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A son, instigated by a mother to shoot a neighbor, as he raised his rifle, shuddered at the thought of his crime, and dropped the fatal instrument. His mother standing by his side, with a whiskey bottle in her hand, perceiving the agitation of her son, instantly presented him the poison. He drank; then with a steady hand and eye levelled his rifle and killed the man. Thus alcohol hardens the heart, and stimulates to the commission of crime. “By one fatal act,” said Judge Edwards, in pronouncing sentence of death on James Ransom, "your wife has been
sent to the cold and silent mansions of the dead, your children • were deprived of all the endearments and fostering care of their
mother, and you are fated to expiate your offence upon a gallows. Upon a review of the shocking transaction, the question naturally presents itself, what could have so perverted your nature? what could have so steeled your heart? The answer is, intoxicating liquor. It has had the effect to estrange you from the most endearing relation, from the ties of blood, from your obligations to your fellow-beings, and to your Creator.” Intemperance is the great leading cause of crime. Thus it is supposed that nine-tenths of all the criminal offences in the land take their origin.
The late district-attorney of New-York city declared that every murder, twenty-two in number, that it was his duty to examine while in office, were traced to the use of intoxicating drinks. Indeed, all the murders, it has been ascertained, with the exception of three, in this city, for the space of fifteen years, arose from this cause.
3. Intemperance, above all other vices, enslaves man; it destroys his liberty.
Not only does it "bite like a serpent and sting like an adder," but it coils around the miserable victim, and binds him as it stings, with a serpent's grasp. In vain does he struggle to escape. We have seen the gray-headed man walk his room, in agony intense, and weep under tender reproof, as if his heart would break, and heard him cry out in broken sentences, “ I am lost, for ever lost. Could I escape, ten thousand worlds, did I possess them, would I give. My resolutions, my promises, and my prayers are as empty as the wind; I have only to see, or even smell the poison, and I am borne away by an uncontrolable thirst. Thus I live a slave, and a miserable slave must I die.” “ Put down that cup,” said one to a drunkard. The poor creature pressing it to his lips, exclaimed, “Rather burn in an eternal hell than give it up. Thus the drunkard dies, borne down under the pressure of a most loathsome and cruel bondage.
4. Alcohol kills the body with pain unutterably severe and most protracted.
“ Who hath wo? Who hath sorrow? Who hath wounds without cause? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine.” The mere physical suffering endured by the drunkard from the time he commences his ruinous course until its termination, can only be conceived by the wretched inebriate himself. None but a drunkard knows what a drunkard suffers. In addition to a variety of diseases, he has ever within, unless sated with the poison, a burning, raging thirst, for the momentary relief of which he will sacrifice his property, his character, his body, and his soul. He will indeed subject himself to the most menial service, pledge the last article of his furniture, sell his Bible, part with the last garment, and snatch the last morsel from the mouth of his starving child. No language can describe, no pencil can depict a drunkard's sufferings. His bosom is the emblem of hell. His property gone, his character ruined, his tenderest relations sundered, his passions and appetites uncontrolled, his body diseased and loathsome throughout, and all his hopes of immortality blasted-what is there left for him “but a certain fearful looking-for of judgment ?" Does not every feature of his countenance bespeak the horrid woes within? What is it but suffering intolerable that drives so many of the wretched victims on to madness and to suicide? See the poor creature in the last stages of disease with the delirium tremens. What writhings of body! What distortion of feature ! What dismal groans and frightful shrieks! Once it was my lot to stand by the bed-side of such a sufferer and witness bis awful death. God grant that I may never see another such. It seemed as if all the pains and woes of earth had been concentrated in his bosom, and that all the fiends of hell had been let loose to torment his spirit. He longed for hell itself, that he might know the worst of his case. Alas! what multitudes thus annually perish, especially from the ranks of those who call themselves moderate drinkers.
5. The death of the drunkard involves the death of the soul.
What is the loss of property, health, reputation, life, all things besides, compared with that of the soul? Who has charity to believe that one of the five hundred thousand drunkards in our land is a man of true piety? The poison which he drinks darkens the understanding, sears the conscience, pollutes the affections, and debases every power of the soul. It wearies the forbearance of heaven, and makes man a loathing and an abomination to his God. The drunkard is a murderer. He kills himself; and “no murderer," it is declared in the sacred volume,
" hath eternal life abiding in him.” He is a drunkard ; and “no drunkard," it is said, "shall inherit the kingdom of God." From the society of the pure and the blessed he must be excluded, and not only excluded, but doomed to a most certain, endless, and awful perdition—the consummation of the drunkard's sufferings and the drunkard's woes. Let us not attempt to lift the covering of the pit, where there is “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
6. The death of the drunkard involves the death of others.
Is he the captain of a vessel ? Has he a station at the helm ; or the charge of a steam-engine? By the use of one glass of spirits, a hundred lives in a moment may be sacrificed. Is he a husband, a father? If not by violent hands, by his cold neglect and cruelties he wounds and breaks the heart of his wife, so that she goes rapidly to the grave. The earth seems to open and call the poor woman to her only resting-place. And his children, if not murdered by cruel blows or acts of unkindness, are tempted to follow the iniquity of the father, and lie down with him in the drunkard's grave.
7. The wretched inebriate dies unlamented. His death rather affords joy than grief. The community feel relieved of a burden and a nuisance. Not a tear is shed; none are anxious to do him homage, or follow his remains to the grave. He is borne away to the silent tomb unlamented. Had he died by any other cause, many might have mourned his loss, and wept at his burial. Is there indeed none that mourns ? Ah! who is that in sable dress bending over his coffin, and weeping as if the heart would break ? It is the widowed mother. "Can a mother forget?” When hope of reform had expired in every other bosom, it still lingered in hers to the last moment, and cheered her sinking spirit. Now she drops her last tear over the lifeless body of the profligate, and with signs that indicate her own rapid dissolution, exclaims, “O my son, my son, would God I had died for thee, my son, my son!” A thousand eyes are suffused with tears, in sympathy for the widow; but who has a tear to shed for that son who has thus blighted a mother's hopes, and broken a mother's heart?
IV. We call your attention to the proof, THAT ALL WHO USE, MAKE, OR VEND ALCOHOL UNDER ITS DIFFERENT FORMS AS A DRINK, ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH THUS PRODUCED, AND ARE JUSTLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.
With respect to those who use it as a mere beverage, we have simply to say, our position, admitting our premises, is as clear as a sun-beam. All such, if they perish in the use of intoxicating drinks, commit wilful, deliberate self-murder. Their guilt is awful. But it is to the maker and vender of the poison as a beverage, wholesale and retail, we wish especially to apply our remarks, and to demonstrate, that for the appalling destruction of human life by intoxicating liquor they are mainly responsible; and that persisting in their business with the light now enjoyed, are justly chargeable with the perpetration of murder. The question
may here arise, what constitutes murder? It is not necessary, I remark, to its commission, that there should invariably be malice prepense, or the intention to kill. According to Black. stone, and the best expounders of human law, the sacrifice of life from mere sordid love of gain, supreme selfishness, recklessness, or any wicked state of the heart, oftentimes constitutes murder of the most crimson die. Now we ask where on earth are there more human beings killed through the sordid love of gain, more recklessly, than in the rum-selling establishments scattered over the land ? What is it but for mere paltry pence the poison that kills is sold ? What characterizes the traffic from the first to the last, but entire selfishness, and an utter recklessness of the property, the happiness, and the life of another? Not a glass of spirit does the vender sell but he knows that it shortens life, and may result in the death of the inebriate himself, and that of his wife and helpless children. He robs man of his reason, and gives him that which fits him for the perpetration of the foulest, blackest murder. He values more a few pence, than he does the man's reason, his reputation, happiness, body, and soul: more than he does the man's family, or the good order and peace of society. While he receives his pay, what cares he who is robbed, wounded, or killed? What cares he, while he himself is enriched and protected by his license, how many hopes he blights, and how many hearts he makes to bleed? What cares he how many families he scatters and ruins—how many penitentiaries, alms-houses, hospitals, and grave-yards he crowds with the miserable, loathsome victims of his cupidity? If there be no intention to kill, we challenge any one to show whether, in the sight of God, there be any better state of heart in the bosom of the rum-seller than in that of the midnight assassin ? Do not both, for the mere love of money, take away life? I would not, says the assassin, break in upon the man's dwelling and take life if I could otherwise obtain money. What is this but the very apology of the rumseller. I would not follow this business of selling poison, now becoming so disreputable and so troublesome to my conscience, if I could otherwise obtain a living. I do not, says the man engaged in the unhallowed traffic, as the assassin, break in upon the innocent at midnight, and before its occupant is aware, kill him. To such we reply, True, you do not. Did you thus, your business would not, in many respects, be so criminal or so awfully calamitous. The man that loses his life by the assassin, dies comparatively innocent; his sufferings in this and the world to come are not one millionth part of what the drunkard does or must suffer. While the man killed by the assassin dies involuntarily, the person whose life you take dies voluntarily. He commits deliberate self-murder, and you are the guilty, efficient agent in the dreadful work. Well knowing the infirmity and depravity of the inebriate, you put into his hands the instrument of death. And this you do in the sight of an indignant, virtuous community, with light pouring in upon your conscience, and against the tender entreaties and strong remonstrances of friends and relatives. In vindication, you may say you have no design to kill, no malice prepense; yet we maintain that you cannot show that you have any more real benevolence, any higher or purer principle of action, than that of the assassin. The pursuit will not stand investigation. It is contrary to the laws of God and man, and equally condemned by the civilian and divine. The rising public sentiment is against it, and the wretched inebriate himself, in the dying, honest hour, testifies against it.
1. It is contrary to human lau.
To such a test we readily bring our charge, and ask a verdict from the bar of every criminal court in the land. It is true, indeed, that at these tribunals of justice those who deal in the poison as a beverage are not indicted, yet we contend that the great principles of law which regulate daily these courts in their decisions, render them justly liable to indictment, and the severest sentence of the law. What is the grand design of human legislation but the public good, the security of the great interest of society, especially that of human life. Hence it is we find the enactments of law so rigid with regard to every thing affecting life. Whatever is considered dangerous, or in the least degree hazardous, such as gunpowder, steam, unwholesome provisions, infectious diseases, and rabid dogs, are all matters of the most strict legislation. The law is most specific with regard to the use and sale of poisons. Any person, the law declares, that shall mingle poison with food, drink, or medicine, with an evil intent, or recklessly; or shall poison a well, or reservoir, or spring, where persons are accustomed to drink, shall be adjudged guilty of crime, and punished, though no person dies, for the space of ten years in the state-prison. Now, we ask, does not this law in its spirit, if not in the very letter, condemn the dealer in alcohol, who mingles every hour of the day the fatal poison in the drink of his neighbor? The law further declares, that if any physician, when intoxicated, prescribes