Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

so healthy, now, in the language of a high Government official, "almost as bad as the English, polluted and contaminated by their drink,''—what would they say? If I could summon the Indians of North America, once not unhappy, now degraded, maddened, exterminated by our accursed fire-water, what would they say? They have said, that, because of it, they spit at the name of Christian. If we ask the Mahometans, what do they say? Is there a Christian in England with conscience so dead, with heart so rough, with cheek so brazen, as not to blush when he hears that if they see one of their number drunk they have been heard to say, "He has left Mahomet, and gone to Jesus "? If we ask the Hindoos, what do they say? They have said by the lips of an eloquent representative, that all the splendid benefits of our English rule in India have been nullified and counterbalanced by our teaching them the use of beer and brandy; that the wailing of widows rends the air of India with curses against the British Government for having introduced this thing. And, again, from the Southern Sea the voice of yet another missionary says to us :—" If you love missions, help to dethrone this demon of intemperance—our reproof before the heathen, the blight of our infant churches." And oh, sirs, when you hear such things, are we not —we, the sons of proud, glorious, free England—are we not, to our burning infamy, what one has called us, the drunken Helots of the world?

significance, meaning.

generation, the people, of one lifetime.

impa'tiently.restlessly, without patience.

inevitably, unavoidably.

statistics, a collection

of facta, prevent'able, that may

be hindered, intemperance, excess, lazar-house, lazar, lit.

ono afflicted liko Lazarus

—a hospital, asth ma, a disease of the

.air vessels of the lungs, rheum, a cold, authority, power, legal

right.

SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—

r e p u t a't i o n, good
name.

inval'uable, priceless,
embittered, saddened,
sur'mise, guess,
record'ed, written,
testimony, witness,
emphatic, weighty,
record'er, a jud^e.
tithe, a tenth,
degrada'tion, debase-
ment.

administer, to carry
out.

blink, to wink at, over-
look.

er mine, a white fur
which lines the robes of
judges.

mis sionary, one sent abroad to spread religion.

execra'tion, cursing.

Ma ories,mni ves of New
Zealand.

contaminated, cor-
rupted.

exterminated, destroyed utterly.

Mahom etans, followers of Mahomet.

representative, one who represents.

nullified, brought to nothing.

counterbalanced, balanced by weight on the opposite side.

Ee'lot, a Spartan slave. PART n.

1. So much, then, for money and disease, and crime and civilisation; but what does drink cause in human misery? Have you hearts? If you have, I might say—

"Sit you down,
And I will wring your heart, for so I shall,
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damned custom hath not brazed it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense."

But, ah! I have no tongue to utter, no imagination to conceive, no calculus to measure, the immensity of this national curse, this national calamity. It would require the vision of the Angels of Record, if they can gaze on it with eyes unblinded by such tears as angels weep, to tell of those miseries of millions, for centuries, that have been caused by the corrupted fruit of this tree of the knowledge of evil.

2. He alone by whom the hairs of our head are all numbered, can count the widows who are widows because of drink; the madmen who are mad because of it; the grey heads which it has made grey; the sad hearts that it has crushed with sadness; the ruined families that it has ruined; the brilliant minds which it has quenched; the unfolding promise that it has cankered; the bright and happy boys and girls whom it has blasted into shame and misery; the young and the gifted whom it has hurried headlong into dishonoured and nameless graves.

3. Is it not Shakespeare himself who says, by the mouth of the disgraced and ruined Cassio, " O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, lot us call thee Devil "? What does drink cost in human misery p Ah, how can I tell you? Can I count the leaves of the forest, or the sands upon the shore? And the sounds of this misery are like the sighing of the leaves of illimitable forests, and the plashing on the shores of unfathomable seas. He alone whose ear is open to the cry of the poor and destitute can hear the wailing of that multitude of miserable women, who, taking in despair to the drink which their husbands have taught them to like, get content with the starving squalor which they call their homes; can hear the poor wretch who has vainly followed her drunken tyrant to the public-house moan, in agonies of entreaty, "Come home! come home!" or see her watching and waiting till the sot reels back at midnight, and, with his brain all on fire with that vitriol madness, lift against her unprotected womanhood his cowardly and brutal hand. Ah, I cannot go on; and you—you cannot bear to hear of these tnings.

4. Yet these things are, and worse—if there be worse—than these; and though you may, if you please, lay a flattering unction to your conscience, and call tLis rhetoric, or call it exaggeration, it is just the plain, bare, hideous truth. And while you shrink from these things in words, are your sympathies so slothful that you do not shrink from them in reality? Oh, that I could harrow up into a little manliness those delicate sensibilities! Oh, that I could thrill into action those tastes! For it is the horrible fact that the drink which we, as a nation, are drinking, not from the necessities of thirst, but from the mere luxuries of appetite— drink often adulterated with the vilest and most maddening ingredients—this subtle, serpentine, insidious thing which we cherish in our bosoms, and laugh and play with in its brigbtness, while it is stinging thousands of our brothers into raging madness—costs us, as I have shown, millions of money, myriads of criminals, thousands of paupers, thousands of ruined women, hundreds and thousands of men and women goaded by misery into suicide and madness, witb every blossom in wbat might have been the garland of their lives blighted as by a fury's breath.

5. Again I say, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" Is it nothing to you, young men who, if you be worth anything at all, better than to cumber the barren ground with wasted and useless lives, will be called upon, a year or two hence, to take your happy and holy part where God shall place you in the ranks of the great battle between sin and death? Shall it be nothing to you that the blood of your brothers and sisters in the great family of God is being daily poured upon the altars of this deadly Moloch, wLilc, in discovering that you are your brother's keeper, you become his Cain? Aye, and are we to go on for another generation, with our 18,500 public-houses in London alone, and see another generation of our country's children grow up amid the same dangers and the same temptations, exposed like a defenceless prey to these evil spirits; nay, even transmitting that awful hereditary craving which shall leave to yet another generation, for all their lives, the reality of intense temptation, the possibilities of terrible catastrophe?

6. Even if every one of you be indeed really safe, even if you be quite sure that you will never fall unawares in love with this tamed viper, which may seem a bright and harmless creature of God, until, as, alas! too many of the strong and the gifted and the noble who have been wounded by it can testify, at some moment of deep misery or crushing disappointment it slides into the soul with tempting whisper, or fixes in the heart its envenomed fang; even if you be personally safe from this destroyer of all health and virtue, this breeder of all disease and sin,—will you do nothing for, will you think nothing of, those myriads and multitudes to whom this drink means brutality and degradation, disease and death?

7. If, indeed, you don't care to do anything, not even to lift one finger, to save this England from this living death, then stand aside from among us, and do not call yourself a philanthropist; do not call yourself a Christian. If you do not feel called upon to pledge yourself to total abstinence, at least respect and honour the motives of those who, in special positions, and because of special duties, think that in doing it they have obeyed their country's and their Saviour's bidding; and that in the strength of heaven and for the sake of Christ and Christ's perishing little ones, they have been called upon to act in the spirit of the high language of St Paul—" I will neither eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor anything whereby my brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."

cal'culus, a moans of calculating. A term from the higher mathematics.

cen'tury, a hundred years.

can'ker, to poison, to rot.

illimitable, boundless.

unfath'omable, too deep to be sounded.

destitute, without the necessities of life.

squa'lor, wretchedness.

vit'riol, sulphuric acid, here assigned • as the cause of madness, by being put in drink.

SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—

unc'tioti, lit., anointing,
anything soft and grate-
ful.

rhet'oric, oratorical lan-
guage, exceeding that of
simple statement.

nxaRRera' tio n, exceed-
ing the limits of truth.

sym'pathies, feelings
of kindness.

sensibility, delicate
fooling.

adulterate, to make
impure,

insid ious, treacherous.

Mo loch, ft god of tho

Canaanites to whom human sacrifices were offered, transmit'ting, passing on.

hereditary, passed on

as an inheritance. catas'trophe,a disaster, enven omed, full ot

venom, myriad, ten thousand, philanthropist, lit.,

a lover of mankind, ab'stinence, the act of abstaining.

Oh! if the selfish knew how much they lost,
What would they not endeavour, not endure,
^o imitate, as far as in them lay,
Him who his wisdom and his power employs
In making others happy?

AN EASTERN MARRIAGE IN FORMER TIMES.

From Dr. Cunningham Oeikie's " Life and Word* of Christ."

1. A Marbiage in the East has always been a time of great rejoicing. The bridegroom, adorned and anointed, and attended by his groomsmen, "the sons of the bridechamber," went, of old, as now, on the marriage day, to the house of the bride, who awaited him, veiled from head to foot, alike from Eastern ideas of propriety, and as a symbol of her subjection as a wife. A peculiar girdle—the "attire" which a bride could not forget— was always part of her dress, and a wreath of myrtle leaves, either real, or of gold, or gilded work—like our wreath of orange blossoms—was so indispensable that it came to be used as a term for the bride herself. Her hair, if she had not been married before, was left flowing; her whole dress was perfumed, and she glittered with as many jewels as the family boasted, or, if poor, could borrow for the occasion. Her bridal dress, her special ornaments, the ointment and perfumes for her person, and presents of fruit and other things, had been sent in the earlier part of the day by the bridegroom; the bride, on her part, sending him, as her prescribed gift, a shroud, which he kept and wore, as she did hers, on each New Tear's Day and Day of Atonement.1 The Rabbis had fixed Wednesday as the day on which maidens should be married, and Friday for widows, so that, if the bride at Cana was now married for the first time, we know the day of the week on which the ceremony took place. She might be very young, for girls become wives in the East when twelve or fourteen, or even younger. The bridegroom and bride both fasted all day before the marriage, and confessed their sins in prayer, as on the Day of Atonement. When the bride reached the house of her future husband's father, in which the marriage was celebrated, the bridegroom received her, still deeply veiled, and conducted her within, with great rejoicings. Indeed, he generally set out from his father's house in the evening to meet her, with fluteplayers or singers before him; his groomsmen, and others, with flaring torches or lamps, escorting him amidst loud rejoicing, which rose still higher as he led her back. Neighbours thronged into the streets. Flutes and drums and shrill cries filled the air, and the procession was swelled as it passed on, by a train of maidens, friends of the bride and bridegroom, who had been waiting for it. The Talmud has preserved a snatch of one of the songs sung by the bridesmaids and girls as they danced before

« AnteriorContinuar »