Saved as by Fire!
Timothy Shay Arthur, 1881
A story illustrating how one man was saved from the Demon of Drink.
In this work we have one of those intensely wrought temperance stories for which the author is so distinguished. In the conception and execution of this story, he has taken higher ground than usual, and lifted the subject of temperance into the region of spiritual laws and forces. Rarely has the insidious growth and overmastering power of appetite, or the desperate and prolonged struggle of an enslaved man for freedom, been more powerfully exhibited than in the hero of this story — a man of education, social standing, high honor and the tenderest home affections.
We follow him in his downward course, step by step, with an almost breathless interest and suspense — glad and hopeful for every new effort that he makes to overcome his pitiless enemy, and disappointed and sorrowful at each successive failure — until manhood is eclipsed, love extinguished, and honor a thing of the past; and as we turn away from him at the prison door — our hope is as dead as his own.
But the man is not lost. No; there is One who can save to the uttermost, all who come unto Him. And by Him this man is saved and made a power for good in the salvation of many who had once been in the same fearful bondage from which, in the name and by the power of God, he had been able to get free. Can anyone who reads what befell this man in the cell, where society had shut him away as a foul and guilty thing, caring little whether he lived or died, do so with dry eyes? We think not. It is something to stir the heart profoundly. In this story the author deals not alone with the curse of strong drink, but with the means of cure, and shows that even with the lowest and the vilest — reform is possible.
He came in so noiselessly, that I heard neither the opening nor shutting of the door, and only became aware of his presence, when I felt his hand on my shoulder.
Shall I ever forget the face into which I looked? A face so marred since I had seen it last; so pale, so exhausted, so helpless and despairing, that I was not only shocked by the sight — but filled with inexpressible pain. The hand which he had laid upon me, was trembling violently.
"Why Granger!" I exclaimed, as I startled to my feet. "What does this mean?"
I saw the muscles of his face quiver and spasms run about his lips, as he made an effort to reply. "It can't be possible that you — " I held back, from an instinct of delicacy, the words that were coming to my lips.
"Have fallen so low?" he said, in a husky, shaking voice, finishing the sentence which I had left incomplete. Then, with a steadier utterance: "But it is all too sadly true, Mr. Lyon. The devil of drink has seized me, and I cannot get free from the grip of his terrible hand!"
"Don't say that, my friend. You must resist this devil and, like all other devils, when met by resistance — he will flee from you."
A short, bitter laugh, and then, "He isn't one of that kind."
But, surely, Granger, you will not give up your manhood to the vice of alcohol?"
"Vice! That's a little, easy sort of a word, and doesn't seem to mean much, does it?"
He was sitting, now, and I standing just in front of the chair he had taken. As I looked at him steadily, I saw more distinctly than at first, the ravages which alcoholism had made upon his finely cut, and once handsome features. I had not met him before for many months.
"To the demands of an alcohol? Let me make the proposition stronger," said I.
"Vice, demand, curse; anything you choose. It's all the same."
"But the will-power is above them all — can break the bonds of appetite, and let the man go free."
I saw a change begin passing over his face.
"Free! What would I not give to be free!"
"Resolve, and it is done! In a man's will lies his strength. Neither Heaven nor Hell can move him, if he will not. Set your will against this appetite — and will shall be master."
He looked at me with a gathering wonder in his eyes, as though a new thought were dawning upon his mind. His mouth became a little firmer; and he raised his almost crouching form to a more erect attitude.
"If he will not — will not."
"Just so, my friend. If he will not — then all Hell cannot move him. Self-mastery! Every man has this power. I have it; you have it. It is the common inheritance of all men."
"An inheritance sold, alas! too often for a mess of pottage," Granger answered, bitterly. "And when once sold, has it not gone hopelessly out of our possession?"
"No. Freedom to will is a birthright which no man living can wholly alienate. He may at any time re-assert his right of inheritance. You can do it now — can set your heel on this serpent of alcohol, and crush it beneath your tread. Be a man, Granger! Let the higher things that are in you, hold the baser things in subjection. Let reason and judgment, rule the appetites and passions, as a master rules his servants. This is the common order of life. God has given us reason as a ruler; and we must see that no usurper gains a foothold in our kingdom."
As I spoke, I saw the signs of strength and confidence coming into Granger's eyes.
"It is because you have let the sensual betray and dethrone the rational, that you are in so sad a plight today. Will has gone over to the wrong side."
"It shall come to the right side again, Mr. Lyon!" His voice had a clear ring. "I see just how it is. Will went over to alcohol, instead of standing firm by the side of reason."
"Yes; you state the case exactly as it stands," I said. "It was an abuse of freedom, so to speak. You were not compelled to drink — for appetite has no power above solicitation. It cannot move your hand, nor place a glass to your lips. Only the will has power over the actions, and so nothing can be done without consent of the will."
"I see! I see!" Mere light and strength coming into his face. "It all lies with myself."
"All," I answered. "There is no help for you outside of your own will. You stand self-confident, or equipoised, with freedom to act in the direction of any force that draws you, be it good or evil."
"Thank you for all this. I see wherein my peril lies, and also the line of a new defense. I will control this dreadful appetite! I will be a man!"
"But, remember," I said, "that eternal vigilance is the price of safety. Appetite is subtle, as well as strong. It is an enemy that never really sleeps."
"I know, I know! But is not safety worth eternal vigilance?"
There was in his countenance the glow of a rising confidence.
"Ah, my friend," he added, as he took my hand and held it tightly, "what would I not do or suffer, to be free from this awful slavery; from this bondage to death and Hell!"
"And the way is so plain and so easy," said I, with all the encouragement I was able to throw into my voice. "Just to will to be free; and then to stand up as a man. To say to appetite, 'So far, and no farther!'"
"It was a good angel who led me here, and who put these hopeful words into your mouth, my dear old friend!" He spoke with much feeling. "I haven't been home since yesterday. I was in no condition to meet my family last night; and am in little better condition this morning. You see, I've not lost all shame and all consideration."
"You will go home now?"
I saw a shadow drifting over his face.
"Where are you living?"
"Away up town; but not as we used to live."
"Shall I go with you?"
He did not reply at once; but the shadows were deeper on his face.
"If you will." There was a returning depression in his voice; and I saw that his nerves, which had grown steady under the pressure of new thoughts and purposes, were giving way again. He drew a hand across his forehead. It was trembling.
"You remember Helen?" he said.
"Oh, yes. How is she?"
There was something like a gasp, or quick catching of the breath. Then, with an effort to control his feelings: "Not as when you saw her last. Ah! sir, what a cruel devil this drink is!"
"As cruel as death," I responded, falling in with his thoughts.
"As death? Oh, no! Death is an angel of mercy; but drink is a devil! My poor Helen!"
What grief and tenderness were in his voice as he uttered the name of his wife.
"For her sake, Granger."
"For her sake!" He spoke with a sudden intense earnestness, while a strong light flashed into his eyes. "If I were to see a wild beast rushing down upon her, do you think I would pause to question about consequences to myself? Not for a single instant! What would I not do, and bear, and suffer for her sake! Ah! sir, she has been a good wife to me. So patient, so true, so tender always. And I have tried so hard, and fought so hard, for her sake."
"And now let the new life you are going to lead find, its highest strength in these three words — For her sake. Let the steady will and the better manhood be for her sake. Hold the brief sentence ever against your heart; set it ever before your eyes. For her sake, my friend!"
"Yes, for her sake, God bless her!" His voice shook, and I saw tears coming into his eyes.
"What higher strength than this. Surely you will stand as a rock against which the maddest billows of temptation must break and dissolve into foam and spray."
"For her sake, I will stand! For her sake, and for the sake of my wronged and humiliated children. What a wretch I have been! To fill the lives of those I love with shame and sorrow; and for what? Just to gratify my appetite for alcohol!"
"Which, if you will to deny, must always stand denied. Keep ever in your thought the true order of life, which is the subjection of the sensual to the rational. If the sensual is allowed to rule — then will anarchy and violence reign in the kingdom. But if reason keeps her seat of power — then order, and peace, and happiness will prevail; and the sensual will be as a staff in the hand of Aaron, and not as a biting serpent on the ground."
"Ah! yes, it is growing clearer and clearer. All danger lies in this infirmity of the will, in this hearkening to the lying voice of a serpent, instead of to our God-given reason."
Granger was lifting himself with a more assured air, and there was a growing strength in his face.
"I must go home now," he said, rising.
"And I am to go with you?"
Did I betray a doubt in my voice? Perhaps; for away back and almost out of sight in my mind, lay a doubt of the new-born strength of this man's will. It might endure until he reached his home, or it might yield to enticement along the way. He had not yet recovered his manhood. He was still weak, and must walk for a time with unsteady steps. All this I felt, rather than thought.
He set his eyes on me with a keen look just for an instant before replying.
"If you care to see what a poor and wretched home it is."
"I care to give you what help and strength lies in my power." I took my hat as I spoke, and we went out together.
I had not seen Alexander Granger before for nearly a year. He was a lawyer of fine abilities, and in the first ten years of his practice at the bar, had risen steadily into notice, and been connected, as counsel, with many important cases. But, unhappily, his social nature led him too often out of the ways of safety. It was the old, sad story which has been told so many and so many times. Just in the very prime of his life, the subtle power of drink began to bear him down. If he had taken alarm at the first warning he received of the establishment and growth of this power, and broken free from it in a single resolute effort — all would have been well. But here again it was the old story repeated. He had faith in his own manhood; in his ability to go just so far, and no farther; to keep on the edge of danger and never step across. And he held to this, even in the face of one lapse after another, until he became the slave of alcohol.
It took years for all this; for he had a strong, tough brain, and great physical energy; and his steadily increasing practice at the bar held him in earnest work, and for a long time out of the sphere of apparent danger. But no brain can do its best under the stimulant of alcohol. There must always come a loss of clearness. There may be an increased activity, but this very activity, where the reason is obscured and interests at the same time imperiled — leads too often to disaster. It happened so to Granger.
In the very height of his popularity, he lost a case of great importance. His client did not know that on the previous night he had been over-free with wine at a supper from which he did not get home until after the wee hours of the morning began; and that before coming into court to make his final argument, he had been compelled to steady his nerves with a glass of brandy. No, they did not know this; but what they did know was, that he failed to bring out with logical clearness, the strong point in their case, and the one on which they chiefly relied.
Considered as a mere forensic display, it was one of the most brilliant ever heard in the court-room, and men listened to it breathlessly, admiring its fine periods, its exhibition of learning, and its wealth of imagery and illustration; but, while it extorted admiration, it failed in the chief essential of a legal argument, working no conviction on the minds of the twelve men with whom the decision of the case rested.
It was Granger's first great failure. Did no suspicion of the real cause intrude itself upon his thoughts? Yes, but it was thrust out as false and unworthy. His head was never clearer, nor his mind more active. So he declared to himself in his quick rejection of the very truth it so much concerned him to know. But the incident troubled him; and in the face of his effort to look away from the real cause of failure, and to count it as nothing — he made an almost involuntary resolution to abstain from any free use of stimulants for some days before arguing another important case; and for more than a year, he acted upon this resolution.
But his wine at dinner, his exchange of drinking courtesies with friends, and his indulgence at suppers and social parties, gradually depraved his appetite, and it grew to be more and more exacting. For awhile, only a single glass had been taken with his dinner. Then there was an occasional second glass, and in time two glasses became the regular custom. A third glass now and then marked the steady growth of appetite. So it went on, with a slow but sure increase, until it was no unusual thing for Granger to drink half a bottle of wine every day with his dinner; and to finish the bottle before going to bed.
Fame and fortune were just within his reach. He was regarded as the ablest of all the rising men at the bar of his native city, and many of the best cases were coming into his hands — when the evidences of blight and failure of power became visible. After losing the case to which I have referred, he was on guard for a long time; but the steadily increasing use of alcohol wrought its natural result on his brain, and his second great failure in court was due in all probability as much to a complete abstinence from drink, as the first was to its use and the unhealthy excitement that followed.
This loss of mental clearness in consequence of a loss of the usual brain-tonic, was a fact far more patent to Granger's mind than had been the other fact of loss of mental clearness through unusual stimulation, and he resolved not to risk another experiment of the kind, but rather to give his nerves a firmer tone by an extra glass on the eve of every specially important effort in court. It is surprising how men who are clear-seeing as to cause and effect in almost everything else, can be so blind about the ultimate result of repeated and increasing stimulation on that wonderful and delicate organism, the brain. It shows how subtle, and strong, and self-deceiving is the sensual side of our nature, if, instead of holding it in strict subordination to reason and the laws of order — we give it the reins, and submit even partially to its rule.
After this second important failure, and Granger's clear apprehension of the proximate cause, he did not again venture on complete abstinence as a safe preparation for entrance upon a legal conflict in which large interests hung on victory or defeat. But, for all this, he was never able to bring to his cases, the clear logic and force of argument for which he had once been distinguished. He had, in fact, reached his highest point of success and reputation; and as the causes which had checked his upward movement were still in force, and his power of resistance waning — it was not long before the downward change became apparent to all.
And now, his nearest friends began to warn and to expostulate with him. But only after some disgraceful fall from sobriety, was heed taken, and efforts at reform made. It was the old story, as we have said. Falling, falling slowly. Then a pause and a rallying of strength, and an effort to move upwards again. And then a yielding to the downward drag. He did not at this time show himself to the world as a common drunkard; and the people who met him on the street, at his office, or in the court-rooms, rarely saw him so much under the influence of liquor as to betray the fact in any marked way; and yet, all could see that he was becoming the slave of drink, and that his utter ruin was only a matter of time, unless there should come a total change in his habits.
Down, down, the descent becoming more rapid. Sudden stoppages, as one strong influence after another was brought to bear upon him; solemn promises, and pledges of reform; firm standing for brief periods; and then, down, down again! And thus it went on for years; and there came loss of his honorable position at the bar; loss of practice; loss of social status; moral weakness and degradation; poverty and wretchedness. And still, there were intermitted struggles with the enemy, and efforts to rise into a true manhood. A sad, sad history, running through years of increasing disaster, humiliation and sorrow — until he had reached the level on which the reader finds him.
Yet, as has been seen, some hope and strength were yet remaining; some feeling of self-respect, and an unextinguished love for his unhappy wife and wronged and suffering children, for whom he would have braved any physical peril — even death itself.
I have taken a dozen pledges," said Granger, as we passed into the street; "but they are as flax thrown into fire, when this demonic thirst seizes upon me."
"Because," I answered, "they are only external bonds; and if the inner force is against them, they will break, should the force be stronger than the bond. There is safety only in the strength of an internal integrity. The will must be strong and true. If, to change the figure of speech, the will is trained to guard the door, no enemy can make a breach, unless the will is corrupted. So long as the will is true — the man is safe. No, no. Put no trust in pledges nor promises. They are things outside of you, so to speak. Mere bonds, weak or strong, as the case may be. You must trust in yourself — in the strength of your will — in your manhood and self-confident power. Here is your only true abiding. The pledge may be well enough as a rallying point where a first stand is made against the enemy; but the man must fight it out to the bitter end, and that in himself, and by himself. There is no other hope. No arm but his own, can save him."
We walked in silence for almost the distance of a block, before Granger made any reply. He was, evidently, pondering what I had said.
"No arm but his own arm?" He stopped, and turning, fixed his eyes steadily on my face, with a look in them that I scarcely comprehended.
"If a man fights not for himself, who shall fight for him? This enemy is within, and the man himself must cast him out. I cannot fight the battle for you; nor can anyone else. It is your own strong right arm which must bring the victory."
"Is there no help in God?" There was an eager thrill in his voice as he put the question.
"Of course," I replied, a little coldly. "But we must be careful not to confound things. A false, or irrational trust — is worse than no trust at all, for it will surely betray. God helps those who help themselves; who use in right and orderly ways, the strength He gives to every man. I know of no means by which to get help from God, but in the right use of the faculties with which He has endowed us. They are, of course, God-given, for He is our Maker. But He does not live for us, nor work for us, nor fight for us. All these we must do for ourselves."
I saw the light go slowly out of his face as he dropped his eyes to the ground, and moved forward again. Something like a shadow and a chill came upon my own feelings, and my mind seemed to pass into an obscuring cloud. Had I spoken truly? Was there no other help in God, but this which I had said?
It was all very clear to me while I was speaking; but, somehow, my strong assurance was all at once broken, and I felt as one drifting to sea. I had been laying out this man's course for him, and now I was in doubt myself.
"You may be right about it, Mr. Lyon," Granger said, after another long silence. "But it seems to put God so far away. To take from Him all pity, and tenderness, and love. He will help me — if I try to help myself; but, unless I do this, He will not so much as reach out His hand, though the billows are going over me!"
Even above the noise of the street, I heard the sigh that came with the closing of this last sentence.
"Is not His hand always reached out?" I answered; "and is it not because we refuse to take hold of it, that we are not saved?"
"I don't know." He spoke in a dreary, depressed tone of voice. "If one could see the hand, and be sure it was God's."
"What is the hand of God — but the power that is within us from Him? The power to will and to do what is right; to stand fast in the face of temptation; to walk securely in the strength He gives us? We grasp His hand, when we use this power."
"Doubtless it is so; but our poor eyes have become very dim-sighted."
He was silent again, and I began to feel troubled about his state of mind, lest a depressing sense of weakness should destroy that confidence in his own strength of will with which I was seeking to inspire him.
"We may be very sure of one thing, Mr. Granger," I said, repeating my former proposition, "the true order of life, is the government of reason. This must rule over all the lower things of sense. The appetites and passions must be held in complete subjection. God is with us, and in us; gives us of His strength, and keeps us in safety — so long as we maintain this true order of life. If we will not maintain it, He cannot do it for us; and the same law must rule in restoration and cure as in normal order. We must take the strength God is always giving, and use it for ourselves."
"No help, no love; only laws of order. No pitying face, nor tender voice, nor bending form. No quick, grasping hand as we send out the despairing cry, 'Save, Lord, or we perish!'"
"Don't let us talk any more about this, Mr. Granger," said I. "It is troubling you and confusing your mind; and now, above all things, you need to be calm and clear-seeing, for it is clear-seeing which makes safe walking."
We were not far from his home now, and in a few minutes, we were at the door. What a poor little home it was, as compared with that luxurious one in which I had many times been a guest in former years. Little better than that of a humble day-laborer. I felt a chill and a heart-ache as my eyes looked upon it, and I remembered the beautiful home in which Mrs. Granger had once presided. She was a woman of more than ordinary culture and refinement. In stature below the common height, with regular though not strikingly handsome features. Her eyes made the fine attraction of her face; they were large, and, in color, of a dark hazel, with a perpetual changing of aspect and a restlessness of movement which was very peculiar. But you saw, in all these changing hues and aspects, that they were true eyes, and beautiful as true.
Granger took a latch-key from his pocket as we paused at the door.
"Shall I go in?" I asked. "It might not be pleasant for Mrs. Granger."
He did not answer, but threw the door open, and made a motion for me to enter. There was a narrow hall, covered with a worn and faded carpet. From this, we passed into a small parlor, in which were a few articles of furniture, remnants of better days. There were no pictures on the walls beyond a few photographic likenesses and two fine pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Granger. Once they possessed many rare paintings. Plain shades now hung at the windows. Though everything was in order, there was a certain chill and desolateness in the atmosphere of the room which struck me sensibly. It might have come from the contrast I saw between this and the large and luxurious parlor in which I had last met this unhappy family.
But I had scarcely time to notice my surroundings, or to question my state of feeling, before quick feet were heard on the stairs, and in a moment afterwards Mrs. Granger stood at the parlor door with wide-open, eager, questioning eyes; now fixing them upon me, and now upon her husband. "Mr. Lyon — you remember him." I reached out my hand as her husband gave my name. A faint tinge of color rose to her pale face. Ah, how changed and wasted!
She did not repeat my name, and I was not certain that she recognized me. For a moment only, did her eyes rest on me; then they went swiftly to her husband. I saw a throb in her throat, and a flush and thrill quickening on her face.
"There is going to be a new order of life, Mrs. Granger," said I, breaking the silence and pantomime. "And the old days are coming back again."
"A new life, Helen! Yes, a new life, God helping me! And the old better days again."
I saw the lips that had been closely shut, fall apart, and the large eyes grow larger. There was a statue-like stillness; then a faint, smothered cry, and a dropping down of the quivering face on Granger's bosom. My eyes were dim with sudden tears, but I could see the husband's arms fold themselves closely about the small, light form of that true, patient, long-suffering one in whose heart, love had never failed.
I would have gone out and left them so, but that might not be well; so I waited for this first strong tide of feeling to ebb. They were still standing — Mrs. Granger's face hidden on her husband's bosom, and his arms clasping her tightly — when the sound of other feet on the stairs was heard, and in a moment after a beautiful girl stood, with startled eyes, at the door of the little parlor.
"Oh, it's father!" she ejaculated. Then on seeing me, she shrank back a step or two, with a timid air, the blood rising to her temples.
"Is anything the matter?" she asked, in a panting voice, as a scared expression came into her face.
"Yes, something good," I answered, quickly.
On hearing this, Granger withdrew one of his arms from about his wife, and holding it out toward the girl, said: "My daughter!"
Gliding past me with a rapid motion, she threw herself within the extended arm, and mother and child lay held in a single strong embrace.
So I left them, passing out with noiseless feet. For stranger eyes, all this was too sacred; and I felt that it was best for them to be alone.
Next day I called at Mr. Granger's office, and found him at his desk, busy over some law papers. Things about him had a look of new-made order, as if there had been a recent general setting to rights; and something in his personal appearance gave the same impression. There was a bright flash in his eyes as he lifted them in recognition, and I saw a marvelous change in his face; and, indeed, in his whole aspect.
"All right," I said, cheerily, as I grasped his extended hand.
"All right, thank God!"
"And right once for all," said I, in a confident tone.
"Yes, once for all. Somehow," he added, "I feel stronger than I have ever felt before; more self-confident, and with a firmer grasp on the reins. The fact is, Lyon, you gave me a new thought yesterday, and I've been looking at it and holding fast to it ever since; and the more I look at it, and the longer I keep hold of it — the more assured do I feel. I see, as I never saw before, where the danger lies. It is the weak will which betrays."
"Always," I made answer. "If the will is true and strong, the man is safe. Appetite can do nothing if the will is firm in denial. Never forget this. In the hour of temptation, it is the 'I will,' or the 'I will not,' which determines everything. There is not a devil in Hell subtle enough to betray a man — if he meet him with the all powerful 'I will not!'"
"I believe you, my friend." There was, I did not fail to notice, more confidence in Granger's words than in his voice; and this gave me a slight feeling of uneasiness.
"Hold on, as with hooks of steel, to your faith in yourself — in the strength of your God-given manhood. If the tempter comes, say 'No!' as you will always be able to say. It is the weak, the doubting, the half-hearted — who fall."
As we talked, a gentleman named Stannard came in. On seeing the change in Granger's appearance, he said: "Been turning over another new leaf, I see. Glad of it from my heart. And now, friend Granger, what is to be the first writing thereon?"
"I will not," was the firmly spoken answer.
"Good as far as it goes."
"What more?" asked Granger.
"God being my helper."
"Is not God's strength in every true 'I will' or 'I will not?'" said I, speaking before Granger had time to answer, for I was afraid of some confusion being wrought in his mind.
"There is no good thing that does not come from God," was the calmly-spoken answer. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being."
"No reflecting man will deny that. But the serious and practical question is, how does God bestow His good things? What are the laws of order, by which He acts with men?"
"Love is His great law," said Mr. Stannard.
"We all believe that; but love works through orderly means. If a man willfully closes his eyes, God cannot make him see. If he shuts himself away in a dungeon, God cannot give him light. If he 'will not,' God cannot save him, though all day He stretches forth His merciful hand."
"No one will question that, I presume," was answered.
"But now we have the other proposition under consideration. It is the 'I will not' of our friend here as set against temptation. Now, under what law is he to get God's help?"
"It will come to him in his effort to do right."
"'Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and you shall find. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Come unto me.' These are the Lord's own words; and do they not mean that we are to do something more than what your answer indicates. Will all the help needed, come without the asking?"
"As if," I said, with a slight tremor of feeling in my voice, "as if God held back for man's formal asking? As if His infinite love were not forever yearning to save? and forever flowing with divine strength, into every effort to fight against evil. It is in man's will, where he is truly potential; and he must set his will against allurement, and stand in the strength of his true manhood."
"But suppose the will has become so sickly and depraved, that it cannot receive a just measure of life and strength from God? When an organ in the human body is diseased, it is no longer able to do its proper work, though the heart is perpetually sending for its use a due portion of healthy blood. If the will were in order, we might trust to the will; but, alas! it is not. It is diseased; and without help from the Great Physician, will fail in the work of its office. Nay, nay, friend Granger, put no faith in your 'I will not,' unless you write also on the leaf of the new page you have turned, 'God being my helper.' If this be not done, all your good purposes will avail, I fear, but little."
"Anything to give our friend strength," I replied. "It will do no harm for him to write as you say; only let him not lose faith in himself, because of his trust in God. It is just here that the danger lies. It is the clear-seeing, as I have said to him, that makes the safe-walking. If we do not know the way, we are all the while in danger of stumbling."
'"I am the way, and the truth, and the life,'" said Mr. Stannard. "If we go to Him, shall we be in any danger of losing our way? I think not."
As we talked, Granger looked first at one of us, and then at the other, hearkening carefully to what we said, and evidently weighing the import of our words. That all was not clear to him, was evident from his manner. I dropped the argument, in fear that his mind might get confused, and that, while in this unsettled state, his old enemy might rush in upon him and bear him down before he had time to arrange his order of defense.
Mr. Stannard had called on a matter of business, and on becoming aware of this, I withdrew from the office and left him alone with Granger. I carried away with me an uneasy feeling. Mr. Stannard was a man for whom I had great respect. He was a prominent church member, and active in Christian work; and so far as my knowledge of him went, his life among men was blameless.
But my philosophy of religion, differed in some essential points from his. We both held to the necessity of a pure life; but were not in agreement as to the means whereby this purity of life was to be attained. He held to the power of grace, through faith, as the only means whereby man could be saved — at least, so I had understood him. I held to man's innate force of will, into which strength would flow from God the instant his will moved in a right effort. My fear now was, that Mr. Stannard might undo the work I had attempted, and destroy Granger's faith in himself, leaving him to a blind confidence in some outside help which might never come. This was the ground of my uneasiness.
I did not see Granger again for several days; and then our meeting was in a public thoroughfare, and for a few moments only. His face was clear and bright, and his air manly and assured.
"All right?" I said, as I took his hand.
"All right," he responded, giving me a strong returning grip.
"Standing fast by 'I will not.'"
"Standing fast," was his answer, a slight change in the expression of his countenance.
It was on my lips to say: "Don't forget that the will is the man; and that all Hell cannot move him, if the will stands fast." But I held the sentence back from an impulse I did not quite understand. So we parted, each going his way.
"Mrs. Granger was in church this morning," said my wife, on coming home, a few Sundays afterward.
"Ah! How did she look?"
"The sight of her brought tears into my eyes. How much she has changed. And she looked so poor and humbled."
"Was anyone with her?"
I did not put the question that was in my thought; but the one I asked would bring, I doubted not, the answer I wished to hear.
"Yes; a sweet young girl — her oldest daughter Amy, I presume. The beautiful child has grown almost to a woman since I saw her last."
"No one else?"
Though I had not been to church myself, and had not much faith in Sunday religious services, judging of them by their influence on a majority of my church-going acquaintances — I could not help feeling regret at the fact of Mr. Granger's absence. Somehow, the impression took hold of me, that it would have been better and safer for him to have gone to church; and the fact that he had not accompanied his wife, left on my mind a vague sense of uneasiness. Where had he gone; and what were the influences which had been around him on this day of freedom from daily work and the thought and care of business?
"Mr. Granger was not there?" said I, wishing to be altogether sure about the matter.
"No." Then, after a little silence, Mrs. Lyon said, "I was sorry not to have seen him with his wife."
It was on my tongue to express the regret I was myself feeling, but as my wife and I were not wholly in agreement on the subject of church-going, I did not care to commit myself so far as to give an assent to her view of the case; and as I did not respond, the subject was dropped.
After dinner I took a walk, and as I could not get Granger out of my mind, nor rid myself of a certain feeling of responsibility in regard to him, I concluded to extend my ramble as far as the neighborhood in which he lived, and make him a call. My ring brought his wife to the door.
"Is Mr. Granger at home?" I asked.
I saw a slight shadow drop across her face as she answered: "No, he has gone to take a walk in the Park." Then, after a moment, "Won't you come in, Mr. Lyon?"
I accepted the invitation. As I took a seat in the plain little parlor, and looked at Mrs. Granger, I was painfully impressed with the changes a few years had wrought in her appearance. Such lines of suffering as had been cut into her brow and around her lips! Such wasting and exhaustion! It was very sad.
"I met your husband a few days ago," said I, speaking at once, so that there might be no embarrassing pause, "and was glad to see him looking so well."
She smiled faintly; but not with the bright, almost radiant smile I was hoping to see.
"Yes, he is doing very well." Her voice lacked heartiness, I imagined.
"And is going to stand this time," said I, speaking confidently.
"God grant it!" A reverent earnestness coming into her manner.
"He has found a new element of strength."
She met my remark with a look of inquiry, keen and searching.
"A true faith in himself — in his manhood — in the native force of his own strong will."
"There is no sure help but in God, Mr. Lyon."
I seem to hear now her slow utterance of this sentiment, and the strong emphasis given to the words, "No sure help but in God."
"God is in every manly effort to do right," I answered. "He gives strength to the will that sets itself against evil enticement. We trust in Him when we trust in the power He gives us."
"That's what my husband says; and it may all be so in some way that I do not clearly understand."
I made an effort to explain myself more clearly; but, when I was done, she answered with simple earnestness: "It is better to look to God, than to ourselves, Mr. Lyon. I am sure of that. Every hour, every moment, even, we need His help and care, for the enemies who are against us are very malignant, very subtle, and very strong. I would have a safer feeling about my husband if he had a little less confidence in the strength of his own will, and more in that Divine power which I believe can only be had for the asking."
"As if God would stand away, coldly indifferent, and let a striving soul perish because there was no formal asking. Such a thought, in my view, dishonors Him. Would a father wait for his child to call for help if he saw him drowning?"
"No; and I do not think that God ever holds back from saving in the sense you seem to mean, Mr. Lyon. If a father were reaching after his drowning child, and calling to him, 'Give me your hand, my son!' and his child were to refuse the offered help, and trust to his own strength — how could the father save him?"
She waited for my reply, looking at me steadily. What answer could I make? The question seemed to open a window in my soul, and let in beams of light; but they were not yet strong enough to make her full meaning clear.
"Well, what more?" I queried. "Our Heavenly Father is all the while reaching out to save His perishing children, and His voice, tender with compassion, and earnest with love, is forever crying, 'Son, give me your heart!' And if the heart is not given, how can the soul be saved?"
Mrs. Granger's further question almost startled me. It gave a deeper significance to "being saved" than I had yet comprehended.
She went on: "Those who dwell in God, dwell in safety. Of that we may be sure. Can this be said, confidently, of any others? Ah! sir, where so much is at stake, it will not do to risk anything in doubtful trusts. A man's will may be very strong; but if the Spirit of God is within him, he will be far stronger — nay, invincible in the face of legions of enemies. God is as a walled city about his people, and as a rock of defense. He is a sure refuge in the day of trouble."
Her face had kindled, and there was something in the earnestness of her manner, and in the assured tones with which she spoke, that seemed to bear me away and set me adrift. I had nothing to say in opposition. What could I say? There was truth in every word she had uttered; and if I had questioned or caviled in anything, it would only have been as to the exact meaning and practical application of the truths she had spoken. And after all, might she not have a clearer insight than myself into the mystery of God's ways with man?
"You must try to get Mr. Granger to go to church with you. It will he best for him, I am sure," said I, speaking with a stronger conviction of the truth of what I said, than I was willing to admit even to myself.
"If you would only urge him to go, Mr. Lyon. He has great confidence in your judgment, and will be influenced by what you say. You have helped him greatly; helped not only to lift him to his feet again, but to set them going in the right way. Only, Mr. Lyon — and you will excuse me for saying it — you are leading him, I greatly fear, into a state of false security. We may differ about this. But, sir, the safest way is the best way; and I am sure that he who goes to God under a sense of personal weakness, and prays for strength — will be stronger in the hour of temptation, and safer under the assaults of his enemies, than ho who relies solely upon himself."
"Not solely upon himself," I returned. "I did not mean that he should so understand me. We have no life that is absolutely our own; and no strength that is absolutely our own; all are from God. Still, the life and strength that God is perpetually giving — we must take and use as if it were our own. I meant no more and no less. God gives the strength to fight; but we must overcome. He does not work for us, nor fight for us, nor save us; for doing so would be to destroy what makes our very life. We must do all this for ourselves; using the power He is forever giving to all who will use it."
"And especially to all who call upon Him in truth," said Mrs. Granger. "It may be very clear to you, sir," she added, "how one may stand fast in the strength God is always giving. But, if I read my Bible aright, there is a sphere of safety higher and surer than this — a more absolute getting, as it were, into the everlasting arms; and I shall never feel at ease in regard to my husband, until I feel sure that these everlasting arms are round about him."
I left the house more thoughtful and serious than when I went in, and took my way to the Park, hoping that I might meet Mr. Granger; for, somehow, his wife's sense of insecurity in regard to him, had left a like impression on my own mind. The afternoon was clear and bright, and many thousands of people were in the Park, walking, driving and refreshing themselves in many ways; some, I regret to say, making too free use of the restaurants at which, in defiance of Sunday laws, but under license from the Park Commissioners, some of them church-going men, all kinds of intoxicating drinks were dispensed to the people.
I was sitting on the lawn near the largest of these restaurants, from which could be seen the beautiful river, as placid as a lake, and the city with its spires and domes in the distance, when I saw Granger in company with two men, one of whom I recognized as a lawyer of some standing at the bar, and the other as a respectable merchant. They were crossing the lawn at the distance of twenty or thirty yards from where I was sitting, and going in the direction of one of the small refreshment tables that stood in front of the restaurant. On reaching this table, they all sat down and one of them beckoned to a waiter, who, on receiving his order, went away. In a little while he returned with two glasses of some kind of mixed liquor and a bottle of soda water. My relief was great when I saw this, for I naturally inferred that the soda water was for Granger; and in this I was right. When they had finished their glasses, one of them took from his pocket a cigar-case, and after each had lighted a cigar and smoked for a little while, they got up and went leisurely strolling down one of the avenues, taking a homeward direction.
Two or three times I had been on the point of joining them, but the fear lest it should prove to Granger an embarrassing intrusion, restrained me from doing so. I was troubled at the occurrence. This was going into danger; taking unguarded rest on the enemy's ground; inviting temptation. It was scarcely possible, I saw, for Granger to sit drinking with his friends, though he took only soda water himself, without the odor of their glasses drifting to his nostrils with its enticing allurement for his denied appetite. Nor could he do so, without a mental contrast of their freedom, with his restraint. In any view of the incident that I could take, it gave me only regret and concern; and I felt grieved almost to anger with the two friends who, knowing as they did the man's weakness, and the great depth out of which he had just struggled, should so set temptation in his way, as to make his fall again not only possible, but imminent.
I did not feel easy in my mind until I had called at Granger's office on the next day. I found him all right and busy at work. His eyes brightened as he saw me, and he said, with genuine heartiness, as he grasped my hand: "I was so sorry you called yesterday without finding me at home. Helen told me of your visit. I had gone out for a stroll in the Park."
While I was hesitating whether or not to say that I had seen him there, he added, with a shade of pride and self-confidence in his voice: "I had an opportunity to test the native strength that lies with every man, yesterday — and to prove the power of a resolute 'I will not.'"
"Ah? What were the circumstances?" I wished to get his own story, and so gave no intimation of what I had seen.
He replied: "I met two friends while walking near Belmont, and they invited me to join them in a drink. My first thought was to say No; but not wishing to be disagreeable, I said, 'All right,' and we went over to Proskauer's. I had just a little fight with myself as we walked along; but it was soon over, and will stood firmly on guard. 'What will you take?' asked one of them, as we sat down in front of the restaurant. 'Claret punch,' said the other. 'And you?' looking at me. Will was all right and on guard, as I have said, and 'Soda water for me,' came without a shade of hesitation in my voice. I never felt in greater freedom, nor more at ease and assured. Thank you from my heart, friend Lyon; you have helped me to get the full mastery of myself."
"If a man only wills to overcome in the day of temptation, his victory is sure," said I, with renewed confidence; for, was not the proof of this before me? "I am glad for your victory," I continued. "It not only gives you increased assurance of safety, but makes clear to your mind wherein this safety lies. It is within ourselves that we must look for help and strength. God is always giving us the power to live right and to dwell beyond the reach of our enemies; but He does not use that power for us. This we must do for ourselves."
"All as clear to me as the sun at noonday," Granger replied. "And how strong I feel in this consciousness that if I will not — all Hell, as you have said, cannot move me. To stand self-confident, is to stand sure."
But for all his confidence and my own, I did not feel that Granger was wholly safe. If there had been no such thing as infirmity of the will, no sudden assaults of the enemy in unguarded moments, no alluring enticements of the flesh, nor subtle reasonings of the sensual principle, which is so ready to say when forbidden fruit is at the lip, "You shall not surely die," I might not have doubted. But I could not rule these considerations out of the question. They were ever existing sources of danger and causes of anxiety; and I knew but too well that the history of moral defection, was the history of their dominion over the will of man.
"But, after all," I could not help saying, "is it not safest for us to keep as much as possible out of the way of temptation?"
"Yes," he answered, in a tone that was almost indifferent. "Safest, of course, to be in a sheltered enclosure — than out on the battle-field. But the skill to fight, and the power to resist assault, cannot be gained while one lies beyond the reach of danger. We must be brave and strong, and ever ready for the fight; not so much seeking to avoid conflict, as to be armed and ready, and quick to strike when the foe appears. Does any man know his strength, until it is tried? Is any man really strong, until he has met temptation and come out victorious?"
There are truths which become changed into fallacies, because not considered in relation to other truths; or because of their too limited or too general application. In the case of Granger, while I could not deny the abstract truth of what he had been saying, I felt that he stood in great danger of letting it be to him, little more than a betraying fallacy.
I saw him frequently after this, and observed him closely. How fast the old strength, the old working force, and the old ambition were returning. And with all, how strong he seemed to be in the new power which he had gained.
"My 'will not' is my sword and shield," he said to me, many weeks after his new life began. "If my enemy assaults me from a distance, I catch his arrows upon this shield; if he falls upon me suddenly, I defeat him with this sword."
Time passed, and still Granger's feet were standing on solid ground. Business came flowing in, and men who had important cases were again employing him as their counsel. He did not keep out of the way of temptation as much as I thought prudent; but his "I will not" held him above the force of all allurement.
At home, the new aspect of things was like the coming of spring after a long and desolate winter. The poor, little, ill-attired house, was changed for one larger and more comfortable, and furnished in a style more befitting the tastes and habits of his wife and children. Old social relations were in many cases restored, and Mrs. Granger was seen now and then in public places with her husband. Heart-ache, deprivation, toil and humiliation, had made sorrowful changes in her face, and shadowed her beautiful eyes; but slowly the new spring-time which opened upon her life, wrought its sweet changes, until you began to lose sight of the winter's ravages, and to find in their stead, the pleasant signs of a fast-coming and bountiful summer.
For a whole year Granger held his ground, walking safely amid temptations that assailed him on the right hand and on the left. His profession brought him into familiar association with men who not only used wine freely themselves, but made its offer to their friends, a social courtesy. Still, his steady refusal to touch or taste was maintained. "I will not" continued to be his tower of strength.
"I am prouder of this self-mastery," he said to me one day, "than of any achievement in my life. In the strength of this asserted manhood, I stand as a rock, unmoved, though the billows dash madly against me."
"He who rules his own spirit, is better than he who captures a city," I replied. "The greatest of all heroes, is the man who conquers himself."
"Say, rather, he who, single-handed, meets the infernal crew who would drag him down to death and Hell, and beats them back!" he replied.
There was a proud flash in his eyes as he lifted himself to a statelier bearing.
"Have you seen Mr. Granger recently?" asked my wife, not many weeks afterwards. It was on Sunday, and we were sitting at the dinner-table. "No, why do you ask?" Something in Mrs. Lyon's voice gave me a feeling of uneasiness.
"I saw Mrs. Granger at church this morning, and she looked as if she had just come out of a spell of sickness."
"Was she at church last Sunday?"
"Did you observe anything unusual in her appearance then?"
"Was her daughter with her today?"
"Yes; and she looked almost as wretched as her mother. There's something wrong, I'm afraid. Oh, if Mr. Granger should have taken to drinking again, would it not be dreadful?"
My knife and fork dropped from my hands, and I half rose from the table, so pained and startled was I by this suggestion.
"Oh, no, no, that cannot be!" I replied, as I made an effort to compose myself. "Mr. Granger is too strong, and too well established in his reformation."
"From what I have heard you say," returned my wife, "I have been inclined to think him too self-confident. The boastful are not always the farthest removed from peril; and Granger has shown a weakness in this direction. His 'I will not,' in which you and he have put so great faith, may have proven his stone of stumbling."
"Why do you say that?" I demanded, in a voice meant to be assured, but into which came a betrayal of weakness and fear.
"A man," replied my wife, "who has such a firm faith in his 'I will not,' as Granger possesses, may fall through over-confidence in the power of self-mastery."
"He may trust himself too far."
"I do not get your meaning. What is it?"
"Your friend is offered a glass of wine. The sight and the odor kindle into a sudden flame the old desire. He is conscious of strength, and with an emphatic mental 'I will not!' turns from the tempting glass. But, suppose, in his conscious, self-confident strength, as you call it, he should say, 'I will taste but a single glass,' what then? Is he not as sure of himself after a single glass, as he was before? Can he not say, 'So far and no farther?'"
"You know that he cannot," I replied, almost sharply, for her suggestion had struck me like a blow. "That single glass would not only break the strength of his will, but give to appetite a new and stronger power."
"Don't you see the perpetual danger in which he would stand?"
I did see it as I had not seen it before, though many times fears and misgivings had troubled me.
"But about Mrs. Granger and her daughter?" I asked. "How did they look?"
'I only saw them for a moment or two in the vestibule of the church. At the first glance, I scarcely recognized Mrs. Granger. There did not seem to be a particle of color in her face, which was pinched, as we see it in those who are suffering acute pain. She did not look up at anyone, and had the manner of a person who wished to shrink away without attracting observation. Depend upon it, there is something wrong with her husband."
"Something wrong with her husband!" It had the sound of a death-knell in my ears.
After dinner, I called at Granger's residence and asked for him, but was informed by the servant that he was not at home. I then inquired for Mrs. Granger, who sent word that she was not feeling well, and asked to be excused. The servant's manner was repressed and mysterious. I went away with a heavy weight pressing on my heart, and taking a car, rode out to the Park, thinking it possible that I might find Granger there. I spent the whole afternoon in the neighborhood of Belmont, but saw nothing of him. In the evening, I called at his house again, but was told, as before, that he was not at home. There was a look in the servant's face, as she made this answer, which led me to doubt its truth.
I made it my business to go to the lawyer's office as early as ten o'clock on the following day. He had not yet made his appearance. I returned at twelve; but he was still absent. Then I visited the court-rooms and inquired for him there; but no one remembered to have seen him within the last two or three days. Late in the afternoon, I again visited his office, but the door was still locked.
On the next day, and on the next, my efforts to find Granger were no more successful. He still remained away from his office. A week passed without my seeing him. I had again and again called at his residence, only to be informed that he was not at home.
Sitting in my office late one afternoon, I heard the door open, and turning, saw this man for whom so great a concern was lying on my heart. Was it all a dream, then — this year of reform and restoration? — a bright, but cheating dream? As I had seen him, debased, nerveless, wretched, a year ago — so I saw him now. Eyes blood-shot — clothes soiled and disordered — face shorn of all manliness, and marked in every lineament with debauchery and excess!
"Oh, Granger! Granger!" I cried out, the sorrow and pain which I felt going into my voice. "And has it come to this? All your strength gone — all your manhood trodden into the mire?"
"All gone," he answered, in a moody, dogged kind of way, as he shut the door and came a step or two forward. I saw that he was considerably under the influence of alcohol.
"I had hoped better things of you than this, Mr. Granger," said I, with a measure of rebuke in my voice.
"And I had hoped better things of myself," he replied, as he sat down, or rather, dropped heavily into a chair. "But I rather guess we built on a sandy foundation; and when the winds blew, and the rain fell, and the floods came, down went the house, and the fall thereof was great. Ha! Isn't it so? Don't you remember that talk we had with Mr. Stannard — about the new leaf I had turned, and the writing that was to go thereon. You and he differed about it, I remember; and I took your view of the case. But, do you know, I've always had a notion that he was nearest right."
"Then, in Heaven's name, try his way!" I exclaimed. "Anything to save you from this dreadful sin and debasement."
"That is, go and join the church." He gave a short, ironical laugh. "Nice subject for the church!" And he looked down at himself. "But, see here, Lyon," his manner changing, "I'm all cleaned out. Look!" and he held his pocket-book open. "All gone, you perceive. Had more than a hundred dollars when — when — I got on this confounded drinking spree! Lend me a twenty. I want to buy a clean shirt, and get a bath, and fix myself up before going home."
"Will you fix yourself up and go home?" I asked.
"Of course I will. But I can't meet Helen and the children looking like this. I'd rather go and jump into the river."
I hesitated, not feeling sure of him. He was under the influence of drink; and the word of a man in this condition can rarely, if ever, be trusted.
"Mr. Lyon. I'm not going to deceive you. I've set my foot down, and don't mean to drink another drop."
"Here are ten dollars," I said, taking a bank-bill from my pocket-book; "but before I give it to you, I must have your word, as a man of honor, that you will not spend a dollar of this money for liquor."
"My word and my honor, Mr. Lyon!" and he placed his hand over his heart.
In the next moment, he was reaching out eagerly for the money, which I let him take, though not without many misgivings as to his proper use of it. He rose immediately and made a movement to leave the office.
"Not yet, Mr. Granger. Sit down again. I wish to have a little more talk with you."
"I'll call in tomorrow," he replied, not resuming his seat, and showing considerable eagerness to get away. "Haven't been home since day before yesterday, and they're getting worried about me. Good afternoon!"
And before I could make a movement to intercept him, he was gone!
I found Granger at his office on the next day.
He was writing, and did not turn to see who had come in until I had waited for some moments. His color heightened as he recognized me. There was a look of shame in his face, and considerable embarrassment in his manner.
"Good morning," said I.
"Good morning," he responded, in a dull, cold way. There was not the slightest invitation to friendly confidence. I felt him pushing me off, almost as distinctly as if his action had been physical instead of mental.
"Just looked in to see how you were," I remarked. "All right, I hope?"
He turned a little from me, not making any reply. While I was still in doubt as to what it were best for me to do or say, a client came in to consult him on business, which gave me an opportunity to retire from the office. I was glad of this, for I was not sure as to Granger's real state of mind; nor half so confident as I had been a year before, that I could give the wise counsel which a man in his condition so greatly needed. That he had faithfully tried the prescription which I gave him then, I knew; and there was this to be said in its favor, by its help he had stood firm for a whole year — and was not that a great deal? True, but why had he gained nothing in moral and spiritual power during all this rule of the will over his sensual nature? He should have been stronger, more self-confident, more really invincible at the end of a year than at the beginning; and yet, the will off guard, in some moment of assault, and he was again in the hands of his enemy.
One conclusion forced itself upon me. This man's condition was worse than before he made his resolute and, for a time, successful effort to reform. The will-power, in which he had trusted so confidently, had failed in strength and vigilance, and left him a prey to the in-rushing appetite for alcohol. Even if faith in himself were not destroyed, it must be a weaker faith and less able to contend with appetite, which, through another victory, had gained a new force.
All this, as I dwelt on the subject, grew clearer and clearer to my mind. I could see how a resolute will might hold a man above consent in any and every temptation by which he might be assailed; and I could also see how, if the will betrayed the man, and he fell — he would be weaker for the fall, and more easily overcome in a new temptation. What then? What hope for him? There would be an inflowing of strength from God with every subsequent effort the man might make to get free from the dominion of evil; but would not the reception of this strength and the ability to use it, be in a steadily diminishing ratio; and would not the power of alcohol increase with every indulgence?
My faith in man's will had received a shock. There was an element of weakness somewhere. Why should God fail to give the requisite strength — when the effort was sincere? Did he indeed govern, as many taught, by mere arbitrary laws; affording help to the weak and perishing only in the degree of their compliance with certain conditions? Or, were the conditions not arbitrary but essential and in the very nature of things? If God is good and wise — loving and compassionate — ever seeking to save to the very uttermost, must not this be so? God is love — love. Heart and soul held to this. But, how was the sustaining strength of this love, to make itself a living force in man? How? I could not see it clearly. Once it had been very clear; but my thoughts were in confusion now.
I had reached the door of my own office, and was about entering, when a sudden movement in the street attracted my attention. People were running together, in an excited manner.
"Only a drunken brawl," said a man who was standing near me.
"That all." And I passed into my office. Only a drunken brawl! I had dismissed the incident as of little account when I was startled by the sound of tramping feet and dissonant voices at my very door; and in a moment after, three men entered bearing the body of a man, deathly pale, and with the blood streaming from a wound in his head. I recognized him as a well-known and prominent citizen.
A doctor was sent for, and after the wound was dressed, the gentleman was removed to his own home.
Only a drunken brawl! An effort was made to keep the affair out of the newspapers, but not with entire success. In one afternoon paper, this account appeared:
"Assault on a prominent citizen. — A dastardly assault was made this morning on our esteemed fellow citizen, Harvey Leonard, Esq., by a ruffianly fellow named Groot. It occurred just in front of Egbert's saloon. Mr. Leonard had just left the saloon, when Groot dealt him a severe blow from behind, knocking him down. In falling, his head struck the curbstone, and he received an ugly wound above the temple. Mr. Leonard was carried into Frederick Lyon's office, where the wound was dressed by Dr. Gerhard. He was then taken to his own home. We learn that the immediate occasion of this assault was a political argument into which Mr. Leonard permitted himself to be drawn by Groot, and in which both of them — they had been drinking rather freely, we are sorry to say — got angry and called hard names. Mr. Leonard had the best of the argument, and Groot revenged himself, after the ruffianly fashion, by knocking him down. He may thank his lucky stars, if he doesn't have to stand a trial for manslaughter; for no one can tell what may be the result of a severe concussion of the brain. When removed to his home, we understand that Mr. Leonard was in a half-comatose state."
I had just read this account of the affair, and was thinking of the mortification Mr. Leonard's family must suffer, should it happen to meet their eyes — there were grown-up sons and daughters — when, to my surprise, Mr. Granger entered my office. He smiled faintly as he came in, the smile dying off slowly, and leaving his face very grave.
"I want to have another talk with you, Lyon," he said. "This is a shocking affair of Leonard's, isn't it?"
"Shocking and sad," I replied.
"I know this Groot. He's peaceable enough when sober, but a devil incarnate when drunk. They say that Leonard is in a dangerous condition."
"So the Telegraph intimates."
"I don't know when anything has given me such a shock. It might have happened to me, as well as to Leonard. Why, only a few evenings ago I had some sharp words with the fellow. I can remember the glitter of his angry eyes. He would have struck me down, if he had dared. Liquor makes fiends of some men, who are as quiet and peaceable as lambs when sober. I've often thought of that. Can you explain it, Mr. Lyon?"
"I have no settled theory of my own on the subject; but in a book which I read not long ago, I saw an explanation that set me to thinking."
"What was it?"
"The writer had been speaking of the terrible transformations wrought in men by alcohol. How the once tender and considerate husband, became changed often into a cruel fiend. How the loving father, grew indifferent or brutal towards his children; the good citizen, turned into a social pest; and the esteemed neighbor, into an offence to all around him. How in everything, the order of life was changed; the goodly tree that once gave such generous fruit — now becoming as a thorn or bramble. He then said:
"We marvel at these dreadful transformations, wondering how inebriation can change men into fiends; how alcohol, a mere substance in nature, and without moral force, can, through its action on the brain, evolve a new moral quality — intense, destructive and infernal. The fact, no one questions, for it stands all the while confronting and challenging us in a thousand terrible and disgusting forms; and yet, for all this, men dally with the subtle agent of Hell, giving it a lodgment in body and brain, and allowing it to gain a large and still larger action among the vital forces, which it never touches but to work disorder. They see how it hurts their neighbors; but, strangely enough, do not fear for themselves!
"There is a truth about this matter which few consider — a truth that, if well understood, would hold thousands upon thousands away from that so-called moderate indulgence in alcohol which so often betrays to utter ruin. We speak of man as having rational freedom. The seat of this freedom and rationality is the brain, the physical organism through which it acts and influences, the outer life. If the brain is hurt or disturbed, the mind's healthy action is at once lost; and it is remarkable that an evil force seems to get possession of the will, as soon as the rational equipoise is lost.
"Whatever disturbs a man's rational equipoise, gives evil forces a power over him which could not otherwise be obtained. Clearly, then, to disturb the brain's healthy action by the introduction of alcohol, through the blood, into that wonderfully delicate organ, is for a man to change so far the true heavenly order of his life, and to open the door for an influx of disorder and evil. The change may at first be very small, and the disorderly action scarcely perceived; but is it not clear to the dullest mind that, if the introduction of alcohol into the brain is continued day after day, and with gradual increase, the time must come when the man's rational control of himself will be lost. And when this takes, place, he becomes subject to infernal influences.'"
"This goes deeper than I had thought," said Granger, as I stopped speaking, "and involves more than I can now understand or admit. So much is true, at least, that when the brain is disturbed by alcoholic drink, a man comes under baleful influences, and is far more inclined to evil than to good. He is quick to take offence, and too often grows passionate, cruel and pitiless, hurting even his best beloved. Ah, what a cursed slavery it is!"
A painful agitation disturbed his face.
"And the hardest to break, of any into which a poor mortal can unhappily fall," I said.
"Is there any hope, Mr. Lyon?" An anxious, half-terrified look had come into his eyes, as of one who had felt himself borne helplessly away. "I am almost in despair. My will, in which I thought myself so strong, has failed, and I cannot trust it again. It is weaker for my fall, and must grow weaker and weaker every recurring fall. Do you know anything about inebriate asylums?"
He asked the question abruptly, and with the manner of one who had forced himself to do something from which he had been holding back with a strong reluctance.
"There are the Sanitarium at Media, and the New York State Inebriate Asylum at Binghampton," I answered.
"Do you know anything about either of them?"
I did not.
"Did you ever hear of anyone being cured at an Inebriate Asylum?"
"Who? Can you find me the man?"
"No case has come under my personal observation; but I remember reading in a New York paper not long ago, a very strong report on the good work which had been done at the State Asylum."
"Do you know anything about the treatment?"
"Only in a general way. The patient is removed from old associations, and out of the reach of temptations which he had become too weak to resist; brought under the influence of new social, moral and intellectual conditions; and this for a period of time long enough to give him back the mastery over himself which had been lost. I remember, now, hearing a gentleman who had visited the Sanitarium at Media, say, that Dr. Parish regarded the cultivation of the finest qualities of the head and heart in his patients, as the true basis of a permanent recovery. He relied on that self-culture which promotes self-respect, a sense of moral obligation, and the development of a true manhood; and when this consciousness was realized, he considered the foundations laid for permanent safety."
The eager expression which was on Granger's face as I began my answer to his question, had left it by the time I ceased speaking.
"All a delusion," he replied. "If they can offer a man no other help, the number of their saved will be few."
"They are many, I have been told."
Granger shook his head doubtfully and gloomily.
"New associations," said I, "the cultivation of new tastes, more vigorous thinking in the right direction, a better understanding of the pathology of drunkenness, and above all, the formation of better habits, must help a man and give him a new advantage in the struggle with alcohol. These he will gain while under treatment in an asylum."
"Have I not had nearly all of these for a year, standing by their help and that of my strong will, in the very face of temptation? And yet there came an hour in which they were as threads of flax, in a candle flame! You don't know anything about the wild rush this passion of drink will sometimes make upon a man. It is like the sweep of an irresistible flood.
"Look here!" He drew from his vest pocket a slip of paper. "I cut this out of a newspaper today. It has frightened me. God only knows where I am drifting! It may be to a fate as dreadful. This slip of paper gives, briefly, a few facts in the life of a man who once stood high as a clergyman, and afterwards represented his State in Congress. But drink cursed him and he fell to the lowest level. Recovering himself, he enlisted in the temperance cause and became not only one of its warmest champions, but rose to the head of the Order of Good Templars in the State of Indiana. But he died before he had reached his fortieth year and from congestion of the brain, caused by a relapse into alcoholism!"
"Sad enough! Does the slip give his name?"
"Let me read it: Schuyler Colfax, in a recent letter referring to the death of J.J. Talbot, of Indianapolis, says: "He has made hundreds of eloquent and touching appeals for temperance all over our State within the past two years, but told me that the appetite would sometimes become so insatiate as to almost defy control, though he prayed on bended knee for strength to resist it. I remember the terrible picture of his own experience copied in the enclosed article. He delivered it here, to a crowded audience, hundreds of whom, like myself, were in tears, and he uttered it in desponding tones that seemed almost like the wail of the lost, and as if he felt his impending doom was inevitable.'"
"The extract referred to by Mr. Colfax, is as follows: 'But now that the struggle is over, I can survey the field and measure the losses. I had position high and holy. This demon tore from around me, the robes of my sacred office, and sent me forth churchless and godless, a very hissing and by-word among men. Afterward I had business, large and lucrative, and my voice in all large courts was heard pleading for justice, mercy and the right. I had moneys ample for all necessities, but they took wings and went to feed the coffers of the devils which possessed me. I had a home adorned with all that wealth and the most exquisite taste could suggest. This devil crossed its threshold and the light faded from its chambers; the fire went out on the holiest of altars, and, leading me through its portals, despair walked forth with her, and sorrow and anguish lingered within. I had children, beautiful, to me at least, as a dream of the morning, and they had so entwined themselves around their father's heart that, no matter where it might wander, ever it came back to them on the bright wings of a father's undying love. This destroyer took their hands in his, and led them away. I had a wife whose charms of mind and person were such that to see her was to remember her, and to know her was to love her. For thirteen years we walked the rugged path of life together, rejoicing in its sunshine and sorrowing in its shade. This infernal monster couldn't spare me even this. I had a mother who for long, long years had not left her chair, a victim of suffering and disease, and her choicest delight was in the reflection that the lessons which she had taught at her knee, had taken root in the heart of her youngest born, and that he was useful to his fellows and an honor to her who bore him. But the thunderbolt reached even there, and there it did its most cruel work. Ah, me! never a word of reproach from her lips — only a tender caress; only a shadow of a great and unspoken grief gathering over the dear old face; only a trembling hand laid more lovingly on my head; only a closer clinging to the cross; only a more piteous appeal to Heaven if her cup at last were not full. And while her boy raved in his wild delirium two thousand miles away, the pitying angels pushed the golden gates ajar, and the mother of the drunkard entered into her rest.
"'And thus I stand: a clergyman without a church; a lawyer without brief or business; a father without a child; a husband without a wife; a son without a parent; a man with scarcely a friend; a soul without a hope — all swallowed up in the vortex of alcohol!'"
Several times, as he read, the voice of Mr. Granger gave way and he had to pause in order to recover himself. His hand shook so, that he was obliged to lay the slip of paper down on my table to keep it steady. His eyes were wet and his face strongly agitated.
"Such a devil is the devil of drink!" he said, bitterly, shutting his teeth hard and clenching his hands. "As cruel as Hell! As pitiless as the grave!"
"And knowing that he is so cruel and so pitiless, Mr. Granger, why place yourself for an instant in his power?"
He put his hand to his collar and drew it away from his throat, as if he were choking.
"The case seems well near hopeless." There was a mournful despondency in his voice.
"Say not so. That of Mr. Talbot is largely exceptional. There must have been with him an inherited appetite for alcohol."
I was looking at Mr. Granger, and noticed a change pass over his face, which had become suddenly pale. There was a startled expression in his eyes.
"A what?" he asked, a little breathlessly. "An inherited tendency."
"You don't imagine that there is anything in that, Mr. Lyon?"
"Undoubtedly there is," not at the moment thinking of any application by Mr. Granger of my remark to his own case. "The law of transmission is well established. Children not only inherit the physical likenesses and peculiarities of their parents — but their mental and moral qualities also. A depraved appetite in a father will, if indulged, be surely transmitted to his child."
"What hope for the child, then?"
"All hope, if he holds the appetite as a wild beast sleeping. It cannot hurt him while it sleeps. But let him beware how he awakens it with a taste of blood on its tongue. No inherited evil can hurt us — until we give it a new life in ourselves. Until then, it is only potential."
No light came back into Granger's countenance. There was about him a statue-like stillness and a fixedness of look, as though he were gazing at something strange and almost fearful.
"This gives the case a new aspect, Mr. Lyon." There was a forced quiet in his voice as he said this, turning to me as he spoke. I saw another change in his countenance, which now bore signs of conscious weakness. He gave me the impression of one who had folded his arms in the face of danger, all confidence in his personal effort gone. "A man may repent and be saved from the curse of his own transgressions, but if the sin of his father is laid upon him, what hope is there of salvation?"
The truth flashed on my mind. Here was a case of inherited appetite; and the victim's first suspicion of the fact had destroyed in him, for the time being, all remaining faith in the value of resistance.
"The case is only the harder," I replied; "but not desperate. There must be a more vigilant watch and ward; a more earnest and never-ceasing conflict; a daily death-grapple with the foe, if need be. And is not freedom from his infernal power, worth all this?"
"Worth it? Yes! Worth all a man may do or dare!"
There swept into his face the flush and strength of reviving confidence.
"Did the criminality of this thing ever strike you?" I asked, determined to try the force of a new incentive.
"Criminality?" He gave a kind of startle, and the warmer color which had come into his face died out.
"Nor the perpetual danger in which one who lets the devil of drink get possession of his brain stands of becoming a criminal before the law? The deeds of a devil are very apt to be devilish."
He set his eyes on me with a fixed stare, waiting my farther speech.
"Your profession makes you familiar with the causes of crime," I continued, "and you know that over seventy percent of the crimes and wicked acts which the law punishes by fines, imprisonments and death, are caused by inebriation."
He still gazed at me without speaking.
"Groot is an inoffensive man while sober, but a brutal fiend when drunk. When sober, he would not have injured a hair of Mr. Leonard's head — but when drunk, he made a cowardly and murderous assault upon him."
Granger drew a deep, quivering breath, but made no reply. I went on.
"No man who takes this devil into his brain, so giving him the control of will and action — can tell what may be the consequences. When he gets back to himself again, there may be blood upon his hand! Whose blood? Is the insane drunkard careful in his discriminations? Is the beloved wife, or sweet young daughter, or innocent babe, in no danger? What say the records of our courts?"
I paused, for the face of the lawyer had become intensely agitated, and there were beads of sweat on his forehead.
"This criminal aspect of the case," I resumed, seeing that he made no response, "is one of the most serious that drinking presents; and is not the man who, to gratify a mere appetite which he knows, if indulged, will destroy his moral sense, and induce temporary insanity — as guilty of the crimes he may commit while intoxicated — as if he had committed them sober? A good citizen will see to it, that he does not wrong his neighbor; and a good husband and father will see to it, that his wife and children have care, protection and love. Is he a good citizen, or husband, or father, who voluntarily transforms himself into a cruel and destructive demon? The crime and responsibility of this thing cannot be escaped, Mr. Granger, and I press upon you, in all solemnity, this view of the whole sad question. If you go away from here, and, before reaching your home, allow alcohol to draw you back again into the vortex from which you are trying to escape, and on the outer edge of which you are resting now — who can tell whether tomorrow may not find you at the bar of justice, with crime written on your forehead!"
Granger started to his feet and threw up his hands with a bitter cry, then clasped them tightly across his forehead. He stood for several moments in this attitude, his manner that of one in swift debate.
"No, Mr. Lyon, not that — not that!" he said, huskily, as he turned to me. "Not a criminal!"
He sat down again, as if from sudden loss of strength. I saw that he was trembling.
"I trust not, Mr. Granger. But there is no more immunity for you, than for another. These drink-devils are no respecters of people. If you let them enslave you — no one can tell how soon, nor how deeply, they may lead you into crime and disgrace!"
He gave an involuntary shudder. After this, we talked more calmly. The idea of criminality became a central one in his mind. It had never before occurred to him. He was a man of sensitive honor; and this thought of crime against society, and against his family, wrought with him strongly. Not alone the crime of violence, as at first presented, but the crime of robbery towards those who had a claim on him for services and protection. I was careful to go over the ground with him as widely as possible; and especially to dwell on the great crime against wife and children which a man commits, who robs them through the waste and self-wrought incapacity of drunkenness.
Granger sat with me for a whole hour, gathering up motives for a new struggle with his enemy, and setting his mental forces in array. The idea of criminality in drunkenness took, I was glad to see, a deeper and deeper hold upon him. He was very severe on himself, in referring to the wrongs his family had suffered; and did not hesitate to call his conduct towards them an aggravated crime.
"You have helped me to my feet again," he said, holding my hand tightly, as he was about leaving my office, "and may God bless you; not for my sake only, but for the sake of my wife and children. A criminal! No, no, no! A good citizen, an honorable man — Alexander Granger will be all these — but not a criminal! Good-bye! I am your debtor more than can be estimated in any count of gold. Good-bye, and again, may God bless you!"
My confidence in Granger's ability to control his appetite by means of the new moral element which had been summoned to his aid, was not as strong as I could have wished. A serious ground of fear lay in the fact, which had been fully admitted, of his father's intemperate habits, for I clearly understood the subtle power of all transmitted inclinations; especially when by indulgence these inclinations are lifted above the region of latent impulse and become a living force, the hereditary and the acquired, acting in the same direction. How powerful had been their action in the case of Mr. Granger, was manifest in his sudden fall after a whole year of abstinence. In this renewed struggle, was he not weaker, and these combined forces stronger, than before? I could not get my mind free from the depressing effects which were wrought in me by this view of the case.
But my anxieties were apparently groundless. Granger stood firm again; and I had cause for renewed and stronger hope in the permanence of his reformation, in the fact that he was less boastful as to his strength, and more careful to keep as far away from temptation as possible. I made it a duty to see him frequently, and to give him all the moral support in my power. There were times when he talked to me very freely about his old life, and about the latent force of the old serpent of alcohol on which he had set his heel.
"I am painfully conscious," he said to me, one day — it was several months after his sudden fall, and quick recovery of himself again, "that appetite is only held down by force; and that at any moment it may give a vigorous spring and seek to throw its slimy folds around me!"
"And for this cause, you are always on guard," I replied.
"Herein lies your safety. You are stronger than your enemies; but, to be safe, must never unbuckle your armor nor lay aside your shield."
"Always a soldier; always in front of the enemy; always standing on guard! It is a hard life for a man to live. How I long, sometimes, for peace and rest and safety!"
"Better to stand always in full armor, than to give the slightest advantage to your cruel foes. You know too well what falling into their power means."
"Alas! too well. But," he added, with a serious contraction of the brows, "is there no time in the days to come, when these enemies shall be wholly destroyed or cast out? Am I never to dwell in safety?"
He looked at me with strong and eager questionings in his eyes.
"Sometime, I trust." My reply had in it no assuring quality.
"Sometime! When? In this world, or only in the next? — in Heaven, if I ever should be so fortunate as to get there?"
"Your enemies will grow weaker, the longer you hold them down; and will you not be a steady gainer in strength for every day and year you keep this mastery over them? Every day and year dwelling more and more secure?"
"What do you understand by alcoholism?" he asked, abruptly.
"It is a term used by some medical writers to designate what they regard as confirmed inebriety — when the will-power is completely overthrown, and the demands of the diseased organism for alcoholic stimulus becomes so great, that the man is literally crazy for drink," I replied.
"What do they say about it? — the medical writers, I mean."
"They give but little ground for hope of cure in one so demented."
"Demented? Ah! I can well believe it. Crazy for drink! I have seen men so."
"When this condition is fully developed, these writers say, the brain has become deteriorated in quality, and its functions impaired. All the higher faculties are more or less weakened. Reason, judgment, perception and memory lose their vigor and capacity. The will becomes feeble and powerless. All the moral sentiments and affections become involved. Conscience, a sense of accountability, and of right and wrong, are all deadened, while the baser propensities and passions are aroused, and acquire a new strength.
"Another effect has been observed: No influence can frighten or deter the miserable subject from indulging his passion for drink. To gratify it, he will not only disregard every consideration of a personal nature affecting his standing in society, his financial condition, or the well-being of his family, but the most frightful instances of disasters and crimes, as the consequences of drinking, fail to have any effect upon him. A hundred deaths from this cause, occurring under the most revolting circumstances, fail to impress him with an adequate sense of his own danger. He would pass over the bodies of these wretched victims without a thought of warning, in order to get the means of gratifying his own insatiate thirst. Such, according to medical testimony, is the alcoholic; or, as some say, the subject of confirmed alcoholism; and he is considered as morally insane."
"Fearful!" ejaculated Granger; "and we tamper with a substance that can work such ruin to the souls and bodies of men!"
"There is something mysterious in the action of this substance on the human body and its functions," I replied. "So seductive and pleasant in its first effects — so enticing and so alluring — and yet so deadly and destructive in the end. An almost invisible bond at the beginning and as light as a spider's thread — but at the last, an iron fetter!"
"I met with an extract from a medical journal today that gave me a startling impression of insecurity," said Granger. "As you intimated, there must be something occult and mysterious in the way alcohol works its insidious changes in the human economy. We know, alas! too well, that here effect does not cease with the removal of the cause. The thirst, which increases the more it is indulged — is not extinguished by prolonged denial. The man never gets back to his normal state — to a point where a single glass of liquor will produce no more desire for a second glass than did the first he drank in youth or early manhood. One would suppose that, after a longer or shorter period of abstinence, the man would regain his old condition, and be able to taste wine or spirits without immediate danger. That the appetite, if indulged, would have only gradual increase as before. But all experience and observation testify that this is not so, and the extract from a medical journal to which I have just referred professed to give the pathological reason."
"And what is the reason so given?" I asked.
"It startled me, as I have said," he answered. "The statement alleges that a physician of some eminence made careful examination, by examination of the blood and internal organs of people who, before death, had used intoxicating drinks freely, and found in these subjects an enlargement of the blood globules, as well in the brain as in the other organs, so that they stood, as it were, open-mouthed, athirst always, and eager for drink."
"But," I said, "abstinence from alcoholic beverages must, in time, change this condition, and the blood globules shrink to their old dimensions."
"The facts do not bear out that inference. It is farther stated, that the physician referred to, after clearly ascertaining the existence of this morbid change, had the opportunity to dissect the brain of a man who, after being a drunkard for many years, reformed and lived soberly until he died. His surprise was great when he discovered that the unnaturally large globules of the blood had not shrank to their proper size. Though they did not exhibit the inflammation seen in the drunkard's brain — they were enlarged, and ready, it seemed, on the instant, to absorb the waited-for alcohol, and resume their old diseased condition. The conclusion to which the physician came was given in the brief article. He believed that he saw in this morbid state of the brain, the physical part of the reason why a man who has once been a drunkard, can never again as long as he lives, safely take one drop of alcoholic liquor. He thought he saw why a glass of wine put a man back instantly to where he was when he drank all the time. He saw the citadel free from the enemy, but undefended — incapable of defense — its doors wide open, so that there was no safety except in keeping the foe at a distance, away beyond the outermost wall."
"If this be true, every reformed man should know it!" I said. "The statement is remarkable, and great pains should be taken to ascertain, by repeated examinations, whether it holds good in other cases or not. That there is a change in the physical condition of inebriates, we all know; and we also know that this change is permanent. But whether it be in the blood globules or not, the fact itself should stand as a perpetual warning to men who have at any time been the slaves of this appetite to alcohol. And I do not think, Mr. Granger, that you should find in the philosophy of inebriation here educed, anything to discourage you, but rather a new motive for keeping your foe at a distance, away beyond the outermost wall, as has been said."
"But the citadel incapable of defense — its doors wide open! Think of that, Mr. Lyon!"
"Yes; but the enemy dislodged, and driven over the frontier — held in the far distance, and the man able, if he will, to hold him there forever."
"Ah! yes, yes. The old story. No safety but in eternal vigilance." Granger spoke as one who felt weary and despondent.
"But safety. Don't forget that, my friend! Peace and safety. Rich harvest-fields, and secure abiding. Are not these worth all the vigilance one may give?"
"Yes, yes; his eternal vigilance!" He roused himself as he spoke. "What a weak coward I am! But I know my enemy, and the vantage ground he holds."
"The vantage ground is yours, instead," I made reply. "Don't forget that; and let each new revelation you get of your enemy's strength, alertness and malignant hate — only act upon you as a new motive for watchfulness. Let the resolute will that held you safe for a whole year, add its strength to the new motives and considerations which are influencing you now."
He withdrew his gaze from me, and remained in thought for a considerable time.
"You are not a church-member?" lifting his eyes to my face. I noticed a new quality in his tone of voice.
"No; I have never connected myself with any religious society."
"It might be difficult to assign a reason that would be entirely satisfactory to any but myself, seeing that I am a reverent believer in Holy Scripture and in the divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But I do not find in the sphere of worship, in the ordinary range of preaching, and in the practical illustrations of Christianity seen in the lives and conversation of most of the church-members I happen to know — anything to awaken a desire to cast in my lot with 'God's people,' as they are in the habit of styling themselves. They have too much cant of Sunday piety — and too little week-day charity to suit me. The teachings of Christ are very explicit, and no man is a Christian, let him profess what he may, who does not live according to His divine precepts. To be a Christian, means a great deal more than to be called by His name; as so many really seem to think. To join a church, and take part in its worship and ordinances, doesn't make a Christian. It may make a self-deceiving Pharisee or hypocrite; which is to be in a more dangerous spiritual condition than that of honest unbelief. I have too deeply-seated a reverence for these things, to enter into them lightly, or to make of them a stepping-stone to influence and respectability, as I fear is so frequently the case."
Mr. Granger drew a long sigh as I stopped speaking, and I saw a disappointed expression in his face.
"Have you thought of joining the church?" I inquired.
"Oh, yes! I've thought of everything." He spoke with a slight disturbance of manner. "But the question has always been, 'What help will the church give me?' and so far the answer has not been satisfactory. That case of Mr. Talbot, about which we talked once, has been a source of considerable discouragement. He was a clergyman, you know, in the church, and one of its teachers; and yet the church did not save him from drunkenness."
"And you remember," I added, "that he used often, as he said, to pray to God on bended knees for strength to resist the demon of drink, but all without avail."
"Yes, I remember it." His voice despondent, and a gloom settling over his face.
What did this mean? The truth began to dawn on me. There had been one reserve of hope left in the mind of Granger. When all else failed, he would go to God for help; and in my seeming depreciation of the church as a means of rescue, had I not well near destroyed this hope?
"You do not believe in the value of prayer?" He put the question sharply.
"I must reject the Bible — if I reject the value of prayer. It is full of exhortations to pray. 'Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation,' are the words of our blessed Lord himself. But you will notice that the first injunction was to 'watch;' this is the man's part. If he is not watchful — ever on guard and ready to resist the tempter — his prayers will be offered in vain. In the clergyman's case, prayer on bended knees could not have been supplemented with a due degree of watchfulness. In far too many cases, prayer goes for nothing, I fear. Is a man secure from robbers, if he only prays for protection, and give no care to the bolting and barring pf his house? Or saved from drowning, if he puts to sea in a leaky vessel, trusting that God will keep the wretched craft afloat through the agency of prayer? There must be praying and working, asking and doing; the putting forth of our utmost strength, at the same time that our cry for help goes up. This is my idea of effective prayer."
There came back into Granger's face a more assured expression.
"I see reason in that," he said. "And yet," after a pause, "how much easier just to cry out, as Peter did, 'Save me, Lord!' and be saved without an effort to bear yourself above the engulfing water."
"Did Peter make no effort?" I asked.
"None. He just cried out, 'Lord, save me!'"
"What was he doing?"
"Trying to go to the Lord over the angry waters."
"Walking, as steadily as he could, on the turbulent billows. Walking, you see; trying to get to Jesus; doing his best. And this means, I think, that we must do something in the way of going to the Lord besides mere looking toward him, and calling upon Him. We must endeavor to walk — that is, to live right — and the first step in right living, is to cease to do evil.' He who thus tries to go to Christ, over the tempestuous waves of sin which leap about his feet, will, when his 'Save me, Lord,' breaks out in a half-despairing cry, find himself grasped by one who is mighty to save."
The strength of his countenance increased.
"You have given me some light. Help does not come to effortless weakness."
"Not the help that saves a man from the wretchedness which sin has brought upon him. He sinned freely, and God did not hold him back from sin with a force greater than his will, for that would have been to destroy in him all that makes him human, his rationality and his freedom. As he sinned freely, breaking God's laws — so he must repent and return freely. He must come back of himself, as did the prodigal son; but God will see him afar off and run to meet him, and throw His loving arms about him and rejoice over him. But, in all this, He will not touch his freedom; will do nothing for him in which the man does not, as it were, do the things for himself, God being his helper."
I saw Granger's countenance begin to fall again.
"If I could only see it clearly," he answered. "If I only knew just how God saves to the uttermost, all who come unto Him."
"Don't let us talk any more about it just now," I replied; "it is disturbing your mind, and that isn't good. Hold fast where you now stand; resist all allurement; give no place to the enemy, and while keeping vigilant watch — pray for help from God. You will be safer for this, I am sure."
He sat silent for a little while, and then, as he arose, said, speaking as if to himself: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes in vain."
I did not think it well to make any reply. He stood for a few moments, as if waiting my response; but as I gave none, he wished me a good-day and retired.
I had been drawn, in this interview with Granger, a little away from my old mooring ground of thought, and I sat for a long time in deep reflection, trying to get many things clear that were veiled in obscurity, and to discover just where I was drifting. This question of prayer as an agency of strength and salvation to weak, repentant, sin-burdened souls, was one, I could see, of infinite importance. There was, with a large class of pious people, a loose way of talking about prayer, and a manner of praying that was, to my mind, not only irreverent, but foolish and utterly valueless. Of all the Sunday services, the prayers to God, especially those that were extempore, had been most distasteful to me, and oftenest the repelling influence that kept me away from church. There was a familiar way of addressing God, and of using His name in vain, that shocked me, for my reverence for the Divine Being, a reverence implanted in childhood, has always been very strong, and I have never been able to pronounce any of the names by which He is called, without a falling inflection of the voice which has become instinctive.
I did not, as a consequence, have much faith in the prayers that I usually heard in public, too many of which were mere bits of showy oratory, instead of a humble submission of the will to God. How often, as I listened wearily to one of these long prayers, full of vain repetitions, has the divine sentence, "God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth," come into my mind, causing me to wonder that the preacher had forgotten it.
And now there pressed in upon me the question, in what does the power of prayer consist? Does it change the Lord's attitude toward man, or only man's attitude toward God? Does it bring down the sunlight into a darkened chamber, or only open the windows that its beams may enter? How it might change man's attitude toward God, I could, in a measure see; but not how it could change the unchangeable, render the All-Loving more tender and compassionate, or make the Infinite Father more concerned for His sin-sick, lost and perishing children, for whom He had bowed the heavens and come down.
I saw that in the right understanding of this subject lay momentous things; and I was anxious to reach a true perception of all that was involved in prayer as a means of divine blessing and favor. My thinking did not get me far beyond a rejection of the idea that any change in God's purposes toward man could be wrought in Him by prayer. If He were infinitely wise and infinitely loving, He must not only know better what external condition was best for a man — than the man could know for himself; but in the orderings of His providence, must so arrange all things that he would be kept there until his changing state required, for his good, a new position in life.
But in what way did prayer change man's relation to God? I felt that the truth lay here, but was not able to see it clearly; and I thought and thought until I grew weary and perplexed, and for relief of mind, turned myself away from the subject.
Several months passed after this interview with Mr. Granger, and though we met occasionally, the subject about which we had talked so earnestly was not renewed. I learned through my wife, that he came to church with his family now and then; and the fact always gave me pleasure, for I had a growing impression that there was a sphere of safety about the church, and especially for one like Granger. There was in the very fact of his going to church, an acknowledgment of weakness on his part, and a certain looking to God for strength and protection. And I had an old and well-settled conviction which had come up with me from childhood — inwrought, I doubt not, through my mother's teachings — that in any and every turning of the soul to God, no matter how little the turning, it must receive a measure, large or small, of strength to resist the evils to which we are all so much inclined.
I had been going oftener to church myself of late, and though my reason did not give assent to all the preacher said, and I was shocked now and then by his irreverent way of addressing God, and his too frequent and needless use of Divine names in order to give force to a sentence, or to make an oratorical climax — I was still able to gather into my thoughts, many things that gave me light for clearer seeing, and strength for steadier walking in the path of life. I was growing less faultfinding and critical — less annoyed at what I did not like — and more earnest to obtain whatever good was to be had in the religious services that were held on Sunday.
I found myself taking a new interest in the lessons which were read from the Bible, many passages from which struck my mind with a singular power, and left an impression of deeper import than I had ever before seen in them. I often found myself pondering one and another of these passages, and giving to them an application which altered my thought of God and of His ways, with the children of men.
I noticed changes in my states of mind, when listening to the Word of Sacred Scripture — I had for some years neglected reading it for myself — that occurred to me as remarkable. There sometimes fell upon me a deep tranquility, as if I had passed from the unrest of this world — into the peace of Heaven. And there would come, at times, states of self-forgetfulness, and a desire to give my life for others. I often dwelt on these things, wondering what they meant. Was there not a power in the Word of God, which did not appear in the sense of its letter, but which flowed into the mind?
The Word of God! What does this mean? The question came to me one day with such force and distinctness, that it seemed as though spoken by a living voice. The Word of God! Could that be like a man's word; limited, feeble, finite? Was there any similarity between them? I thought of the many loose interpretations which I had heard; of the contentions and angry discussions about the meaning of this and that expression in the letter; of the divisions and uncharitableness, and persecutions even, which were so sadly rife in the Christian world, and all because men vainly imagined that human reason was equal to the comprehension of Divine wisdom; and set the bounds of their narrow doctrine about a Revelation from God, in which were divine and infinite things that must remain forever above the reach of man's unaided reason; and which only the Spirit of God can make known.
I marveled often at the low range and dull platitudes of the pulpit, at the stereotyped vagueness of exhortation, and at the small influence of preachers. There were exceptions, of course; but how few! With the Word of God as the basis of Christian teaching, and especially with the Word of the New Testament, in which our Lord himself, in the human nature which He assumed in the world, gives in no hidden forms of speech, the laws of spiritual life; with all this, how strange to hear from the men who have been chosen to stand as watchmen on the walls of the city, so little about keeping the commandments in their inmost spirit. "He who keeps my commandments — he it is that loves me.'
A dull, rambling sermon, or one in which the preacher showed how much more he knew about history, philosophy, poetry and art — than he did about divine things, would send me home disheartened, and with a disinclination to go again, which sometimes held me away from church service for weeks. But there was in me a growing hunger and thirst for things spiritual. I wanted to gain a clear and more rational idea of God's relations to and dealings with man, and a knowledge of the exact way in which He saved him.
The better influences of church-going on my own mind, gave me encouragement for Granger. I felt sure that he would come within a sphere of protection; that, somehow, he would be brought into new associations, and be less in danger when exposed to assault.
"I haven't seen Mr. Granger at church for three or four Sundays," said my wife, one day. "I hope there is nothing wrong with him again." I saw a shade of concern creep into her face. "He's been attending quite regularly in the past few months."
"I saw him on the street only a few days ago," I replied. "There was nothing wrong about him then; at least nothing that I observed."
And yet, as I said this, I remembered that I had noticed in him something that left a vague question in my mind. But it had passed away and been forgotten until my wife's remark brought it back again.
"I imagined — it may only have been imagination," Mrs. Lyon said, "that Mrs. Granger's face looked more serious than usual."
"Only imagination," I replied; but still I felt a weight of concern settling down upon my feelings. It remained with me all day and troubled me as I went to my office on the next morning. I had made up my mind to see Granger during the forenoon, but pressing business kept me at my office until two o'clock, when I returned home to dinner.
"Have you seen Mr. Granger?" asked my wife, as I came in. There was an air of suspense in her manner.
"No. I intended calling on him, but had an unusually busy day."
"If I'm not very much mistaken, I saw him," she said.
"Going into a saloon on Sansom Street."
"No, you must have been mistaken."
"I wish I could think so; but if the man I saw entering the saloon, as I passed down Twelfth Street, was not Mr. Granger, then there was a remarkable likeness in the general appearance of the two men."
"Did you see his face?"
"Only for an instant. He was at the door of the saloon just as I came in sight of him, and in the next moment had disappeared. His manner was that of one who wished to avoid observation. I am almost sure it was Mr. Granger."
I had but little appetite for my dinner. In the afternoon I called at the lawyer's office, but did not find him there. Next day I met him on the street. His manner was not quite as frank and cordial as usual; but beyond this, I saw no change in him. It was plain that my wife had been mistaken. My first impression was one of relief; but a feeling of complete confidence did not return, and there was a weight on my heart which I could not throw off.
Granger was not at church on the following Sunday. His wife and daughter were in attendance as usual, and there was now no mistaking the fact that a portion of light had gone out of their faces. In the afternoon I called to see him, but he was not at home. About ten o'clock on the next day, I dropped into his office, and found him with a cigar in his mouth reading a newspaper. He had, apparently, just arrived, for his green bag lay unopened on the office table. He startled up on seeing me, coloring a little, and extending his hand with what seemed to me an excess of cordiality. I looked for the color to recede from his face until the skin was restored to the old healthy clearness, but either my eyes deceived me, or the ruddy tinge did not fade out entirely.
Granger was not completely at his ease, though evidently trying to be so. I remained for only a short time, as my call was not a business one. Our conversation did not pass beyond the common-place topics of the day.
"Call in again. I'm always glad to see you," he said, with the same excess of cordiality which he had shown on meeting me.
I was far from feeling satisfied.
"How is our friend Granger?" I asked of a mutual acquaintance not many days afterwards.
"Not doing right, I'm afraid," he answered.
"Why do you think so?"
"I've seen him two or three times of late, when I imagined him the worse for drink."
"May you not have been mistaken?"
"Why did you think he had been drinking?"
"There are signs which one rarely mistakes," he replied.
"If he should get off again," I said, "there will, I fear, be little hope for him."
"Very little. But he's been down and up a great many times, you know."
"Yes; but in the very nature of things — he must grow weaker with every fall."
"What is to be done about him? It's dreadful to see a man going headlong to destruction. Is there no way to save him?"
"None that I know of. When this appetite is once established with a man, his case becomes almost hopeless. Every step he takes is downward. He may stop now and then, and hold himself back against the downward drag — but when he moves again, the course is still down, down, until the gulf of ruin is reached at last. Is it not frightful?"
I felt a chill creep through my veins. There seemed in his words — a prophecy of utter ruin for Granger.
"He has stood firm, with only a single brief fall, for nearly two years," I said.
"And he might stand to the end, but not if he dallies with the fatal cup," was answered. "No man in whom the appetite for drink has once been formed, can ever taste and be secure. Only in perfect abstinence is there perfect safety. The old appetite lies sleeping, but not dead. Rouse it with a glass of wine, or beer, or alcohol — and it will spring upon the man with the old intense life, and he will be as a feeble child in its grasp. If Granger is indulging again, he will fall again. He may, through a resolute will, hold himself for a little while above excess; but every glass he takes, is food to the old desire, which will grow stronger and stronger until its mastery is again complete."
"It doesn't seem right to hold ourselves away from him in so momentous a crisis — to leave him in the sweep of the current and not make an effort to save him," I said.
"I doubt if anything can be done. At your first approach, he will either take offense, or utterly reject your intimation that he has been indulging again. I know these men. Lying seems to be one of the fruits of drinking. Liquor is almost sure, earlier or later, to take the truth out of a man — especially in anything that relates to his cups, so long as he yields to indulgence. Men will assure you, even asking God to witness the truth of what they say — that they have not taken a drop of liquor for weeks, when its odor from their lips is rank in your nostrils! I know of nothing that so takes truth, and honor, and all that is good and true and noble out of a man — as this alcohol. It is a very Hell-broth!"
I could not rest. To stand away from Granger in this new peril, would, I felt, be little less than criminal. How to approach him without giving offense, was the question I had to consider. The opportunity soon came.
A day or two afterwards, as I stood talking with a friend in the Continental Hotel, I saw Granger pass into the bar. I moved to a position from which I could observe him. He called for a glass of ale, and drank it off at a single draught. His manner was slightly nervous and a little hurried. I threw myself in his way as he left the bar, and noticed a startle of surprise when his eyes rested on me.
"Ah! Lyon. Glad to see you!" The salutation was given with heartiness. But he did not look me steadily in the face. We walked out into the street, both silent until we reached the pavement.
"I'm sorry about this, Granger," I said.
"About what?" He affected not to understand me.
"You cannot use ale — and be safe. You know this as well as I do."
His lips closed tightly, and his brows fell. We walked for a little way, neither of us speaking.
"Come round to my office, and let us have a talk about this matter," said I, as we reached the next corner.
"Not today." He drew out his watch and looked at the time. "I have an engagement with a client. But don't give yourself any trouble about me, Lyon, I'm alright"
"But tomorrow may tell a different story," I replied. "No, no, Granger! You must not go a step farther in this way. A precipice lies just beyond!"
"Another time; but now I must hurry to my engagement." Saying which, he left me abruptly.
My concern was great. That he could stand secure feeding his old, fierce appetite with a glass of ale now and then, I knew to be impossible, and he knew it as well — only, subtle desire was pressing for indulgence, and blinding him with false assurances.
I did not see him again for two or three days, though I had twice called at his office. At last I found him in. It was late in the afternoon, and I could see from the color of his face, that he had been drinking, though not to excess. He received me with the old friendliness of manner, and without any sign of embarrassment
"You've come for that talk with me, I suppose," he said, smiling, and with a twinkle in his eyes. "Alright. You see I'm not down in the gutter, for all the prophecy that was in your face the other day."
There was a certain lightness of tone and manner about him, that in view of the subject to which he referred, almost shocked me. He must have noticed this, for he added, in a more serious voice: "I know how you feel, Mr. Lyon, but let me assure you that I am in no danger of falling back into that wretched slough from which you helped to extricate me. I have too vivid a remembrance of its suffocating mire and horrible foulness ever to let my feet go near its treacherous margin again."
"What and where are the margins of this dreadful slough?" I asked.
He did not answer.
"I saw you on one of these margins, your feet in the very slime of the pit, only a few days ago."
A smile broke over his face.
"Your way of putting it. But, seriously, Lyon, I am not in the danger you think. How long do you suppose it is, since I've been using a little ale every day? More than two months. I was getting run down from too close application to business, and the doctor said I must have a tonic. 'Take a glass of stout or bitter ale with your dinner,' he said. Of course that couldn't be. My wife would have been frightened to death."
"Did the doctor know anything of your previous life?" I inquired.
"Can't say about that. He may, or he may not."
"Your regular family physician?"
"No. Haven't had a regular doctor in the family for three or four years."
"And you have followed his prescription?"
"Yes; only I don't take the ale with my dinner. I've felt like a new man ever since. Can do more work with less exhaustion. Have a clearer head, and more elastic feelings. The ale simply gives a needed tonic, which the system absorbs, and there the matter ends."
"You think so?"
"I'm sure of it."
"With all your sad experience, Mr. Granger, to take so fearful a risk!"
"I know how the thing looks to you, Mr. Lyon; and I know how it stands with me. I am not taking this ale to gratify an appetite, but simply as a tonic, which my system requires. Here lies my safety. I am not off guard for a single moment. I am not only using the will-power which held me secure so long, but motives of good citizenship, and love and duty towards my family — are more powerful than ever. If appetite attempts to lift its head again — I shall set my crushing heel upon it. I am standing in the strength of a true manhood."
"Have you forgotten," I said, "that testimony of a physician in regard to the enlargement of the blood globules in the habitually intemperate?"
Granger made a slight gesture of impatience as he replied: "Nothing in it. I've talked with half a dozen physicians and scientific men on the subject."
"But, apart from that particular theory," I said, "the fact remains, as you know, that in a man who has once been intemperate, certain changes in the state of the body have been wrought, which remain permanent. Whether this change be in the blood globules or not — the imminent danger of the man, should alcohol be introduced into his blood, is just the same. The truth or falsity of the physician's theory, in no way impacts the essential facts in the case."
As I spoke, I saw a quick, startled motion of his eyes, but it was gone in an instant.
"Have you forgotten Mr. Talbot?" I asked.
"Such cases are exceptional," he replied, with a toss of the head. "We don't meet with them once in an age."
"The history of alcoholism, is the history of such cases," I replied. "You are deceiving yourself. Thousands and thousands of such men go down to dishonored graves every year. My dear friend, you are taking a fearful risk!"
Granger drew a little away from me with a slightly offended air.
"We shall see," he answered, somewhat coldly, and then changed the subject. I tried to come back to it again, but he pushed it aside with so manifest a purpose not to continue the discussion, that I had nothing left but silence.
Every day I expected his fall. But it did not come suddenly, as I had feared. The usual business hour found him at his office with each new morning, and his presence in court was as prompt and as regular as usual. But there was not an observant friend or acquaintance who did not see the steady downward change that was in progress. It was slow, but sure. The man was most warily on guard; limiting his appetite — holding it down — saying to it, "I am your master. So much — and no more. Enough for tonic and strength — but nothing for indulgence." And yet, from a single glass of ale a day, the concession to appetite had reached, at the end of three months, to as many as three or four, by which time the strong will, and the motives of interest, honor and affection, in which he had entrenched himself — were beginning to show signs of weakness.
I met him one day about this period of his declension. It was in the court-room. I had been drawn there through my interest in a case in which he appeared as counsel for the defendant, a man on trial for his life — an old man, gray-headed, bent and broken — one of the saddest wrecks I had ever seen. This man had once been a successful merchant, and the possessor of considerable wealth. I well remember the time when he occupied a handsome residence on Walnut Street, and when his wife and daughters moved in the best social circles of our city. But his head was not strong enough for the wine that proved his betrayer, and in the very prime and glory of his manhood — he began to fall. Methodic habits, and the orderly progression of a long-established business, kept him free from losses in trade for some years after his sagacity as a merchant had left him. But the time came, when the tide began to turn adversely. Younger partners, who had new ideas of business, were impatient of slow gains. Into their hands came a larger and a larger control of things, and the opportunity for speculation. As in all other kinds of gambling, trade speculations lead surely to ultimate losses. Winning is the exception; loss the rule. It took only a few years, to bring the firm to bankruptcy.
The merchant never recovered himself. Capital gone, and brain and body enervated by intemperance — he did not even make a struggle, and at the age of fifty-five dropped out of useful life, and became a burden, a shame and a sorrow to his friends and family. An income in her own right of a few hundred dollars possessed by his wife, saved them from utter poverty. There were two beautiful daughters, as refined and intelligent as any you meet in the most cultivated circles. Alas for them! The pleasant places in which they had moved, saw them no more.
Ten years later, and the broken merchant, in a frenzy of drunken delirium, struck down his wife with a blow that caused her death. A trial for murder was the consequence, in which Mr. Granger conducted the defense. One of the saddest and most painful features of this trial, was the appearance in court of the two daughters as witnesses, and the evidence they were compelled to give. I can see them now, with ten years of sorrow and humiliation written in their pale, suffering faces, as they stood in the witness-box, tearful and reluctant. Pity made even the lawyers tender and considerate in pressing their examination; but enough came out to give the heart-ache to nearly all who were in the court-room. It was one of the most painful scenes I had ever witnessed.
When all the evidence was in, and Mr. Granger's turn came to address the jury in behalf of the prisoner, the pause and expectation became breathless. The poor old white-haired man bent toward him with a helpless, anxious face, and the two daughters sat pale with suspense, their eyes riveted on the man who was to plead for the life of their father.
"Gentlemen of the jury." His subdued voice, in which a slight tremor was apparent, made deeper the silence of the hushed court-room. It was genuine emotion that came thrilling in his tones, not the art of the pleader. There was a waiting and a holding of the breath for his next words. Turning slowly, he looked at the old man and at the two white-faced women — his daughters — and stretching out a hand toward them, said, his voice still lower than at first: "The most sorrowful thing I have seen in this courtroom, since my admission to the bar!"
There is no form of words by which to convey any true conception of the pity and deeply moving pathos that were in his voice.
"The most sorrowful thing, gentlemen of the jury!" turning partly round to the jury-box. "I need not tell you what it means. The pitiful story has been fully rehearsed. You know it all. There was once an honorable merchant, a tender husband, a loving father. The city was proud of him. His name was the synonym for high integrity and generous feeling. His home was the dwelling-place of all sweet affections. But an evil eye fell upon the merchant and his happy home. The locust and the canker-worm found their way into his garden of delight. Leaf withered and flower faded, and singing birds departed. Under the spell of this evil eye, the generous merchant lost his wealth and his fine sense of honor; the husband, his tenderness and devotion; the father, his love. A demon had taken possession of his soul, subsidizing all its noble powers, and making them the ministers of evil instead of good. Shall I tell you the name of this demon?"
He paused for a few moments. Then with a slow utterance and deep impressiveness: "It was the demon of strong drink! You all know him. You cannot walk the streets of this great city — without feeling his hot breath strike into your faces a hundred times an hour! His wretched victims are everywhere about us; and the homes he has ruined may be counted by tens of thousands all over the land. Where has not the blight of his foul breath fallen? Whose home is free from the curse of his presence?
"Look!" He turned to the prisoner and his daughters. "All that the demon has left! Ah, gentlemen! he is a pitiless demon, and without respect of persons.
"And now what shall I say for my poor, unhappy client? For this man whom the devil of drink has held in chains for these many, many years, and made the slave of his infernal will. Who wronged and beggared his family — the man — or the demon that was in him? The man was kind, and tender, and loving. The man cared for his wife and his children, and would have given his very life, if need be, for their safety. Years of unselfish devotion to those he loved, bear him witness. You have heard the testimony of his daughters; and I think your eyes must still remain half-blinded by the tears with which their touching story filled them. No, no! It was not the man who dealt that cruel blow. He would never have laid on the dear and precious head of his faithful wife a stroke as light as that of a feather's fall. It was the demon who did it — and not the man! The demon of drink.
"No, gentlemen! You cannot find the man guilty of murder. He was only a passive instrument, with no more responsibility for crime, than the club with which a ruffian fells a citizen, or the pistol with which an assassin does his fatal work. It was the devil who did it. Ah! if the law could only reach this devil!"
The jury retired on the conclusion of Granger's plea, and were not out for half an hour. The evidence had been very direct and clear. The prisoner had developed in the past year, an irritable and malignant spirit, and would grow violent and threatening when his wife refused him money. It was proved that he had struck her several times, and that she had once carried the marks of a blow in her face for many weeks. In the evidence bearing on the cause of her death, it was shown that her husband had been wrought into a rage of insane anger by her refusal to give him money, and that in his blind passion he had knocked her down. The blow was a violent one. When her daughters, who had heard the heavy fall of her body, reached the room and attempted to lift her from the floor, she was dead!
At the end of half an hour, the jury came in with a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree, and a recommendation to mercy. Granger had remained in the court-room while the jury was out, taking part in another case that came up for trial. I saw from his manner, that a strong impression, from which he had not been able to break free, had been left on his mind by the incidents of the trial just closed. The two daughters of the prisoner remained in the court-room, waiting for the verdict in their father's case. More than once I noticed Granger's eyes resting upon them with a pitiful, almost sad expression. Was he thinking of his own daughter and their mother, and of the demon that might desolate their home and drag them down to a fate like this?
When the verdict came, and the wretched prisoner was removed, under a sentence of three years' incarceration in the penitentiary. I saw Mr. Granger go out with the two daughters, who moved through the crowd with bent heads and slow, uncertain steps. What a heartache the sight gave me! As I reached the street, I observed him enter a carriage with them and drive away. I was touched by his considerate care and kindness.
"Ah," I said to myself, "if he will but take this dreadful lesson to heart, and cast out once and forever, that devil of drink to which he made, a little while ago, such an eloquent and truthful reference."
I felt a strong hope that this would be so. That the incidents of this trial, and his absorption into it as counsel, would make so deep an impression on Granger as to cause him to startle back in alarm from the brink of the precipice on which he was standing, and over which he might at any moment plunge! That he had been strongly moved, was very evident. It was not possible for him to look on the wrecked and ruined family of the old merchant, or to contemplate the awful tragedy which had been enacted — without a shudder at the thought of such a catastrophe reaching his own home. He was dallying with the devil of drink, who might at any moment bind him hand and foot, as he had once before bound him, and make him again the slave of his will.
It was about eight o'clock in the evening, two days after the trial, that I was informed by a servant that a lady was in the parlor and wished to see me. She had not given her name. On going down I was met by Mrs. Granger. I saw the worst at a single glance. It was written, alas! too plainly in her face.
"I would like to have some talk with you, Mr. Lyon," she said. Her voice was low and steady; but I could detect an under-thrill of feeling held down by a strong effort.
"I am entirely at your service," I replied, using the first form of speech that came into my mind. "And if I can be of any use to you, command me freely."
"You know about my husband." The firmness went out of her voice.
"What about him?" I had neither seen him nor heard anything in regard to him since the day of the trial.
"Haven't you heard?"
"Heard what, Mrs. Granger?"
"That he has — " She could not finish the sentence; her voice breaking in a sob, that was followed by a low, shivering cry.
"I am pained beyond measure to hear of this," said I. "How long has it been?"
"It has been coming on him for two or three months past, and I've been in awful dread. Little by little, day by day — his old appetite for alcohol has gained strength. What the end must be, I knew too well."
"I saw him in court on the day of that murder trial. He was all right then."
"He has never been right since. It was late in the evening before he came home. His condition, I will not describe." Tears, in large drops, were falling over her face.
"Has he been to his office since?"
"I think not," was answered. "He goes out in the morning, and does not return until late at night. If I ask him a question, or venture a word of remonstrance, he gets angry. Oh! sir; this must not go on. I am helpless. He will hear nothing and bear nothing from me. It was not so once. But you are his friend, Mr. Lyon. He has great respect for you; and I know of no one who has more influence over him."
"Any and everything in my power, shall be done," I replied. "My regret is that I did not know of this earlier." I let more of hope and encouragement go into my voice, than I really felt.
"Oh! sir. If you will only do your best for him." The poor wife looked at me with a pleading face.
"Is he at home now?" I asked.
"Oh, no, no. I haven't seen him since morning, and it may be after midnight before he returns. Oh! isn't it dreadful, dreadful, Mr. Lyon, the way this fearful appetite takes hold of a man! I thought, when he told me about that poor, old, broken-down merchant, who, in a fit of drunken insanity, had killed his wife, and whom he had to defend on a charge of murder, that he would take the terrible lesson to heart. The case had drawn largely on his sympathies, and his pity was great for the daughters who were to appear in court and give evidence that might send their father to the gallows. I have rarely known a case to affect him so much. And to think, Mr. Lyon, that he should go from this trial, with all its warning incidents fresh in his mind — and give himself into the power of the very agency which had wrought so fearful a ruin, that the very sight of it sent a shudder through his soul! There is something awful and mysterious in all this, sir! It passes my comprehension."
"And not yours only, ma'am. It is one of the dark problems men find it difficult to explain. Into all hurtful and disorderly things, evil forces seem to flow with an intenser life, than into things innocent and orderly. There is violence, aggression, destruction or slavery in every evil agency. And it is never satisfied under any limitation; it must have complete mastery — and work complete ruin."
"A terrible thought!" Mrs. Granger shivered as she spoke.
"Will you try to find him tonight?" she asked, a moment afterwards.
"Yes. I will go in search of him at once." She arose to depart.
"Wait for a moment; I will see you home first."
"No, no, Mr. Lyon. I'm not afraid. Don't lose a moment. I want my husband found as soon as possible."
And she went quickly from the room, passing into the street before I could make another effort to detain her.
I was not successful in my search for Mr. Granger, though I visited many of the principal saloons, and met with several people who knew him; but no one whom I questioned had seen him during the night. It was nearly twelve o'clock when I gave up the search. I was debating with myself whether to return to my own residence or to go, even at this late hour, and ascertain whether he were at home or not, when, on passing a small court in which a tavern was located, a sudden sound of angry voices struck my ears. As I paused I saw a man thrust out of this tavern with violence. He fell with a dull, heavy sound on the pavement; and was kicked as he fell. The door shut in an instant afterwards, and the man was left to all appearance, unconscious or dead.
I found a policeman in the next block, and after giving information as to what I had seen, was turning to leave him, when he detained me, saying that if the man had received any serious injuries I might be needed as a witness. I took out a card, and writing my address on it, asked if that were sufficient. He said yes. I had gone from him for only a few paces when the possibility that the man I had seen might be Granger, flashed through my mind, arresting my steps, and causing me to turn about and hurry back to the scene of the outrage of which I had been a spectator. The policeman was trying to raise the man from the ground; but the latter was either so stupified by drink, or so stunned by his fall on the pavement, as to be unconscious of any effort to arouse him. What was my pain and horror to see, as the face was turned to the light, the features of Alexander Granger. There was a great bruise on one of his temples from which drops of blood were creeping out; and his mouth was swollen as from a blow, and bleeding.
By this time, two or three men had come out of the saloon; and I noticed that one of them, on seeing the policeman, dropped quietly from the court and disappeared around the corner. The others assisted to bear the unconscious man into the tavern. It was a base, vile place; and the keeper a vicious-looking fellow, in whose eyes you saw the cruel instincts of a wild beast. He it was, as we learned, who had thrust Granger out; but he denied having kicked him as he fell. The cause for this violence was a drunken dispute. An argument about something had arisen, and the brutal force of the bully had been used against the lawyer, who was too much under the power of drink for prudent self-restraint. His words had been answered by blows; and the blows had been very hard.
A physician was sent for, but before his arrival, Granger had partially regained his consciousness. An examination of the wound on his head showed nothing very serious. His mouth, however, had become dreadfully swollen; and the upper lip exhibited so bad a cut that it had to be closed with a few stitches and bands of adhesive plaster.
"There's a very sharp pain just here, doctor," said Granger, after the lip had been dressed, placing his hand to his side as he spoke. "I wish you'd see what it means. There's something wrong, I'm afraid."
"Wrong! I would think there was," replied the doctor, as soon as he had made an examination. "There's a rib broken!"
A groan escaped the lips of the suffering man. Increasing pain was lifting him out of his drunken stupor.
"He had better be taken home at once," said the doctor. "I cannot attempt to set the broken bone here."
"Oh, no. Don't take me home!" Granger answered, quickly. "The station-house. Anywhere. But not home." His countenance was strongly agitated.
"To my house, then," I said.
"No! no! no! It's considerate of you, Mr. Lyon, but I will not be taken into any gentleman's house while in this condition. Why can't the bone be set here?"
"For reasons I will not attempt to explain," said the doctor, speaking with decision. "I think, sir," addressing me, "that you had better order a carriage and have him removed to his own house. I will accompany you, or you can send for his family physician. In any case, take him home. The fracture is, I fear, a bad one, and will require careful treatment."
Another groan came from Granger's lips. "If I were only dead!" he ejaculated.
A carriage was sent for. While waiting for it to come, Granger sat with closed eyes; his face now almost deathly pale, and with beads of sweat standing all over it. He made no resistance when the carriage arrived, and entered it in silence, accompanied by the doctor, a policeman and myself.
We were some ten or twelve blocks from his residence, and it took over twenty minutes to make the distance, as the driving had to be very slow. When we had come within a few hundred yards of his dwelling, he asked to have the carriage stopped for a few minutes until I could go and break the news.
Leaving the carriage, I went rapidly in the direction of his house. A light was burning in one of the upper windows. What should I say? How should I break this news to his poor, waiting wife? As I drew near, I noticed a shadow on the wall of the chamber in which the light was burning; a moving shadow as of one restlessly walking the floor. As the sound of my hurrying feet broke the silence, I saw the shadow grow still for a moment, and then quickly disappear. I had scarcely rung the bell before the door was drawn swiftly open, and Mrs. Granger's pale, almost rigid face met mine.
"Mr. Granger! What of him? Oh! Mr. Lyon, have you found him?" She had caught hold of me in her eagerness and suspense.
"Yes, yes. I have found him," I replied.
"But where is he? Why didn't he come home with you?"
"He is coming. He will be here in a little while," I said, trying to speak in a voice that would allay her excitement.
"In a little while! What's the matter, Mr. Lyon? Don't deceive me! Don't keep anything back! Am I needed?"
I felt her hand close on my arm with a tight grip.
"No — no, Mrs. Granger. You are frightened for nothing. Your husband will be home in a few minutes. I came first to tell you and relieve your mind."
At this moment the sound of approaching wheels was heard.
"Is that Mr. Granger?" she asked, her face as white as ashes. "Yes," I replied.
I saw that the whole truth had not occurred to her. She stood still, waiting until the slow-moving carriage was at the door, and not stirring until she saw the policeman step first to the pavement. Then there was a startle and a repressed cry. Next came the doctor, and then, with the help of the policeman. Granger was assisted from the carriage. It was too dark for his wife to see his face until the light of the entry-lamp fell upon it as he was supported up the steps to the door.
She did not faint, nor cry out in wild terror as she saw that bruised, pain-stricken face; but, as if she had received a blow — staggered back a step or two. She quickly recovered herself, coming forward and saying, breathlessly, and in a hoarse whisper: "What is it? What's the matter?"
"Nothing very serious," the doctor answered. "Your husband has had a fall, and there's a rib broken. But he'll be all right in a short time. We must get him up to his own room with as little delay as possible."
In a moment all signs of agitation disappeared.
"This way," said the wife, calmly, moving back along the hall, and then going lightly upstairs and leading the way to the chamber in front. How tender and pitiful she was in every word and act; yet with no sign of weakness. Love and duty had lifted her into a sphere of calm self-possession.
I wondered as I observed her that night, moving about with a quiet, almost cheerful bearing, acting in concert with the doctor, ministering to her husband, giving and taking directions with the coolness and self-poise of an experienced nurse, what it meant? I had expected a painful scene, with outbursts of uncontrollable mental anguish; and my surprise was, therefore, the greater at what I saw.
It was between two and three o'clock before I left Mr. Granger. By this time, the broken bone had been properly set, and he was not only free from pain but sleeping quietly.
I did not see him for several days, though I made frequent inquiries, and learned that he was doing well. A brief notice of the assault from which he had suffered found its way into the newspapers, but his name was not mentioned. No effort was made to arrest and punish his assailant, for that would have been to make his own disgrace public.
It was nearly a week afterwards that I received a note, asking me to call upon him. He was greatly changed, and looked broken, subdued and troubled. His lip was still considerably swollen and very sore. The wound had not healed readily, and the probabilities were that a disfiguring scar would be left. He held my hand tightly for some moments before speaking.
"I want to have another talk with you, Lyon," he said, his voice trembling a little. "I shall be out again soon, and then — " He stopped, with a strong movement of feeling in his face. "And then? God help me, Lyon! Is there no hope — no escape — no way of safety?"
His agitation increased. I did not reply. What could I say? He saw the doubt in my face.
"There must be help somewhere. Men are saved from this curse."
"A man may be saved from any evil — if he will," I replied. "But if he will not, as I have said to you many times, even God cannot save him. If you had kept away from the enemy's ground, he could never have enslaved you again. You were free to pass over — or to remain within the lines of safety. Of your own will, you passed over."
"Poor, weak fool!" he murmured, bitterly. "Poor, silly moth, flying into the candle!"
"Let the days of weakness and folly pass forever. Let there be no more parleyings with the enemy — no more venturing upon his domain."
He shook his head gloomily.
"Of what value are all my good resolutions? Will they save me in the future, any more than they have saved me in the past? Are they stronger today than they were last year or the year before? There must be something more, Mr. Lyon. Something stronger to lean on, or I am lost!"
"Lean on God," I answered. "Look to Him."
There was no brightening of his face.
"God helps those who try to get free from the sin which so easily beset them."
"Does He? Haven't I tried? Doesn't He know that I have tried? But where is the help?"
"It cannot come to you except in your reasserted manhood; and it will come if you stand fast in that manhood. God's strength will be your strength."
He sighed heavily.
"Mr. Gross was here yesterday, and I had a long talk with him about the New York Asylum at Binghampton. He thinks very favorably of the course pursued there, and spoke of several cases where patients have come home radically cured. He promised to send me the last report of the superintendent. If I thought any good would come of it, I'd drop business and everything else and go under treatment there."
I said nothing to discourage the idea. There might be influences brought to bear upon him at this institution, which would help to give him the mastery over himself. I could not tell.
At a subsequent visit, I found that the promised report had come into his hands, and that his mind was fully made up to leave for Binghampton as soon as he was able to travel, and spend as long a time there as the resident physician and superintendent thought his case required.
"Alcoholism is a disease," he said, as we talked the matter over; "and as clearly defined as any other disease; and, moreover, as subject to remedial agencies. The best minds in the medical profession have given to this disease, a most careful study, and it is known what organs are affected by it, and the exact character of the disease. Its treatment is based on true scientific and pathological principles, and so conducted as to give the patient a just knowledge of the means whereby he may retain his health after a cure has been made. He is not left to grope in the dark, every moment in danger of falling over some unseen stumbling-block which may have been cast in his way."
I did not share in the new hope which had come to Mr. Granger, but was careful not to offer a word of discouragement. There might, as I have said, be influences brought to bear upon him at the asylum which would prove lasting. It was worth the trial at least.
And the trial was made. Four months were spent by Mr. Granger at the institution in Binghampton, where the treatment for alcoholism as a disease, was at the time up to the highest skill and intelligence of the medical profession. The treatment was moral as well as medical. The first thing gained for the patient was his removal from the tainted atmosphere of common society, in which are perpetually floating the germs of the disease from which he was suffering. This was a most important gain, for it took him out of the region of exciting causes. His next gain was in the medical care and treatment given by the institution to its patients, through which a steady return to sound physical health was secured. Supplementing this, was a thoroughly intelligent hygienic system, through which the health so regained, was steadily improved and strengthened.
The moral and religious influences under which he came, were of the most beneficial kind. Free from the morbid action of alcohol on the brain, his intellect and moral perceptions were clear once more. He could see and feel with a new intensity, the obligations which were resting upon him as a man, and the solemn responsibility to which he must be held, if he did not keep them. There was a quickening of his higher, purer and better feelings — of honor, and a sense of duty — of all the tender social affections. Love for his wife and children, and shame and sorrow for the wrong and suffering he had brought upon them — grew deeper and deeper as the cure went on. He wrote to me several times while in the institution, and his letters were of the most satisfactory character. He had gained wonderfully in health, and felt, he said, no desire for alcohol whatever, and was sure that he should never touch it again.
In the first letter that I received from him, he spoke of the incidents attendant on his arrival at the institution. I give a portion of this letter:
"On the second day," he wrote, "as I was sitting by myself, feeling strange and ill at ease — a little old man, with a large head, clear blue eyes, and a kind, cheery face, came into the parlor, and seeing me, bowed with a courtly air, and said a pleasant 'Good morning.' My response was somewhat cold and distant, for I was greatly depressed in spirits, and could not rally myself on the instant. He passed through, and as he left the room, I felt my heart going out, as it were, after him. In about ten minutes he came back, and, drawing a chair, sat down by me, with the remark, 'This is one of our perfect days. Have you noticed the peculiar softness of the sky?' I tried to rouse myself to meet, in a befitting way, his kind advances; but did it, I fear, almost ungraciously. It was only a little while, however, before the frank and genial warmth of his manner, had completely won me, and I found myself talking with him as with a pleasant friend. Almost before I knew it, he had led me to speak of myself, and of my past life.
"There was about him something which inspired confidence. I felt that no idle sentiment of curiosity, but a genuine interest in my welfare, had drawn him towards me, and that he was seeking to gain my friendly feelings, that he might do me good. He had not spoken half a dozen sentences, before I recognized in him a man of culture; and saw in his bearing, the true grace of a refined gentleman. It was not long before we were walking the floor of the parlor, his arm drawn within that of mine, deeply engaged in a conversation, which we kept up for over an hour. At its close, I felt that I had found a new friend, as it has proved, for this quiet, intelligent, refined and gentlemanly old man, is none other than our chaplain."
Again he wrote: "In Dr. Bush, our chaplain, about whom I spoke in one of my letters, we have a man of rare fitness for the office which he holds in this institution. I never pass an hour with him without feeling stronger for the interview. He said to me, a day or two ago, 'In God and good health, lie your only help and sure dependence. You must keep the body sound, avoid all dangers, and take no risks. With regular living, and healthy surroundings, and a mind full of faith and hope in spiritual realities — this sad disorder, with which you have been afflicted, will, in time, die out.' In his unobtrusive and wise way, he moves about among the patients, holding them in conversation by such themes as touch their tastes and habits of thinking most readily; but always at some point turning their thoughts to spiritual things, and pointing them to Christ as their surest refuge.
"He has great influence over all who are here, and there are some who appear to rest on, and cling to him as if all the strength they were receiving actually came through his agency. The more I see and know of him, and the more I talk with him — the stronger grows my conviction, that the saving power of the work that is being done here, is largely due to the influence this good man has with the inhabitants."
In a letter written nearly two months after he entered the asylum, Mr. Granger said:
"I had a long talk with our chaplain yesterday, and he related many deeply interesting incidents connected with his office in the institution. He has a large correspondence, I find, with people who have been patients here; and his influence with many of them is still very strong. He encourages them to write to him freely, and to tell him about their surroundings and peculiar trials and temptations, in order that he may send helpful advice and wise counsel, if there should be need therefor. I notice that while he speaks minutely of cases, he rarely mentions names. But I refer to him now because of some things which he said that reminded me of a conversation I had with you. The line of thought he pursued, was very similar to yours, though some of his premises and conclusions were different. 'All of our power to resist temptation and to live true and orderly lives,' he said, 'comes from God. The gift of strength is from above; the will to use it lies within ourselves. If we will not use this strength, God cannot help us in times of difficulty, nor save us in times of danger. But, into our right endeavor, if it be resolutely made — will come a divine power which shall enable us to stand as a rock, though the floods of temptation beat ever so strongly against us. And here, my friend,' he added, laying his hand upon me, and speaking with great earnestness, 'let me impress upon you this thought, that it is only in the maintenance of true order in our natural and physical lives, that we come into such a relation to spiritual laws and forces, that they can protect and save us. A true spiritual life cannot be established in any one, so long as his natural life remains in disorder. If you want God's help in the new life you are now living, you must, while asking spiritual aid, do your part in the work of establishing sound physical health. Praying will avail nothing if you do not do this also. When you go away from here, you must make it a religious duty to avoid over-strain in your work, and the consequent nervous exhaustion which will surely follow. All the laws of physical and moral health, must be strictly observed; and you must be especially watchful lest you get over, unaware, upon the enemy's ground. If duty calls you there, go with armor and sword, and you will find no armor so impenetrable, and no sword so keen and effective — as the armor of God's Holy Word, and the truths which lie sheathed in its precious sentences. Use these when the tempter assaults you, and he will turn and flee.'
"You can see how good and helpful all this is. 'Right thinking is one of the surest ways to right acting,' we often hear him say. 'If men would do right, they must know right,' is another of his apt sentences. And he never tires in his efforts to supplement the medical, social and moral agencies of cure that are so effective in many cases under treatment here, with the soundest common sense advice, and the tenderest, most heart-searching and deeply solemn ministrations of a devoted spiritual friend and teacher."
At the end of three months, Granger considered his cure so complete that he wished to return home and resume the practice of his profession, which was suffering greatly on account of his absence. In this, he was opposed by the superintendent, who urged him to remain longer; in fact, not to think of leaving the institution until he had remained there for at least six months. The superintendent understood his case, better than he understood it himself, and knew that he was very far from being cured. Treating alcoholism as a disease of the physical organism, manifesting itself in a species of moral insanity, and understanding enough of the pathology of drunkenness to know that it wrought changes of condition of singular permanency, and left a most remarkable sensitiveness to exciting causes — he understood the great value of time in the work of strengthening the system, so that it might, when exposed to assault, be able to resist the encroachments of disease. But he was not able to induce Mr. Granger to remain at the institution for a longer time than four months.
I met him soon after his return home. Four months under the new influences to which he had been subjected, had wrought in him a marked change. I had never seen him in better physical health. His eyes were strong and bright, his complexion clear, his muscles round and tense. You saw that life, mental and physical, had gained a higher strength.
"I'm a new man, Lyon," said he, confidently, as he grasped my hand at our first meeting. "A new man," he repeated, "morally, mentally and physically. The lost man has been found; the sick man restored to health; the dead man is alive again."
There was a certain overglow of enthusiasm about him, to which I could not heartily respond. He observed this, saying: "Wait and see, my friend. This isn't the old, sick, miserable body that I took away, with its relaxed pores standing open to drink in every disease that floated in the air. Here is healthy blood, and firm flesh, and high vital action; and what is more, reason and will have regained strength and dominion. I have found my lost manhood!"
"And may God give you the strength to keep it," I made answer, speaking from a conviction which I could not repress, that only in God's help was there any sure hope for this man.
"He has given it already," he replied. "And I am taking it and using it. He is always giving; and we faint and fall by the way — only because we do not take of the measure of strength which we need. This is your doctrine, I believe, Mr. Lyon."
"Yes," I returned, but not with any heartiness of manner.
"Not skeptical here, I trust," said Granger, with a slight lifting of his eyebrows.
"No. All our strength must come from God. In Him we live and move and have our being. The only question is — how are we to get this strength? And I will confess to you, Mr. Granger, that my mind is not so well settled on this point, as it was a year or two ago. I had great faith in a man's will then. That faith is weaker now. And, if I must say it, out of your experience has come many of my doubts and questionings."
'Indeed." A shade of surprise in his manner.
"You remember that turning over of a new leaf a long time ago, and what Mr. Stannard said to you in regard to the writing thereon? About the 'I will not,' and 'By the help of God?'"
"And how I said that we received God's help only when we made an effort to do the right. That His strength flowed then into our endeavor, and only then?"
"Yes — and you said the truth."
"But you did not find it so, Mr. Granger."
A deeper shadow of surprise on his face. "I did not use the strength. That was all."
"The will failed, I suppose."
"Ah! There it is. The will to take the strength was lacking."
"Yes," he answered, with a falling away from its firmness in his voice.
"I've thought a great deal about this in the last few months, Granger, and I'm afraid there's some error in my reasoning about God's ways with man. That in our efforts to do right, or resist evil — a divine strength sufficient for our day will not always come. It seems to me that it ought to come; but does it come? What is your experience?"
"I have had the strength to resist, as you know, and have stood in that strength for long periods of time," he answered.
"True; but it failed at last. Now God's power should never fail; and I have a conviction that it never does fail. What then?" He did not answer me.
"There is one sphere of safety into which I think it will be wise for you to come," said I.
"What is that?" he asked.
"The sphere of the church."
There was no warm response in his face.
"So far as my observation goes," he replied, "church people are no better than others."
"More the shame for them," I answered. "But it is possible that your observation in this direction has been limited."
"Well, as you know, I've never taken much to religion. I'm not one of that kind. I go to church with my wife occasionally, but never get much interested. Now and then I hear a sermon that sets me to thinking; but, for the most part, I find it dull work."
"I inferred, from some things said in your letters, that you had become deeply impressed with the value and necessity of divine help," said I. "Did not Mr. Bush, the chaplain of whom you spoke so warmly, urge you to join some church, and to come within the sphere of its saving influences?"
"Oh, yes. He spoke to me with great earnestness on this very subject. But a man may trust in God, even though he be not a church member. Christianity means justice, and honor, and right living; and I find as much of this outside, as inside of the churches."
"The Church," I replied, "has been established by God. It is His kingdom on the earth; and its laws are divine truths revealed to us in Scripture. These laws, as you know, are very pure, and based on love to God and the neighbor. It is nothing against the Church, that some of its members do not comprehend the spirit and meaning of its laws; nor live in a true conformity thereto; and nothing against its power to protect us from evil, if we come within the sphere of its influence."
"You may be right in all that, Mr. Lyon; are right, no doubt; and I intend going to church with my family more regularly than heretofore."
"Do so by all means. I had a long talk with Mr. Stannard only last week on this very subject of church-going; and one or two things that he said, have made a strong impression on my mind."
"Mr. Stannard is one of the best men I ever knew. If all professing Christians squared their lives by their doctrines as he does, Christianity would mean something," remarked Granger. "What did he say?"
"If for no other reason, he said, we should go to church to hear the reading of the Bible."
"We may read the Bible at home, if we will," Granger replied.
"True; if we will," I returned.
"And, then," he rejoined, "you know one may read the Bible every day, and a dozen times a day for that matter — and it will do him no good unless he obeys its precepts."
"A knowledge of the law must go before obedience. This is as true of divine, as of human laws. But I wish to bring to your attention one or two things said by Mr. Stannard in regard to the power of Holy Scripture, and the sphere of safety into which it must bring everyone who receives it into his thought reverently, and lets it dwell there. They were new to me. Being the Word of God, the presence of any portion thereof in the thought, must, he said, bring, in a certain sense, God within us, and consequently nearer with His divine power to the enemies of our souls who are ever seeking to gain dominion over us; so enabling Him to fight in and for us by the power of His Word."
Granger sat reflecting on this for a considerable time.
"If that is so," he said, at length, "there is a saving power in the Bible, beyond what I had thought."
"And a use in going to church beyond what you and I had imagined?"
"For the reading of the Bible makes up a portion of the services, and the sphere of reverence and attention which we find in worshiping assemblies, adjusts the mind to hearing, and opens it to deeper impressions. The Word gets a firmer hold upon us and remains longer with us. We take it away in our memories; and when in temptation, can bring it out therefrom as a weapon — the sword of the Spirit — with which to fight our enemies.
"Mr. Stannard said," I continued, "that God's Holy Word is sufficient for us under any circumstances of temptation; and that we have only to resist the devil as our Savior resisted when led into the wilderness to be tempted — and he will depart from us."
"How did He resist?" asked Mr. Granger.
"By the utterance of truth from Scripture; and the power of this Divine Word was so great, that the devil could not stand before it."
"Yes, that is so. 'It is written,' was the Lord's answer. I never thought of its meaning before."
"In the very way, that strength for victory came to Him as He met the hosts of Hell on the plane of His infirm human nature — will it come to us and give us the victory also, said Mr. Stannard. From this view of the case, the value of public worship is evident, and I am sure, Mr. Granger, that you will stand safer within, than outside the sphere of the church."
"You may be right," he answered. "Nay, I am sure you are right. I must see Mr. Stannard and have a talk with him. He is one of the men in whom I believe."
For awhile Granger went regularly to church; but after a few months, his place in the family pew was often vacant.
"I don't see you at church as much as usual," said I, on meeting him one day.
"Well — no," he replied, speaking with some hesitation of manner, "and I don't know that I've any valid excuse for staying away. But, the fact is, that the pastor is so intolerably dull and prosy, that I get tired to death. He doesn't seem to think at all; but just to open his mouth and let what happens to be in his memory come out. Old stereotyped forms of speech, and sentences that mean anything or nothing as you choose to interpret them, make up the staple of his sermons. You don't get an good idea from him once in a month."
"Go somewhere else. To hear Mr. Bennett, for instance. But don't stay away from church."
"I've been to hear Mr. Bennett a number of times. But one tires of mere picture-painting, though the artist has rare skill in his line. He says many beautiful things in an eloquent way; and so do the orators and the poets. But a poor, tired and tempted soul — will get little help from his preaching. It is pleasing and entertaining; but after that is said, about all is said. Ah, my friend!" his brows drew closely together, and his voice fell to a serious tone, "your churches and your preaching are all well enough for easy-going, good sort of people, with a kind of natural heavenward drift; but they don't do much in the way of getting hold of us restless, challenging, hardened fellows, who want to know about the reason of things; and who, unhappily, are in the drag of a current that is bearing us down, down, down, it may be, to eternal ruin!"
There came a stern, almost angry expression into his face.
"You mustn't feel that way Granger. It isn't good. The preachers may not be all we could wish; but they are, for the most part, sincere men, and in the effort to do the best they can for the salvation of souls."
"Oh, yes. No doubt of it. But it rarely happens that I find one who can feed my hunger."
Was it his own fault — or the fault of the preacher? Was he not hungering again for the flesh-pots of Egypt, and loathing the manna and the quails? I had my fears. What had been done for him during his four months at the asylum? It was a question of momentous interest. Had there been a cure — or only a temporary suspension of diseased action? Did he not stand in as much danger today, as before he placed himself under treatment? Was not his fall again, only a matter of time?
These questions pressed themselves on my mind and gave me much concern. Think as closely and as earnestly as I could on the subject, I was not able to see wherein lay his immunity. He was back once more in an atmosphere tainted with disease. Predisposition had not been eradicated, and old exciting causes were acting again. As time went on, and the fine health he had brought home with him from the asylum, gave place to the exhausted nervous condition which is sure, sooner or later, to follow excessive devotion to business — would not the old hunger for alcohol arouse itself and become irresistible?
The more I considered this view of the case, the more my concern increased; and I felt that something far more radical must be done for Granger than had yet been accomplished, before his reform was a thing assured. His drifting away from church influences was, I feared, only an indication of the awakening of old desires, and the turning of his thoughts downward to the things in which they had once found gratification.
I was much relieved on the Sunday following, to see Granger in church. He sat for most of the time during the services in an attentive attitude; and it struck me that his manner was unusually subdued and serious. I noticed that while a particular lesson from Scripture was read, that his eyes were not taken from the clergyman for a single moment. It was the one hundred and twenty-first Psalm: "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. He will not suffer your foot to he moved: he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper: the Lord is your shade upon the right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil: He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forever more."
Other passages read or chanted during the services, seemed as if especially designed to meet his case, and lead him to put a higher trust in God. "Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even forever." "The Lord is near unto all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him. He also will hear their cry, and will save them." "Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust."
I did not get an opportunity to speak to Granger after church, but I was struck with the seriousness of his face as he passed along the aisle. His eyes were cast down, and he did not notice anyone as he moved with the crowd.
"What do you think of Granger's case?" I asked of Mr. Stannard, not long after this.
"I greatly fear for him," was replied.
"He has kept himself straight since his return from the asylum."
"Yes; but the saving power of such institutions has its limits. They are good as far as they go, and have helped to restore many men to good citizenship. I say nothing against them. I wish their number were increased. But there are cases in which they rarely, if ever, make permanent cures; and Granger's is one of them. The appetite for drink has taken too deep a hold. For him, I fear, there is no help in man. Only God can save him; and if he does not go to God, humbly and prayerfully — his case is next to hopeless."
"I am sorry you take so gloomy a view of the matter, Mr. Stannard. Will not God help him, unless he prays to Him?"
"Can He help him, if he does not?"
"I don't know. There's something just here that I do not clearly understand."
"Can a mother feed her babe, though her milk is full, if it turn its mouth away? It may be fainting with hunger, and the mother's heart may be full of love and pity, but if it will not touch the bosom, what can she do? Prayer is not an arbitrary service, but an attitude of the soul. A simple turning of the spirit, conscious of its own weakness and sinfulness — to the source of all goodness and strength, and accepting what God is ever seeking to give; but which He can only give to those who truly desire to receive. God is always coming to us and seeking to save us; but unless we turn to Him, and look to Him, our rescue is impossible. It is in ourselves that we are lost; and if we will not come out of ourselves, wherein are all our pains and desolations, how can God save us?"
"I don't know. The way ought to be made very plain and easy."
"It is plain and easy. Only to turn from self to God. Only to take the hand that is forever reaching down. Only to ask and receive," Mr. Stannard replied. "God will not give — to those who will not take."
"Yes, yes; all doubtless true. But how shall one turn from self to God? How grasp the hand that is forever reaching down? How take what God perpetually desires to give?"
"Only when a man feels that in and of himself he can do nothing, and that unless help comes from above, he must perish — can he really turn from self to God. Before that, he trusts in his own strength; and so long as he does this, divine strength cannot be given."
"Can a man use, what he will not take? So long as one trusts in himself, he does not use the strength of another."
"And so, until a man feels his utter helplessness, God will not reach down and save him?" said I.
"Of what avail is God's offered hand — if the man will not take it? Of what avail is God's strength — if the man will not use it? Not until he is in utter despair of himself — does he really accept help from above. Until then, he trusts to an arm of flesh, and not to the all-conquering and all-sustaining power of God. In the very moment that a man comes into this state of despair and lifts thought and desire heavenward — he prays effectually; takes hold of God; gets his feet upon a rock; comes within the sphere of Divine protection; is saved from the power of his enemies. Forever saved? Yes, if he keeps his hold upon God, and remains within the sphere of His divine protection. How shall he maintain this hold? Only through steady looking and right living. He must cease to do evil, and learn to do well. Must make the laws of God, the laws of his life. If this is not done God will not make him to dwell in safety."
"For a man like Granger, do you think, there is no security but in the church?"
"Unless he dwells in God — he cannot dwell secure; and the church is God's kingdom on the earth."
"Does not Scripture say that the kingdom of God is within us?"
"Yes. God's kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and can have no real existence but in the souls of men. But it is internal and external, because man is internal and external; and has its internal health, as well as it external ceremonials and forms of worship. The laws of this kingdom are the precepts of the Holy Word; and only those who keep these precepts in the heart and life — are really the subjects of this kingdom. All such are free from the power of Hell; for God dwells in them and around them."
"Must, then, a man join the church to come into God's kingdom?"
"I think he will find that kingdom by the way of a church door, more easily than in any other way. We are none of us so strong that we can afford to do without the help that comes from association with our fellow-men. God did not make us to stand alone, but in mutual dependence. This is as true in spiritual as in natural things. And so the church, to be a power with men, must be external as well as internal."
"You may be right about all this," I made answer. "Certainly I would feel more confidence in Granger's reformation, if I knew that he was oftener at church. I was glad to see him there last Sunday, But I have felt more concerned for him since then, than usual. The reason may appear to you a little strange."
"What is it?"
"I have never seen his face so serious, nor his manner so absorbed, as they were during the services of the morning. While the lessons from Scripture were read, his eyes were scarcely turned for an instant away from the minister. In all the church there was not, apparently, a more deeply interested listener."
"A reason for hope rather than concern," said Mr. Stannard.
"That depends on the cause of this unusual sobriety of demeanor," I answered. "My thought has been, that the long repressed appetite is beginning to assault him once more; and that, day by day, the conviction is becoming stronger and stronger in his mind that it will, sooner or later, acquire the mastery again. His coming to church, and especially his demeanor at church, may be the signs of his sense of weakness and danger; an effort to gain help from higher influences — a half-desperate reaching out of his hands in the dark, for something to which he may cling, when the waters that are moving upon him rise higher and gain the force of a resistless flood."
"If this is so, he is turning to the Strong for strength, and seeking help where it can alone be found."
"But don't you see, that if this is so, Mr. Stannard, how desperate the case may be? The floods are rising against him. He feels that his strength is going. He is half-blind — half-desperate. Will he take hold of God? If not, what then? Ah! sir, I cannot but feel a shiver of suspense as I realize, in thought, this awful crisis for a human soul."
"In which it has only to cry out, as it turns from self to God; 'Save me, Lord, or I perish!' to be lifted from the flood."
"But what if it fails in this? If it cannot, or will not?"
"There is no such thing as cannot for a tried and tempted soul. It can look to God, and take hold of God, if it will."
"But," I said, pressing the question, "if it will not?"
The light went out of Mr. Stannard's face, and it grew very sober.
"It was because of this 'I will not,'" he replied, "that the Lord, in His tender mercy, bowed the heavens and came down into our very debased humanity, that we might see Him as a Divine Man, and feel the warmth of His compassion, and know Him as our friend and Savior, and that He might inspire in us the 'I will,' by which He could lift us back again into the pure and happy life which we had lost."
"But if this cannot now be inspired into the soul of Mr. Granger," said I, "what then? Must he fall in his hour of trial and darkness?"
"If the external strength which he has acquired is not sufficient for him — the considerations of honor and good citizenship; of worldly ambition and prosperity; of love and regard for his wife and children; of personal well-being and happiness — and he will not take God's strength instead — then what shall save him? I know not. But let us hope that he is going to God in the right way. I believe that he is."
"Ah! if one could know! I feel that another great crisis has come to our friend. If he should not pass it safely, he may fall never to rise again."
"He can never fall so low," was answered, "that God's love will not be still reaching down and seeking to save him. All day long He will stretch out His hands to him; all day long call after him in tones of love and compassion, 'Son, give me your heart!' and it will not matter how low he may fall, nor how far away he may wander into the wilderness of sin and shame — the moment he hearkens to that voice and turns from himself to God, he will be in the fold of safety. It is a good thing for Granger that he is feeling his own helplessness, and beginning to look for help from above. He may not find it now, because he may not be ready to give his heart to God; but if, trusting in his own strength, he should fall again, God will not forsake him, but still go after him, and it may be find him so weak, and helpless, and despairing — that he will no longer hold back, but throw himself into the loving arms of his divine Savior. Then will be born in him, a new life from above; and if he lives this life — he shall never fall again; for it is a heavenly life. Not a mere life of faith and feeling, but of love to God and good will to man, that continually shows itself in a keeping of the commandments in the spirit, as well as in the letter."
"It is your belief, then," said I, "that until Mr. Granger becomes a Christian man, there is very little hope for him?"
"Very little, I fear."
"He must unite himself with the church?"
"It would be better for him. But joining the church will not make him a Christian man. That is the effect of an internal change — not of an external relation. There must be a new spiritual birth before there can be a new man. 'Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again.'"
"Ah! if we knew just what that meant," I said.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh," said Mr. Stannard. "Let us rise higher in our thought. The soul has been down into the world, where it has gone by way of the senses, and has lived the life of the world, which is a selfish life, and evil because selfish. The more intense this life, the more opposite to the life of Heaven has it become. Now, unless a new life is born in the soul, it can never come into Heaven, which is a state of love to the Lord and the neighbor. How this life is born, is the great and important question. Let me make it as clear to your understanding as lies in my power. This new birth is effected by means of Divine truth cast into the mind as a seed, and the new spiritual birth has its beginning in the very moment that a man endeavors earnestly and by the help of God, to obey this truth. For to do, is to live. If the doing is in obedience to Divine truth, which teaches that a man shall not only love God, but cease to do evil — then the new man, a weak and almost helpless infant as yet, begins really to live and grow; and the Divine sphere is around about it, and all the powers of Heaven are arrayed for its protection. It is absolutely safe, this new-born child, so long as it takes the sincere milk of the Word, and lives thereby. But in danger the moment it turns itself away therefrom, and attempts to feed on the husks that can only sustain the lower life of selfishness and sin. The spiritual man cannot exist on these. It must have heavenly food, or it will die."
"Then it is not the washing and purifying of the old natural man, but the birth of a new spiritual man, which must live and grow until it attains the full stature, as the apostle says, of a man in Christ Jesus?"
"The natural man is for this world. The spiritual man for Heaven. We must come into the Kingdom of Heaven as little children, not as full-grown spiritual men. He called a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Truly I say unto you, except you are converted, and become like little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.' First a weak child; afterwards a strong spiritual man, ruling in righteousness over all the lower things of natural life, and bringing them into heavenly order — establishing the kingdom of God in the natural man, and doing the will of God in the earth, as it is done in Heaven."
"Taking this view," I said, "is not the confident state of mind we so often see in young converts, one of false security, and attended with great danger? We hear them speak with the assurance of strong men."
"While yet only babes in Christ. Yes, this state is one of false security, and, therefore, its dangers are great. No wonder that so many stumble — that so few keep to their first love. They use strong meat instead of milk; try to lift themselves to the stature of full-grown men, and to walk with long strides; are bold and confident. But being only little children, they fall; having no root themselves, they endure but for a while, and when tribulations and persecutions arise because of the Word, by and by they are fall away."
I had left my office a little earlier than usual in the afternoon, and was on my way homeward, when, on turning the corner of a Street, I saw Mr. Granger just in advance of me. He was walking slowly, with his head bent slightly forward. Quickening my pace, I soon joined him. As I laid my hand on his arm and spoke, he gave a startle, and when I looked into his face, I saw the color rising. There was something in his eyes which gave me a feeling of uneasiness. His manner was more repressed than cordial.
We walked together for the space of a few blocks, and then our ways parted. We had not, in our efforts to talk, touched upon any subject in which we found a mutual interest; and therefore our brief fellowship had been marked by constraint. What, followed our separation I learned long afterwards, and from the lips of Mr. Granger himself. I give the story in his own words:
"I had been fighting the old appetite desperately," said he; "fighting it for weeks, and being often on the very verge of defeat and surrender. But the awful condition into which I would be cast, if I fell into the enemy's power, held me to my post. I saw my home desolated, my wife broken-hearted, my children beggared — and I so loved them! I saw myself cast down again, and to a lower depth of misery and degradation, than any into which I had yet fallen. The horror that was before me, was appalling, and all the while I felt the peril increasing — my enemy growing stronger, and my power of resistance weaker.
"And now it seemed as if all Hell were against me. I could not look this way or that — go here nor there, but temptation met me face to face. Men who knew nothing of my past history, and some who knew it too well, invited me to drink. At dinners, at social gatherings, at private interviews with clients, at friendly meetings on the streets and in offices and stores — the glass was offered, or the invitation to drink given. I wearied of saying no, and began to feel ashamed of the weakness that so often brought on me a look of surprise, when I pushed the extended cup aside. In the street I could not walk for half a square without encountering a saloon which gave to appetite, a reminder through the sense of sight or smell. You may think it strange, but I have gone out of my way again and again, in order to avoid passing a certain drinking saloon, the very sight of which, more than any other, quickened my desire for liquor.
"Stronger and stronger became the pressure of the downward current, and my sense of danger greater. I looked this way and that for help, but saw no way of escape. All faith in my own manhood was fast leaving me, and I knew that the time must soon come, when some stronger sweep of the waters would bear me away.
"It was this feeling that drew me to church sometimes. But I went, always, under a kind of protest, and while there too often set my thought against what I heard, instead of opening my mind to the sacred influences of the place. I shall never forget the last Sunday on which I attended worship — I tried to stay away, and made many excuses to myself for remaining at home. But none of them prevailed. As I entered the church doors on that morning, I was conscious of a new feeling. As if I had stepped from an arena where I had been fighting for my life — into a place of rest and safety. My heart was touched and opened. The lessons from the Bible particularly impressed me; and many of the divine words seemed as if spoken for my assurance. I felt, as I had never felt before, that by the help of God I might stand fast; and I resolved to go to Him and ask Him for aid and support.
"I went out in the afternoon, saying to my wife that I was going to see Mr. Stannard. I wanted to have a talk with this good man about religion and the church, for I had great confidence in him. But I did not do as I intended; and here was my fatal error. When only a short distance from his house, I met a couple of friends riding out, and weakly yielded to their solicitations to go with them for a drive in the Park. As I entered the carriage, I was sensible of an opposite impression to that which I had felt in the morning. At church, it seemed to me as if I had passed from strife and peril — into a place of safety; but now, from a sphere of safety — into one of danger. But it was too late for me to recede. The carriage was in motion again and I once more adrift on a current too strong for my steadily lessening powers of resistance.
"A drive for an hour in the Park with pleasant friends, and then an invitation to drink at one of the restaurants. I took only ginger ale; but the smell of their stronger liquors was in my nostrils, and I felt an almost irrepressible desire to taste them. The very act of drinking with these friends, though what I took might only be a harmless beverage, had an evil influence on me.
"I would see Mr. Stannard in the evening, I thought, as I entered the carriage; but when evening came, my state of mind had undergone so complete a change, that the very thought of religious things was distasteful. For the two or three days that followed, it seemed as if I could not turn to the right hand nor to the left, without temptation. It was not greater than usual, perhaps; only I was weaker and more open to assault. The day at whose close I met you, as I was on my way homeward, had been marked not only by many incidents of warning, but by an unusual number of solicitations. I was weary and exhausted from incessant conflict; and what was worse, my mind was losing its balance, so that I could not hold it to the high considerations of honor, and duty, and love, which had hitherto influenced me. A cloud came down over it. Clear-seeing was gone. I felt only an irresistible craving. It was as if an evil spirit had taken possession of perception and feeling, and held them to a single thought and desire; the thought of liquor and the desire to drink. Was I not for the time insane and irresponsible? Could I help the fatal plunge I made?
"You remember our brief meeting. Scarcely had we parted, when a client for whom I was conducting an important suit, laid his hand on me, saying: 'Ah! This is fortunate, Granger. I missed you at your office. Some new facts, of great importance in our case, have come into my possession, and I wished you to have them with as little delay as possible.' He drew his arm in mine and we walked for a short distance, trying to converse. But the noise and confusion of the street interrupted us. As we were passing a drinking saloon, he said: 'Come; we'll get a quiet corner in here, and talk this matter over.' I went with him passively. We found a quiet corner. 'What will you have?' he said. I made a feeble effort to get to my lips the words, 'Nothing for me,' but failed, and in their stead, as if my organs of speech were controlled by another being, answered, 'Anything you please.' Beer was set before me, and I drank. You know the rest."
His client did not find him at his office on the next morning, nor in the court-room when the trial of his case, which had been opened on the previous day, was continued. The new facts which had been given to Granger were not put in evidence, and the associate counsel had, in his absence, to meet the issue without them. The result proved disastrous — the case was lost. But that was of small consideration, in comparison with the loss of the man who had been tempted at the moment when the power to resist was almost gone.
How rapid was the fall which came. It was an almost headlong plunge. The whole man seemed to give way. For over two weeks, it was a perpetual debauch with drink, and the end came only when the over-strained nerves and organs gave way, and he was prostrated by sickness. His recovery was followed by a speedy relapse into intemperance. As far as could be seen, there was no longer any effort on his part to resist the demon of alcohol, or to struggle against the stream which was bearing him down. In every conflict with this demon — he had in the end been beaten; and with each new rally — there had been loss of strength. What hope of victory in any new battle? He felt that there was none, and weakly abandoned himself to his fate.
Alas for the swift descent! Friends fell away from him. Clients removed their cases from his hands. Business forsook his office. More than half his time was spent in drinking-saloons — or in sleeping off the effects of drunkenness. Scarcely six months had elapsed when, in passing his residence on Spruce Street one day, I saw a notice on the door. The house was for rent. In the following week he moved away, his family dropping again out of the old circles.
Occasionally, after this, I met him on the street. The change in his appearance was sad to witness. Excessive drinking had swollen and distorted his face, robbing it of its fine intelligence. All the fire had gone out of his eyes. Meeting him on one occasion, I took his hand and said: "Granger, my dear man, this is all wrong. You will kill yourself."
A strange gleam shot across his face, and there was a brief disturbance in his manner. Then, with a short laugh, he replied: "All right. The sooner it's over, the better!"
"No, no. It's all wrong. Come around to my office. I want to talk to you."
"No, thank you. It won't be of any use; and besides, I've an engagement."
"It's never too late to mend," I urged. "Never too late to stop — "
"You don't know anything about it," he said, with some impatience of manner, interrupting me. "When the devil of drink gets you in his clutches, there's small chance left. Good-bye, and God bless you!" There was a break in his voice in the closing sentence.
Turning from me abruptly, he walked away. I heard, not long afterwards, that in order to keep her two younger sisters at school, his oldest daughter, Amy, a beautiful young girl, who made her appearance in society about a year before, had assumed the duties of a teacher in the school where they were being educated, and that Mrs. Granger was trying to get music students.
Next it was said that Granger had become abusive to his family. I could not believe this, for I knew something of the natural tenderness of his heart, and the strength of his old love for his wife and children. Even while under the influence of drink, I did not believe that he would be anything but kind to them. How great, therefore, was my surprise and sorrow, when, a few months later, the fact became known that his wife had left him on account of abusive treatment, and was living with her three daughters in the family of a relative.
Granger still had his law office, and was occasionally in court as counsel in some petty larceny, or assault and battery case, picking up a fee here and there, and managing to get money enough to supply the demands of his insatiate and steadily increasing appetite. But the time came when even this poor resource failed. When few, if any, were found willing to trust even the most trifling case to a man who might stand up in court on the day of trial so much intoxicated as to be unable to tell on which side of the case he was pleading.
In less than two years from the date of his last relapse into drunkenness, Granger had fallen so low that to get money for drink, he would stoop to any baseness or falsehood. All shame, all sense of honor, all regard for the truth — had died out of him. He had become a miserable beggar, making his daily round among the law offices and through the court-rooms, soliciting the loan of a trifle here and a trifle there, from old friends and acquaintances, and taking rebuffs, curses, stern rebukes and pitiful remonstrances with but few signs of feeling. Promises of amendment, he would make without limit. If the asked-for loan were withheld under the plea that he would spend it for drink — he would not hesitate about making the most solemn asseveration that he had taken no liquor for days, and only needed to get something to eat, not having tasted food for one or two days, as this or that period happened to come to his lips. One lie with him, was as good as another, so that it served his purpose. And there had been a time when he would have felt his high sense of personal honor tarnished, by even a small prevarication! So had the robber demon of drink plundered the man! And not of honor alone; every moral sense had been stolen away, drugged into sleep, or wrested away from him.
I saw a crowd in the street one day, and crossed to see what it meant. As I came near, I observed a slender girl, who had been drawn into the group of men and women, moving back hastily, as if shocked by what she had witnessed in the center of the crowd. A white, almost terror-stricken face met my view as she turned. I was impressed by something familiar in its contour and expression. I saw it only for an instant, for the young girl fled past me as one affrighted, and went hurrying down the street. For a moment or two I stood looking after her swiftly-retreating form, wondering where I had seen her. All doubts were settled when, on pressing forward, I saw Alexander Granger sitting on the pavement and leaning back against a doorstep, so drunk that he could scarcely hold his head up; while a policeman was endeavoring to lift him to his feet. The girl was his daughter, Amy.
A few hours afterwards, as I stood on the steps of my own residence, about to enter, the door was drawn open from within, and I met the face of Granger's daughter again. The whiteness had not yet gone out of it. She gave a little startle at seeing me.
"Miss Granger, I believe," said I, with kind familiarity in my voice, extending my hand at the same time. I felt a tremor in the small, soft palm that was laid in mine for an instant, and then withdrawn. Tears were coming in the poor girl's eyes, and I saw that her lips were quivering. I stepped aside that she might pass, and in a moment she was gone.
Inside the door my own precious daughter, just Amy's age, met me, and laid her loving kisses on me. I could not trust myself to speak because of the tearful pity that was in my heart for the worse than fatherless girl who had just gone over the threshold of my happy home.
"What did Amy Granger want?" I asked, as, with an arm about my daughter, we went from the hall into the parlor.
"She's trying to get a place in the Mint, and she called to ask mother about it, and to see if you wouldn't sign her application."
"Why, of course I will. Did she leave it?"
"Yes. And she asked mother to ask you if you didn't know somebody else who would help her by signing it."
"Poor child!" I said, pityingly. "To be so robbed and wronged! Of course I'll do all in my power to help her. I'll see the Director of the Mint myself, and if there's a place vacant, I'll not leave a stone unturned but she shall have it."
"There's something so sweet about her," said my daughter. "So refined and modest, and gentle. Oh! it must be very hard. What an awful thing this drunkenness is! Why, father, dear," and the sweet girl drew her arms about my neck and laid her cheek against mine, "I would not have a moment's peace if you drank wine or beer every day, as some men do."
"You'd have cause for trouble, my darling, if that were so," I replied, "for no man who uses them, can be regarded as safe. I know of a dozen ruined homes that were once as secure and as happy as ours. It was alcohol that desolated them. And I know of many more that are in danger, and towards which ruin is walking with slow but steady steps."
She held her arms more tightly about my neck. When she lifted her cheek from mine, her eyes were wet with tears.
My efforts to secure a situation in the Mint for Miss Granger were not successful, another applicant for the vacant place getting the appointment. But my interest and that of my family, were thoroughly awakened in behalf of the girl, who not only desired independence for herself, but an opportunity to help her mother and younger sisters. The best that could be done for her in the beginning, was to secure the position of attendant in a photograph gallery at four dollars a week. It was accepted with thankfulness. Mrs. Granger, who had commenced giving lessons in music even before her separation from her husband, continued in the profession of teacher, and had students enough to give her a moderate income and keep her above absolute dependence on the relatives who had so kindly offered her a home in her sore extremity.
It was three or four months after we had succeeded in getting a place for Amy Granger, that, on coming home one day, I found her mother waiting to see me. I did not know her on first coming into the parlor, a year or two had so changed her, and when, on my entrance, she arose and introduced herself, I could scarcely believe it possible that the wife of Alexander Grander was before me.
"I've called to see you on account of my daughter," she said, after being seated again. Her manner was much embarrassed; and she was evidently trying to hide the distress from which she was suffering.
"What about Amy?" I asked.
"You were very kind in getting her into that photograph gallery," she answered, "and we were all so grateful."
"She hasn't lost her situation, I hope?"
Yes, she had lost it; I saw this in the mother's face.
"How did that happen?" I asked. "Didn't she give satisfaction?"
"Oh! yes, sir. It was all right so far as that went; and they had increased her pay to five dollars a week. But — "
I saw the tears flooding her eyes as the quiver in her voice checked her speech. "Amy couldn't come and tell you herself," she resumed, as she recovered her self-possession. "It was too hard for the poor child. But she wanted me to see you."
"Tell me all about it," I said, kindly. "I'm sure it was no fault of hers, poor child!"
"Indeed it was not, Mr. Lyon. It made her sick. She was in bed for two or three days; and she looks as if she'd come out of a long spell of sickness."
"She mustn't take it so to heart," I replied. "No doubt it can all be made right again."
"Oh! no, sir. She can't go back there any more."
"Why not, Mrs. Granger?"
"Because — because — " her voice breaking and quivering again. Then she recovered herself and said, with firmer speech: "It's on account of her father."
"It can't be possible," I spoke with some indignation, "that his misdeeds should stand in the way of her honest efforts at self-support! No one could be so cruelly unjust toward her as that."
Then the truth came out. Let me give the story as it came to me then — and follow out the sequel as it came to me afterwards.
The shock of seeing her father in the condition we have described — hurt deeply the sensitive nature of Amy Granger. All affection for him, as debased and degraded as he was, had not died in her heart. Memory held too many sweet pictures of the old, dear home which she had lost, and of the tender and loving father who had once been the light and joy of that home. She could never walk the street afterwards, without a nervous fear of again encountering him. From this, she was spared for several months after obtaining the place of an attendant in the rooms of a photographer.
But one morning, just as she was at the entrance of these rooms, she met her father face to face. He had slept in a police station, and had just been sent forth, exhausted from lack of food, and with every nerve unstrung for lack of alcohol, wretched in feeling and loathsome in appearance. The shocked and half-frightened girl glided swiftly past him, and fled trembling up the stairway leading to the gallery in which she was employed, hoping that he had not recognized her. But in this, she was mistaken. Scarcely had she reached the second floor, before she heard him following her up the stairs, shuffling and stumbling along the way. Retreating to the back part of the room, she stood breathless and frightened, until the awfully marred and distorted face of her father looked in upon her from the door. The sight almost broke her heart. But in an instant, all thought of herself was forgotten. The love which had been trampled upon, bruised and broken, and wounded almost to the death — lifted itself into the agony of a new life, and threw out its arms wildly. In this poor dismantled wreck of humanity, storm-beaten, helpless and deserted — she saw the father on whose bosom she had once lain in sweet confidence. All the happy past came back in a moment; pity and tenderness flooded her soul. Starting forward, she laid her hands on him, saying in tones of the deepest compassion: "Oh, father! father!"
Weak, nerveless, and helpless as a sick child, Granger caught hold of his daughter with a half-despairing eagerness, and held on to her as a drowning man to some new and unlooked-for means of support.
"Yes, it's your poor father, Amy," he said, in a deep, rattling voice, scarcely a tone of which she recognized. "All that's left of him."
He shivered; for the morning was cold, and his garments were scant and thin. What could she do or say? Before her bewildered thoughts could untangle themselves, he gave the prompting words.
"I haven't had anything to eat since yesterday, Amy." His voice shaking as he spoke.
The child's pocket-book was in her hand before the sentence was finished. All it contained was a dollar bill. As she took the money out, Granger caught it from her fingers, saying: "Oh, thank you dear! You were always such a good girl."
The little crumpled bit of paper was scarcely in the man's possession, before he turned away and went stumbling down the stairs, his daughter listening in painful suspense, every moment expecting to hear him fall. But he reached the street in safety, and made his way to the nearest bar-room he could find.
When Amy, who had kept all this from her mother, reached the gallery next morning, she found her father already there and awaiting her arrival. His appearance was, if possible, more wretched and disgusting than on the day before! He was sitting near a table on which were a number of fancy photographs, pictures and small card-cases and frames. The sight of him sent the color out of his daughter's face, and the strength out of her limbs.
"Oh, father! father!" she said, speaking in a low voice, as she came up to where he was sitting. "It's hard for me to say it, but you mustn't come here anymore! I shall lose my place if you do."
She saw something like a frightened look in his eyes, as he got up hastily.
"I'll go, then. I'll go right away," he answered, in an abject manner. "But just give me a little something with which to get my breakfast. I haven't had a mouthful since yesterday."
She gave him the trifle of change that was in her pocket-book, which he clutched with the same trembling eagerness he had shown on the day before, and as hurriedly made his way to the street. The only witness of this scene and that of the preceding morning, was an errand boy.
"Is that man your father, Miss Granger?" asked the lad, as Amy turned from the door.
She could not answer him.
"Because, if he is, you'd better not let him come here any more. There'll be trouble for you if he does. I thought it was your father, and so kept mum until I could speak to you."
"What do you mean?" asked Amy, as she turned a scared face on the boy.
"I don't like to tell you, miss. But he stole one of those small morocco cases. I saw him slip it into his pocket."
The poor girl dropped into a chair, as white as a sheet. Everything grew dark about her, and it was only by a strong effort of the will, that she kept from losing her consciousness and falling to the floor.
"You are not well, dear," said Amy's mother, as she looked into the face of her daughter on the morning after Granger's first visit to the photograph gallery.
"My head aches a little," was the evasive answer.
Mrs. Granger was sitting in the room about an hour after Amy left home, when she heard someone come in and ascend the stairs. The footfalls were so light as scarcely to give a sound. She waited, listening; but no one came to her door. Listening still, she perceived a faint rustling of garments as of someone passing up to the rooms above. Then the door of Amy's room was opened and closed almost noiselessly; and all was still again. What did this mean? She had a vague sense of mystery and fear. For several minutes she sat with ear bent, and heart beating heavily.
"Who came in just now, and went upstairs?" she asked of one of her younger daughters who entered the room where she was sitting.
"I heard no one," answered the child.
"Go and see if Amy has come home."
The child did as requested, but came back in a few moments, with a frightened look in her eyes, and said: "Oh, mamma! Amy's lying on her bed; and she won't speak to me."
Mrs. Granger found her daughter as the child had said. Her face was hidden. She looked as if she had fallen across the bed in utter prostration of strength.
"Why, Amy, dear! What's the matter? Are you sick?"
There was no movement or reply.
Mrs. Granger bent over her daughter and tried to lift her face so that she could look into it; but Amy's only response was a slight resistance and continued hiding of her face.
"Amy, my child! Why don't you speak to me? Has anything happened?" The alarmed and anxious mother pressed her questions rapidly; but no reply coming, she drew her arm beneath the head of her daughter and lifted and turned it so that she could look into the hitherto hidden face. It was pale and rigid, with signs of intense suffering about the closely-shut mouth. A long time passed before Mrs. Granger could gather from the unhappy girl, the story of her father's visits to the gallery, and the shame and disgrace which they had brought upon her.
Many days passed before Amy was able to rise out of the deep prostration of mind and body into which she had been thrown, and to turn her thoughts to the work and duty which were still before her. She could not go back to the photograph rooms. That question did not have a moment's debate, either with herself or her mother. It was to get my advice and help in this new and most distressing state of affairs, that Mrs. Granger had called upon me, as mentioned in the preceding chapter. My sympathies were strongly excited, and I assured her that I would do all in my power to assist her daughter in getting another place.
Meanwhile the proprietor of the photograph gallery, who had met Amy on the stairs as she was hurrying away and noticed the pallor and the wild look in her face, had made inquiry of the lad as to the meaning of her disturbed condition. On learning the truth, he became greatly incensed towards Granger — not so much because of the petty theft which had been committed, as on account of the humiliation and suffering which he had brought upon his innocent daughter. Under the heat of his sudden indignation he started out, and by the aid of a policeman, succeeded in finding the miserable man in one of the saloons not far distant. On searching him, the stolen article was discovered on his person. His arrest and commitment by a policeman quickly followed. As no one willing to go bail for him could be found, he was sent to the county prison, where he had been lying for two or three days, when the fact of his imprisonment first became known to me through Mr. Stannard, a gentleman to whom brief reference has already been made.
"Have you heard about poor Granger?" he said, as we met one morning on the street.
"What about him?" I asked.
"He's in prison."
"Theft. He stole some trifle from a photograph gallery, and was arrested and sent to prison."
"Better there, than living a life of drunken vagabondism on the street," I replied.
"I heard through the prison agent, that he was seized with delirium tremens soon after his commitment, and had a hard struggle for his life. But he came through after suffering the tortures of Hell, greatly prostrated in mind and body."
"Poor wretch! It would have been better had he not come through," I made answer, with less of feeling in my voice than was really in my heart. "A curse to himself and to all who, unhappily, have any relationship with him — why should he continue to cumber the ground?"
I spoke more bitterly than I felt, for I had old remembrances of this man which drew upon my sympathies, and softened my heart towards him. There came to me, even as I spoke, a strong and pitiful contrast between what he had been in the days of his proud and honorable manhood — and what he was now, debased, ruined, homeless, sick and in prison.
"God knows best. With Him are the issues of life." Mr. Stannard drew his arm in mine as he spoke. "And now, friend Lyon," he continued, "as, in God's providence, this man and his dreadful condition have been brought so clearly before us — may we not regard the fact as an indication that it is our duty to make another effort to save him? He has reached a lower depth than any to which he had hitherto fallen. May not the awful sense of loss and degradation which he must feel, quicken into life a new and more intense desire to get free from the horrible pit into which appetite has cast him? And may not He who alone is able to save, find now an entrance which has been hitherto closed against Him?"
I was near my office when I met Mr. Stannard. As he drew his arm in mine, we moved onward and were soon at the door.
"Come in. I shall be glad to talk with you about Granger. If there is any hope of saving him, I am ready to do all that lies in my power."
We sat down together and gave his case our most earnest consideration. As for myself, I saw little if anything, to encourage a new effort to rescue this fallen man. I had read and thought a great deal about the evil of drunkenness in the last year or two, and was satisfied that, in cases of what medical men define as confirmed alcoholism — a permanent cure is rarely if ever effected. It was a disease that might be arrested for a time, through the complete removal of exciting causes; but one which, if predisposing causes were once fairly established, could never be radically cured.
"If there were no bar-rooms and no social drinking customs," I said, as we talked, "we might hope to reform a case like this. But one might as well send a man who had just recovered from intermittent fever, back again into the infested region from which he had escaped — as a reformed drunkard into the business and social world of today. There would be small hope of escape for either of them."
Mr. Stannard drew a deep sigh, but did not answer.
I continued: "What makes this case of Granger's so discouraging, is the fact that every possible agency of reform has already been tried. You know that he was in the New York Inebriate Asylum for several months."
"Yes, I am aware of that."
"He came home vastly improved; and I had great hopes of him for awhile. But old associations and old influences set themselves against him from the very day of his return home. It was a continual pressure — a continual allurement. After awhile the old appetite for liquor, which had not been extinguished, began to show signs of life. You know the rest. He was not cured. And, from all I can learn of this disease of drunkenness, no one is ever so thoroughly cured, as not to be in perpetual danger of relapse. We may take Granger out of prison, and set him on his feet again; but will he stand? No, will he not surely fall? If I could only see a reasonable hope. But to my mind, there is none."
"There is always hope in God," said Mr. Stannard, his voice low but steady and assured.
My heart did not give a quick response to his words.
"No man ever falls so low, that Christ cannot lift him up and save him," he added.
"I believe that," was my answer. "But how does He save? How, for instance, can He save a man like Granger? How can His Divine power reach him, and lift him free from the curse of the terrible appetite which has enslaved him? Men look to God, and pray to Him — and yet are not saved. Granger went to church for awhile, and tried to get a higher strength, but it did not come. Why? Did God hold himself away from him, because faith was halting and feeble? Did He make the measure of this poor man's feeble mental effort, the measure of His mercy? I cannot believe it."
"And you must not," Mr. Stannard said, gently, "He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. Are not His words explicit, 'Him that comes unto me, I will never cast out.' Running through all the Divine Word, is there not a perpetual invitation to look to Him and come to Him — for refuge, for safety, for strength, and for salvation?"
"But how is a man to come, Mr. Stannard?"
"We begin to come the moment we repent of our sins, and look to the Lord for strength to resist and put them away. We come nearer when we obey His command, 'Cease to do evil.' Then, and only then, do we put it into the Lord's power to save us. 'His name shall be called Jesus — for He shall save His people from their sins.' But if the people will not quit the evil of their doing — then how can He save them from the love of evil doing — which is the true salvation? 'Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and open the door, I will come in to him.' Now what is it that shuts the door against God? Is it not sin; the love of self and the world; the indulgence of evil passions and appetites? He cannot dwell in a heart, where these abide. They must be cast out, and then God's temple in the human soul is prepared for His entrance."
"But," I said, "who can cast them out, but God? Is not this the doctrine of the church?"
"None but a Divine power," Mr. Stannard answered, "can remove the love of sinning. But first, man of himself must open the door which evil-doing has barred against God."
"How can this be done?"
"There is only one way. He must cease to do evil, because it is a sin against God. Beyond this, he has no power over his corrupt nature. He cannot change his inner vileness into beauty, he cannot make himself pure, he cannot by good deeds enter the kingdom of God. Over the external things of thought and act he has power, but the Lord alone can change his inner affection — take away the heart of stone and give the heart of flesh. But, before this can be done, man must not only repent of his evil deeds because they are sins — but actually cease from doing them. In the moment that he does this from a Christian principle — that is because to do evil is contrary to the Divine Law, and therefore a sin against God — and looks to the Lord to deliver and save him, in that moment he opens the door of his heart for the Lord to enter, and the Lord, who has been knocking there by His Divine Word and commandments, will surely come in. And so long as he shuns evils as sins in the external of his life, is just, and merciful, and humble — God will abide with him and in him, and he shall walk as safely in the midst of temptation, as the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, because the Son of God is with him, as He was with them."
"Not of faith alone, nor of works, nor of merit," I said.
"No, but of obedience. And in the degree that obedience becomes perfected, will love become perfected. In the degree that a man shuns in thought and act, the evils which in any way hurt his neighbor or do dishonor to God — in that degree will the Lord remove from his heart the desire to do them, and give the affection of good in their place."
"Going back now to Mr. Granger," I said," why, when he put away the evil of drinking for so long a time, was not the desire for this sinful indulgence taken away? Did he not open the door for the Lord to come in?"
"We open the door at which the Lord stands knocking, when we see and acknowledge the evils in our lives that hold the door bolted and barred against Him, and cease to do them because they are sins."
"Because they are sins?"
"Yes. If we cease to do evil from any other consideration, we do not open the door."
"I am not sure that I get your meaning," said I.
"Take the case of Granger. Why did he shun the evil of drinking?"
"Because he saw that it was ruining him."
"That it was a sin against himself, rather than against God," said Mr. Stannard.
"What is sin against God?" I asked.
"Any and everything that man does in opposition to Divine order."
"The answer is too general," I said.
"The laws of this order as applied to man are very simple and direct," he returned. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. Now, in Mr. Granger's case, did he make an effort to control his appetite for drink, because its indulgence was a sin against the true order of his life, and turned him away from all just regard for God and his neighbor — thus a sin against God Himself — or, did his thought reach only to himself and to his worldly loss or gain?"
"I scarcely think his motive went as far as you suggest."
"If it did not, how was God to save him? If it was not the sin of alcoholism which troubled him, but only the consequences of that sin, there could be no true repentance and humiliation before God. And here let me say, Mr. Lyon, that no man can be saved from any particular evil, as, for instance, that of drunkenness, unless at the same time he resists and endeavors to put away all other sins against God. The whole man must be reformed and regenerated. Everything forbidden in the Word of God, must be put away through the Divine strength given to all who earnestly try to keep the commandments."
"I see your meaning more clearly," I replied. "There must be a new and better life in the whole man."
"If not, how can God abide with him and in him?"
"Coming back again to the case of Granger," said I, "and regarding it from your standpoint — is there any possibility of a permanent reform?"
"You speak confidently."
"Because I have faith in the Great Physician of souls. There is a Divine healing power which all men may have if they will."
"Nothing but a Divine power can cure him. Of that I am satisfied."
"Shall we not, then, seeing that he has been brought so low, make an effort to bring him under the care of this Great Physician? I have been thinking about it all day, and our conversation has only given strength to a half-formed purpose to visit and make one more effort to save him."
"Let it be done by all means," I replied.
A gentleman who had known Mr. Granger came into my office at this moment, and when he learned of the utter debasement of the man, and of our purpose to make a new effort to reclaim him, said: "Why not place him in the new Reformatory Home recently established in our city?"
"Reformation without regeneration — will avail nothing in his case," returned Mr. Stannard. "The best reformatory agencies known have been tried, but their influences proved only temporary. He was at Binghampton, you know."
"Yes, I am aware of that. But the institution to which I refer, is not an asylum for the treatment of drunkenness as a disease — but a Christian Home in which, while all the physical needs of the inhabitants are rightly cared for, an effort is made to bring them under Christian influences, and to lead them to depend on God for safety."
"Is there an institution like that in our city?" asked Mr. Stannard, with much interest in his manner. "I never heard of it before."
"It is scarcely a year old," was replied. "But already the results obtained are quite remarkable."
"Too short a time to predict much on results," I said. "The reformation of a drunkard that dates back no farther than a year, gives little ground for confidence."
"Much depends on the basis of the reformation," remarked Mr. Stannard. "Here, it strikes me, is the true basis, and I am ready to hope much. But what is the name of this institution and where is it located?"
"You will find it in the very center of our city. They call it the Franklin Reformatory Home for Inebriates; and from what I have heard through one of the managers, whose heart is very much in the work, I am led to believe that in its treatment of drunkenness, it has discovered and is using the only true remedy for that terrible disease which no medicine for the body can ever radically cure. Its first work is to draw the poor, debased and degraded inebriate within the circle of a well-ordered and cheerful home, and under the influence of kind and sympathetic friends. All these have been lost to him for years; so utterly lost that all hope of their recovery has died in his heart. He is a stranger to gentle words and loving smiles. He is used to only rebuke and blame; to scorn and contempt; is alike despised by himself and the world. But here he finds himself all at once an object of interest and care. His hand is taken in a clasp so warm and true, that he feels the thrill go down into his heart and awaken old memories of other and dearer hand-clasps. His lost manhood and sense of respect are found again. New purposes are formed and old resolves — broken, alas! so many times — renewed once more. He finds himself encircled by sustaining influences of a better character than he has known in many years. Hope and confidence grow strong.
"But in lifting the fallen man to this state of life, the Home has done only its first and least important work of reformation. If it were able to do no more, 'Failure' would ultimately be written on its walls. It is organized for deeper and more thorough work — is, in fact, a Church as well as a Home, and has its chapel and its formal worship. When the man is restored and in his right mind, an effort is made to lead him into the conviction that in and of himself — he cannot successfully resist the appetite from whose slavery he has just escaped. That only in the Divine power and protection, is there any hope for him, and that he must seek this Divine power and protection, through prayer and a living and obedient faith in Christ, who saves to the uttermost, all who come to Him and keep His sayings. He must become a new man. Must be saved not only from drunkenness, but from all other evils of life. Must become sincere, and humble, and just, and pure — as well as temperate. So becoming steadfast and immovable."
A light had kindled in Mr. Stannard's face. Turning to me, he said: "There is hope for our poor friend. He may yet be saved. Is there not a providence in this thing?"
"I might say yes, if I believed in special providences," I returned.
"What kind of a providence do you believe in?" Mr. Stannard asked.
"In a general overruling providence," I replied.
"Of a providence, for instance, which takes care of a man's whole body — but not of his eye, or ear, or heart, or any individual fibre, or nerve, or organ of which his body is composed. Of a providence which takes care of a nation, but not of the individual men composing that nation. To have a general providence, Mr. Lyon, you must have a particular providence; for without particulars, you cannot have that which is general. Believe me, that God's care is over you and me and every one, specially and at all times. It would be no providence at all, if this were not so. Let us think of it as around about us continually, and that if it were intermitted for a single moment, we would perish. Let us think of it as the infinite Love which is forever seeking to save us, and forever adapting the means to this eternal end."
"You think more deeply about these things than I have been in the habit of doing, and may be nearer right in your views — than I am in mine. I waive, for the present, all controversy on the subject. As for Mr. Granger, let us get him into this Home, and give him another chance. I believe in the church, and in the power of God to save men from their sins. And I believe more in this Home, from what I have just heard of it, than in any and all of the reformatory agencies in the land."
"Because it is a church, a true church, seeking to gather poor lost and abandoned ones into the fold of Christ?"
"Yes, if you choose to give that form to the proposition," I replied.
"Is it not the true form? Can the Church have any higher mission, than the one to which this Home has consecrated itself?"
"None," was my answer. "And yet the Church scarcely reaches out its hand to the perishing inebriate. Nay, draws back from him her spotless garments, and leaves him to perish in the mire — from which her hands might have raised him."
"The Church learns but slowly," Mr. Stannard replied, speaking with a shade of depression in his voice. "It has been too busy with creeds and hairsplitting differences in doctrine, and with rituals, and robes, and things external — to give itself as it should to charity. A better day is not far distant, I hope. If, as has been said, the Church is the heart and lungs of common society, and if society is terribly diseased, spiritually as well as morally — is not the Church at fault and responsible? A healthy heart and healthy lungs — should make a healthy body. Before the Church can heal the world — she must be healed herself. She must rise into the perception of higher and diviner truths, and come down into the world with a more living power.
"It is difficult to tell which has the larger influence over the other today, the Church or the world. I sometimes fear it is the world, the Church is so pervaded with its attitudes, and fashions, and ways of doing things, with its pride and its vanities. But here, in this Home of which we have been speaking, we have, thank God, the beginning of a real, earnest, working Church that knows the gospel of salvation, and is seeking by its power to lift up the fallen, to heal the broken-hearted, and to set the captive free."
Mr. Stannard had warmed as he spoke, and now there was a glow on his fine countenance. So interested had we all become in the Home about which we were talking, that his suggestion that we should make a visit and learn for ourselves what was being done there, met with a hearty concurrence — and we started at once to see and make ourselves better acquainted with the character and work of the new Institution.
On the day following, I met Mr. Stannard, by agreement. We had made arrangements for placing Granger in the new Home as soon as we could get him released, and thus give him another opportunity to recover himself. All my interest in the man was reviving, and hope gaining strength every moment. Our visit to the Reformatory Home had been most satisfactory. We found the organization far more perfect than we had anticipated, seeing that the Institution was yet in its infancy. After spending an hour with the president, who happened to be there when we called, and obtaining from him all the information desired, we made such preliminary arrangements as were necessary for the admission of Granger, and left with the new hope for the fallen man, we were about making an attempt to rescue, growing stronger in our hearts every moment.
Before going to the prison, we called on the district attorney, who, on learning our purpose, gave an order for Granger's release, saying, as he did so: "I wish, gentlemen, that I could feel as hopeful as you seem to be, in regard to the result. But I'm afraid the case is beyond cure. Poor fellow! Our bar lost one of its brightest representatives in his fall. He was a splendid orator. I can hear his voice now, ringing out in some of his grand periods. Ah, if he had but let drink alone!"
"If men would only take warning by a fall like this," said Mr. Stannard.
"Few fall so rapidly or so low," returned the district attorney. "Some men are weak in the head where liquor is concerned, while others can drink on to the end, always maintaining a due moderation."
"And every man who drinks, believes that he can always hold himself to this due moderation."
"Yes, but some get over the line, before becoming aware that they have touched it."
"To find, like the too venturesome bather when struck by the undertow — that return is next to impossible."
We went from the district attorney's office directly to the prison, and were taken to the cell where Granger was confined. He was lying on his bed, apparently sleeping, but moved and turned towards us as we entered. At first I thought there had been a mistake. Could that wasted, haggard face, and those large, deep-set, dreary eyes be the face and eyes of Alexander Granger? It seemed impossible. But he had recognized us at a glance, as I saw by the quick changes in his countenance, and made an effort to rise; but sank back weakly on his hard pallet, a feeble moan coming at the same time through his lips.
"My poor, unhappy friend!" I said, in a voice of tender sympathy, as I sat down on the bed and took one of his hands in mine.
All the muscles of his face began to twitch and quiver. He shut his eyes closely, but could not hold back the shining drops that were already passing through the trembling lashes.
I waited a little while before speaking again, but kept tightly hold of his hand.
"Sick and in prison. My poor friend!" letting my voice fall to a lower and tenderer expression.
He caught his breath with a sob. Tears fell over his cheeks. All the muscles of his face were shaking. I waited until the paroxysm was over. How weak and wasted he was! As I looked at him, my heart grew heavy with compassion.
"There is still a chance for you, Mr. Granger," said I, putting hope and confidence in my voice.
There was no response; not even a faint gleam on his wretched face.
"Will you not try again?"
"It won't be of any use, Mr. Lyon. It's very good of you; but it won't be of any use." He spoke feebly and mournfully, moving his head slowly from side to side.
"It will be of use. I am sure that it will," I said, with still more confidence.
"You don't know anything about it, Mr. Lyon." His voice had gained a steadier tone; but its utter hopelessness was painful.
"Here is Mr. Stannard," I said. "You remember him."
"Yes. It's very good of you, gentlemen. But I don't deserve your kindness."
"We are here as your friends," said Mr. Stannard, coming close to the bed. "We are going to help you to get upon your feet again, and to become a new man."
He shook his head gloomily.
"I'm done trying. What's the use of a man attempting to climb a hill, when he knows that his strength must give out before he reaches the top, and that he will get bruised and broken in the inevitable fall. Better to die at the bottom of a ditch, as I shall die."
He had raised himself a little, and was leaning on his arm.
"You have been sick," said I, wishing to take his mind away from the thought which was then holding it.
"Yes, worse than sick. I've been in Hell and among devils!"
"But have escaped with your life."
"I'm not so sure. It's about over with me, I guess. You see there's not much left to go on."
He held up one of his thin, almost transparent hands, but could not keep it steady.
"Yes, worse than sick, I've been in Hell and among devils!"
"Don't say that. There's to be a new life within and without."
"Not for me. Not for Alexander Granger. Do you know what I am here for?" A dark cloud falling on his face. "For stealing! — for petty larceny! You see, it's all over with me. The very shame of the thing, is burning my life out. A thief! No, no, gentlemen. Even if I were able to stand against alcohol, I could not bear up under a disgrace like this."
"It was not Alexander Granger who committed this crime," answered Mr. Stannard, "but the insatiate demon who had enslaved him and made him subject to his will. Let us cast out this demon and give the true, generous-hearted, honorable man back to himself and society again. It is for this, that we are here, Mr. Granger."
He shook his head. "If, in the full vigor of manhood, I was not able to overcome and cast out this demon, what hope is there now? It were folly to make the effort. No, no, gentlemen. I give up the struggle. All that is worth living for, is gone. An utterly disgraced and degraded man, what is left for me but to die and be forgotten? And I shall be better here, dying sober, than in the gutter or the police station, dying drunk."
His voice trembled, and then broke in a repressed sob.
"There is One who can and who will save you, even from the power of this strong appetite which has so cursed you, my friend," said Mr. Stannard, speaking with a gentle persuasion in his tones, and at the same time laying his hand softly on Granger's head. "He is very near to you now — a loving Shepherd seeking for His lost sheep in the desolate wilderness, where it is ready to perish."
Then, kneeling, with his hand still on Granger's head, he prayed in a low, hushed voice:
"Loving Father, tender Shepherd. This Your poor wandering sheep is hungry and faint and ready to die. His flesh has been torn by the thorn and bramble; the wild beast has been after him, and the poison of serpents is in his blood. No help is left, but in You, and unless Your strong arm save him — he will surely perish. Draw his heart toward You. Give him to feel that in You alone is hope and safety. In his helplessness and despair, let faith and trust be quickened. You alone can save him from the power of this demon of drink. You can set him in a safe way, and keep him from falling again. Give him to feel this great truth, that if he casts himself at Your feet and cries from his sick and fainting heart, 'Save me, Lord!' You will hear and save."
Can I ever forget the almost despairing cry for help that was in Granger's voice as he repeated the words, "Save me, Lord!" throwing his hands above his head as he spoke, and lifting his eyes upwards? A strange thrill ran along my nerves.
"He will save you," said Mr. Stannard, as he rose from his knees. "Trust in Him, and He will give you strength to overcome all your enemies. Though your sins be as scarlet — He will make them as white as wool. Those who trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Zion which cannot be removed, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people."
I saw a change in Granger's face. It was growing calmer and stronger.
"There is a new life before you, my friend; and if you will look to God, and trust Him, and keep His words, you can live that life in safety. Will you try?"
"If I thought there was any use in trying. But what can I do? Where can I go?"
There was a pleading expression in look and voice "Will you try?"
"Yes, God helping me." He spoke with a kind of trembling earnestness.
"We have a carriage outside," I said. "You will go with us."
"How can I go? I'm a prisoner."
"A prisoner no longer. We have brought you a release."
"Is this only a dream?" he said, looking at us with a gathering doubt in his face. "But I am sick and weak. I cannot walk. I can scarcely stand, I am not fit to go anywhere."
He was taken to the carriage we had in waiting, supported by two of the keepers. But few words passed as we drove into the city and over the rattling streets to the institution where we had arranged to place him. He was very weak, and almost in a fainting condition when we reached our destination. Beyond the door, our care of him ceased; but we left money to procure clean clothing with which to replace, after he had received a bath, the poor, tattered and unclean garments that were on his person.
"If this fail, all fails," I said to Mr. Stannard, as we came away.
"I do not believe it will fail," he replied.
"I would gladly share your confidence, but confess that I do not. The influences under which he will now come, are, I can see, more favorable than any that have heretofore been brought to bear upon him; but there has been so great a physical and moral deterioration, that I fear he can never get back the strength required for safe standing and sure resistance.
"He is stronger, in my opinion, today than he has been at any time in the last ten years."
"I scarcely see the ground of your confidence," said I.
"Stronger because all faith and all trust in himself are dead. He had given up the struggle when we found him in prison — given up to die, and his 'Save me, Lord!' came from the depths of his utter despair. There will be no more trust in himself, I think; no more matching of his poor strength against the giant strength of an enemy before whose lightest blow, he must surely fall. But a complete giving of himself into the care and protection of One who is not only mighty to save, but who saves to the uttermost all who come unto Him. Herein lies the ground of my confidence."
"In such a giving up, Mr. Stannard, what becomes of the manhood? Is it wholly lost?"
"It is in this surrender of ourselves to God, that a higher and truer manhood is born. What is it to be a true man? To let the appetites and passions rule; or the reason, which, enlightened from above, can see and determine what is just, and pure, and merciful. Does the man possess himself as long as he lets the lower things of his nature, rule over the higher things? His appetites and passions, rule over his reason? The whole order of man's life has been reversed by sin. He has turned from God to himself, and vainly thinks that true manhood consists in self-dependence and self-assertion; as though his inmost life were his own, and not the perpetual gift of God. And so he tries to get as far away from God as possible, and to make a new life for himself; and as this new life begins in self, it is in the nature of things, a selfish life, and separates him from God and his neighbor. And he lives this life down in the lower regions of his mind, where sensual things reside — the appetites, the passions and the desires. Is it any wonder that, so living, these sensual things should gain dominion over him — a dominion that nothing short of Divine power can break? Herein lies the loss of true manhood, which can only be restored when we are willing to sell all that we have of self — in order to buy heavenly treasures. Granger is not going to lose, but gain his manhood."
"Ah, what a gain that would be!" I felt oppressed with the inflowing pressure of new thoughts. I was beginning to see, dimly, how two men might pray to God to be delivered from evil, and the prayer of one be answered, while that of the other proved of no avail. Until a man is ready to give up his selfish life, and turn wholly from the evil of his ways — how can God help him to live the new and diviner life which will give him power to hold all the appetites and passions of his nature in due subjection and control. I saw for the first time, an exact parallelism between spiritual and natural things. A vessel must be emptied of one substance — before it can be filled with another. So must a soul be emptied of evil and selfishness — before it can be filled with love to God and the neighbor. There must be poverty of spirit — before the riches of Divine grace can be given. "Blessed are the poor in spirit — for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." The text flashed upon me with a new and deeper meaning than it had ever before brought to my mind.
On the following day I went to see Granger at the Reformatory Home. I found him in a clean, well-furnished and cheerful room. He was in bed, looking very pale; but his eyes were clear and bright, and he welcomed me with a smile that played softly over his wasted features, and gave them a touch of their old fine quality. A book lay open on the bed. I saw that it was a copy of the New Testament. His manner was very subdued, and he did not speak until after I was seated; and then not until I had asked how he was feeling. His answer almost gave me a startle, it was so unexpected. He spoke in a low but even voice.
"As if I were standing just inside the gate of Heaven."
I waited for a few moments before replying, for I scarcely knew what to say; then remarked: "I am glad you feel so comfortable. This is better than the police station or the prison."
The light went out of his face, but came back quickly.
"But for you, my kind friend, I would now be dying in the cell from which you and good Mr. Stannard brought me yesterday. It was God who sent you; and it seems as if I shall never be done thanking Him. My poor heart broke all down when Mr. Stannard prayed for me. It seemed as if God were all at once bending right over me, and when I cried out to Him in my helplessness, I had a feeling as if His arms were reached out and I taken into them. And I believe it was so."
"May they ever be round about you," I replied, scarcely able to keep my voice steady, for I was not prepared for this, and it affected me strangely.
"Nothing less can save me from the assaults of my enemy," he said, his countenance growing more serious.
I remained with him for half an hour, and when I left, my confidence in this new effort at reformation was greatly increased. An incident of the visit gave me large encouragement. As I sat talking with him, there came a rap on the door, and then a lady, in company with the matron of the institution, entered. I knew her well by sight. She was related to a family of high social standing; and while a woman of refinement and intelligence, and an ornament to the circle in which she moved, was largely given to good works. Her hand as well as her heart were in many charities. She had often met Mr. Granger and his wife in their better days, and was among those who had been deeply pained at his downfall. A member of the Auxiliary Board of Lady Managers, she had learned on her visit to the Home, that Mr. Granger was there, and all her interest was at once awakened. To save him and restore him to his family and society, was something to be hoped for, and prayed for, and worked for; and she lost no time in seeing him, and letting him feel the warmth of her interest in his welfare.
I was talking with Granger, as just said, when Mrs. Ellis entered his neat little chamber. He knew her, of course, and I saw a slight tinge of color steal over his pale face as she came to the bedside.
"I am right glad to see you here, Mr. Granger," she said, with an interest so genuine that it affected me.
"And I am glad to be here, Mrs. Ellis," he replied, in a voice subdued but earnest. "It is like coming out of Hell into Heaven."
"May it indeed be as the gate of Heaven to your soul," she responded. "If that is so, all will be well with you again. And I pray for you that it may be so. Only look to the blessed Savior and trust in Him, and you shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed."
She remained only for a few minutes, but said as she was going out: "You are now among true friends, Mr. Granger, and they will do everything in their power to help you. Take heart; it is all going to come out right again."
He was much affected by this brief visit, and after Mrs. Ellis had left the room said, in a half-wondering tone of voice: "I can hardly understand it all. What is she doing here?"
I explained to him that she was one of the Lady Managers of the Institution, through whose constant care and supervision the highest comfort of the inhabitants was secured. That the presence of these ladies in the Home, as visitors and supervisors, enabled them to gain an influence with the inhabitants which was very helpful. They made themselves acquainted, as far as possible, with the nature of their domestic relations, if they had families, and if their families were in destitute circumstances, visited them and did whatever lay in their power to help them. Many desolate homes had already been made bright and happy through their agency.
Granger listened with half-closed lids while I spoke of all this. A deep sigh was his only response when I ceased speaking. His thoughts had evidently drifted out of the room in which he was lying, and gone far away from the Home. I did not break the spell of thought that was upon him, but waited until he came back to himself again.
"It seems still as if I were only dreaming," he said, lifting his eyes at length and looking at me with a kind of wistful earnestness. "As if I would awaken at any moment into the old, dreadful life."
"You may dream this dream to the end if you will," I replied.
"God keep me from waking!" He gave a slight shiver as he said this.
At my next visit, I found Granger well enough to be downstairs. He was in the reading-room talking with an intelligent-looking man, whose face I recognized as one with which I was familiar. I did not at first know this man, but when he reached out his hand and called me by name, his voice brought him to my recollection. He had once been a merchant, standing at the head of a firm doing a large business; but wine, the mocker, had betrayed him, and he had fallen into hopelessly dissolute habits. When I last saw him, he was staggering on the street.
"Why, Lawrence!" I exclaimed, in pleased surprise. "You here?"
"Yes, I am here, friend Lyon. And here is our old friend Granger. You remember him."
"Of course I do," taking the hand of Mr. Granger as I spoke, who gave me back a silent pressure.
I looked at the two men, wondering at the change which had been wrought in them; noticing, as I have had occasion to notice many times since, the quick restoration of the face, after drink is abandoned, to something of its old, true character.
We sat down and had a long talk. Mr. Lawrence informed me that he had been there about five weeks, and was now holding the position of bookkeeper in the store of one of the directors of the Home, but still boarded in the Institution, as he felt that he needed all the help it could give him. He had been separated for over two years from his wife, who was now living in a distant city; but he had already written to her, telling the good news of his reformation, and of his purpose, by God's help, to keep himself forever free from his old habits.
"And here's a letter from her that I received today," he said, as he took an envelope from his pocket, with an almost child-like exhibition of pleasure. "And she writes that she'll be here in two weeks. She was always so good and so true, and she stayed by me until it was of no use. Poor Helen!"
I did not wonder at the dimness that came over his eyes; nor at the break and gurgle in his voice.
"But it shall never so be again," he went on after a little pause. "I trusted in myself, and did not care for God. He was never in my thoughts. But I have found a better way since I came here, and One who will keep me in that way if I look to Him — walking always by my side. So long as I put my trust in Him, I shall be safe, but not for a moment longer."
I was looking at Granger, and saw that his gaze was fixed intently on Mr. Lawrence. His eyes were a little dilated and there was a shade of sadness on his countenance. He did not take any part in the conversation. When an opportunity came for us to be alone, and I could ask more particularly about him, his manner changed and brightened; but was more subdued than on the occasion of my previous visit.
"You are looking so much better," I said, "and are feeling, of course, as well as you look."
"I hope so," he answered, quietly. Then, after a slight pause: "If one could only stop thinking sometimes."
"Right thinking is the way to right acting," I replied, speaking in an aphorism, because I was not sure as to what was in his thought, nor how my answer might be taken.
"If it were as easy to do right as to think right, living in this world would be safer than it is. But that is not what I meant. It is the trouble of unavailing thought to which I refer. Ah! if I could only stop this kind of thinking for awhile. If I could only bury the past out of sight!"
"If your future is as the verdure of spring and the fruitfulness of summer, the past will before long be covered, as the earth after a desolate winter is covered with greenness and beauty. The influx of life into what is orderly and good, is quick and strong. You are already beginning to feel this influx, my friend. May it have steady increase."
A man came into the room where we sat conversing, and, after taking a book from the library, went out. I noticed that he had an intelligent face, and an air of refinement, but looked wasted and broken as though just risen from a severe illness.
"That is Dr. Rawson," said Granger. "He had a large practice in our city a few years ago, but lost it on account of alcoholism. His family was broken up at last — wife and children being compelled to leave him. This breaking up of his family and separation from his wife and children, so affected him that he quit drinking and started off for a western city, in order to get away from old associations, there to begin life anew, and make for his family another home into which the old blight and curse should never come. But this change did not take him out of the sphere of temptation, nor diminish the strength of his appetite for alcohol. He fought allurement and desire for awhile, and then yielded, little by little at a time, still fighting, but steadily losing the power to resist, until he was down again. That was five years ago. Falling and rising; now struggling for the mastery over his appetite — and now in its toils again; now taking his place in respectable society — and now rejected and despised; never standing firm for longer than a few months at a time — the years since then have passed. Two weeks ago he came drifting back to his native city, a poor, helpless, broken wreck, with a vague impression on his mind that he was being impelled here by a force he could not resist. He came, as a drifting wreck, wholly purposeless. Let me tell you the story of what followed, just as he told it to me. I give you his own words as near as I can remember them. He said:
"'A man in Pittsburgh, to whom I told a plausible story, in which was not a single word of truth, got a pass for me on the railroad to this city, and gave me two dollars with which to get something to eat on the way. The first thing I did, after parting from him, was to buy a bottle of whiskey. With this as my companion, I took my seat in the second-class car to which my pass assigned me and started on my journey eastward. The bottle was empty before half the distance had been made. It was filled at one of the stopping places, and emptied again before the trip was completed. So drunk that I could not walk steadily — I was thrust out of the car by a breakman on the arrival of the train at midnight, and sent into the street homeless and friendless. I still had forty cents in my pocket, and might have procured a night's lodging, but I preferred the station-house to a comfortable bed, in order that I might have the means of getting my drink in the morning. When morning came, I made a narrow escape from a commitment to the county prison for drunkenness and vagrancy, but got off with a reprimand and a warning. At a cheap restaurant I spent fifteen cents for a breakfast, and ten cents for something to wash it down. In less than an hour afterwards the remaining fifteen cents had disappeared, and I was the worse for three glasses of bad whiskey.
"'Aimless and miserable, I wandered about for the whole of that day; spending the greater part of my time in bar-rooms, in the hope of being asked by somebody to drink. My thirst was growing intense. I was beginning to feel desperate. Late in the afternoon I went into a saloon and going up to the bar, called for a glass of whiskey, making a motion with my hand as if I were going to take money from my pocket. The bar-keeper eyed me sharply for a moment or two, and then gave me the liquor for which I had called. It was at my mouth and down my throat with the quickness of a flash. I knew by the man's face that he would kick me out of the saloon — but what cared I for that! My fumbling in my pockets, and turning them inside out, and my calling on God to witness that I had money when I came in, did not save me. I was collared and dragged to the door, and then kicked into the street. As I fell on the pavement, a crowd of boys jeered me, and when I attempted to rise, pushed me over. A friendly policeman saved me from their farther persecutions.
"'I was not drunk. The glass of whiskey which I had taken did nothing more than give a little steadiness to my nerves. As I arose from the pavement, assisted by the policeman, I saw on the opposite side of the street a face that made my heart stand still. A young girl had stopped, and was looking across at me with a half-startled, half-pitiful expression. It was my own daughter, whom I had not seen for six years. A little girl of twelve when I last saw her, she was now a tall and beautiful young lady in her eighteenth year. Her dress was plain, but very neat, and she looked as if she might be on her way home from some store, or office, or manufactory, in which she was earning a livelihood. Scarcely had I recognized her, before she turned and went on her way. But it seemed as if I could not let her go out of my sight. As though some strong invisible cords were drawing me, I started after her, keeping so close that her form was always in view. So I followed, now within a few paces, and now farther behind, lest she might turn and recognize me, until we had gone for a distance of seven or eight blocks. Then she passed lightly up to the door of a house, and after ringing the bell, turned her face while she stood waiting, so that I could see it again. It came to me like a gleam of sunlight. But in a moment after, the sweet vision was gone, and I stood in outer darkness.
"'I lingered about the neighborhood until the fast falling twilight was gone. Night shut in, the lamps were lighted, and the hurrying sound of homeward feet became almost silent. And still I lingered. Inside were, I believed, the wife and children I had once so loved and tenderly cared for; and I stood on the outside, an alien to the love which had once been given me in lavish return. Twice I ascended the steps and laid my hand on the bell, but turned each time and went back without ringing it. I will go away, I said, and make myself more fitted to come into their presence. But where was I to go? Friendless and penniless, soiled and tattered, who would take me in? And then there rushed upon me such an overwhelming sense of helplessness and degradation, and of the utter folly of any new attempt to lead a better life, that the very blackness of despair came down upon my soul! Better die! said a voice within me. Better take the chances of the life to come, than the certain misery of this, God is more merciful than man.
"'I hearkened to this voice. A single plunge in the river, and all would be over. I felt the waters closing about me, and the rest and peace of their dark oblivious depths. I was sitting on the curb-stone with my face buried in my hands, when this purpose was reached, and was about rising to put it into execution, when a hand was laid on my shoulder, and a voice, whose tones sent a chill through me, said: "You seem to be in trouble, my friend." It was the voice of a man whose family physician I had been, more than ten years before, and its sound was as familiar to my ears, as if no time had intervened since I heard it last. I could not move. A great weight seemed holding me down. "Are you sick?" The voice was even kinder than at first. "Yes," I replied. "Sick with an incurable disease."
"'He did not speak again for several moments. Then he said, in a voice full of mingled compassion and surprise, "Dr. Rawson! Can it indeed be you?"
"All that is left of me," I returned, not looking up or attempting to rise. "Sick, but not with an incurable disease, Dr. Rawson," he said, after a brief pause. "There is a Physician who can cure all manner of sickness. He can make the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see, and bring even the dead to life. Come to this good Physician, my old friend, and be healed of your malady."
"'How strange and new this sounded — almost as much so, as if I had never before heard of this Physician; and in fact, so far as any conscious need of Him was concerned, I never had. Sickness of the soul and the healing of spiritual diseases — had been to me little more than figures of speech; and my idea of a Physician of souls had rarely lifted itself above the thought of a vague symbolism that might mean anything or nothing. But now there was in it something tangible; the impression of a real personality; and my poor, despairing heart began to turn and lift itself, and to feel in its dead hopes, the feeble motions of a new life. And when he said again, "Come, my old friend, come to this good Physician," and drew upon my arm, I got up from the curb-stone on which I was sitting, and stood cowering and trembling in my shame and weakness, dimly wondering as to how and where this Physician was to be found. "And now, doctor," he said, "do you really wish to be saved from the power of this dreadful appetite?"
"'I would rather drown myself than continue any longer in this awful bondage," I replied.
"'And then I told him how I had made up my mind to gain deliverance through the desperate means of suicide.
"'My poor friend," he answered, "there is a safer and better way. Come with me."
"'I did not hesitate, but went with him. As we walked, he told me of this Christian Home, and said that if I would enter it and make use of all the means of reformation to which it would introduce me, I might hope to be restored to myself, and gain such power over my appetite as to hold it forever in check. And here I am, with new hopes and new purposes, and a trust in God for deliverance and safety, that my heart and my reason tell me shall not be in vain.'"
After Mr. Granger had related Dr. Rawson's story, he said: "If that man can be saved, and if I can be saved, through trust in God, no one is so fallen that he may not be lifted up, and his feet set in a secure way." Then, after a slight pause, he added, in a subdued and humble voice: "But in and of myself, I cannot hope to stand. When I forget that, my imminent peril is near!"
After two or three weeks, the change in Mr. Granger's appearance was so great that I found it difficult to realize the fact that he was the same man whom we had, a little while before, taken from the county prison. Nutritious food was rapidly restoring muscular waste, and giving strength to shattered nerves. Sound sleep was doing its good work also. While above all, and vital to all, was a new-born trust in God, and a submission of himself to the Divine will and guidance.
I could see the steady growth of a new quality in his face; the expression of which was becoming softer, yet not losing the strength of a true manliness. The old, confident ring did not come back to his voice; though it gained in firmness, and you felt in its tone the impulse of a resolute will.
Up to this time, I had said nothing to Granger about his wife and children, nor had he referred to them; but I knew, from signs not to be mistaken, that they were hardly for a moment absent from his thoughts; and I was sure that his heart was going out to them with irrepressible yearnings. It could not be otherwise, for he was a man of warm affections.
Nor had I said anything of this new effort at reformation to Mrs. Granger, whom I had seen twice since she told me of her husband's visit to the photograph rooms. I had been trying ever since, to find another place for Amy, but so far was not successful. Why should I keep the good news away from her any longer? I had withheld it so far, in fear lest the hope and joy it must occasion might too quickly be dashed to the ground. But now I was beginning to have a more abiding faith in this last struggle upon which Granger had entered; because of the new and higher elements of strength it was calling into exercise.
For several days I debated the question, and then dropped a note to Mrs. Granger, asking her to call at my office. She came promptly, hoping that I had succeeded in finding a situation for her daughter. I had not noticed before how much her beautiful hair had changed. It was thickly sprinkled with gray. A shadow lay in her large brown eyes, which had lost much of their former depth and brightness. There was an earnest, expectant manner about her as she came forward. I saw that she was troubled and anxious, and half-regretted having sent for her, not knowing, of course, how she might be affected by the information I was about to communicate.
"Any good word for Amy?" she asked, with an effort to keep her voice from betraying the suspense from which she was suffering.
"Nothing certain, as yet," I replied. "But there's something else that I wish to talk with you about."
Her large eyes widened a little. She asked no question, but kept her gaze fixed upon me.
"Have you heard anything from Mr. Granger since Amy was at the photograph rooms?"
She shook her head, but did not remove her eyes from my face.
"You did not know that he was arrested and sent down to prison?"
A slight negative movement of the head, and a close, hard shutting of the lips.
"I heard of it, and went with a friend to see him."
A startle, a catching of the breath, and a receding color.
"I think he must have died within twenty-four hours, if we had not taken him from the cell in which we found him. Utterly broken down in body and spirits, he had given up in despair."
The eyes of Mrs. Granger dropped swiftly from my face. I saw a strong shiver run through her body. Then she was as motionless as a statue.
"Mr. Stannard and I went to see him," I resumed. "We had an order for his release, and took him to the new Reformatory Home in Locust Street, where he has been ever since."
Mrs. Granger raised her eyes and looked at me again. No light had come into them. If anything, the shadow that lay over them was deeper. I was disappointed at this apparent indifference, and at her failure to ask me any questions in regard to her husband.
"Mr. Stannard and I feel very hopeful about him."
She shook her head in a dreary way. "There is no hope," she murmured, in a dead level voice. "It was kind of you and Mr. Stannard, and you meant well. But it will be of no use. If you had brought me word that he was dead — I would have felt thankful to know that his helpless, hopeless, wretched life was over. It is hard for me to say this, Mr. Lyon, but I can say nothing less. He is in the hands of a demon whose strength, as compared with his, is as that of a giant to a new-born infant!"
"Is not God stronger than any devil?" I asked, speaking with quiet earnestness.
There was another quick, half-wondering dilation of her large eyes, and a swift change in her countenance. She waited for me to go on.
"There is no sin from which God cannot save a man," said I.
"Except, I have sometimes thought, the sin of drunkenness; it so utterly degrades and destroys the soul. It seems to leave nothing upon which men, or angels, or even God Himself can take hold."
She spoke with some bitterness, but with more of doubt and sorrow in her voice.
"Many men," I replied, "who had fallen quite as low as Mr. Granger, have been saved from this dreadful sin and curse — by means of the Institution where we have placed your husband, and are back in their old social places again, and restored to their once broken and deserted families."
A death-like paleness swept suddenly into her face. She reached out her hands and caught the table by which she was sitting, holding on to it tightly, and trembling violently.
"Have you not heard about the Franklin Home?" I asked.
She shook her head, her lips moving in a silent No.
"It is a Christian home," I said. "All its inhabitants are brought under Christian influences. There are daily readings of the Scripture, and also family prayer in the chapel of the Institution. Every Sunday evening, Christian worship is held in this chapel, and in the afternoon of Sunday, there is a Bible class. First and last the inhabitants are taught that only by God's grace and help can they ever hope to overcome completely the sin of drunkenness. They must fight this, as well as all other evil habits and inclinations, shunning them as sins against God, and looking to Him for the strength that will give them the victory; so seeking to be saved from all sins, and coming thereby completely within the sphere of His Divine protection."
The manner of Mrs. Granger was that of one who did not clearly understand what was being said to her. There were rapid changes in her face, lights and shadows passing swiftly across it.
"For over three weeks your husband has been in this Home, and the improvement is so great as to be almost marvelous."
She laid her head down upon my office table, and I saw that she was weeping.
"I have never had so great faith in your husband's efforts at reform, as I feel now. He has passed below the limit of self-confidence; has lost all faith in himself; knows that he cannot stand in his own strength; that only God can help and save him."
I heard the office door open, and turning, saw Mr. Granger. As I uttered his name in a tone of surprise, his wife sprang to her feet, and turned toward him a face from which the color had gone out suddenly. The two gazed at each other for some moments, standing a little apart, their faces startled.
"Helen! Oh, my poor Helen!" came trembling from Granger's lips, as he saw the sad changes which a few sorrowful years had wrought upon her. There was an involuntary reaching out of his hands; but he held himself away. His voice was inexpressibly tender and pitiful. Still, very still, she stood; then I saw a slight movement, and then, with a low cry, "My husband! my husband!" she sprang forward and laid her head on his bosom, his arms at the same moment gathering tightly around her. I went out and left them alone. When I came back, they were gone.
I was concerned about this. Granger had been, I felt, too short a time at the Home to be safely removed from its influence. I was not one of those who believed that in an instant of time, a sinner was lifted wholly away from temptation and danger. To be born again, converted, renewed by the Spirit, had for me a different meaning. I had thought much about these things of late, and held many conversations with Mr. Stannard, whose mind to me seemed peculiarly enlightened. I believe that man must be a co-worker with God. That there was no washing until after repentance and the putting away of evils all sins; and that the "every whit clean," when applied to young converts, was a fallacy, and in consequence a snare; that "He who overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing" — and none others. I believed that a change of heart was a gradual thing, progressing with the new life of obedience to Divine laws, and that as obedience was continued and perfected, the new spiritual man became stronger and stronger, until at last able to stand firm, though all Hell were in battle array against him.
Only a few weeks had passed since we had lifted this man out of the mire and clay; only a few weeks of the new and better life. Was he strong enough to leave the safe harbor in which he had been anchored for so short a time, and try the open sea again? I did not believe it. My fear was, that he had gone home with Mrs. Granger, and that he would not return again to the Institution in which we had placed him. If this were so, I would tremble for his safety.
In the evening I went to the Home, and, to my great relief, found Mr. Granger in the reading-room. The whole expression of his countenance had changed. There was a light in it which I had not seen before. He grasped my hand and held it firmly for a few moments without speaking.
"Coming along very fast," said I.
"Yes, faster than I had dared to hope," he replied.
"Did you go home with your wife?"
"No. We walked together for an hour after leaving your office, and then I came back here. I am too weak yet, for any great trial of my strength. It is easy enough to stand with all these helps around me; but I must grow stronger in myself, before I attempt to walk alone. And then I cannot be a burden to my poor wife, who is already overtaxed in her efforts to keep a home for our children. As soon as possible, I must get something to do that I may come to her relief."
"Will you open a law office again?"
"Law is my profession. I have no skill in anything else. It is my only way of return to business and profit. Yes, just as soon as I feel strong enough to make the effort, I shall endeavor to get into practice. In passing along Walnut Street today, I saw several small offices to rent, any one of which would suit me. My great drawback will be the lack of a law library."
"Don't let that trouble you," I replied. "There are plenty of old friends in the profession who will gladly let you have the use of books, until you are able to buy them for yourself. As soon as it is seen that you are in real earnest about getting on your feet again — you will receive a warm welcome, and the grasp of many helping hands."
Within six weeks from the time Granger came out of prison, he had a desk in the office of a prominent lawyer, whose large practice enabled him to throw considerable business in his way from the very start. He still remained at the Reformatory Home, where, for a moderate price, he had a well-furnished room and excellent board. He not only identified himself with the Institution, but became deeply interested in the work of reform. He had, himself, been a cast-away on the desolate shore, where so many thousands are wrecked every year; and he knew all the pains and horrors of such disasters. His pity and his sympathy drew towards him every new inmate of the Home, and prompted him to do all that lay in his power to encourage, comfort and help him to begin that new and higher life, in which, as he never failed to urge, true and permanent safety could alone be found.
"Have you ever attended religious services at the Home on Sunday evening?" Mr. Stannard asked, one day. It was about two months after Mr. Granger's admission. I had not.
"Come around tomorrow night. It will interest you. Mr. Smith is going to preach to the men."
I went, and, to my surprise, found a little chapel, which held about two hundred, so well filled that only a few seats remained. There were quite as many women as men; wives, mothers, sisters or friends of the inhabitants. A little way back from the reading-desk I noticed Mr. Granger, and it almost took my breath when I saw his wife sitting on one side of him and his daughter on the other. There was reading from the Bible, and one or two hymns, in which the whole congregation joined heartily. Then a most excellent sermon from one of the leading clergymen of the city.
It was a long time since I had been so much impressed as by the services of this evening. I sat where I could look into the faces of nearly all who were present. Just in front of me was Mr. Granger, and beside him his wife and daughter, all attentive listeners to the discourse. Not far from them I recognized the person of Dr. Rawson. He sat between two women, also, and I had no doubt from the way they leaned towards him, or turned now and then to look at him, that one was his wife and the other the daughter whom he had followed for so many blocks in the street, too sorely conscious of his degradation to dare even to speak to her. And Mr. Lawrence, who had written to his wife and received the promise of her speedy return, was there likewise; and by him sat a woman with a calm, strong, true face, and I saw, with a throb of feeling, which sent the moisture to my eyes, that she was holding one of his hands tightly in one of hers.
There were nearly a hundred men present who had been, or were now, inhabitants of the Institution; and almost as many more wives, sisters and mothers. Sad, indeed, was the writing on nearly all of the faces into which I gazed; but light mingled with the shadows. There were men before me who had been drunkards for over ten and twenty years — some for even a longer time — and women who had borne the dreadful sorrow of the drunkard's wife for periods quite as long.
What followed, touched me most of all. After the benediction was said, and the congregation began slowly to retire, I saw little groups of twos and threes and fours gathering here and there, standing or sitting, and soon comprehended what it meant. Here you saw a husband and wife, who had lived apart for years, sitting close together in earnest conversation; and there wife and children gathered about a husband and father who had long been lost to them, but was now found again. What light, and even joy, were to be seen in the faces of many, the women's faces especially. And it was affecting to notice some of the children — little girls more particularly — holding tightly to their father's hands, sitting close to and leaning against them, or looking up lovingly into their faces. There were many tender re-unions that night in the little chapel, above whose reading-desk a silken banner held the inscription, "By the grace of God, I am what I am!"
I made my way, as soon as the crowd had cleared a little, to where Mr. Granger and his wife and daughter were standing together. They looked very happy — yes, "happy" is the word — and greeted me with much cordiality.
"Is this the first time you have attended worship in our chapel?" Mr. Granger asked.
"The first time," I replied. "But I feel as if it was not going to be the last. I have heard people speak of the 'sphere of worship,' but never knew what it meant until tonight."
"It is because," he answered, "there are very few in the congregations that assemble here on Sunday evenings, who do not feel that their only hope is in God, and that without His grace — they cannot stand for a moment."
"Who are all the people I see around me?" I asked.
"About thirty of the men are present inhabitants of the Home. Nearly all the rest were formerly inhabitants, and are standing firm. They come here on Sunday evenings; and those who have families bring their wives, and many their children. If one absents himself from these Sunday evening services, there is a feeling of concern in regard to him; for experience has shown, that the first sign of danger, is a manifest indifference to the things of religion. I never look at that banner above the reading-desk, without a new sense of my entire dependence on God for strength to walk safely in the midst of temptation; and I am sure that its silent admonition has wrought a like influence with many others. It is by God's grace, that I am what I am."
Mrs. Granger's large eyes were fixed on her husband's face while he spoke; and I saw something of their old charm coming back into them. A soft smile was hovering like a faint gleam of sunshine on her lips. We moved back the chairs amid which we were standing, making with them a small circle, and sat down together.
"My last night in the Home," said Granger, after a brief silence. His voice had lost some of its steadiness.
"Indeed!" I betrayed a little surprise.
"Yes." He turned towards his wife, looking at her tenderly. We are going to set up our household again."
The smile grew warmer on her lips.
"We have taken a little home, and are going to make a new start in life; and there is going to be in this home, what was never seen in the old home. Shall I tell you what that is, my good friend to whom I owe so much?"
I waited for him to go on. Hushing his voice, and speaking reverently, he said: "A family altar!"
Before the silence that followed was broken, we were joined by the president and two or three gentlemen who were active in the management of the Home. While I was talking with them, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, with their daughter, drew away, and a little while afterwards I saw them separate at the door of the chapel.
On the next day Granger left the Institution, and went back into the old common life, to try, amidst its thousand enticements to evil, the new sources of strength in which he was now trusting for safety.
Still in the very prime of manhood, the springs of action were yet strong. An orderly life soon restored Granger to a measure of the old vigor, and it was not long before cases of importance began to come into his hands. And now my concern for him began to grow again. If the engrossing cares of his profession, and the worldliness that creeps in so easily through the door that prosperity opens, should draw him into religious indifference, and inspire him with self-confidence, would not the old peril return?
One thing gave me much assurance. Granger had identified himself with the cause of temperance, and made frequent public addresses. He took an active part in all the movements designed to effect restrictive legislation, and was the author of several able articles in which the magnitude of the liquor traffic, and its attendant evils, were set forth with startling boldness.
Had the family altar been set up? Yes. I put the question directly to him about six months after he had left the Institution in Locust Street. He laid his hand quietly but firmly on my arm as he replied, "In my home — and in my heart."
His countenance softened, and his eyes grew tender. I learned then for the first time, that he had become much interested in church work, and had been chiefly instrumental in the establishment of a mission school in a destitute part of the city; and that he did not confine his efforts alone to the poor children who were gathered into this school, but endeavored to reach with good influences their parents, many of whom were sadly degraded, and most of them intemperate. On expressing my gratification, he merely said: "I would make a poor return for all the good I have received — if I did not try to do something for others. The heart that closes itself to gratitude, closes itself to higher and diviner things. If the love of God is in a man, it must prompt him to help and save others; and his love is spurious — of himself and selfish — call it by what name he may, if it does not do this."
"What about that old appetite?" I asked on another occasion. It was six months later. "Does it trouble you?"
"Has it been extirpated?"
He looked at me for a few moments, a serious expression gathering on his face, and then replied: "It would be about as safe for me to put a pistol to my head — as a glass to my lips. Appetite for alcohol is not dead; it has only been removed from the seat of power, and made passive and subordinate. I give it no opportunity. I resist its slightest effort to rise, and hold its indulgence as a sin which I dare not commit."
"When its motions are felt, how do you resist them?"
"As I would resist a temptation to steal or commit murder or any other sin against God. I turn my thought from the image or allurement, and hold myself free from action. If temptation presses, I lift my heart and say, 'Lord, deliver me from evil!' and He does deliver me."
"Do you often have these temptations?" I asked.
"Their assaults are growing less and less frequent, and less and less violent. But I make it a rule to keep away as far from the enemy's ground, as possible. Invitations to public dinners, where liquor is served, I rarely, if ever, accept. And I am as watchful of private entertainments, where wine is too often more freely dispensed than water. Nothing would tempt me to go inside of a drinking saloon, unless it were in order to save some fallen brother, and then my good purpose would be a armor of defense."
"Do you never expect to have this appetite wholly removed?"
"What may come in the future, is more than I can say. But safe abiding to the end is what I desire, and I do not mean to fail through any excessive confidence in the utter extinction of this appetite."
"Do you not believe that God will take it away, in answer to prayer — take it away by an act of grace, and without any resistance to the demands of appetite, or cooperation of any kind on your part?"
"No, I do not believe anything of the kind. I have met with some who held such a view, and who spoke confidently as to themselves; but I have always regarded them as being in more danger than others. I cannot understand how it is possible for God to save a man — who makes no effort to save himself. I have seen quite a number of cases in the last year, where men professed to be cleansed from all sin, drunkenness included, in a moment of time, and simply in answer to prayer. It did not take a great while to make it manifest that the old Adam was about as strong in them as before. Some of them led better lives, and were able to keep free from drunkenness; but it was not because their evil inclinations had been removed in answer to prayer and faith, but because they began fighting them, and looking to God as they fought, and overcoming through the Divine power that is given to all who will take it. Renewal is a slow and gradual work; not the sudden creation of a new spiritual man with all of his affection in Heaven. This higher life is not attained suddenly through faith and prayer, but through combat against the evils that are in the human heart.
"'Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
Or sailed through bloody seas?
'Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the cross, endure the pain,
Supported by Your Word.'
"Fight against what? The world, the flesh and the devil. Where? In our hearts; for nowhere else can they assail or do us harm; and with God on one side, and the Divine power of His Word from which to take sword and shield — we may be invincible if we will — Christian soldiers, fighting our way to Heaven; not weak spiritual babes, borne there in supporting arms, and of little use when we get there."
Granger had been thinking, living and growing more than I had thought. I saw in clearer light, the ground of his safety. He was not a mere professor, trusting for salvation in some ideal purification, or resting satisfied in simple church-membership; but an earnest inner-living and outer-working Christian man, who could give a reason which other men's reason might apprehend for the hope that was in him.
From this time my concern for Granger decreased; for I understood better wherein his strength lay. He was living a new life, obedient to Divine laws, in the higher and more interior regions of his mind; and this new life, or new spiritual man, born from above — was ruling over the old natural life and holding it in orderly subjection. With him, reason and faith had become harmonized. He was not walking blindly, nor in any false security, trusting in some dogma he could not understand; but in a clear spiritual light — a thinking as well as a believing Christian. With him, faith was the "evidence of things not seen;" and this faith, or evidence, had two foundations to rest upon, the Divine Law, and the reason which God had given him for the apprehension of that Law. "A blind faith is worth nothing — is no faith at all," he would say. "Is, in fact, spiritual blindness. But Christ came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, that they might see, and discern the weightier things of His law — justice, mercy and faith — in the keeping of which salvation is alone to be found."
"The whole theory of religion is embraced in this simple precept," he once said to me: "Cease to do evil because it is sin, and therefore contrary to the Divine Law. When a man does this, he makes an effort to obey God; and obedience is higher than faith and more effectual than sacrifice. Just as soon as a man begins to shun the evils to which he is inclined, because to do them would be sin — God begins in him the work of purification, and gives him strength for still further resistance. This is true saving faith; for it is the faith of obedience — the faith that looks humbly to God, trusts in Him and seeks to do His will. The first effort may be very feeble, but if it is a true effort, Divine strength will flow into it; and then he will have an almost immediate sense of deliverance, followed by a season of rest and peace. The dangers of this first state are many. In the parable of the Sower, our Lord has declared them. Only those 'who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience' — the fruit of right living — can attain to the kingdom. Too many err in mistaking this first delight, when the springing blade feels the refreshing airs and warm sunshine of Heaven, for the later harvest time. With them the good seed has fallen in stony places or among thorns. Alas! that we have so many of these."
Mr. Granger's interest in the cause of temperance grew as he continued to devote all the time he could spare from his profession, to the work of its extension. When, two years after his reformation, that remarkable movement known as the "Woman's Crusade," began in Ohio, and spread with the rapidity of a prairie fire from town to town and State to State, until it reached almost every city and hamlet in the land, he gave it such aid and approval as lay in his power. I was surprised at this, and said so frankly.
"It is a mere outbreak of wild enthusiasm," I remarked, "and will die as suddenly as it has flamed up. And, moreover, those who are engaged in it are acting in violation of law, and order, and the sacredness of individual rights."
He waited for a little while before answering me, and then said: "I have watched this movement, and thought about it a great deal, and I must own that it has stirred my heart profoundly. There in something deeper in it than I am yet able clearly to comprehend. That its effects are marvelous, no one can deny — and good as well as marvelous. If praying with and for saloon-keepers, in or out of their bar-rooms, will induce them to abandon their deadly traffic, then I say 'God-speed!' to those who see in this way of fighting the common enemy, their line of duty. If praying will shut the doors of all the saloons in a town, by all means let prayer be tried."
"But is it really prayer which does the work?"
"Prayer is certainly the chief agency. No one can question that."
"You believe, then, that because a praying band of women kneel down in a saloon and pray to God to turn the heart of the keeper away from his evil work and lead him to abandon it, that God answers their prayers and converts the saloon-keeper?"
"You have the facts of such conversions before you; and they are not a few. How will you explain them?"
"I confess myself at fault. But I do not believe that God was any the less inclined to convert the saloon-keeper, and lead him to abandon his work of destroying men, soul and body, before the women prayed, than He was afterwards."
"Perhaps not. Indeed, I am sure He was not, God's love for the human race is infinite, and cannot therefore gain any increase through man's intercession. If He waits to be entreated, it is for the entreaty that shall change man's attitude towards Him, not His attitude to man. And herein I take it, lies the value and the power of prayer."
"But how can the prayers of a band of women change a saloon-keeper's attitude towards God?" I asked. "He doesn't pray, but actually sets himself against prayer. Instead of looking to God, he rejects Him."
"All that is effected by prayer, we cannot know," Granger replied; "for its influence is in the region of things invisible to mortal eyes. We understand but little of the laws which govern spiritual forces; but that they are as unerring in their operations as any law of nature, we may safely conclude."
The "Crusade," as it was called, went on; and for awhile the whole country was in a state of wondering excitement. Thousands of saloons were closed, and in many towns the traffic in intoxicating liquor ceased altogether. Brewers, especially in some of the larger western cities, took the alarm, as well they might, for the sale of beer had diminished so rapidly that the fear of ruin began to stare them in the face. At Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, so heavy a loss was suffered in the revenue from malt liquors, that Government officials became much disturbed in consequence.
And still the Crusade went on. But now the surprised and discomfited enemy began to rally his scattered forces. In some of the smaller towns, he had fought desperately; but only with partial success in a few cases. Except in the larger cities, he had been sorely hurt, or vanquished altogether. But here, he was able to make his first sure stand, and to begin striking back with an effective force that restored his confidence. The aid of the press was invoked; appeals made to the law; fines imposed, and the interference and protection of local governments demanded. Praying in saloons was declared to be a nuisance, if not a crime against social order; and the assembling of women in the streets for singing and prayer was forbidden because it led to riot. In Cincinnati, Cleveland and other cities, disgraceful attacks were made by brutal men on some of the praying bands of women; and in a few cases, Christian women were arrested and sent to prison.
Almost as suddenly as this strange, intense and irresistible impulse had risen, gained strength and swept over the land — did it seem to die away; and the enemy said it was dead, and made rejoicings over its death. The wise ones who knew from the beginning, that it would speedily come to nothing, were happy in their imagined prescience. As for myself, the result was scarcely different from what I had anticipated. The thing was abnormal, in my view, and could not last. Merely an impulse — wild and strong — which must die from exhaustion. But my sympathies had been all on the side of the movement; and there were times when the irresistible strength of its onward rush had led me to question whether some new spiritual force had not been evolved, through the agency of these praying women, which was destined to sweep this fearful curse of alcoholism from our land.
But the seeming collapse of the movement left my mind free to drift back among former ideas and impressions, and even to take up the belief that as a result of this wild impulse, there would follow a corresponding indifference and supineness.
"What do you think of the woman's movement now?" I asked of Mr. Granger, who had made several public addresses while the excitement was at its height in our city, and in act, as well as speech, given it both aid and sympathy. "I was afraid of this," I added, before he had time to answer my question.
"Afraid of what?" he inquired.
"Of its utter collapse. A little while ago, and it was the great sensation of the day. The columns of our most influential and most widely-circulating newspapers were teeming with its marvels and its achievements. Today, there is scarcely to be found in any of them so much as a paragraph an inch long to tell of its dying throes."
"And yet," he answered, speaking with an earnestness that surprised me, "this woman's movement was never so strong, and deep, and effective as it is today."
"I do not see the evidence," I replied.
"There is more real strength in unobtrusive, thoughtful, well-organized effort, than in the impetuous sweep of high-wrought impulse," said Granger. "In this great pioneer movement, this wild rush of wronged, and in many cases, heart-broken and desperate women, as, losing faith and hope in man, they sprang upon their deadly foe with a bitter cry to God for help, there came to them a revelation of the true sources of their power. The Lord answered them in the still, small voice, that grew clear and sweet, and full of comfort and assurance, as the noise of the whirlwind which had rent the mountain grew silent on the expectant air. In prayer they had found a weapon which, if rightly used, would make them invincible. Should they throw it away in despair, because in the very first great trial their hands had struck a little wildly, and the maddened foe seemed pushing them in consequence to a small disadvantage? Not so. They had heard the still, small voice, and knew it to be the voice of their Lord. If the prayers of a few hundreds, or a few thousands of Christian women could effect so much — then what might not be done through the united prayers of tens and hundreds of thousands of such women, going up in concert from every city, town, village and neighborhood in the land? Here was a question full of significance and large with promise; and this is the question to which some of the best and most thoughtful women of our country are giving an earnest consideration today. But their hands are not resting while they consider it; nor is the sword by which they mean to have the victory lying idle in its scabbard. Neither prayer nor work among saloon-keepers and their families, and among their wretched victims, has ceased because the press no longer makes record of the fact; nor are the results less wide and cheering, because the general public remains unadvised."
"Have you evidence of all this?" I asked, not concealing my astonishment.
"And the work of praying in saloons still going on?"
"No. That has ceased almost entirely. It was only a pioneer movement — a first wild rush upon the enemy and trial of his strength and resources. He is not only able to guard himself in this direction, but to weaken and divide the forces of his assailants if the advance is made upon him here. Organization, drill, discipline, wise generalship, a knowledge of the laws that govern in attack and defense — all these are in progress and being gained now."
"While the enemy, warned by his brief discomfiture, will entrench himself more securely," said I.
Granger smiled. "In war the resources of attack gain perpetually on defense. To be invincible is to be exceptional. Our women are already getting their siege guns in position, and organizing their sappers and miners. Their spies and scouts are busy; weak places are being discovered, and new modes of assault adopted. Let me give you a single instance connected with the present state of the war in our own city, which has never been intermitted.
"There was a certain saloon-keeper who had repulsed a praying band with considerable rudeness. He had a wife and two young daughters, and a son in his twelfth year; his family living a short distance from his bar-room. A committee of twelve women were selected to visit in the neighborhood, and do what lay in their power as well to repress the evil of alcoholism as to guard the young from its fatal allurements. To visit and pray in saloons was no longer in their program; but to reach the saloon-keepers and get them to abandon their traffic was; and to the work of doing this with the one I have mentioned, they set themselves in sober earnest.
"Their first business was to learn all about him; the character of his family, and the nature of his home relations. He was not a bad man, the neighbors said, and, when he did not drink too freely, was kind and indulgent. A visit by a single one of the ladies was now made. At first, the wife was cold and distant; but the visitor was a woman with so much of the magnetism of Christian charity in her soul, and withal, so wise and prudent of speech, that it was not long before the heart of the saloon-keeper's wife opened to her, and the mother's hidden concern for her boy and two young daughters became manifest. After a brief, carefully-worded prayer, the visitor went away, but not without asking if she might not call again, and receiving an invitation to do so.
"At her next visit, she got farther down into the woman's heart and confidence, and was able to speak to her with some freedom about the danger that was in the path of her son — a danger it was scarcely possible for him to escape if his feet continued therein. The mother wept at the picture of peril the lady drew, and said: 'Oh, if only my husband were in some other business!' The boy, a fine-looking lad, came in while they were talking about him. The lady took his hand and spoke to him kindly, then drew her arm about him and asked if he went to Sunday school. On his saying No, she told him that she had a class of nice little boys, and would be glad to have him among them. He was pleased with her notice, and touched by her gentle kindness. On the next Sunday the lad presented himself at school, and was taken into the lady's class. He was very attentive and orderly, and promised to come again on the following Sunday. True to his promise, he was there, conducting himself with as much decorum and attention to his lessons as at first. A juvenile temperance meeting was held at the close of the school, and all who were not already members invited to join. A little to the surprise, and greatly to the lady's delight, the boy came forward and enrolled his name, receiving a card on which a pledge not to drink intoxicating liquors, or to give them away or traffic in them, was printed. At the bottom he wrote his signature.
"Naturally a little anxious to know what effect had been produced at home by this, and what the prospect of the boy's being able to keep his pledge, the lady called to see the saloon-keeper's wife near the close of the week, when she heard the following story:
"'When John told me what he'd done, and showed me his pledge, I was so glad! And I kissed him, and I said: "You must keep it forever and forever, John." And he said that that was just what he meant to do. I kept it from his father; for I didn't know just how he'd take it. It seemed like a reflection on him. "John," said his father, on Monday morning, as he was leaving, "come along. I need you in the bar today. Peter's going on an excursion, and I can't be left all alone." John's face became pale. He hadn't moved when his father got to the door; on seeing which, he called out sharply: "Did you hear me?" "You'll have to go, John," said I, in a whisper; for, you see, my husband's quick to anger, and I was afraid for the boy. So they went out, and I was dreadfully troubled about him. It was, maybe, an hour afterwards that John returned. He had a scared kind of look about him, as he came in. "What's happened? Why have you come home?" I asked. "Father sent me home." "What for?" "Well, you see, mother, father told me that I must tend bar in Peter's place; and then I said: 'I'm sorry, father, but I've taken the pledge and can't drink, nor give liquors away, nor sell it to anybody.' 'How dare you! you young ingrate!' he cried out; and I was afraid he'd knock me down, he looked so strange and wild like. Then he got red, and pale, and I thought once he was going to strangle, he breathed so hard, and then as a customer came in, he said: 'Off home with you!'"
"'I didn't see anything of my husband until late that night,' continued the saloon-keeper's wife. 'He was alone in the bar and had to stay till business was over. I was sitting up for him, but John was in bed. He didn't say a word; but I noticed that he hadn't been drinking, and that gave me a little heart. In the morning he met John at the breakfast-table. I had been dreading this meeting. He didn't speak to him, but two or three times, as he sat eating in a silent, moody sort of way, I saw him steal a curious look at the boy's face. He hadn't half-finished his breakfast, it seemed to me, when he pushed his chair away, and says he: "John, I want you!" and went out of the dining-room into the passage. John got almost white, but went out and shut the door after him. I felt dreadfully, for I didn't know what was going to happen. In about a minute John came back alone. The color was all over his face now, and there was a great light in his eyes. "Father says it's best now that the pledge is done, and that he'll expect me to keep it." I was such a happy woman, and cried for joy.
"'And that isn't all, ma'am,' she went on. 'Somehow my husband can't get over it; and he's spoken so kind to John ever since, and only last night he said: "Jane, I wish I could see my way clear out of this business. I don't like it at all." Oh, if he only could get out of it!'
"'Let us pray that the Lord will make all plain before him,' said the lady visitor. And then she knelt down with the woman and her two young daughters, and prayed for the husband and father with such earnestness of supplication, that it seemed to them that God must and would hear and answer her prayers. And even while she prayed, led home by a Providence that was in this work, and governing its issues, the man stood at the very door of the room in which the petition went up, and heard every one of its carefully-chosen and reverently-uttered sentences. Did he enter the room all broken down? No; he went quietly away, giving no sign, but with an arrow of conviction in his heart. God had found a way of entrance, and was uncovering old memories and quickening old states, and calling to him from away down among the innocent things of his childhood. And he was hearkening, and repenting, and desiring a truer and better life than the one he had been leading. It was not long before the change came; for the good will is never long in finding the good way. In the work of destroying the souls and bodies of men, there was one less; and in the work of service and restoration, one more. Nay, might I not say many more — for the duplication and increase of every man's good or evil work is often very great."
"And is there much of this kind of work going on?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, "and it is being gradually shaped into a system. Mistakes are being corrected; and the blind enthusiasm of too impetuous and strong-willed leaders repressed. The quiet intrusion that takes the enemy off guard, is surer of victory than the open attack for which the blast of a trumpet has given warning to be ready. A besieged city that is armored against assault, may be reduced to capitulation — through the cutting off of supplies. All this is being seen and understood. If neither by direct effort with a saloon-keeper, nor indirectly through his family, he can be induced to give up his hurtful business, then a thorough work of temperance reform will be inaugurated in his neighborhood, and the profits of his business be reduced, and if possible destroyed, through the loss of business."
"Temperance men and temperance organizations have been trying to do this very thing for over fifty years," I replied, "and the sale of liquor has increased instead of diminishing. So long as you have the saloons — you will have the customers. My faith in this thorough work of temperance reform of which you speak, is not, I am free to say, very great. I well remember the rise and progress of that first great tidal wave of reform, known as Washingtonianism, which went sweeping over the land. Hundreds of thousands took the pledge in a brief period, and we looked for a great percentage of diminution in the traffic, if not its destruction altogether. But taverns and bar-rooms went on flourishing as of old.
"As that great wave began to subside, another, and a feebler wave, that of Jeffersonianism, succeeded, and broke upon the rock-bound shores of license, and usage, and appetite, with scarcely a manifest impression. Then the work of a more general organization began, and the order of the Sons of Temperance was established, and set itself to the task of resistance. The promise was very great. It looked as if we were going to have, in every town and neighborhood, and in every city ward, a working force of temperance men, whose leading end and effort would be the extirpation of alcoholism from their midst. But it was not so. Good work was done in many places; and thousands were protected and saved through pledges and associations, but the lodge meetings fostered a love of social ease and enjoyment, and steadily diminished the aggressive force of the organization.
"Then the Good Templars came to the front, and associated women in the work and administration of the order. But the same general causes which had wrought their enervating effects on the Sons of Temperance, were in operation with the Templars and kindred organizations as well. Love of office and of power and influence crept in, as they usually do where there are titles and honors and distinctions — and were of more account with many, than the high purpose of the order itself. And so the work of temperance languished, and the enemy went on increasing in strength and confidence.
"What better promise now? What is to make this movement any more permanent than those which have gone before it? Human nature is the same. Enthusiasm will die of exhaustion, and the weariness in well-doing, which is sure to come, sooner or later, make idle the hands that are now so busy. This reform work is so slow. We scarcely perceive its progress, and are often in doubt whether the movement is retrograde or onward. I must own to having more faith in legal, than in moral persuasion; in Laws, than in pledges."
"You forgot the new element," said Granger.
"Yes, I had forgotten."
"This is a religious as well as a temperance movement." "True."
"And the effort is not merely to save men and women from the sin of drunkenness, but from all other sins. It is on a higher plane, and nearer the true sources of power. There is less of self in it, and more of God."
Granger spoke with great seriousness; and I saw that he had strong faith in the results of this new effort to organize a force which should have larger success than any which had hitherto set itself to do battle with alcoholism.
The work of "Gospel Temperance," as some began to call this latest effort to weaken and destroy the monster evil which had so long cursed the land, had a steady growth. Pious women in all the churches began to take part in it, and to strengthen its effective agencies. Prayer was incessant, and trusted in with implicit confidence. There was a literal acceptance of the promise, "That if two of you shall agree upon earth as concerning anything that they shall ask — it shall be done for them of my Father who is in Heaven." They believed in the faith that removes mountains; and in the Word of Him who said, "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." And when they met in His name, they had an assurance that He was in the midst of them. They were consecrating themselves to the work of saving lost souls. Souls so far out of the reach of common Gospel influences, that even the churches had practically ceased to regard them as within the pale of salvation, and knew that God's power to save could be given them in the largest measure; for were not these souls, so fearfully imperiled, as precious to Him as the souls of any in His whole universe?
Never had the poor, degraded, suffering drunkard met, since his sad debasement, with such influences as came to him now. "My brother" fell on his ears in a voice so tender and compassionate, that feelings, which had lain dormant for years, stirred in his heart once more. A hand was laid on him so gently and kindly, that it seemed like the hand of a sister, or a wife, or a mother, felt in the long ago. And when prayer was offered for him, and he felt himself borne up to the throne of grace on the sweet, and tender, and pleading voices of gentle women — he broke all down, and under the suddenly-kindled hope of being rescued from his sin and misery — he lifted his poor, broken spirit to God and prayed for help, and mercy, and forgiveness.
Differ as we may about the philosophy of prayer, and the true sources of its power, of one thing we may be sure, that the ear of God is open to the cry of every sin-sick soul, if it is made in sincerity and in truth. As to the answer, that will depend on the measure of the willingness to receive. God's love and the bountifulness are infinite. The cry of the lips will bring nothing; the cry of the heart will bring everything it is capable of receiving; and its capacity will always be equal to the displacement of evil in the life, because such evil is contrary to God's will and Word, and obstructs His inflowing love. The growth in grace, from the first moment the soul turns to God in prayer, and makes its first sincere effort to lead a new spiritual life — will be in an exact ratio to its resistance and conquest of evil on the plane of its natural life in the world and among men.
Prayer, in the hands of these women — wrought marvels. Men who had been drunkards for years, stopped suddenly, professed faith in Christ, joined the church, and became once more good and useful citizens. So quietly was all this done, in the second stage of this Gospel temperance work, that the general public heard little about it, and knew less. But the seed was being broadcast, and in due time the promise of an ampler harvest than had yet been seen was apparent on every side. Many men who had become reformed through the ministry of prayer — threw themselves into the work of rescuing the fallen — going from town to town, and by their eloquent appeals, stirring the hearts of the people, and arousing them to a sense of their duty and their danger.
And now, one after another, the slumbering churches began to awake and to recognize the hand of God in this work, and to give it countenance and approval, if not the practical support it yet so largely needed. But the work itself went on chiefly outside of the churches, though in the hands of the most active and earnest Christian men and women connected with the churches; for it was nearer to humanity than to sectarian conservatism, and drew to its aid those who had in them the larger measure of that Christianity which stoops, as Christ stoops, to the lowest and the vilest, if in so doing, he may save them.
"I do not understand this strange indifference of the churches," said I, to Granger, one day. "In temperance work, they are doing little or nothing; and they might be doing so much."
"There are signs of better things," he replied. "Let us be patient for awhile. The time is not far off, I trust, when every society that calls itself a church, will have its special praying and working band of women, and an open door for the lowest and the vilest to come in; when the heathen who are perishing in the very shadow of its porches, will take precedence of the heathen afar off. We have cheering intelligence from all sides. Almost every day we hear of new workers coming into the field, and of successes everywhere. In some places, from one-third to two-thirds of the whole population have signed the pledge, to the joy of good citizens and the consternation of liquor-dealers."
"If we could have anything like that in our poor, rum-cursed city!" I replied. "But hope is vain. In smaller communities, where each is known to all, and a chain of interest and personal influence holds the people in nearer contact, a common sentiment or impulse may bear them in a single direction. But it is not so here. Set any force you please in motion, and its impression can only be partial."
"We hope for a widely different result," Granger made answer. "Next week a man whose power with the people is almost a marvel and a mystery, will come from the West to our city; and then an effort will be made, through daily and nightly religious meetings, to get up such a temperance revival as has never been seen or heard of in the land."
I smiled at his ardor. He had become almost an enthusiast on the subject of temperance.
"We shall see," was my doubting response.
And we did see. The man came — this new apostle of temperance. He was not learned — but had largely the gift of persuasion. He was not so eloquent — as ready of speech; not so logical — as impassioned. He moved his audiences not so much by the clearness of a well-considered argument — as by the force of fact and incident. He was easy of manner, and at home with the people; recognizing in the lowliest and most wretched, a brother, and telling the poor drunkard, whose hand he held so tightly, that he knew all about the pit in which his feet were mired, and all about the way of deliverance. "As God saved me, my brother — He will save you," was ever spoken with that sympathy and assurance which gives speech a passage to the heart. From the very commencement of his work, Francis Murphy exercised an influence that to some appeared half-miraculous.
(Editor's note — from Wikipedia. Francis Murphy, 1836–1907, was an American temperance evangelist, born in Ireland. Beginning in 1870 at Portsmouth, N. H., he started temperance reform clubs throughout that state, and was their first president. His headquarters were in Pittsburgh, Pa., and after his first address there in 1876, 65,000 people signed the pledge he wrote: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, I hereby pledge my sacred honor that, God helping me, I will abstain from the use of all intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and that I will encourage others to abstain." During the course of his temperance labors in America and abroad, Murphy is said to have induced 16 million to sign the pledge. Source: The New York Times, July 1, 1907, page 7.)
The halls in which his meetings in our city were held, were crowded night after night to overflowing, hundreds being unable to gain access. In the conduct of these meetings, there were no particularly remarkable features. They were opened with the reading of Scripture and prayer, followed by singing. Then there would be addresses from clergymen and others, including Mr. Murphy; and speeches and testimonies from reformed men — the whole interspersed with the singing of temperance and revival hymns. During the progress of the meetings, and at their close, invitations to come and sign the pledge were given and responded to, very many coming forward each night and taking the pledge of total abstinence; the number soon increasing from hundreds to thousands. Men would enter the hall so badly intoxicated, that they could scarcely walk straight, and before leaving sign their names to a pledge, and in many cases keep it. It was not with poor, degraded wretches alone — the outcast and the abandoned — that these meetings had power. Men of standing and education, who were beginning to feel the strength of an appetite that too surely betrays to ruin; lawyers, merchants, physicians; the representatives of all conditions and classes — alike felt the warning or the persuasion that came to them, and alike took heed.
"Will it last?" was my question after the weeks had begun gathering into months.
"My good friend lives too close to Doubting Castle." returned Granger, to whom I had addressed the inquiry. He was already deeply absorbed in the exciting movement.
"Perhaps. But we hear of things being too good to last, you know."
"Things may be too bad to last; but never too good. It is only the good which is really substantial," he returned, smiling.
"The good will last, of course. But how much is really genuine in all this, and how much temporary? Of the scores who nightly sign the pledge, and are pointed to God as the One who alone can give them strength to keep it — how many do you think will stand?"
"God only knows," he replied, a little soberly, and with, I thought, a slight disturbance in his manner.
"A suddenly inspired good resolution; a cry to God for help; the impression of an inner change which may be nothing more than a feeling; the signing of a pledge — all the work of a minute, it may be; are these to be relied upon with any well-grounded assurance?" I said. "The man is here tonight in the sphere of an excitement which moves him deeply. He sees, as he has not seen for a long time, his sin and wretchedness; the pain and loss to himself, and the wrongs and sufferings of those who love him or are dependent on him. And he sees, too, a way of escape, and hands reached out with a promise of help. He signs the pledge, and tries to look up and pray. Hopeful words are spoken in his ears. He is pointed, in a few words, to Christ as his Savior. And then he goes out alone, hungry, it may be, and homeless — to sleep in the street or station-house. What hope for him, with his exhausted nerves and gnawing thirst? He needs more than pledge or prayer; he needs good food, shelter and protection; and, until he can stand alone, a hand to hold him up; and if these are not given, it were about as well to let him alone."
As I spoke, I saw the shadows that were falling over Granger's face grow deeper.
"We have not forgotten this," he replied. "We have a relief committee, and are doing what we can. Every Sunday morning, a breakfast is provided. Clothing, as far as we are able to procure it, is distributed, employment obtained, and all the protection in our power to throw about the men who are trying to reform. But the work is taking on dimensions so far beyond what we had anticipated, that we find ourselves without sufficient means for its thorough prosecution. We give our time, our efforts and our money; but we who are active in this movement are few compared with the thousands who stand looking on, wondering, approving, doubting or criticizing. 'What is a Sunday-morning breakfast?' said a gentleman only today. 'Can a man live on a single meal a week?' But when I asked him to give us money, that we might minister more largely, his answer was that he knew where better to dispense his charity. Perhaps he did, and I shall not judge him. 'It isn't so much praying, as food and clothing and employment which are needed,' said another. 'If there were less talking and praying, and more good, solid doing for these poor wretches — the chances in their favor would be increased ten to one.' And yet I could not so interest him in their behalf as to get from him either personal or material aid."
There was an undertone of trouble in Granger's voice, which fell to a heavy sigh in the closing words of his last sentence.
"From four to five hundred destitute men seeking aid," he resumed, "and our resources utterly inadequate to the demands that are made upon us — hungry, half-clothed, and in too many cases, homeless men. We may arrest their feet by Gospel means; but if we would turn their steps into the ways of sobriety and hold them there — we must meet and care for them on a lower plane. If we would lift them into spiritual safety — we must get the foundations of natural life secure. An empty stomach, and soiled and ragged and scanty clothing, with idleness superadded, are not, I agree with you, favorable to the growth of true piety. The struggle with this dreadful appetite is hard enough under the most favorable conditions; and, therefore, our work must be regarded as only initiated when, by force of these new spiritual influences, we have been able to draw the unhappy victims of alcoholism over from the enemy's ground."
As we talked a man entered — I was sitting in Mr. Granger's office — and came forward in a hesitating, half-embarrassed manner. His clothing was poor and soiled, his person unsightly, and his face that of an exhausted inebriate. He stopped when a few steps from us, and said: "You do not know me."
We both recognized him by his voice. He had been a conveyancer, and a man with some property; but intemperate habits had done for him what they too surely accomplish for nearly all who indulge them.
"Yes, I know you, Hartley," Granger answered, quickly, rising as he spoke, and grasping the man's hand. He held it for some moments, looking intently into his face. "Didn't I see you at the meeting in Broad Street, last night?" he asked, while still holding his hand.
"Yes, I was there."
"And you signed the pledge?"
"Yes, sir. After I heard you speak, I said, if God can save Granger — He can save me, and I'm going to try this new way."
"God can and will save you, my friend," was Granger's warm response. "Sit down and let us talk about it."
He drew Hartley into a chair, and sat down in front of him.
"Now, tell me all about yourself." There was a genuine interest in his voice; and its effect upon this poor wreck of a man, was to send a glow to his face, and cause his dull eyes to kindle. "How is it with you; and what the chances are for getting on your feet again. Tell me all about it. You signed the pledge last night?"
"Yes, I signed at the meeting in Broad Street. And you were standing just in front of me, and looking at me; and I heard you say, 'Trust in God, my brother. Look to Him, and pray to Him — and He will give you strength to keep this pledge.' You said it to me; but I saw that you didn't know me. I wanted to speak to you, and to tell you who I was; and I was pressing forward, when someone drew you away, and then I couldn't get near you again. I waited at the door until you came out; but you were talking with a gentleman, and while I hesitated about interrupting you, you passed down the street, and I was left standing alone."
"Where did you go after that?" asked Granger.
"I had nowhere to go. In this whole city, there was no place that I could call my home — no house in which I could claim the right to lay my head. My wife died three years ago; and my only child is with my mother, who lives in a neighboring town. I am alone and friendless."
"No, not friendless," said Granger, his voice struggling with his feelings. "There is One who sticks closer than a brother. He is your friend."
The poor man looked down at his wretched garments in a way that it was not hard to understand. His face did not brighten perceptibly under this last assurance.
"Where did you sleep last night?" I inquired.
"I would have gone to one of the police-stations, but was afraid of being sent to the House of Correction. You see I had taken the pledge, and in this new way, and I was going to try to keep it, if God would indeed help me, as it kept coming to me that He would. So I walked out to Fairmount, and as the night was dark, I found it easy to hide away in a place where the police wouldn't find me, and there I slept till morning. I got some breakfast, and have been trying ever since to find something to do. But it's no use. I'm not a fit object to be in anybody's place of business."
And again he cast down a dreary look at his unsightly clothing.
"Of course you are not," said Mr. Granger. "I'm sorry you didn't speak to me last night. And now, if you are in real earnest, Mr. Hartley, we'll see if something can't be done for you."
"God knows that I'm in earnest, sir," he said, with a sudden trembling eagerness. "I lay awake so long last night, thinking over my whole life, and many times asking God to help me to live a better one in future. But I'm down so low, that it seems as if there was no way for me to get up all by myself. I'm like a man in the sea who will drown unless somebody throws him a rope."
"You shall have the rope." Granger spoke in no uncertain voice.
It was plain from Hartley's exhausted and nervous state, that he was in no condition to enter at once upon any employment. He needed rest, quiet and protection; with healthy mental surroundings, and a sufficient quantity of nutritious food. We knew of but one place in the city where these could be secured; and there we took him.
Two weeks in the Franklin Home, and you would not have known the man. Even before the lapse of that time, he had found employment in the office of a conveyancer who had been with him as a boy, and who now felt a deep interest in the welfare of his old preceptor.
"I have had one of the sweetest passages of my life," said Granger, whom I met a few weeks afterwards. "I was in Chester the day before yesterday, where I went to make an address at one of the meetings now being held in that town. In the audience, and sitting close to the platform, I noticed an old lady, and a young girl about sixteen years of age, both plainly dressed, but with something in their faces that caused my eyes to turn towards them frequently. There was a look of subdued and patient trouble in the face of the elder; and a grave quiet in that of the younger. While I spoke, their eyes did not seem to be off of me for a moment. During my address I mentioned Hartley's case, referring to him with some particularity. As I progressed, I noticed that the old lady began to lean forward with an air of deep interest, if not eager expectancy; and I imagined that the girl by her side was turning pale. All at once, it flashed on me that these might be the mother and daughter of the man whose rescue I was describing, and the impression was so strong, that I held back the name of Hartley as it was coming to my lips, and closed my relation of the case with the words: 'Another soul saved through the power of that Divine strength which is freely given to all who will receive it.'
"At the close of the meeting I saw that the two women were lingering in their seats while the audience slowly retired; and that their eyes were turned towards the platform where I remained talking with some members of the committee which had the meetings in charge. They were almost alone when I came down and commenced moving along the aisle. 'May I speak a word with you?' said the elder of the two ladies, laying her hand at the same time on my arm. I saw a quiver in her face. 'What is your name?' I asked. 'Mrs. Hartley,' she replied, softly, and as if half afraid to utter her own name. Then I knew it all, and my heart gave a sudden bound of gladness. Dear old mother. I felt like putting my arm about her and crying out: 'This your son who was dead, is alive again!' But I kept a guard on my lips, not knowing how the good news, if broken too suddenly, might affect her; and taking her hand, said: 'I am glad to meet you, Mrs. Hartley.' 'I would like to ask you a question, sir,' she said, beginning now to show considerable agitation. 'First,' I replied, 'let me ask you one. Have you a son named Lloyd Hartley?'
"Her startled face became as white as ashes; and she caught hold of me with a tight grasp of the hand. 'Thank God for his deliverance,' I said, softly. Her slender form sank down upon the seat by which she was standing, and her head drooped over her bosom. She was very still, and I knew that her heart was lifting itself in thankfulness to God. 'In the strength of Him who conquered death and Hell, your son shall stand now as a rock,' said I, bending to her ear. 'He is trusting no more in his own weakness, but in the power of the Infinite and the Almighty. I know what that dependence means; and because of this knowledge, I have hope for your son.' 'Blessed be the name of the Lord!' came in a low, tender out-breathing of gladness from her lips. Her head was still bowed and her face hidden. Then, as she reached up one of her hands, she whispered: 'Darling, where are you?' and in a moment after her arm was about the neck of her granddaughter; and the two clung together, weeping silently. And all was so quiet and unobtrusive, that the people passed out scarcely noticing anything unusual until we were left almost alone.
"'I have been praying for him night and day ever since the temperance revival began,' said the happy mother, as I sat with her that evening in her home, replying to her questions, and giving her all the assurances in my power. 'And God has answered my prayers. And when He saves, it is no half work — but a true salvation. I have no hope in anything else. My son has taken pledge after pledge; has made and tried to keep good resolutions over and over again; but only to fall, and each time to a lower and a lower depth. If he had put his trust in God, if he had prayed for grace and strength, and entered, as you tell me he is now doing, upon a Christian life — it would have been far different. It is the Christian life that saves; and it saves from drunkenness as well as from every other sin; for all sin must be removed, before there can be a dwelling-place for Christ in the soul.'
"I have felt happier and stronger ever since," Granger continued. "It was really touching to see this mother's confidence. She had been praying and weeping before God night and day for weeks — pleading for this son that he might be turned from the evil of his ways. She did not even know where he was; but she knew that her Lord and Master knew. And now, when, as she believed, her prayers had been answered in his conversion, she rejoiced and was confident. The Everlasting Arms were about him, and he would dwell secure."
"Happy faith!" I made answer. "May its foundations never be removed."
"I think they never will," Granger said. "If her prayers did not avail just in the order of her belief, they still availed, and her son has been brought within the fold; and there is, in the spirit he manifests, something which gives me confidence in his stability."
"Have you told Hartley about this meeting with his mother and daughter?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. And they have been up to the city to see him."
"A happy re-union."
"You would have said so, if you had seen them together. Dear old lady! The love, and tenderness, and joy which were in her face as she sat and looked at her son, to whom much of the old true manliness of expression and bearing has already commenced coming back, was beautiful and touching to witness. It will not be a long time, I think, before there will be one home for them all, and that a happy one."
And it was not long.
Striking cases of reformation, like the one related, yet varying as to the incidents, were of daily occurrence. Men who had been for years regarded as hopeless drunkards, made a new effort to struggle out of the swift waters which were bearing them to ruin, and caught eagerly at the new means of rescue that were offered. Families long separated, were united again; and men who had been dead weights and burdens upon society — became once more good and useful citizens.
"A glorious work!" was heard on all sides. But the men who were in the midst of it — who came into direct contact with the scores and hundreds of wretched creatures who had sounded the lowest depths of misery and degradation, who were homeless, friendless, penniless, and mentally, morally and physically so enervated as to be scarcely capable of an effort in the direction of self-recovery — found themselves confronted with a task of almost appalling magnitude. What was to be done with and for these men, whose idle hands were held out in piteous appeal for work, and whose hungry faces and dirty and tattered garments pleaded mutely for relief? Nightly the great meeting hall was crowded to overflowing, and nightly the increase went on.
"It is one thing," I said to Mr. Granger, as I walked home with him from one of these meetings, "to reap this great harvest, but quite another thing to garner and preserve the grain. I sadly fear that much of it will never be gathered out of the field. The work is too much en masse — and too little in detail. The numbers who sign the pledge every night cannot be regarded as a measure of the good that is being done."
"You must bear in mind," he replied, "that all who sign at these meetings are not the utterly destitute and homeless; nor of those who have lost the power to control their appetites. The larger proportion are men engaged in work or business, to whom so strong a conviction of danger has come, that they take the pledge for protection and safety. Most of these will find elements of strength and encouragement in their homes and among friends."
"True; but if it is as was said tonight, that there are from four to five hundred of the destitute and friendless class who have signed the pledge, and who must have something more to rest upon than the singing, and talking, and exhortations to stand fast, which they get at these nightly meetings, is it not plain that the loss between the reaping and the garnering, is going to be very great?"
"You cannot feel the burden of that thought more heavily, than we who are in the heart of this work. But its growth has been more rapid than we had anticipated, and its proportions have already assumed a magnitude for which we were not prepared. The people are looking on and wondering. Crowds flock nightly to witness the progress of the movement; but how few come up to our help. What would it be for a score of our rich citizens to establish for our use, a depot of clothing from which we might draw at will, and so be able to take off the rags of such men as we found to be in earnest about reform, and send them forth in sightly garments, that they might be in a condition to apply for and get employment? Or what for the churches in our city — over four hundred in number — to do the same thing?"
"Is nothing really being done to help and save these poor creatures? When the last hymn is sung, and the benediction said, and the lights put out — does all care for them cease? Is there nothing more until tomorrow night — and then only this general work, which merely brings the individual to the front for a little season, and then lets him drift out of sight, his special needs unrecognized and unprovided for?"
"If you will come to my office at three o'clock tomorrow, I will try to give an answer to your question," Granger replied. "I must now take the next car that passes, and get home as quickly as I can, as it is growing late."
I called at his office at the hour mentioned.
"There is other Christian temperance work going on in our city, besides that remarkable exhibition of it which is known as the Murphy movement," he said. "Work about which the public knows little, but which, in its influence on that particular class about which we were speaking yesterday, is accomplishing a vast amount of good. I am going to answer your question of last evening by showing you a phase of this work — unobtrusive, yet very effective — and when you see it, you will know that, while the hands of the reapers are strong, and the harvest great — those who gather and garner are not idle."
I walked with Granger for a number of blocks, talking by the way. As we left his office he remarked: "You might have known that in a work like, this the hands of the women would not be idle; nor the spirit which moved the late 'Crusaders' dead. There has only been a change of front, with a more guarded movement upon the enemy, and less expenditure of war material. You do not find them so much in the noisy front of battle — as where the wounded are left on the field or gathered in tent and hospital."
"Do you mean," I asked, "that there is another movement, parallel to this one which is attracting so much attention, now going on in our city?"
"Yes; wholly independent, yet in complete harmony therewith. Two sets of reapers are in the same field; but with one, there are better facilities for gleaning and garnering than with the other. Women draw more closely to the individual than men; have more pity, and sympathy, and more practical trust in God, and a more absolute belief in the power and efficacy of prayer. There is a marked contrast between their meetings, and the vast assemblages you have attended. The sphere is quieter, and the services held closer to the order of religious worship. There are fewer spectators, and, I think, a more complete singleness of purpose with those who are giving themselves to the work. What we, as men, are doing, is outside of our common life-work. The largest part of our time and thought, is devoted to business or professional duties; and we can give only our odds and ends of leisure time to extra public service and the duties of charity. It is different with many of the women who are taking the lead in this Gospel temperance work. Heart and mind are absorbed in it. It is almost as much their daily thought and care, as business is to the merchant, or the interests of his clients to the lawyer. We can, by single strong efforts, move the masses in this or that direction; can influence and direct public sentiment, and even set great tidal waves of reform in motion; but for the gathering of results, we have little time, and, it may be, little inclination; and results are too often left to take care of themselves."
We talked until we came in front of a small church in a thickly populated part of the town, when Granger paused with the words, "In here," and we passed through a small vestibule to a room capable of holding from two to three hundred people. Nearly every seat was occupied. We were conducted to chairs set in the space fronting the reading-desk, and on being seated, I had an opportunity to look at the audience, which was composed of men and women; the men largely outnumbering the women. It took but a glance to tell who and from whence, most of these men were. Lives of sin and suffering; of degradation and crime; of abused and wasted manhood — had left their disfiguring tokens on nearly every countenance before me. Half a dozen women occupied the small platform, on which the reading desk stood. They were singing —
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Your bosom fly,"
as we entered, most of the congregation taking part. My eyes ran over the strange assembly, looking from face to face, and trying to read each varied expression. With scarcely an exception, you saw a deep, and, in some cases, a most pathetic earnestness. At the close of the hymn, one of the women arose, and said, in an easy, familiar way, but with a tender, penetrating solemnity in her voice: "And with such a refuge, how safe! Jesus, lover of my soul. The love of Jesus! Of the all compassionate and the all-powerful. Think of it! Come to this Savior, His arms are open to receive you. Comfort, support, defense — all these shall be yours. Under the shadow of His wing you shall dwell in safety."
There was a deep hush in the assembly; a bending forward to hearken, and a profound solemnity on most of the faces. You saw eyes grow wet, and lips move in silent prayer.
"And now," said the gentle speaker, after a pause, "we want to hear from as many of you as can bear testimony to the saving power of Him who has taken your feet out of the miry clay, and set them upon a rock. Speak with brevity, that we may have a multitude of witnesses."
She sat down and a man, whose face had been holding my eyes for some moments, arose from his seat. What could one with such a countenance, have to say about the saving power of Christ, I thought. His voice trembled a little as he began:
"He has taken my feet out of the pit, and set them on solid ground; blessed be His name. I've been a dreadful hard drinker. Until six weeks ago, I don't think I had drawn a sober breath for ten years. My wife left me in despair more than three years ago; and then I didn't care for anything. When I heard about the Murphy meetings and what wonderful things were being done, I thought I'd go and see what it meant. Somehow, with the singing, and the way Mr. Murphy talked, I got all broken up, and when he told us that if we'd take the pledge and trust in God to help us keep it — we could stand just as well as he had stood. I said, I'll try. And I did try, and, blessed be God! I've been able to keep my pledge. I don't know how it might have been, if I hadn't come to these meetings. I've found work, and I'm trying to make another home. It isn't much of a home as yet — only a single room — but my wife is so happy. And we've got something in that home, we never had before. Shall I tell you what it is?"
He paused for a moment, then in a lower voice said: "Our Savior!"
As he sat down, the leader of the music touched the organ keys, and a single verse from a well-known hymn was sung:
"Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Your tender care;
In Your pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Your folds prepare;
Blessed Jesus! Blessed Jesus!
You have bought us, Yours we are.'"
As the singing ceased, I heard the voice of a woman in the audience, and turned in the direction from which it came. I saw a worn and sallow face, and a slender form, plainly but cleanly attired.
"I want to tell you," said the speaker, "that I've got my husband again, after having lost him because of drink for years and years. And this time I'm going to keep him, for God has converted his soul. Oh, bless the Lord! Bless the Lord!" her voice rising into almost a passionate outburst.
"Yes, bless the Lord, my sister," responded the lady who had direction of the meeting. "For when He finds the lost ones — He can keep their feet from wandering any more."
Another hymn, and then another short speech. And so for an hour, the speaking and the singing went on, the interest not flagging for a moment. Men told of the awful slavery from which they had escaped through the power of God, and of the new strength which had come to them in answer to prayer, with a positiveness that had in it an element of conviction for the intently listening hearers. Some had been standing safe in the midst of temptation for only a few days, some for weeks, and some for months. Many had already united themselves with one or another religious society, and were receiving that protection and strength which comes from Christian fellowship.
"A good Christian brother has been holding on to me ever since I took the pledge," said one. "May God reward him! If he hadn't held so tightly, I don't know what might have happened; I was so miserable and helpless. But I'm getting stronger and stronger, and now I'm trying to help the weak ones."
Said another: "Thank God for these good Christian women. One of them found me not long ago in the hands of a policeman. I'd been drinking in a saloon, and got into a quarrel with the barkeeper, who called an officer. Just as I was dragged out upon the pavement, a woman came by, and she stopped and said to the policeman: 'What's the matter? What's this man been doing?' She spoke so gently, and yet with something so like authority in her voice, that he let go of my collar. 'Drunk and quarrelsome,' he answered, gruffly. 'Oh, I see,' she returned. 'They've made him crazy with drink, and then turned him over to you.' 'Something of that sort,' said the policeman, speaking more respectfully. Then she said, 'Suppose you let me have this case. I wouldn't wonder if I could do a great deal better with it, than you can.' The officer stood for a little while looking puzzled; and I was puzzled, too, for the liquor was beginning to go out of my head. 'What will you do with him?' he asked. 'Try to make a sober man out of him.' At this he laughed, and said, 'If you can make a sober man out of Jack Brady, all right. Go ahead and try. It'll be the hardest job you ever took!' But she didn't find it so. I don't know how it was, but the very minute I heard her say that, I made up my mind to stop drinking. The policeman went on, and she stood and talked to me for a good while, and told me about these meetings, and how easy it would be to lead a better life, if I would come and try to get help from above. I'd never been talked to like that before. It seemed so strange to have anybody care for me, and to seem so anxious about me. 'O God, I'll come,' said I. And I did come. It seemed as if I couldn't wait for the hour next day. And when I entered that door, there stood the lady, just where she's standing now, by the reading-desk. She was speaking, and as her voice fell on my ears like the voice of an old friend, my heart began to beat heavy, and I got all into a tremble. Would she know me? I saw her eyes go searching about the room as she talked, but if she was looking for me, she didn't make me out. I went up as close to the desk as I could get, and sat there while the singing and talking and praying went on. Not for a minute did I take my eyes away from her. All at once, as she looked at me hard, I saw her face brighten up, and I knew that she had seen me. In a little while she came and sat down by my side and took my hand, and said, just for my ear alone, 'I'm so glad to see you here, Mr. Brady.' You see she hadn't forgotten my name. 'I've been looking for you ever since the meeting opened. You're going to sign the pledge, of course; and, better still, give your heart to Jesus. And then what a happy man you will be!' And I did sign the pledge, and I did give my heart to Jesus. And I'm one of the happiest men in this room today!"
As the meeting drew to a close, requests for prayer were sent up in writing, or asked for verbally. A mother asked for prayers for an intemperate son; a wife for an intemperate husband; a sister for two brothers who were in great danger of becoming drunkards; a reformed man that he might find his wife and children, from whom he had not heard for two years; the wife of a tavern-keeper, that her husband might be convicted of sin, and led to abandon his dreadful business; for a sick wife with a drunken husband; for a daughter whose father was intemperate.
While these requests were being made, a young woman — she did not look over twenty-six or seven years of age — arose and said: "My heart is so full, Christian friends, that I can't keep silent. I want to tell what great things prayer can do. I've got a husband and two little children. My husband took to drinking, and it almost killed me. He was so good and kind before; but now he got cross and ugly, and wouldn't hear a word from me. It was getting worse and worse. He'd stay out late at night and come home so much in liquor, that he didn't know anything. One day I said to his mother, 'If Tom keeps on in this way, I shall have to leave him and go home to father.' And then she cried, and said, 'Don't do that, Mary. He'll go all to ruin if you do.' And we both sat and cried forever so long. While we were crying, a neighbor came in; and she said, 'Why don't you go around to the women's temperance meeting and ask them to pray for him?' I didn't see what good that was going to do; but she talked so much about it, that I said to myself, 'It can't do any harm, that's sure.' So I put on my things and came around here, and Tom's mother came with me. I wrote on a piece of paper, 'Prayers wanted for a young husband and father who is being ruined by drink,' and sent it up. And when, singling this out from all the rest, Mrs. West said in her prayer, 'This young husband and father, Lord, who is being ruined by drink, oh, hear the pitiful cry of his wife, and the cry that we are all sending up to You now. Let Your Spirit prevail with him. Quicken in him the desire for a better life; turn him from the evil of his ways,' — it seemed as if the Lord had come down into this room, and as if I had got right hold of Him.
"After the meeting was over we went home, and my husband's mother waited until he came in to supper. He didn't have much to say; looked kind of troubled about something, I thought. He usually went out directly after supper; but this time he sat for, maybe, half an hour, reading a newspaper. Then he took up his hat and went away. 'Don't stay out late, Tom, please,' said I, as pleasantly as I could speak. But he didn't answer me a word. His mother had gone home by this time, and I was alone with my two little children, and they were both asleep. I had a strange feeling, as if something was going to happen. It might be bad or it might be good — I couldn't tell. My heart was trembling and startled. I couldn't sew; I couldn't do anything, but kept going about, up and down-stairs, so restless and troubled that I didn't know what to do with myself. At last I got down on my knees and began to pray for my husband. And then it seemed as if the blessed Lord and Savior had come into my little room; and I talked to Him as a friend, and pleaded for my husband, and begged Him to save him from the dreadful appetite that was ruining him soul and body. I felt better after that. But I couldn't settle down to doing anything. Then I got the Bible and read two or three chapters. Tired at last, I laid my face down upon the open book, and fell asleep. I had a sweet dream, but a sweeter waking up, for my husband's arms were around me, and I heard his voice saying, 'Mary, dear!' in the old, loving way. 'Oh, what is it, Tom?' I cried out, as I started up. And then he kissed me, and said, 'It's going to be all right again, Mary. I've been down to the Murphy meeting, and signed the pledge, and, God helping me, I'm going to keep it.' And he has kept it so far; and what's better, he's given his heart to Christ, and we've both joined the church. Oh, I'm so happy!"
My eyes were full of tears, when this happy young wife sat down.
Then the lady to whom she had referred, made a few impressive comments on the incident just related, adding two or three others as strikingly illustrative of the value of prayer. One of these was quite remarkable, and I was not able to trace, except remotely, the relation between cause and effect. She said: "At one of the Thursday evening meetings at which I was present, a gentleman arose and said, 'I want to ask your prayers for the drunken son of a poor old mother. I don't know who he is — not even his name, nor where he lives. Tonight, as I was coming here, I saw an old woman standing on a corner, and she seemed to be in trouble. I stopped and asked what was the matter, and she said, "Oh, dear sir, I'm in great distress. I'm old and poor, and have nothing to depend on but one son, and he's taken to bad habits, and spends nearly everything he earns in drink; and if I say a word to him, he goes on dreadfully. He hasn't been home all day; and there's nothing in the house to eat, and I've been going all about trying to find him." And the poor old mother wrung her hands and moaned so piteously, that it made my heart ache.
"I could do nothing for her but give her a little money and tell her to go home and pray for her son. And now I ask the prayers of all here tonight for the son of this aged mother.' The case was very blind. We did not know even the man's name, nor the name of his mother; how then were we to present him to God? But it was not for us to put limits to the Divine power of saving. So we laid this unknown mother's sorrow, and this unknown man's sin and desolation — before the Lord and left the case with Him. Well, on the next Thursday evening the gentleman arose again, and said, 'I have good news from the man whom I asked you to pray for at our last meeting. He has been saved!' What a thrill of joy went through me! 'On the very evening afterwards, I met his old mother again. It seemed almost as if she had dropped down in the street before me; and she told me this glad story: "After I saw you," she said, "I went home and waited for my son, crying and praying, and in great distress of mind. It was about half-past ten o'clock when I heard him come in — he never got home much before twelve — and it gave me a startle. Upstairs he came; not stumbling nor unsteady, but every step distinct and firm. When he opened the door, I saw something strange in his face. I didn't know what it meant. Such a light in his eyes, and such a soft, gentle look about his mouth. 'O John!' I cried out, almost catching my breath. Then he said, 'Mother, I've been to one of those great meetings, and I've signed the pledge, and if God will only give me the strength to keep it, I'll live and die a sober man!' Oh, dear, how my poor old heart did leap for joy. Then I got him around the neck, and I said, 'Let us kneel right down here, John, and pray that God will give you all the strength you need.' And down we knelt; and such a prayer-meeting as we had together; it lasted till almost morning."'
"With such instances of the power of prayer for our encouragement," continued the speaker, "and I could give many more that have come under my own observation quite as remarkable, let us not hesitate in our petitions, but come confidently to God. Among the written requests for prayer which I now hold in my hand, is one that has moved me deeply. Three young wives ask your prayers for their intemperate husbands. Three young wives."
Her voice falling on the words in low, pitying cadences. "Think of it! Three young wives; happy brides a little while ago, and with the sweet grace and charm of girlhood still about them! What an outlook upon life for these dear young souls. They have met together, and each has told to the others, her sorrow and her fear. They have seen their young husbands drifting, and drifting, and drifting away, every effort to hold them back in vain. They will be lost if some influence, greater than it is their power to exercise, if not brought to bear upon them. And now they ask our prayers. Let us offer them in loving faith; and not for these only, but for all the special cases which have been brought to us this day."
I had heard at one of the revival meetings, a year or two before, a long list of requests for prayer read off very much in the routine way of an entry clerk reading off the items of an invoice; and then the prayers were offered up in a kind of wholesale fashion that struck me as almost irreverent and quite useless.
But the prayer that I now heard affected me very differently. There was in it nothing of routine or dead formality. Mrs. West, to whom the duty of offering these requests to God had been assigned, felt, it was plain, the troubled heart-beat of those whom she represented in her petitions. Not a single request, written or verbal, was forgotten. Each, in turn, was offered before the Lord, and with such feeling and earnestness and individuality of need and condition, that I was not only surprised at the singular clearness with which she had apprehended each case, but deeply moved by the sphere of her trusting and reverent piety.
At the close of this prayer and the singing that followed, the pledge was offered to those who had not signed, and all who felt the need of spiritual counsel and comfort were invited to go into the inquiry-room.
How long has this been going on?" I asked of Mr. Granger as we walked away.
"For months," he replied.
"Are the meetings held daily?"
"And always crowded like this?"
"And as full of interest?"
"The interest never flags. You see how entirely in earnest these women are, and how completely they have thrown themselves into this work, which has still another side."
"Yes. Their faith in prayer is unbounded. Some of them take the Bible promises so literally, that they truly believe a mountain could be removed and cast into the sea — if prayer and faith were strong enough. 'Spiritual forces are higher and more subtle than natural forces, and spiritual laws above and superior to natural laws,' I once heard one of them say, while speaking of the power of prayer, 'and can suspend or set them aside altogether, as in miracles; and it is because our faith is so weak, and we ask so often amiss, asking selfishly, that marvels are not wrought by prayer which would astonish the world.' She held that if the Christian people of this city would unite in one strong and persistent prayer to God, He would set agencies in motion that would close every liquor-saloon in our midst, and cause wickedness to cease.
"But there are those among them who keep nearer to the earth, and who have faith in other saving means, beside that of prayer. Who believe in feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and building up and sustaining the natural degree of life, so that the spiritual degree which has just been vivified with grace from above, may have an orderly foundation upon which to rest. The other side of this work to which I have referred, has relation to the lower degree of life which rests on the earth, and which must be in some degree of health and order, before it is possible for spiritual life to have sustenance and growth."
"Women have a very practical side, and are quick in their perception of needs and means," I remarked.
"Yes; and what is more, they are quick to act. When they see that a thing ought to be done, they go about doing it; and often while we are thinking and debating — their will has found the way. You remember how it was at the beginning of the war. Soldiers from the North who were landed from the ferryboats at the foot of Washington Avenue to await farther transportation, were found hungry and exhausted, sitting on curb-stones and door-steps, or lying asleep on the pavement — no provision having been made for feeding them on the way. What happened? While the men stood looking on, and blaming the Government for neglect of provision at this point, the women had their coffee-pots on the fire, and out from the houses all along the line of the street, came quickly smoking cups and pitchers, and plates of bread and meat, and baskets of refreshing fruit. You remember how this thing stirred your heart at the time, and the hearts of all to whom it was told the land over; and how, from this good beginning, the refreshment-rooms were started, giving such abundance of good cheer to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who afterwards went through our city — the new recruits pressing forward to the battle-fields, and the sick, and war-wasted, and wounded returning home to recover their strength or die."
"Yes, yes. I remember well. And the thought of it after so many years, gives my heart a quicker motion."
"Now, as then, the action of the women is direct and practical. They do not stand looking on sorrowfully, and with folded hands, waiting for organized agencies. There are no strong appeals to the public for help, and pauses for response. But instead, an immediate taking hold of and use of whatever means lie close at hand. Food and clothing are gathered and distributed, and cases of destitution and homelessness met and ministered to. If not to the full extent of the need, yet always to the extent of ability."
"That is well," said I. "Prayers are good, but they never take the place of potatoes. A hungry man is a poor subject for religion; and a dirty and ragged one scarcely any better."
"Yes, we all understand this. And it is just here that the great work of reform now going on in our city, finds one of its chief impediments," Mr. Granger answered. "What these devoted Christian women are doing, is as the first spontaneous efforts which were made by loyal women to feed the hungry soldiers who were passing through our city. There was a great blessing in it, but the blessing was limited for lack of the larger supplies and more perfect organization which came afterwards. So now, much is being done with imperfect means; but, as the work goes on, and its results become more widely known, as interest deepens and sympathy grows broader — I look for that liberal and substantial cooperation which is so essential to its success."
"The ardor that now attends this work," said I, "will it not die out? There is a waste of energy, in enthusiasm. Of all excitements, none spend themselves more quickly than religious excitements, because they are so intense. The more permanent forces are quiet and almost unobtrusive. In a few weeks the heat of summer will be upon us, and Mr. Murphy will go away. There will be no more crowded halls, no more Sunday morning breakfasts, nor stirring appeals and moving invitations. What, then, is to become of these weak, and tempted, and almost friendless ones who have just been lifted from the slough? It troubles me to think of it. Is the entire cessation of these religious temperance meetings for two or three months, a well-considered thing? To retire from the field and leave the enemy in full possession after such a series of victories as you have had, can hardly be considered good leadership."
"There is going to be no abandonment of the field," Granger replied.
"I understood differently."
"Do you suppose, for a single moment, that the women who are in this battle are going to throw down their weapons, or leave the field for any cause? 'How often will you hold your meetings?' I asked of Mrs. West — and she answered quietly, "Three hundred and sixty-five days in the year.' 'No intermission this summer?' 'None,' she replied. 'How could we leave these hundreds of precious souls, just rescued from the slavery of drunkenness, some of them without homes, or friends, or work — in the very midst of temptation? If any were lost through our neglect, or ease-seeking — would not the stain of their blood be upon our garments? Truly do we believe that God has called us to this work of saving men who, because of their utter degradation through alcoholism, have been rejected by society, and abandoned by the churches. Helpless, hopeless, lost but for the agencies now raised up in the Divine Providence for their rescue — shall we, to whom has been committed the great responsibility of using and directing these agencies, fold our hands and seek for rest and recreation, while so many feet are only on the unsteady margin of the pit out of which they have been dragged, and so many hands clinging to our garments, lest, if their hold be loosed, they fall again? No, no! There is too much at stake.'"
"Brave, true women!" I responded, with ardor. "In all works of Christian charity, they are ever in the advance. But will nothing be done by the men whose efforts have been crowned by such wonderful results as we have seen? Will they wholly abandon the work until their summer vacation is over? The enemy will surely be diligent in his work of sowing tares in their field while they rest."
"Only this great public demonstration will cease," Mr. Granger replied. "But you may be sure of one thing, the enemy is not going to have it all his own way. Faithful guards, and sentinels, and reserve forces will be left — and he will be held to the lines back upon which he has been driven. When the fall campaign opens, we shall have a more thorough organization, and larger means. So far, it has only been as a skirmish along the lines, compared to the battles which must be fought. We do not make light of our enemy. He is not to be vanquished by a single fierce onslaught, nor by a single desperate battle. All Hell is on his side; and among men he draws his myriads of recruits from the young and the old who have inordinate desires and evil passions, and selfish ends to serve and gratify. Prejudice, and interest, and sensual desire are on his side. He is intrenched behind law, custom, fallacy and appetite. His friends and emissaries are to be found everywhere. In the halls of legislation, in courts of justice, in executive and municipal offices, and, sad to say, often even in the pulpit; though, thanks to the growth of a higher Christianity, his representatives are fast disappearing from the sacred desk."
"No slight enemy, with which to engage in battle," said I.
"As to the ultimate victory, that is very far off. It will hardly be seen in your day or mine. The battle with Hell has been raging for thousands of years, and, for all we can see, will continue for thousands of years longer; and if all Hell is on the side of the liquor traffic and alcoholism — then all Hell must be conquered before they will cease. From this survey of the field, the outlook is not, I confess, a very hopeful one."
"It is as full of hope as Christianity," returned Mr. Granger. "As that gains in strength and vital power — temperance will have an equal gain, for the very life of Christianity is to reject evil as sin against God. An intemperate man cannot be a Christian man, in any true sense, because he is selfishly indulging a depraved appetite which not only hurts his body, but weakens and degrades his mind, and so unfits him for that service of God and his neighbor which constitutes true religion."
"Taking this view, alcoholism becomes a sin."
"Is it the service of God — or the service of self?" Granger asked. "The holding of appetite subject to reason and the laws of health — or the giving of lower and destructive things power over the higher and conservative? Is alcoholism a good, or an evil? If evil, then it is sin."
"What of moderate drinking — the temperate use, as it is called, of wine and other stimulants? Is there sin in this?"
"Sin is the voluntary doing of anything that we know to be hurtful to the neighbor, or contrary to the law of God," Granger replied.
"Then I may drink wine or beer moderately, and be innocent. There is no law of God which says, 'You shall not drink wine or beer.' And it cannot hurt my neighbor. If anyone is hurt, it is myself alone."
"Can you hurt yourself — without hurting your neighbor?"
"Not if my neighbor has any claim which this hurting of myself prevents me from meeting."
"Has the body no claim on the hand or foot? Can either of them say, I may hurt myself if I choose — that is my own affair? Depend upon it, Mr. Lyon, there is no man in human society, no matter how weak, or obscure, or lowly he may be — who has not a service to perform, in default of which some other human being — it may be many human beings — must suffer. Society is an organic unity, in which we all have our places and functions; and society is sick, and lame, and covered with cancerous sores — only because it has so many idle, useless, self-hurting and wicked members and organs in its great social body. Under this view, no one who selfishly indulges in any practice which diminishes his power to serve those who have claims upon him, can be free from sin."
"I see your broader view and your broader confidence," I returned. "Whatever is gained for Christianity — is gained for temperance."
"Amy true gain to Christianity — is a gain to temperance; for to be a Christian man means to be a temperate man," he said. "There is no such a thing as a Christian alcoholic, though there may be an alcoholic professor; for in so far as a man drinks, moderately or immoderately, he is not a Christian — not a free spiritual man, but in bondage to the flesh."
"There are many who would consider such a declaration as uncharitable and unwarranted," I remarked.
"Do you?" he asked.
"My ideal of a Christian man is very high," I returned.
"You would not have him a slave to any bodily lust or appetite?"
"He could not be; for in so far as one is not lifted above these, he is not a Christian. Religion can scarcely be worth anything — if it does not save a man from the dominion of his animal nature. It must reform and regenerate the external, as well as the internal. His very feet, the lowest and most ultimate things of his life, must be washed and made clean."
"I could not express my own views more exactly," Granger replied. As we were parting, he said: "A few friends are to be at my house this evening. I wish you would come round."
"Who are they?" I inquired.
"Dr. Gilbert, from New York, will be there."
"I shall be glad to meet him."
"And Judge Arbuckle and his wife, from Columbus. The judge and I were in the same class at college, and warmly attached friends. It is nearly twenty years since our last meeting. He is a man of fine qualities, both as to head and heart, with decided opinions and considerable force of character. You will enjoy an evening in his company, I am sure; and none the less, I think, from the fact that there is likely to be an earnest encounter between him and Dr. Gilbert."
"Indeed! On what subject?"
"The judge, I am sorry to say, is not a temperance man. He has always taken alcohol, and believes their moderate employment to be useful."
"Ha? he ever given the subject a careful investigation?"
"I presume not. Law and politics have claimed his closer attention."
"A discussion between him and Dr. Gilbert, if it should happen to arise, is likely to be a warm one."
"It will be earnest, but fair and courteous, for both are gentlemen," said Mr. Granger. "I am glad of the opportunity to bring these men together, for after their meeting, my old friend Arbuckle will, I think, be in possession of facts that must set him thinking in a new direction. As for himself, I do not greatly fear the serious encroachments of alcohol; for he is an exceptionally well-balanced man, with a cool, clear head, and finely-strung nerves; and is known for his moderation and conservative force of character. But his example and influence cannot fail to be exceedingly hurtful, especially with young men."
I promised to make one of his guests that evening, and we parted.
Mr. Granger's law business, which had grown rapidly, was already giving him a handsome income, and his family was again living in a style of comparative elegance. His daughter Amy had developed into a rarely attractive maiden, and was greatly beloved and admired in the circles where she moved. Her quiet grace and dignity, were in marked contrast with the free and jaunty manners seen in too many of our young girls, and lifted her above them, in the estimation of all who held the gender in any high regard. There were those who sought to win her favor, but as most of the young men whom she happened to meet in society, took part in its drinking customs, she kept herself on guard against their advances and held them at a safe distance. The shadows which alcoholism had thrown over her early life, rested too deeply on her spirits to be wholly removed; and the pain and humiliation they had occasioned, were things that could never be forgotten. To see a glass of wine at the lips of a young man — was to lift between himself and her, an impassable barrier. She might esteem him as a friend; but she locked the door of her heart against him. If, as happened more than once, a warmer sentiment than friendship had commenced forming — she smothered it out with a quick and resolute hand, on discovering the fatal impediment.
But love steals in by unguarded ways, and when once within the citadel of the heart, holds to his advantage, and makes vigorous resistance, should an attempt be made to cast him out. It so happened that a young man named Pickering found favor with Amy, and that almost before she was aware of her danger — the citadel of her heart had been taken. Handsome in person, pure in life, and true and manly in his character, Henry Pickering was entirely worthy of the love which she was not able to keep from revealing itself in her eyes.
A few months after their more intimate acquaintance, and when the young man's attitude towards Amy left but little doubt as to his feelings and intentions, they met at an evening entertainment, where liberal refreshments were served. A sudden chill and suspense fell upon the maiden's heart, as, with her hand on Pickering's arm, she began moving towards the supper-room; for the clink of glasses and popping of corks, could already be heard. She had never until now, met this young man at an evening party; nor had anything occurred in their fellowship so far, which gave her any intimation of his attitude towards the too prevalent drinking customs of society. In all her fellowship with him, she had not seen the smallest indication of any indulgence in wine or intoxicating drinks, and there had come to be with her, a tacit and fond belief that he was one of those who kept himself entirely free from their use.
But now the hour of trial and proof had come, and as they entered the supper-room, Amy's breathing became constricted, and her heart beat with heavy, almost suffocating throbs. She took her place a little back from the table, which was liberally supplied with glasses and bottles of wine, and waited for her attendant to bring her some of the refreshments that were being served. This was speedily done. As Pickering handed her the plate which he had filled, he said: "Will you have a glass of champagne, or some sherry?"
"Thank you — no wine for me," replied Amy, with something in her voice that caused the young man to look at her a little curiously.
"You would not have me drink alone?" he said.
"I would not have you drink at all," she answered, a low thrill of feeling in her otherwise steady voice.
Pickering's eyes rested on hers for a moment or two, after which he turned from her slowly, going to the table and filling another plate with salad and oysters. Then he came back to his place by her side; but, as they stood eating, they were turned a little away from each other. The young man, who had been a resident of the city for only a year or two, knew nothing at this time of Mr. Granger's history.
It soon became evident to Pickering that his companion was only making a pretense of eating.
"Let me get you something else," said he. "This isn't to your taste. What shall it be?"
But she replied, as she handed him her plate: "Nothing more, I thank you."
He was looking lull into her face now, and saw with concern that her eyebrows were slightly drawn, and the color diminished.
"Are you not feeling well? The room is very warm. Let me bring you some ice?"
But she declined anything more, and promptly accepted the young man's invitation to return to the parlor, where they took a seat near one of the windows through which the fresh, cool air was coming. The whole manner of the girl, as well as the expression of her face, had changed; and Pickering was troubled and at a loss to know the meaning of this change which had come so suddenly.
"I'm afraid you are ill," he said.
"Oh, no, no," Amy replied, endeavoring to rally herself. She was too truthful for any subterfuge.
"If not ill, then something has gone wrong, Miss Granger; and I am concerned to know what it is. Have I done anything to disturb or offend you?"
Amy's eyes, which had been on his face, dropped to the floor, and she made no answer. The young man's thought turned back hurriedly, and went over the brief incidents of the supper-room. Was it the offer of a glass of wine? He would know, and at once put the question: "Do you object to wine?"
"It is a dangerous thing," she replied.
"If carried to excess; but not when used in moderation."
"If never used in moderation — excess is impossible. No man is safe — but he who lets it alone."
She spoke in a low, steady voice, in which the young man noticed the same thrill of feeling which was in it when she answered him in the supper room, "I would not have you drink at all."
"Why, Miss Granger!" Pickering exclaimed, trying to make light of the matter, "I didn't know before, that you were a little temperance enthusiast."
"It is not with me, a matter of enthusiasm," she replied, speaking soberly, "but of deep feeling and settled principle."
"Oh! I was not aware of this before. If I had known it, I would not have committed the rudeness of offering you wine; and I crave pardon for my unfortunate blunder. You are, then, an advocate of entire abstinence."
"Where the use of a useless thing is attended with such awful perils as attend the use of wine — is not he the wise man, who lets it alone?"
"I will not say no, Miss Granger. But your proposition is very sweeping. I might take issue with you on the word 'useless,' but am in no way inclined to do so just now. Drunkenness is, I am well aware, the great curse of our land."
"And no one who uses intoxicating drinks of any kind, whether moderately or not, is safe from this curse," said Amy.
"I would be sorry to believe that, Miss Granger. I know of a great many men who take their wine or beer every day; but I do not think them in any danger."
"Not one of them?" Her voice was quiet, but firm.
"All men are not strong alike, nor given to moderation. Some are inclined to excess in everything. There is always danger with such."
"And danger with all who use an article which invites to excess, the very moment you take it. It is here, Mr. Pickering, that the great peril lies. No man is safe who admits an enemy within his fortress; and alcohol is always an enemy."
"We were speaking of wine, not ardent spirits," said the young man.
But Miss Granger was better informed than he had supposed.
"What we call wine is, for the most part, only diluted, drugged and flavored alcohol. Without the character and quality given by alcohol, few would care to drink it. It takes more wine than brandy to give the required exhilaration; that is all."
"You are informed on this subject, Miss Granger," said Pickering, his brows arching slightly, and his voice betraying some annoyance.
"Where such grave results attend the use of an article, is it not well to examine carefully the ground of its claim upon our confidence?"
There was no excitement in Amy's manner; yet it did not escape the young man's observation that, hidden beneath her quiet exterior, was a great deal of repressed feeling.
"But the novel thing to me is, the fact that a young lady like yourself should be posted on the subject of making and flavoring wines," returned Pickering, rising into an air of banter. "According to your view of the case, wine-drinking is only another name for whiskey-drinking."
"If," replied Amy, not moved from her serious attitude, "the drink we call wine is acceptable as a beverage because of the temporary exhilaration its alcohol produces, may it not be true that wine-drinking is, as you say, another name for whiskey-drinking?"
"But is it, as you allege, Miss Granger, that alcohol gives to wine its chief acceptable quality? I have never studied the subject; but it seems to me that you must be in some degree of error."
"I have been in the way of hearing a great deal about these matters, and from those who have conducted their investigations with great care," said Amy, "and I am just as certain, as I am of any other declared result of chemical test and analysis, that wine contains so large a proportion of alcohol, as to make its use exceedingly dangerous."
"What proportion?" asked Pickering. His manner had become more serious.
"I have heard it variously stated," was replied; "the percentage running from seven or eight — to twenty-five or six."
"So large? I wonder how much alcohol whiskey or brandy contains? You are, no doubt, informed as to that also."
"From forty to sixty percent, I am told."
"Then, if I drink two or three glasses of wine, I get about as much alcohol as if I took a single glass of whiskey or brandy?"
"The danger is that such will be the case."
The young man sat with a thoughtful air for a few moments, and then looking up, said, with a forced levity of manner: "This is almost comical, Miss Granger."
"What?" inquired his companion, her clear eyes fixed steadily on him.
"Free-and-easy drinking in the dining-room — and a temperance lecture in the parlor," he replied, with a smile breaking into his handsome countenance.
Before Amy could reply, the sound of laughing voices was heard at the parlor doors, and half a dozen girls and young men came in from the hall and dining-room, in gayer spirits than when they went to the refreshment-tables half an hour before. As one and another returned to the parlor, it was noticeable that a change had come over their spirits. Many of the young girls laughed and talked in louder tones, and were freer in their manners than before; sometimes to a degree that was unmaidenly; while the conduct of some of the young men was offensive to good taste for its rudeness or folly.
"When the wine is in — the wit is out," said Pickering, as, rising, he offered his arm to Amy, and they moved down the parlor and mingled with the company, adding, as they gained the lower end of the room, "We might call this, the application to your little sermon."
"And the oftener the wine goes in — will the wit go out," returned his companion, speaking for his ear alone, "until in the end it may come to stay out altogether."
"I see how it is, Miss Granger," said the young man. "Your thought has a habit of running to the last result of things."
"Is not that wisest?" she asked.
"Doubtless. But the surprise with me is, that a young lady should have such radical views on the subject of drinking. You are in no danger. Nor are these young ladies, for all the wine they get at parties. A little lightness in the head, as you see now — then a night's sleep, and all will be over."
"But what of the young men, their companions?" asked Amy.
Pickering gave a slight shrug.
"Will it be all over, as you say, with them? Will the appetite be no stronger — and the power to resist its enticements, no weaker?"
"I was speaking of the young ladies, and the danger to them," said Pickering.
"Is no one hurt by alcoholism, but the men who are its victims?" inquired the girl. "If I am not at fault in my observation, there are to be found among them — sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. Have women no relation to these men? In their wounding, is there no hurt to the sisters and daughters, to the wives and the mothers?"
Pickering felt again the old thrill in Amy's calm but earnest voice.
"If a young or middle-aged man should go home from here tonight the worse for the wine he has taken," she added, after a slight pause, "will there be no shame or sorrow in any woman's heart because of it?"
His ear caught the sound of a faint sigh which followed the closing words that fell from his companion's lips.
"We won't talk about this any more," he said. "The theme is too somber for so mirthful and festive an occasion." He spoke with some decision of manner. "And now," he added, in a lighter voice, "let us try a little nonsense, by way of a restorative."
Amy had already said far more than it was in her thought or purpose to say at the outset, and was very willing to let the subject drop, even though far from being satisfied with the young man's utterances on the question, which, if his views were not in accord with hers, must stand as an impassable barrier between them. One thing she had long ago settled in her mind, and that was — never to give her hand in marriage to one who did not wholly abstain from the use of alcohol in any of its forms. She would take no risks here. The danger, in her view, was too appalling. Her answer to the question: "How shall I be saved from the curse of alcohol?" was simple and direct. She would neither touch it herself in any of its covert or enticing forms — nor place her happiness in the keeping of one who did.
At the next meeting of the lovers, for so we must call them, though the young man had not yet made a formal declaration of his sentiments — each felt that a barrier had risen between them. In the meantime, Pickering had, in response to some inquiries about Miss Granger's family, learned something of its painful history, and of the sufferings and humiliation through which the girl had passed. This made clear the ground of her prejudice against wine-drinking. I say "prejudice," using the word as Pickering used it at the time. One thing was plain to him; he saw that there would be little hope of compromise with Amy, in regard to the use of intoxicating liquor in any of its forms. If he were not prepared to stand on her ground, so far as this question was concerned — he could hardly hope to stand with her at all.
It was this conviction in the mind of Pickering, and the doubts and uncertainties as to his real attitude in regard to the use of alcoholic drinks, which troubled Miss Granger — which raised the barrier too plainly visible to each on their next meeting. Both studiously avoided any reference to the subject, though it was never absent a moment from the thoughts of either. For the first time since their more intimate acquaintance, Amy made an effort to hold herself away, and even to close her heart against him. Her reserve was so apparent that it hurt, then piqued, and then partially offended the young man.
"If love," he said to himself, "has no deeper foundation than this, is it worth the name? Is the taking or refusing of a glass of wine — to be the test of its quality? The love that I want, is a love which can take me for what I am, and trust me all in all; and if she cannot do this, it might as well be at an end between us. To subject myself to any humiliating pledges and restrictions, is simply impossible. I hold my manly freedom too high for that."
An evening of embarrassed fellowship, followed by a cold parting, was the result. They did not meet again for over a week, during which time Amy had striven hard, but vainly, to keep the thought of Pickering out of her mind. With him the effort to banish her image had been no more successful; and as day after day went by without seeing her, tenderness grew in his heart, and the conviction became stronger and stronger that for him, life would be nothing if not shared with her. Taking all things into consideration, he was beginning to feel more sympathy with the girl in her extreme views. "It is but natural," he said, "for a burnt child to dread the fire. All that she has seen and suffered, must be set down in her favor."
A week of enforced absence was all that Pickering could endure; and when he met the sweet young girl again, the ardor of his feelings was too strong for repression. Love looked out from his eyes more tenderly than ever, and betrayed itself more nearly on his tongue. As for Amy, the gladness of heart which she could not repress, overflowed and revealed itself in her blushing face. Before they parted on that evening, the lover had spoken, and the maiden, while not consenting in words, had left him in no doubt as to the real state of her feelings.
Not the remotest reference was made to the subject which had, only a little while before, come in between them with its warning shadow and its separating wall. Was it forgotten by either of them? Not so. But their hearts held it away from any present influence. Love's fruition was for the moment, too full for the intrusion of any remote questions of prudence. For love's sake, all light impediments must disappear, when the time came for their consideration.
So they felt; but with each the feeling of confidence had its ground in the imagined concession of the other. If Henry Pickering really loved her — would he hesitate in a matter which she held to be of such vital importance? So the maiden thought, and took the sweet assurance to her heart.
"Amy loves me too well to let a mere prejudice or fancy stand between us," said the young man, confidently, to himself.
But they erred in their conclusions. When the young man pressed a closer suit, Amy referred him to her father, and Pickering found that there would be no consent with either, unless the question of his attitude to the drinking customs of society, was clearly settled.
"Neither myself nor my daughter," said Mr. Granger, "can afford to run so great a risk as is here involved. For myself, I would rather see my child with the angels." He betrayed considerable emotion.
"I must infer from all this," said Pickering, unable entirely to conceal his disappointment and irritation, "that you think me in special danger."
"No; only in the danger that comes to all who walk in dangerous ways," was the seriously-spoken reply. "If we know that robbers lie in wait along a certain road, what immunity from attack have we, if we travel that road?"
"Shall we be cowards, then? or, like brave men, fight our way through?"
"If we have no business that requires us to go by that road, we put our courage to a useless test," replied Mr. Granger. "This way of drinking, my young friend, is not an orderly appointed way in life. It leads to no desirable result; has no goal of fortune, or honor, or happiness. Those who walk in it, are not exposed to the assaults of robbers alone, who waste and plunder their substance, but fatal diseases lie along the marshes through which it often winds. It has pitfalls in many of its smoothest places, and steep precipices to which the road clings treacherously. If a man proposes to go in this way, it is better that he should go alone, Mr. Pickering. Love, surely, will not expose its object, needlessly, to dangers like these."
"Frankly, Mr. Granger, I see more of exaggeration in all this, than a statement of what the real danger is," said Pickering.
The irritation that betrayed itself in his manner a little while before, was all gone; and though his speech was plain, it was not in the least disrespectful.
"The direful effects that too surely attend on excessive drinking, can scarcely be exaggerated by any figures of speech that our language is capable of forming," answered Mr. Granger. "I am many years older than you, and have seen deeper into this evil of alcoholism than it is possible for you to have seen; and such is my dread of its subtle power, that I never see a man with a glass of intoxicating liquor in his hand, that I do not feel like uttering a cry of warning. Depend upon it, Mr. Pickering, there is no safe way for a young man, as he makes his entry into this world's busy, exciting and, in too many cases, exhausting arena — but that of complete abstinence from beverages in which alcohol is found."
"It certainly has its good as well as its evil effects," said the young man. "Used in moderation, it serves as a restorative in some cases, and as a tonic and vitalizer in many others. And in certain forms of disease, it is almost a remedy — at least, I have so understood."
"I scarcely think you have studied this subject in the light of more recent investigations and experiences," remarked Mr. Granger.
"In truth, I have not studied it at all. But there are facts which are commonly known and accepted, and these scarcely warrant the complete banishment to which our extreme temperance advocates would subject all kinds of liquor, not excepting beer and the lighter wines."
"There are many inferences, and loose sayings, and unproved assertions in regard to the beneficial effects of alcohol on the human body, as well in health as in sickness," was replied, "but one after another, they are being disproved, until the substance called alcohol has, by the ablest chemists and pathologists, with only an exception here and there, been set over to the side of poisons. It has no nutritive value whatever; and its disturbing and disorganizing effects have become so well known in the medical profession, that even the small number of intelligent physicians who hold to its administration in certain cases, the range of which grows narrower every day, are giving it with great caution and in very small doses."
"Is this really so?" asked the young man, showing some surprise.
"It is just as I have said," replied Mr. Granger. "This whole subject is receiving the most careful attention from the best medical experts; and the day of guess work and loose generalization is over. Nothing will now do for prudent men, but rigid analysis and clearly-established fact. Let me urge upon you, in the outset of life, to give this question of the true effect of alcohol on the human system, an impartial examination; to challenge a substance that works such fearful havoc among men, and require it to answer in no uncertain speech. If it is a friend of the people, there will be no difficulty in establishing the fact; if an enemy, the case can be made equally clear."
"Thank you for the suggestion, Mr. Granger," said the young man. "There is reason in what you say. I will look into this matter more carefully, and if I find it as you allege, I shall not hesitate about my future attitude."
"If you will come and see us tomorrow evening, I think you will be likely to hear a discussion on this subject that will interest you. A few friends are coming in, among whom will be a Dr. Gilbert, from New York, who has given the subject of inebriation and the action of alcoholic stimulants on the human body, a careful study for many years. He is no temperance enthusiast, as the people are too much inclined to call such men as I am, but a cool-headed observer, who will be satisfied with nothing in relation to this subject, which the most perfect methods of chemical analysis and physiological investigation have not settled. You will be impressed with him as a man who knows what he speaks about."
"Thank you, Mr. Granger. I shall certainly avail myself of the opportunity. It is clear seeing which makes right action. But to act where the judgment is not convinced, is never wise. And this is the cause of my hesitation now. I might promise you that I would never take wine or brandy; but if I did not think it wrong, for some clearly seen reason, to use these articles — my promise would ever after be an annoying impediment, and might be broken. But if my promise rests on principle; if I abstain from prudence and judgment; my attitude towards the drinking customs of society will express my true sentiments, and I shall stand firm on the solid ground of my convictions."
"Which will be far better," returned Mr. Granger.
On arriving at Mr. Granger's, I found a small but select company. There were Dr. Gilbert, and Judge Arbuckle and his wife, whom I had been particularly invited to meet.
Mr. Stannard was there also; and a Mrs. Klare, one of the representative women who were actively engaged in the work of Christian temperance reform. I had not before seen young Henry Pickering, and was attracted by his face and bearing; and particularly so, as it was plain, from unmistakable signs, that he was more to Amy Granger, than an ordinary acquaintance. But I did not fail to observe that there was in the attitude of these young people towards each other, a certain reserve that was almost embarrassment. During the conversation that ensued, and which soon drifted into a discussion of the claims of alcohol to have any nutritive or therapeutical value, I was struck by the intentness with which Amy watched the young man's face, as if trying to read his thoughts; and there was, at times, a restlessness in her manner which was particularly noticeable, with occasional swift changes in the expression of her countenance. You saw it light up suddenly when some strong point was made by Dr. Gilbert; and this was always accompanied by a glance towards the young man who was seated by her side.
Dr. Gilbert, whom I had not met before, was a man about fifty, with a quiet, thoughtful face. You saw in his eyes, which were a dark gray, that steady, intent expression, which comes of earnest thought. His mouth was firm, its character harmonizing with what you saw in his eyes. You recognized him at once as a man with whom neither imagination nor impulse could have much influence.
Judge Arbuckle was another style of man altogether. He was taller, with a finer muscular development, and a larger head. His eyes were darker, and so was his complexion. All his features broke into a quicker play, and you perceived at once that he was a man of sentiment and feeling, as well as of intellect and perception, and that in any direction in which he might throw himself, he would display both mental vigor and force of will.
It was curious to see these two men meet in the discussion I had come prepared to hear. But I knew enough of the results of recent investigations in regard to alcohol, to be very well satisfied about the issue, if Dr. Gilbert was as well informed in facts and results, as I had reason to believe.
I will not hold the reader in any of the preliminary phases and drifts of conversation into which the company fell, but bring him in contact therewith where the points of interest were clear, and bore with distinctive force on the main subject under discussion, which was the affirmation on one side that alcohol, if used in moderation, was beneficial — and the declaration on the other that its action on the human body, except in some very unusual conditions, was always hurtful.
"I claim," said Judge Arbuckle, "that wine, and in many cases brandy, are necessary articles, both in diet and medicine. They assist nature in the work of digestion, and give tone to weakened nerves. I have seen many lives saved, under conditions of extreme prostration, by the use of spirits. In typhoid fevers, brandy, as you well know, is the physician's sheet-anchor. Without it, three out of every five of his patients would die from simple lack of heart-power, which can only be restored through active stimulation. In sudden attacks of illness, as in faintings, cholics, a suspension of heart-action, or exhaustion from fatigue or cold — there is nothing that will act so quickly, as a glass of brandy. I never think of leaving home without a supply; and would regard myself as culpable were I to do so. I can point to scores of instances in which a timely draught of brandy has saved me from a spell of sickness, if it has not saved my life. There is one fact that should never be overlooked. Society is not in a normal condition. It is overworked. There is a strain upon everything, and a consequent exhaustion of strength. Nature, always quick in her instinct of danger — has, at the same time, as quick a perception of the remedy needed; and her indication is unmistakable here. It is stimulation which is required. All men feel this; and the universal resort to stimulants of one kind or another, is but the natural and necessary response to the demands of our exhausted and failing vital forces."
The judge spoke with considerable warmth of manner, and with a tone and emphasis which expressed his firm conviction that the assertions he was making were unanswerable.
"Facts and experience are stubborn things, doctor," he closed by remarking; "and these we have in abundance. But men who have pet theories" — he smiled pleasantly as he said it, "are wonderfully skilled in the art of explaining away both."
Dr. Gilbert did not seem to be in any haste to controvert the judge's assertions. His first response came in the form of a question.
"If you were to find a man benumbed with cold, what would you do for him?"
"Pour a glass of brandy down his throat as quickly as possible."
"For what purpose?"
"To heat him up, of course. Heat is life; cold is death."
"Suppose I were to tell you that alcohol lowers instead of raising the temperature of the body."
"I would say that you were jesting."
"And yet the assertion is true."
"Did you ever take a swallow of brandy?"
"Did it make you feel cold or warm?"
"I felt a sense of warmth."
"Burning up even to your face?"
"Is heat cold, doctor?" The judge spoke as one who had closed the controversy in a single sentence.
"Does heat cause the thermometer to fall?" asked Dr. Gilbert.
"I do not see the drift of your question," replied the judge.
"After the most carefully conducted experiments, often repeated," said the doctor, "the fact has been clearly established that alcohol, instead of imparting warmth to the body, actually lowers its temperature."
Judge Arbuckle shook his head in a decided negative. "If I take glass of wine or brandy, I come into an immediate glow. It doesn't do to tell me that I feel cold. Experiment may prove what it can; but it certainly cannot prove this — at least not to my satisfaction. There is such a thing as color blindness; and a like defect may exist in some of the other senses. Feeling with some may be blind also, and mistake heat for cold."
"A young lady blushes," said the doctor, in reply. "You will hardly say that because her cheeks have become hot, the temperature of her whole body has been raised; but rather infer that the equilibrium of heat has been disturbed, or that the capillaries have become relaxed and suffused. An impulse of feeling has disturbed the heart's action, and made its beats more violent. Suppose this temporary engorgement of the minute blood vessels of the skin were to take place, with a sense of heat all over the body, would there not be an increased radiation of heat from all the surface, and a consequent lowering of the body's temperature, especially with the interior organs?"
"But what has the blushing of a young lady to do with the effect of a glass of brandy?" asked the judge.
"The phenomenon observed in both cases is due to the same cause," said the doctor. "Alcohol relaxes the minuter vessels so that they are unable to return the blood promptly to the circulation; cutaneous engorgements follow, with an increase of surface heat, and accelerated radiation. The effect on the extremities of the nerves, is that of a warm glow, such as is felt during a reaction from cold. Instead of there being an actual increase in the general temperature of the body, as the result of alcoholic stimulant — a reduction takes place, as has been proved over and over again by the thermometer."
"You take me out of my depths here, doctor. I have never given much attention to physiology," answered the judge, a little less confident in his manner.
"But you know what common sense is; and how to deduce conclusions from well-established facts. It is the habit of your mind to weigh evidence. Now, for the sake of the truth, which is as dear to you as to any man living, will you not, for a little while, take the place of a judge in this controversy, and give to the evidence I shall bring against alcohol, as an enemy to the human race, the grave consideration it should have?"
"I accept the office to which you so gracefully assign me," replied the judge, smiling. "But as I leave my client without an advocate, I shall claim the right to say a word in his behalf, if I think you treat him unfairly."
"As many words as you please. If there is any good in him, I would like to know it; but I am free to say, that the more carefully I investigate his claim to be, in any sense, a friend to the human race — the more complete are my convictions that he is only an enemy. I cannot find a single thing in which the harm of his presence, is not greater than the good.
"But we were talking about the heat-producing quality of alcohol. Now, heat is generated through the union of oxygen with carbon, by which the latter is consumed. There are certain articles of food, such as the fat, starches and sugars, which are known as heat-producing and force-generating, and chemistry is at no loss in regard to them. Their value has been determined with the greatest accuracy. The amount of heat that each of these substances will give when taken into the body, has been carefully measured, and is known to all in our profession. But in regard to alcohol, so long held even by medical men, to be a heat-producer, chemistry has not yet been made to detect any evidence of oxidation, the blood showing none of the usual results of this process. And now, since we have been using the thermometer as a test of the internal temperature of the body, in order to ascertain the heating value of foods, or its thermal condition under various disturbing influences, we find that when alcohol is taken, there follows a marked reduction of heat. The best medical writers now agree on this subject; and some practitioners have even gone so far as to administer it in fever as a cooling agent.
"Even before science had made this discovery of the non-heat-generating power of alcohol, arctic navigators had learned from experience, that the use of spirits lessens a man's ability to withstand cold; and now the extreme northern voyager avoids its use altogether, in order to retain sufficient heat to sustain him under the intense cold to which he is subjected. In the voyage made in search of Sir John Franklin, no alcoholic stimulants were used; and the northern whaler employs them very sparingly, or not at all."
"Do you remember," said Mr. Stannard, at this point, "a man named Lemonowsky, who, some twenty years ago, gave lectures in this country on Napoleon?"
Some of us remembered him very well.
"I mentioned him because of a lecture he gave on temperance, the facts of which fully corroborate what the doctor has just been saying. Lemonowsky, who had been an officer in Napoleon's army, stated, that when about leaving home, as a boy, his father placed his hand upon his head, and after declaring that intoxicating drinks were the great curse of mankind, solemnly implored him never to touch or taste them; and that he gave his father a promise that he never would. And all his life he remained true to that promise. He took the ground, that the use of alcohol in extreme cold, extreme heat or extreme exhaustion, was dangerous, and often fatal, and, in proof of his position, made three statements of remarkable facts which had come within his own observation and experience.
"Lemonowsky accompanied Napoleon in his invasion of Russia. He said, that among his immediate associates in the army were about thirty who, like himself, wholly abstained from ardent spirits, and that while men who drank freely were dying from gangrene and other diseases, brought on from exposure to the intense cold, every one of these thirty abstainers were in good health, and every one came back from that disastrous campaign. In Egypt, when heat was enervating the army, and death rapidly reducing its numbers, the men who refused to drink ardent spirits still retained their health, and suffered from thirst and heat far less than their companions. This intelligent man then went on to relate how, after the battle of Waterloo, and the delivery by the allies of Marshal Ney and many of the officers to the French at Paris, he, with a few others, effected their escape, and put to sea in a boat, from which they were taken while in the British Channel by a vessel bound to the United States. Subsequently this vessel was wrecked in a storm, and Lemonowsky found himself again upon the sea in an open boat, with nine companions and only a small supply of provisions and water. These were soon used up, and for many days they had nothing to eat or drink. When finally rescued, by a vessel bound to Philadelphia, they were in such an extreme state of exhaustion that they had to be literally carried on board. 'Immediately,' said the narrator, 'on being placed in a berth, the ship's doctor brought me a glass of hot whiskey and water, and placed it to my lips. But I refused to drink it.' 'You must, or you will die,' he said. 'Then I told him I would die, for I never had and never would drink intoxicating liquor. He got angry, and swore at me, and called me a fool. But I would not touch his whiskey. Well, gentlemen and ladies, I recovered; but of the nine who were taken with me out of the boat, and who took the doctor's stimulating draught, hot even though it was, every one died. So, you see, that in extreme cold, or heat, or exhaustion — alcohol, so far from being useful, is one of the most dangerous substances a man can take into his system.'"
"A very striking experience, certainly," said Dr. Gilbert, "and one that is entirely in the line of legitimate results, as proved by the latest and most carefully-conducted experiments. There was a time when, if I had heard this story of Lemonowsky's, I would have pronounced it an exaggeration of an isolated case or two which were but exceptions to a rule, the action of which was all on the other side. But I can well believe, now, that the sturdy old man gave truthful evidence of which he knew."
"If I understand the case," remarked Judge Arbuckle; "I am on the bench, you see, and am considering the evidence — the result of some recent experiments, and the evidence of a few isolated facts are held to disprove the beneficial effects of a substance which medical men have used efficiently for generations, and which every head of a family has administered with success in scores, if not hundreds of instances of sudden sickness."
"The new and exhaustive tests to which this substance has been subjected," replied Dr. Gilbert, "have nearly all been conducted within the last ten years, and so conclusive have been the results, that in the International Medical Congress, which met last year in Philadelphia, at which over six hundred delegates from this country and Europe were assembled, a report was adopted in which alcohol was declared to have no nutritive value whatever, and to be so deleterious in its effects on the human organism, as to leave a grave doubt whether, even as a medicine in the most extreme cases, it did not do more harm than good."
"Not unanimously adopted, certainly."
"The facts are simply these. The National Temperance Society sent a memo to this important Congress, asking from it a public declaration to the effect that alcohol should be classed with other powerful drugs, and that when prescribed medicinally, it should be with conscientious caution and a sense of grave responsibility. That it should declare it to be in no sense a food for the human system, and that its improper use is productive of a large amount of physical disease, tending to deteriorate the human race; and further, to recommend to their several nationalities, as representatives of enlightened science, a total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. The consideration of this memo was referred to the 'Section on Medicine,' in which the questions proposed were discussed with marked ability and earnestness, resulting in the almost unanimous adoption of an elaborate report by Dr. Ezra M. Hunt. In this report, alcohol is declared to have no nutritive value, and to be of doubtful utility as a medicine. Indeed, its therapeutic value is limited almost exclusively to that of a cardiac stimulant in certain extreme cases, which often admit of substitutions. Of its evil and destructive action on the body and brain, a frightful exhibit is given. This report, as transmitted by the 'Section on Medicine' to the General Congress, was ordered by that body to be sent to the National Temperance Society as an answer to its memo."
I was observing the face of Judge Arbuckle while Dr. Gilbert was speaking. The grave, almost puzzled expression that came creeping over it, was curious to see. The judge had a respect for science, learning and authority. The testimony of the Lemonowsky, went for almost nothing. But here was an International Medical Congress of over six hundred eminent physicians, representing, of course, the highest intelligence of the profession, uttering its grave condemnation, and at a word sealing up the bottle from which he had been drawing his favorite medication, and declaring its use to be hurtful in nearly every case of administration.
"I don't know, doctor," he said, "whether I am really awake or not; all this is so new and improbable. I shall expect to hear, presently, that a beefsteak has its hidden dangers, and that coffee will poison as surely as arsenic."
"By their fruits you shall know them; and it so happens that, in regard to alcohol, there is no difficulty about the fruit," returned the doctor.
"None whatever in regard to its abuse," returned the judge. "That is admitted by everyone. But we are talking of its moderate use as a beverage, and of its value as a medicine. Take me, for example. I have used more or less wine and spirits for over twenty-five years. Few men enjoy better health. Except some torpor of the liver, which I believe is hereditary."
Dr. Gilbert looked steadily into Judge Arbuckle's face for a few moments, as if making a critical examination. Then reaching out his hand, he said: "Let me feel your pulse, judge."
There was a deep pause and silence.
"With some slight disturbance of the heart occasionally," remarked the doctor, quietly.
"Very slight. Nothing to speak of," replied the judge, with the manner of one who felt a little disturbed.
"A sinking sensation after exertion, or anxiety, or abstinence from food?"
"Which all comes right after a good, strong glass of brandy?"
"You find this occurring oftener than it did a few years ago?"
"Well, yes. I'm getting older, you see, and any organic trouble one may have generally increases with age. But, fortunately, I know what to do, and have my remedy always at hand."
"In some form of alcoholic stimulant?"
"How often do you resort to this remedy? Every day?"
I saw a change of expression in the judge's face, and a contraction of his brows, as he replied: "Almost every day."
"Especially in the morning before you have taken food?"
"Well, now, Judge Arbuckle," said the doctor, with a grave smile on his face, "did it never occur to you that the remedy you are taking for the relief of this trouble — is the very agent by which it has been produced?"
Judge Arbuckle shook his head in a decided manner.
"And that your torpid liver is only another evidence of organic deterioration produced by this favorite remedy — or shall I say beverage — to which you resort so frequently?"
"Organic deterioration, doctor!" There was a covert alarm in the judge's voice.
"There is no substance used by man, which produces so many and such serious organic deterioration, as alcohol," replied the doctor, speaking soberly. "There is not an organ, or delicate nerve, or membrane, or fluid, or vessel, that it does not hurt by contact, or deteriorate if the contact be continued. The heart, which is the center of life, is subjected to an excess of strain, so long as it is in the system, because, being a substance that is never digested, or converted into food or force, it hurts and disturbs until elimination takes place. But this strain, or overwork, is the least of the evils which come from the presence of alcohol. The changes and deteriorations of structure, and in the condition of the blood, which take place in consequence of the presence of alcohol, are of a most serious character.
"Let me try to make this plain. The whole surface of the body, and every particular organ, muscle, nerve, blood vessel, and even the bones, are enveloped in sheaths or coverings called the membranes. Besides the first apparent use of these membranes, many of which serve as enveloping bandages, by which all the structures are held together in perfect order, they have a still more important use in the animal economy. They are the filters of the body, and without them there could be no building of the structures they line or enclose. The food we take contains all the various things required for the life and health of the body; albumen, protein and vegetable film for tissue building; fat, sugar and starch for the production of heat and force; water as the general solvent, and salt for constructive and other purposes. These have, after digestion, to be arranged in the body, which is done by the membranes, through which nothing can pass which is not, for the time, in a state of aqueous solution. Water passes freely through them, and so do soluble salts; but the constructive albuminous matter does not pass until it is chemically decomposed. Upon their integrity, all the silent work of building up the body depends. If these membranes are rendered too porous, and let out the tissue-building fluids of the blood, the body dies gradually, as if it were being slowly bled to death; if, on the contrary, they become condensed or thickened, they fail to let the natural fluids pass through them, and the result is either an accumulation of fluids in a closed cavity, or the contraction of the substance enclosed within the membrane, or a dryness of membranous surfaces which ought to be freely lubricated and kept apart.
"Now, the most carefully-conducted experiments have educed the fact that upon all the membranous structures, alcohol exerts a direct and perverting action. It produces in them a thickening, a shrinking and an inactivity that reduces their functional power. That they may work rapidly and equally, they require to be at all times charged with water to saturation; and an agent that deprives them of any portion of this water interferes with their work, and lays the foundation of structural derangements and deteriorations that are often fatal in the end. Alcohol is an agent which possesses, in a high degree, this power of absorbing water; and as soon as it is taken into the body — it begins the work of absorption. Dr. Hunt, in his report to the Medical Congress, says: 'The power alcohol has of drying secretions, and congesting membranes, is unsurpassed by any known remedy in general use;' and Dr. Richardson, in his Cantor Lectures on Alcohol, dwells particularly on this point in his startling exhibit of the destructive effects of alcohol when taken into the human body."
"You almost take my breath away, doctor!" exclaimed Judge Arbuckle, affecting a lightness of tone that did not wholly conceal the more serious impression which these charges against alcohol, as an enemy to the physical organism, had produced on his mind. "I was going to ask you in what specific manner this substance affects the heart and the liver; but I'm half afraid."
"The best way to deal with any danger, is to look it steadily in the face, and measure its power for evil," replied the doctor. "Let us take the heart, which, by its propelling force, sends the blood along the arteries. One of the first effects of alcohol is a temporary relaxation or paralysis of the minuter blood-vessels, which shows itself often, as I said a little while ago, in a sensation of heat. This causes the heart to beat more quickly. The vessels throughout the whole body become dilated, and are held in a state of unnatural relaxation and unnatural tension. If the use of alcoholic drinks is continued, the persistent pressure causes, in the course of time, a change in the diameters of these vessels, and the whole marvelous web-work of blood, upon which the organs of the body are constructed, is deranged. Soon the functions of the heart become perverted — for it cannot escape the effects of stimulation. If, today, under the excitement of wine or spirits, it gives twenty-five thousand strokes in twenty-four hours, more than its usual number, it cannot tomorrow sink back to the old rate without experiencing some disturbance, some feebleness, or some hesitation. And is it not fair to conclude that an organ which, by its own stroke feeds its own substance with blood, must be among the first to suffer from irregular supplies of blood? As stimulation goes on increasing, the heart, whipped to greater efforts, gradually enlarges, as the arm does by excessive use; its exquisite valves, subjected to prolonged strain, are drawn out of their fine proportion; the orifices, through which the great currents of blood issue in their course, are dilated; the minute chords which hold the valves in position and tension are elongated; and the walls of the ventricles are thickened. All this is, of course, very gradual, and nature, ever on the alert for defense or repair, holds her own, as far as possible, against the enemy that is assaulting her, and disputes the ground inch by inch, and for a long time so successfully, that but few outward signs of the evil work that is going on make themselves visible. But the time comes when her power of resistance fails, and when deteriorations of organic tissues begin. The membranous envelope and lining of the heart thickens, becomes cartilaginous, and even hardened. To this may follow degenerative changes in the muscular tissues of the heart, by which the power of contraction may be reduced, or fatty cells may begin to replace the muscular structure. So insidiously do these organic changes progress, that those who are suffering from them are scarcely aware of the mischief until it is far advanced. They are for years conscious of a failure of central power, which they try to restore by the very stimulation that produced the failure, until, in the end, the remedy ceases to act; whip and spur can do no more, and the poor, jaded, overworked heart, gives up the hopeless struggle."
"And the man dies," said the judge, in a half-incredulous voice. But his manner was very grave.
"That event may be long delayed; for nature never yields an inch of ground so long as she can defend it, and when forced to retire, usually does it slowly, fighting as she retreats. It often happens that, before the heart gives up the struggle, other vital organs are subdued — the brain, the liver or the lungs. Sometimes paralysis or a stroke ends the contest. Indeed, death comes from a wide range of diseases, which have their origin in alcoholic deteriorations. No man, who uses the substance habitually, is a sound man. He cannot bear exposure, or sudden changes of the temperature, or the subtle invasion of disease, nearly as well as the man who never permits the poison to enter his system."
"You think my torpid liver comes from the presence of alcohol in my system?" said the judge.
"I have very little doubt of it; for it is on that organ that alcohol most frequently works structural changes," replied Dr. Gilbert. "The liver has a remarkable capacity for holding active substances in its cellular parts. In cases of poisoning from arsenic, strychnine and other substances — we turn at once to the liver as the place of chief deposit for foreign matter. Alcohol finds its way there promptly; and we might say that, with the free drinker of ardent spirits, it is almost continually saturated with it. The effect of alcohol on the liver, is to retard free secretion and the passage of fluids. The organ enlarges at first from the distension of its vessels and the thickening of its tissues. Afterwards there follows a contraction of membrane, and a slow shrinking of the whole mass of the organ in its cellular parts. Dr. Richardson, in his Cantor Lectures, to which I have referred, clearly describes this process. Of course, as in other alcoholic poisoning, the change is slow, and the subject of it rarely suspects the cause of his trouble. When the liver has become a shrunken, hardened mass, swelling in the lower extremities appears, and the case becomes hopeless. Sometimes, in these extreme changes, a fatty degeneration takes place."
I saw the judge glance down at his feet and move them, I thought, a little uneasily, when Dr. Gilbert spoke of swelling in the lower extremities; and I saw that the face of Mrs. Arbuckle changed suddenly. There was a pause, which no one seemed for awhile inclined to break.
"You speak very confidently, Dr. Gilbert."
"Because I speak from the stand-point of accurate knowledge in regard to the action of alcohol, as well as from the experience and observation of the most enlightened men in our profession. No physician, who has kept pace with the advance of medical science in the past few years, would now dare to risk the life of his patient, or to retard his cure, by giving him alcohol freely in any serious illness. If administered at all, it would be in very small doses, and with an exceeding close observation of its effects. If I had you in my library, I could refer you to the recorded testimony in medical journals, treatises and text-books of the most distinguished and trustworthy members of the profession in this country and Europe, on the subject of the use of alcohol in disease; and with scarcely an exception, it is unfavorable. Where its use is now sanctioned at all, it is under the strictest limitations, and with the greatest injunctions of caution.
"The evidence against my client continues to accumulate," said the judge, with something like a grim smile on his face. "Anything more, Dr. Gilbert?"
"The testimony, if all were taken," replied the doctor, "would require this court to remain in session for weeks, and if printed, would fill many volumes. There are a few things more which I would like to say, if you have patience to hear them. The prisoner at the bar, your honor, is an exceedingly dangerous fellow; and it may be well to permit those who know him best, and who understand his hidden and subtle ways, and the evils that are wrought by his hands, to offer still further evidence against him. Richardson says of alcohol, that it dries the liver, the stomach and the lungs; and even steals moisture from the corpuscles of the blood; and more than any other article in common use, initiates degeneration of important organs. A claim has been made for alcohol that it fattens the body, if that is a desirable result. Many beer-drinkers certainly do become fat; but as a substance which contains no fatty material cannot produce fat, investigation may naturally seek for a reason in the pathological effects of alcohol. It is found that the individual so fattened, invariably diminishes in physical activity, and in the power of endurance in proportion to his increase of weight; and this is held to be due to a degenerative change in the more actively vital materials of the body, and the slow accumulation of uneliminated carbonacious material. It is really disease and not health; the product of a degenerative and not a normal process. If alcohol can serve the human body no better than this, the body might well dispense with its service.
"As a digester, alcohol has a wide reputation. Men take it before a meal to prepare the stomach for its work, and with and after a meal to assist it in doing its work. Now, what has the medical profession to say on this subject; and what is the result of careful test, analysis and observation? One authority declares that alcohol, when added to the digestive fluid, 'produces a white precipitate, which suspends digestion;' and Richardson declares that of all the systems of organs that suffer from the use of alcohol, two, namely, the digestive and the nervous, are effected most determinately. The stomach, he remarks, being unable, because of the presence of alcohol, to produce, in proper quantity, the natural digestive fluid, and also unable to absorb the food which, in consequence, is but imperfectly digested, becomes affected with anxiety and irritation, or oppressed with nausea, or with a sense of distension, or with a loathing for food, or an unnatural craving for drink. This self-inflicted disease, as it becomes confirmed, is called dyspepsia; and the sufferer, instead of giving up his wine, or spirits, takes pills, or pours into his poor abused stomach floods of effervescing and mineral waters; does, in fact, a hundred foolish things by which he is made worse. Between his drinking and his medicine, he increases his indigestion, until it takes on a chronic form, and all enjoyment of life is over."
"One might infer from all this," the judge here remarked, "that our prisoner at the bar is responsible for all the ills that flesh is heir to."
"His responsibility," replied the doctor, "has a far wider range than most people imagine. The consumption of spirits, wine, ale and beer reaches, annually, in this country, the enormous amount of over three hundred million gallons. Is it possible for the people to consume this vast quantity of a beverage containing from two or three to over sixty percent of a substance which, in the words of Dr. Hunt, is 'beyond dispute, fraught with the most prevalent and direful results to the physical structure,' without a serious impairment of the public health in the reduction of vital power, and in functional derangements, which lay the foundations of diseases which too often baffle the physician's skill?
"I say nothing of the ills that afflict our social life, which are more terrible, even, than the ills from which our bodies suffer. One medical writer says of alcohol: 'It helps time to produce the effects of old age; it is the genius of degeneration.' Another says: 'Practical medicine tells us that three-quarters of all diseases in adults who drink at all are caused thereby,' and farther, that, 'the capacity of the alcohols for impairment of functions and the initiation and promotion of organic lesion in vital parts, is unsurpassed by any record in the whole range of medicine;' these facts being so fully granted by the profession, as to be no longer debatable. But why continue to accumulate evidence? If what I have stated be not sufficient to convict the accused, it would be a waste of time to bring other allegations against him."
Judge Arbuckle's fine face lighted up as he grasped the hand of Dr. Gilbert, and said: "I must declare the evidence to be complete; and confess, at the same time, that I have been too much prejudiced against temperance reformers, as a class, to give this subject the careful and honest investigation it should long ago have received at my hands. We cling to old prejudices sometimes with an unreasoning tenacity, you know. But is the statement just made by you, taken from official returns? — the one in regard to the enormous consumption of intoxicating drinks in this country?"
"It is from Dr. Hargreaves' important work, 'Our Wasted Resources,' which ought to be carefully studied by every intelligent man who feels an interest in the welfare of his country, and in the well-being of the people. The statements given are, of course, authentic. And let me refer you, also, to the exhaustive report on 'Alcohol as a Food and Medicine,' made to the recent Medical Congress, by Dr. Ezra W. Hunt, which has been published in a volume of nearly a hundred and fifty pages; and to Dr. Richardson's able lectures on alcohol. These works are candid, honest and thorough, and offer abundant means for an examination of this great subject, on the right treatment and adjustment of which hang such vast results of good or evil. I shall feel that a cause which my judgment approves, and in which my feelings are deeply interested, has gained a large accession of strength, if you, Judge Arbuckle, should, from conviction and principle, range yourself upon the side of its friends. That cause is known as Total Abstinence."
The light which had come breaking into Judge Arbuckle's face, as he grasped the doctor's hand, faded out slowly — and a sober, thoughtful, indeterminate expression came in its stead. "Total abstinence!" Ever since he could remember, these two words bad been, in his mind, the synonym for ignorant and meddlesome fanaticism; and he had felt something like contempt for men who could let the glass of wine pass them untasted. He must be a poor milk-sop, or cold, mean and unsocial person, who could do this, he thought. In standing consciously above this class, in his use of "a beverage fit for the gods," the judge had enjoyed a feeling of superiority, and a sense of more affluent manhood. It is no cause of wonder, then, that his countenance became exceedingly grave and thoughtful. Had these men, been the really wise ones? Had they been of the prudent, who, foreseeing the evil, hide themselves — while he, passing on with the simple, had been punished? I saw that a great conflict was going on in his mind; and I saw, too, that his wife was watching him with an intensity of interest which she made no effort to conceal.
"Total abstinence, doctor!" The judge shook his head. "I believe in moderation. And all you have said as to the bad effects of the alcohol contained in wine and spirits, only makes moderation the more imperative."
The judge had risen to his feet. In doing so, I noticed a slight stiffness of movement. He straightened himself up rather slowly, placing one hand tightly above his right hip, and holding it there for a few moments. Then he stepped out and walked across the room. There was, at first, a perceptible limp in one leg; but it was soon gone.
Dr. Gilbert smiled, as he said: "Getting a little stiff, judge?"
"Yes," was answered good humoredly. "We are none of us as young as we were twenty years ago."
"A man ought to be called young at fifty," replied the doctor. "And neither you nor I have gone far, if at all, beyond that age."
"Fifty-one," said the judge.
"In advance of me less than a year. This should be the age of full vigor. Every organ and function in the body, if there has been no overstrain, nor exposure to morbid causes, ought to be in their highest activity. The filtering and lubricating membranes that line and inclose the joints, should be in perfect health; and so should the membranes that sheathe the muscles and nerves, and enfold and line the vital organs. It is too soon for age to impair the action, or to dry the fluids of any part of the body's wonderful mechanism."
"I don't know about that, doctor," returned the judge. "I am acquainted with a great many men who have reached fifty, and there is scarcely one of them who is not beginning to show signs of approaching old age."
"What about their habits? Are they strictly temperate men? Total abstinence from alcoholic drinks, I mean?"
"No. They are for the most part, good, generous livers, but not given to excess, except, perhaps, in a few cases."
Dr. Gilbert smiled, as he said: "The effects of arsenic, when taken into the stomach moderately, have been carefully observed and recorded, and are so well known to the physician, that he rarely, if ever, mistakes them. Now, if he were called to see a patient who had been indulging in the moderate use of arsenic, and found all the indications of arsenic poison about him, would he not fairly conclude that it was arsenic, and not old age or anything else that was working the mischief. The case with your friends is in exact parallel with this. The effects of alcoholic poison have been as carefully noted and recorded as that produced by arsenic. We know just what it does in the human body, and how it does it, and what the indications of its health-destroying actions are. And when we see a man who regularly uses alcohol in any of its forms, suffering from the troubles which we know alcohol produces, we naturally assign the cause of his ailments, to the poison he has taken. If we find him troubled with sciatica, and know, as we do, that alcohol perverts the membranous coverings of the nerves, and gives rise to pressure within the sheath of the nerve, and to pain in consequence, we naturally infer that the origin of his trouble lies in the poison of alcohol. If the neuralgia is in the face, commencing at some point where a nerve passes through an opening in the bone, as near the center of the chin, or in front of the lower part of the ear, or over the eye, and we know that alcohol thickens, as I have shown, the sheath of the nerve — we do not hesitate to conclude that this thickening has gone on until the bony openings have become too small, and congestion and intense suffering are the consequence. If one of our moderate-drinking patients has any of the troublesome forms of indigestion, we refer the cause to the alcohol contained in his favorite beverage, for we know that alcohol not only retards instead of promoting digestion, but weakens and diseases the stomach. If he is afflicted with insomnia, we see in this most serious condition the result of the relaxation of the blood-vessels of the brain, caused by the presence of alcohol, and their consequent inability to return the blood promptly to the heart; or if his sleep is heavy and apoplectic in character, we know that this relaxation of the blood-vessel is so great as to result in engorgement and danger. If there is fatty degeneration of the heart, or kidneys, or liver, we know that alcohol will do this very thing. If we find Bright's disease, we know that the action of alcohol is to deteriorate the lining membranes of the kidneys, by which they may lose their power to retain and rightly dispose of the albuminous material out of which the tissues of the body are constructed, and let it pass through and be drained from the system, which, in the end, is certain death. I could go on and show how nearly every organic disease with which our poor bodies are afflicted, may have its origin in the deteriorations or obstructions caused by alcohol."
"But, doctor, we have 'tic,' and sciatica, and insomnia, and albuminuria, and all the diseases you mention in people who make no use of wine, or beer, or spirits."
"Of course we have," was replied. "I did not mean to say that only alcohol causes these maladies. I was speaking of people who were habitual drinkers; and the conclusion I wished to press was, that as alcohol would produce the diseases from which they were suffering, it was but fair to assume that alcohol was the responsible agent in their special cases of suffering."
"There are hereditary tendencies to many diseases, you know, doctor," said the judge, speaking with the manner of one who was being driven from his entrenchments, and with little more than a suggestion in his voice.
"The greater reason why we should carefully avoid everything that will excite these tendencies," returned the doctor. "If there is one substance which, above all others, in common use among men, disturbs the vital functions, and works unhealthy changes in every particular thing in the body which it touches — will not that substance be sure to give to all hereditary susceptibilities to disease a quickening force? It cannot be otherwise."
The judge returned to his chair; and as he sat down, drew his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped away the perspiration which had collected on his forehead. The expression of his countenance was still more thoughtful and serious.
"Passing from the physical to the mental," said Dr. Gilbert, "and we come to the higher and more appalling forms of disaster which spring from the drinking customs of society. Are you at all familiar with these, Judge Arbuckle?"
"I am aware that many cases of insanity are attributed to alcoholism; and I can easily see that confirmed drunkenness must tend to impair the mental as well as the bodily powers," returned the judge.
"Is it not clear," resumed the doctor, "that a substance which attacks and injures every functional structure in the body, must seriously affect that delicate and wonderful piece of mechanism, the brain? The moment you disturb this organ — you disturb the mind. You may hurt the hand, or the foot, or almost any other organ or member of the body, and yet thought may remains clear, and the intellect balanced; but touch the brain — congest its finer blood-vessels, thicken its delicate membranes and impair the quality of the nervous matter they inclose, and a new peril begins. Before, it was only the physical man that was in danger; now it is the rational and the moral man. A deterioration of brain-structure has commenced, which, if not arrested, may terminate in insanity. That it does so terminate we know, for of the inhabitants of our insane asylums, from fifteen to twenty percent have been reduced to their melancholy condition through alcoholism. The percentage would be placed much higher, if we included all the cases wherein the brain had been so much injured by alcohol, as to be unable to bear the shock of misfortune, bereavement or humiliation, by which the reason has been dethroned.
"Men who are in good health rarely break down and lose their reason in consequence of business disasters, keen disappointments or domestic afflictions. I do not hesitate to affirm — and, as a physician, I know of what I speak — that no man who regularly uses any beverage in which alcohol is present, is, or can be, in perfect health, or in the full and undisturbed possession of his mental faculties. He is, in the degree that he uses this substance, sound neither in mind nor body, and is exposed to more imminent dangers than men who abstain from its use altogether. He cannot endure the same amount of physical or mental strain, which he might have done if there had been no impairment of function or faculty. Now, a point that I wish to urge, is this: while we are not responsible, as moral beings, for the sins of our fathers, there is laid upon us, under the law of transmission, a sad heritage of diseased tendencies, both of body and mind, coming down to us through many generations — arrested and modified in one, and intensified, it may be, in another. As we take this legacy, it is only in the form of a latent force. If our lives are strictly in the line of natural and spiritual laws; if we shun excess of every kind, and hold the appetite and passions in check, we may keep that latent force inactive and harmless. But if, on the contrary, we indulge our appetites and passions, and disobey the laws of natural and spiritual health, then we come into the possession of this evil legacy, and into the disorders and sufferings it entails; transmitting it with an intenser vitality, it may be, to the generation that comes after us. Just what this legacy of evil tendencies may be in your case or mine, neither of us can know until we violate some law of natural or spiritual health impelled thereto, it may be, by its hidden motions. Then it first begins to gain power over us. There may be an inherited taint of insanity, alcoholism or consumption, which an orderly life and good health may keep from ever showing itself. But let such a health-disturbing element as alcohol get into the body and brain, and who may foretell the consequences."
During the whole of this time, scarcely a remark had been made by anyone except the judge and Dr. Gilbert; but all were attentive listeners; none more so than young Henry Pickering and Amy Granger. My attention had been drawn towards them from the first, and the impression soon came to me that the young man's attitude towards the question under discussion had not been altogether such as the maiden approved. But it was plain now, that Dr. Gilbert's evidence, so clearly stated, had made a deep impression on his mind. He turned to Amy, as the doctor closed his remarks, and spoke to her very earnestly for a few moments. The effect was striking. Her face lighted up gradually until it was as if a sunbeam had fallen over it, while her beautiful eyes became almost radiant.
"For one," said Mr. Stannard, the first to break the silence that followed, turning to Dr. Gilbert as he spoke, "I must express my thanks for the clear explanation you have given us of the physical effects of alcohol. We, the people, need instruction on this subject. It is because of our lack of reliable information here, that so many go on impairing health, and laying the foundation of incurable diseases. If this were all; if the use of a substance so destructive to the body did not lead, as you have just intimated, to other and more appalling disasters. Among these, you have referred to insanity. Ah! if there were nothing else, this would be bad enough. But among the evils that it inflicts on our race, insanity, I had almost said, among the lightest. Of its agency in making criminals, Judge Arbuckle is, perhaps, as well informed as any one present."
The judge, who had been sitting with his eyes bent to the floor, almost started at the mention of his name, his absence of thought had been so great.
"What were you saying?" he asked, glancing towards Mr. Stannard.
"Only that you were probably better informed than any one present, as to the direct agency of alcohol in making criminals."
"There is no disputing the fact," replied the judge, with much gravity of manner, "that a very large number of the crimes for which men are tried and punished, have their origin, or secondary exciting cause in liquor-drinking."
"Statistics," remarked Mr. Granger, "tell a sad story as to the crime — destitution, suffering and pauperism which spring from this one source. The figures are indeed startling. I have looked at the hundreds of poor wretched creatures who gathered nightly at our meeting on Broad Street, and read in their faces, the sad story of their fall and degradation; my thought has gone to the homes made desolate; to the broken-hearted wives and mothers; to the abused and neglected children, that must be counted in as a part of the ruin involved in what I saw before me. At a single glance, I have taken in as many as from three to five hundred of these wretched beings, with faces and forms so marred and disfigured that it made my heart ache to look at them; and for every individual I saw before me, somewhere, way out of sight and observation, were from one to half a score of wronged and suffering ones, who, but for the debasement of these men, might have been living in comfort and happiness. This is the thought that intensifies our pity and stirs our compassion when we look at even a single one of these wrecks of humanity.
"But when we begin to aggregate these human disasters, the result becomes appalling. We take an isolated home. It is the dwelling-place of sweet contentment. But the demon of drink comes in, and beauty fades, and peace retires, and sorrow, and pain, and unutterable woe take up their abode in the desolate habitation; or it is thrown down and utterly destroyed. How sad we grow over a single case like this, when it comes clearly before us. What, then, is the fearful aggregate? Statistics place the great army of drunkards in this country at six hundred thousand! It may be more, it may be less. Do we place the average too great when we say, that, for every one of these — five people are hurt in some way — fathers, mothers, wives, children, sisters, brothers or dependents? Three million people are involved — in the debasement and ruin of these six hundred thousand! What an awful aggregate, when we comprehend just what this debasement and ruin means and involves! Then statistics tell us that, from two to three hundred thousand children are yearly deserted, or orphaned, and sent to poor-houses, or bequeathed to private and public charities, in consequence of alcoholism; to say nothing of the little ones who perish from neglect and cruelty. Of the crimes committed, our newspapers and our police, our courts and prison records make perpetual advertisement, until the awful facts become so familiar, that the public grows hardened and almost indifferent. In a single year, in the State of New York, according to one of the reports of the Prison Association, not less than from sixty to seventy thousand people, men, women and children, were committed to the jails of that commonwealth, and eighty-four percent of these criminals, according to the estimates of the prison-officials, were due either directly or indirectly to the use of intoxicating liquors! The estimates of leading temperance writers as to the number of men and women who are yearly sent to prison in consequence of using strong drink, give the figures at one hundred thousand; but taking the returns of New York as a basis of calculation, and they swell to more startling numbers.
"The mortality of drunkenness is another aspect of the case fearful to contemplate. Sixty thousand are said to die annually in this country from the direct effects of inebriety; and where epidemics attack a community — the intemperate, and those who use alcoholic drinks regularly, are the first to yield to their malign influences. A remarkable instance of this is given in a letter written to the Boston Medical Journal, in 1853, by Dr. Carnwright, of New Orleans. The yellow fever, he said, came down like a storm on the devoted city, sweeping off five thousand alcoholic men, before a single sober man was touched by the epidemic. A Liverpool coroner made public declaration, that gin caused him to hold annually a thousand more inquests than would otherwise have been the case; and he said, farther, that he had seen, since holding the office of coroner, so many murders by poison, by drowning, by hanging and by cutting the throat — in consequence of drinking ardent spirits, that he was astonished that the legislature did not interfere to stop the sale of intoxicating liquor. It was his belief, that from ten to fifteen thousand people died annually in that metropolis, from the effects of alcohol-drinking.
"Looking beyond the questions of health, mortality and personal suffering involved in the use of intoxicants — the loss to the whole people in material prosperity is something startling. If, as has been established over and over again by the testimony of judges, grand juries and prison-keepers, from sixty to eighty percent of the heavy cost of maintaining courts, prisons and almshouses, is due to the crime and pauperism engendered by drinking, we have in this item alone, a vast drain upon the productive industry of the country. What this drain is, may be seen from a single fact. In Ulster County, New York, a committee was appointed to ascertain from reliable sources, the percentage on every dollar of tax paid to the county, which was required for the support of her paupers, and the prosecution and maintenance of her criminals; and, after careful examination, it was announced, that on every dollar of tax paid, sixty-three cents was the penalty exacted from the people for permitting the liquor traffic to be carried on in that county.
"But this is only a single item. The loss in productive labor suffered through the voluntary or enforced idleness of six or seven hundred thousand drunken men, paupers and criminals, to say nothing of the reduced power of work and production which inevitably attends moderate drinking, as it is called, adds an additional drawback to the general prosperity.
"There is yet another view of this case. Hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain, instead of going to feed the people, are annually used for the production of beverages which injure the health of all who drink them, and create an army of paupers and criminals. The amount paid for these beverages by those who drink them, is from eight hundred, to a thousand million dollars every year, or more than the value of all the flour, cotton goods, boots and shoes, woolen goods, clothing, books and newspapers produced in the whole country.
"A government of the people, by the people, and for the people, can hardly be called, in all things, a wise government — so long as it fosters and protects, by legal enactment, and draws a part of its revenue, from a traffic like this, which offers no good to the people, but mars their industry, corrupts their politics, and sows crime, pauperism, disease and death broadcast over the land! Is it not time that the citizens of this great nation called a halt; and time that every man who holds in regard the well-being of his neighbor, and the happiness and safety of his children — should come out from among the friends of so monstrous an evil, and set himself resolutely to the work of its repression?"
"The work of repression is a very slow and halting work," came in the clear, calm voice of a woman, and I turned towards Mrs. Klare, who had been silent up to this time. Judge Arbuckle, who had been listening with a grave, judicial attention to Mr. Granger, almost startled at the sound of her voice, and looked at her with a lifting of his eyebrows, and awakened surprise on his countenance. "Its progress, if there is really any progress at all, except in one or two exceptional States," she went on, "is so slow as to be utterly disheartening. I depreciate none of the efforts which are now being made to restrict the traffic and warn the people against the use of a substance which yields no single benefit — but curses with unutterable woes, every one on whom its blight falls — they all have their measure of good — but, while we wait for the agencies of repression, thousands, and tens of thousands are perishing around us! Shall we stand off and see these wretched men and women so perish, while we seek to influence legislation, and wait for a new public sentiment that shall lessen the evil in some far-off time to come? Shall a man, whom an effort on my part might save, die at my door — and I be guiltless?"
"There are many agencies of reform and means of rescue in active operation, as you are well aware, Mrs. Klare," said Mr. Stannard. "Our inebriate asylums and reformatory homes are saving a large number of men.!
"For every man that is so saved, I thank God, and bless the agency that saved him," was answered. "But what impression can less than a score of such institutions, scattered here and there over the land, excellent as they are, make upon the six hundred thousand drunkards whom Mr. Granger has just told us about? Are these to be left to perish, while we are trying to establish more asylums for their treatment and cure? There must be quicker, readier and less costly means for more than four out of five of these six hundred thousand — or they are lost forever."
"You, and the noble women who are at work with you in the cause of reform and restoration, are giving us, I trust, a solution of this great problem."
"God is giving the solution," replied Mrs. Klare, in a low, subdued voice. "In our blindness we went to Him, and He showed us the way. We called upon Him in our weakness and our despair — and He heard and answered us."
Mrs. Klare spoke with a confidence of manner that brought a look of wonder to the face of Judge Arbuckle, and caused him to lean a little forward in his chair.
"You men may continue to fight this foe of alcoholism with carnal aids to warfare, if you will — but we have found in the Sword of the Spirit, the most effective weapon that we can use against him," Mrs. Klare continued, a soft smile just touching her lips, to show that she did not mean any discourtesy, by her form of speech.
"What do you mean by the Sword of the Spirit, madam?" asked the judge, as he leaned towards Mrs. Klare, and looked at her still curiously.
"Prayer and faith," she replied.
"Oh! I see," he returned, with a slight betrayal of amused incredulity in his voice. "Prayer and faith are used as a kind of exorcism by which the devil of drink is cast out."
"If you choose to put it in that form, judge," the lady answered, with a smile still lingering on her gentle lips.
"And you really believe, madam, that prayer will make a drunken man sober?"
"No, I do not believe anything of the kind."
"What then?" asked the judge.
"I believe that God will do it in answer to prayers."
"In answer to your prayer?"
"If," asked Mrs. Klare, "there lived in my neighborhood a man who had become miserably drunken; who wasted his earnings in liquor, and neglected and abused his wife and children; and I, pitying his state, and earnestly desiring to save him, should go to the Lord and present his case, and pray that His Holy Spirit might strike conviction to his soul, and give him not only to see the dreadful sin he was committing, but lead him to repentance; and suppose that, after I had so presented him to the Lord, for a single time, or for many times, he should repent, and turn from his evil course, and be gathered into the fold of Christ — what would you say?"
"Have you ever known such a case?" asked the judge.
"Yes; and not only one, but many, each, of course, with its peculiar aspects and incidents, but all quite as remarkable as the one I have given."
"There is something more in this, than appears on the surface," remarked the judge. "I do not believe that God was waiting for your prayers, before He would lead the man of whom you speak to repentance and reformation of life. What is your view of the case?"
"I know," replied Mrs. Klare, "that all things are promised to those who pray, believing; and I know, that after I had prayed, in the case I have instanced, and in many other such cases — God has brought conviction and repentance. Just how it was all done, I do not pretend to know. I am not so much interested in the philosophy of this salvation — as in the glorious fact. And I am not alone, Judge Arbuckle, in my experiences. Hundreds of pious women in this city, and thousands more all over the land, are saving poor drunkards by scores and hundreds, through the power of faith and prayer. If you could be with us in our daily meetings, and see the men whom we are rescuing, and hear them speak of the power of Divine grace in setting them free from the slavery of alcohol, your heart would be so stirred within you, that you would accept the fact of the value of prayer, and leave the philosophy to be discussed and settled hereafter."
"If you can lead a man to pray for himself, and he then gains, through prayer and intercession, the power to resist and control his appetite — I can see a clear relation between cause and effect," said the judge. "He comes voluntarily into a new attitude towards the Lord, who can now give him grace and strength, because he is ready to receive it. But how the prayer in which he has no part can have any avail, passes my comprehension."
"We who are in the midst of this great Gospel temperance work, are so crowded with surprising instances of the effect of our prayers for others — even for men and women whom we have not seen, whose names often we do not know, nor sometimes their places of abode — that doubt is no longer possible," Mrs. Klare replied. "And when, at our daily afternoon prayer and experience meetings, we make requests of God for those who ask for our intercession in their behalf, we do it in full confidence that we shall be heard and answered, though nothing of the result should, in many cases, ever come to our knowledge."
The deep calmness of a settled conviction was seen in the countenance of Mrs. Klare, as she spoke.
"We know so little of the spiritual world which lies in and around us," said Mr. Stannard, at this point of the conversation, "and of the laws which govern therein, that we must not be surprised if some of its phenomena are found difficult of explanation. We cannot, knowing as we do, that God is infinite and essential love, and that His compassion is so great, that our compassion in its tenderest movements bears no ratio to it whatever, believe that He withholds His saving power from any sin-sick and perishing soul — until we ask Him to be gracious. But rather that, in our prayers for and thought of the individual for whom we pray, spiritual forces or influences, whose action is above the region of our knowledge, are set in motion, as the atmospheres are set in motion by the vibrations we call sound, and so thought and feeling be stirred and acted upon, and he for whom we pray, is led to turn to the Lord, whose ears are always open to His children's cry for help, and whose hands are always stretched out to save."
"Be that as it may," remarked Mrs. Klare, "I am not wise enough to say whether Mr. Stannard's view is right or wrong; but this I know, wonderful results follow the prayers we offer to God, and men whom we are asked to pray for today — drunken, debased and evil men; husbands, sons, brothers, for whom our prayers are asked by wives, mothers and sisters — often, within a day or a week, present themselves at our meetings, or at other places where Gospel meetings are held, and sign the pledge, and give their hearts to Christ. And so long as we women see these results, we should continue to pray mightily to God."
A few moments of thoughtful silence, and then Mr. Stannard said, addressing Mrs. Klare: "I know all about what you are doing in this city, and the great success of your work; and I see in the organization of a kindred work in every city, town and neighborhood all over our country, the largest and most effective agency of temperance reform ever known in our liquor-cursed land. My only fear is, that you may depend so completely on prayer, and faith, and Divine grace, in the work of saving drunkards — that you will fail to use the natural means of reform and restoration which are as essential to permanent cure, as the others."
"A woman's instincts are swift and true, Mr. Stannard," was the reply. "We know that a man, with hunger gnawing at his stomach, is in a poor condition for effective praying; that if he is homeless and idle, he is especially exposed to temptation, and the feeble spiritual life he may have found, will be almost sure of extinguishment in its foul breath. We know that health must come back to the body, and its orderly life be restored, if we would keep down the old craving desire, and give to spiritual forces an unobstructed sphere of action. While we believe in prayer, and the grace of God, and a change of heart — we believe also in the saving power of natural and physical health, and order as well. The man to be truly saved, must be saved inside and outside. But, with God's grace in his heart, he will find the work of keeping his outer life in order a far easier task than if he tried to do it in his own strength. And herein it is that our work is meeting with such large success. We point the poor, exhausted inebriate, who comes to us in his rags and defilements — to Him who is able to save, and urge him to cast himself upon His love and mercy. To make new resolves and new pledges; but with this difference from the old resolves and pledges, that now prayer is added to the new resolutions, and spiritual strength asked humbly and trustingly from God. We take him to the church door, and invite him to enter and cast in his lot with Christian people; helping him to form a new external, as well as a new internal life. He is thus removed from old, debasing associations, and brought into fellowship with pious people, who take him by the hand, and if he has any ability for Christian work, find him something to do in the Sunday-school, in the prayer-meetings, in the temperance work of his neighborhood, or in anything else that is good and useful."
"And this is what you mean by Gospel temperance," said Judge Arbuckle, his fine face lighting up beautifully.
"It is one of its phases," answered Mrs. Klare.
"And the best and most promising phase, I'll warrant you," returned the judge, with rising enthusiasm. "Why this is church work! I'm a good churchman, you see, madam; and believe, with our excellent bishop, that all saving reforms should originate in, and be fostered and carried on by, the church."
"What if the church, in its organized form, neglects, or wholly ignores temperance work — even Gospel temperance work — what then? Shall we wait for the church and let the poor drunkard perish, because she neglects her duty?"
"God forbid!" responded the judge. "There is no monopoly in the work of lifting up fallen humanity."
"Nor in soul-saving," said Mr. Stannard. "But this drift which the subject has taken, brings us face to face with the church and its great responsibilities. It has something more to do than the provision of a Sunday service for the people. The preaching of the Gospel is one thing, and the doing of Gospel work another. The building of stately church edifices, with costly finish and exquisite ornamentation, into which so much of the financial means of a congregation are absorbed, as to leave it too often with a sense of poverty and an excuse for drawing the purse-strings more closely — when suffering or destitute humanity stretches forth its pleading hands, may be all well enough; but worship in a less expensive and ostentatious building, and a more Christ-like concern for the sick and perishing souls that lie helpless, it may be, within the sound of its choir and organ, would, I think, be far better and more acceptable to God."
"You do not approve, then, of the splendid churches and grand cathedrals which, in all Christian countries, have been erected to the honor of God and dedicated to His worship?" said Judge Arbuckle.
"Not if they are built and maintained at the cost of human souls."
"I am not sure that I reach your meaning, Mr. Stannard."
"Let me give an illustration. We will take the case of a congregation which has built for itself a splendid marble or stone church at a cost of one, or two, or three hundred thousand dollars, into which the people come twice every Sunday to hear the service and preaching, and once or twice a week for evening prayers or a lecture. This elegant structure is an ornament to the neighborhood, and the people who have built it feel proud of their fine edifice, and not a few of them contrast it, a little depreciatively, it may be, with the achievements of certain sister churches in the same line, and take credit to themselves for having thrown these just a trifle into shadow.
"Now, as to the spiritual value of all this — and no good is gained in any church work unless it is a spiritual good — there may be serious doubts. Has the creation of a grand temple for the worship of God, wrought in the minds of those by whom it was erected, that state of receptive humility which is the dwelling-place of Him who says, 'I am meek and lowly of heart?' Are they humble, more teachable, more self-denying, more self-forgetting, more given to good works than before? What if, like a wise corporation, one of these congregations had invested in their land, building and required church machinery, just one-half of the sum they had in possession, and reserved the other half for working capital? Don't you see how differently the case would stand?
"Here is a church that cost two hundred thousand dollars. Now, if it had cost but one hundred thousand — and a building just as large and just as comfortable could have been erected for that sum — all the excess is but imposing display and ornamentation — that congregation could have established and maintained, with the other one hundred thousand dollars, a reformatory home for inebriates, like the Franklin Home of our city, and been the means of saving from fifty to a hundred fallen men every year. Or, it could have placed in the hands of its pious women, who, like Mrs. Klare and her sister workers in this Gospel temperance movement, which has already wrought such marvelous results, the money required to give healthy food, and proper clothing, and safer and better surroundings to the poor, nerveless, appetite-cursed men they are seeking to save. I instance but these; there are many other ways in which the reserved working capital of this church might be used for the good of souls.
"Think! How would it be if our blessed Lord were to stand some day in the midst of that congregation? Would they hear from His lips, as His eyes took in the richness and grandeur of the temple they had built to His honor, and then, penetrating its stately walls, went searching among the poor, desolate homes, and wretched hovels, and dens of vice and crime which lay in the very shadow of its beauty, and saw His lost sheep perishing there, with none to pity or to succor — would they hear from his lips the words, 'Well done?' I fear not."
"You have struck the key-note of the great question that lies at our door today," said Mrs. Klare, speaking with a rising earnestness of manner. "Are the churches, established for the salvation of souls, to remain content with one or two Sunday services, and a week-night prayer-meeting or lecture, maintained, in many cases, at an expense of from five to fifty thousand dollars a year? Can you find in any mere secular calling, so large an investment with such meager returns? The theory seems to be that the work of the church, as a body of Christian men and women, is limited to Sunday, and may be intermitted for six days."
"Let us be careful that we are not unjust," Mr. Stannard replied. "I stated my case strongly, in order to illustrate my views. Many of our churches are active in good works, and are doing much for the spiritually destitute. They have their mission schools, and visiting committees, and laborers among the poor; but with most of them, their usefulness is restricted for lack of means. It takes so much to maintain Sunday worship, that but little is left for anything else!"
"To seek and to save that which was lost. It was for this that Christ came." Mrs. Klare spoke in a low, earnest voice. "Ah! if only our churches all over the land would give themselves to this seeking and saving of the lost — of those who have fallen so low that, to common eyes, their case is hopeless. If only they would go out into the wilderness, like the Good Shepherd, seeking for and bringing back the lost sheep. These six hundred thousand drunkards, of whom over a thousand die every week; what hope for them if the church comes not to their rescue? — for the church alone can lead them to the sure refuge of Christ. The world knows Him not. Only in a few cases is a human hand strong enough to save. If the larger number are not led to take hold upon Christ, they must perish in their sin and degradation!
"Think what joy there would be in Heaven, if all the churches in the land, singly, or in union with near sister churches, were to establish Gospel temperance meetings, and draw into them these six hundred thousand men and women — or as many of them as felt their slavery and wretchedness, and wished to escape therefrom. The very thought makes my heart stir within me."
The evening had worn away, the hours passing with little heed from any of us, until it was time to separate. The judge had risen to his feet, and Mrs. Arbuckle and Mrs. Klare were moving from the parlor in order to make ready for going away, when Mr. Granger, who had been silent for most of the time, said, in a voice that at once gave him an attentive audience: "I would like, before we part, to say one or two things that have come crowding into my mind this evening. All good work is from the Lord. Every effort, of whatever kind, perfect or imperfect, which has for its end the saving of men from evils and debauchery, has in it a heavenly power and the approval of God; and we must, therefore, be careful that, while we magnify the means of salvation, which to us seem most effective, we do not depreciate or throw hindrances in the way of those who labor in different fields, and with methods different from our own. This work of saving the people from the curse of drink, in which we are all so deeply interested, has many aspects, because men differ not only in personal character and temperament, but in their external conditions and the ways of thinking and habits of life, which grow out of these conditions. The influences that will powerfully affect one, may have little weight with another. Our panacea, in which we have such an abounding faith, may fail in many cases where another remedy would work a cure; while cases of failure under a diverse treatment from ours — may find a quick restoration on coming into our hands. Let us, then, be watchful over ourselves in this matter, and be readier to give a 'God speed' to methods different, and, it may be, less efficient than our own — than to depreciate them by comparison, or hurt their influences by direct condemnation.
"Whatever tends, in even the smallest degree, to abate this curse, must be recognized as good work. It may be through restrictive laws, or binding pledges, or social organization, or appeals to the people by the press and the platform, or the opening of cheap coffee rooms. It may be in Christian work and prayer, and direct spiritual help from God through these appointed means, in which I have the strongest faith. It may be in the establishment of inebriate asylums and reformatory homes, where, while seeking to cure by medical, sanitary, moral and religious means, the pathology of drunkenness is carefully studied, and the skill and wisdom of the medical profession brought to the examination and cure of one of the most fearful diseases which man, by self-indulgence, has brought upon himself; involving in disorder, as it does, his physical, moral and spiritual nature. Tolerance of views, and harmony of action, are what we need in this work. If I think my methods are best, let me pursue them with all zeal and confidence, doing what good I can; only let me be careful not to depreciate my brother's methods, of the scope and value of which I may know far less than I imagine."
"Thank you, Mr. Granger!" came with a hearty utterance from the lips of Mrs. Klare, who had turned back into the parlor, from which she was passing when our host began his remarks. "You have said the right thing in the right way. The temptation to magnify our own particular work, because its fruit is so near our hands, is very great. But, apart from this; are not some ways of doing a thing, better than other ways? In the work of salvation, is not a Divine Hand more certain to save than a human hand?"
I saw a light break suddenly from within into Mr. Granger's face.
"If we can lead the man, in whom inebriation has almost, if not entirely, destroyed the will-power, to Him who is able to cure him of all diseases, if he will accept the means of cure," continued Mrs. Klare, "may we not hope to do more and better for him in this way, than in any other way?"
"Yes, yes, I believe it, and I know it," replied Mr. Granger. "When all other means fail, this may be held as sure; for God's strength, if we take it and rest upon it, never fails."
"But, after all," spoke out Judge Arbuckle, "is not the work of warning and prevention, better than the work of cure? Of all that I have heard this evening, and much of it has been deeply interesting, nothing has impressed me like the evidence brought by Dr. Gilbert against alcohol. It may be only imagination," and he smiled a little dubiously as he said it; "but I've recognized in my body, more than half a dozen symptoms of its deleterious effects since he described its action on the tissues, nerves and organs of the body." He stretched his arms upwards, then drew them down again slowly, pressed one hand against his forehead, and then held it against his right side.
"The fact is," going on, after a few moments of reflective silence, "I have an unpleasant impression that I'm not quite as sound as I thought myself. This torpidity of liver is something, I'm afraid, more serious than I had supposed. And my head," giving it a shake, "isn't as clear as it ought to be. There's often a heavy, confused feeling about it, which I don't like." As he stepped out to move across the room, I saw him limp. "One of my knee-catchers again." The judge made a slight grimace.
"A diminished supply of sinovial fluid," remarked Dr. Gilbert.
"One of the effects of old age," said the judge.
"Precipitated, most likely, by the alcohol in your wine and brandy," returned the doctor. "You know that, of all substances taken into the body, none absorbs water like alcohol, and that its first action on the membranes is to rob them of as much of this fluid as it has the power to appropriate. That more or less torpor and stiffness of the joints and limbs should come in consequence of the continued use of this substance, is not at all surprising; nor that the liver, heart and brain, and some of the more important nerve centers, should suffer from disturbances growing out of unhealthy structural changes."
"The thing stands to reason," answered the judge. "What I wish to say, is, that as prevention is better than cure, how more effectually can the cause of temperance be served, than by the most thorough dissemination of the truth in regard to the action of alcoholic drinks in deteriorating the body and laying the foundation for painful and too often fatal diseases? Why, sir, do you think that, if I had known as much about this matter when I was twenty-one years of age, as I do now, that I would have joined the great army of moderate drinkers? No, sir! It was because I believed, with thousands of others, that these enticing beverages were good and healthful, when not taken in excess, that I used them. Now I see that there is a double peril. That, besides the risk of becoming their slave, he who uses them is surely laying the foundation for troublesome, painful, and, often, fatal diseases!"
"It is in consequence of the physical deteriorations wrought by alcohol in the stomach and brain," said the doctor, "that appetite increases, and the will so often loses power over it. For this reason, no one is safe who drinks at all; for a double disease — moral, as well as physical — is almost sure to be the result; and this is the hardest to cure of all diseases."
"And yet the easiest," spoke out Mrs. Klare, in her clear, sweet voice, "if one will only come to the Great Physician, and be healed by the touch of His hand."
The judge let his gaze rest, for a moment or two, on the speaker's calm face and slightly upturned eyes, and then, as he withdrew them, said, gravely: "Prevention is best, my friends. Don't forget the boys and the young men, while you are trying to save the unhappy fallen. Prevention is in the line of true order. And, remember, that it will cost less of time, effort and money to keep ten from falling — than to lift up and restore one who is down. Don't forget to provide safeguards for the ninety-nine, while you are going after the one lost sheep."
"I think," said Dr. Gilbert, as he laid his hand upon Judge Arbuckle's arm, "that we may count you as upon our side of this great question."
"I should not wonder if it were so," replied the judge, "for I regard the argument, so far as presented by you, as complete; and, until I am satisfied that you are in error, I shall take no more risks. Too much of comfort, and use and happiness depend on good health — to put it lightly in jeopardy. My wine may be very pleasant and exhilarating, but if there is really poison in the cup, I must, as a wise and prudent man, let it pass untasted, or acknowledge myself the slave of an appetite which will have indulgence at any cost."
"And you, Henry?" It was the voice of Mr. Granger. He spoke with a quiet cheerfulness that concealed any suspense or concern, if either existed. Young Pickering, who was bending towards Miss Granger, and talking to her, in low tones, turned his handsome face towards the speaker. "On which side of this question shall we count you?"
"On the right side, of course," said Amy, not waiting for her lover's reply, a happy smile rippling over her face as she spoke. His answer, I did not hear; but that it was entirely satisfactory, I had the assurance a few weeks later, when the fact of their engagement became known to the friends of the family.
And here our story must end, if so meager a plot and so light a thread of narrative, can be called a story. Whatever interest has been felt in the characters, must give place now to the profounder convictions we have sought to awaken. In the curse and cure of drunkenness lie problems, to the solution of which we must bring neither prejudice, nor passion, nor partisan feeling — but the truth, if we can but find it. And in all questions that concern man's moral and spiritual life, as well as his natural and physical condition, we shall be more apt to find the truth, if we consider the action of moral and spiritual laws, in their connection with the effects which lie lower and more on the plane of common observation, than if we made light of them, or ignored them altogether.
There is one fundamental doctrine of Christianity, without which all the rest must go for nothing. We have it from the mouth of the Lord Himself: "You must be born again." Differ as we may about the means of attaining this new spiritual birth, all Christians agree that it involves an inner change through the gift, or grace, or agency of the Spirit of God, by which man's evil nature, with all of its depraved and debasing appetites, is either taken wholly away, or removed from the center to the circumference of his life, and there held in complete subjection. There is no condition of depravity or wickedness, from which a man may not be saved in this new birth; and there is no power in all Hell, strong enough to bear him back into his old evil life, if he uses the new spiritual strength that has been born in him from above.
On this fundamental law of spiritual life, all Christian believers stand; and it is being more and more widely accepted as the one on which we can most surely depend in our efforts to save men from the curse of drink. It is on this conviction that what is known as the Gospel temperance movement is based; a movement in which the old, tireless workers in the great cause of reform, find new hope and encouragement. Heretofore the churches have held themselves, in too many instances, aloof from active participation in the cause of temperance, leaving it to be dealt with by legal enactment, or moral persuasion. But now they are beginning to see that this work is really their work, and that to them has been given the special means for its prosecution. In most, if not all, of our inebriate asylums and homes of reformation, the value of spiritual aid is fully and practically recognized; and in some of the larger institutions, they have their chaplain as well as their physicians; and we are very sure that where the physician of the body and the physician of the soul unite in their efforts to cure a patient who is sick of an infirmity which has exhausted his body and enslaved his will — his case is far more hopeful than if he were left in the care of either alone.
And now, what need to write another sentence? We cannot make clearer, by any new illustrations, this leading thought of our story — that in coming to God through sincere repentance and earnest prayer, refraining, at the same time, from alcohol and all other evils of life, as sins, there lies for the inebriate, a road to reformation, in which he can walk safely, and which will bear him farther and farther from danger with every step he takes therein. Some have fallen so low — alas, for the number! — that every way except this has been closed up; but all will find it the safest, the surest, and the easiest, by which to reach an abiding self-control.