. The case demands the concurrent perseverance of all who possess the least sympathy for the sufferings and woes of their fellow men; and the very sufferers are not so indifferent as has been generally supposed. Many have addressed their supreme Parent with supplications to rescue and protect them from the fascinating charm and twining gripe, with which that cunning serpent, Alcohol, inveigles its prey.
36 And they are not wholly averse to coercive means of relief. Several have sought their emancipation in oaths of abstinence for a given term. Some have offered premiums for a remedy to the habit of drinking; and one individual of this description declared to the writer of these essays, that he 6 wished government would impose a tax upon whisky of five dollars a gallon, and then he should stop drinking it.”
37 So that the business at length resolves itself into these great moral and political problems—WHETHER THE GENERAL GOOD SHALL BE SACRIFICED TO INDIVIDUAL GAIN? WHETHER DISTILLED SPIRITS OUGHT AND SHALL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS DEPREDATIONS ON THE SOLID CAPITAL STOCK OF WEALTH IN OUR COUNTRY? Whether both imported and domestic spirits shall not be forthwith taxed to an amount sufficient to provide for the support and instruction of its unhappy victims?
The habitual temperate use of Spirituous Liquors, a
violation of moral purity and religious duty. 1 So far as it is in our power to understand the designs and laws of our Creator, for the regulation of our conduct, it is both our duty and interest to yield perfect compliance. The preservation of health and life is unquestionably one of our most palpable and explicit duties. Every act, therefore, which impairs our health and diminishes the period of our lives, is a violation of the express command of God.
2 I shall endeavor to demonstrate, by physiological facts, that both these effects are produced, more or less, by the habitual application of distilled spirits to the stomach, in whatever quantity. Composed of very inflammable materials, in a disengaged state, it commences a kind of smothered combustion instantaneously on its reception into the stomach ; corrodes the organs of digestion, excites an unnatural heat and violent circulation of the blood; attended with delirium, and succeeded by a loss of strength, proportioned to the excess of excitement produced by the irritating agent. Several other poisons produce similar effects.
3 It is an infallible axiom in the physical organization of man, that every excitement of his vital powers beyond the point to which his Creator has adapted him, which is the uniform effect of alcohol, diminishes his capacity for repeating like motions from like ineans. Hence it may be safely inferred, that every dram of spirituous liquors of any description, is a check upon the capital stock of strength and life, and hastens the approach of the hour of dissolution, in proportion to the indulgence.
4 Let the habitual dram drinker, who is or may be the head of a family, reflect, at the same time, that he runs the awful hazard of transmitting the most horrible torturing hereditary distempers to his defenceless progeny, for ages to come. Each dram increases the appetite for another, and the necessity of an increased quantity, to produce an equal effect, multiplies in a progressive ratio. Thus it follows, unavoidably, that the habitual temperate use of ardent spirits is a pernicious and vicious practice.
5 Besides its consumption of vital power, it will be found an unjustifiable and immoral habit in another point of view. It is a wanton waste of property, which ought to be preserved