« PreviousContinue »
families to refuse utterly to intermeddle with that article which ensnares their neighbour, though for themselves it may have no temptation. The vigour of national character exercised by those cities
in one instance, I believe by a whole state-which have made for themselves a decree of total abstinence, has a grandeur in it that commands respect. In Maine, if you will have ardent spirits, you must seek them from the druggist's bottle. This is an act of the Legislature, cheerfully acceded to by the whole people. What could such a people not do, in raising the moral tone of their state, were they to adopt similar energy and self-denial in overthrowing other vices as they have in doing battle with drunkenness! Six sermons by Dr Lyman Beecher, on the subject of Total Abstinence, published widely in Old England as well as in his own country, have had the powerful effect in urging on that important measure, which by their sound reasons and eloquent language they are well fitted to have. The cool, calm, unloaded atmosphere of the hotels is refreshing, and the table where eighty or a hundred people dine presents no liquid but cheering iced water.
I have happily nothing to do with travellers' hints about brandy and water in the bar-room, out of sight, but am satisfied that those guzzling habits are now counted dishonouring and injurious which thirty years ago led people to drink a little half-adozen times in the day. And I must despise the taste that could induce an Englishman to try if he
could not tempt a Bostonian to give him a treat of the far-famed sherry cobbler behind the folding-doors. Was it curiosity? He ought to have respected the motives of Boston enough to refrain from laying that snare before a friend, who, to oblige him, as a stranger, yielded to his temptation. Was it to discern if he who treated him would also, in secret, treat himself? It was basely suspicious. Or was it rather that the tempter loved to guzzle! In that case, he must hasten to become a water-drinker, lest he fall into the miserable ranks of the inebriate.
At ceremonious private dinners, coffee is often brought with the dessert; and at evening parties a beautiful variety of good things is produced, accompanied by lemonade and iced water.
Oh, those respectable china or silver jugs, a foot and a half high, with the lumps of pure ice floating in them, giving notice of their honest, wholesome presence, by a knock against the sides when the vessels are moved—how often have I wished to see them established instead of Old England's nut-brown ale and Scotland's still more ruinous whisky!
With all the pains that have been exerted, America is not cleansed from the sin and disgrace of drunkenness, but its frequency is powerfully diminished. Now, no man puts the bottle to his neighbour, and besets him with entreaties to drink. No lady now, in making a round of calls, is in danger of coming home half tipsy, by means of the cordial at one house, the choice wine at another, and the
Roman punch at a third. If people will drink, they must do it secretly. They must retreat to the barroom, or inhale their sherry cobbler behind the folding-door. This is so much the case, that it is a fact that some men have died of delirium tremens who were not suspected of inebriety till betrayed by this horrid disease, which swept them into the drunkard's eternity
The climate is of itself so exciting, that it is said one-third the quantity of liquor will carry away a man's head and feet that would be required to produce that effect in England. The example of the clergy does them honour, and has had a powerful effect. In the house of no clergyman, of whatever denomination, did I see liquor, but, I grieve to say, in some of them I heard, with shame, how the habits of our Scottish clergy, their guests, had impeded their influence, and shocked the abstemious people. Our clergy are all temperate men, but in the United States their pious clergymen are total abstainers for example's sake.
FROM Buffalo to Niagara, the way is not altogether pleasant. The uncultured suburbs and imperfect roads of a city hastening in its growth, the ugly shanties of workmen labouring there, the trees stript of their branches, the houses for cattle without paint or any pretension to neatness, and those for men with glaring, drink-inviting signs, and the ground guttered by recent rains, while the river's bank, in some parts, looked like the slimy edge of a tide-water canal-such is the uninviting aspect of the first few miles of the road. It was therefore pleasing to let the eye take refuge in the deep blue, cloudless sky, effulgent in the subdued sunbeams of the balmy Indian summer. Not a cloud remained to indicate the torrent of rain which had been emptied on the earth during the night. When, lo! while we were yet several miles from our destination, a pillar of cloud appeared, white, but massy, containing an immense quantity of vapour, condensed by the coolness of the surrounding air. It
was not hung in the heavens a lonely cloud, revealing not whence it had been exhaled. It ascended from mother earth, like the cloud from the altar of incense of old in the unshaded sky of the wilderness —and probably this cloud, so dense, so white, so lofty, has ascended from the altar of nature in the Indian wild for centuries before that incense sought the sky in the desert of Arabia, as it has continued to ascend three thousand years since the altar and the camp of Israel have been removed. This pillar of vapour, from the foam of Niagara, still, huge, and solemn, in the quiet air, filled the mind-meet incense from an altar so grand and so enduring. One wanted to be alone to gaze on it, and hear the accompanying boom of the mighty torrent, and feel the earth tremble around it. At length we neared the scene of this huge coil of waters, where the cloud, instead of increasing in importance, seemed to diminish. Attention was diverted. There seemed a gap between it and the surface of the foam, and the forest trees appeared to mingle in its formation. I could never recover the impression produced by my first view of the pillar of cloud.
Every one professes disappointment on the first view of the Falls. I must confess my exceeding dulness, which had excited some mirth amongst my fellow-travellers. We had unexpectedly caught a glimpse of the Genesee Falls the day before, whe a brilliant sun painted a rich and perfect rainbo which hung over the boiling volumes of the floo