Elliott Colby Cogswell.

A temperance address, delivered Sabbath evening, Feb. 2, 1851, at New Market ... online

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Online LibraryElliott Colby CogswellA temperance address, delivered Sabbath evening, Feb. 2, 1851, at New Market ... → online text (page 2 of 2)
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with that reform. As cousin-german to Phrenology, Mesmer-
ism ran a parallel race — a humbug exceeded only by the later
mysteries of the **Spirit-Rappings."

Then arose the Anti-Capital Punishment question, and mul-
titudes run mad with sympathy for the murderer. The
Scriptures were wrested from their natural and logical import
so as to forbid the taking of life under any circumstances. —
Now, we have no argument on this question if, under existing
state of society in civilized lands with adequate facilities for
securing the murderer from doing future harm, it is affirmed
that it is inexpedient to take human life, and that the benevo-
lent spirit of the New Testament will allow it. But when
men affirm that the Scriptures forbid the taking of life under
any circumstances, they commit an outrage upon the holy

Now these subjects were all more or less interwoven with
the temperance question and forced upon it, — Politics, Anti-
Slavery, Women's Rights, Phrenology, Mesmerism and Anti-
Capital Punishment — forming a kind of ** Omnibus." Ques-
tions were put together which God had never joined, and
which should have been kept asunder.

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Soon this " Omnibus'' was found to be unwieldy ; the
whole body of pseudo reformers were unable to give it motion
and at length it broke down. Then new measures were
adopted ; new combinations were entered into, known by
characteristic titles — Odd-Fellows^ RechabiteSy Sons of Tem-
perance, and, as a natural sequence, the Daughters of Tern-
pcrartcey and, what is not less natural, the little Cadets.

Of the Odd-Fellows we know but little. Indeed we are
not sure that they claim to possess the alchemy which is able
to convert drunkenness into sobriety. Of the Rechabites we
know as little. We have yet to learn that they have done
much to advance the temperance cause. Of the Sons of
Temperance we know more, and have sometimes thought if
they could secure the co-operation of the intelligent and vir-
tuous generally, they might do much to advance the temper-
' ance reform. But hitherto they have failed to do this. It is
true, the parent institution and its numerous branches reckon
their members by thousands in every part of the Union. Still
a vast majority of the friends of the temperance cause do not
sympathize with this institution, and are not likely to. That
it is a secret institution, will always gather around it serious
prejudices ; its exclusive feature admitting members by pro-
pounding and subsequent vote when so small a minority may
occasion rejection ; its imposing titles of Most fVbrthy Patri-
arch and the like, a little too patriarchal for these times of '
Steam Engines and Magnetic Wires ; the time which it re-
quires for its frequent sessions ; its Regalia — ^a gew-gaw, a
pretty toy for children, or gartered gentlemen, in lands where
men are children ; its expenses, a serious burden to many ; its
apparent, though as it seems to many, mocked solemnity, and
its really childish aspect, will always be felt as objections to
it, by a large majority of the serious and aged. Upon mature
reflection, I am constrained to believe that it will prove a fail-
ure as a means of effectually remedying the evils of intemper-

We cannot but hope the Daughters of Temperance may
affect much in this and every other good cause, by being ** dis-
creet, chaste; keepers at home, obedient to their own hus-

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bands,'' or fehhfiil to worthy smtors, thereby becoming " a)r-
ner stones polished after the similitude of a palace."

Towards every member of all these institutions, or forms
of organization, we cherish none but the kindest feelings*
We are not forgetful of the fact that some of the purest spirits
of our day — ^the pride of every community, are associated with
one or more of these agencies. Still we are convinced Aat
all of these will have but an ephemeral existence.* Viewed
as one, its days must ere long be numbered, and survivors must
plaintively say,

*<Fare thee wed!, great heart!

ni-weaved ambition, how art thou shrunk 1
When that this body did contain a spirit ,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now, two paces of the yilest earth
Is room enough ; — ^This earth that bears the dead.
Bears not alire So stout a gentleman.
Adieu, and take thy praise with thee to heaven!
Thy i^ominy deep with thee in the grave.
But not remember'd in thy epitaph!"

We hope to give offence to none. We have spoken the
honest convictions of our heart and must abide the consequen-
ces. If any should take umbrage at what we have uttered,
we say with Richard,

«Wrath4dndled gentlemen, be ml'd by me;
Lefs ptirge this choler without letting blood;
This we prescribe, though no physician;
Beep mahce makes too deep incision;
Forget, forgave; conclude and be agreed;
Our doctors say this is no time to bleed."

We come now to speak of some of the restdts of this state
of things. The public mind has become unstable, no object
is steadily pursued. Many inventions are made, but few are
perfected. Before one measure is fully tested another is pro-
posed. We have become changlings — chamelions, with ever
varying hue — ^loving novelties and gathering the most spicy
rarities, now tasting this, and then that. We have had
temperance ahstract and temperance concrete^ Odd-Fellows,
Rechabites, Sons of Temperance, Daughters of Temperance,
and littie Cadets ; and by way of unlawful marriage, tem-

* All such associations aie necessarily short-lived ; there is no bond of imion suffi-
ciently strong to sustain them when the stimulus of novelty ceases ; members will
soon become tired of the repetition of the same ceremonies, and of bearing expenses
to which they so seldom receive important *< benefits." The inturance f&ature in tiiese
inititotioiis will piove, we fear, illusive. ^ - .

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perance political Parties, Anti-Slavery, Women's Rights,
Phrenology, Mesmerism, Anti-Capital Punishment, and all
Ae rest of Babel confounded and Pandemonium let loose —
all forced into one car and drawn by a puffing, ricketty, brok-
en engine, with a host of distracted enthusiasts pushing be-
hind and shouting tumultuously, exciting the pity of some,
and the ridicule of others.* In view of all such schemes so
far as they relate to the temperance reform, we are ready to
adopt the sentiment in the following lines : —

*<0f measures new, of measures old,
Of measures hot, of measuies cold.
Of measures tender, measures tough,
Thank you, sirs, we've had enough."

Those whose talents and moral worth qualify them to en-
sure success to any good cause have been compelled to follow
illiterate, reckless and self-righteous reformed inebriates ; or
those who were urging forward, a " many-headed hobby,"
or retire from the field, abiding the hour when the mass of
the people shall recover from their insane love of those who
only seek to play upon their passions and secure a generous
contribution, or to induce them to trample upon the Sabbath
and despise sacred things*

Contrast in your minds the lecturers who have harrangued
our temperance assemblies for the last ten years with the
worthies who lent the influence of their moral character and
intellectual attainments to this cause which has been so dear
to them. 1 will forbear recording their names in connection
with such men as Judge Parker, Dr. Appleton, the Chan-
nings, Samuel Haven, the Everetts, Lewis Cass, B. F. But-
ler, Pierce, Kitteredge, Sargent and Mussy. These were the
men who were formerly listened to with intense interest, wis-
dom and eloquence were upon their lips, and every effort
made moved the cause aright. But they are not now sought
for because they cannot gratify the public taste with anec-
dotes and personal experience in scenes of debauch.

Formerly aged fathers and mothers were interested, and

*It should be distinctly imderstood that there is here intended no disrespect to the
AntL-Slayery cause, nor to the Sons of Temperance by thus speakmg of them in con-
nection with other organizations or questions less reputable. They are all spoken of
as characteristic of the times only, and as being more or less connected with the tem-
perance reform though they bear no other relation to each other.

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men of wealth contributed cheerfully for the advancement of
this reform. It is not so now. They cannot follow in the
zig-zag path of those who have been leaders ; they have been
outrun ; the old land-marks have been removed, and, in the
distracting evolutions of the men, whom Falstaff would have
been ashamed to own as his soldiers, they have found safety
only in standing still. Thus the influence of most of the lead-
ing minds in the Church and State has been withdrawn from the
temperance cause, from the conviction that exerted in present
channels and in conjunction with such men, the evil resulting
therefrom would outweigh the good. It is not because they
do not cherish in their hearts, this noble cause. They are
ready to come to its rescue and to carry it forward to its ulti-
mate triumph whenever the public mind will suffer it — ^when-
ever the people shall be tired of Quixotic and Utopian
schemes — whenever they shall cease to exclaim, " These be
thy gods, O Israel !"

Measures are now wanted that shall regain the confidence
and cooperation of those who stand aloof from the enterprise.
It will not do to despise the intelligent and men of wealth,
and say, we will go along without them. We cannot go
without them successftJly. We need the combined influence
of both in a reform of so much greatness. We need the
Clergy, the Lawyers, the Physicians, the teachers and the
leading men in political parties, the aged and the prudent.—
These were with us in 1836; they can, by the adoption of
judicious and manly measures, be regained. Because they
are not with us, the cause does not progress. There is not
power enough without them to urge forward such a cumber-
ous car as that in which it is attempted to be borne. It is
not denied that there are now actively engaged in the tem-
perance cause, many worthy of all confidence and praise, who
have lent their influence to the measures of later times in the
hope of accomplishing some good though they might not re-
alize all that they desired, but all they can do is to hold fast
the things that remain ; their associates are hindrances by their
excesses and visionary schemes. They need to be encour-
aged and strengthened by the cordial cooperation of every

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friend of morality, while they should abandon such measures
as must ever be rejected by those who have been detached
from the temperance reform.

The question then arises, what is to be done ? 1 answer
we must return to the old paths ; we must do our first works ;
we mtist Mtari again toith the simple pledge of total abstinence^
and keep the subject distinct from all others that all may with-
out distraction contemplate the evils of intemperance and uni-
tedly labor to remove them* Other subjects are well enough
in themselves, and some of them deserving the cordial sup-
port of every virtuous man ; but let us not have too many
good things together and at once. The temperance cause
should not be embarrassed by any question or measure foreign
to itself by which the mind of any shall be prejudiced. Tern-
perance^-HvaX is the question, and so let it be, Temperance
forever. On this we can secure the cooperation of the aged
as well as the young ; the rich as well as the poor ; the pro-
iGossional man and the mechanic ; the merchant and the man-
ufacturer. All can unite upon the simple basis of total ab-
stinence however they may differ about other questions, and
thus present an unbroken front — the powerful influence of
united efforts.

It should not be forgotten that there is a mighty work yet
to be performed befoie intemperance will cease, and when
Sandballat and Tobiah seek to call us away from our appro-
priate efforts by provoking us to strife and division, we should
with united voice reply, " We are doing a great work, so that
we cannot come down : why should the work cease, whilst
we leave it, and come down to you ?" More light must be
elicited ; there are facts that should be laid before the com-
munity in respect to the influence of alcohol upon the body
and the mind — upon social happiness, and all the great inter-
ests of men, which have not become generally known. Dark-
ness is not wholly removed ; the whole subject needs to be
investigated anew ; here is work for the anatomist and f^ys-
iologist ; the (orator and the teacher of ethics. Apd we would
cherish the conviction that the time has ahready come whep
intelligent and prudent men can labor again effectively in this

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cause. We are convinced that a reaction is taking place in
the public mind, that there is a desire for light and a re-
turn to rational and feasible measures. We desire that such
may be our efforts that we may commend ourselves to all en-
lightened minds and secure their cordial cooperation* We
would carry the conviction that ours is no child's sport but the
stern resolve of men to rid ourselves of the untold evils of in-
temperance, and to secure to us and to others the invaluable
blessings of sobriety. In this way only can we accomplish
the object.

We have already intimated that it is our duty to keep the
temperance cause distinct from political strife. We have come
to this conclusion deliberately* Massachusetts has tried to
promote the cause by temperance political organizations time
and again, but I think always with serious detriment* We
have tried it in New Hampshire with no better success, I
would not be understood to affirm that the reform may not be
aided politically* We must have wise and stringent laws for
thofic who cannot be restrained by moral influence ; consequent-
ly wc need temperate men for legislators and town officers.
But these may be best secured by efforts in convection with
existing parties to obtain them as candidates, and by alioays
refusing to vote for such as are not governed by temperance
principles. Let it be known by those who countenance the
use or sale of liquors that, from principle they cannot have
your votes, and, if elected, they must be by the persons whose
character they despise and whose praise is offensive ; and
there will be a moral power in this which will do more to ad-
vance the cause than many party votes. The objections to
a distinct organization to act politically, arise from the feet
that not a few of the best friends of the reform doubt its ex-
pediency and are with reluctance forced into it ; while others
are so connected with existing parties that they cannot be in-
duced to abandon them, and they are thus of necessity iden-
tified with the enemies of the cause. Where there is a party
organization those who compose it assume the aspect of parti-
sans — they are conceived of as such by others, and so treated.
In this way it becomes a struggle for office and political pow-

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er, and all the evil passions of the depraved heart are excited
against those who may be honestly seeking to secure the as-
cendency of virtue only. They must oppose all the enraged
visitors of the tippling house, who otherwise might be com-
paratively harmless. In party strife all moral power is
lost ; the dignity of the cause and of its friends is sacrificed ;
and though victory may be achieved, it is but little better than
defeat. I am persuaded that the temperance cause will tri-
umph by its own inherent excellence if its friends will not
force it into unholy alliances.

It is asked, shall we not invoke the aid of the law by way
of prosecutions ? Shall the retailers riot undisturbed in their
destructive business ? It is acknowledged that most of those
engaged in this nefarious business can be reached only by the
arm of the law. Still it may be questioned if the state of
public opinion with us is such as to render it expedient to
avail ourselves of the law. When an association was formed .
in this county for the purpose of more successful prosecution,
I sjrmpathized with it most cordially ; but upon watching its
operations, I fear it will accomplish but little good for us at
present. There is a want of confidence in the mesisure, and
especiaUy in some of its leaders. Indeed such has been the
chimerical schemes for the last ten years that confidence both
in men and measures hsis been destroyed, and no plan however
wise can soon regain it. It is also true that large numbers
sympathize with the prosecuted and render it exceedingly
difficult to reach the offenders. Not a few of the leading
men in the community are ready to give them " aid and com-
fort '' either because they are opposed to the temperance
cause^ or from a conviction of the injustice of the means em-
ployed in suppressing the traffic. It must also be confessed
that our courts seem happy in finding means by which to let
the prosecuted go unharmed. These are serious obstacles.
They all arise firom the want of a correct public sentiment, and
it is inexpedient to resort to law until the strong pressure of
public opinion will enforce it.

What we want is to create a public opinion that shall al-
ways, and on all occasions, sympathize with the temperance

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reform, that a few ardent, self-sacrificing men shall not, as
now, have to labor in opposition to the indifference and
distrust of the intelligent, the aged and rich ; — ^that those
who control, in a great measure, the business of the com-
munity and the measures of political parties, shall lend
their influence to the fHends of the reform and not to the
destroyers of the peace and morals of the people.

This is our work ; and when this is done it will be easy
to perfect the temperance reform. But to do this we must
begin at the root of the evil ; lay a sure foundation in in-
telligence and morality, in propriety and purity of conduct
The coknmunity must be made to see and feel the evils of
intemperance and be impelled to united efforts for their
removal The father, the mother, the son, the daughter,
the clergjrman, the lawyer, the physician, the mechanic,
the citizen, — all — o/i, have a part to perform in this great
enterprise. Let them not shrink from this good work,
which is so full of hope, and whose triumph will be so
full of felicity. " Against the common destroyer we must
stand boldly forth, in word and in work It is these, that
like the prophefs prayer and the warrior's valor, must
achieve the victory togdherP Let each remember that by
time and patience he may accomplish much. His gentle
entreaties, his temperate zeal and his consistent efforts

«£ach virtaous mind will wake.
As the small pebble stars the peaceful lake;
The centre moyed, a cizde straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Itiends, kindred, neighbor, first it will embrace,
His country next, and next all human race."

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Online LibraryElliott Colby CogswellA temperance address, delivered Sabbath evening, Feb. 2, 1851, at New Market ... → online text (page 2 of 2)