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larger number, the probable offspring of those who have been thus untimely cüt off.
But the loss of life is not the only one to be taken into account. The loss and waste of property is equally remarkable. It has been estimated that forty-five millions of gallons of ardent spirits are annually consumed in the United States, at an expense to the consumers of at least thirty millions of dollars. This amount of property, though not perhaps wholly thrown away in an economical point of view, is at best employed to promote the most unprofitable kind of labor, and is diverted from many
valuable kinds of investment. It is no doubt true that the consumption of ardent spirits promotes some species of honest and productive labor. It increases the amount of our importations and thus aids our commerce; it increases the consumption of, and creates a demand for several kinds of fruit and grain, and thus promotes the prosperity of the agricultural interest. But there are othe ways of laying out the same money which would equally contribute to advance the public interest and industry, and which would not be liable to the same drawbacks.
Thus if we take the sum which the citizens of Massachusetts yearly pay for ardent spirits at one million and a half — and we are careful to make all our estimates within the truth - let it be devoted, but for four years, to purposes of public improvement, and we might have all the rail-roads which have been projected in different directions, without exacting a cent in the way of direct tax from the inhabitants. In this way the same sum of money would call forth ten times the amount of productive labor that it does when expended in the purchase of ardent spirits. It would promote the interests both of the merchant and agriculturalist merely by the expenditure of so large a sum in the community during their construction. Then, besides this, when all was done, there would be a permanent piece of property, not only paying annual interest to those who had invested their money, but constantly promoting the industry and prosperity of the whole community in a thousand indirect ways.
The habit of drinking to excess also occasions a direct loss to the community, by the increase in the number of paupers which it occasions. Indeed throughout the United States it seems to have been universally found, that a majority of those who are supported at the public expense are drunkards. In different parts of the country, from two thirds to four fifths of the paupers have been reduced to that situation by habits of intemperance. According to reports and estimates made by public authority in the state of Massachusetts, it seems probable that the actual amount of taxes levied for the support of intemperate paupers does not fall short of three hundred thousand dollars. If the expense of the same department in other states, is in the same proportion to their population, the total amount of money expended in public charity for the relief and support of those who are intemperate, or their families, will not fall short of six millions of dollars. If we include the sums contributed and dealt out for the relief of the intemperate and their families, in private, by societies and individuals, this estimate would be very far too low. Was ever a tax levied upon any community, so burdensome in its operation, so ruinous in its effects, as this, by the most oppressive tyrant that ever existed ?
Another loss to society from the habit of drinking arises from the actual waste of time. Almost every man who drinks moderately is occupied more or less of his leisure in going to and from the dram-shop ; whilst those who are so far advanced in the habit as to be called hard drinkers, spend probably on an average at least half the working time of the year in tippling or in that state of stupidity and inactivity which follows hard drinking.
But to say nothing of the waste of time, even the money actually spent by those who drink, if laid by and carefully invested would amount in the common life of a man, to a handsome property for his wife and children after his death, or provide him with a comf table maintenance in his
age. We suppose the drinking expenses of intemperate persons, taking all things together, can hardly be less than 50 dollars a year. If this sum, instead of being thus squandered by the drunkard, should be paid for an insurance on his life, a handsome provision would be made in the event of his death for those whom he might leave behind him.
It is fair to ask then, what great good do ardent spirits do to compensate for the great hurt they do. If no such thing existed, it is clear we should avoid a great deal of evil, not only the evil of which we have spoken, but a great deal of other kinds, of which we have not spoken. In what respect should we have been worse off, had the distillation of alkohol never been discovered ? In what respect should we be worse off, were its distillation now to be no longer permitted ?
The laborer will say that it is necessary for him in order to refresh him and support his strength during labor.
The poor man will say that it is necessary to him as a cheap and exhilarating draught after the labor of the day, as a solace
for his cares, and as enabling him to lose the recollection of his hard and painful lot.
The wealthy man will say that it is necessary in order to promote the digestion of his food, to keep up the tone of his stomach, and prevent the evil consequences of an indolent life and a luxurious diet upon his health.
The man of pleasure, will say that it is necessary to the excitement of the convivial board ; that life is nothing without the pleasures of the table, and that without this stimulus, society would lose its zest.
And so every one who uses ardent spirits in any form, would find some sufficient reason for ranking them among the necessaries of life.
But it is clear that in none of these respects do ardent spirits do any good which can be weighed in the balance against the evils above mentioned, unless it be indeed true that they serve to support the strength and preserve the health of those who are engaged in hard labor. If they really have this effect, there will be some reason for their use by that class at least who are subjected to severe and constant bodily exertions. This question therefore it is important to determine. All the other excuses which are generally offered are frivolous and groundless.
But it appears, upon the very best evidence, that ardent spirits, even in moderate quantities, do by no means promote bodily strength; and do not enable persons to bear fatigue or exposure better than other liquids of a less stimulating character. A great many facts tend to establish this conclusion.
Men were accustomed to labor, before the introduction of ardent spirits, as hard as they do now; they executed works requiring as great and as continued an exertion of strength' as any which have been projected in modern times. The want of the stimulus of alkohol seems never to have impeded the prosecution of their most stupendous and extensive plans for building cities, fortifications, &c.
The Roman soldiers, who used to march with a great weight of armour about them (sixty pounds, as is said), and who underwent immense hardships and accomplished as much as any troops of modern times, drank only vinegar and water. Up this simple beverage they conquered the world.
Dr. Jackson, a distinguished army medical writer, asserts that so far from ardent spirits being a proper drink for soldiers on hard duty, it is an injurious one, and that they endure labor and hardship better on a simple and spare diet, with tea for drink.
It has been universally found, when ships have been wrecked, especially in cold weather, that those who abstain from spirits endure the fatigue, exposure, and cold, better than those who indulge in them. Hence the lives of the officers are more frequently preserved than those of the men, simply because their general habits and responsibility for the safety of the ship make them keep sober, and thus preserve them.
A traveller in South America tells us that the heaviest loads he ever saw carried, were borne on the backs of some Indians whom he saw at work in the mines. These men were never allowed ardent spirits.
The individuals trained in Europe for pugilistic combats, are never allowed ardent spirits. Yet nothing requires more bodily strength than boxing, or is more likely entirely to exhaust the whole frame.
Within a few years various kinds of labor have been carried on without the use of spirits, which have been generally supposed to require their use particularly, such as haying, raising, shipbuilding, &c., and the result has always been in favor of abstinence.
The testimony of medical men concurs to show that an entire abstinence from ardent spirits is most favorable to perfect health, and of course to bodily strength and ability to labor.
There is nothing then to counterbalance the evils produced by the abuse of ardent spirits. The best that can be said of them is that their use in small quantities does not impede us in our labor, though perhaps eren this is not universally true. There is no good reason, then, why they should not be banished entirely from common use. The only way to avoid the abuse is to get rid of the use, to get rid of them, in short, altogether.
All who are in the habit of taking a moderate quantity of ardent spirits with their meals, or while at labor, should be willing to relinquish this indulgence. They should consider that all drunkards have been once moderate drinkers; and, that, however safe they may feel themselves, yet all drunkards once felt as secure. No man is secure so long as he drinks at all. Let every man quit it therefore at once, entirely, and for
If it is not necessary for our own safety, it is for that of others.
The reform must come from the moderate drinkers. The excessive ones never will reform. Let all who drink moderately resolve in future, not to drink at all, and we shall soon see a change in the face of society. Even to the moderate drinkers, in an economical point of view, the relinquishment of ardent spirits is something of an object. Suppose a man to spend but
twenty dollars a year for his liquor, which is a small allowance for all the expenses of a moderate drinker, and in thirty years, from the age of 20 to 50, if this sum were laid by and regularly invested every year with the interest, so as to bring compound interest, it would amount at the end of that time to more than fifteen hundred dollars.
XVIII. ON CLOTHING.
[From the Companion to the British Almanac.]
A very striking fact, exhibited by the Bills of Mortality, is the very large proportion of persons who die of consumption. It is not our intention to enter into any general remarks upon the nature of that fatal disease. In very many cases the origin of a consumption is an ordinary cold ; and that cold is frequently taken through the want of a proper attention to clothing, particularly in females. We shall, therefore, offer a few general remarks upon this subject, so important to the health of all classes of persons.
Nothing is more necessary to a comfortable state of existence than that the body should be kept in nearly an uniform temperature. The Almighty wisdom, which made the senses serve as instruments of pleasure for our gratification and of pain for our protection, has rendered the feelings arising from excess or deficiency of heat so acute, that we instinctively seek shelter from the scorching heat and freezing cold.
We bathe our limbs in the cool stream, or clothe our bodies with the warm fleece. We court the breeze or carefully avoid it. But no efforts to mitigate the injurious effects of heat or cold would avail us, if nature had not furnished us, in common with other animals (in the peculiar functions of the skin and lungs), with a power of preserving the heat of the body uniform, under almost every variety of temperature to which the atmosphere is liable. The skin, by increase of the perspiration, carries off the excess of heat; the lungs, by decomposing the atmosphere, supply the loss; so that the internal parts of the body are preserved at a temperature of about ninety-eight degrees, under all circumstances. In addition to the important share which the function of perspiration has in regulating the heat of the body, it serves the further purpose of an outlet to the constitution, by which it gets rid of matters that are no longer useful
in its economy.