« PreviousContinue »
with a pure heart one is never unhappy,"* and secure to themselves the applause of their own consciences, and the admiration and gratitude of mankind, by imitating these illustrious examples of heroism in the cause of human happiness. Let them consider another equally great and universal inverse truth, that without a pure heart one is never happy, with all the lucre that avarice can grasp.
28 "No man (says Dr. Rush) ever became suddenly a drunkard. It is by gradually accustoming the taste and stomach to ardent spirits, in the forms of grog and toddy, that men have learned to love them in their more destructive mixtures, and in their simple state. Under the impression of this truth, were it possible for me to speak with a voice so loud as to be heard from the river St. Croix, to the remotest shores of the Mississippi, I would say, Friends and Fellow Citizens, avoid the use of those two seducing liquors, whether they be made with brandy, rum, gin, Jamaica spirits, whisky, or what is called cherry bounce.
29 "It is highly probable not less than 4,000 people die annually from the use of ardent spirits, in the United States. Should they continue to exert their deadly influence upon our population, where will their evils terminate?
of 4,000 American citizens by the yellow fever in a single year, awakened general sympathy and terror, and called forth all the strength and ingenuity of the laws to prevent its recurrence.
30Why is not the same zeal manifested in protecting our citizens from the more general and consuming ravages of distilled spirits? Let good men of every class unite and besiege the general and state governments with petitions to limit the number of taverns; to impose heavy duties upon ardent spirits," &c.
31 Another writer who has given a lively picture of the devastations of distilled liquors, says, "let men who wish well to their country, unite in petitions to government, to impose still heavier duties upon imported spirits, and our own distillers; and to regulate taverns and retailers of spirits; and secure the property of habitual drunkards, for the benefit of their families."
32 It is the more indispensable to obtain the sentiments of the people at large, on this momentous question, in the manner here proposed, on account of an erroneous prejudice
indulged by some law-makers, that legislative restrictions upon the manufacture, sale, and consumption of spirituous liquors, would violate the civil rights of the people, and excite disaffection and rebellion. With respect to the former objection, the fact is precisely the reverse.
33 The citizen who squanders his property, or his time and health in dissipation, and, consequently, exposes himself or a family to suffer for the necessaries of life, unless relieved by his neighbors or the public, violates the civil rights of, and his own moral and political obligations to, society. And there is no doubt that taxes on spirits will, generally, be cheerfully paid by the consumer, when he is assured that the revenue is to be applied to the education of his children, or, perhaps, ultimately, to his own support.
34 The probability is, that a more formidable resistance will spring from importers, manufacturers, and venders of ardent spirits, than from the consumers. But it must be a very unwise and unsound policy that permits the general good to be sacrificed to individual gain.
35 Let the question, therefore, be fairly submitted to the people at large, who are the legitimate sovereigns of the land. The case demands the concurrent perseverance of all who possess the least sympathy for the sufferings and woes of their fellow men; and the very sufferers are not so indifferent as has been generally supposed. Many have addressed their supreme Parent with supplications to rescue and protect them from the fascinating charm and twining gripe, with which that cunning serpent, Alcohol, inveigles its prey.
36 And they are not wholly averse to coercive means of relief. Several have sought their emancipation in oaths of abstinence for a given term. Some have offered premiums for a remedy to the habit of drinking; and one individual of this description declared to the writer of these essays, that he "wished government would impose a tax upon whisky of five dollars a gallon, and then he should stop drinking it."
37 So that the business at length resolves itself into these great moral and political problems-WHETHER THE GENERAL GOOD SHALL BE SACRIFICED TO INDIVIDUAL GAIN?— WHETHER DISTILLED SPIRITS OUGHT AND SHALL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS DEPREDATIONS ON THE SOLID CAPITAL STOCK OF WEALTH IN OUR COUNTRY? Whether both imported and domestic spirits shall not be forthwith taxed to an amount sufficient to provide for the support and instruction of its unhappy victims?
The habitual temperate use of Spirituous Liquors, a violation of moral purity and religious duty.
1 So far as it is in our power to understand the designs and laws of our Creator, for the regulation of our conduct, it is both our duty and interest to yield perfect compliance. The preservation of health and life is unquestionably one of our most palpable and explicit duties. Every act, therefore, which impairs our health and diminishes the period of our lives, is a violation of the express command of God.
2 I shall endeavor to demonstrate, by physiological facts, that both these effects are produced, more or less, by the habitual application of distilled spirits to the stomach, in whatever quantity. Composed of very inflammable materials, in a disengaged state, it commences a kind of smothered combustion instantaneously on its reception into the stomach; corrodes the organs of digestion, excites an unnatural heat and violent circulation of the blood; attended with delirium, and succeeded by a loss of strength, proportioned to the excess of excitement produced by the irritating agent. Several other poisons produce similar effects.
3 It is an infallible axiom in the physical organization of man, that every excitement of his vital powers beyond the point to which his Creator has adapted him, which is the uniform effect of alcohol, diminishes his capacity for repeating like motions from like means. Hence it may be safely inferred, that every dram of spirituous liquors of any description, is a check upon the capital stock of strength and life, and hastens the approach of the hour of dissolution, in proportion to the indulgence.
4 Let the habitual dram drinker, who is or may be the head of a family, reflect, at the same time, that he runs the awful hazard of transmitting the most horrible torturing hereditary distempers to his defenceless progeny, for ages to come. Each dram increases the appetite for another, and the necessity of an increased quantity, to produce an equal effect, multiplies in a progressive ratio. Thus it follows, unavoidably, that the habitual temperate use of ardent spirits is a pernicious and vicious practice.
5 Besides its consumption of vital power, it will be found an unjustifiable and immoral habit in another point of view. It is a wanton waste of property, which ought to be preserved
for useful purposes, even by those who possess it, in ever so great profusion. Whoever swallows two gills of distilled spirits daily, destroys 20 bushels of rye a year; for the want of which some of his own posterity may eventually starve.
6 In this way, it has been estimated by a late writer, that the people of the United States, destroy thirty millions of dollars annually. Considering this, and the many other useless and superfluous modes of diminishing the common stock of national wealth, there is no reason to be surprised to hear the present universal re-echo of "hard times," "dull times," "scarcity of money," "sales by execution," 66 difficulty of collecting debts," "insolvencies," "pauperism," &c. &c. J. T.
Speech of the Little Turtle, an Indian Chief.
1 The following specimen of Indian wisdom and pathetic eloquence, was addressed to a committee appointed by the Society of Friends, "For Promoting the Improvement and Civilization of the Indian Natives," at Baltimore, in 1802. It presents a striking mirror to the contemplation of their white brethren. The example of the red chiefs of the forest, and the black chiefs of Hayti, in excluding "the poison of the moral world"* from their people, deserves approbation and imitation.
2 "Brothers and Friends,-When our forefathers first met on this island, your red brethren were very numerous. But since the introduction amongst us of what you call spirituous liquors, and what we think may be justly called POISON, our numbers are greatly diminished. It has destroyed a great part of your red brethren.
3 "My Brothers and Friends,-We plainly perceive, that you see the very evil which destroys your red brethren; it is not an evil of our own making; we have not placed it amongst ourselves; it is an evil placed amongst us by the white people; we look to them to remove it out of our country. We tell them,-brethren, fetch us useful things; bring goods that will clothe us, our women and our children, and not this evil liquor that destroys our reason, that destroys our health, that destroys our lives. But all we can say on this subject is of no service, nor gives relief to your red brethren.
4 "My Brothers and Friends,-I rejoice to find that you agree in opinion with us, and express an anxiety to be, if possible, of service to us in removing this great evil out of our country; an evil which has had so much room in it, and has destroyed so many of our lives, that it causes our young men to say, we had better be at war with the white people; this liquor which they introduce into our country, is more to be feared than the gun and the tomahawk. There are more of us dead since the treaty of Greenville, than we lost by the six years' war before. It is all owing to the introduction of this liquor amongst us.'
5 "Brothers, When our young men have been out hunting, and are returning home loaded with skins and furs, on their way, if it happens that they come along where some of this whisky is deposited, the white man who sells it, tells them to take a little drink; some of them will say no, I do not want it; they go on till they come to another house, where they find more of the same kind of drink; it is there offered again; they refuse; and again the third time; but finally, the fourth or fifth time, one accepts of it, and takes a drink, and getting one, he wants another; and then a third and fourth, till his senses have left him.
6 "After his reason comes back again to him, when he gets up and finds where he is, he asks for his peltry; the answer is, 'you have drank them;' where is my gun? 'it is gone;' where is my blanket? it is gone;' where is my shirt? you have sold it for whisky!! Now, Brothers, figure to yourselves what condition this man must be in. He has a family at home, a wife and children who stand in need of the profits of his hunting. What must be their wants, when he himself is even without a shirt ?"
ESSAYS ON POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC ECONOMY.
Desultory observations on Moral Reformation and National Economy.
1 TO attack ancient and favorite habits and prejudices, is not a very encouraging or agreeable undertaking. While error is venerated for its antiquity, truth is discarded for its novelty. But there is great consolation in the consciousness