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manner, all the arguments on the subject of temperance, reach not the case, to whatever height of validity the expostulatory reasoning may attain. The imperative usage intervenes, and, like a shield' in the hand of a dexterous “ Athleta," turns aside with ease the keenest and most barbed arrows of conviction.

CHAPTER XX.

DRINKING

USAGES COMMON TO THE THREE

KINGDOMS

continued.

Maltreatment for non-compliance with Usage--Sending to Coventry-Prin

ciple of Imitation as a Rule of Conduct–Trivialness of Sacrifice proves unfavourable to Anti-usage--Small Combination sufficient to destroy Usage --Circumstances generally favourable to Abrogation--Courtesy will not thereby be infringed-Case of a Strike to enforce Usage—The artificial Connexion with Liquor must be disputed—Teetotal Pledge not to "give or offer”—Plans of Anti-usage Operations-Collateral Combinations-General Estimate of the Case--Stated Prayer-Conclusion.

We have, from time to time, made mention of sending to Coventry as a frequent penalty for declining to conform to the pernicious system we are investigating. Let us pause a moment, to consider the nature and extent of this point of discipline. One of the most agreeable conditions in life that any man can be placed in, is to enjoy the general good-will and favour of those with whom he is destined to hold daily intercourse. It is extremely grateful to human feelings to live in an atmosphere of kindness; when the compatriot is certain of having his benevolent susceptibilities and generous actions responded to in the hearts of his companions; and even his failings or faults scanned with a gentle scrutiny only, or perhaps excused with an half-prejudiced indulgence; but with men working together in a shop or manufactory, a certain cooperation of mind and hand is absolutely requisite for the very existence of combined fellowship and manipulation. There are many processes among handicraftsmen that cannot be performed without the occasional, but immediate mutual assistance of fellow-workmen; so that in this class, men have

it in their power to annoy, maltreat, and persecute one another, to a degree that is unknown among other ranks, who can escape the company and presence of those who are disagreeable to them by mere change of place.

When a man in a manufactory is sent to Coventry, he has immediately withdrawn from him all the charities, and even the common decencies of life: in some cases his very labour is marred and rendered useless from want of the due assistance of his mates. He is put out of the pale of protection. The flood-gates of jealousy, ridicule, reproach, and scorn, are thrown open permanently and statedly. Any benevolent individual dare not approach to the rescue, for fear of plunging into the same undesirable condition. Has the man been a backbiter; has he sown mischief; has he injured his companions or their families, in person, reputation, or estate? In such a case he should deserve his chastisement: nay, to a coarse and sensual mind, such treatment would scarce be a punishment. Has the martyr done such things? No! he has simply, honestly, and benevolently done his duty. Moreover, such a punishment tells upon his wise and susceptible mind a thousand times more than it would on a debauched victim of a debased drunken system. The punishment is extreme, it is inadequate to the offence. Where is the sense of equity among the working classes of Britain? Has the sentiment fled the land? No! it is at present overclouded and enveloped in the distorted and infernal atmosphere of national compulsory drinking usage.

We might have entered greatly more at large into the unworthy treatment which those receive, who refuse to conform to the absurd and dangerous customs which have been detailed; but regret our deficiency in this respect the less, that we continue assured that it is only a slight investigation that is wanted, to satisfy every intelligent person on this head : and we have had constantly before us the fear of tediousness, being aware that we live in a generation who will not endure prolixity, and who for the most part prefer skimming to scanning. In our endeavours to condense, therefore, we must have often been unintelligible and obscure; and to brevity may perhaps have sacrificed perspicuity. The author of “Will and Jean" has said

“What! break through custom ? at whose stern command
All bend the knee in this obsequious land;
Who, armed with terrors, lays down stated rules,
That fetter wise men equal with weak fools.”

Total abstinence, which is the only safety of the drunkard, is interrupted almost every hour of the day, by the intrusion and interference of some of these stated customs; and these it is falsely judged impossible to avoid or controvert. The fatal usages are supposed to be natural evils, to which Britain and Ireland are destined; and, as we have already said, to predominate like the thunderbolt and the tempest, which no power can turn aside. Whereas, when men's minds are duly prepared for it, there is nothing more easy to commute and change; indeed, as we have before observed, nothing is so changeable as custom.

There are two motives which may induce a community to adopt particular usages; the first, a consideration of their propriety and usefulness; the last, the sheer imitation of their metropolitan leaders of fashion. In such matters as dress, or the pronunciation of language, no great moral harm can result from following the last ground of action, although not one of very dignified rank; and therefore, we by no means would propose to head a rebellion, to determine the wide or narrow sleeves of the ladies, or the swallow-tails of the other sex. We leave the public to settle with the artist and statuary, how far our ever-changing costume corresponds to the philosophy of embellishment, or to the line of beauty. But in such a critical subject as drinking usage, we must be seriously excused, though we resist the gliding into the submissive principle of mere imitation. It is apparent, that here the case is worthy of the admission of a higher element; and in the particular instance before us, it does happen that the modes of the supreme haut ton, of the most refined and courteous portion of the nation, are favourable to non-drinking usage. But it is singular, that the very minuteness and inconsiderableness of the specific changes that we propose, should be prejudicial to our case; and that the trivialness of the sacrifice we demand should militate against general acquiescence in our terms. There are men who would freely risk life and fortune, were they fully persuaded that such an offering, however costly, would

prove the cure of national intemperance; but we have no such exaction to require-nothing so interesting or sublime.

When the late ruler of France lay encamped at Boulogne, encircled with the wide array of the columns and divisions of the army of invasion; all English hearts were alive to a species of joyful danger, and waited with throbbing delight till the

French should first put foot upon our shores. The peril of the case proved its grand allurement

“Rous'd at the menace, straight the haughty isle
Took fire, and vibrating with proud alarms,
Swells every heart, and stirs the very soil:
And the bright sun applauds a realm in arms.
“One voice, one soul! and darkly now has frown'd
Majestic Nore; old English counties wield
The might of centuries; with rapt'rous bound

The Highland glens rush to th' indignant field."* But there has to this realm risen up another species of enemy, who has seized some strong positions, and who threatens to take full possession. Perhaps it would be difficult to conceive a condition of deeper debasement than what this country will descend to, if national intemperance shall extend much farther. She must be emancipated from this thraldom. But in the attempt there is nothing splendid; there is in the process no imposing pinnacle of fame for ambition to gloat upon. To sustain a modicum of contempt, a few hard words from those who, after it all are likely to obey the very remonstrance they appear to scorn, will be the chief sacrifice that shall be required in this warfare. When a man is informed that a glorious moral victory shall be obtained in the kingdom, by his giving up drinking healths, or by abstaining from complimentary wine in the forenoon, or from alcoholic

drinks in general, his mind instantly begins to generate notions of contempt and incredulity; he is like the Syrian warrior, who expected to be asked to do some great thing, and who was in a rage on being desired simply to bathe in Jordan. We, also, are wrought up into a sort of indignation, when urged to such minute methods of abolishing general inebriation, and we turn from them with disdain to the Pharpar and Abana of those preferable preconceptions for working out the desired effect, which we have excogitated for ourselves; and even those who are satisfied upon the point, find their moral courage die within them, when summoned to have the honour of drinking wine with a patron, or some distinguished man at a dimmer-table ; or, in Scotland, to drink the health of the chief mourner at a funeral; or in any of the three kingdoms, to taste a bumper to the popular toast given from the chair, at a public festival ; and this, in a great measure, hecause, on so trivial a point, they do not consider it worth while to rally up the quantum sufficit of resolution.

* Address to Napoleon Bonaparte.

In contemplating the preparation of mind, and ultimate mental resolve, which the abstinence, or the anti-usage principle respectively demands, I have been struck with a remarkable distinction between them. When an inebriate relinquishes the stimulation of alcohol, he enters into a corporal bodily conflict, which is in some degree personal to himself, and depends on his own individual decision and perseverance. The abandonment of a mere usage requires no corporal sacrifice; nevertheless, it exacts as much moral courage, and a great deal more. Out of a hundred individuals, who can all leave off strong drink on its own account, perhaps not above one out of the whole number will discover the possession of metaphysical resolution equal to face and contemn any usage that may be general in his own class. But a circumstance extremely worthy of notice here emerges: a very partial combination is sufficient to destroy a drinking usage. The force of general usage brought to bear upon an individual is to him nearly irresistible, but it is powerless against even a small combination; as the compressed vapour of the steam-engine is uncontrollable till annihilated by the chilling application of the condenser. This has been matter of experience, and may form subject of much encouragement to adventurers in the anti-usage scheme. To give up drinking alcohol, by one accustomed to this indulgence, requires a bold act of immediate decision ; and, what is much more, a continued perseverance and sustained vigilance; but to abolish a drinking usage requires only one brief instance of ordinary determination of a certain collective number. The difficulty of the case has not been found, generally, to lie in the act of abolition, but in previously preparing men's minds, and bringing them up to the enterprise. The point may be considered as gained, when a sufficient number of assailants have enlisted themselves against a usage.

We have admitted, that in the case of the Scottish shipwrights above-mentioned, other motives than any connected with temperance were in operation at abrogating the launchbowl, as above detailed. Connected with almost all the usages, there may be spied ont similar extraneous assistance, which can be advantageously pressed into the service of antiusage; such as, proof of the vulgarity of health-drinking, the obsoleteness of drinking together at the dinner-table among the more fashionable of the highest ranks, and, above all, the expense of the drinking customs. To the giver, all drinking

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