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Author Topic: Temperance Expedition to Sheerness, July 1839  (Read 1832 times)

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Temperance Expedition to Sheerness, July 1839
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 15:52:53 »
Temperance Expedition

"Yesterday the City and North of London Temperance Society sailed on their annual excursion to Sheerness. The Mercury, a well known Gravesend fast packet, was freighted for the occasion. Earl Stanhope, the president of the society, and several other distinguished persons who preach temperance to others, and practise it afterwards themselves, accompanied the party, which amounted to about 550 ladies, gentlemen, and children, the most of them stanch teetotalers , and several of whom were not a long time since quite the other way. The Mercury left London-bridge about half-past eight o'clock. Her whole length was decorated with banners emblematical of temperance and its happy social results. As the vessel proceeded she was cheered by some temperance ships, which also hoisted the teetotal flag. A band of music enlivened the passage, and the deck was occupied by groups who in turns chanted hymns in praise of temperance and religion with impressive effect. The hymn which is chanted to the 'Calcutta air' is of a musical character, independent of the excellent words, to please and interest the auditor, especially when it is sung, as it was yesterday, by a powerful body of well-trained choristers.

When the Mercury arrived amongst the fleet at Sheerness, the company, though the introduction of the noble president, were received on board the Howe, ship of the line, and shown by the officers, with exemplary courtesy, over every part of the vast fabric. The apostles of the cause did not neglect that opportunity of circulating temperance tracts amongst the sailors and marines. They did not make any immediate conversation that we could hear of, but they may, for the gallant fellows promised to read them 'at grog time.' As the temperance folks were leaving the Howe they met the Victoria steam packet, with a full company, who saluted the teetotalers with a burst of groans, and requested them to refresh themselves with buckets of brackish water, the teetotalers did not accept the bucket, but they returned the groans with interest.

The company next proceeded to Sheerness. They were met at the pier by a procession of teetotalers from that town and the Isle of Sheppey. The two bodies, having exchanged loud cheers, united and marched through the streets, to the amusement and edification of the towns folks, until they arrived opposite Dr Ward's house in the Circus. Earl Stanhope addressed the multitude from the doctor's house. The noble president said he only recommended what he himself practised, for he had been a teetotaler more than seven years, and the result was that he now found himself, as all teetotalers must find themselves, better fitted either for pleasure or for duty. (cheers) The teetotalers had a better chance of health-they were the same in the morning and the evening-they were less liable to be disturbed by the cares of life. The money that was saved from drink was laid out in permanent comforts for themselves and their families, (cheers) As a friend and a well-wisher, he would advise men to give teetotalism a trial for a few days. The satisfaction arising from such a trial would induce them to continue the experiment for weeks, and then they would make up their minds never to relinquish it. (cheers) He had the gratification to announce that there were not less than 900,000 teetotalers in Great Britain and Ireland, all of them were prosperous, and better pleased with themselves than before they gave the system that trial which he now recommended to the public. (cheers) The object of teetotalism was not, he begged to be understood, to infringe upon the pleasures and recreations of life-especially not to infringe upon the pleasures and recreation of the most numerous and most meritorious body body in the state-he meant the labourers. (loud cheers) He desired only to induce them to indulge in those pleasures and recreations which were unaccompanied by the quarrelling and strife, which were the natural, almost the necessary consequence of enjoying intoxicating liquors. (cheers)
The teetotalers were anxious, he especially (the noble earl), was most desirous that workmen should receive wages that would enable them to buy beer and spirits enough; but they wished to see the money expended in a manner more conducive to their happiness. (loud cheers) Let it not be thought that teetotalers wished to see the wages of the labourer reduced-(cheers). He was one of the best friends the labourers had--(cheers). He wished that their wages should be great and ample- (cheers). He only wished the wages to be better laid out than they now were."   


(Goes on a bit in a similar vein)

"After which the procession returned to the Mercury, and commenced the voyage back, amidst cheers from their Sheerness brethren. Ample refreshments were provided, and the most comfortable arrangements were made by Mr Best, the acting secretary. Nothing unpleasant occurred during the excursion, except that an old teetotaler had his hat blown into the river; but the contributions of his fellow disciples soon enabled him to buy a better one. There needed but little eloquence to advocate teetotalism yesterday. Its effects were demonstrated in the happy and healthy faces of the well-dressed fathers and mothers and their children who composed the expedition."

Morning Herald. July 18, 1839.

 

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