Many who would not be seen drinking at the bar of a restaurant, think there is no dishonor and no peril connected with sitting down at a marble stand in an elegantly furnished parlor, to which they go with a private key, and where none are present except gentlemen as elegant as themselves. Everything so chaste in the surroundings! Soft carpets, beautiful pictures, cut glass, Italian top tables, frescoed walls. In just such places there are thousands of young men, middle-aged men, and old men, preparing themselves for overthrow.
In many of these club-rooms the talk is not as pure and elevated as it might be. How is it, men and brothers, at half-past eleven o’clock, when the tankards are well emptied, and the smoke curls up from every lip? Do they ever swear? Are there stories told unworthy a man who venerates the name of his mother? Does God, whose presence cannot be hindered by bolt, and who comes in without a pass-word, and is making up His record for the judgment-day, approve of the blasphemies you utter?
You think that there is no special danger, yet acknowledge that you have felt queer sometimes. Your head was not right, and your stomach was disturbed. I will tell you what was the matter. You were drunk. You understood not that protracted hiccough; it was the drunkard’s hiccough. You could not explain that nausea; it was the drunkard’s vomit. The fact is that some of you, who have never in your own eyes or in the eyes of others fully sacrificed your respectability, have for six months been written down in God’s book as drunkards.
How far down need a man go before he becomes an inebriate? Must he fall into the ditch? No! Must he get into a porter-house fight? No! Must he be senseless in the street? Must he have the delirium tremens? No! He may wear satin and fine linen; he may walk with hat scrupulously brushed; may swing a gold-headed cane, and step in boots of French leather, dismount from a carriage, or draw tight rein over a swift, sleek, high-mettled, full-blooded Arabian span, but yet be so thoroughly under the power of strong drink that he is utterly offensive to his Maker and rotten as a heap of compost.