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heaven, it will make us better friends, better neighbours, and better members of society. That form of religion, which grows out of violent agitations, does but too often afford nutriment to the stern and unsparing passions; but the fruit of the spirit,' to use the beautiful language of Scripture, is love, joy, and peace.' It has been forcibly observed, that the pestilent heat of fanaticism raises an inflammation and a tumour in the mind, whose symptoms are an obdurate rigour and impatience under the probe. The heaven-struck heart is affected like the purer metals, which easily soften and run speedily at the touch of the ethereal ray, but the fanatick spirit, self-heated by its own fiery nature, retains the property of its congenial earth, which grows harder and more intractable, as it burns.'
ON THE BEST MEANS TO BE EMPLOYED FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF INTEMPERANCE.
THERE seems to be an impression prevailing among many who have always manifested much zeal and interest in the promotion of the moral amendment and improvement of society, that the measures, which have been taken for lessening the vice of intemperance have proved abortive, that little or nothing has been effected by them, that habits of this kind, not only, have not been checked, but have even gone on increasing, and that the evil has proved itself to be one of those under which we are obliged to submit as inevitable, since we cannot find for it any sufficient remedy.
If things are so, the prospect is truly melancholy and discouraging. If indeed, all that the more intelligent and moral part of society can do, has proved entirely in vain, if the efforts which have been made, have failed even to check the onward progress of this vice, if nothing can be devised to reach the causes that have created, and still perpetuate this widely spreading malady; we may almost despair of any efforts to improve the moral condition of mankind. But we hope better things. Have the efforts which have been made, proved so entirely unavailing? Has all influence been exerted in vain? How is this known? How can it be known? The causes which induce to intemperance continue to operate, and therefore the vice should, from their natural operation, continue to increase, unless checked by some countervailing causes. Has it so gone on
* Warburton's Doctrine of Grace, B. 2. Ch. X.
increasing? Has it continued to spread its infection more and more widely, with the rapidity it once did? If it has not; if, although not stayed, it has been retarded in its progress; if it shows even any tendency to become stationary, we are not wholly to despair. If the evil, though still progressing, has gone on in its progress more slowly than before our attempts to arrest it, we have a right to flatter ourselves that this is, in some measure, owing to our efforts, and even this is a success not to be despised for itself, and still more valuable as an earnest of future good..
Till we are certain that the prevalence of vice has reached its absolute minimum in the society to which we belong; till we are assured that there is in it the smallest quantity with which it is capable of existing; till every individual is as free from its contamination, as it is morally possible for him to make himself, or others to make him; we have no right to relax our efforts for its discouragement and abandonment. Well directed effort for the moral or religious improvement of our fellow beings is never entirely lost, little as we may ourselves be able to trace its direct operation. Like motion in the physical world, if it does not affect the object against which it is immediately directed, it expends itself somewhere else, and produces in some point or other, all the influence for which it is in its nature calculated.
It is not to be denied, that a survey of the present state of society, as it respects the prevalence of Intemperance, is calculated to give rise to the most gloomy and melancholy contemplations. It is a crime, low, base and debasing in itself, leading in its consequences to crimes of a still darker and more infamous character. Its first effect on the subject of it, is almost to cut him off from his claim to be considered as a rational and moral being; for it deprives him of the free use of his reason, and takes away his sense of responsibility for his actions, and almost of agency in them. Its remote consequences upon all who are connected with him by family, by affection, by friendship, are to bring shame, want, misery, and too often crime itself, to them also. The drunkard is a reproach and a dishonour to the human character. He resigns the chief attributes of his species. He gives himself up, a slave to a single appetite, and, devoured by an insane thirst, lives only for the gratification of one grovelling and brutish propensity.
It is not intended at present to make any new statements, or bring forward any new facts with relation to the extent and progress of the evil in question, as these are already sufficiently obvious and notorious. A more important subject is to inquire, whether every thing which can be done, has been done; whether
what has been done, has been done in the best possible manner; whether it has been sufficiently practical, whether it has been enough aimed at the root of the matter; and whether some new course, may not be pointed out, some new measures devised.
In attempting to find a remedy for an evil, the first step is to investigate the causes which have produced it, and which con. tinued it in existence. We conceive that there must be some peculiar causes among us, for the great and perhaps continued progress of intemperance, since it has increased more than in proportion to those other vices which attend the growing wealth and prosperity of a community, and forms a larger proportion of the whole quantity of the moral depravity of society in this country, than in any other. For whilst the general standard of virtue both public and private, the tone of moral and religious feeling are no where, perhaps, more elevated than in NewEngland, there is scarce any other country where the vice of Intemperance is more common among the lower classes of society.
The most important circumstance which has thus peculiarly disposed the people of this country to intemperance, is the remarkable facility with which spirituous liquors may be obtained by the labouring classes of society. This we conceive to be, the principal predisposing cause to the habit, and one which gives to the operation of other circumstances their force and effect.
Individuals engaged in active bodily exertions require drink of some sort, at shorter intervals than those engaged in more sedentary occupations; they will of course prefer that which unites the recommendations of cheapness, palatability, and power of giving a feeling of support and strength. On this account the American chooses spirit, for the same reason that the Frenchmen chooses his native wines-the Englishman his ale and beer-and not because he has any greater propensity to become intemperate. This, to be sure, is a very probable and almost necessary consequence to him who uses spirit, because the feeling of refreshment which it gives, is more powerful and decided at first, but far less permanent, and followed by a greater lassitude and debility, than that from wine or beer. There is therefore a greater temptation to repeat the draught. There is likewise a greater, indeed a very great temptation, to increase the quantity, since spirit, being merely a stimulus, follows the law of all stimuli of that class, and requires a constantly increasing dose to produce the same effect --whilst wine and beer, being in a very considerable degree nutritient, as well as stimulant, do not require to have their
quantity increased, in order to produce the effects which are expected from them. Hence the disposition to intemperance is given to our population, originally, by the influence of external circumstances, and they are induced to it, by the nature of the cheapest drink in their power to obtain; whilst the inhabitants of the other countries alluded to, escape it from the very same cause--i. e. because the nature of their cheapest drink offers no inducement to offend by carrying the use of it to excess, since the quantity necessary to inebriation would excite, from its bulk, satiety and disgust.
In this way the individual who makes use of ardent spirits is gradually becoming intemperate before he is aware that there is within him any tendency to it. He gradually increases the number and quantity of his potations, and the physical habit is fairly formed, before the moral sense is awakened. It is frequently said that men rush into habits of intoxication with their eyes open. It is often not so. They are insensible of their danger. Strange as it may seem, it certainly is true, that many drunkards do not know that they are so, when it is visible to every one else. Like some insidious disease, it has undermined the constitution before we are aware of its existence, and then bids defiance to remedies.
Another way in which the facility of obtaining ardent spirits has extended the habit of drinking them to excess, is by the opportunity which it gives of indulging the young in their use, while engaged in labour, as well as those of adult age. At this period of life, as is obvious, they will be more liable to be drawn along from step to step, in the manner we have alluded to, than at a more mature period. They are less likely to be aware of the threatened evil and less able to resist it even if on their guard against it. Were spirits a costly article, they would only be distributed as a sort of luxury to the principal workmen, or at least to the adult, but being so cheap an indulgence, they are extended to boys as an incitement to, and a reward for cheerful and persevering labour. Thus though perhaps not drunkards when young, they have the seeds sown, whose natural and almost inevitable growth will at length make them such.
Another circumstance which contributes to strengthen and increase the habit of drinking, and to make those intemperate, who are as yet accustomed only to a moderate use of spirits while at their work, is the want of interesting occupation for leisure hours, particularly in the evening. The day's labour leaves them in a state of fatigue and lassitude which is the natural signal for sleep. The customs of society lead them to
desire to resist it and this can only be done by the application of excitement to the mind or to the body. Their character, education and pursuits render that of the ordinary society or the conversation of people of their own class insufficient for this purpose; alone-it is tame and tasteless. They require some thing of a stronger nature to the mind, such as is afforded by gaming, or the intervention of some physical excitement, such as that of ardent spirits. Now this is a cause which would have little influence were it not for the extreme cheapness of the article in question.*
The first, and one of the most important objects, in directing our attention to the means of checking and suppressing intemperance is to diminish this facility. This may be done by any measures which shall increase the price of ardent spirits, and lessen the number of places at which they can be bought in small quantities. An increase of price can be produced only by the intervention of laws laying heavy taxes on imported, and a heavy excise on distilled liquors. Could the legislature of our country but summon up enough of independence, enough regard for the true happiness and the morality of their constituents, it would not be difficult by laws of this kind to give a decided and effectual check to habits of intemperance.
As it respects laws which make intemperance penal, although such a provision is perfectly just as intemperance is unquestionably a crime against society-yet their influence can only be of a limited extent from the difficulty of having them well executed. The principal difficulty is that the crime does not consist in any particular action, but in a series of actions, in a character. And although something might be done by punishing, as criminal, each individual act of drunkenness, and thus announce-as it were-the opinion which society entertains of the vice, the light in which it is viewed by the gov ernment of the country; yet this could not extend very far, since there are few whose habits carry them into open, gross and public exposure, and there is a large class who are very seldom actually intoxicated, who.yet keep themselves constantly under the strong influence of spirit, who live as it were in a state of semi-inebriation, who are therefore not tangible by a law nor indeed perhaps by their own consciences.
* In countries where liquors are high, intemperance is comparatively rare, and in England, such is the price of them that drunkards in order to produce intoxication from the small quantity of liquor they can afford, are in the habit of adding a little nitric acid to their dram in order to give it a more stimulating quality, pro bably by the conversion of part of the spirit into ether.