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But if, as we always ought to do, we comprehend within the consequences of our conduct the 'mischief and tendency of the example, the above circumstances, however fortunate for the individual, will be found to vary
the guilt of his intemperance less, probably, than he supposes. The moralist may expostulate with him thus : Although the waste of time and of money be of small importance to you,
be of the utmost to some one or other whom your society corrupts. Repeated or long-continued excesses, which hurt not your health, may be fatal to your companion. Although you have nei, ther wife, nor child, nor parent, to lament your absence from home, or expect your return to it with terror; other families, in which husbands and fathers have been invited to share in your ebriety, or encouraged to imitate it, may justly lay their misery or ruin at your door. This will hold good whether the person seduced be seduced immediately by you, or the vice be propagated from you to him through several intermediate examples. All these considerations it is necessary to assemble, to judge truly of a vice which usually meets with milder nanies and more indulgence than it deserves.
I omit those outrages upon one another, and upon
peace and safety of the neighbourhood, in which drunken revels often end ; and also those deleterious and maniacal effects which strong liquors produce upon particular constitutions; because, in general propositions concerning drunkenness, no consequences should be included, but what are constant enough to be generally expected,
Drunkenness is repeatedly forbidden by Saint Paul : “ Be not drunk with wine, where
in is excess. “Let us walk honestly as in “ the day, not in rioting and drunkenness.” “ Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor s drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, s shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Eph. v. 18.; Rom. xiii. 13. ; 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. The same apostle likewise condemns drunkenness, as peculiarly inconsistent with the Christian profession :-“ They that be drunken, are “ drunken in the night : but let us, who are “ of the day, be sober.” 1 Thess. v. 7, 8. We are not concerned with the argument; the words amount to a prohibition of drunkenness; and the authority is conclusive.
It is a question of some importance, how far drunkenness is an excuse for the crimes which the drunken
In the solution of this question, we will first suppose the drunken
the drunken person to be altogether deprived of moral agency, that is to say, of all reflection and foresight. In this condition, it is evident that he is no more capable of guilt than a madman; although, like him, he may be extremely mischievous. The only guilt with which he is chargeable, was incurred at the time when he voluntarily brought himself into this situation. And as every man is responsible for the consequences which he foresaw, or might have foreseen, and for no other, this guilt will be in proportion to the probability of such consequences ensuing. From which principle results the following rule, viz. that the guilt of tion in a drunken man bears the same proportion to the guilt of the like action in a sober man, that the probability of its being the consequence
of drunkenness bears to absolute certainty. By virtue of this rule, those vices which are the known effects of drunkenness, either in general, or upon particular constitutions, are, in all, or in men of such constitutions, nearly as criminal as if committed with all their faculties and sense about them.
If the privation of reason be only partial,
the guilt will be of a mixed nature. For so much of his self-government as the drunkard retains, he is as responsible then as at any other time. He is entitled to no abatement beyond the strict proportion in which his moral faculties are impaired. Now I call the guilt of the crime, if a sober man had committed it, the whole guilt. A person in the condition we describe, incurs part of this at the instant of perpetration; and by bringing himself into such a condition, he incurred that fraction of the remaining part, which the danger of this consequence was of an integral certainty. For the sake of illustration, we are at liberty to suppose, that a man loses half his moral faculties by drunkenness; this leaving him but half his responsibility, he incurs, when he commits the action, half of the whole guilt. We will also suppose that it was known beforehand, that it was an even chance, or half a certainty, that this crime would follow his getting drunk. This makes him chargeable with half of the remainder; so that, altogether, he is responsible in three fourths of the guilt which a sober man would have incurred by the same action.
I do not mean that any real case can be reduced to numbers, or the calculation be ever made with arithmetical precision ; but these are the principles, and this the rule by which our general admeasurement of the guilt of such offences should be regulated.
The appetite for intoxicating liquors appears to me to be almost always acquired. One proof of which is, that it is apt to return only at particular times and places; as after dinner, in the evening, on the market-day, at the market-town, in such a company, at such a tavern. And this may be the reason that, if a habit of drunkenness be ever overcome, it is upon some change of place, situation, company, or profession. A man sunk deep in a habit of drunkenness will, upon such occasions as these, when he finds himself loosened from the associations which held him fast, sometimes make a plunge, and get out. In a matter of so great importance, it is well worth while, where it is in any degree practicable, to change our habitation and society, for the sake of the experiment.
Habits of drunkenness commonly take their rise either from a fondness for, and connexion with, some company, or some companion, already addicted to this practice; which affords an almost irresistible in