APPEAL TO THE LADIES OF AMERICA.
IF we come to talk with you for awhile soberly and earnestly, it is because we think it no honor to you to offer you the perpetual incense of "small talk," because our theme demands soberness and earnestness and because—we will confess it—we greatly desire to win you as helpers and co-laborers in the good cause of Temperance.
In this insurrection of virtue and humanity against the remorseless despotism of appetite, if any class of society have a right to feel and act that right is yours. No voice can accuse you of meddling with what does not concern you. By all your sorrowful experiences, by the sad awful tragedies which have defiled and violated the sanctity of home—by the wail of want and woe from many a desolate hearth-stone, you are justified in publishing your league against the destroyer. While these gloomy annals remain, woman's interest in the progress of the Temperance movement none can question.
In every relation of life in which her heart has been linked
with other hearts, she has been stricken by the blight which the far-flying pestilence sheds from its wings. Of all ties on which the wealth of her nature is lavished, not one, however near, however tender, however sacred has been spared. To look upon one in whom are garnered up all warm affections and bright hopes, and behold him passing under the shadow of that bondage which locks heart and brain, sense and soul, in its iron mastery, to couple the name of DRUNKARD with one so dear, and to drag out a weary life, heart-broken, fast linked to brutality and shame, this is no common sorrow. Let us speak of these victims.
HERE many a maiden wooed and won and plighted her troth to the youth of her heart,
and looking forward to the near day when, having uttered bridal vows they shall set forth
together—"Pilgrims of Life"—to her eye on all the future the golden sunshine lying—a strong
arm, a faithful heart to lean upon—a manly form ever by her side, her grace and defence—-the
vigilance of love to shield her from all rough minds—has suddenly seen the vision dissolve
before the dark magic of the bowl. He to whom she gave the priceless jewel of a maiden's
truth, has found a deeper charm in the social glass. He comes to her presence flushed with
wine—and, from his forward speech and eager eye and bold approaches, she must shrink sad
and trembling into her maidenly reserve. He goes from her presence to wanton with her name
amid the companions of his festive hours. Soon the finger of public regard singles him out as
one of the road to ruin. Stifling the anguish of her heart, she ventures once and again some
pleasant remonstrance. He listens, promises, breaks his word, grows resentful, and plunges
his excesses. Farewell to her bright dream. That image so dear she must banish from the chamber of her soul. With a sore and aching heart she must turn from that picture to the future. Long must it be before that deep wound in her breast shall be closed. IF she go not down to an early grave, a withered flower nipt by an untimely frost, the scar of that wound, a painful memory, she will keep to her latest hour.
LOOK again—here is another sad one from the band of maidens. He whom she calls by the honored name of Father, is no longer one to be reverenced. She cannot go and offer a daughter's caresses to one reeking with the fumes of the revel. In the street cries of derision and insult follow him, every one of which is a dagger to her heart. And she bears his name—she is his child—she must blush for him and wear his shame, and walk in the shadow of his degradation—and look upon him fallen and loathsome as he is, as her father still. She has none to show her a father's love—none to enrich her with a father's blessing—none to breath for her a father's prayer. How such a grief must drink up the spirit! If it do not quite kill, it must darken all the coloring of life. Another foot-print of the curse:
AND here is one with a sister's faith, who knows what it is to hoard a brother's name
and fame. She sees him starting in the race with eagle eye and lofty aim and generous
resolves, and her ardent soul well night lends him wings. Ah, what joy it shall be to her to
see him win and wear the wreath of honor—what a clinging pride shall be hers in his
successes! On the altar
of his advancement she would think it a small thing to sacrifice hers. In his need she would give up peace and hope and well nigh life and honor to save or bless him. It is a deep well of truth and self-devotion, a sister's heart. But in that brother's path the snares of the enchanter are spread. The glow of the wine-cup outshines the lustre of the bright distant goal he panted for. The eagle eye is soon dimmed—the nerve of endeavor is palsied—the ardor of pursuit—the dream of the fame—the hope and the purpose of eminent usefulness—that scheme of a life the world should fell, are all quenched in the fiery draught. Droops with that nobler life the sister's ardent soul. How can she bear the contrast between the dream and the reality! How can she look upon him her trust and hope had mantled with such heroic garniture, a poor slave of sense—sunk to a level with the brute! She cannot lean upon his arm—she cannot hold him to her heart—she cannot point him out with pride amid the throng—she can only weep over him and pray. There is bitterness in such tears—agony in such prayers.
COME now with me and look upon a yet sadder scene. Faintly glow the dying embers
upon the hearth of a ruined cottage. It is a cold winter night and the pitiless blast shakes the
rattling casement and drives in through many a crevice the falling snow. A feeble light
struggles against the gloom of the apartment. By the light plying the busy needle upon a
tattered garmet sits a woman shivering in the bitter frost. Her face is pale and thin. In her
look and attitude there is no hope. Often she sighs as the sharp
pangs of a breaking heart rend her bosom. The moan of hungry children, moaning in sleep,
comes to her ear, and the scalding tears overflow. She thinks
of the time when she was a light-hearted girl—when she stood up a joyous bride, and heard the promise spoken, to love, cherish and protect till death should dissolve the tie—when, in their bright sky, the first glass, the little cloud like a man's hand gave token of the rising storm,—when the first unkind word was spoken, the first pressure of want felt, the first shock of a drunken husband reeling across the threshold smote her heart. Sad musings are thine, lovely wife, as thou pliest still the needle by the dim light in the desolate room, the winter without and whithin, and yet again within. But she pauses in her work. A foot is on the step—a hand pushes the door open. Oh, how unlike the face, the form, the step, the voice, the salutation to those she remembers so well! And she is chained to this "body of death." He has a right to call her wife . He may approach her and she cannot fly. He may silence the moaning children with blows and curses and she can only interpose her frail form. And there is no release for her till death comes. More than widows, with society to which dreariest solitude were paradise—home, that dearest word of earth's dialect, to her another name for all wretchedness and no appeal save to the Chancery of Heaven, no rest save in the grave.
LOOK once more into a mother's heart. Her once proud boy is a slave to strong
drink. How had she dreamed dreams over his cradle-slumbers! How had she seen a radiant
future mirror in his bright young eye. What a comfort should it be to her old heart to look out
from the retreat of age upon his high and honorable path. What music to her ear to heart the
world's voices speaking his name with honest praises. What a welcome should she keep for
him coming from his elevated sphere of
duty to sit with his honors like a child at his mother's feet. Descending into the vale, how should she lean upon his heart, his arm, for strength and cheer. He lives, but nothing of all this is ever to be. He is yet in his earliest manhood, but all life's freshness is gone. In riotous living the glory and beauty of his youth are consumed. Filial reverence is dead within him. To the counsels of her who bore him, he gives back sullen looks—blasphemies—perhaps a blow. Oh, had he died years aago in his young innocence, before any of this history had passed upon him, leaving only the memory of his childhood behind him, it has been a small grief compared with this living affliction. Those gray hairs shall be brought with sorrow to the grave.
And not one of these scenes is a fancy sketch. Every one has had its original in fact. You have met them all in real life. Name and dates you can supply. And they have not been solitary histories. Many times over have they been enacted. These mourning voices of mothers, and wives, and daughters, and sisters, and betrothed maidens have been lifted up, a great chorus, sounding through the land these many generations. Oh, you are interested in this matter; you have a right to speak and act. The sorrowful wastes in your manifold relations made desert, by the scourge of Intemperance, summon you to link your hearts and hands together around your household shrines and keep them pure.
And now will you bear us a little longer, while we tell you what we would have you do.
First of all—NEVER PUT THE GLASS TO YOUR OWN LIPS. We do not say this
because we fear you will so far forget delicacy, refinement and womanhood, as to fall into
ebriety. And yet this most loathsome spectacle of fallen humanity has been exhibited. But
apart from this isssue, every lady who takes the
wine-glass, lends all the charm of her manners, all the graces of her mind, and all the captivation of her social qualitites to give currency to wine-drinking in the circle in which she moves. IT cannot be thought a beastly excess to copy the example of a refined and cultivated woman. What young man can pronounce the habit degrading, or brutalizing when thus vindicated before his eyes by those whom he chiefly esteems and admires? An association with the glass is thus created which follows it every where—flinging around it a poetry, a romance, which hide all its deformity and wreath it ever with flowers. In scenes of excess where woman mingles not, her hand still graces the goblet, and endorses the revel. From such a fatal influence, keep your example we entreat you forever guiltless.
NEVER PUT THE GLASS INTO THE HAND OF A YOUNG MAN. You know not
how terible shall be the issue of that one thoughtless act. HE has, ere he met you, perhaps,
felt his danger. He has been compelled to confess to his heart the growing power of a habit
which he traces back to some such scenes as this in which he stands by your side. On the
brink of the abyss he has started back and sought to untwine the chords that were dragging
him down. He is struggling like a wrestler with his appetite. He is yet weak before its giant
power. If he yield a hair, if he allow it the least vantage, it will re-assert its dominion, he is
its slave for life. He entered the circle where you meet him with his best resolves. Tearful
eyes follow him—the agony of prayer goes with him—for other hearts are bound up in him.
You are his temptress! With pleasant smiles and kind words
you reach him the ruby draught. How can he resist? You have armed his old enemy against
him. If he hestitate, some half-reproachful word, some new charm, the whispered spell, "You
will drink with me," ensures
the victory. You turn from him well pleased with your little triuimph—the confession of your power. AH, what have you done? Outblazes again the flame so nearly smothered. The demon of appetite within him takes the mastery again—it will be sated—it cries vehemently, "give, give, GIVE"—it will have its gratification, in the face of broken vows, ruined hopes, wrecked fortunes, blighted household peace, dishonor, despair, death, it will have what it craves. From his dying chamber, or his cell of doom, whither turns his accusing eye? Back to that form of grace and beatuy that stood by his side on the festal eve—and bade him pledge her in the wine—-back to you, Oh, smiling maiden, Oh, honored matron! Had you dreamed of this you would sooner have cut off your right hand than offered the fatal lure. And you cannot know that all this may not follow any such thoughtless act. Will you venture such an awful hazard? Were it not much for you to fell and say, when such histories are recited, "I have not helped this ruin." Oh, what right have you to be stewing the path to a dishonored grave with roses and gilding it with smiles? Who has given you leave to introduce the young men who seek your society into paths, which, if they follow them, lead them in such numbers to a miserable end? Take the resolution, again we beseech you, never, NEVER, to pour the wine for another and commend it with your charms to his lips. Set the example of banishing profusion to which you invite your guests, let not the sparkle of the wine be seen. Purer shall be the sparkling flow of mirth and wit that take their inspiration from sparkling water.
NEVER GIVE YOUR PATRONAGE in any way to those who
sell ardent spirits as a beverage. If tradesmen dealing in the poison, who had still
any character to lose, were deserted by all except their tippling customers, they could not hold
heads a single day. But while they can point to ladies of standing and fashion daily crossing their thresholds to satisfy their domestic necessities from their shelves, what force have all our arguments with them to prove the disgraceful nature of the traffic? They are not disgraced! See what company they keep—see who endorse their respectability! Let the ladies of our community resolve never to give a farthing's trade to a grocer who sells rum, whatever inducement he may offer in the cheapness and excellence of his wares—never to enter a confectioner's saloon for refreshment where intoxicating drink may be obtained, never of free choice to go to a summer "watering place" where a bar is kept and these strongholds of intemperance are by this one act demolished.
PUT FORTH DIRECT EFFORTS TO RESCUE the captives to strong drink. Here is a mission worthy all of the self-scarificing benevolance of woman's heart. It is one for which in her gentleness, her true delicacy, her incomparable tact, she is exactly fitted. Speak to the young man whom you see leaning to the vintage. You will know what to say. You will win his ear without alarming his pridde. He will repsond to you without taking offence. He will yield to you as a favor, as a personal gratification, what argument and reproaches would never have wrung from him. The forfeiture of your good opinion may be a more prevailing appeal with him than any loud-voiced warning. You will have the unspeakable satisfaction of saving him.
Go to the fallen one—the poor outcast—the leprous drunkard. Show him what kindness
there is yet felt for him. Give to him the hand he never hoped to see extended again to such
as him, and plead with him. To you he will listen—your
ministrations will melt the rime about his heart. Your very presence will bring healing. He will
feel lifted a little from his degradation by such transient companionship. The memory of it
ten him—that any so far removed from him, thought of him enough to seek him for his good—that they did not fear to soil their garments by approaching him on their errand of love. From you cheering and sympathizing words he will catch the hope of redemption, and
"Like the stained web that whitens in the sun,
Be you thus "Sisters of Charity"—angels of mercy to the sinning and hopelesss, and the dark places of guilt and woe shall brighten at your coming, and instead of accusations from dying lips, there shall come upon you, "the blessing of many ready to perish."
But some of you are far in advance of our exhortation. We hail you, DAUGHTER OF TEMPERANCE, as true yoke-fellows in our case. We feel stronger and more sanguine as we look upon your banded array. You yourselves are stronger for your league. You are far more likely thus to accomplish social revolutions in the habits we deplore. You gird the timid thus with a new courage. You keep alive your own zeal, faith and hope. You surround the daughters of want, the stricken and the tempted, with a corona of Love.
Who shall question your propriety in all this? Is it unfeminine to pity the sinful and the suffering? Is it unfeminine to be active in works of charity? Is is indelicate to do by associated action some great good, you must fail if you attempt it alone! I yield to none in the price I set upon true womanly modestly. I know the rhyme as well as another—
"Look up—there is a small bright cloud
But it is her glory, her apostleship, to win the erring, bind up the broken hearted, "lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees"—-and shed peace and purity as flowers do fragrance, all around. May she not enter into covenant with her sisters against a most destructive evil emininently social in its character? It is out of her place and sphere, unwomanly and questionable for her to attend and act in reform meetings where none but those of her own sex are present,—-while it is just the height of delicacy and properity for her to enter a parlor crowded with ladies and gentlemen, in that undress which is strangely enough called full dress , and dance dance half the night away! WE beg of you to dismiss the thought forever. Closer draw your guardian league—Fast bound in this holy wedlock be you the Brides of Temperance! On our side we have already the stern severe aspect of Truth, the testimonies of science, the warning utterances of experience, the hollow tones of untimely graves—it is yours to bring in the warmth of the affections—thje poetry of woman's smiles—the eloquence of woman's tears—"the unbought grace of life."