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in their brightness and show, but as a trusted physician sees his patient, in the sick chamber, amidst weakness, and dejection, and pain.
“It has been my fortune," writes Dr. Carrick, in a highly interesting letter relating the circumstances of her last illness and death,“ during a long and close intercourse with mankind, to have enjoyed many and valuable opportunities of observing and studying the human character under various and trying circumstances. But never, I can say with truth, have I known a character in all respects so perfect as that of Mrs. Hannah More."
ART. II. - Proceedings of the Convention of the Young
Men of Massachusetts, friendly to the Cause of Temperance, held at Worcester, July 1st and 2d, 1834. Boston. Ford & Damrell. 1834. 8vo. pp. 28.
In contemplating the great temperance reform, no circumstance strikes us as more auspicious of its successful progress and final triumph, than the deep and active interest in it which is manifested by our young men.
While those of maturer years are rapidly passing off the stage, and their errors, prejudices, and vices along with them, the young, on the other hand, are coming forward into notice and influence, and more and more diffusing, in a thousand channels, through the living mass of society, those new truths and new virtues, in which they have improved upon a former generation.
The conspicuous part taken by young men in the temperance reform derives additional interest from the consideration, that this reform may be thought to call for peculiar self-denial in them, -a sacrifice of those very indulgences, to which youth is most prone, and for which the animal warmth, love of excitement, and passion for social pleasure, so characteristic of that season of life, furnish at least some apology and extenuation.
We venture to remark further, presumptuous as the assertion may seem,
- that young men are more likely to take sound and correct views of the temperance cause,
ciples upon which it rests, and the measures for promoting it,
than those who are more advanced in life. The latter have grown up from childhood amidst the universal prevalence, and in the personal practice, of that habit, at which the temperance reform strikes its unsparing, destroying blow. To them, the doctrine of total abstinence, the first elementary principle of that reform, -- must originally have seemed extravagant and impracticable, because wise and good men, of their own and former times, have not only failed to discover, but uniformly in conduct contradicted and violated it. No short time, no slight effort, is required to root out from the mind old prejudices and habits of thought. Even with a clear perception of the evil to be remedied, and an earnest desire to apply the remedy, these will ever insensibly blend, and embarrass the onward movement of reform by doubts and fears and suspicions which belong to an age gone by. Young men, on the contrary, look forth upon the world with eyes upon which the half-dispersed mists of error have left no dimness. If new principles have taken the place of old ones in society, their minds require no illumination to appreciate and go along with the change. They, without an effort, see things as they are, not as they have been; and, when still new measures of improvement are proposed, “ forgetting the things which are behind, press towards the mark” of perfect and enduring regeneration.
These remarks have been suggested by the pamphlet whose title stands at the head of this article. It is an account of the proceedings of a convention of young men, held at Worcester on the 1st and 2d days of July last, to devise measures for advancing the temperance reformation. Previous conventions had been held for the same object in this and other states. The convention of young men is deserving of particular notice, chiefly on account of the new topics, connected with the great general subject, but heretofore only slightly and incidentally noticed, which were brought up for discussion, and almost exclusively occupied the attention of the meeting. These were, first, the subject of legislation in regard to the sale of ardent spirit, and, secondly, the use of wine. We shall confine ourselves in what follows to the first of these questions. Upon this, the following resolutions were proposed, and unanimously adopted.
Resolved, that, in regard to the business of retailing, there is an inconsistency in our system of legislation, unworthy of the
spirit and intelligence of the day; for, while we require the maintenance of schools to promote knowledge and virtue, we license schools of profligacy and vice : while we build prisons and forbid crimes, we license that which fills the one and promotes the other,
we legalize the cause and punish the effect. And, prosessing to be a Christian people, we receive into our treasury the price for which we license the surest means of shutting heaven against our fellow-beings.
“ Resolved, that, as the traffic in ardent spirits as a drink is morally wrong, it ought to be neither licensed nor tolerated by law. Resolved, therefore, that the existing license laws of this Commonwealth ought to be repealed, and in their place other statutes be enacted, which shall make the sale of ardent spirits a penal offence.
Resolved, that the members of this Convention will do all in their power by judicious and constitutional means to produce the desired reform in the laws of this Commonwealth.” — p. 10.
With the spirit of these resolutions we heartily concur. At the same time we know, that they will encounter severe censure, even from many of the friends of temperance. They will be pronounced wrong in principle; or, if not wrong, yet precipitate and unseasonable. There are certain great truths connected with the temperance reform, which, after years of persevering effort to demonstrate and diffuse them, have at length become clear as the light and firm as the “everlasting hills.” That drunkenness produces poverty, disease, and crime to an enormous amount, that moderate drinking naturally leads the way to drunkenness, - that ardent spirits are never useful to men in health, — that the sale of ardent spirits is morally wrong, — these are principles which, at this day, no reasonable man, even though opposed to temperance measures, pretends with any show of argument to deny: With the principles embodied in the foregoing resolutions, it is far otherwise. In regard to the latter, not only do that clamorous multitude, who cry out against all that is good and praiseworthy, raise the alarm of persecution and oppression ; but even those, who join heart and hand for the advancement of temperance, differ from each other toto cælo in their opinions. For proof of this, we need only refer to the proceedings of our state legislature at their last session. We have too much charity for individuals, and too much respect for that ancient and honorable Commonwealth whose representatives they are, to question the sincerity of those members of the government, who profess to feel con
scientious scruples with regard to any interference of the law for the suppression of intemperance. Some of them, no doubt, are actuated by the worst motives, and do but publish in the halls of legislation, with the sanction of official influence, those radical and disorganizing political doctrines, and that malignant hostility to all Christian enterprises, which it is their favorite pastime in private life to propagate and enforce. Such, however, we would fain believe to be as few in number and as feeble in influence as they are destitute of principle, — and to all of a different stamp we would address ourselves upon
this subject with earnest, but calm and serious argument. There is a new point to be gained in the great and holy cause of temperance ; and, like others now immovably established, but which ten years ago would have been laughed to scorn at the bare suggestion of them, it deserves to be gained by fair reasoning and by answering all honest objections.
The current and popular objections to legislating for the suppression of intemperance are these four, — that it is impracticable or useless, that it is inexpedient, that it is wrong, that it is unnecessary.
I. Upon the question of practicability, the favorite argument is that derived from past experience. We hear it said on all sides, that the experiment of legislating down intemperance has already been tried, and has failed; that, long before a temperance society was ever thought of, laws were enacted in restraint of drunkenness, and numerous prosecutions instituted for the breach of them. Yet the evil went on increasing ; and it was the palpable, glaring truth, that government had done nothing, and could do nothing effectually, for the cure of this raging pestilence, which first suggested to humane and patriotic individuals the idea of starting anew in the work of reform by the institution of voluntary associations.
This statement is perfectly true, nobody can deny it; but at the same time carries in itself its own answer. Because legislation was resorted to before temperance societies were formed; because positive restrictions, - even admitting the licensing system to be in any fair sense restrictive and looking only at its penal provisions, — were thrown in the face of universal opinion and universal practice; therefore, not the slightest good effects were produced. Stupidity itself cannot fail to discern the true meaning and object of the license laws. The legislature had a sort of vague and floating impression, that, although rum was one VOL. XVIII.
N. S. VOL. XIII. NO. I.
of the necessaries of life, and rum-drinking an instinct of nature, the temperate indulgence of which their enactments should rather encourage than check; yet a regard to appearances required some slight notice of great public evils, sional effort ne quid detrimenti respublica capiat. Of these evils drunkenness was one,
greater than all others united. The guardians of the Commonwealth must therefore, in common decency, declare it to be wrong, and go through the ceremony, at least, of passing acts to restrain and punish it. Accordingly it was enacted, that only so much rum should be sold as the public good required, — that none but respectable, licensed men should sell it, - and even they should not sell it to drunkards. Such was the substance of the laws relating to this subject. What more could be expected from lawgivers, a large proportion of whom, it is no slander to say, may have themselves actually debated and voted under the exciting or beclouding influences of ardent spirits, and that, without an accusing whisper of conscience that they did wrong ; to whom the idea of total abstinence would have seemed the extravagance of ascetic superstition; who regarded every thing but staggering, bloated intoxication, as temperance ; and, as if by a sort of infatuation, were utterly blind to the connection between the moderate use of rum and that brutal drunkenness which they condemned. Upon this point we need not enlarge. It is sufficient to say, that, in those days, the laws which sanctioned moderate drinking, as demanded by the public good, — which extended a strong arm to help men along in the downward path, and, only when they had reached the deep abyss, pretended in mockery to protect them as idiots or punish them as villains, - were a fair expression of public opinion, an accurate index of the universal habits of the people, and, under a free, elective, representative government, could not, in the nature of things, be other than what they are.*
But the times have changed. The last ten years have witnessed a moral revolution in the United States, wholly unexampled in the history of man. Looking back to the com
* Should we be charged with inconsistency, in first saying that the laws opposed public opinion, and afterwards that they were the result and expression of it; we would more distinctly repeat what has before been intimated, that the former part of the
remark is applied to the penal, the latter to the permissive, portion of those laws, - showing them as repugnant among themselves, as they were fatal to public virtue.