THE DRUNKARD'S HOME.
OF all the wo, and want, and wretchedness, which awaken our compassion; of all the scenes of misery which call so loudly for sympathy; there is none that so harrows up the feelings as the Drunkard's Home! Look at him who began life with the love of friends, the admiration of society, the prospect of extensive usefulness; look at him in after years, when he has learned to love the draught, which, we shudder while we say it, reduces him to the level of the brute. Where is now his usefulness? Where his admiration, where the love, that once were his? Love! none but the love of a wife, or a child, can cling to him in his degradation. Look at the woman, who, when she repeated "for better for worse," would have shrunk with terror had the faintest shadow of the "worse" fallen upon her young heart. Is that she who on her bridal day was adorned with such neatness and taste? Ah me, what a sad change! And the children, for whom he thanketh God, at their birth; the little ones of whom he had been so proud, whom he had dandled on his knee, and taught to lisp the endearing name of father—see them trembling before him, and endeavoring to escape his violence.
Oh God, have pity on the Drunkard's Home! The artist has well told his story, and who that looks upon it but would fearingly turn aside from the first step to ruin?
We too have a tale to tell, which it pains us to acknowledge, contains more truth than fiction.
James Boynton was the first born of his parents, and a proud and happy mother was Mrs. Boynton, when her friends gathered around her to look at her pretty babe. Carefully was he tended, and all his infantile winning ways were treasured as so many proofs of his powers of endearment.
In wisdom has the Almighty hidden the deep secrets of futurity from mortal ken; when the mother first folds her infant to her heart, could she look through the long vista of years, and see the suffering, the sin, the shame, which may be the portion of her child, would she not ask God in mercy to take the infant to himself? Would she not unrepiningly, nay, thankfully, bear all the agony of seeing her little one, with straightened limbs, and folded hands, and shrouded form, carried from her bosom to its baby-grave? And yet, not one of all the thousands who are steeped in wickedness and crime, but a mother's heart has gladdened when the soft eye first looked into hers, and the soft cheek first nestled on her own. And, still more awful thought! not one of all these Pariahs of society but has an immortal soul, to save which, the Son of God left his glory, and agonized upon the cross!
James grew up a warm hearted boy, and among his young companions he was a
universal favorite. "Jim Boynton is too good-natured to refuse doing anything we ask," said
Ned Granger one day to a school-fellow who feared that James would not join a party of rather
doubtful character, which was forming for what they called a frolic. And this was the truth.
Here lay the secret of Boynton's weakness—he was too good-natured;
for this very desirable and truly amiable quality, unless united with firmness of character, is often productive of evil. But we pass over his boyish life, and look at him in early manhood.
He has a fine figure, with a handsome intelligent countenance, and his manners have received their tone and polish from a free intercourse in refined circles. He passed his college examination with credit to himself; but, from sheer indecision of character, hesitated in choosing a profession. At this time, an uncle, who resided in the South, was about retiring from mercantile life, and he proposed that James should enter with him as a junior partner, while he would remain for a year or two to give his nephew the benefit of his experience. The business was a lucrative one, and the proposal was accepted.
James left his home at the North, and went to try his fortunes amid new scenes and new temptations. His uncle received him warmly, for the old man had no children of his own, and James was his god-child. His uncle's position in society, and his own frank and gentlemanly demeanor, won him ready access to the hospitality of southern friends, and it was not long before he fell in love with a pretty orphan girl, whom he frequently met at the house of a common acquaintance. That the girl was portionless was no demerit in his uncle's eyes. Not all his treasures, and they were large, had choked the avenues to the old man's heart, and the young people were made happy by his approval of their union.
After a visit to his friends in the north, James returned with his bride; and in a modern house, furnished with every luxury, the happy pair began their wedded life. And now, who so blest as Boynton? Three years pass away, and two children make their home still brighter. Does no one see the cloud, "Not bigger than a man's hand," upon the verge of the moral horizon?
Boynton's dislike to saying "No," when asked to join a few male friends at dinner, or, on a party of pleasure; his very good nature, which made him so desirable a companion, were the means of leading him in the steps to ruin.
"Come Boynton, another glass?"
"Excuse me, my dear fellow, I have really taken too much already."
"Nonsense! it's the parting glass, you must take it." And Boynton, wanting in firmness of character, yielded to the voice of the tempter. Need we say, that, with indulgence, the love for the poison was strengthened.
For a while the unfortunate man strove to keep up appearances. He was never seen, during the day in a state of intoxication; and from a doze on the sofa in the evening or a heavy lethargic sleep at night, he could awake to converse with his friends, or attend at his counting-room, without his secret habit being at all suspected.
But who, that willingly dallies with temptation, can foretell the end? Who can "Lay the flattering unction to his soul," that in a downward path he can stop when he pleases, and unharmed retrace his steps? Like the moth, circling nearer and still nearer to the flame, until the insect falls with scorched wing, a victim to its own temerity, so will the pinions of the soul be left scathed and drooping.
Soon Boynton began to neglect his business, and he was secretly pointed out as a man
of intemperate habits. At last he was shunned, shaken off, by the very men who had led him
astray. Who were most guilty? Let heaven judge. Here let us pause, and ask why it is that so
many look upon a fellow-being verging to the brink of ruin, without speaking one persuasive
word or doing one kindly act, to win him back to virtue? What is it, that, when fallen, he is
thrust still farther down by taunt-
ing and contempt? Oh, such was not the spirit of him who came "To seek and to save that which was lost." Such was not the spirit of him who said, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more." How often, instead of throwing the mantle of charity over a brother's sin, instead of telling him his fault "Between thee and him alone," is it bared to the light of day, trumpeted to a cold and censure-loving world, until the victim either sinks into gloomy despondency, and believes it hopeless for him to attempt amendment; or else stands forth in bold defiance, and rushes headlong to his ruin. Not one human being stands so perfect in his isolation, as to be wholly unmoved by contact with his fellows; what need then, for the daily exercise of that God-like charity, which "Suffereth long and is kind," which "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Seven years have gone with their records to eternity—where is James Boynton now?
In one room of a miserable, delapidated tenement, inhabited by many unfortunate
victims of poverty and vice, lives he who, on his wedding-day, had entered a home which
taste and luxury rendered enviable. Squalor and discomfort are on every side. His four
children are pale and sickly, from want of proper food, and close confinement in that
deleterious atmosphere. They have learned to hide away when they hear their father's
footsteps: for, alas! to his own, he is no longer the good natured
man. Fallen in his own esteem, frequently the subject of ribald mirth, his passions have
become inflamed, and he vents his ill-humor on his defenceless family. He no longer makes
even a show of doing something for their support; and, to keep them from starving, his wife
works whenever and at whatever she can find employment. A few more years, and where is
Mrs. Boynton? Tremble: yet who set an example to your families of which ye cannot foretell
the consequences! Tremble, ye whom
God has made to be the protectors, the guides, the counselors, of the women ye have vowed to love and cherish! Mrs. Boynton, like her husband, has fallen! In an evil hour, harrassed by want, ill-used by her husband she tasted the fatal cup! It produced temporary forgetfulness, from which she awoke to a sense of shame and anguish. Ah, she had no mother, no sister, no woman-friends who truly cared for her, to warn, to plead, to admonish! Again was she tempted, again she tasted, and the squalid home was rendered tenfold more wretched, by the absence of all attempt at order. However great may be the sorrow and distress occasioned by a man's love for strong drink, it is not to be compared to the deep wretchedness produced by the same cause in woman; and it is matter for thankfulness, that so few men drag down their wives with them in their fall.
Providence raised up a friend who took the barefootedd children of the Boyntons from being daily witnesses of the evil habits of their parents; and so dulled were all the finer feelings of his nature, that James Boynton parted from them without a struggle.
Like the Lacedemonians of old, who exposed the vice to render it hateful in the eyes of the beholders, we might give other and more harrowing scenes from real life; but let this one suffice.
Thank God, for the charge which public opinion has already wrought! Thank God, for the efforts which have been made to stay the moral pestilence! Oh, it is fearful to think how many homes have been made desolate—how many hearts have been broken—how many fine minds have been ruined—how many lofty intellects have been humbled! It is fearful to think of the madness—the crime—the awful death—which follow in the steps to Ruin