MEANS OF CURE.
Is this disease, or vice, or sin, or crime of intemperance--call it by what name you will--increasing or diminishing? Has any impression been made upon it during the half-century in which there have been such earnest and untiring efforts to limit its encroachments on the health, prosperity, happiness and life of the people? What are the agencies of repression at work; how effective are they, and what is each doing?
These are questions full of momentous interest. Diseases of the body, if not cured, work a steady impairment of health, and bring pains and physical disabilities. If their assaults be upon nervous centres, or vital organs, the danger of paralysis or death becomes imminent. Now, as to this disease of intemperance, which is a social and moral as well as a physical disease, it is not to be concealed that it has invaded the common body of the people to an alarming degree, until, using the words of Holy Writ, "the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint." Nay, until, using a still stronger form of Scriptural illustration, "From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores."
In this view, the inquiry as to increase or diminution, assumes the gravest importance. If, under all the agencies of cure and reform which have been in active operation during the past fifty years, no impression has been made upon this great evil which is so cursing the people, then is the case indeed desperate, if not hopeless. But if it appears that, under these varied agencies, there has been an arrest of the disease here, a limitation of its aggressive force there, its almost entire extirpation in certain cases, and a better public sentiment everywhere; then, indeed, may we take heart and say "God speed temperance work!" in all of its varied aspects.
And here, at the outset of our presentation of some of the leading agencies of reform and cure, let us say, that the evidence going to show that an impression has been made upon the disease is clear and indisputable; and that this impression is so marked as to give the strongest hope and assurance. In the face of prejudice, opposition, ridicule, persecution, obloquy and all manner of discouragements, the advocates of temperance have held steadily to their work these many years, and now the good results are seen on every hand. Contrast the public sentiment of to-day with that of twenty, thirty and forty years ago, and the progress becomes at once apparent. In few things is this so marked as in the changed attitude of the medical profession towards alcohol. One of the most dangerous, and, at the same time, one of the most securely intrenched of all our enemies, was the family doctor. Among his remedies and restoratives, wine, brandy, whisky and tonic ale all held a high place, and were administered more frequently, perhaps, than any other articles in the Materia Medica. The disease of his patients arrested by special remedies or broken by an effort of nature, he too often commenced the administration of alcohol in some one or more of its disguised and attractive forms, in order to give tone and stimulus to the stomach and nerves, and as a general vitalizer and restorative. The evil consequences growing out of this almost universal prescription of alcohol, were of the most lamentable character, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women were betrayed into drunkenness. But to-day, you will not find a physician of any high repute in America or Europe who will give it to his patients, except in the most guarded manner and under the closest limitations; and he will not consent to any self-prescription whatever.
FRUITS OF TEMPERANCE WORK.
Is not this a great gain? And it has come as the result of temperance work and agitation, as Dr. Henry Monroe frankly admits in his lecture on the Physiological Action of Alcohol, where, after stating that his remarks would not partake of the character of a total abstinence lecture, but rather of a scientific inquiry into the mode of action of alcohol when introduced into the tissues of the body, he adds: "Nevertheless, I would not have it understood that I, in any way, disparage the moral efforts made by total abstainers who, years ago, amid good report and evil report, stood in the front of the battle to war against the multitude of evils occasioned by strong drink;--all praise be due to them for their noble and self-denying exertions! Had it not been for the successful labors of these moral giants in the great cause of temperance, presenting to the world in their own personal experiences many new and astounding physiological facts, men of science would, probably, never have had their attention drawn to the topic."
Then, as a result of temperance work, we have a more restrictive legislation in many States, and prohibitory laws in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. In the State of Maine, a prohibitory law has been in operation for over twenty-six years; and so salutary has been the effect as seen in the
REDUCTION OF POVERTY, PAUPERISM AND CRIME,
that the Legislature, in January, 1877, added new and heavier penalties to the law, both Houses passing on the amendment without a dissenting voice. In all that State there is not, now, a single distillery or brewery in operation, nor a single open bar-room.
Forty years ago the pulpit was almost silent on the subject of intemperance and the liquor traffic; now, the church is fast arraying itself on the side of total abstinence and prohibition, and among its ministers are to be found many of our most active temperance workers.
Forty or fifty years ago, the etiquette of hospitality was violated if wine, or cordial, or brandy were not tendered. Nearly every sideboard had its display of decanters, well filled, and it was almost as much an offense for the guest to decline as for the host to omit the proffered glass. Even boys and girls were included in the custom; and tastes were acquired which led to drunkenness in after life. All this is changed now.
The curse of the liquor traffic is attracting, as never before, the attention of all civilized people; and national, State and local legislatures and governments are appointing commissions of inquiry, and gathering data and facts, with a view to its restriction.
And, more hopeful than all, signs are becoming more and more apparent that the people are everywhere awakening to a sense of the dangers that attend this traffic. Enlightenment is steadily progressing. Reason and judgment; common sense and prudence, are all coming to the aid of repression. Men see, as they never saw before, how utterly evil and destructive are the drinking habits of this and other nations; how they weaken the judgment and deprave the moral sense; how they not only take from every man who falls into them his ability to do his best in any pursuit or calling, but sow in his body the germs of diseases which will curse him in his later years and abridge their term.
Other evidences of the steady growth among the people of a sentiment adverse to drinking might be given. We see it in the almost feverish response that everywhere meets the strong appeals of temperance speakers, and in the more pronounced attitude taken by public and professional men.
JUDGES ON THE BENCH
and preachers from the pulpit alike lift their voices in condemnation. Grand juries repeat and repeat their presentations of liquor selling and liquor drinking as the fruitful source of more than two-thirds of the crimes and miseries that afflict the community; and prison reports add their painful emphasis to the warning of the inquest.
The people learn slowly, but they are learning. Until they will that this accursed traffic shall cease, it must go on with its sad and awful consequences. But the old will of the people has been debased by sensual indulgence. It is too weak to set itself against the appetite by which it has become enslaved. There must be a new will formed in the ground of enlightenment and intelligence; and then, out of knowing what is right and duty in regard to this great question of temperance and restriction, will come the will to do. And when we have this new will resting in the true enlightenment of the people, we shall have no impeded action. Whatever sets itself in opposition thereto must go down.
And for this the time is coming, though it may still be far off. Of its steady approach, the evidences are many and cheering. Meanwhile, we must work and wait. If we are not yet strong enough to drive out the enemy, we may limit his power, and do
THE WORK OF HEALING AND SAVING.
What, then, is being done in this work of healing and saving? Is there, in fact, any cure for the dreadful malady of drunkenness? Are men ever really saved from its curse? and, if so, how is it done, and what are the agencies employed?
Among the first of these to which we shall refer, is the pledge. As a means of reform and restriction, it has been used by temperance workers from the beginning, and still holds a prominent place. Seeing that only in a complete abstinence from intoxicating drinks was there any hope of rescue for the drunkard, or any security for the moderate drinker, it was felt that under a solemn pledge to wholly abstain from their use, large numbers of men would, from a sense of honor, self-respect or conscience, hold themselves free from touch or taste. In the case of moderate drinkers, with whom appetite is yet under control, the pledge has been of great value; but almost useless after appetite has gained the mastery.
In a simple pledge there is no element of self-control. If honor, self-respect or conscience, rallying to its support in the hour of temptation, be not stronger than appetite, it will be of no avail. And it too often happens that, with the poor inebriate, these have become blunted, or well-nigh extinguished. The consequence has been that where the pledge has been solely relied upon, the percentage of reform has been very small. As a first means of rescue, it is invaluable; because it is, on the part of him who takes it, a complete removal of himself from the sphere of temptation, and so long as he holds himself away from the touch and taste of liquor, he is safe. If the pledge will enable him to do this, then the pledge will save him. But it is well known, from sad experience, that only a few are saved by the pledge. The strength that saves must be something more than the external bond of a promise; it must come from within, and be grounded in a new and changed life, internally as well as externally. If the reformed man, after he takes his pledge, does not endeavor to lead a better moral life--does not keep himself away from old debasing associations--does not try, earnestly and persistently, to become, in all things,
A TRUER, PURER, NOBLER MAN,
then his pledge is only as a hoop, that any overstrain may break, and not an internal bond, holding in integrity all things from the centre to the circumference of his life.
So well is this now understood, that little reliance is had on the pledge in itself, though its use is still general. It is regarded as a first and most important step in the right direction. As the beginning of a true and earnest effort on the part of some unhappy soul to break the bonds of a fearful slavery. But few would think of leaving such a soul to the saving power of the pledge alone. If other help came not, the effort would be, except in rare cases, too surely, all in vain.
The need of something more reliable than a simple pledge has led to other means of reform and cure, each taking character and shape from the peculiar views of those who have adopted them. Inebriate Asylums and Reformatory Homes have been established in various parts of the country, and through their agency many who were once enslaved by drink are being restored to society and good citizenship. In what is popularly known as the "Gospel Temperance" movement, the weakness of the pledge, in itself, is recognized, and, "God being my helper," is declared to be the ultimate and only sure dependence.
It is through this abandonment of all trust in the pledge, beyond a few exceptional cases, that reformatory work rises to its true sphere and level of success. And we shall now endeavor to show what is being done in the work of curing drunkards, as well in asylums and Reformatory Homes, as by the so-called "Gospel" methods. In this we shall, as far as possible, let each of these important agencies speak for itself, explaining its own methods and giving its own results. All are accomplishing good in their special line of action; all are saving men from the curse of drink, and the public needs to be more generally advised of what they are doing.