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ehristian piety, and desire to promote in themselves and others the religion of the gospel, would acquaint themselves with this volume; and, that the publishers may be encouraged to present to the public, a second volume, “chiefly on practical subjects.”
The Constitution of the Massachusetts Society for the Sup. pression of Intemperance, together with their Annual Report for the year 1818, and a list of the Officers and Members of said Society. Boston, Sewall Phelps, Dec. 1818.
The pamphlet before us contains the sixth annual report of the Society by which it is issued, and presents to our notice a series of facts and statements, which have a strong claim upon the immediate attention of the public, and ought to arouse us to determined and persevering exertions. It obliges us to realize the extent to which habits of intemperance exist; the actual increase, at least, in this metropolis, of the number of those who are addicted to them; and the magnitude of the effects which they produce upon the comforts, the health, and the lives of a considerable proportion of our fellow-beings. We certainly are not sufficiently awake to a sense of the importance of the subjects, which occupy the attention of this society. We are too apt to view the intemperate as individuals only, who have severally brought misery and disgrace and disease upon themselves, and perhaps upon their families, by an unlimited indulgence in a favourite propensity—and not in a collective character, as a class of men wbose vices and excesses have an immense effect upon the moral and political state of society. Private vices, it may be thought, are not fairly the subjects of public interference; but when private vices entail a lasting burden and disgrace on the whole community ; when they not only destroy the character, the fortune, the bappiness of the individual himself, but infect those of all around him, and in their ultimate consequences sap the foundations of public virtue, and lower the standard of public morality, they become the legitimate objects of public attention. There is certainly no other vice, whose influence is so debasing and degrading, both in a moral and intellectual point of view, as that of Intemperance ; none, which exbibits in so humiliating a light to buman pride, the weakness, the frailty, the littleness of human nature.
This Society has now been in existence nearly seven years ; but in this time, it can hardly be expected that it should have produced any very sensible change. Indeed a central and general institution like this, can never, itself, have any considerable direct effect. It must act as the point of union and the organ of excitement to others, formed on the same plan, but upon a less extensive scale, and more adapted for immediate operation upon the habits of the people. Ils objects must be answered by the establishment, under its guidance and patronage, of auxiliary brancbes, who are to carry into effect all the active measures of the society. In this way, as we are informed by the report before us, considerable progress has been made. There are already “forty affiliated societies;" but we lament, that out of so large a number, only six should have transmitted any account of their labours and their sticcess.
Yet even from the little which has been made public in the present report, we gather many circumstances which augur well for the future success of the institution. The auxiliary societies already formed, appear to have entered upon their undertaking with the proper spirit and views, and to be composed of influential and respectable characters. We extract with peculiar satisfaction, the following passages from the Report of the Yarmouth Society for the Suppression of Intemperance.
"A number of the inhabitants of this town, who have been accustomed to use ardent spirits freely, have wholly laid it aside, and whether journeying or labouring, by sea or land, have experienced no inconvenience from the want of it. Several vessels have, the year past, performed their voyages without any Spirit, and one of said vessels, a fishing vessel, made the most successful voyage of any in the vicinity. We have no hesitation in giving it as our opinion, that not so much as one-fourth part of the ardent spirit has been used in this town, the year past, as in former years.
“ The vending of ardent spirits, taken in all its bearings and effects, is undoubtedly a profitable business. But we have the pleasure and pride to state, that our retailers of spirituous liquors, preferring the public good to their immediate interest, have not only voluntarily given up the business, but joined our Society, and taken an active and efficient part.” p. 15.
We would quote also the following paragraph, relating to information received from an auxiliary society in Dedham, principally on account of the evidence it affords, of the efficacy which may attend institutions of this kind, conducted with steadiness and resolution. Their communication, says thes Report,
Suggests encouragement, from the consideration, that the existence and exertions of this and similar institutions have given alarm to people of
certain character and description, lest they should be stopt in the career of their darling vice.' This they deem favourable, evinciog, that they are not regarded with indifference, or as destitute of influence.' It offers as another ground of encouragement, that they have reason to think, that some progress has been made towards a reformation, with respect to intemperate habits.' It states, for this purpose, the beneficial result of interviews of a committee of that society with the respectable board of selectinen of the town of Dedham. As of the same tendency, it informs the society, that in one instance at least, during the past year, the practice of retailing spiritous liquors by the glass has been laid aside. It gives us great satisfaction to become acquainted with this fact, because it induces us to hope, that this good and praiseworthy example will be followed by others.'"
It is obvious, that a considerable effect must be produced upon the general feeling of the community, by the association, the exertions and the example of so large a body of men of character, as are or will be united in the objects of this Society. Wherever the Institution extends, the votaries of Intemperance must be sensible of its existence and of its influence. It will act in a manner as the protector and guardian of public morals, and as a restraint upon those who are viciously inclined, but have not yet thrown off their respect for the better part of society. In fact, this regard for the opinion of the wise and virtuous, is the last good feeling which deserts us in the career of vice. It is to this, then, we must appeal, when religion and conscience have pleaded in vain; and, judiciously managed, it may be so operated on, as to reclaim, when every other motive bas been presented without effect. It is on this principle, that much of the salutary operation of the secondary societies must depend. It is true, that something of this influence might be exerted by the same individuals without their connexion in the form of a society. But we do not believe the effect could be so great. They would not have the same motives for the exercise of their influence, nor the same support in their exertions; there would be no concert in their measures, and besides, their purposes would not be so directly and definitely, nor so perpetually brought into the view of the subjects themselves. If these institutions are conducted with zeal and energy, the intemperate will feel as if they were constantly watched, as if they were always the subjects of observation to those, for whose characters they have the greatest respect, and whose good opinion and countenance cannot but be desirable to them. They should have it in their minds, that some one is constantly taking note of their conduct; for under no other kind of temptation is it so dangerous to leave a man entirely to himself and his own resolutions. Whatever be his principles
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and intentions, and his firmness in other circumstances, in this trial they are too apt to fail him. Restraint must generally come from without, for all motives which arise from within, melt away before the glow of this detestable inclination.
We do not pretend that by influence of this kind, the intemperate can be thoroughly reformed, or that they can by such means become characters of pure and consistent virtue. In fact, we do not calculate that ihe most important effect of our exertions is to be upon those who are already the slaves of this inveterate propensity. The cure of such, there is too much reason to fear, would be a hopeless attempt. But if their excesses can be checked, if the contagion of their example can be prevented, if the young can be inspired with a dread, an abhorrence of the vice, much, very much, will have been gained. It is indeed on the young, that all hopes of a radical reformation must depend. Our measures must be calculated to operate as preventives, and we cannot look for their full effect in our own generation; it will only be after another race has grown up to fill the places of their parents, with habits which have never needed to be reformed, that we can hope the change to be established upon a permanent foundation.
We are presented by the report with the result of some calculations and investigations, which have been made with regard to the state, means, and consequences of intemperance, in this vicinity, and particularly in this town. We should be glad, had we room, to extract their whole account; but must restrict ourselves to a few quotations, and an abstract of the remainder.
“In a year beginning the first Tuesday of July, 1808, there were granted in this county (Suffolk) 44 licenses to innholders, and 326 to retailers-total 370. In a year commencing the first Tuesday of July, 1817, 11 licenses were granted to confectioners, 362 to retailers, 120 to victuallers, and 43 to innholders, two of which were for Chelsea, amounting to 536 licenses of all descriptions."
It appears by some accurate calculations which follow the preceding extract, that the number of licenses granted in the year 1817, exceeded by 57, that to which they should have amounted, had they continued to bear the same proportion to the population of the town as in 1808; and that for the year 1817, “there was one place established which might furnish the means of intemperance to every twenty-one male inhabitants, sixteen years old and upward, in this metropolis.” A fact is also stated with respect to the kind of licenses, which affords us at once a proof and a cause of the melancholy increase of intemperance among us; that in the year 1817 there were three times as many authorized places of resort, where spiritous liquors might be bought, mixt, and drunk upon the spot, as in the year 1808!
of the inevitable consequences of intemperance-poverty, disease and premature death, it may be thought useless to accumulate proofs. The statements of the Report, however, are so striking, and at the same time so well authenticated, that it is desirable the results should be as widely circulated as is possible.
“Two-thirds,” we learn, “are brought into the Alinshouse in consequence of intemperance; and it is the opinion of the present attending physician of that Institution, that this proportion falls short of the truth. Two-thirds, then, of the expense of the poor list in this town, viz. $ 25,000 annually, may fairly be charged to the account of the pernicious use of ardent spirits."* p. 9 and 10.
Bat this is not all. “A year of recent date was taken; and it was found, that of the adults, including those of the Almshouse, whose deaths were enrolled that year, one fifth part were well known as persons of intemperance, whose lives were undoubtedly terininated by its immediate effects, or by diseases occasioned or accelerated by it. One third of the deaths at the Almshouse, within the same period, were of individuals of this description. The characters of many of the foregoing adults were not ascertained, otherwise the proportion would probably have been increased. These fatal instances were not confined to the poor and Jaborious. They were found in the higher, as well as lower conditions of society, if not in an equal degree. Competence did not secure against this baneful habit. Riches and refinement had their share in the crime and misery. The calamity did not end here. About one fourth of the unhappy victims were of that sex, to which we look for the greatest delicacy of sentiment, and the strictest propriety of conduct.”' p. 10.
From the various facts which are brought before the public in this Report, as well as from other means of judging, we cannot doubt that the vice of intemperance is still upon the increase in this town, although we are given ground to believe, that in the country in the vicinity, some check has been given to its progress. Part of this increase, directly among us, may, we think, justly be attributed to the great influx of foreigners of the lower orders, still more to the existing and increasing facility with which the means of indulgence are attained by even the poorest individuals. This facility proceeds principally
* We venture to add, in addition to the statements of the Report, the following, which has been drawn from the records of the public dispensary in this town, in only one district. Of 187 cases relieved by that Institution, 89 were females above the age of 16; of these, 15 were openly known to be addicted to the excessive use of ardent spirits; and of these, six were heads of families; the whole number of whoin was 47. Of 44 males abore 16, 23 were drunkards ; and of 33 of these, heads of families, 18 were of the same description.