Drunkenness and Poverty

Over and over again the reports tell of multitudes in abject poverty, usually caused by alcoholic addiction. The subhuman existence of people in these places was horrendous:

In looking over the names of those I have visited, I believe that one out of every five, is either much given over to intemperance (alcoholic addiction), or a confirmed drunkard.

Ibid., p.37

When I went into the house, three of the children were lying on the floor, on a mattress, with scarcely anything to cover them, and all deeply afflicted with the loathsome disease (i.e. small pox); two of them were very ill, and one seemly dying. In a small closet on a wretched bed covered up with a few dirty rags, lay the body of the poor girl, who had died in the morning. I had seen her before, and a very blooming young person she then was; she was fifteen years old, but so malignant had been the disease, and so awfully brutal the treatment to which she had been exposed, that it was difficult to recognise, in the black mass of corruption that remained, the body of a human being. The mother was drunk – most disgustingly drunk. The poor girl it seems had been in place, and had come home, in the fever, which generally precedes small pox. The wretched parents made her lie on the floor, and the father kicked her, – kicked his dying child! The mother’s conduct was worse still, – but let darkness cover it.

Ibid., p. 42

But good news was coming out of these hell-holes; stories of lives transformed by Christ’s love and power:

Visited the reformed drunkard mentioned a few days ago; I scarcely knew either the house or the children. The change is indeed wonderful – everything in the house is now scrupulously clean, and in its proper place. Everything before, was confused, filthy and abominable. When I went in, the eldest girl was preparing a substantial dinner; and the former gownless, ragged, wretched mother, was sitting at a table decently clothed, and making herself a new gown! The whole appearance of the family equally surprised and delighted me. ‘Great and marvellous are all thy works, Lord God Almighty.’ What pleased me most of all, was the quiet and humble deportment of the poor woman herself. She did not seem at all to expect praise, or to court condemnation, but with tears she remarked that she was now quite ashamed of her former conduct. She then proceeded to give the most horrifying description of the evils of intemperance, that I have ever listened to; and then she spoke (and it was delightful to hear her) of having won back the affections of her husband, and the confidence of her children – some of whom are grown up. A pale and sickly-looking young person was sitting in the corner of the room sewing. When I looked towards her, she turned aside her face. I thought who it might be, and spoke kindly to the poor wanderer, which seemed to melt the mother more than anything. It may be in the recollection of some readers of this journal, that about a year ago, I made mention of a woman coming into one of the meetings in a state of intoxication, and bawling out with fiendish glee, that she had a daughter on the street. Dear readers! This is the woman, and this is her daughter. So soon as the mother came to herself, she went in search of her erring child, whom she found, and now watches over with a mother’s care.

Ibid., p.44


Use the Links below to see the different topics in this section.