Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

duce sufficient food for its population. It ap- | years of plenty when no bar was placed pears from a calculation made from the year upon distillation. The capital of the coun1768 to 1772, this deficiency of grain try, by this means, was increased no less than amounts to 440,000 tuns, which has to be half a million per annum. Other supplied from foreign countries.* The value of the increase in export, howcountries greatly suffer from the same wicked ever, did not by any means constitute the perversion of God's gifts. "I was greatly whole of the good effected by this partial surprised," remarks a recent traveller, "to prohibition to distillation. The value of the find that Sweden would produce sufficient grain required for home consumption in grain for the internal consumption of the consequence of the failure of the harvest, inhabitants, if such large quantities were thus saved from distillation, must be taken not employed in the distillation of malt into the account, which but for that circumspirits." stance, would have been available for exDr. Darwin, in reference to the dis- port. Calculations, decidedly below, rather tilleries, remarks with justice that "they than above the correct estimate, show that take the bread from the people, and convert the saving to the country by this means, it into poison." Pennant, in his second was, in the year ending 5th January, 1810, tour in Scotland makes a similar observation. as compared with that ending 5th January, "Notwithstanding," he says, "the quantity 1808, when no restraint was placed upon of beer raised (in Cantyre), there is often a distillation, one million, two hundred and sort of dearth; the inhabitants being mad fifty-one thousand, three hundred and sixtyenough to convert their bread into poison, nine barrels, value £969,406; and by the distilling annually six thousand bolls of same prohibition, in the year ending 5th grain into Whiskey." Rutty correctly January, 1814, as compared with that endstates" that the great scarcity of corn in ing 1812, when the prohibition did not Ireland and England, in 1757, was not exist, one million, thirty-four thousand, six owing entirely to a failure of the crop, but hundred and fifty-one, barrels of oats, value more to a consumption of the grain in the £838,466.* This calculation, however, distilleries."|| Wise and reflecting men does not include the entire gain to the foresaw the result of this destructive system. nation by the prohibition in question. A Dr. Smyth, A.D. 1745, thus alludes to it: vast quantity of coals are imported into "In order to promote tillage, several gentle- Ireland for the purpose of distillation. men have of late encouraged the distillation The prohibition, at least, reduced the unof whiskey; but it may be doubted whether necessary imports £85,000, comparing the the use of this liquor by the common peo-years ending 1808 and 1812, with those ple may not in time contribute to the ruin ending 1810 and 1814, and from £150,000, of tillage, by proving a slow poison to the to £200,000 annually, if a comparison be drinkers of it."§ Experience has but too made with the years in which the prohibipowerfully demonstrated the truth of these remarks. The consumption of corn in Ireland was, according to authentic documents, about fifty-thousand barrels per week; the distilleries, however, only work for eight or nine months of the year-thus one million six hundred thousand barrels of nutritious grain were annually converted by this demoniacal process into poison. Need the reader any longer express surprise at the destitution of the Irish people?

During the years 1809-10-13, and 1814, a partial interdict was placed by the legislature on distillation in Ireland, in consequence of a scarcity of corn. Nevertheless, during the years 1809-13, according to returns made by the collectors of imports and exports, the value of export in oats alone in those years of scarcity and distress, amounted annually to upwards of £500,000 more than during the years 1807-11-that is

[blocks in formation]

tion was removed. From £10,000 to £15,000, it appears, has been expended in one year at a single distillery for the purchase of coals.

From official returns, we ascertain, (including the import of foreign spirits), that during the years 1810-14, the annual consumption of spirits in Ireland, as compared with the years 1808-12, was diminished from three to four million gallons. If we average the prices of spirits, foreign as well as Irish, so low as 10s. per gallon, the result will demonstrate an annual saving of the wages of the people of from one and a half to two millions sterling. This large sum, previously expended in the purchase of a poison, equally destructive to the temporal as well as the moral concerns of man, was either appropriated to the purchase of useful articles, or added to the capital employed in manufactures and trade.‡

The returns laid before Parliament, more. over, show that during the years of prohibition, the trade and manufactures of Ireland were increased. The export of goods, indeed, at that period, exceeded very much

[blocks in formation]

the average export in years of prosperity grown is of no real utility to the nation. In and plenty hence the stoppage of distilla- this country about one million of acres of tion was attended with increased national land are devoted to the growth of grain, prosperity.* A careful and dispassionate all of which is destroyed by its conversion investigation, indeed, of this subject, must into an agent of intoxication. In addition bring us to the sound and experienced con- to these, not less than fifty thousand of acres clusion of a well known writer on the of land are devoted to the cultivation of hops, manufactures of Ireland, that "the manu- nearly all of which are used in the preparafacture of spirits should be discouraged, for tion of malt liquors. This million and fifty no evil that can result from its suppression, thousand acres of land, if employed in the can equal those which its prosperity pro- cultivation of nutritious grain, would go far duces."+ A clergyman on one occasion, to relieve the present distress of the country, with great propriety, designated whiskey as and to supply the poor man at least with "a beverage only fit for demons." Un- cheap and unadulterated bread. happy Ireland can well testify the truth of The Rev. John Wesley, in 1773, pubthis strong expression in the disastrous lished a tract entitled " Thoughts on the consequences which have resulted from its Present Scarcity of Provisions." He asks, use to the morals, industry, and welfare of "But why is food so dear?" "To come her people. to particulars," he continues, "why does Thus an alarming loss of wealth arises bread corn bear so high a price? To set from the destruction of an immense quantity aside partial cases (which, indeed, all put of nutritious grain in the manufacture of together, are little more than the fly upon intoxicating liquors. It is ascertained, from the chariot wheel), the grand cause is, official documents, that not less than forty- because such immense quantities of corn are five or fifty millions of bushels of malt (about continually consumed by distilling. [He one-seventh of the grain produced in Britain) might have added—and brewing.] Indeed, are annually consumed in this process, for an eminent distiller near London, hearing the production of which, more than a million this, warmly replied,-Nay, my partner of acres of land is required. Hence, the and I generally distil but a thousand quarnutritious produce of a million of acres of ters a week.' Probably so. And suppose land, is not only lost to the nation, but five-and-twenty distillers in and near the converted into a source of incalculable town, consume each only the same quantity. human misery and distress. The immoral Here are five-and-twenty thousand quarters nature of this practice is thus adverted to by a week, that is, about twelve hundred and a celebrated moral philosopher :-" From fifty thousand quarters a year, consumed in reason or revelation, or from both together, and about London! Add the distillers it appears to be God Almighty's intention, throughout England, and have we not reason that the productions of the earth should be to believe, that (not a thirtieth or a twentiapplied to the sustentation of human life. eth part only,) but, little less than half the Consequently, all waste and misapplication wheat produced in the kingdom is every of these productions is contrary to the divine year consumed, not by so harmless a way as intention and will, and therefore wrong, for throwing it into the sea, but by converting it the same reason that any other crime is so into deadly poison; poison that naturally such as destroying, or suffering to perish, destroys not only the strength of life, but also great part of an article of human provision, the morals of our countrymen." Mr. in order to enhance the price of the re- Wesley then enters into statements to prove mainder; or diminishing the breed of his estimate, and to show that our calculaanimals, by a wanton or improvident con- tions in this respect must not be guided by sumption of the young. To this head may the corn for which duty is paid, inasmuch also be referred what is the same evil in a smaller way, the expending of human food on superfluous dogs or horses; and lastly, the reducing the quantity, in order to alter the quality, and to alter it generally for the worse, as the distillation of spirits from bread-corn.

as for every gallon distilled which pays duty, many gallons are distilled which pay none. He then concludes with this striking exclamation: "O tell it not in Constantinople, that the English raise the royal revenue by selling the flesh and blood of their country

men.

[ocr errors]

But this direct loss does not include all Let us take as an additional example the which results from a system so injurious to case of America. In 1818, according to a the temporal and spiritual interests of man. distillery register, there were manufactured Not only is so much valuable grain lost to from grain from which bread, the staff of the country, with the necessary introduction life is made, eight millions of gallons of of evils consequent on its conversion into a spirits. Taking as an average that one deadly poison, but the land on which it is

[blocks in formation]

bushel of grain would make little more than two gallons of spirit, the result would be the destruction during the year 1818, of nine millions of bushels of grain.

* Wesley's works, vol. vi., p. 54.

Accord

ing to calculations made by competent per- that the prevailing habit of intemperance sons, the quantity of grain manufactured among seamen had constantly engaged his into liquors of an inebriating description attention for forty-six years, relates some would be three times that used for the same awful examples of the destruction of vessels purpose in 1818. Hence we have on this from this prolific sources of crime and supposition the enormous quantity of fifty-disorder. four millions of gallons of strong drink, for

"During the late war," says this naval the manufacture of which poison, has been officer, "almost every accident that I ever wickedly destroyed, twenty-seven millions witnessed on board ship was owing to of bushels of nutritious grain. The quantity drunkenness. I should prefer five hundred of grain thus destroyed would supply the men in a line of battle ship without spirituous inhabitants of the United States (twenty liquors, to six hundred men with spirituous millions,) with half their food for the space liquors."* of four months. This calculation is made Instances of ships being set on fire by on the supposition that half the food of man drawing off spirits for the supply of the men consists of grain, that is about half a peck are very common. The St, George, of per week, or six and a half bushels per ninety-eight guns, about the year 1759, was annum. This grain is calculated to supply burnt at sea, and five hundred-and-fifty of the whole of the inhabitants of the state of her men, or thereabout, lost. The cause of Maine (four hundred thousand) with bread the fire was drunkenness; the boatswain's for ten years.* yeoman, with some other men, had got drunk in the boatswain's store-room, and set fire to the ship.†

In 1835, in the State of New York, according to estimates in William's Register, three millions of bushels of rye and corn, Admiral Lord Rodney, 1782, relates the one million two hundred thousand of following horrible example: "The fate of bushels of barley, making in all a total of the Cæsar has been truly pitiable. The four millions, two hundred thousand bushels night of the action, soon after dark, she took of grain, were destroyed by distillation. The fire, by an English marine carrying a candle cost of this would be about 5,000,000 dollars. Making some deductions for the employment of a portion of this in food, for reasons not necessary in the present place to state, the total loss to the state in 1837, by the manufacture of strong drink, would be not less than five million dollars, and this too, as the source from whence these calculations are made, states, for articles which neither procurefood nor raiment,build houses nor clear nor improve farms, and might, as far as any pecuniary advantage to the country is concerned, be sunk into the ocean.

4. Loss of property by land and sea.Security of property, in a national as well as individual point of view, is too important to be overlooked. The safety of property, as well as human life on sea and on land, is peculiarly endangered by the use of strong drink. The recent parliamentary investigation, on the causes of shipwreck, shows that a very great proportion of the accidents which occur at sea, arise from the presence of intoxicating liquors on board the vessels. The actual annual average loss by means of shipwrecks, was shown to amount to no less than £2,836,666; an amount which certainly falls short of the reality. At leasts two-thirds of this loss may be directly or indirectly attributed to intemperance. Some of these instances are too recent and too awful in their consequences to be forgotten. The narratives of them contain most heart-rending descriptions of loss of life and property, which would not have occurred, had it not been for the presence of the accursed thing on board the vessels. Captain E. P. Brenton, R. N., who states

* Journal of the American Temperance Union, 1837. p. 36.

below in search of liquor, and a cask of spirits catching fire, the flames spread so fast that they could not be extinguished. After burning for some time, till the fire reached the powder magazine, the ship blew up (the second horrid spectacle of this kind to which I had been witness.) The French captain, who had been severely wounded, and the greater part of the men on board, both English and French, perished. Some saved themselves before the explosion; others who survived it, and clung to parts of the wreck, were most of them overwhelmed in the waves, or miserably scorched with the flames; and those who attempted to save themselves, relate that they saw a spectacle too horrible to describe-the men who clung to the wreck were torn off by the voracious sharks, which always swam in these seas, after an engagement, and were not yet gluted with the carnage of the preceding day."

The burning of the Kent East Indiaman, in the Bay of Biscay, was occasioned by the holding a candle over the bung-hole of a cask of spirits. The snuff fell into the cask, and set it on fire. The Edgar, of seventy guns, was burnt at Spithead owing to the presence of spirituous liquors on board. The Ajax, of seventy-four guns, commanded by Sir Henry Blackwood, was burnt at the mouth of the Dardanelles in 1806, by the drunkenness of the purser's steward. The Halswell, East Indiaman, was lost in 1786, off St. Alban's Head, west of the Needles, through drunkenness.

Captain Brenton tells us that he holds spirituous liquors to be more dangerous on board vessels than gunpowder. The one, he

*Parliamentary Evidence, p. 328.
† lbid.

remarks, is an essential element of power on cities and towns upon the western waters, board a man of war, and the other is wholly requesting them to unite their influence and unnecessary, either for strength or for exertions in endeavouring to suppress the courage. He has known the gunner and his sale and use of spirituous liquors, state, "the crew go drunk into the magazine. When terrible, reckless waste of human life, to say on the coast of America, at the latter end of nothing of the immense loss of property, and the last war, the Admiral told Captain Bren- the frequent occurrence of these accidents, ton that he had a lieutenant commanding a shock all the feelings of humantity, and call schooner on the station who was a drunkard.' trumpet-tongued,' for relief. And when "What shall I do with him?" he said. He it is understood, that a large portion of these replied, "sir, send him home; make him disasters owe their origin to an intemperate invalid, and go home." "Then he will lose use of ardent spirits on board, the contemhis bread," was the answer. Captain Brenton plation becomes too revolting for human said "sir, he had better lose his bread than kindness to palliate, or human patience to lose his ship, and the lives of all his people." endure."*

The Admiral remarked, "you are rather The Committee state the following among severe, I think." "No, I am not, sir, but the principal causes of shipwreck.

"Drun

I wish you would send him home." He did kenness, either in the masters, officers, or not. The lieutenant in question sailed from men, is a frequent cause of ships being Halifax harbour, with forty seamen on board; wrecked, leading often to improper and it was known that himself and his crew were contradictory orders and directions on the drunk when they sailed. They ran on part of the officers; sleeping on the look-out shore upon the Sister Rocks, and every soul or at the helm among the men; occasioning perished.* ships to run foul of each other at night, and The fate of the Rothsay Castle must be one or both foundering; to vessels being within the recollection of all. The loss of taken aback, or overpowered by sudden that vessel, with one hundred persons, was squalls, and sinking, upsetting, or getting mainly attributed to the intemperate habits of the captain. Several similar awful examples of loss of lives and vessels through drunkenness, not long ago, took place in the United States.

dismasted, for want of timely vigilance in preparing for the danger; and to the steering wrong courses so as to run upon dangers which might have otherwise been avoided." And, again, "The practice of taking large Mr. C. Purnell, of Liverpool, when asked quantities of ardent spirits, as part of the what he supposed to be the chief causes in stores of ships, whether in the navy or in the operation which lead to the frequent ship- merchant service, and the habitual use of wrecks, replied, "I should confine myself such spirits, even when diluted with water, principally, to one great cause, which I and in, what is ordinarily considered, the think consists in the ignorance and drunken-moderate quantity served to each man at sea, ness of the masters and crews of merchant is itself a very frequent cause of the loss of ships."+ ships and crews; ships frequently taking fire The "Report of the Select Committee of from the drawing off of spirits, which are the House of Commons on Shipwrecks," always kept under hold; crews frequently 1836, contains some interesting and valuable getting access to the spirit-casks and beevidence on the subject. The total number coming intoxicated." of ships or vessels wrecked and missed in The Report of the American Temperance 1816-17 and 1818 was 1,203. In the year Union, for 1838, says, that "more especially 1833-34 and 1835 the number was 1,702, on the western waters are presented results, making a grand total, in the six years, of in the intemperance of crews and travellers, nearly three thousand vessels. Taking the in explosions, conflagrations, and wrecks, number of vessels wrecked and lost in this which make the ear of every one that hearperiod at the assumed value of £5,000 for eth to tingle. It would seem to be the highest each ship and cargo, on the average of the triumph of the spirit of evil to have three whole, the loss of property occasioned by hundred innocent passengers committed to these wrecks would amount in the first three the captain of a steamer, kindled up to years to £6,015,000, being an average of madness by the fires of alcohol." And again, £2,005,000 per annum; and in the last "Casualties, shipwrecks, steam-boat explothree years to £8,510,000, being an average sions, of the most appalling character, of £2,836,666 per annum. through intemperance, are continually bursting upon the ear, and agonizing the hearts of the community."+

More than three hundred vessels, and one thousand lives, chiefly belonging to the United States, were totally lost in the year 1836 at sea, through the use of intoxicating liquors. The citizens of St. Louis, in a circular addressed to the influential citizens of all the

* Parliamentary Evidence, p. 329. * Ibid. p. 366.

Journal of the American Temp. Union, 1837.

p. 107.

The steamer, Ben Sherrod, on the 9th of May, 1837, was destroyed at midnight, by fire, on the river Mississippi, and one hundred and fifty lives lost. A Committee o Examination, on careful enquiry, said, "that,

* Report of Amer. Temp. Union for 1838. p. 53. + Ibid. pp. 53-62.

at the time the Sherrod took fire, the hands universally. The city was particularly tranon duty were in a state of intoxication, having quil.*

at all times access to a barrel of whiskey, Three men, not many years ago, were placed forward of the boiler deck for their executed at Fisherton, Wilts, for setting fire use; and that the engineer then on duty was to premises. G. Watts, aged seventeen, equally culpable, having furnished the fireman one of the culprits, made a full confession with large quantities of brandy, or other of his guilt; acknowledged the justice of his spirits, as an inducement to keep up excessive sentence and attributed his disgraceful end fires, with a view of overtaking the Prairie, then ahead."

to drunkenness and sabbath-breaking; crimes usually found in close association. This In November, the steam packet Home, man was so conversant with scripture as to was wrecked on the coast of North Carolina, be able to refer to almost any passage in the and ninety-five individuals, chiefly persons of bible. The above case is only an illustration rank in society, were suddenly engulphed in of numerous others, in which property has eternity. The captain, according to the been destroyed under the excitement of evidence of ten of the passengers, was liquor. incompetent to the command from intoxi

Innumerable accidents annually occur in cation. The same Report of the American various ways, by which property of all kinds Temperance Society informs us that more is injured or destroyed to a vast amount by than one thousand lives have been sacrificed the same prolific cause. Destruction of in a short period by the burning or explosion conveyances, both of persons and property, of boats and ships, navigated by steam, the through the carelessness of intemperate principal cause of which disaster is the in- drivers, numerous fires and consequent loss temperance of the seamen.* of houses and other property, occasions an The loss of property on land from the annual loss which, if it were possible to same cause is too extensive to be accurately calculate, would excite no less amazement estimated. Not a day passes but instances than alarm. are recorded of accidents to property, 5. Loss to trade and manufactures.originating in the vice of intemperance. From what has been stated, it will apIts safety is rendered at all times uncertain pear, that commercial activity and success are by the great number of evil and wicked materially obstructed by the use of strong persons who infest the land. Riots of the drink. In the eighteenth century, investimost fearful character arising from the same gation was directed to this subject, the prolific source, are not uncommon in this result of which was the establishment of country, whereby a large amount of property the fact, that industry and commerce were has been irrecoverably destroyed. seriously injured by the intemperate habits Mr. Poynder, in his Evidence before the of the people. A parliamentary petition, Select Committee on the State of the Police from Bristol, in the year 1750, states "that of the metropolis, 1817, informs us of some the bad effects of spirituous liquors had examples in point. Cashman, the rioter, become apparent in the destruction of the then lately executed in London, assured him moral and social habits of the people:" corbefore his death that he had been drinking rupting their morals, and rendering them spirits repeatedly before he joined the mob. indolent and incapable of laborious and manly This was the case with others of the rioters, employments," &c. The merchants of Bristol and spirits were given gratuitously to the mob. add, that even 66 commerce was injured" by The same gentleman states that the frame them, and strongly call for legislative interbreakers in Nottinghamshire and Leicester- ference. Other petitions at the same period shire are found to have almost invariably assert, that the consequences of the general drank spirits before the different attacks. use of spirituous liquors were "idleness and Those who attacked Mr. Cartwright's mill, aversion to industry," enervating the were all under the influence of liquor, and powers of body and mind amongst the were even supplied with it during the progress labouring classes, and rendering them unfit of the attack by their comrades. alike for the service of God, or their fellowcreatures."+

An immense amount of property was destroyed during the disastrous Bristol riots, Similar effects were observed in a still 1830. The men who committed this wanton greater degree in Ireland. That unfortunate and diabolical deed were instigated and country, indeed, was in danger of utter despurred on by the demoniacal aid of strong gradation and ruin, as a commercial and drink. The magistrates immediately after industrious nation. The Parliamentary pethese riots ordered the public houses to be titions at this period express great dread at closed, for a limited period, at nine in the the alarming consumption of intoxicating evening. During that time a state of order, liquors. These direful effects were experienced and regularity, and quietness, and freedom in all conditions of life, both among the from assault and crimes, produced by drunk-agricultural population, and those engaged enness, which previously prevailed, reigned in commercial pursuits. In 1764, a petition

* Report of Amer. Temp. Union for 1838. Appendix, p. 93.

*Parl. Evid., 1834. p. 153.

+ English Commons' Journal. Vol. 26, p. 24.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »