Rum is a dreadful knife whose edge is never red with blood, but which yet severs throats from ear to ear. It assassinates the peace of families, it cuts away honor from the family name, it lets out the vital spark of life, and is followed by inconsolable death. It pierces hearts, and enters the bosom of trust, goring it with gashes which God alone can heal. Rum is a robber who is deaf to hungry children’s cries and famished wives’ pleadings. He is a fell destroyer from whom peace and comfort and content fly. No one can afford to be his subject, and it is the duty of every one to rise in arms against him. Let him be cursed everywhere. Let anathemas be hurled against him by the young and old of both sexes. Death is an angel of mercy sometimes—this destroyer never. Death may open the gates of heaven to every victim, but this destroyer can unbar alone the gates of hell. He takes away concord and love and joy, and in their stead leaves the horror and misery of pandemonium!
Blank, black night—Afloat—From place to place—No rest—Struggles—Giving way—One gallon of whisky in twenty-four hours—Plowing corn—Husking corn—My object—All in vain—Old before my time—A wild, oblivious journey—Delirium tremens—The horrors of hell—The pains of the damned—Heavenly hosts—My release—New tortures—Insane wanderings—In the woods—At Mr. Hinchman’s—Frozen feet—Drive to town in a buggy surrounded by devils—Fears and sorrows—No rest.
From this time until I tried to break the terrible chain that bound me by lecturing on the miseries and evils of intemperance, my life was one long, hopeless, blank, black night. More than one half of the time for five years I was dead to everything but my own despairing, helpless, pitiable and despicable condition. I was afloat without provision, sail, or compass, on an ocean of darkness, and from one period of deeper gloom to another I expected to go down in the sightless oblivion and so end my accursed existence. I could see no prospect of a rift in the curtain of pitchy cloud which hung over me. I was myself an ever-shifting, restless, uneasy tempest. My unrest and nervous dread of some swift approaching doom too awful to be conceived became so intense and real that I fled from place to place. Not unfrequently I came to myself during these epochs of madness and found that I was a hundred or more miles from home, without friends, respectable or even sufficient clothing, or money—a bloated and beastly wreck. I know not how I ever found my way back, or why I prolonged my life under such circumstances; but it seems the instinct called self-preservation was yet stronger than the ills which assailed me. Days were like weeks to me, and weeks as months, and mouths as years, and in all and through all I managed to crawl forward toward the grave which is still out yonder in the future, finding no pleasure in myself and no delight in anything beautiful and holy. As I lift the dread curtain and glance tremblingly along the path which stretches through the funereal shadows of the past, I feel that it was a thousand years ago when I was a child in my mother’s dear protecting arms. Sin may have moments of pleasure, but the pleasure is but a hollow semblance in advance of seemingly never-ending hours of remorse and suffering.