Page images
PDF
EPUB

be like the late Duke of Norfolk, a six bottle man-he cannot drink his fortune--he cannot bring himself and his children to the workhouse. With him, it is merely a matter of individual consideration—strictly individual,— for it is his own body and mind, and nothing else, that are concerned; a question for himself to consider, whether he will die a few years earlier than he otherwise might, and have the gout for his companion while he lives. Not so the poor man : and therefore Temperance Societies are good for him, even though they do not " interfere with the beverage of the rich."

We will not go into the inquiry touching the alleged increase of drunkenness among the labouring classes, though we think the evidence that has been accumulated upon this subject, conclusive as to the fact of that increase : but we will lay before our readers a few statements sufficient, in themselves, supposing nothing else could be urged, to vindicate the utility of Temperance Societies, and to justify the zeal of those philanthropists who have taken an active part in their establishment.

The first of these statements, shall be the following extract from the last official Report of the Middlesex Lunatic Asylum, at Hanwell.

“GIN DRINKING.-The seventy-six deaths which have occurred in the year have been, with the exception of those who have died from advanced age, principally caused by the disease of the brain, of the lungs, and the complaints brought on by those deadly potions of ardent spirits in which the lower classes seem more than ever to indulge. În a very great number of the recent cases, both amonst men and women, the insanity is caused entirely by spirit drinking. This may, in some measure, be attributed to the young not being taught to consider the practice disgraceful, and to their being tempted, by the gorgeous splendour of the present gin-mansions, to begin a habit which they never would have commenced had they been obliged to steal, fearful of being observed, into the obscurity of the former dram-shops."

The following statements will shew the appalling extent to which this destructive habit is now carried, in the metropolis, in Ireland, and in our manufacturing towns.

We have seen a report of the number of men, women, and children-yes, children! who entered, for the purpose of procuring ardent spirits, fourteen of the principal gin shops in London and its suburbs. At one of these, (Thompson and Fearon's, in Holborn) there entered, in one day, 2880 men, 1855 women, and two hundred and eighty-nine children. Of the latter, some had been despatched by their parents for gin, or other spirits; but many of them, girls and boys, from eleven to fourteen years of age, called for their dram and drank it off in the place. Here, then, were 5024 human beings, in a single day, entering a single gin shop; in the whole week, the number was 16,988. At another gin shop, (in Whitechapel) this amount had even been exceeded, for on Monday, 3146 men, 2186 women, and 686 children, entered the shop; and during the week, the numbers amounted to 17,603. The grand total for one week of the fourteen houses mentioned, was 269,438, divided in the following proportions: 142,453 men, 108,593 women, and 18,391 children; the women and children united nearly equalling the men, and surpassing them in the grossness and depravity of their behaviour.

The Rev. John Edgar, Divinity Professor in the Royal College of Belfast, in a report drawn up by him, and dated last January, says, (speaking of Ireland):

"The demand for spiritous liquors is so universal that spirit shops in the town of Ulster average 16, 18, and even 30, to one baker's shop: and in some villages every shop is a spirit shop. In one town, containing only 800 houses, there are no less than 88 spirit shops. The fruit of all this exhibits itself every where in the destruction of property, and peace, and health, and life, and happiness; in the increase of crime, the injury of the best interests of individuals, of families, and of the community at large."

From another quarter, (Mr. John Finch, of Liverpool, a gentleman well known for his intimate acquaintance with the lower orders of the people

[blocks in formation]

generally, having made their condition the subject of personal investigation and continued care) we have the following statement.

"I have just returned from a six weeks' journey in Ireland, having visited all the principal seaports in that island, from the Giant's Causeway to Bantry and Wexford, and certainly the condition of the great mass of the people in that country is as miserable as it is possible; they are filthy, ragged, famished, houseless, herding with pigs, and sleeping on dunghills, without regular employment, and working for sixpence, and even fourpence and fivepence per day. No doubt this wretchedness is in part owing to absenteeism, want of leases, high rents, and, in some trifling degree, to tithes; but I feel satisfied that drunkenness and whisky-drinking are a greater curse than all these put together. Do you ask for proof? The finest mansions, parks, and farms in Ireland belong to distillers and brewers; the largest manufactories are distilleries and breweries, and at least one out of every four or five shops in Ireland is a dram or beer shop: in one street in Belfast, I counted seven whiskey-shops together, by one side of the street; one of the Poor Law Commissioners told me, at Waterford, that it had just been ascertained that 50,0001. worth of whiskey and other intoxicating liquors were sold at Clonmel in the retail shops last year, with a population of about 15,000; and it was believed that in Waterford, with a population of about 30,000, nearly 100,0001. worth was sold in the same time. It is true, these are market-towns of great resort, and therefore it is not to be supposed that it was all drunk by residents. Can we wonder then that the Irish people are so poor? I believe nothing can be done for their relief, unless means be first adopted to check this dreadful evil."

Dr. Kay, in his excellent treatise "On the condition of the working classes," says:

"Some idea may be formed of the influence of these establishments, the gin shops, on the health and morals of the people, from the following statement, for which I am indebted to Mr. Braidley, the boroughreeve of Manchester. He observed the number of persons entering a single gin shop in five minutes, during eight successive Saturday evenings, and at various periods, from seven o'olock till ten. The average result was 112 men, and 163 women, or 275 in forty minutes, which is equal to 412 per hour."

The following paragraph, from the Sheffield Iris, of May 17, speaks volumes as to the increase and fatal consequences of this accursed vice:

"It is a painful, but at the same time a most melancholy fact, that Mr. Badger, the coroner of this district, has, within the short space of ten days, had occasion to hold inquests on thirteen persons, who have come to their deaths by accidents solely arising from indulging in the baneful vice of drunkenness."

We could multiply evidence of this description; but there is another kind of evidence which we are desirous of bringing before our readers, as succinctly as possible, with a view to discourage the use of ardent spirits, and pro tanto, to further the objects of Temperance Societies. If our limits would have allowed of it, we would also go into some calculations, for the purpose of shewing how large a portion of the poor man's means is absorbed by what he spends, unprofitably, on drink; unprofitably, because it adds neither to his strength, his health, or his real comforts, in any way. We will just observe, however, that in Turkey, in Persia, in Bokhara, and Samarcand, which, though Mahomedan countries, have snow and ice during a considerable part of the year, and a climate more severe in many districts during the winter, even than our own, the people use no stronger drinks than water, milk, and sherbet, a kind of pleasant lemonade, without the least admixture of fermented or spirituous ingredients; and " in health, strength, and beauty," says Mr. Buckingham, “ they rank the first among the nations of the world. The pehlevans, or athlete, of Persia," continues that gentleman, as well as the wrestlers and quoit players of Upper Hindostan, are among the most muscular and powerful men that I have ever seen,—before whom the strongest European would quail, and these drink nothing stronger than water."

[ocr errors]

On this subject, however, the following testimony, signed by no less a number than 589 medical men of the first eminence, in the principal towns of the kingdom, is at once conclusive and irresistible:

"We, the undersigned, do hereby declare that, in our opinion, Ardent Spirits cannot be regarded as a necessary, suitable, or nourishing article of diet; that they have not the property of preventing the accession of any complaints, but may be considered as the principal source of numerous and formidable diseases, and the principal cause of the poverty, crime, and misery, which abound in this country; and that the entire disuse of them, except under medical direction, would materially tend to improve the health, amend the morals, and augment the comfort of the community."

To the above, we will add the individual opinions of the following eminent members of the medical profession in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin: Sir Astley Cooper, Bart., Principal Surgeon to the King, says:-" No person has a greater hostility to dram drinking than myself, insomuch that I never suffer any Ardent Spirits in my house, thinking them evil spirits; and if the poor could witness the white livers, the dropsies, the shattered nervous systems which I have seen, as the consequences of drinking, they would be aware that spirits and poisons were synonymous terms."

William Harty, Physician to the Prison of Dublin, says:-" Being thoroughly convinced, by long and extensive observation amongst the poor and middling classes, that there does not exist a more productive cause of disease, and consequent poverty and wretchedness, than the habitual use of Ardent Spirits, 1 cannot therefore hesitate to recommend the entire disuse of such a poison, rather than incur the risks necessarily connected with its most moderate use.'

Robert Christison, Professor of Materia Medica in the University of Edinburgh, says:-"The useful purposes to be served by spirituous liquors are so trifling, contrasted with the immense magnitude and variety of the evils resulting from their habitual abuse by the working classes of this country, that their entire abandonment as an article of diet is earnestly to be desired. According to my experience in the Infirmary of this city, the effects of the abuse of Ardent Spirits in impairing health, and adding to the general mortality, are much increased in Edinburgh since the late changes in the Excise Laws, and the subsequent cheapness of whiskey."

Edward Turner, Professor of Chemistry in the London University, says:-"It is my firm conviction that Ardent Spirits are not a nourishing article of diet; that in this climate they may be entirely disused, except as a medicine, with advantage to health and strength; and that their habitual use tends to undermine the constitution, enfeeble the mind, and degrade the character. They are one of the principal causes of disease, poverty, and vice."

A curious fact, decisively illustrative of the popular error with respect to the supposed invigorating qualities of stimulating drink, was recently mentioned in the House of Commons. The experiment was tried among the anchor-smiths, in one of the King's Dock Yards, and the furnace-men, or melters of tin ore, in Cornwall. As in each of these occupations the heat of the fires is excessive, and the labour great, it had been always hitherto considered necessary to grant an unlimited supply of beer to the persons engaged in it. But a party of each were prevailed upon, for a sum of money divided among them, to try the experiment of working a gang of water-drinkers against one of beer-drinkers, each equal in number and average strength : and the result of both the experiments went to prove that the water-drinkers could sustain the greatest degree of heat and labour with the least exhaustion or inconvenience.

We will now lay before the reader ANOTHER FACT-alone sufficient to make every good man desirous of lending his aid to the suppression of dram drinking. Mr. Poynder, the sub-sheriff of London, stated before a Parliamentary Committee, that "he had been so long in the habit of hearing criminals refer all their misery to the habit of dram drinking, that he had latterly ceased to ask them the causes of their ruin. Nearly all the convicts for murder with whom he had conversed, had acknowledged that they were under the influence of spirits at the time they committed the acts, for which they were about to suffer. Many had assured him, that they found it necessary, before they could commit crimes of particular atrocity, to have recourse to dram drinking, as a stimulus to fortify their minds to encounter

any risk, and to proceed to all lengths; and he mentioned the cases of several atrocious offenders, whose depravity was by themselves attributed to, and was on investigation found to have originated in, such habits of intoxication." The truth of this statement cannot be questioned and yet there are those —they call themselves the poor man's friend, pur excellence-affect an extreme concern for public morals-and have a species of rabid abhorrence of the most trivial indiscretion in the rich and educated-who strive, all that in them lies, to bring into ridicule and contempt, societies framed for the express purpose of abolishing a practice which is the murderer's indispensable ally!

By an easy and obvious transition, we pass from the consideration of Temperance Societies generally, to the CANTERBURY TEMPERANCE SOCIETY; and if we have succeeded in convincing any one of the importance, we had almost said the duty, of belonging to these admirable institutions, we shall hope that we have added one to the members of the latter, which we trust will flourish; as most assuredly it would do, did its prosperity depend solely on the zeal, philanthropy, and influence of those who took an active part in its formation. As an humble, and we trust not wholly useless, contribution towards its success, we have thrown together these observations.

2

ORIGINES BIBLICE: OR, RESEARCHES IN PRIMEVAL

HISTORY.

BY CHARLES TILSTONE BEKE.

VOL. I.-PARBURY, ALLEN AND Co., LONDON.

From the nature and dimensions of the CANTERBURY MAGAZINE it must be obvious, that our critical articles must be, generally, brief, and confined to such observations as may rather direct the reader's attention to works worthy of notice, than to offer any detailed account of the several books, or any elaborate essay on their subjects. With respect to the publication before us, however, we should feel disposed to deviate from our general principle, both because the author is, as we understand, a Man of Kent, and the discussion itself, one of a most interesting description. But were we to attempt to do justice to Mr. Beke, his work, or ourselves, we must not only occupy our whole number, but increase its bulk to a size which we are sure none of our friends would desire us to do, at the price of one shilling.

Of this we shall at once easily satisfy our readers, by merely glancing at a few of the points which Mr. Beke discusses, and on which he not only takes sometimes new views, and generally treats with great originality and powers of mind, but also brings to bear the results of considerable research and ingenuity.

The principal and most prominent point of Mr. Beke's volume, is, to establish the fact that Mitzraim, in which the Israelites were in bondage, was not the country known as Egypt in latter times. But, in seeking to establish this point, he is led to the consideration of various questions of ancient geography, philology, and genealogy. He assigns positions to countries and rivers-he traces the dispersion of the members of the Noachic familyhe investigates their several claims to seniority—he goes into the much discussed question of the country and age of the author of the book of Job-he enters into a critical examination of the Hebrew text-he endeavours to determine the mode in which the deluge was effected--he raises doubts upon the

claims of Moses to the authorship of Genesis-he enters the field against the theories of Cuvier and others--he brings to bear upon his argument cognate languages and various literature: these and other points he touches-and on these he adduces peculiar theories of his own. Now, any reader in the least degree acquainted with these various subjects, will know that with such circumscribed limits as ours, it cannot be expected we should enter into a full examination of any one of the controversies they embrace. We will not, therefore, pretend either to assent or dissent from Mr. Beke. We will say that we only bring to the book our general acquaintance with these great questions; we have not " read up" for them; and we will therefore merely state our general impression.

Under these qualifications with respect to our assent to Mr. Beke's theory, we have no hesitation in recommending the book to the perusal of not only our theological, but also our more scientific and philosophical readers. The work is evidently the fruit of extended research, and is full of original, and ingenious reasoning, without any approach to dogmatism. The spirit, indeed, in which it is generally written is excellent-evincing a reverence and zeal for the sacred oracles, which are allowed to guide and regulate, but not to fetter inquiry. An investigation so conducted, even should it fail in establishing its immediate object, benefits the cause of true knowledge, and frequently either throws light upon unexpected points, or puts other enquirers upon the track for doing so.

On no question, indeed, is a fairer or a larger field open to the labours of the pious and the scientific, than that of Scriptural Geography. There is much which is imperfectly known, and much that has been assumed upon very questionable data.

We do not, however, mean to aver that Mr. Beke, as well as others, when mounted on his hobby, has him always "in hand." He certainly is now and then run away with, and seems to consider, as unquestionable, conclusions, which to a mind less warmed with the subject, would appear to have scarcely probability. But he always states his convictions with modesty, and shows a desire to avoid the infirmity so natural to a mind heated by the pursuit of a new discovery.

We particularly recommend to attention, his cautions against the too great weight which not only the self-styled philosophical, but even the solid and religious inquirer is apt to attribute to the testimony of heathen historians and fragments, when they appear to come into collision with the accounts of the sacred penman. We find writers, in these cases, treating the points of difference as though it were almost a matter of course, that the discrepancy must shake the credit of the Bible, instead of that of the profane writer;-as though the effort must be made to reconcile the account of the Bible with those of Herodotus or Manetho-instead of making them bow to the Bible,which, looked upon even as a mere record, in both antiquity and every means of correct knowledge, leaves them at an immeasureable distance. Mr. Beke pointedly demonstrates their inferiority. He also ably exposes the folly with which theorists take for granted certain principles, and cause them to be received by the bulk of mankind, as undoubted truths, and make them the basis of fine spun systems, which would be established upon indisputable reasoning, were it not for the trifling defect that the basis itself happens to be totally unsound. The bold assertion put forward by many, and believed by most persons, that nations rise from a savage state to one of civilization, by gradual advances and discoveries of their own, has been questioned by Archbishop Whately, who asserts the "impossibility of mens' emerging, unaided, from a completely savage state." Mr. Beke carries out this theory still farther, and maintains that all history demonstrates that man is inclined to deterioration rather than to "progressive improvement," and "that at no time has improvement taken place, whether in societies or in individuals, without either the assistance of other societies or individuals possessing a higher degree of

« PreviousContinue »