« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
In the application of this precept of the decalogue to the subject of temperance, we propose to show
1. THAT THE USE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR, UNDER
AS A BEVERAGE, TENDS TO KILL.
II. THE AMOUNT OF DEATH THUS ANNUALLY PRODUCED.
III. THE NATURE OF THIS DEATH.
IV. THAT ALL WHO USE, MAKE, OR ENGAGE IN THE TRAFFIC OF
THIS ARTICLE AS A BEVERAGE, ARE GUILTY OF THE VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT, AND RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH THUS EFFECTED.
In the proof of the position that the use of intoxicating liquor as a drink, under every form, tends to kill, we adduce,
1. The testimony of the chemist, whose appropriate business it is to analyze the nature and the properties of substances, and to settle the verdict of a jury of inquest, in case of death by poison. This class of men testify, that the substance which intoxicates, and which men so much love and seek in brandy, rum, wine, cider, and all the inebriating liquors, is alcohol, one of the most active and powerful of the narcotic vegetable poisons. They affirm that it possesses no nutritious qualities whatever; that it invariably weakens, and ultimately destroys, every organ of the body with which it comes in contact; that the quantity, as in the case of arsenic, prussic acid, or hemlock, has only to be increased to produce instantaneous death; and that the introduction of even a small portion into the vein of an animal will destroy life. They also affirm, that it is a poison so diffusive and subtle, that it rapidly circulates through the arteries and veins, the lungs and the heart, penetrating the smallest nerves, the most delicate fibres, the secret recesses of the brain, and in short, through every part of the system. The inebriate is full of this deadly poison. It may be distilled from his liver, lungs, and blood, and be discovered in every breath. It has indeed been found in the brain in such quantities as to be detected by the senses, and to blaze on the application of fire. Such, from actual experiment, is the testimony of the chemist, that alcohol, whether taken from the bottle or the brain of the drunkard, is the same destructive poison.
2. We present the testimony of the medical profession.
The highest medical authorities of Great Britain being examined in large numbers before the committee appointed by the British parliament to inquire into the causes of drunkenness, unanimously testified “That ardent spirits are absolutely poisonous to the human constitution;—that in no case whatever are they necessary, or even useful to persons in health ;—that they are always, in every case, and to the smallest extent, deleterious, pernicious, or destructive, according to the proportions in which they may be taken into the system.” They also testified “that destruction of health, premature decrepitude in the old, stinted growth and general debility and decay in the youth —that paralysis, idiotcy, delirium tremens, disease in every form and shape, were the consequences of the use of this poison.” Dr. Rush, indeed, fifty years ago, declared that a large proportion of the most painful and fatal diseases were thus directly
oduced. Another distinguished physician has testified, that Amidst all the evils of human life, no cause whatever of disease has so wide a range, or so large a share, as the use of spirits.” Between three and four hundred physicians in the city of NewYork, and about seven thousand in America and in Europe, have added their testimony to that of the medical authorities before noticed. Thus we have arrayed before us a jury of more than seven thousand men, disinterested, intelligent, and in every respect competent to settle the question. In opposition to such evidence, the strongest the case admits, will any man venture to declare that intoxicating liquors are either a wholesome or a harmless beverage? Will any dealer in these drinks maintain that he is not selling poison ?
3. We appeal to the objector's own senses, and to facts established by experience and observation.
Is there one engaged in the traffic but has before him, every hour of the day, sad illustrations of the poisonous properties of alcohol? A grocer's clerk in Albany a short time since, sold a little boy eleven years old a pint of raw brandy; the child drank it, and in one hour, in defiance of medical skill, was a corpse. I do not stop here to inquire who was the murderer of that boy; but simply to ask, was it not the brandy that killed him ? Look into our alms-houses, hospitals, and penitentiaries, and survey the victims of intemperance. Is there one among them all that bears not the well-known marks of the fatal poison? We ask those engaged in the traffic, who maintain that they are not selling poison, to look upon their customers as they throng their bar or counter. A short time since, the hue of health was painted on their cheek, their eye was bright, and their step was firm. Is it so now? Ah! how loudly and unequivocally do those pale and emaciated faces, those livid lips and stammering tongues, those tremulous hands and staggering steps prove that they are poisoned. Every one of them feels the venom rankling in his veins, feels that rum is killing him. His wife in tears and sighs exclaims, “Rum is killing my husband.” His children, as they gaze on the loathsome and wretched form of their parent, in shame and grief cry out, “Rum is killing father:" and every one who sees and knows him admits the fatal truth. The evidence that alcohol is a poison, no intelligent, candid man will attempt to dispute. He might as well deny the testimony of his own senses. We proceed to exhibit,
PRODUCED BY THIS
II. THE AMOUNT POISON.
From this investigation our mind instinctively shrinks appalled, like that of one amidst the slain on the field of battle. We know not where to begin to count the wounded, the dying, and the dead. What part of our world is exempted from the awful scourge? We may safely infer, from estimates recently made, that at least fifty thousand in this country, eighty thousand in Great Britain, three hundred thousand in France, annually perish by the use of this poison. The Duke of Orleans recently declared to a distinguished American gentleman, that more than one third of the population of France were engaged either in the production or sale of intoxicating drinks. Thus we have in these three most enlightened countries on earth, nearly a half million of human beings—an army more numerous than that of Napoleon in his glory, every year slain by this great de. stroyer.
And directly in the rear of this vast multitude, there are in these countries at least three millions treading in the drunkard's path, and pressing rapidly their way down to the drunk. ard's grave. Yet, awful as is this destruction of human life, what is it compared with the whole amount thus produced in the world? Let it be remembered, that our estimate has reference only to France, Great Britain, and the United States. We have said nothing of Sweden, with her one hundred and seventy thousand distilleries, in a population of three millions; nothing of Russia, Italy, Spain, and other portions of Europe noted for intemperance; nothing of the islands of the sea, some of which are actually becoming depopulated by the use of strong drink. Neither have we spoken of the southern portion of this continent, of Africa, or of Asia, where, in proportion to the facilities of procuring the means of intoxication, this vice prevails to a most fearful extent. Mr. Bruce, (as reported by Dr. Scudder,) speaking of the drunkenness of India, says, “That while he was sitting-magistrate in the police-office at Madras, during the early part of last year, it had come to his knowledge that the practice of drinking ardent spirit prevailed extensively among all classes of the native community; and that it had been found, from the most vigilant observation, that one half of the native population were daily intoxicated.” This description, we apprehend, to a certain extent, will apply to the other portions of Asia. To the number tbus directly destroyed by alcohol, let there be added the thousands that perish annually by shipwrecks, fires, and accidents of different kinds, three-fourths of which may be traced to intemperance. Also the murders, the manslaughters, the loss of life by robberies, riots, tumults, and other great enormities,-four-fifths of which Chief Justice Hale, two centuries ago, declared resulted from excessive drinking, and what a frightful list of mortality have we before us. It exceeds all computation.
Where is the scourge that can for a moment be brought into comparison with that of intemperance? It is one that never ceases. The awful work of destruction has been going on for centuries, like “the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched.” Two hundred years since, Lord Bacon declared "that all the crimes on earth did not destroy as many of the human race as drunkenness." Walter Scott, in his Life of Napoleon, speaking of the loss sustained by England on the field of Waterloo, says, “that fifteen thousand men killed and wounded threw half Britain into mourning. It required all the solid advantages of that day to reconcile the mind to the high price at which it was purchased.” Here is a carnage not only exhibited once, and that on a single field, but every year, and every day, throughout the world. Where is the eye that sees not its woes? Where is the ear that hears not its groans ? Where is the heart that does not bleed, because of the loss of some dear relative, friend, or companion? We may indeed say with the prophet, “the land mourneth because of drunkenness.” It has indeed destroyed more lives than all the weapons of war and the desolations of gunpowder. It has sent more human beings to the grave than the slave-trade, with all its horrorsthan the plague, the earthquake, the fire, the flood, the famine, and the pestilence. It is truly “the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noon-day.” Where is the noble race, with its unnumbered tribes, that once possessed this soil, bathed in these waters, roamed over these mountains, and pitched their tents in these valleys? The great destroyer has been abroad in the land, with a weapon more terrible, and far more fatal, than the tomahawk or scalping-knife. We are overwhelmed as we gaze upon the mass of mortality wasting away under the fires of alcohol, and attempt to compute the dying and the dead.
III. What is THE NATURE of the death thus produced? Or, when alcohol kills, how and what does it kill?
1. Alcohol, as it kills, deranges and destroys the mind.
Men killed by other poisons, generally possess their reason until the last moment. This at once attacks the citadel of the soul, enfeebling and wasting every faculty. By it the noblest intellect is prostrated and laid in ruins. And just so far as men come under the influence of the poison, do they approach idiotism or madness. It invariably produces temporary insanity, and not unfrequently terminates in permanent derangement; of which truth our hospitals for the insane furnish most sad and heart-rending illustrations.
2. Alcohol, as it kills, destroys all the tender and amiable qualities of our nature.
As no other poison, it hardens' the heart, and prepares it for the perpetration of the most horrible crimes. A few years since, a husband having murdered his wife, with his own hand butchered his six motherless children, and placed one of them to broil on the fire. What other poison in the universe could have turned the once amiable and affectionate father into the most horrid of monsters? This poison penetrated his heart, and like the blast of the simoon, withered all that was tender and lovely.