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A solemn monition.
“ III habits gather by upseen degrees ;
Upon the face of our country, in most other respects so free and happy, there are two Plague-spots, of awful magnitude, and of mortal aspect: the one is the involuntary slavery of so large a portion of its population; and the other, the voluntary and chosen slavery of numberless multitudes, to the all-destroying power of strong drink. How wide is this deadly evil spread! How immensely numerous, how deplorably wretched, are its victims!
Among this vast group of miserables, are to be found many, of opulent parentage ; many, who did once inherit wealth themselves ; many, who once were respectable and respected; many, who once were distin. guished for industry, economy and thrift; many, who once were bright in intellect and possessed of amiable qualities of heart; many, that once had a delicate sense of honour and a nobleness of sentiment; many, who once had felt, and deeply felt, the endearing ties of relationship—whose company had given daily delight to parents, brothers, sisters, wives and children; many, who had been the hope and pride of their kindred, the ornaments of society-till the cup of abomination poisoned them, soul and body.
Now, they are as lazy as poor ; now, their once comely visages are changed to disgusting and hideous; now, their bodies are debilitated and corrupted ; now, every fine and noble feeling is utterly extinguished, and all sense of honour and shame gone and lost; now, brutal ferociousness succeeds to the former suavity of temper; now, natural affections themselves are extinct; now, the aged and wo-struck parent is wantonly insulted or shamefully neglected and disregarded ; now, the estimable, the once so dearly beloved wife, is assailed with opprobrious language and wounding blows; now, both wife and children are forsaken,–or even worse,ếare made to endure, day and night, the brutality of a drunken husband and father, who, instead of supporting them, is become their fiendlike tormentor.
This picture, so far from overcharged or aggravated, is but a faint copy of the ghastliness of the original.
Our country is invaded, and, in considerable part, already conquered. The enemy has entered every town, almost every village, and is dragging away, year by year, fresh numbers of our citizens into slavery for life; a slavery worse than Algerine, worse than is any where endured by the wretched Africans. This innumerable multitude of doubly, and most deeply fallen men-scattered about over the whole face of our country, are not merely a dead loss to, but a dead weight upon, the general society. And moreover, they are drawing others into the same vortex of perdition ; each being like a mildewed ear of corn, which blasts the ears contiguous to it. Assuredly, then, it behooves that all who have any regard for Religion, or Morals, or Country, should employ their united and assiduous endeavours to stay this plague ere it infect and consume the general mass of the population.
Of the habitual and confirmed drunkards, there seems very little hope of a thorough cure. Somewhere it is related in substance, that a monkey, having been accustomed to the taste of strong drink, began to love it ;
that one day watching his opportunity, he helped himself, and drank so freely, that he became sick and dizzy, and fell into the fire and burnt his foot, and that never after, though repeatedly urged, could he be prevailed with to drink so much as a single drop.
Would that, in similar cases the like prudence were found in Man!-He, on the contrary, the more he experiences the effects of the raging poison, is the more bewitched after it. Though it makes him dizzy and sick, loathsome and self-loathed, and occasions him much worse bodily ills than befel the monkey ; yet all this but increases the greediness of his desire, and strengthens the chains of his bondage. One, of very many, masters the habit after it is become inveterate, and thereby entitles himself to no small degree of honour. With some others, there is, all their days, a struggle between moral feeling and appetite. They sometimes scotch the snake, but never kill it. Their condition is like that of the fabled Sisyphus, condemned to the fruitless toil of rolling up a steep hill, a heavy stone, which, ere he gets it to the top, ever comes tumbling back, and compels him to begin his labour anew.-But, as to the general mass of drunkards, such a marvellous stupefaction befals them, that they seem to quite lose all moral sense, and all regard to consequences :—they are of the hospital of incurables.
In no wise is it to be expected that very many of those who are become real drunkards will ever reform : yet, where the habit is not.fixed and inveterate, to mas. ter it is comparatively easy.
If you are but just beginning to form this most pernicious of habits, Pause! for heaven's sake, Pause!
" The hour's now come; This very minute bids thee ope tbine ear, Obey, and be attentive."*
See the pit lying before you. It is naked; it hath no covering, one step further, and you are engulphed, and forever lost. While it is yet in your power, dash from your lips the cup of intemperance.
" For in the wreath that decks the flowing bowl,
Fell adders hiss, and poisoned serpents roll.” What! Though young, do you need stimulants already ? I heartily pity the poverty of your spirits. Assuredly, the young, should have enough of that commodity-enough of genuine, unsophisticated, animal spirits, of their own. If a young man, now needs stimuJants to make him cheerful and lively, what a lifeless lump, what a mere inanimate clod, must he be, when his youth is departed ? And besides; he that requires daily doses of strong drink in the season of youth, is almost sure to be a drunkard at middle age.—Perhaps you may think you are in very little danger yet, or in none at all.-And so thought tens and hundreds of thousands before you, till they were inextricably involved in the awful snare.
It is one, of long experience, who addresseth you. The hand now writing is withered with age, and must soon be mouldering in the dust.
The series of the Brief Remarker has been eked out to an unexpected and hazardous length, and if it have not occasioned weariness already, many thanks are due to the patience and candor of its readers. For the few remaining observations that will close it there is felt a more particular need of indulgence from the same quarter, since, on no topic is it more difficult to speak properly, than on one involving a strain of selfnotice.
The multifarious subjects which I have presumed to touch upon in these compendious essays, though, for the most part, of minor importance compared with some others, are nevertheless, of no inconsiderable interest. Little things, sometimes have great consequences. A small leak unheeded, may be the means of sinking a great ship. A trivial wound, neglected and irritated, brings down to the grave a hale and healthy body. So in economics ; it is often by neglects and wastes ir littles, that estates run out, and frightful poverty overtakes its unconscious victims by imperceptible approaches. And so also in regard to morals ; petty trespasses open the way to dark and atrocious crimes. Both good and bad habits, are formed, not unfrequently, by adventitious circumstances seemingly trifling in themselves. The impressions, and the bent, received in infancy and childhood, go far toward forming the character of manhood. The natural temper of the young mind is turned, at least in many instances, to humane or ferocious, accordingly as it happens to fall into skilful and kindly, or unskilled and barbarous hands. By administering corrosives too freely and too frequently on the one hand, and by excessive habitual indulgence on the other, the natural temper of childhood, though of ordinary mildness, gets to be morose and violent, or peevish and restless, in the following periods of age.
Indeed numerous particulars might be adduced to show, what intimate and powerful influences certain inconsiderable circumstances, and incidents seemingly trivial, often have, in the production of weal or wo to