« AnteriorContinuar »
A Wife's Influence ......... 80 Campbell.......
“I've got the Bible" ........
The Pin and the Needle ..... Sabbath Scholars .
A VALUABLE TESTIMONY. [What follows was written by Edward Baines, proprietor of the
Leeds Mercury. It is worth reading, and deserves a wide circulation.] One distinct personal testimony to a matter of fact and experience often produces a stronger impression than many arguments. It cannot be wrong for an individual to publish his personal experience, if he believes that in so doing he might influence others to adopt a course favourable to their health, virtue, usefulness, and happiness. In this hope I feel it my duty, having abstained from intoxicating liquors for fifteen years, to state that during that whole time I have enjoyed good and vigorous health, with scarcely a day's interruption; that I have never for an hour felt any need of such liquors; and that I believe I have done more work, have had better spirits, have eaten my, food with greater relish, and have slept more tranquilly, than I should have done if I had habitually taken wine or beer.
To boast of health would be impious, and to presume on its continuance would be irrational. What God has graciously bestowed, he may at any moment take away. I only speak of the past and the present, which I do with humble thankfulness; and my reason for speaking at all is a conviction, that an incalculable amount of evil, as offensive in the sight of God as ruinous to man, would be prevented by the general discontinuance of the use of intoxicating drinks, but ihat men decline to abstain from them under the notion that they are necessary to health, or at all events not injurious, whilst they believe them to be conducive to personal enjoyment. Convinced that these notions, the latter as well as the former, are erroneous, I offer my own experience to show that they are so; and with the same view I add a few particulars.
I did not adopt total abstinence owing to any illness or tendency to disease, nor because liquor was any considerable temptation to me. I had always used it moderately. My sole object was a desire to induce some whom I knew, by example, to abandon an indulgence which was leading them to ruin. And it seemed to me, that if I could do without strong drink, other persons in ordinary health might do the same; because my constitution is not robust; on the contrary, I have from childhood been rather pale and thin. Therefore the experiment
A VALUABLE TESTIMONY
of total abstinence seemed in me a very fair one; I was an average subject; many of my friends even thought that I needed a little wine, dissuaded me from giving it up, and mourned over my unwise persistence; I myself had the preju. đice that it helped digestion. Well, I tried the experimentfirst for a month, then for another month, till at length I learned to laugh at the prejudices of myself and my friends, and in the consciousness of firm health and good spirits I have continued the practice to the present day.
Within fifteen years of life one passes through various circumstances, which would be likely to try the merits of any regimen. But I have never felt as if strong drink would help me in any of those circumstances;-certainly not in protracted study; as certainly not in the prolonged and exciting public meeting; not in active business, however pressing ; not in travelling, by night or by day; not in pedestrian rambles on the mountains of Cumberland or Wales; not in the cold of winter ; not in the heat of summer; noi in the raw damp of intermediate seasons; not in the morning, not at noon, nor yet at night; not in anxiety and trouble; not in joy and social intercourse. I need it in none of these circumstances; it would do me mischief in many. It might cloud my intellect, or excite my brain, or disorder my stomach, or cause local inflammation more or less serious. There are those who think that wine or beer is needful whenever they feel fatigued or exhausted. But surely mature provides her own restorative at a much easier and cheaper rate. He who is tired should rest ; he who is weary should sleep; he who is exhausted should take wholesome food or innocent beverages; he who is closely confined should take air and exercise. I repeat that in my own case alcoholic drinks are never necessary, and would never do me good.
I claim no merit for total abstinence-Ist. because it is no privation: a total abstainer does not care or think about liquor, at least after the first few days or weeks : he forgets it. 2ndly. Because I am firmly convinced that a total abstainer has more physical comfort, and even more gratification for his palate, than he who takes liquors: the digestive organs being generally in a healthier state, he enjoys food and innocent beverages with greater relish : if he loses the pungency of strong drink, he also escapes its painful consequences. 3rdly. Because abstinence from liquor is no mean saving of money, which may be so much better applied. 4th. Because it is a still more A VILUABLE TESTIMONY. important saving of precious time. And, 5thly. Because it obviously keeps men out of many dangers and temptations Therefore, in my judgment, enlightened self-interest, nay, an enlightened regard for mere physical enjoyment, might make a man give up strong drink.
I do not presume to say that there are not persons whose constitutions require wine or beer: on the contrary, I know those who believe, and are so advised by their medical men, that it is needful for them. I know those who have tried total abstinence without success. In such cases, the moderate use of alcoholic drinks seems to me justifiable. But my belief is, that to most persons in ordinary health they are not needful. And I take the liberty of just glancing at a few facts which seem to prove this beyond all reasonable question.
First, I will speak of cases within my own personal knowledge. I know, and could name, many of the hardest working men, who for years have not tasted drink, and who declare themselves far better without than with it,--glass-blowers, forge-men, and others, who work in front of the hottest furnaces, -pressers in dry-houses, -farmers working out-of-doors in summer's heat and winter's frost, printers working at the press,-joiners,-bricklayers,--masons, &c. I know coachmen, exposed to all weathers, one of whom drove the nightmail over the hills of Scotland; I know medical men in large practice, driving about all day, and often disturbed in the night; I know ministers of religion and lecturers, among the most animated and laborious in the country, in the habit of speaking at great length in crowded meeiings, and often out-of-doors ; I know missionaries labouring in tropical countries; I know merchants, tradesmen, clerks, &c., of the greatest activity; I know literary men and editors of very sedentary habits; I know members of Parliament and Ministers of State, among the most constant in their attendance on the trying duties of Parliament or of office; I know old men of near fourscore, children and young persons of all ages, nursing mothers, servants,-in short, persons of almost every class that can be mentioned ; I know persons under all these varied circumstances, who act on the system of total abstinence, enjoying health and vigour, and believing that they are better without intoxicating liquor than they would be with it.
Beyond my personal knowledge, instances without end might be adduced from unquestionable authority; but it may suffice to mention a few classes of cases. For example, the
A VALUABLE TESTIMONY.
Governor of York Casıle told me that he never knew a sirgle instance of the health of a prisoner suffering from his being at once deprived of intoxicating liquor. It is notorious that there are soldiers who go through their arduous exercises, and whole crews of sailors and fishermen exposed to all weathers in all seas, practising abstinence with advantage. Mr. Mayhew says the same of the coal-heavers of London. The ancient athletes, in training for their severe exercises, abstained from strong liquor, and modern athletes and pedestrians do the same, Captain Kennedy, of the Prince Albert exploring expedition. who last winter performed a journey of twelve hundred miles over ice and snow along the most rugged coasts of the Arctic regions, with the thermometer far below the freezing point of mercury, without seeing the sun for months, ascribed in his official despatch the health of his crew to their having all strictly acted on the total abstinence principle. It is stated that the Duke of Wellington, who lived to the age of eightythree, in his long “defensive warfare against death,” abstained from wine. So did the old Marquess of Winchester, who died in the reign of Elizabeth, at the age of ninety-seven. Millions of the Irish nation, under the infuence of Father Mathew, abandoned strong drink. In some of the States of America, total abstinence has actually become the law; and through a great part of the Urited States it would be considered a shame for the ministers of religion to taste wine. All the Mohammedan nations, from India to the Adriatic and the Atlantic, hare abstained from intoxicating liquors for twelve hundred years; and these include some of the handsomest and most athletic races of men in the world,—the Hill Coolies of India, the Affghan, Persian, Caucasian, Saracenic, Turkish, Arab, and Moorish tribes. The strongest man of whom we have any record never touched wine; the wisest man that ever lived emphatically condemned it. Finally, two thousand medical men in this country, including those of the rery first rank for science and practice, signed the following certificate :
“We, the undersigned, are of opinion-1. That a very large proportion of human misery, including poverty, disease, and crime, is induced by the use of alcoholic or fermented liquors as beverages.
2. That the most perfect health is compatible with Total Abstinence from all intoxicating beverages, whether in the form of ardent spirits, or as wine, beer, ale, porter, cider, &c.