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course of life, caused him to be more and more intemperate ; and occasioned, in many other ways the loss of property. It was not long before the estate on which he lives showed the signs of neglect; and when he could no longer pay his gambling associates for gaming, nor treat them with expence and parade, they forsook him. But his intemperate manner of living had grown too habitual to be easily given up. therefore, seldom sober.
For some years after his marriage, he treated his wife with the greatest tenderness; nor has he ever treated her ill, unless when under the influence of the intoxicating draught, But in times of intoxication he is outrageous, and abuses her beyond all endurance. Poor woman, she is broken hearted, and is dying with discouragement. She had long seen the end of his career, and had prudently spoken against the course he was pursuing. He sometimes confessed his faults, and promised amendment, but continued to return to his folly. After many endeavors to no purpose, she gave all up for an incurable case, and resigned herself to a sorrow that nothing can alleviate.
This account drew a tear of compassion from Charles. What a pity it is, (said he,) that they should die thus. Is there no hope of recovery? Have they no friends to speak to them now, and to dissuade them from ruin? If men of age and experience were to speak tenderiy and plainly, might not the poor man be persuaded to leave off his intemperance, and lead a new life?
Every means has been tried, (said the inn-keeper,) which wisdom and humanity could suggest; but to no effect. His neighbors have advised him, his old minister from the town has piously visited him, and spent hours by entreaties, arguments and tears, but to no purpose.
What mischief, (said the old man,) is done by the abuse of ardent spirits. How many estates are ruined and scattered to the winds; how many men of genius, and the brightest parts, are lost to society; how many families are distressed and ruined; and how many degrade themselves below the brutes that perish. That man, made in the image of his maker; man, endowed with reason, and other noble faculties of the soul ; man, capable of enjoying his God; man, made for society, with a capacity of doing so much good to himself and others, should, after all this, drown his health to please his taste," and thereby destroy his dignity and useful
ness in this life, and give up his interest in the next, is one of the most unaccountable things in the whole compass of human knowledge.
I am not disposed, (said the old man,) to be particular in any of my relations, yet I have observed how variously men excuse themselves in the commission of this crime, and how differently they appear in a state of intoxication. Some alledge they have an unconquerable appetite given by their Creator, and interwoven into their very constitution. But this I think cannot be admitted, unless we contradict every principle of experience and scripture. It may be allowed, that this is the besetting sin of some men, and like all besetting sins, is harder to be overcome than other sins ; nor would it be, perhaps, wrong to say, that it may be one of the worst besetments human nature is exposed to; but to affirm there never was a time when it could be conquered, is to afirm they are not criminal for committing it; and also to affirm that God has commanded men to do, what he, at the same time, determined they should not do. As it is absurd to represent man as not criminal, for so flagrant a breach of the divine law, so it is impious to represent Jehovah as decreeing a breach of that law. Indeed it is certain that these men have such a sense of guilt in their own minds, at times, as fully to contradict their own pleas of self-justification.
Others tell us they first fell into habits of intemperance in consequence of trouble. This conduct and excuse are unworthy of a rational creature; because he must know that the habit, persisted in, will end in the loss of reputation, health, property, &c. and in the ruin of his soul; and therefore only adds to his trouble instead of lessening it. It is true, a pang of guilt, or some other anguish of the mind, may be laid asleep for a few hours by an intoxicating draught; but that draught must often be repeated, or trouble will return and pierce with double depth and pain.
Some men, who appear to possess agreeable dispositions and manners in their hours of sobriety, are changed into fiends by ardent spirits. They quarrel with, and abuse their best friend; the most affectionate wives, and most obedient children not excepted. They curse, and swear, and blaspheme, as though they had been educated in the dark abodes of the damned. Crimes which they would shudder at in their sober moments, are now committed with seeming delight.
We see others, though naturally men of the brightest sense,
and blessed with a good education, sinking down into a silly meanness, hardly to be found in the lowest and most degraded ranks of human society; so, that a man of sense blushes to be found in their company, or even to hear their conversation. Could they but realize how much they fall below the state of intellect given them by their Creator, and how intolerably mean and despicable they appear to the sober and sensible part of the community, it would seem they would be deterred from a repetition. Nothing can appear worse, unless it be when two or three of this description get in company, and bring up some great political, religious, or philosophical subject for conversation. A representation of such a scene to the life, will put all the power of poets, orators, comedians, and painters, at defiance. No sober man was ever mister of the diminitive to that LOW DEGREE, as to be able to give even a specimen, much less the full character of that nameless depth of superlative nonsense; which, like an inverted climar, points downward to the bottomless abyss, into which human nature is capable of degrading itself, when the reins of reason are given up to an unruly appetite. If the last sentence shows a labor of words, and almost borders on the unintelligible, I shall charge the fault wholly on the insignificance of the thing attempted to be described; and say, that a whole vocabulary of diminitives must be invented, or else the silliness, which in the whole compass of our language is without a name, will forever beggar all description.
We see others, who, the moment the exciting power of the liquor begins to stir, seem to be saints of the first order. They comment on prophecies which have puzzled the most learned commentators of all ages; they explain the whole system of evangelical doctrine; talk fluently of christian experience, and speak of the precepts and promises of the gospel with a surprising volubility. They are so full of charity and fellowship, that they are even certain the devil and all his children. must find a seat in heaven.
What I have seen and heard, (said Charles,) since I left my
father's house, affords me several useful lessons. I hope I shall not fail to profit by them. I have seen virtue afflicted, and sustaining afiliction with for:titude and christian dignity; human nature degraded by ignorance, idleness, and intemperance; pride and arrogance, joined with a self assumed greatness, and the spirit of a true American breathing patriotism and philanthropy.
They were so pleased with their host, that they agreed to tarry till next morning; though they were not far from the metropolis, and rather nearer an old friend and acquaintance of the father of Charles.
They spoke for a chamber, in order to have some hours of conversation together to which they retired. Charles had been some days with the Old Man, without knowing little more concerning him than his name; excepting, he had found him very sensible and agreeable in discourse. Though born and bred in New England, he was not one of those impertinent kind of Yankees, who supposed himself entitled to know every man's name and business he met, or saw passing. He was never known to salute a stranger, by asking-May I have the imprudence to know your name? where was you born ? where are you going? what is your business ? are you a married man? how many children have you ? &c. But having been so long with him, whom he might now take as a friend, he justly thought it no breach of good manners to enquire more particularly concerning him. The Old Man very readily complied with his request, and began as follows :
My name you have already learned, is Americus. I had the honor of commanding a regiment of infantry at the beginning of the revolutionary war; and afterward, for several years, had the command of a brigade. I was thirty years old at the commencement of the war, and living near the metropolis, had a fair opportunity of seeing and hearing the oppressive conduct of Great Britain, and the resentments and movements of the Americans previous to its commencement, as well as at the time. Without commenting on the oppressions of the mother country, or giving a historical detail of facts and events, I shall speak of those things chiefly, which historians have less noticed.
Some men, who passed for the first rate patriots in those days, by their after conduct, proved themselves very unworthy of that name. Such, desired to break connection with their British masters, for the purpose of establishing a monarchy, or aristocracy, on American ground; in hope of being themselves the great and favored ones, in one or the other of these forms of government. They may be justly compared to incendiaries, who set the town on fire for the
opportunity to plunder. That they are not wrongly charged, will appear, if it be considered that some of them were concerned in the circulation of pamphlets among the army, at the close of the war, with a design to disgrace and defeat all which had been achieved; by disseminating and establisbing principles opposite to republicanism, for which true patriots had fought and bled. They insinuated, that they had been abused by Congress; that Congress had betrayed their trust, and that no confidence was to be placed in them ; and it was their duty, therefore, never to lay down their arms, till they had changed the present features of the government, and established one which should fully indemnify them for all their services and sufferings. This might have obtained, had not the unexampled patriotism of General Washington crushed it with Herculean power.
Their unparalleled and never ceasing rage for office, shews also, plainly enough, what were their motives in forwarding the revolution. It is needless, and would be tiresome, to relate all the methods and means taken by them, to eci their office-seeking purposes.
It is also well known, that some of these men opposed the adoption of our most excellent constitution ; and have uniformly been its enemies ever since. No other reason can be assigned for this conduct, than that by it their hopes were weakened, if not forever blasted.
But these were not the only false patriots of those times. Some had failed in business, and hoped for a lucrative military command, in the event of a war; hence, they helped on the separation of the colonies from the mother country. Though a part of these were disappointed, yet the rest obtained their end. But they shamefully wanted that patriotism of which they had so often and so loudly boasted. Others desired military offices for their sons, and became wordy and boisterous in the cause of American freedom, and clamerous against the oppressions of the British parliament.
I am far from speaking diminutively of the zeal and patriotism of many, very many, officers and soldiers, who did themselves the highest honor, by the courage they manifested in the hour of danger; by their fortitude in the time of deprivation and suffering; and by the unconquerable attachment they showed to their country, and its dearest rights, when they were tempted to betray all into the hands of petty knaves and despicable tyrants; who, to cover their de