Deed of darkness unfit for sunlight, or early evening hour! Let it come forth only when most of the city lights are out, in the third watch of the night!
Again, it is after twelve o’clock that drunkenness shows its worst deformity! At eight or nine o’clock the low saloons are not so ghastly. At nine o’clock the victims are only talkative. At ten o’clock they are much flushed. At eleven o’clock their tongue is thick, and their hat occasionally falls from the head. At twelve they are nauseated and blasphemous, and not able to rise. At one they fall to the floor, asking for more drink. At two o’clock, unconscious and breathing hard. They would not fly though the house took fire. Soaked, imbruted, dead drunk! They are strewn all over the city, in the drinking saloons,—fathers, brothers, and sons; men as good as you, naturally—perhaps better.
Not so with the higher circles of intoxication. The “gentlemen” coax their fellow-reveller to bed, or start with him for home, one at each arm, holding him up; the night air is filled with his hooting and cursing. He will be helped into his own door. He will fall into the entry. Hush it up! Let not the children of the house be awakened to hear the shame. He is one of the merchant princes.
But you cannot always hush it up.
Drink makes men mad. One of its victims came home and found that his wife had died during his absence; and he went into the room where she had been prepared for the grave, and shook her from the shroud, and tossed her body out of the window. Where sin is loud and loathsome and frenzied, it is hard to keep it still. This whole land is soaked with the abomination. It became so bad in Massachusetts, that the State arose in indignation; and having appointed agents for the sale of alcohol for mechanical and medicinal purposes, prohibited the general traffic under a penalty of five hundred dollars. The popular proprietors of the Revere, Tremont, and Parker Houses were arrested. The grog-shops diminished in number from six thousand to six hundred. God grant that the time may speed on when all the cities and States shall rouse up, and put their foot upon this abomination.
As you pass along the streets, night by night, you will see the awful need that something radical be done. But you do not see the worst. That will come to pass long after you are sleeping—in the third watch of the night.
Oh! ye who have been longing for fields of work, here they are before you. At the London midnight meetings, thirteen thousand of the daughters of sin were reformed; and uncounted numbers of men, who were drunken and debauched, have been redeemed. If from our highest circles a few score of men and women would go forth among the wandering and the destitute, they might yet make the darkest alley of the town kindle with the gladness of heaven. Do not go in your warm furs, and from your well-laden tables, thinking that pious counsel will stop the gnawing of empty stomachs or warm their stockingless feet. Take food and medicine, and raiment, as well as a prayer. When the city missionary told the destitute woman she ought to love God, she said: “Ah! if you were as cold and hungry as I am, you could think of nothing else.”