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TEMPERANCE IN 1812.
* At an annual meeting of the Consociation of the West
ern District of Fairfield County, October 13, 1812:
The Commitee of Association made a report respecting Ardent Spirits, which was accepted, and is as follows:
VOTED:- That we cordially approve of the doings of the General Association of Connecticut, on this subject, at their Session in June last, and will, as far as practicable, comply with their recommendations : Particularly,
1. That the customary use of Ardent Spirits, shall be wholly disa continued, at all future meetings of this body.
2. That we agree, by our conversation and example, to discourage the use of spiritous Liquors, (except for medicine) particularly in pious and respectable families, and especially, at their social visits.
3. That we will use our influence to discourage and utterly prevent the buying and selling of Ardent Spirits by small measure, contrary to Law.
4 That we will endeavor to influence the members of our respeclive churches, and other well disposed persons in our congregations to contribute for the purchase and gratuitous distribution of well written Tracts on the subject; particularly one by Dr. Rush of Philadelphia, and report our progress in this undertaking, to the next annual meeting of this body.
5. That special pains be taken, to impress on the minds of the young, a sense of the dangerous consequences connected with the habituating themselves to the use of spiritous liquors.
6. That a Committee be appointed to draft a serious address on this subject to the churches and congregations within our limits, and cause the same to be printed and distributed.
7. That a Committee be appointed, to correspond with the Committee of the General Association, collect and embody important facts devise further means for curing the mischiefs of intemperance, and report to this body, at their next annual meeting.
8. That it shall be the duty of the ministers, at that time, to report what has been done in their respective parishes.
The duty of preparing and circulating an address in the spirit of the foregoing resolutions, was devolved upon the Rev. R. Swan of Norwalk, Rev. W. Bonney of New Canan, and the Author of this volume. The address was printed in a pamphlet of about thirty pages, early in 1813, and three thousand copies were distributed within the bounds of the Consociation, embracing about half of Fairfield County.
The reports of ministers and delegates at the next annual meeting, were exceedingly encouraging. It appeared that a greai change had been produced in the views and habits of all the more enlightened classes of people throughout the district. · In some churches and congregations, the consumption of ardent spirits had been reduced one third, in others one half, and in others more than half. In nearly all the respectable families, within our limits, the decanters and glasses had been swept from the side-boards—a great many of our church members and others had adopted the principle of total abstinencesome of our largest farmers carried the principle successfully through haying and harvesting—all the ministers had entered heartily into the reformation, and I am confident that from that day to this, embracing a period of twenty two years, no ardent spirit has been provided at their stated meetings.
The following extracts, from this address may be interesting to some of my readers.
Let us now call your attention, for 'few moments, to the ravages of strong drink. And,
1. Physicians all agree, that intemperate drinking, has a direct tendency to ruin health and shorten life.
It is an interesting fact, that the yellow fevers of our cities, the present alarming epidemic in the midst of us, and the fever of the northern army, have all been aggravated and rendered peculiarly malignant, in multitudes of instances, by the free use of ardent spirits. For evidence of the first, see Dr. Rush's Inquiry, &c. p. 5. For evidence of the second, go into any town where the fever has prevailed and ask the first man you meet. It is matter of public remark, that an attack of the disease is almost certain death to the intemperate. For evidence of the third, see the official statement of Dr. Mann, (hospital surgeon of the U. S. army) which appeared some months ago in the newspapers. “It has' says he, been well ascertained, that the disorder (viz. the fever in the army) was most fatal to them, who had been previously seized with the meazles, but more especially to those who were in habits of intemperance.'
Let none flatter themselves, that because they are not drunkards, they are in no danger from what they are pleased to consider, a generous use of the glass. Dr. Rush has given a solemn caution on this point, which cannot be too often repeated. I have known' says he,
several persons destroyed by ardent spirits, who were never completely intoxicated in their whole lives.' Has not your own observation, christian brethren and friends, furnished you with similar examples? We should think, that every person who attends to what is passing around him, must be convinced, that many whose sobriety is scarcely questioned, are hurried prematurely to the grave, by the free and regular use of strong drink.
Go to the sick bed of a friend or neighbor, who has for years been laying up fuel for the fever that now consumes him. Perhaps he was never seen intoxicated in his life. But he drank often; he drank freely. He was a jovial, good hearted fellow. But now behold bim on his bed, a miserable picture of distress. His blood is inflamed, his tongue parched and his brain disordered. His disease is incurable. His days are numbered and finished. He struggles, he gasps, he expires, and where is he?
Shall we point you to ten thousand shadows of human existence, in the last stages of wasting diseases, brought on by excessive drinking ? Shall we undertake to count the miserable wretches, who are unceasingly tortured by this Promethean Vulture ? Shall we urge physicians to point out to us the names which are inscribed on our yearly bills of mortality, by the hand of this fell destroy
Shall we go from grave to grave, in the fields of the dead, and ask tomb-stones, how many of its victims lie. beneath them? Ah! if tomb-stones might tell the truth, how affecting, how alarming would be their testimony.
Who,' saith the royal Preacher, hath woe! who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who bath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine : they that go
after mixed wine.' Hard drinking, whether of wine or of distilled liquors, involves men in endless quarrels and difficulties, which terminate in bruises, broken bones, and sometimes in murder. Or if one drunkard in a hundred should escape all these evils, (which is not to be expected) a host of other dangers would stare him in the face and ambush his path. Is the wretch returning from his brutal revels? He reels from side to side upon his horse, challenges some drunken companion to a race, bawls through the streets like a madman, falls-and how often into eternity!
How often is the drunkard found, stretched by the way side, on the cold and damp earth, dead drunk; exposed to the wheels of the traveller, drenched by rains, wet with the dew of heaven, shivering under the piercing blasts of winter, or perhaps lying stiff, in the iron slumbers of death.
2. The effects of hard drinking upon the temper and disposition, are often dreadful.
It changes the gentleness of the lamb, into the ferocity of a tiger. It lets loose all the bad passions, to rage and range without control. It often vents the most outrageous abuse
upon the nearest relations and friends. We appeal to you, christian brethren, how often strong drink drowns conjugal, parental, filial, and fraternal affection. Under its influence, the husband becomes a brute ; the wife, a serpent in the boson; and the child, a son of perdition.
3. Intemperate drinking greatly impairs, and sometimes destroys the understanding.
Dr. Waters, of the Pennsylvania hospital, assured Dr. Rush, that one third of the patients confined in the asylum, on account of madness, had brought upon them