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more than forty years past, to such as avoided rum and tobacco, and my experience has been to confirm me in the opinion that it is true wisdom to have done so.”
Mr Lawrence never regretted the stand he took with regard to rum and tobacco at Groton. His subsequent observation caused him to rejoice in that early decision. It made him a firm friend of the temperance cause as soon as it was born. In all his letters and counsels to his children and others, the influence of that early opinion of these two evils is easily traced. In a letter to his son in 1830, he said :
“ Temptation, if successfully resisted, indeed strengthens the character ; but it should always be avoided if possible. •Lead us not into temptation,' are words of deep meaning, and should always carry with them corresponding desires of obedience. At a large meeting of merchants and others, held ten days ago, it was resolved to make an effort to prevent the licensing of such numbers of retailers of spirits, and the like, which have, in my opinion, done more than any thing else to debase and ruin the youth of our city. It is a gross perversion of our privileges to waste and destroy ourselves in this way. God has given us a good land and many blessings. We misuse them and make them minister to our vices. We shall be called to a strict account. Every good citizen owes it to his God and his country to stop, so far as he can, this moral desolation. Let me see you, on your return, an advocate of good order and good morals.”
In a letter to the members of the Boston Mechanic Apprentices' Library Association, containing a donation for the society, he said: “At your time of life, habits are formed that grow with your years. Avoid rum and tobacco in all forms, unless prescribed as a medicine, and I will promise you better contracts, heavier purses, happier families, and a more youthful and vigorous old age, by thus avoiding the beginning of evil.”
In 1832 he wrote to his son, who was then in the country: “I want you to analyse more closely the tendency of principles, associations, and conduct, and strive to adopt such as will make it easier for you to go right than to go wrong. The moral taste, like the natural, is vitiated by abuse. Gluttony, tobacco, and intoxicating drink, are not less dangerous to the latter, than loose principles, bad associations, and profligate conduct are to the former. Look well to all these things.”
At one time Mr Lawrence presented two hundred pounds to Wabash College, Indiana, in the name of his wife, to found four free scholarships for the use of the Groton academy. In conveying this large donation he said: “I would recommend that candidates for the scholarships who abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks and tobacco always have a preference."
These extracts shew that his triumph over the first temptation at Groton influenced his whole life. And whenever he raised a voice of warning, those fearful evils started up as horrid spectres before his mind.
The reader will notice that when young Lawrence resolved to break off the habit of drinking, he contemplated doing it only for one week or a month ; but
upon more serious reflection, he determined to do it once for all, and not touch another drop while he remained an apprentice. This final decision was of the highest importance to him, as it would be to every youth in like circumstances. It is not safe for the habitual drinker to limit the time of his abstinence. For this act will serve to keep his appetite raging in anticipation of the set time for indulgence. There is no safety for him except in the determination to forsake his evil habit wholly and for ever. This is true of all evil practices. A partial reformation avails little in the end. A man who had chewed tobacco for thirty years, once told the writer that he resolved to abandon the habit. He concluded, however, that he could not reform without substituting some sort of a quid in its stead. So he filled his tobacco-box with chamomile blossoms, which the physician said would benefit one of his bodily infirmities. But so long as he chewed the substitute for tobacco, he kept longing for the tobacco itself. He finally threw away his box, blossoms and all, resolved never more to roll a quid of any kind under his tongue, and he was soon master of the appetite. And his love of the dirty weed disappeared.
This is the only effectual way of controlling evil propensities. There is not a more instructive incident in the early life of Lawrence than his manner of overcoming a growing love of spirits. There is not one in which forethought and sound wisdom are more manifest. Let all youth, who are addicted to evil habits of any kind, “ go and do likewise."
GOING JUST RIGHT.
It is frequently the case that youth are guilty of little sins, when they would shrink with horror from the perpetration of greater ones. They see danger and disgrace in flagrant offences, but perceive neither in those of a less vicious character. They would not lie outright, though deception may not trouble them. They would not steal a shilling though they might an apple or a pin. They would not violate the divine commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill !" but they violate another
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Here is a rock on which many a youthful bark has gone to pieces. There is danger in tampering with little sins, for they lead to greater ones. He who steals a pin or apple, violates the same principle that he who steals a shilling violates. He who deceives is schooling himself for falsehood. Lying is but the smal sin full-grown. He who tramples upon the command, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” trifles with God as really as he who disregards that other, “ Thou shalt not kill.” Of course, the frequent excuse for wrong-doing—“It is only a small evil,”—is very delusive. There is safety only in avoiding the very appearance of evil.
Mr Lawrence refers to this point when he speaks about “ going just right in the quotation we made from him in the preceding chapter. In another part of
the letter to a youth in college, from which we quoted,
-“ In the first place take this for your motto, at the commencement of the journey, that the difference of going just right or a little wrong will be the difference of finding yourself in good quarters, or in a miserable bog or slough at the end of it.”
He repeats the same counsel to his grandsons in a letter to their father, and adds :- .“ Teach them to avoid tobacco and intoxicating drink, and all temptations that can lead them into evil, as it is easier to prevent than to remedy a fault. * An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'”
This counsel is full of wisdom. If the companions of Lawrence, in the shop at Groton, had thought as much of “going just right,” none of them would have gone down to a drunkard's grave. But they were not wont to take this discriminating view of danger. They saw no evil in a glass of spirits at eleven o'clock each day. They did not intend to become intemperate, and lose their characters—by no means. They knew that others who departed a little from the right path, had been ruined; but it was natural to regard themselves as exceptions. They thought but little of the aim of their comrade Amos—to “avoid the appearance of evil.” They were ruined in consequence.
The same is true of all evils. Many cannot see any harm in a game of cards in the family or social circle. They are as much opposed as others to gambling, but
can see no injury at all in a game of whist for halfpenny points." So they really learn to gamble in the family, and finally are found in the gaming saloon. If they had been particular about “going just right," in