If the amount of good done by this recent reformation was to be estimated only in dollars and cents – in property saved and property gained – then something of a calculation might perhaps be made of its benefits. But while it has blessed thousands, by supplying the comforts of life, where they were wanting before, it has filled thousands of households with joy, and given peace and contentment to many a weary, burdened and distracted heart. These are blessings which no measures can estimate, no calculations compute. Many a family fireside has been made thrice joyous and happy, the abode of peace and plenty, where once the “household gods were shivered on the hearth,” and Poverty and Misery sat in ghastly forms. Hard-drinking men, whose only fault, in the eyes of the world, was that they “would drink,” have been led to abandon their cups entirely; and the perfect renewal of their comfort, tempers and feelings, has been a matter of astonishment even to themselves. Many of the most abandoned and outcast of the intemperate have been rescued literally from “wretchedness and rags,” restored to their friends and society, and now promise to become good and useful members of the community.
Oh! Could you enter into the deep-feeling heart of the reformed, and read the thoughts and sensations written there, you would find enough to compensate for all the toil and care bestowed upon this enterprise, from its commencement until this hour. How oft had he struggled with his habits and appetites, and vowed to drink no more, – kept his promise for a day, a week or perhaps a month, and then fallen again as deep as ever. At last despair had well nigh taken possession of his soul, – and drowned in drink, he forgot for a time all his former feelings, and hopes, and vows. Wretchedness perhaps followed him day and night, except when so steeped in poison, that he had no feeling left. His self-respect almost gone – ashamed to meet those he knew – despised – cast off perhaps by his own family – he is met by some kind Washingtonian, who, like a friend, takes him by the hand, and soon wins him into his confidence, and conducts him to a meeting, where in hearing the experience of others, he learns that he too may be a sober and a free man, – and summoning all the energy of his almost expiring manhood, he signs the pledge. And though with throbbing heart and trembling hand he seizes the pen, yet no sooner has his name been finished, and the pen dropped from his hand, than he feels as though the burden of a mountain were rolled off his heart. His word, his honor, have now passed; and he finds himself not standing alone on an individual promise, or a vow to his own heart; but pledged to and with his fellows, who now welcome him to their circle, take him by the hand, and endeavour to encourage and support him in this effort to be free. Now every thing tends to strengthen him in his purpose; and hand to hand, and heart to heart with his compeers. He feels himself delivered from the most galling slavery that ever enchained the body and the mind. Oh! Who can tell the drunkard’s joy, when he feels that he is a drunkard now no more forever. And when he has been sobered for a while, and has had time to reflect, he finds new joys daily springing up around him on every hand. When he looks to his home, now so changed, or meets the countenances of his family, now so differently fixed upon him, as he returns noon and night from business or labor, joys spring up in his heart, he had never known before – no, not even before he had been a drunkard.
But these are blessings which cannot be estimated. The restoration of a single drunkard is, so far as he is concerned, the removal of all those ills, which cling to the victims of the “damming bowl.” What then must be the change, when hundreds and thousands, and tens of thousands reform!
In fine on this head, by way of stating the general results of this extraordinary moral revolution, we would simply remark: that vigorous and flourishing Washington Societies have been organized not only in all parts of the state of Maryland, but also over the New England, Middle, Southern and Western States. Several hundred thousands have voluntarily pledged themselves against the use of all intoxicating drinks. From fifty one hundred thousand drunkards at least have been reclaimed. From a recent statistical report, it appears that there are two hundred and fifty thousand Washingtonians in the single state of Ohio. Missionaries are now laboring in the North, East, South and West; and who shall presume to say where this work shall cease? An impetus has been given to the cause, such as has never been known before in this country, and such as promises not soon to die.
Some new principles and modes of operation have been developed, which have particularly characterized this movement from its commencement. Some of these are merely the stronger developments of old features. For others we claim originality for the Washington Society. And that our true principles may be clearly understood, we pray the reader’s attention to the next chapter.