Imagens das páginas

those vices which are the known effects of drunkenness, either in general, or upon particular constitütions, are in all, or in men of such constitutions, nearly as criminal as if committed with all their faculties and senses about them.

Tó una senses about them. " If the privation of reason be only partial, the guilt will be of a mixed nature. For so much of his selfgovernment as the drunkard retains, he is as responsible then as at any other time. He is entitled to no abatement beyond the strict proportion in which his moral faculties are impaired. Now I call the guilt of the crime, if a sober man had committed it, the whole guilt. A person in the condition we describe, incurs part of this at the instant of perpetration; and by bringing himself into such a condition, he incurred that fraction of the remaining part, which the danger of this consequence was of an integral certainty. For the sake of illustration, we are at liberty to suppose, that a man loses half his moral faculties by drunkenness; this leaving him but half his responsibility, he incurs, when he commits the action, half of the whole guilt. We will also suppose that it was known beforehand, that it was an even chance, or half a certainty, that this crime would follow his getting drunk. This makes him chargeable with half of the remainder; so that altogether, he is responsible in three fourths of the guilt which a sober man would have incurred by the same action.

I do not mean that any real case can be reduced

to numbers, or the calculation be ever made with arithmetical precision; but these are the principles, and this the rule by which our general admeasurement of the guilt of such offences should be regulated.

The appetite for intoxicating liquors appears to me to be almost always acquired. One proof of which is, that it is apt to return only at particular times and places : as after dinner, in the evening, or on the market-day, at the market-town, in such a company, at such a tavern. And this may be the reason that, if a habit of drunkenness be ever overcome, it is upon some change of place, situation, company, or profession. A man sunk deep in a habit of drunkenness will, upon such occasions as these, when he finds himself loosened from the associations which held him fast, sometimes make a plunge, and get out. In a matter of so great importance, it is well worth while, where it is in any degree practicable, to change our habitation and society, for the sake of the experiment.

Habits of drunkenness commonly take their rise either from a fondness for, and connexion with, some company, or some companion, already addicted to this practice; which affords an almost irresistible invitation to take a share in the indulgences which those about us are enjoying with so much apparent relish and delight; or from want of regular employment, which is sure to let in many superfluous cravings and customs, and often this amongst the rest ; or, lastly, from grief, or fatigue, both which strongly solicit that relief which inebriating liquors administer, and also furnish a specious excuse for complying with the inclination. But the habit, when once set in, is continued by different motives from those to which it owes its origin. Persons addicted to excessive drinking suffer, in the intervals of sobriety, and near the return of their accustomed indulgence, a faintness and oppression circa præcordia, which it exceeds the ordinary patience of human nature to endure. This is usually relieved for a short time by a repetition of the same excess ; and to this relief, as to the removal of every longcontinued pain, they who have once experienced it, are urged almost beyond the power of resistance.

This is not all: as the liquor loses its stimulus, the dose must be increased, to reach the same pitch of elevation or ease ; which increase proportionably accelerates the progress of all the maladies that drunkenness brings on. Whoever reflects upon the violence of the craving in the advanced stages of the habit, and the fatal termination to which the gratification of it leads, will, the moment he perceives in himself the first symptoms of a growing inclination to intemperance, collect his resolution to this point; or (what perhaps he will find his best security) arm himself with some peremptory rule, as to the times and quantity of his indulgences. I own myself a friend to the laying down of rules to ourselves of this sort, and rigidly abiding by them.

They may be exclaimed against as stiff, but they are often salutary. Indefinite resolutions of abstemiousness are apt to yield to extraordinary occasions; and extraordinary occasions to occur perpetually. Whereas, the stricter the rule is, the more tenacious we grow of it, and many a man will abstain rather than break his rule, who would not easily be brought to exercise the same mortification from 'higher motives. Not to mention, that when our rule is once known, we are provided with an answer to every importunity. .

There is a difference, no doubt, between convivial intemperance, and that solitary sottishness which waits neither for company nor invitation.' But the one, I am afraid, commonly ends in the other : and this last in the basest degradation to which the faculties and dignity of human nature can be reduced.



I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And, therefore, God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion ; for while the mind of man

looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther ; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements and one immutable fifth essenice duly and eternally placed 'need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, shouldh ave produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal. The scripture saith, « The fool hath said in his heart there is no God :" it is not said, " The fool hath thought in his heart;" so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it. For none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the consent of others; nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects; and, which is most of all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas, if they did truly think that there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves?

« AnteriorContinuar »