« AnteriorContinuar »
on INTEMPERATH DRINKING.
So much has been said and written on the subject of intemperance, within the last two or three years;–so many facts have been collected from all parts of the United States;–so many affecting representations have been made of the waste and woes of hard drinking;—and so much has been done to lay these facts and representations before the public, by clergymen and laymen; by printing, vending, and gratuitously distributing sermons, essays, addresses, and tracts, that a spirit of anxious inquiry, and a good degree of needful alarm, have been gradually and extensively excited. But unhappily, the effect of all this has been in many cases to dishearten rath. er than to stimulate, the friends of reform. Not a few have imagined themselves to be in the condition of a thinly populated district, when invaded by a powerful and victorious enemy, to whose standard many eagerly flock, instead of uniting with the friends of their country, to oppose his further progress. They have felt themselves driven to the hard necessity of at least remaining quiet, if not of aiding and assisting the conqueror.
No such real necessity, however, has at any time, or any where, existed; except in the imaginations of the timed. Intemperance, though an enemy of terrible aspect; an enemy that has cast down many strong men wounded, and slain many nighty, has never yet, blessed be God,
Utica clinistiAN MAGAZINE.
been permitted to gain an ascendency so complete that its desolating career could not be arrested. And our grateful acknowledgements are due to the Author of all good, that the number of the despairing has been, for some tithe past, rapidly on the decline. Many good people, who once felt as if nothing effectual could be done, have found to their surprise, upon facing the enemy, that it is not a regular force which they have to meet, but a réeling disorderly rabble; and that, if the army of intemperance is numerically great, it is by no means so formidable, as they had supposed. A little thought has, moreover, convinced them, that even if this army cannot now be inet and vanquished, in the field, it must soon waste away, and be entirely disbanded, unless kept alive by a succession of new recruits. Still, however the voice of despendency is heard from various quarters, expressing itself in such terms as the following. “Would to God, that the alarm had been sounded sooner. Time was, when something effectual might have been done; but that time is past. The foe should have been met upon the frontiers, instead of which, he has been suffered to penetrate into the heart of the country, and make such a disposition of his forces, that resistance can have no other effect, than to exasperate him, to hasten the work of ruin and death,in which he has been so long, and so successfully engage” Our wound, alas! is incurable. , mhole head is sick, and the nobole h faint. The fire burns so fiercely,
it cannot be quenched. The poison
Nor let it be forgotton, that there is a mighty difference between coming up to the help of the Lord, and entering the lists against him. With infinite ease He can cause ome to chase a thousand, and two to put ten thousand to flight. So that, if drunkards, their auxiliaries and abettors, were ten |times more numerous than they are, and if at the same time, the pious and virtuous were proportionably diminished, it would be highly criminal in the latter to sit down in despair. Let the fearful and unbelieving consider this. Let them remember, that those ancient rebels, who would not obey the command of God, nor confide in his promises, but refused to take possession of Canaan, were destroyed of the destroyer.
Further; let such, as are tempted to resign themselves up to despondency, be told for their encouragement, that much has actually been done, within two years past, to stay the plague—much more, than even the most sanguine had ventured to anticipate. The writer can assure them from his own observation, and from statements on which implicit reliance can be placed, that in the part of NewEngland where he resides a glorious reformation is begun, and under circumstances affording good reason to hope that it will proceed. Magistrates and ministers, church members, merchants, farmers, mechanics, have, to an extent not only unprecedent, but unexpected, entered heart and hand upon the good work. Ardent spirits of every kind are excluded by unanimous resolves, from the associational and other meetings of the clergy. The side-boards of the wealthy are swept of bottles and glasses. The sling and the cordial are banished from tea parties. Putting the cup to the lips of friends and visitants, is ceasing to be deemed a me" cessary part of hospitality. Many farmers now get through the season of heat and hard labor, with less than one fourth of the quantity of distilled liquors, which they used to provide;
gome forward and enrol themselves.
and some without providing any.
The pleasing result of a report, lately made in my hearing, by intelligent gentlemen from all parts of a large associational district, was, that several drunkards have been hopefully reformed within the past year; that preaching against the use of strong drink, though very pointed, has been highly popular; that frequenting dram shops and taverns is growing more and more disreputable; that in some towns, the consumption of spirits has been diminished by more than one half the usual quantity, and that every where, the diminution is very apparent. Now, if these and similar tokens for good were not known to exist, except in a few towns, we should have abundant reason to thank God, and take courage; but how much more, when it is considered, that the above statement is only a specimen of that happy reformation which has progressed as far, perhaps farther, in other sections e state, and in different and distant parts of New-England. Let, then, the hands that still hang down, be lifted up. Let the feeble knees be strengthened. Let God be praised for the good that hath already been done. Let his continued smiles be earnestly implored. Let every inch of ground, that has been gained be held. Let the strong places from which the enemy has been driven be levelled with the ground. Let every advantage be vi#. followed up, and, by God’s elp, our victory will be certain and complete. But it may be asked, are there no discouraging facts to counterbalance the favorable ones which have been stated; no dark clouds rising in our horizon; no forward and threatening movements of the enemy Yes there are. I hear the poor crying for bread at this early season, and with astonishment demand the cause. Partial failures in some of the crops I have indeed heard of. But I know that in general, the crops have been unusually abundant, and that, in some places, fhe earth has brought forth by handfuls. I know, also, that however great the
demand may be abroad for the productions of our soil, that demand cannot, in the present state of things, have produced a scarcity, so few and precarious are our outlets. Still I know, it is with extreme difficulty, that the poor around me can obtain their daily bread; and how is this to be accounted for? I cast my eye upon the news-papers; I watch the movements of speculators; I look at the fires that are kindling and the mystery vanishes. Stills are advertised, by scores and hundreds. Old establishments in the distilling business are enlarged, and new ones are arising in every part of the country. Distillers, by their advertisements and their innumerable agencies, have already got a very. large part of the grain into their hands; and are securing the remainder, as fast as possible. Then it is carried from the granary to the distillery, there to be tortured by fire, till it will yield a liquid poison, which is to be sent forth to destroy health, property, and reason; to convert men into demons, and to plunge thousands of souls into the bottomless pit. Can we wonder, that the wrath of God is not turned anay rom us, but that his hand is stretched out still? What are we to expect, if we thus cast the staff of tisk into the fire, with our own hands, but that an angry God will add to the calamities of war all the miseries of famine ! But those who are engaged in this business, will undoubtedly attempt to justify themselves; and it is but right that they should be heard. They may plead, then, in the first place, that very large quantities of ardent spirits are necessary to supply our markets; that supplies from abroad are almost entirely cut off by the war; that the demand can by no means be satisfied by the distillation of cider; and that, therefore, it is proper to supply the deficiency by extracting the spirit from breadstuffs. This plea, permit me to reply, rests entirely on the presumption, that eve
ry demand for ardent spirits must, or at least may, be complied with. I say, it rests on the presumption; because the point is not proved, nor can it be. Suppose the keeper of a grogshop to have ascertained, by a long course of experience, that his customers will want three gallons of spirits every evening. Is he bound, or is it right for him to provide that quantity, when he knows that it will injure every man who calls; for it? But if this would be sinful, then! he may not supply his own little market, I mean to the extent of the demand; and if he may not, then the distiller may not, in every case, supply a larger market. The reason is obvious. It is from the larger markets that grog shops draw their supplies. So that he, who sells liquor by the hogshead, may be accessory, to a vastly greater sum of guilt and misery, than any single in: dividual, who retails by the single glass. - * * * * * * But, replies the distiller, nothing was made in vain. Liquor is certainly good in its place, I do not compel men to drink intemperately. I warn them against it. If they will, notwithstanding, make brutes of themselves, they must answer for it, not I. And are you certain, I ask, that no part of the guilt will rest upon your head? God made nothing in vain, it is true; but did He make ardent spirits? Has he required any body to make them 7 Admitting, however, that they are sometimes useful, (and I do not deny it) what then? Does this prove, that they are, upon the whole, to be num: bered among the blessings of life? If they injure a thousand persons, where they benefit one, or if they do a thousand times more hurt than good, will it avail those, who are deluging the land with ardent spirits, to plead, that they compel nobody to drink? If they do not compel men to become intemperate, they furnish the means of becoming so,when they know, that multitudes will abuse these means. Suppose I understóod the art of extracting from rye, for instance,one of the most active and fatal poisons in nature, which might in
as a medicine. Suppose my neighbors should get into the habit of purchasing, diluting, and then drinking it. Suppose the same thing should be done wherever the poison was sold; and there should finally be satisfactory evidence, that thousands of lives were annually destroyed by it; and that the evil was increasing 1 Could I excuse myself if I still persisted in making the poison, and in as large quantities as ever, by saying, “It is good in its place 7 I don't compel people to destroy their lives. If they mill drink, they must take the consequences.” Would not every friend of humanity reply, with some earnestness, “Sir, you must know that the community would be infinitely better off without your poison than with it. You see what havoc it is inaking, on the right hand and the left.— Its acknowledged utility, in a few solitary cases, compared with the guilt and misery which it occasions,is like weighing a feather against mountains. Demolish your establishment, therefore, at once; or convert it to some other use. ‘’Tissordid interest guides you.’” Should I be pronounced a monster, if I still persisted in manufacturing my newly discovered poison, and is that man to be regarded as guiltless, nay as a useful member of society, who devotes himself to the manufacturing and vending of old poisons, under the specious names of gin, brandy and cordial? Let every such man ponder the subject well. Before any one resolves to go on with this business, let him fully satisfy himself, that he can proceed on grounds which will stand the shock of the last day, and abide the scrutiny of the Judge. The reader will naturally take notice here, that if there is any weight in the preceding arguments, they would lie against extracting ardent spirits, in large quantities, from any substance, however useless. With how much greater weight must they lie against turning into spirits the very staff of life? But I shall doubtless be asked, what
must the farmers do with their grain?
me cases be used, with great success|
Many of them have large quantities (e
spare. They cannot export it; and but a small part of it is wanted at home, for bread, by the poor, or any body else. Must they suffer it to perish on their hands, rather thansellit for a high price, to be made into whiskey I answer, first, by asking three plain questions: Is it not a fact, that in the rage for distilling every thing, the poor are generally overlooked 7 Is it not a fact, that distillers have their agents employed almost every where to buy up the grain at unheard of prices? Is it not a fact, that these agents have actually secured so much of it, in many places, as to induce an artificial scarcity ? And what are the consequences? Why, in the first place, when a poor man wants a bushel of grain, the nominal price is so excessively high, that he finds it extremely difficult to furnish the means; and in the second place, the grain is not to be had within his town or neighborhood. The barns and cellars of his wealthy neighbors are full, it is true; but the rye, and the corn, and even the potatoes, are engaged, or kept back for a further advance in the price. Hence, the cry, which is already heard; and hence the probability, I might almost say certainty, that hundreds, if not thousands, of families, will be compelled to struggle through a cold winter without bread. Look at the little children in these families. How distressing the thought, that they must suffer so much, when, were it not for the disfilleries, they might obtain a competence if not a plenty But allowing, (what there is not the least reason to hope for,) that enough should be reserved for the poor, and afforded to them on moderate terms, is it morally right, to turn the surplus into liquid fire? Suppose the crops should be cut short another year to such a degree, that the men who are now pouring the last bushel they can spare into the stills, should be pinched for bread themselves. Might they not very properly regard it as a judgment upon them, for what they are now doing? Let those, then, whose ground has brought forth plentifully the pre
sent year, praise the bountiful Giver, taking care at the same time, not to abuse the gift. Let them supply the poor around them, and sell to others, who want their grain for bread. If they still have a surplus, let them keep it over the season. Should there be a failure of crops, it will all be wanted; or, if not, opportunity may perhaps be given, for sending it abroad; and, at all events, it must surely afford a high degree of satisfaction to reflect, that it has not, by being turned into poison, destroyed the peace of any family, or hastened any man to the grave. - I know that the distillation of bread stuffs may bring money into the pocket of the grower and the manufacturer. But money is not the one thing needful. It will not be current in the world to which we are hastening; and if it should, the community would gain nothing upon the whole, for where one is made rich by means of distilleries, ten are made poor. I would put it to the consciences of those interested in the gains, therefore, whether they are not in duty bound to forego these gains, rather than be instrumental in sending abroad a flood of intoxicating liquors to sweep the body into the grave, and the soul into hell ! Z. X. Y. [Panoplist, Nov. 1813.]
IN the preceding numbers we have given some account of the first planting of the several New-England colonies. We have seen sqmething of the motives with which this work was undertaken, of the difficulties through which it was accomplished, and have been enabled to form some idea of the , character of those venerable fathers by whom it was performed. It will comport with our plan to give some account of the progress of these plantations, at least, during the period of the first generation. In the events of forty or fifty years from the first plant