Whose flute? Whose shoes? Whose scarf? They belonged to a drunkard’s child!
If I could, I would take the three brazen balls hanging at the door-way, and clang them together until they tolled the awful knell of the drunkard’s soul. The pawnbroker’s shop is only one eddy of the great stream of municipal drunkenness.
Stand back, young man! Take not the first step in the path that leads here. Let not the flame of strong drink ever scorch your tongue. You may tamper with these things and escape, but your influence will be wrong. Can you not make a sacrifice for the good of others?
When the good ship London went down, the captain was told that there was a way of escape in one of the life-boats. He said—“No; I will go down with the rest of the passengers!” All the world acknowledged that heroism.
Can you not deny yourself insignificant indulgences for the good of others? Be not allured by the fact that you drink only the moderate beverages. You take only ale; and a man has to drink a large amount of it to become intoxicated. Yes; but there is not in all the city to-day an inebriate that did not begin with ale.
“XXX:” What does that mark mean? XXX on the beer-barrel: XXX on the brewer’s dray: XXX on the door of the gin-shop: XXX on the side of the bottle. Not being able to find any one who could tell me what this mark means, I have had to guess that the whole thing was an allegory: XXX—that is, thirty heartbreaks. Thirty agonies. Thirty desolated homes. Thirty chances for a drunkard’s grave. Thirty ways to perdition.
“XXX.” If I were going to write a story, the first chapter would be XXX.; the last—“A pawnbroker’s shop.”
Be watchful! At this season all the allurements to dissipation will be especially busy. Let not your flight to hell be in the winter.
I also remark that the winter evenings, through their very length, allow great swing for indulgences. Few young men would have the taste to go to their room at seven o’clock, and sit until eleven, reading Motley’s Dutch Republic or John Foster’s Essays. The young men who have been confined to the store all day want fresh air and sight-seeing; and they must go somewhere. The most of them have, of a winter’s evening, three or four hours of leisure. After the evening repast, the young man puts on his hat and coat and goes out.
“Come in here,” cries one form of allurement.
“Come in here,” cries another.
“Go;” says Satan. “You ought to see for yourself.”
“Why don’t you go?” says a comrade. “It is a shame for a young man to be as green as you are. By this time you ought to have seen everything.”
Especially is temptation strong in such times as this, when business is dull. I have noticed that men spend more money when they have little to spend.