The Youth’s Temperance Lecturer didn’t last long, but it made an impression on editors of other periodicals, who reprinted various pieces. Published as a “Morality” piece, this “Lecture on Temperance” is the third to be reprinted in Youth’s Companion; an earlier lecture introduces the theme; another takes on events from the bible.
“Lecture on Temperance” (reprinted from Youth’s Temperance Lecturer; from Youth’s Companion, May 22, 1833; p. 4)

The little children, I suppose, have all heard about the Great Roman Empire—what numerous armies they had—how many countries they conquered—how strong, and powerful, and rich they became—what fine houses and palaces they had. Well, do you know how these strong and rich people became, at last, so weak, and poor, that the wild men of the woods, from the north of Europe, came and conquered their armies, and took possession of their cities, and lived in their houses? I will tell you the reason of it. The Romans became intemperate. They grew very fond of wine. They made great and costly feasts, and loved to eat and drink. Then they grew proud and idle. They thought there would be no end to their riches. Many of their great men, their rulers and Emperors became intemperate. There was a man among them, named Juvenal, who wrote verses to tell the people what drunkards and gluttons they ahd become. But they cared little for Juvenal, but kept on feasting and drinking wine, and fighting and quarreling with one another. So, after a little while, as I said before, the barbarians came, and overthrew the government, the rulers of the Roman Empire, and took away their lands and houses from them, and that was the last of the Romans.

All the intemperance of the ancient Romans and Greeks and Jews, was without disilled spi[r]its. There were no distilleries in those days.—There was no brandy, rum, whiskey or gin. The people drank wine and some other kinds of fermented liquors, like the ale and beer used now-a-days. About eight or nine hundred years ago, a man in Arabia found out how to make distilled liquor, which was called alcohol. This is the liquor contained in rum, brandy, whiskey, and gin. Yet there is alcohol in fermented wines, and beer and cider, though not so much of it, and therefore it is not so strong.

Now this distilled alcohol, when it was first brought into Europe, was sold in small vials, for medicine. No one, in those days, thought of drinking it, as people now do. They knew it was poison, and were very much afraid to use it. But, when persons were very sick, and they thought nothing else would cure them, they weighed out one drachm weight, of the apothecary, about a teaspoonful, and gave it, with great fear lest it should hurt them. But, after a while, persons who took it for medicine, began to love it, and think they could not do without it. They wanted some for medicine, whenever they felt a little faint, and they were sure to feel a little faint, every day, after the dose had done stimulating them. Then the people thought it was needed by soldiers in the army, and by laborers who had hard work to do. They thought it would make them stronger, but it only made them weaker. But still they were deceived, because it made them feel a little stronger, whenver they first drank of it. They did not know why they became faint afterwards. They did not know that it was because the spirits hurt them; they thought it was because they needed more, and so they kept on drinking.

When this country was first settled by our forefathers, who came from England, about two hundred years ago, it was not used much, except for medicine. After they had been ehre several years, somebody sent a barrel of rum from England or the West Indies, in a vessel, to Connecticut. But the people of Connecticut would not receive it, nor let it be landed. They knew it was not needed, and would do them much harm. I suppose they would have taken a gallon or two, for medicine, but they dared not have so much as a barrel, among the people.

But now, a great many large vessels are coming to this country, every day almost, with hogsheads instead of barrels of rum, as full as the vessels can hold, and yet the merchants take it into their stores, and sell it to any one that will buy! No wonder there are so many drunkards among us.

Copyright 1999-2020, Pat Pflieger
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