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7. That a Committee be appointed, to correspond with the Committee of the General Association, collect and embody important facts devise further means for curing the mischiefs of intemperance, and report to this body, at their next annual meeting.
8. That it shall be the duty of the ministers, at that time, to report what has been done in their respective parishes.
The duty of preparing and circulating an address in the spirit of the foregoing resolutions, was devolved upon the Rev. R. Swan of Norwalk, Rev. W. Bonney of New Canan, and the Author of this volume. The address was printed in a pamphlet of about thirty pages, early in 1813, and three thousand copies were distributed within the bounds of the Consociation, embracing about half of Fairfield County.
The reports of ministers and delegates at the next annual meeting, were exceedingly encouraging. It appeared that a great change had been produced in the views and habits of all the more enlightened classes of people throughout the district. In some churches and congregations, the consumption of ardent spirits had been reduced one third, in others one half, and in others more than half. In nearly all the respectable families, within our limits, the decanters and glasses had been swept from the side-boards-a great many of our church members and others had adopted the principle of total abstinence— some of our largest farmers carried the principle successfully through haying and harvesting-all the ministers had entered heartily into the reformation, and I am confident that from that day to this, embracing a period of twenty two years, no ardent spirit has been provided at their stated meetings.
The following extracts, from this address may be interesting to some of my readers.
LET us now call your attention, for few moments, to the ravages of strong drink. And,
1. Physicians all agree, that intemperate drinking, has a direct tendency to ruin health and shorten life.
It is an interesting fact, that the yellow fevers of our cities, the present alarming epidemic in the midst of us, and the fever of the northern army, have all been aggravated and rendered peculiarly malignant, in multitudes of instances, by the free use of ardent spirits. For evidence of the first, see Dr. Rush's Inquiry, &c. p. 5. For evidence of the second, go into any town where the fever has prevailed and ask the first man you meet. It is matter of public remark, that an attack of the disease is almost certain death to the intemperate. For evidence of the third, see the official statement of Dr. Mann, (hospital surgeon of the U. S. army) which appeared some months ago in the newspapers. It has' says he, 'been well ascertained, that the disorder (viz. the fever in the army) was most fatal to them, who had been previously seized with the meazles, but more especially to those who were in habits of intemperance.'
Let none flatter themselves, that because they are not drunkards, they are in no danger from what they are pleased to consider, a generous use of the glass. Dr. Rush has given a solemn caution on this point, which cannot be too often repeated. 'I have known' says he,
'several persons destroyed by ardent spirits, who were never completely intoxicated in their whole lives.' Has not your own observation, christian brethren and friends, furnished you with similar examples? We should think, that every person who attends to what is passing around him, must be convinced, that many whose sobriety is scarcely questioned, are hurried prematurely to the grave, by the free and regular use of strong drink.
Go to the sick bed of a friend or neighbor, who has for years been laying up fuel for the fever that now consumes him. Perhaps he was never seen intoxicated in his life. But he drank often; he drank freely. He was a jovial, good hearted fellow.' But now behold him on his bed, a miserable picture of distress. His blood is inflamed, his tongue parched and his brain disordered. His disease is incurable. His days are numbered and finished. struggles, he gasps, he expires, and where is he?
Shall we point you to ten thousand shadows of human existence, in the last stages of wasting diseases, brought on by excessive drinking? Shall we undertake to count the miserable wretches, who are unceasingly tortured by this Promethean Vulture? Shall we urge physicians to point out to us the names which are inscribed on our yearly bills of mortality, by the hand of this fell destroyer. Shall we go from grave to grave, in the fields of the dead, and ask tomb-stones, how many of its victims lie beneath them? Ah! if tomb-stones might tell the truth, how affecting, how alarming would be their testi
'Who,' saith the royal Preacher, hath woe! who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine: they that go
after mixed wine.' Hard drinking, whether of wine or of distilled liquors, involves men in endless quarrels and difficulties, which terminate in bruises, broken bones, and sometimes in murder. Or if one drunkard in a hundred · should escape all these evils, (which is not to be expected) a host of other dangers would stare him in the face and ambush his path. Is the wretch returning from his brutal revels? He reels from side to side upon his horse, challenges some drunken companion to a race, bawls through the streets like a madman, falls-and how often into eternity!
How often is the drunkard found, stretched by the way side, on the cold and damp earth, dead drunk; exposed to the wheels of the traveller, drenched by rains, wet with the dew of heaven, shivering under the piercing blasts of winter, or perhaps lying stiff, in the iron slumbers of death.
2. The effects of hard drinking upon the temper and disposition, are often dreadful.
It changes the gentleness of the lamb, into the ferocity of a tiger. It lets loose all the bad passions, to rage and range without control. It often vents the most outrageous abuse upon the nearest relations and friends. We appeal to you, christian brethren, how often strong drink drowns conjugal, parental, filial, and fraternal affection. Under its influence, the husband becomes a brute; the wife, a serpent in the bosom; and the child, a son of perdition.
3. Intemperate drinking greatly impairs, and sometimes destroys the understanding.
Dr. Waters, of the Pennsylvania hospital, assured Dr. Rush, that one third of the patients confined in the asylum, on account of madness, had brought upon them
selves that terrible disease, by the use of ardent spirits. If this was an extraordinary fact, it does not stand alone. Many such self-made maniacs, might, we are persuaded, be pointed out within our own state and within our own limits. Frequent intoxication cannot fail to impair the intellect. It must gradually enfeeble, and ultimately prostrate the noblest powers of the mind.
Brethren, we appeal to your own observation. Have you not known men, who once were numbered with the wise, gradually reduced almost to a level with idiots, by intemperance? Have you not seen the masculine and discriminating understanding, dwindle into premature old age and second childhood, by the same means? We doubt not you can recollect more than one promising youth, tender and beloved, of high hopes and flattering prospects, who has been snared and taken by the insidious enemy, of which we are speaking. You beheld, and the eye which lately beamed with intelligence grew dim. The doating parent aware of the cause, began to tremble and weep over his son. Hope and comfort fled from the bosom of the father who begat, and of the mother who bare him. His decline was steady, and it was rapid. Every faculty was benumbed, or enervated by excess; and he sunk away into insignificance and contempt. Or perhaps, he plunged into an early grave, and you heard the agonizing lamentation over it, 'O my son! my son! would God that I had died for thee, my son, my son.' *
4. The enormous consumption of ardent spirits in this country, involves an incredible waste of property.
When the Marshals took the census of the United States in 1810, they were directed to collect and return to the Secretary's office, the amount of all domestic manufactures of any considerable importance in the Union.