I think that we are coming at last to treat inebriation as it ought to be treated, namely, as an awful disease, self-inflicted, to be sure, but nevertheless a disease. Once fastened upon a man, sermons will not cure him; temperance lectures will not eradicate the taste; religious tracts will not remove it; the Gospel of Christ will not arrest it. Once under the power of this awful thirst, the man is bound to go on; and if the foaming glass were on the other side of perdition, he would wade through the fires of hell to get it. A young man in prison had such a strong thirst for intoxicating liquors, that he cut off his hand at the wrist, called for a bowl of brandy in order to stop the bleeding, thrust his wrist into the bowl, and then drank the contents.
Stand not, when the thirst is on him, between a man and his cups! Clear the track for him! Away with the children: he would tread their life out! Away with the wife: he would dash her to death! Away with the Cross: he would run it down! Away with the Bible: he would tear it up for the winds! Away with heaven: he considers it worthless as a straw! “Give me the drink! Give it to me! Though hands of blood pass up the bowl, and the soul trembles over the pit,—the drink! give it to me! Though it be pale with tears; though the froth of everlasting anguish float in the foam—give it to me! I drink to my wife’s woe; to my children’s rags; to my eternal banishment from God, and hope, and heaven! Give it to me! the drink!”
Again: we will contend against these evils by trying to persuade the respectable classes of society to the banishment of alcoholic beverages. You who move in elegant and refined associations; you who drink the best liquors; you who never drink until you lose your balance: consider that you have, under God, in your power the redemption of this land from drunkenness. Empty your cellars and wine-closets of the beverage, and then come out and give us your hand, your vote, your prayers, your sympathies. Do that, and I will promise three things: First, That you will find unspeakable happiness in having done your duty; secondly, you will probably save somebody, perhaps your own child; thirdly, you will not, in your last hour, have a regret that you made the sacrifice, if sacrifice it be.
As long as you make drinking respectable, drinking customs will prevail; and the ploughshare of death, drawn by terrible disasters, will go on turning up this whole continent, from end to end, with the long, deep, awful furrow of drunkards’ graves.
Oh, how this Rum Fiend would like to go and hang up a skeleton in your beautiful house, so that when you opened the front door to go in you would see it in the hall; and when you sit at your table you would see it hanging from the wall; and when you open your bed-room you would find it stretched upon your pillow; and waking at night you would feel its cold hand passing over your face and pinching at your heart!