« FöregåendeFortsätt »
or any other great genius, whose discoveries or invention's have changed the face of society, had been a drunkard ?
Suppose that Columbus, instead of putting forth his intellectual power in the cause of science; instead of searching for an unknown path across an unexplored ocean; instead of striking out a new theory of geography, and devoting to its proof the whole of his mind and the whole of his life, had been content to drink the wines of his native Italy, to deluge his brain with the vintage of Europe, to sit at the convivial table, and waste his nights in drunkenness ! Where would have been this western world? The savage, upon this very spot, would have even now pursued his game beneath the shadows of an unbroken forest; and where we are now employed in preparing these pages, in the midst of a rich and mighty city, surrounded by the abodes of civilization and the temples of God, the uncivilized Indian would have offered up sacrifice to some bloody deity, or meditated schemes of petty warfare around the council fires of his tribe !
Suppose that the great father of our independence, to whom, under Providence, we owe the liberty by which our land is blessed, instead of consecrating “a pure heart fervently" to the great cause of freedom; instead of concentrating his every intellectual energy upon the struggle of his country, and holding forth to universal reverence an unspotted example of virtue, had assimilated himself to the crowd by which he was, in Virginia, surrounded, and became like them a devotee of the bottle, the race-course, and the gaming-table; can you believe that this day's sun would have dawned upon a free and independent empire in the western continent ? Could a drunkard's mind have guided us, as did Washington's, through the perils of the revolution? No; but had such been his character, the broad red cross of the banner of England would have still been the object of our political worship; the liberties which bless us, would have been trampled into dust; British tax-gatherers would now devour our substance, and the burden of our songs would still be, “God save the king !”
It is said with undoubted truth, that the inventions of Arkwright and Cartwright, by which the present improvement in spinning and weaving were brought into operation, have reduced the expense of clothing two thirds to every man, woman, and child, in Europe and America. Had those two
splendid geniuses been sots, to this day, every fireside in our country would have been decorated with a spinning-wheel, and every cottage would still have echoed to the music of the shuttle.
It has been declared by an eminent jurist, that the improvement effected by our countryman Whitney in the machinery for dressing cotton, has more than doubled the value of all the land in the southern States.
Thus may the single intellect of one sober man increase national wealth. Who, then, will pretend to fix any limit to the loss which our country annually suffers in consequence of intemperate habits ?
But of what use are all the powers of both body and mind, except they be exercised for purposes of good ?except they be under the direction of correct and sober habits ?
The third great agent in the production of wealth, therefore, is the moral habits of the community.
Amongst these habits may be mentioned industry, frugality, and integrity.* Without industrious habits, no set of men, can acquire wealth ; with industry every person in such a country as ours, may grow rich. But besides industry, or the disposition and effort to earn, there must also be frugality, or the disposition and effort to save ;—to economize expenditure, and accumulate capital. Without frugality the most industrious would live, as the common adage says, “from hand to mouth,” and be reduced by the adversity of a single day to poverty. But when these habits are united, we feel confident that their possessor will make ample provision for all emergencies, for sickness and every other calamity, for old age, for the support of dependents, and for the calls of charity.
But though a large proportion of the community possess these excellent habits, and may themselves grow rich thereby, yet if there exist another class, whose idleness, whose prodigality, or whose criminality multiply paupers, disturb the public peace by frequent outrages against the laws of both God and man, the growth of public wealth is greatly impeded, and rendered, in fact, wholly uncertain. The effect of intemperate habits upon industry, frugality, pauperism, and crime, is incalculably great and mischievous. Let us look
That integrity which prevents all crime.
at the crimes by which our national character is disgraced, and our public treasury exhausted, and a careful inspection will show us, that not less than nine tenths of these, from murder down to petty-larceny, are occasioned by the use of strong drink. This estimate is enough to appal the stoutest heart. But it is made from unquestionable records and by men of unquestionable character.
We shall not be inclined to doubt it, after having considered with how much difficulty the coolest and most temperate person preserves a sound judgment and controlling conscience, under the provocations and temptations of common life; how besotted is the judgment of the intemperate, and how fiercely the evil passions are inflamed by strong drink. Even a man of the firmest principles is not to be trusted when under the influence of ardent spirit, although he may be far from being intoxicated.
Facts of the most painful character roight be adduced in proof of this assertion, but the public are furnished with such by the papers of every month.*
If, then, the man of wealth and property, and sound morals, is unable to keep his feet in the path of virtue, when they have slipped, though but a little, from the path of temperance, what must be his fate whose conscience is drenched with alcohol, whose passions have acquired a chronic inflammation, and who is openly, constantly, and unblushingly intemperate ?
This habit ioflames the appetites and lusts; and many a young man, whose education had made bim virtuous, and who, in the hour of sound judgment, adhered most strictly to habits of virtue, has been seduced by the potent spell of the wine cup into sensual indulgences so vile and degrading as to destroy forever his self-respect, and thus become the opening scene to a protracted drama of criminality.
Intemperance is the stiinulater of every dangerous passion, so maddening in its operation that the strongest ties of duty, and affection, and interest, vanish before it like flax before the flame, and the slightest cause becomes the most
A singular illustration may be found in the “ Documentary Exposition of Remarkable Crimes," by Von Feuerbach, a distinguished German jurist, (the author of Caspar Hauser's life.) It is the case of “ George Wachs, or the Seduction of the Moment,"' related in the second volume of the above work. Under the stimulus of a glass of beer the honesty of Wachs was so tempted by a silver watch, that he murdered a man and his wife and two children, in the most deliberate manner, in order to secure the bauble.
terrific in its effects. Near by us, a few weeks ago, a quarrel arose between two bosom friends, on the question of wbich had drank the most alcohol-and the dispute terminated in murder !* In this instance the price of a drain to the commonwealth, was the loss of two of its citizens in the full vigor of manhood.
There can scarcely be found upon the face of creation a villain so utierly diabolic in his nature, as to commit a murder, or any other atrocious crime, in his cool and sober hours. There must be artificial stimulus; the intellect must be drowned, and the conscience smothered, and passion kindled into fury, before the hand can do the deed. A thorough villain may, in his temperate mood, devise the plan of operation, make ready the means, and regard, without apprehension, the distant certainty of crime. But when the hour arrives, and with it the necessity of action, the resolution fails and the dagger remains undrawn until he has drunk deeply and again. The dictates of conscience are like the servants who guarded Duncan in the chamber of Macbeth ; they must be put to sleep, that then the murderer may, like lady Macbeth, exclaim,
" That which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold
What hath quenched them, hath given me fire!" Le Blanc,t than whom a more thorough monster never lived, meditated many days upon the murder of Mr. Sayre and his family, and fixed the day when they must die. When that day came, where was he found, and how employed ? In the bar-room of a dram-selling tavern, rousing his courage by ardent spirit. Glass after glass was furnished by the complaisant vender of " distilled damnation."I The first draught may be said to have contained the murder of Mr. Sayre; the second was filled with the blood of his innocent wife; the third gave impulse to the club whose descending force dashed out the brains of the sleeping servant-maid.
The expense of the crimes which intemperance occasions cannot be easily computed; but that it is iromense, no one conversant with the incidents of common life can doubt.
Let us now proceed, therefore, to inquire what is the influence of this vice upon the habits of industry and frugality. * At Hingham. 1 The New Jersey murderer.
Robert Hall so calls brandy.
Industry and frugality are occasioned chiefly by our social affections, or by a rational regard for our own just wants. The miser hoards his money because he loves the base coin for its own sake, on the promptings of a most unnatural passion. But accumulation, in its common form, is the result of a wise foresight of our own future necessities, of a desire to gather around us an increase of the comforts of life, to elevate ourselves and families in the scale of society, and to prepare for the wants of those whom we love and are bound to support.
Intemperance destroys all these motives either to labor, or to save the earnings of our toil. It robs a man of his selfrespect, and of his desire to rise in the world's esteem, making him at once conscious of, and contented with, his degradation, so that like the disgustful animal described in Scripture, he is willing again and again to return to his “wallowing in the mire."
It brutalizes his taste, and extinguishes within him all love for the conveniences and elegances of wealth. The momentary pleasure of the debasing draught, and the dead insensibility of complete intoxication, are enough to satisfy his every want. Why should he wish for more ?
So far, therefore, as he alone is concerned, there is nothing to induce him to assume the burden of severe labor, or the care of a rigid economy.
The case is even worse in respect to those social affections by which men are in general prompted to a faithful discharge of life's laborious duties. It is upon man, as a social being, that intemperance inflicts its severest curse.
The intemperate must abandon all the pleasures of a virtuous and peaceful fireside. If he be the husband of an innocent wife, he learns to hate her for her virtue and goodness; he hates her for the tears which she sheds over his fall from uprightness; he hates her for her gentle entreaties and expostulations, or for her just reproaches; and he manifests his hate by habitual absence from home, or by violence and abuse when he returns to the hearth made desolate by his criminality. Is he a father? He regards with cold and careless eye the little innocents upon whom he is preparing to cast a heritage of disgrace and wo; or he abhors them for their simple-hearted questions about his staggering gait, or alcoholic odor, or unkindness to their mother. As his habit becomes confirmed, and his heart