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The New Zealand Evangelist

Port Nicholson Total Abstinence Society

Port Nicholson Total Abstinence Society.

The Annual Meeting of this Society was held in the Rev. Mr. Green's Chapel, on the 4th ultimo. The annual report was read, addresses were delivered, and the office bearers chosen for the ensuing year, viz: Bev. John Inglis, president; Mr. C. Hinchcliff, Secretary; Mr. J. Stoddart, Treasure; and Rev. H. Green, Messrs, Bould, Harding, Bradshaw, Booth, Vaughan, Wyeth, and Paterson, Members of Committee. The following statements were made in the report:—

“A Total Abstinence Society has existed in this place since shortly after the commencement of the colony, but in consequence of a considerable increase in the number of members, it was deemed proper, about fourteen months ago, to re-organize the Society, and alter, not its principles, but some of its regulations. Since the organization of the present society, four public meetings have been held in Wellington, and two tea meetings. Deputations of the Committee have held or assisted at two public meetings at the Hutt, and one at Karori. The number of Members at present on the list is above 100; about 20 of these were either occasional or confirmed drunkards. The number of Members does not convey any correct idea of the strength and extent of the temperance principle in this settlement, as many act on the principle who have not signed the pledge. A Society was also formed in the Hutt district, which was very efficient for some time, but from the fewness of public meetings, has of late been in a languid condition.

The want of a suitable place for holding public and other meetings of the Society has always been much felt. Twelve months ago a considerable effort was made for the erection of a “Temperance Hall.” A deputation of members was appointed to solicit subscriptions for this object, His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor headed the list with £5: the sum of £59 was subscribed, and £5, the proceeds of a tea meeting, were appropriated for the same purpose. The paid subscriptions, and other sums, have all been deposited in the Savings Bank. The amount deposited in the Bank is £24 5s. IId. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining a suitable site for the building, the raising of funds has not been proceeded page 93 with; but it is hoped that the Society will soon be in a condition to proceed with this undertaking. There is the likelihood of a site being obtained, and every prospect that sufficient funds can be raised for the completion of the structure contemplated.

“The attention of the public is earnestly called to some startling and painful facts connected with drinking and intemperance. The quantity of spirits that was entered and paid duty for home consumption in Wellington during the first six months of the present year was, in round numbers, 15,000 gallons; wines, 9000 gallons; ale, beer, and porter, 9000 gallons; making a total of 33,000 gals. for the six months; this is exclusive of all the beer manufactured in the colony. If we take the price of the imported liquors to the public to be 10s. per gallon, we have the enormous sum of £16,500 as the price of our intoxicating drinks for six months. This quantity, however, includes all that is used by the military as well as the civilians. The population of this settlement is 4500. If we include the troops, Wanganui, and the other places on the coast supplied from Wellington, and the Natives who use intoxicating drinks, the whole will not, it is believed, be more than 6000. It is said also, that there is at present a glut in the liguor market; but admitting this, admitting that there has been one-third more imported during these six months than has been consumed, it will present 46,000 gallons of imported liquors as our annual consumption, and an expenditure of £24,000 on an article that, in nineteen cases out of twenty, is not only useless but injurious. It is at the rate of eight gallons of intoxicating drink, and at an expense of £4 for every man, woman, and child in the colony! These calculations may not be correct, but they are at least an approximation to a startling and alarming fact.”

It is matter of sincere regret that intemperance is increasing among the natives; still it is gratifying to observe their general and marked sobriety as a whole. While there have been 25 convictions of Europeans for drunkenness before the Resident Magistrate's Court, for the last two quarters, not a single native has been brought up for any similar charge. Within the last six or eight months, three men have been burnt to death while in a state of intoxication, and three others have been drowned, according to a current report, from the same cause. Several instances of temporary and permanent insanity, have within a recent period been produced by intemperance.

“The cost of intemperance is a serious and important question for the political economist and reformer; the frightful accidents and intense suffering caused by the use of these liquors, ought to arouse every friend of humanity; and the effects of these drinking customs and habits upon morals and religion, call loudly for the energetic and united efforts of all the office bearers and members of the Church of Christ.

“Can nothing be done to avert and overcome this gigantic evil? It is suggested that public meetings be more frequently held for exciting attention and diffusing information on this subject. That members of the Society ought to exert themselves more diligently page 94 in their respective spheres of influence to procure signatures. Might not female influence be brought to bear more systematically and energetically on this cause? Might not the youth be enlisted more extensively? The one half of our population are under 14 years of age: these must nearly all be temperate, and could they be kept so the evil would soon die. Has the pulpit in every case given forth a distinct sound, as frequently and as faithfully as the greatness of the evil demands? Would not a series of discourses upon this subject be attended with good effect? Might not a greater number of members be obtained if Congregational Societies were formed? Family Societies have in many cases been attended with happy results. Might not employers be urged to change their pay night from Saturday to an earlier day in the week? Signing the pledge is one, but it is only one of the many means that may, and ought to be employed to diminish intemperance. In fine let there be more zeal, more activity, and more fervent prayer for that Spirit, one of whose fruits is temperance, and the hearts of all who engage in this work, will be cheered by seeing the cause of God and humanity prospering in their hands.