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done. He answered with a smile, “You are a woman, and can manage these things better than I. Talk with Ingols on the subject. You know my detestation of this genteel tippling, but I have no authority over him."
A fair opportunity offered, in Edward's necessary absence at a circuit court for a week, to speak on the subject without implicating my husband.
As Ingols was visiting the sideboard as usual, and (what seems to me an alarming symptom) covering the lower part of the tumbler with his hand, I asked him, with a little hesitation, if he drank brandy for his health.
“I cannot say that I do,” said he, smiling. “Will you take a little for yours, cousin ?"
“No, I thank you," said I; “I am afraid of it.”
“ Afraid of it, cousin? It will not hurt you. You would be all the better for a little tonic.”
“A little tonic might not hurt me, cousin William, but I fear being tempted. I distrust my own strength of character.”
“Pshaw! you are not serious ! I have been drinking a little several years."
“Why do you drink it ?" I asked. “Your mind is naturally active, your conversation agreeable, you have no mental or bodily suffering, and you have a thousand rational modes of enjoyment. If you will only look into your own feelings, you will find a cormorant settling over them, whose guilty cry is 'give, give !"
“You are a sweet monitor, cousin Clara; I believe I must take a little brandy, if it is only to hear you scold so prettily.”
“Oh, Ingols,” I answered, “ do not, in mercy to yourself, treat this subject so lightly. Why society tolerates its abuse, I know not, I see already a look directed to that bottle when you are about to pour out its libations to your incipient sensual desires, which speaks an awkward consciousness. You are already screening the quantity you take. If you love my schooling, hear it plainly. Your manly and graceful form will soon begin to lose its firm
ness, your brilliant eyes shine with a drunkard's glassy inexpressiveness, and your mind."
"where God has set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man,” reduced to childishness, worse than childishness, since its weakness will have no redeeming innocence.”
“But, Mrs. Packard,” said Ingols, "you forget how many indulge in ardent spirits without injury.”
“I do not forget that, William, but I remember more vividly how many have been destroyed, soul and body, while these moderate drinkers, favoured perhaps by constitutional resistance, have been unscathed by the burning trial. But they will not escape, cousin William; they cannot escape His eyes who watches motives rather than deeds. They may be strong enough to carry until death the unrighteous banner of the drunkard without reeling, while others are falling on the right hand and on the left, but they lead the way to the destruction of others, and they must answer for it."
“My dear cousin,” said Ingols, "you take this matter too seriously. You make a bugbear of a trifle."
“A trifle !" I exclaimed; "call not that a trifle which rifles the mind and body of their best gifts. If I were permitted, I would go (not in the wildness of quixotism, but in the spirit of him who drove the profaners from God's temple) and destroy every implement like that before you, which attracts you and others from the simplicity of nature. They disgrace our homes, they deform the purity of domestic scenes, and often convert them into bacchanalian orgies. I had a friend once, William, young and lovely; such a one as your warm heart would have loved, and your discriminating mind appreciated. She received a shock from the early disappointment of her affections, pined, sickened, and drooped like a withering flower. Would to God she had died in the unstained paleness of her beauty! Tonics were recommended, and as medicine they were right. Her health was restored, and all would have been well, had they not been spread out among the wants and luxuries of life. Her sensual appetite increased. I sicken as I remember the miserable subterfuges that marred her fair character, first chilling the confidence of friends, and then by open exposures disgracing them. The enemy wrought surely, baffled but not subdued by reproaches, by sarcasms, by entreaties, by the shunning eye of retreating friendship, by the agonizing appeals of a dying conscience. She died a drunkard. Her mother wept bitterer tears than should ever fall over a daughter's grave; her sister's cheek paled with a sorrow sadder than grief; and her father, I tremble while I say it, cursed his firstborn child."