« PreviousContinue »
selves that terrible disease, by the use of ardent spirits. If this was an extraordinary fact, it does not stand alone. Many such self-made maniacs, might, we are persuaded, be pointed out within our own state and within our own limits. Frequent intoxication cannot fail to impair the intellect. It must gradually enfeeble, and ultimately prostrate the noblest powers of the mind.
Brethren, we appeal to your own observation. Have you not known men, who once were numbered with the wise, gradually reduced almost to a level with idiots, by intemperance? Have you not seen the masculine and discriminating understanding, dwindle into premature old age and second childhood, by the same means? We doubt not you can recollect more than one promising youth, tender and beloved, of high hopes and flattering prospects, who has been snared and taken by the insidious enemy, of which we are speaking. You beheld, and the eye which lately beamed with intelligence grew dim. The doating parent aware of the cause, began to tremble and weep over his son. Hope and comfort fed from the hosom of the father who begat, and of the mother who bare him. His decline was steady, and it was rapid. Every faculty was benumbed, or enervated by excess; and he sunk away into insignificance and contempt. Or perhaps, he plunged into an early grave, and you heard the agonizing lamentation over it, 'O my son ! my son! would God that I had died for thee, my son, my son.'
4. The enormous consumption of ardent spirits in this country, involves an incredible waste of property.
When the Marshals took the census of the United States in 1810, they were directed to collect and return to the Secretary's office, the amount of all domestic mapufactures of any considerable importance in the Union.
From these returns, it appears, that 25,499,382 gallons of ardent spirits were distilled that year, of which were exported 133,853 gallons ; leaving 25,365,529 gallons to be consumed at home. The same year, about 8,000,000 of gallons of rum, and other foreign distilled liqours were imported into the United States, which being added to the above 25,365,529, produces the enormous amount of 33,365,529 gallons for our home consumption. What the annual amount of imports has been since 1810, we have not been able to ascertain ; but we presume that during the last year at least, it must have been considerably larger. Of domestic distilled spirits, it admits not of a doubt, that there has been a rapid increase, from year to year, so that the quantity now manufactured, and of course consumed, is much greater than it was in 1810.
But not to insist on this, let the amount of foreign and domestic spirits stand as above, as 33,865,529 gallons, and it amounts to 248,932 hogsheads, which, supposing one team to carry two hogsheads, would load 124,466 carts. These allowing three rods for each team, would reach more than 1166 miles, or nearly the whole length of the United States, from north to south! The number of hogsheads necessary to contain the liquor, would cost not far from 800,000 dollars, or almost enough to build two ships of the line, and would, if placed side by side, so as to touch each other, reach more than 178 miles, or almost twice the length of the state of Connecticut.
Or to present the subject in another light : 33,365,529 gallons of spirits is sufficient to fill a canal 21 miles long, 10 feet wide, and four feet deep, affording convenient navigation, for boats of many tons burtben! The same quantity, if brought together, would form a lake 68 rods long, 40 broad, and 6 feet deep!
Again ; according to the last census, the number of inhabitants in the United States, and their territorial governments, was 7,230,514. Divide 33,365,529 gallons by this population, and it gives an average, of not far from four gallops and a half to every man, woman, and child in the nation. But we have in our own country 1, 185,000 slaves, whose enviable privilege it is, to be wholly denied the use of ardent spirits. They biust therefore be subtracted from the grand total of our population, which will leave a little over 6,000,000. From this reduced number, we must subtract all the children under 6 years of age, being probably about 1,000,000; and then we shall have left, hardly 4,500,000 people to consume 33,365,529 gallons of ardent spirits, besides very large quantities of wine, ale, &c; and producing an average share to each consumer, of seven gallons and one third.
We think it likely that some of our readers will pause here, and exclaim it is impossible! There must be some grand mistake in these calculations. As the result stands, it falls little short of proving us to be a nation of tipplers and drunkards.
We must confess, brethren, that we too are astonished and alarmed at the result; but we cannot help it. Facts and figures, are stubborn things. Few people understand those truth-telling rules, addition and multiplication. A single glass, or half gill, taken every day, amounts at the year's end, to more than five gallons and a half; a gill to more than eleven gallons ; half a pint to upwards of twentytwo gallons ; and a pint to the enormous quantity of fortyfive gallons! This short and simple process explains the mystery. How many people who think themselves extremely temperate, drink a gill daily ; how many more
two gills, a pint, or even more ; that is, twice or thrice their proportion of the 33,000,000 of gallons annually. Set aside all the slaves, and all the children under ten years of age, in the United States : let the remainder, about 4,500,000 driuk less than two thirds of a gill, upon an average daily, and they will consume the whole before the end of the year.
From this general view of the subject, let us come home to our own State and County, and submit a few plain arithmetical calculations to your serious consideration. The average proportion to Connecticut, of 33, 000,000 of gallons, is about 1,186,583. tion to the county of Fairfield, estimating it by the number of inhabitants, 187,111 gallons. The population of this county is forty thousand nine hundred and fifty souls, of whom more than twenty three thousand belong to the western district; considerably more than half of the 187, 111 gallons, must therefore be put to our account.
Here, perhaps, some may be ready to question the fairness of the preceeding distribution. It may be said, that Connecticut does not consume that proportion of the 33, 000,000 of gallons, which has been assigned to it.
We sincerely hope, brethren, that this remark is true. But when you consider, that in making out the above average, we have included the slaves, and thereby materially reduced what would otherwise bave been our proportion ; when you look round and count the stills ; when you enumerate the dram shops within the circle of your acquaintance ; when you see barrels of cider brandy rolled into your neighbors cellars, and think how many kegs and gallon bottles, to say nothing of smaller vessels, are constantly going to and from stores and distilleries ; when you
take all these and other obvious facts into considera
tion, you may perhaps find reason to believe, that our estimate is not too high.
However, to be on the safe side, we will deduct one fourth part; that is, we will go upon the supposition, that less by one quarter, according to the number of inhabitants, is drunk here, than in other parts of our country. This will leave to the western district of Fairfield county, somewhat more than 80,000 gallons for our annual consumption. Now let this be apportioned among the several towns, according to the number of inhabitants, and the result will be nearly as follows. Fairfield, 14,118 gallons ; Norwalk, 9,905; Stamford, 15,240 ; Greenwich, 12,179; New-Canaan, 5,345 ; Ridgefield, 7,197; Weston, 8,960; and Wilton, 5,914!
Now think for a moment of the annual expense of ardent spirits in this country. Considering the high price of all imported liquors-considering how much of our own manufacture is in various ways, disguised and sold
for French brandy, Holland gin, &c.; considering too, • the very liberal dilutions which both foreign and domes
tic spirits experience on their way to the consumer, and the great advances made from the original cost, by tavernkeepers and other retailers, the ultimate average expense cannot be less than one dollar a gallon, or 33,365, 529 dollars annually.
But not to insist on a few hundred thousand dollars, let the amount stand at the round sum of 33 million. What a vast sum to be paid out in twelve months for liquid fire, and slow poison ; and all this to be accounted for at the judgment of the great day! One half this sum levied upon the United States, by direct taxation, would produce a revolution in the government. And think how much good might be done by expending this