Leonard Withington.

The Puritan : a series of essays, critical, moral, and miscellaneous (Volume 2) online

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ment but renovation. We have been born into this
world of guilt and suffering ; and we must be born
into the kingdom of purity and peace.

" True conversion," says Pascal, " consists in an
nihilating ourselves before the Being whom we have
so often offended, and who might justly destroy us at
any moment ; in acknowledging we have no power
without him, and that we merit nothing but disgrace.
It consists in knowing that there is an invincible op
position between us and God, and that without a
Mediator we can never be reconciled." This defini
tion comes from a member of the Romish church;
and shows that true piety, whether among Catholics
or Protestants, is precisely the same.

Addison, in his theological sentiments, was probably
too favorable to human nature. He would talk of
man s infantile innocence, and the purity of the heart
which is uncorrupted by age or intercourse with the
world ; yet he has inadvertently left a strong testimony
to the corruption of man. In his essay on the pleasures
of the imagination, he says, " there are very few
who know how to be idle and innocent ; or have a
relish of any pleasures that are not criminal : every
diversion they take, is at the expense of some one
virtue or another ; and their first step out of business,
is into vice or folly." What is this but saying that



THE PURITAN. 63

the majority of men are so corrupt, that they sin
whenever they find opportunity ? Such beings need
renovation.

Of all the minds that have grappled with moral
difficulties, and shed light on the path which conducts
an inquisitive mind from doubt to conviction, I know
none greater than that of Bishop Butler.* No man
saw a difficulty so far ahead ; no man was more sa
gacious in anticipating an objection ; no man ever
came to his conclusions with more deliberation. Yet
this great man bears his testimony to the same point.
" Upright creatures may want to be improved ; de
praved creatures want to bejenewed."

Shakspeare, Pascal, Addison, Butler! these are
illustrious names ; they are mentioned, not to overbear
the reader s mind by great authorities, but to induce
him to look well within, before he rejects a doctrine
confirmed by their united testimony.

* The vast superiority of Butler, to all other writers in spir
ituals and morals, has not, I think, been sufficiently noticed.
As you read him for the fiftieth time, (and no man can begin
fully to comprehend him until then,) you always find as you
think deeper, he has been ahead, sounded all the depths and
shoals of possible objection, and formed a clearer and more
consistent conception of the distinctive nature of moral reason
ing, than any other man. He is the Newton of the moral
world. The only reason why he does not silence all infidels,
I must think in charity, is, because they do not comprehend
him.



THE PURITAN

No. 37.



Ho resolved in his heart not to commit disloyalty against his lady, Dul-
cenea del Tobaso, though queen Ginebra herself, with the lady duintaniona,
should present themselves before him.

Don Quixote.

No man rejoices more sincerely than I do at the
progress of the cause of temperance. Though I have
already confessed that I myself was once a seller of
what some have strongly called the liquid poison; yet
I have long since testified my repentance by a refor
mation. I never felt happy while it was my lot to
draw certain liquors by pints and gills from my red
casks; I never liked my customers; and I can assure
my charitable readers, that I have carried away from
that employment, as from all others, very little of the
wages of unrighteousness. Ardent spirit has now no
place among the articles of my family ; and is likely
never to return, my case being one of those in which
poverty watches over virtue.



THE PURITAN. 65

In our town we have had many addresses on this
subject ; and human ingenuity has exhausted all its
arts to make an impression. One orator gave us a
dialogue between a drunkard and a snake sticking
his head out of a bottle , which snake I believe was
the devil though on that point the speaker was not
very clear. Another painted to us the miseries of a
neglected family; described a ruined house and farm.
Some have showed the physical effects of intemperance,
some the political, and some the moral ; and all have
given us a good spice of what is too often the chief
ingredient in popular eloquence exaggeration. I have
been hoping my fellow-townsmen would choose me
to address them on this subject ; but hitherto they
have neglected me ; and I am determined that the
burden which rests on my spirits, shall be removed ;
and the eloquence which might ha-ve inspired my
voice, shall trickle from my pen.

Spirit of Decency ! and Spirit of Truth ! descend
from the skies, and hover over my head with your
mixed pinions, whose colors are composed of black
and white, and every hue between them ! Let my
eloquence flow not in a pure crystal stream, for such
streams are scarcely found in nature, and I am sure
are seldom found in New England. But let the real
waters of Mother Brooks or Mill River, flow from my
mouth. I am the child of nature ; I am the servant
of truth; and to the children of nature, in the sim
plicity of truth, would I choose to speak. O ye



66 THE PURITAN.

severer powers,, who watch the weeds as well as the
roses of our world, come, come from your homely
abodes, your colleges, your taverns, your barns and
your wigwams, to enlighten my perceptions and
prompt my tongue !

Notwithstanding all the changes which have been
run through on this subject, there is one point of light
in which, though important, I have not yet seen it
fully placed. I allude to the influence which the
female sex may have on this cause. We have had a
great deal of pathetic description of domestic suffer
ing ; and, in all these scenes, the woman has been
introduced as the victim, and not in the smallest
degree as the coadjutor in the blame. We have had
pictured before our eyes, until our tears have flowed
like rivers, the brutal husband, coming home from
the tavern, to play the tyrant over his family ; knock
ing down his wife ; throwing his children into the fire ;
now whetting his knife to cut their throats, and thirst
ing for their blood almost as intensely as before he
thirsted for his drink ; raving, scolding, storming, and
filling the whole house with distress and alarm ; while
his poor innocent partner sits by, dissolved in tears ;
an angel of perfection, introduced by the skilful
painter for no other purpose than as a foil to set off
the depravity of her husband, who is represented as
nothing but the image of personified drunkenness.
All the brutality and wrong are on one side, and all
the innocence and suffering on the other. These



THE PURITAN. 67

gentlemen seem to forget in their gallantry, that God
has made of one blood, all the nations which dwell on
the earth ; that the same appetites are found in both
sexes ; that a female tippler is not absolutely an ens
rationis ; that often the wife follows the husband in
the transgression, and has even been known to lead
the way. Sin in one respect is like the great Being
who abhors it it is no respecter of persons ; and will
sometimes take up its abode in those gentle bosoms
from which our imagination would wish it away. I
think, I have read in a book which has as little ro
mantic feeling in it, as any book I ever did read, of a
man and his wife, who were once placed in a garden,
in which there was one tree bearing hurtful fruit. It
bore some analogy to ardnif spirit ; it was intoxicat
ing and dangerous, liable to injure both themselves
and family ; and they were enjoined a total abstinence
with respect to it. Well, who was it broke over this
rule first ? Who first violated the temperance pledge
in the garden of Eden ? The man did notJgo to this
grog-shop of forbidden gratification, to make himself
intoxicated with the essence of human depravity ; and
then go home to beat his poor wife, and turn her out
from her beautiful abode into a wilderness of thorns
and briers. No doubt this would have made a much
more pathetic story than the dry repulsive facts as we
now find them on the unimaginative page of the oldest
of all books. But how was it ? The WOMAN, being
deceived, was the first in the transgression. W T hen



68 THE PURITAN.

THE WOMAN saw that the tree was good for food, and
that it was pk as ant to the eyes, and a tree to be de
sired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof,
and did eat and gave also to her husband with her and
he did eat. Eve has generally been accounted a
beautiful woman ; she was certainly a wife, and she
led her husband into sin ; and hence I infer, from the
Bible itself, notwithstanding all our fine imaginings,
that the fair may be frail ; that the grossest vice may
deform and disgrace the tenderest sex.

The influence of females may be great in promot
ing temperance, and all its happy consequences.

The influence of woman has been great in all the
departments of life. Her smiles cheer, her frowns
depress, her counsels are heard, her tears are felt, and
her example will be followed. It is true, her power
is not like the thunder, which strikes and consumes,
but it is like the blossom which silently perfumes the
air. Solomon, the wisest of men, has represented the
tenderness of maternal wisdom, pouring its counsel
into the ears of a son ; and it is generally supposed to
be himself under a fictitious name. It is not for
kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor
for princes strong drink; lest they drink and forget
the law, mid pervert the judgment of any of the
afflicted. The wisdom of Solomon would have been
useless without temperance, and temperance was
taught from a mother s tongue. In Greece, the state
of female manners was one of the most powerful



THE PURITAN. 69

causes of the cold and heartless fashions of domestic
life. Education was lavished on the harlot, while the
wife, imprisoned at home, raised but a little above the
domestic slaves, was denied all those accomplishments
which would surround utility with the ornaments of
the imagination, and give new attractions to the
beauties of virtue. Female influence was felt in
Roman history. It has been justly remarked, that
most of their great revolutions are to be traced to the
influence of woman on the public councils. The
names of Julia, Lucretia, Virginia, Fulvia and Cleo
patra, are proofs of what I say. Female influence
never can be accounted as trifling, when it is recol
lected that two of the greatest events in which this
world was ever interested, were accomplished by their
instrumentality. By a woman sin entered our world,
and by a woman a Saviour was born !

But especially in domestic life is their example felt.
A garden is not more the proper place for some fair
flower to unfold its leaves, and diffuse its sweetness,
than domestic life is the place where a woman, by a
constant action amidst quiet shades, is to accomplish
the good which is not the less real, because it may
never reach the public ear. It is the throne of her
influence, the sphere of her duties, the paradise of her
enjoyments. Take a man of the most decided char
acter, of the most settled resolution, of the clearest
views, and he will sometimes be influenced by his
wife. Buonaparte was an example. The impetuous



70 THE PURITAN.

temper of the warrior, before whom all Europe trem
bled, was guided and directed by the insinuating Jo
sephine. What a beautiful example have we in
Scripture. Manoah was afraid ; he had seen a vision.
The terrible countenance of the angel of God, had
been uncovered to him ; and he was afraid he should
die ; but what says his wife ? If the Lord had been
pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt
offering at our hands ; neither would he have showed
us all these things. Solomon, the wisest of men,
was beguiled by fair idolatresses ; and Samson, the
Danite strong, lost his locks on the lap of her who
conquered strength by the smiles of deceitful love.
Over children, the power of a mother is immense.
The influence of a woman on the world through the
medium of her family, may be compared to the action
of the gentle breeze on the trees of the forest. The
breeze is invisible, the tree is a pillar, lofty and
strong, apparently too firm to be moved by the varying
air, in which its branches w\ye without resistance.
But at the rising of the evening gale, every leaf trem
bles, and the whole vegetable phalanx derives its life
and vigor from the apparently feeble agent which it
seems to deride. St. Paul recognizes that influence
as great, when he asks, what knowest thou, O wife,
but thou shalt save thy husband ? Yes, I exult in the
strength of my examples, for they reach to salvation !



THE PURITAN
No. 38.



At Bacchus feast non shall her mete

Xe at no wanton playe ;
Nor gasing in an o^.en street,
Nor gadding as astray ;

The modest mirth, that she doth use,
Is mixed with shamefastness ;
All vice she doth wholly refuse,

And hateth ungodleness.

Old song, of uncertain auctores.

THE influence of w^ an is felt by direct example ;
and the temperance cause is precisely the one in
which it is most likely to be salutary and extensive.
I am not sure that this sex have not been as deep in
this sin as the other part of our race. I know it is
pleasing to believe, that a delicate lady is above such
low appetites ; that a female heart, is the seat of re
finement; and purity, and softness, and, at least, tem
perance. A lover, can hardly bear the idea that his
mistress is given to eating ; in some romances, they



72 THE PURITAN.

never eat at all ; they have the art of subsisting on
love alone ; he can hardly bear that she should prefer
a glass of wine, to water. But it is shocking to him
beyond measure, that she should keep a bottle of
cordials in her closet, which is nothing but alcohol
under a softer name ; and that the hues on her.
cheek, red as the blushes of the morning, should not
be the fresh paint of nature, but of something else.
It is very pathetic when we see a miserable family, to
suppose that the husband drinks all the rum, and the
wife sheds all the tears. 1 have several pamphlets
written in this very strain, which I have thoughts of
sending in to our societies, which offer prizes for
excitements to benevolent genius. But I am afraid,
if we should establish a strict system of induction,
and put down the result in those figures which cannot
lie, we should find an alarming proportion of women,
who have so much of flesh and blo^d, as actually to
drink spirit ; and if they do drink it, the consequence
is inevitable it will intoxicate their delicate brains,
as well as those of the vilest drunkard that ever at
tempted in vain to walk the street. It is horrible to
think of it ; but perhaps if we were to take the world
through, we should find an equal proportion of drunk
ards in one sex, as the other. True, they become so
in very different ways. With man, it is a social vice ;
they become intemperate in company. With women,
it is taken as a medicine. They have feebler consti
tutions ; they are denominated the weaker vessels.



THE PURITAN. 73

They are subject to unaccountable depression of
spirits. They are confined to rooms ; sit over warm
fires ; use little exercise ; are pinched up in fashion
able garments ; have often little to do, and much to
imagine. They find themselves sick, or sad, or per
plexed, or gloomy ; have lost their spirits or their ap
petites ; and nothing seems to set them to rights so
speedily as some precious cordial, in which alcohol
lurks under some pleasing name. Man, becomes a
drunkard, for the most part, in public ; woman, in
solitude. Man, takes his glass from the bar-room;
woman, from the labelled bottle kept in the closet.
Man, drinks to make himself more merry ; woman,
to remove her sadness. Man, often makes his crime
too public; woman, conceals it even from herself.
Man, drinks without an excuse, and a woman always
has a very good one. Besides, the female sex pass
more of their time alone ; they use less exercise than
their more vigorous counterparts ; their hearts often
slumber in inactivity, for the want of a motive ,- and
he knows little of the course of temptation, who sees
not, that solitude is no security against the creepings
of this seductive vice. Such is its constant activity,
that it comes upon us in company and alone.

I will only add that female intemperance is most
prevalent in great cities, and in high places. The
stately matron, imprisoned for hours in magnificent
seclusion, is compelled to wear away the hours with
out a motive ; and flies to the bottle for relief.

VOL. II. 6



74 THE PURITAN.

Thus a woman should promote temperance by ex
ample.

But there is a great deal of secondary influence
she may employ. It begins in forming a connection
for life. Here, I can say much that is honorable to
the sex. I have known ladies who have dismissed
very pleasing lovers, for persistency in this sad vice.
If you suspect your friend ; if his cheek looks too
red, or his breath smells too strong ; you had better
allow your love to be checked by your prudence, and
await until your suspicions are confirmed or removed.
If he is sanable, set him some time for total absti
nence, as a test of his love to morality and you ; let
the time be sufficiently long, and double it by the
rule of geometrical progression every time he fails.
Do not trust to your influence after marriage, nor
dream that it will be greater than before. This is
the rock on which thousands of credulous fair ones
have made shipwreck of their happiness.

When married, if your husband is temperate, it
should be your study to keep him so ; and if not, to
reclaim him. You know the seductive power of bad
company. It should be your object, to induce him
to spend as many evenings at home, as is consistent
with his necessary engagements. Not that you should
be jealous or chiding every time that business calls
him away ; but you must make home agreeable. I
have no hesitation in saying it is your duty to be
handsome. But what 1 can we control a quality



THE PURITAN. 75

which is the gift of nature ? Yes you can ; for the
ugliest face that ever deformed the workmanship of
God, comes from some bad passion corroding in the
heart. I say again, it is your duty to be handsome.
Not by paint or artifice ; but by benevolence, good
nature ; a face arrayed in smiles, and an eye that
sparkles with love ; the beauty of expression, which
is the best of all beauties. Let your person be ar
rayed in the neatest apparel ; let your neck and face
be perfectly clean ; let there be a cheerful fire ; a
well-ordered parlor : a swept hearth and welcoming
hand, whenever your husband returns home ; and let
him learn, that however the world may oppose or
business perplex him, that there is one faithful heart,
whose felicity is identified with his own. What a
sweet path has a wife before her, in whose exertions
for morality, duty is nothing but delight !

Be very punctual in all your engagements. If you
are going out, be always ready at the hour ; let your
family move in the strictest order ; let dinner and
breakfast be ready at the expected time. Have a
place for every thing, and let every thing be in its
place.

One thing I deem important. That sentimental
fool, Tom Moore, has infected the heads of some
women with false notions ; he has said, keep your
tears for me! But no husband will say so. I have
asked a hundred husbands, if they were ever affected,
or pleased, or made better by then: wives weeping j



76 THE PURITAN.

and they all tell me No ! ! Never, therefore, weep
in your husband s presence. If you cannot restrain
your grief; go up to some back closet, and there
indulge it alone ; for of all the disgusting objects in
every day life, a snivelling woman is the most abom
inable.

I hope I am not fanciful in what I am about to
say ; but I will say it, because there are some little
truths which will only be told by little men. Good
Bread, then, is an important article in keeping men
temperate. Half the dyspepsycal cases which exist
in our cities, arise from bad bread. The profession
of a baker is useless, and should be abolished. Some
physicians have recently said, that drunkenness, is
wholly a physical vice, originating from a disordered
stomach or bad digestion. This is overstated ; for
physical causes never can be more than powerful
temptations. But powerful temptations they are ;
and let every wife see to it, that her husband eats the
manna, made by her own clean hands, or at least,
under her careful supervision. Transfer your atten
tion from pound cake and mince-pies, to the original
gift of nature. No woman, rich or poor, has done
her utmost to make or keep her husband temperate,
until she knows how to make or cause to be made,
without failure or intermission, GOOD BREAD.

There are moments, when every man puts his vig
ilance asleep, and resigns himself to the careless
relaxation of a mind, dropping its purposes, and



THE PURITAN. 77

floating at random like a chip on the sea. The
greatest men are most prone to this ; for the tension
of business in important cases, leads to the most per
fect remission. Then they are under the influence
of a wife. In all common matters, they take her
suggestions, and follow her rules. Now in such
cases, if through ignorance or mistaken tenderness
(or, perhaps, what is not impossible, a wish for
countenance and good company,) she presents the
dangerous liquor in the sparkling glass, she may be
come accessary to her own ruin ; she may accuse
herself, when she sees character gone, health under
mined, poverty approaching, and destruction near.

But it is on the children, that a woman s influence
will be most apparent. They are little images of
plaster clay, put into her hand to be moulded into
vessels of utility, or ruin. Some infants have been
dosed with opiates and cordials, long before they had
the power of choice. They have had the sin put
into them by a physical infusion ; the appetite has
been created in the cradle. In a word, a mother
should remember, that in training her children up to
the practice of virtue, she has a double string in her
hand, the body, and the mind ; and if she is suc
cessful, she may be a blessing to future generations.

The state of female education has been very un
happy in our land, and many an artless girl has been
sent into life, totally ignorant of the part she was to
act. I have, in my own conception, a peculiar idea



78 THE PURITAN.

of a republican lady ; she is a plant which can grow
only on our own soil. She must be more compre
hensive in her aims, than the fickle beings who dance
in the court of St. James ; she must know how to
preside in her parlor, and regulate her kitchen; to
unite the plain utilities of life, with all that is graceful
and lovely ; and to resemble the conserve-rose, which
retains its best qualities, when its beauty is lost. As
fortunes are uncertain in our country, she must be
prepared for exertion, even should she become poor.
She must be prepared to meet and adorn all stations
in life, and thus become the noblest specimen of hu
man nature.




C&1

.

THE PURITAN.

No. 39.



$fe



Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most sublime speculations ; for, never
intending to go beyond speculation, it costs nothing to have it magnificent.

Burke on French Revolution.



IN my dear country and in this peculiar age, it is
the fashion to get astride of some hobby, and spur
him, until you have reached the utmost extremes of
the lists, or he has tumbled down some precipice to
rise no more. It is the age of total abstinence, and I
expect soon we shall have a society formed for cutting
off fingers, lest we should be tempted to steal. One
of the extravagances of the day respects emulation in
schools ; and, as there is no great danger of being
ridiculous without company, I also will show my
opinion.

Whether emulation ought to be encouraged in
schools, depends on the answer to the question,
whether emulation is a good principle. What is



80 THE PURITAN.

emulation ? Our discourse must take its origin from
a verbal discussion.

Mr. Locke, whose examination of principles showed
him the necessity of nicely considering words, has
told us, that language has a twofold usage ; civil and
philosophical; by the civil usage, he says, he means
such a communication of thoughts and ideas by
words, as may serve for upholding common conversa
tion and commerce, about the ordinary affairs and


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