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such rules as he chooses, with regard to the use of ardent spirits.
Any number of persons, maintaining such opinions, have a right to associate themselves upon the principle of entire abstinence; and such associations deserve our warmest approbation and most decided encouragement. If one man is free thus to resolve, the same liberty must be conceded to two, twenty or a thousand; unless something immoral or injurious is likely to result from their relation to one another, or from the circumstance of their multitude; which it will be no easy task to prove.
The member of the Temperance Society states the case thus: If I am free to reject the poison, the members of my family are equally so, and no less free to declare their resolution in my presence, and in common with me, with such formalities as may be judged proper; and so of my townsmen and fellow citizens. Certain persons affect to be alarmed at the idea of a mutual pledge, or binding ourselves to one another, and thus forming, as they say, a dangerous compact. There is no ground for such alarm, and no shadow is more unsubstantial than the argument suggested. If the words mutual pledge have been used, they mean only this, that we, who by subscription, vote or acclamation, express our purpose, do so in common, in presence of each other as witnesses, and for mutual encouragement. Further than this there is no compact, except such as a prolific fancy may trace among a hundred men who subscribe to the same school, or put their names to the paper of the same mendicant. The only bond is the community of sentiment upon a single point, already vindicated.
There is power in concert of action. A thousand men may be directed singly to address themselves to any public work, and nothing shall be accomplished; because there is no feeling of encouragement, no unity of plan, no interchange of experience and wisdom, no view of success, and no concentration of strength.
Every man must have remarked the advantage which accrues to his own mind from association with others in such a work. Were the plan of our objector adopted, we should be carried back to the precise state in which we were before the dawn of the temperance reformation. And what was this state? Here and there was found a man bold enough to stem the current of public opinion and practice, and there may have been hundreds who resolved on, and attempted abstinence, and
had relinquished the attempt, because each was isolated, and without encouragement. However numerous the cases of individual abstinence, there was no great impression made upon the hostile evil, no appreciable diminution in the sale of liquors, no general amendment visible on the face of the social body.
The truth is, that human imbecility, even in the conscientious, is greater than we willingly acknowledge. If the basest of men were judged by the resolutions of their better moments, we might esteem the world free from crime. The virtues of the wisest and most circumspect need those aids of circumstance, those incitements of practical goodness, which so much abound in associations for benevolent ends; and those are wise who gather around them a circle of advisers and helpers in executing their good intentions. This is precisely what the prudent and temperate man does, when he unites himself to those who are pursuing the only safe path of total abstinence. He feels upon himself the happy operation of such concert. He is incited to persevere by the sight of so many linked in with him in the same cause; and pride itself, where there is no better principle, may be the salutary cause of his steadfastness, since so many interests besides his own would suffer by his fall. “ There are higher considerations," we may say, in the language of the eloquent Robert Hall, “ which ought invariably to produce the same effects; but we have no such superfluity of strength, as should induce us to decline the aid of inferior motives, when all are but barely adequate to the exigencies of our state. The recollection that we are acting under the eye of Omniscience, will lose nothing of its force by being joined to the remembrance, that our conduct is subject to the scrutiny of friends, whose sentiments are in unison, whose influence coincides with the voice of conscience and of God.”
There is indeed no magic in these associations, which can wash the Ethiopian, or charm away the spots of the leopard. How often must we be called upon to explain, that it is not the drunkard whom we hope to reach, at least in any direct manner, by the measures proposed ? It is to establish the footing of those who begin to slide, to secure the principles and fortify the minds of the rising generation, to brace the courage of the inexperienced, and arm for future combat the temperate, that we now labour. And he is no wise defender
* Works of Robert Hall, volume ii. page 195.
of innocence, who is content to see her free from taint, but strives not to make her free from danger. It is from among the temperate of our community that the army of drunkards is to be levied, and the fatal conscription is to take effect upon the kind and dutiful sons and brothers, who are now exempt from fear as well as reproach.
Let us look, therefore, at the additional force of example in these associations. The example of a single individual is not inefficacious, until it is contravened and nullified by the power of adverse practice. This, however, is the lamentable fact, and where one abstains, there are thousands who indulge. To give effect, then, to the exemplary influence of the temperate, those who have determined to avoid the very appearance of evil, must have a mutual understanding, must join their forces, must form one visible mass, and then the temperance of thousands may have weight, where that of one would have been unavailing. Now, whoever has taken the pains to examine the operations of the Temperance Society, has not failed to observe that this is just the way in which the sphere of its influence has been enlarged. A small company of persons have agreed to abandon all use of ardent spirits. This has attracted notice, and given occasion to inquiry. They have been ridiculed, vituperated and attacked, but have still increased: for obloquy and opposition have but raised more conspicuously the standard of their simple principle. The rule of their action, however misrepresented, has commended itsel. to some, as innocent, safe and desirable. He who came to scorn, has sat down to investigate and risen to applaud. He has observed the aged, the virtuous, the disinterested, the pious, among their band, and he has been brought in himself by the force of example. This, indeed, could not be the case, if men of eminent standing were unwilling to unite in the enterprise, because they feel no danger themselves. Of all persons among us, those are most needed to befriend our efforts, who are above suspicion of any personal risk as to their good habits. One man of high reputation and acknowledged probity, may stand in the breach, and ward off death from a multitude. In no possible way can the example of one temperate man have so much weight as by this public connexion; the light of his consistent life is no longer hid, but diffuses itself; and this is what we ask, since the great influence of the Temperance Society is exemplary.
The union of effort in these associations has tended to diffuse accurate and extensive information throughout our country,
It is the simple statement of facts, which is the great engine used in this work. It is the unvarnished truth respecting drunkards and their destiny, which has been the instrumental cause of this reformation. No man can open his eyes, for the first time, upon the authentic statement relative to intemperance and its train of curses, without astonishment. Its statistics are appalling. For centuries, men have known that there were many drunkards, that a great quantity of liquor was therefore used, and that much misery, crime and death ensued; yet the impression of these general truths was vague and transitory. But when, upon careful investigation, it was published to the world, that more than thirty millions of gallons of ardent spirits were every year consumed in the United States, and twenty-eight millions of dollars expended on the article, that we have in our land seven thousand distilleries; that threefourths of our criminal prosecutions may be traced to this source, that one-third of the maniacs in our hospitals have become such by intemperance, and that thirty thousand human beings annually die from this poison; when these alarming facts, in all their horrible details, were spread before the eyes of the community, the effect was instantaneous. Many a moderate drinker forsook his daily allowance, and the catalogue of our Temperance Societies increased by thousands.
As the interest of every individual in this subject is necessarily rendered deeper by association with others, so every conscientious man is led to use all suitable means for disseminating correct opinions on it; and our presses send forth, weekly, the productions of able pens, all of which have their influence. Addresses, tracts, sermons, periodical journals and newspapers, are now directed against the desolating scourge with the happiest consequences. Without the Temperance Society, these loud and stirring appeals would never have been heard: without this information, the great reform would never have advanced.
To take another view of the same influence: wherever there is an association of this kind, however small, there will be excited much inquiry and conversation upon the subject. What is its principle? what its object? Who are its supporters? Why do they thus abstain?' These and other less innocent questions are raised and circulated. Ridicule and opposition are no doubt called forth; but this is by no means to be deprecated. The man who sneers, may, from mere curiosity, read the tract or the discourse, and stand aghast at the extent of the
evil, and his own peril. Self-interest will lead some who are deeply engaged in the traffic, to decry the work. The careless and the jovial will smile at those fears which most become themselves. The tap-room and the haunt of vice will resound with profane jests and boisterous merriment, when temperance is named. The sot at his fireside, and the street drunkard as he returns from his debauch, will curse the hypocrites who would rob them of their idol. In the midst of all this, the cause prevails. The inquiry once stirred, may not so easily be satisfied. The ignorant are instructed, the careless aroused, the unwary warned, and the temperate corroborated; and the result in every case is, that the wisdom and benevolence of the scheme are made apparent, and the steps of many recalled from the ways of death. According to the most moderate computation, there are in the United States 2,000 societies, comprising 200,000 persons, who are pledged to abstain from ardent spirits, except as a medicine; and in every place where any suitable efforts have been made, the cause gains strength with each successive year.
What may we not then hope? A field of promise opens before us which cheers the heart; and those of our youth who reach advanced age, may witness the accomplishment of our devout aspiration. We look for the day when no city, village or neighbourhood shall contain the poisonous draught, except in the repository of medicine; and when with a wary hand it shall be measured out at the bed-side, by the temperate physi
We hope for the time when the distillery and the dram shop shall exist only in the annals of past years, and when the fruits of Providence shall no more be prostituted to the fabrication of a brutalizing drug: when the Christian father shall dread to set before his household the deadly potion, and the Christian merchant shall blush to make his bread by affording an article which is, to many, the occasion of disease, crime and death, to most the cause of intemperance, and to all both useless, tempting and dangerous: and when the Christian minister shall be no more called to lift up his voice against drunkenness, than to denounce the fight of gladiators or the altars of Moloch.
An outcry has been heard, charging the defenders of total abstinence with infringing upon the rights of conscience and the liberty of their fellow citizens. It requires a perspicacity greater than that which falls to the lot of most, to discover the point of this objection; and the difficulty of reply arises not so much from the cogency of the argument as from our inability