It is well the foregoing was drawn up when I was better able than at present of giving more details. However, I shall pursue the same track, always keeping in view such facts and illustrations as will serve to promote the correct remembrance, and the prosperity of the good old cause of total abstinence. If I were to continue the thread of former statements, I should have to give an extended detail of the work of a vast number of good men who fortunately came forward in Preston and elsewhere, and laboured hard to uproot the evil that has long afflicted our land. This, in a great measure, is already done to my hand in the pamphlet entitled Reminiscences of Early Teetotalism, in which is given the beginning of teetotalism as an organized system, and the means, efforts, and letters of many of the principal workers. Hence I shall pass over, in a great measure, the period of time covered by The Reminiscences, and my narrative will be less regular, consisting of a variety of statements and commentaries from different sources with which I have been connected. There are, however, a few historical facts which I deem important, and to them I shall first advert. The time I have been an abstainer I refer to first. The following brief statement I take from my New Year’s Address, recently published:—
It is now fifty years since I took my last glass. It was early in 1831, at Mr. Mc.Kie’s, Lune Street, Preston. It was only one glass of whiskey and water. I often say it was the best I ever drank; the best because it was the last; and if I remain in my senses I shall never take another. I did not then understand the properties of alcoholic liquors, though I ought to have done, being 37 years of age. I have often said “there is outside drunkenness and inside drunkenness.” I don’t think any one noticed the effect which the liquor produced, but it led me to reflect, having six children, five of them boys, about whose future welfare I was very anxious, whether I ought not to abstain altogether. I resolved there and then that I would never taste again, and this resolution I have kept religiously to the present moment. It has been no self-denial, but a great self-enjoyment, for though I have spent much time and no little money in promoting the cause of temperance, I have been amply rewarded, first in my own personal enjoyments, and next in the sobriety and successes of my family. And I have also this pleasant assurance, that by my exertions thousands of families, here and elsewhere, have been made happy. I don’t wish to boast, but my intense anxiety to rouse the feelings of my fellow townsmen and others against this cursed drinking system has induced me to refer to my own case.
From the first I have been an out and out advocate of abstinence from alcohol, and so convinced were I and my fellow workers of the soundness of our principles, and so delighted with the results of our early advocacy, we flattered ourselves that in about seven years the drinking system would be destroyed root and branch. We were simple enough to believe all this, and for a time worked as we have never done since. The novelty subsided, and many of our converts fell away; workers cooled down, and some who had served the cause gratuitously began to look for remuneration. As usual, sectional divisions sprung up, and from time to time the progress has been retarded so much that the annual drink bill has kept increasing till at one time it amounted to 142 millions!
After so long a season of anticipation it is pleasant to believe that the signs of progress are now more favourable. Both doctors and clergy are rendering far more help than formerly, and with so much sound teaching I cannot resist the belief that a large portion of the masses will soon have courage to announce themselves as converts to teetotalism. It is to them I look chiefly, and when I see them animated with the same zeal and labour and self-denial that inspired the workers of early times, I shall feel sure that we are going to “win the day.”
Often have I longed to see a revival of the good old cause—to witness the zeal, devotedness, disinterestedness, and labour of early days—and as often been disappointed. I do hope that better times are at hand—preludes of a temperance victory. And why should there be any doubt as to this? Why should drink reign, and drink selling tread national prosperity, domestic peace, morality, and religion under its feet? Nothing, I believe, is wanting but a strong combined resolution; unity of action among all lovers of sobriety and goodness, and a willingness to sacrifice present and personal pleasures for the deliverance and happiness of our fellow-creatures. A revival like this would not remain as a light under a bushel. Diffusive teetotalism and agitating teetotalism are what I long to see, and what I try to promote to the utmost of my present limited power.
The statement as to my having been 50 years a teetotaler being a matter of memory, I was glad to find the following in the July number of my Moral Reformer, published in 1831: —”So shocked have I been with the effects of intemperance, and so convinced of the evil tendency of moderate drinking, that since the commencement of 1831, I have never tasted ale, wine, or ardent spirits. I know others who are pursuing the same resolution, and whose only regret is, that they did not adopt this course twenty years since.” And in the preface to the same volume, I remark—”I am often asked how I find time for all my work, and my answer is, the time which others spend at the pot house, or in visiting and attending parties, I spend in active pursuits; and never taking any liquor at home or elsewhere, my head is seldom out of order; I lose no time in the evenings to extinguish my reason, or in the mornings to try to regain it.
The former paragraphs state the time I commenced my personal abstinence; the next will explain its official commencement, and how it was brought about in Preston. The following from Dearden’s “Forty Years Ago,” maybe regarded as a suitable introduction:—
In the year 1826, the philanthropists of America began to organise their forces to battle against the, then, main curse of their country—the drinking of “Ardent Spirits.” These efforts were extended, and in 1829 the movement commenced in some parts of the United Kingdom. From that year up to 1831 societies pledging their members to abstinence from spirituous liquors began to multiply in our country, until they reached our town, which soon became the Birth Place Of Teetotalism! That there have been teetotalers in every age of the world no one doubts; here and there teetotalism had been put forth by individuals, but it was at Preston it first took “a form and shape;” at Preston it was, that the first organisation of forces was made for the dissemination of the true temperance principle of Personal Abstinence amongst our town’s people; it was from Preston that the first Apostles of Teetotalism set out to convert the people of this kingdom to the belief that all intoxicating liquors, as beverages, are not only unnecessary but injurious. Dr. Lees, in his work, the ” Text Book of Temperance,” after noticing the movements in other places, speaking of Preston, says—” Here things were ripening to a head; here lived a well known local Franklin, Mr. Joseph Livesey, who, having risen by self-denial, culture and industry, from the working-classes, sought to extend to them the blessings of education, and of social and moral reform. With a keen Saxon insight he perceived the evil in their midst, and with cautious, persevering common sense sought to apply the cure. A well-to-do tradesman, he by-and-by became the proprietor of a printing press and the conductor of a little periodical called The Moral Reformer. No wonder the seeds of truth falling into such genial soil, should speedily germinate into power and fruitfulness.”
It was, however, soon discovered that the liberty to take ale and wine in moderation, was a fatal source of backsliding. And, hence, arose a fierce controversy, which lasted for some time as to. the pledge, many, who had become thorough abstainers, maintaining that all the liquors alike containing alcohol should be excluded. To others at that time, and especially among the middle classes, this was considered a dangerous doctrine, and likely to break up the Society. The temperance reformers of the present day have no idea of the conflict that was kept up on this subject. To forbid wine and beer was declared an innovation upon both English and American temperance orthodoxy. I, with many others, felt that there was no safety for our members without this, and we were determined to bring about the change. One Thursday (Aug. 23, 1832), John King was passing my shop in Church Street, and I invited him in, and after discussing this question, upon which we were both agreed, I asked him if he would sign a pledge of total abstinence, to which he consented. I then went to the desk and wrote one out (the precise words of which I don’t remember). He came up to the desk, and I said, “Thee sign it first.” He did so, and I signed after him. This first step led to the next, for in the course of a few days, notice of a special meeting was given, to be held in the Temperance Hall (the Cock-pit), the following Saturday night, Sept. 1st, at which this subject was warmly discussed. At the close of the meeting, I remember well a group of us gathering together, still further debating the matter, which ended in seven persons signing a new pledge, it being opposed by others. I subjoin the pledge and the names:—
“We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality, whether Ale, Porter, Wine, or Ardent Spirits, except as Medicines”
John Gratrix, Joseph Livesey. Edwd. Dickinson. David Anderton. Jno. Broadbelt. Jno. King. Jno. Smith.
To us, at this day, there seems nothing striking in such a pledge as the above, but at that time, there were many that thought it unsafe to advance so fast. These, then, were the “seven men of Preston” so often referred to; but, it is but justice to say, that though their signing, no doubt, gave a great impetus to the cause, there were many others who did more to forward its interests and secure its success than some of these seven. Among those who really deserved to be called “the men of Preston” for their early devotion to this noble enterprise, I may mention the following:—James Teare, Edward Grubb, Thomas Swindlehurst, William Howarth (“Slender Billy”), James Broughton, Henry Anderton (Poet), Isaac Grundy (Treasurer), Henry Bradley (Secretary), Joseph Richardson, Richard Turner (“Dicky Turner”), William Gregory, Jonathan Simpson (Secretary), Robert Jolly, George Cartwright, Joseph Dearden, John Simson, Thomas Osbaldeston, John Barton, Robert Charnley, Thomas Walmsley, James Stephenson, George Toulmin, Samuel Smalley, John Waller, Miles Pennington, John Brade, and some others.
The above were those I can recollect as warmly devoted to the cause, and served it faithfully as speakers, visitors, tract distributors, or in any way in which they could make themselves useful. With two or three exceptions they were all working men, and about one half of the number were reformed drunkards. By this band of humble, disinterested labourers, I believe more good was done than has ever been accomplished since by any similar agency.
I cannot advert to the commencement of my abstinence career without a deep feeling of thankfulness that, hasty as it seemed to have been, it was a wise step, and though not attended with the extended results that it deserved, it has secured untold blessings to millions who had been enslaved by drink. It has often been a subject of deep reflection—of hope and uncertainty. Sometimes we thought we were going to win the day; again we have been almost ready to give up in despair. Still the cause was so good; the argument? so true; the blessing conferred upon those who were faithful, so decisive—supported by hope, we have persevered; and here we are, the once despised disciples of the pump, now regarded by many as leading the way, which but for ignorance and fashion, would be considered as worthy of the support of all good men.
The next historical fact to which I would advert is a brief notice of the man who gave the name to our cause; and, as it is sure to remain, it cannot but be interesting to my readers:—
Every one must feel an interest in knowing as much as possible the character and history of the man who gave to the world and to posterity the name that now represents abstinence from all kinds of intoxicating liquors. Up to the memorable evening when the word dropped from Richard Turner’s lips we had to phrase the principle as well as we could. It should be remembered that at that time there was great contention betwixt two parties, one insisting upon a pledge of abstinence from spirits only and moderation in fermented liquors, the other upon entire abstinence from both. Richard Turner belonged to the latter party, and in a fervid speech delivered in the Temperance Hall (the old Cock-pit) about September, 1833, after his usual fashion he coined a new word and affirmed that “nothing but the tee-total would do.” I remember well crying out “that shall be the name,” amid great cheering in the meeting. When Dicky used this word it was intended to affirm that moderation in beer and wine was delusive, and that nothing but the teetotal, that is entire abstinence from all kinds of alcoholic liquors, would do. It has been attributed to his habit of stuttering, which is a decided mistake. The truth is that Dicky was never at a loss for a word; if a suitable one was not at his tongue end he coined a new one. He was a worker, and that, with us, covered a multitude of other defects. He never could do too much. To the sound of his rattle through the streets we often owed the attendance at the meetings we held in the town and villages, in schools and other places. At one time Bichard undertook a mission on his own account to the South, preaching teetotal all the way to London, where he attended the World’s Temperance Convention.
Richard Turner was born on the 25th July, 1790, at Bilsborough [Bilsborrow], about eight miles from Preston. His parents removed to this town, and he was sent, when young, to work in a cotton factory. He afterwards learnt to be a plasterer, and then a hawker of fish; and while patrolling the streets, in the evening, on the second Thursday in October, 1832, much the worse for liquor, he walked into St. Peter’s School Room, where a temperance meeting was being held, for (as he expressed himself) the purpose of having a little fun. At the very urgent request of Mr. T. Swindlehurst and Mr. J. Dearden, he signed the pledge of abstinence from all intoxicating liquors. He was 5 feet 4 inches in height, with a darkish ruddy complexion, and an earnest gaze. He was married to a person named Betty Cook, about the year 1818, who became the mother of two daughters, but it was not a happy match. During the morning of the 27th of October, 1846, he was seized with a severe fit of coughing, which broke a blood vessel in the stomach, from the effects of which he only survived about eighteen hours. To the last moment of his earthly pilgrimage, he maintained his teetotal pledge. On Sunday, the 1st of November, his mortal remains were interred in St. Peter’s Churchyard, ground having been purchased for that purpose through the exertions of a few zealous friends of the cause, being within a very short distance of the place where he signed the pledge. A very large number of teetotalers attended the funeral, amounting to about four hundred. The streets through which the procession passed were thronged by spectators, upon whom the solemn scene appeared to make a favourable impression in favour of the noble cause which Richard Turner, for fourteen years, so zealously laboured to promote. The following is the inscription over his grave: —”Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Richard Turner, author of the word Teetotal, as applied to abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, who departed this life on the 27th day of October, 1846, aged 56 years.”
Preston was soon recognised as the Jerusalem of teetotalism, from which the word went forth in every direction. During the race week, 1833, seven of us projected a missionary tour to the chief towns in Lancashire, in order to establish societies on the teetotal principle, or bring those up to that point that were pledged to moderation only in fermented liquors. The names of the party were Thomas Swindlehurst, senior, and his son Randell, James Teare, Henry Anderton, Jonathan Howarth, George Stead, and myself. We took a horse and car, supplied with 9,500 tracts, and Mrs. Livesey presented us with a neat small white silk flag, containing a temperance motto. We started on Monday morning, July 8th, and visited Blackburn, Haslingden, Bury, Heywood, Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton, Stockport, Manchester, and Bolton, besides halting at intermediate villages as we passed through. We divided our party so that we could hold two meetings each night, some in buildings and some in the open air; and as there were then no railways, some of our party had often to walk a considerable distance. It would occupy more room than I can spare to relate half of the incidents connected with this excursion. Scarcely any previous arrangements had been made, or proper placards printed and posted. One of our party usually went before the rest to fix upon places, and we never failed in getting an audience. At Bury, for instance, a cart was procured and sent through the town, containing the bellman who announced the meeting, another who carried a placard stating the time and place, and a third who showered tracts as they went along. The Rev. Franklin Howarth, still at Bury, and true to his principles, presided at this meeting. At Rochdale we drove through the main streets with our car, and our flag flying, on which was gilt “Temperance Meeting.” The bellman was not at home, so we left his fee and took the bell and rang it ourselves in the car; James Teare, who had a powerful voice, announced the meeting to be held on the ground called “The Butts,” at twelve o’clock at noon. A large congregation was collected; several powerful addresses were delivered, and although sneered at by a lawyer and openly opposed by a liquor merchant, it was evident that many of the people were deeply affected. It is not too much to say that the success of co-operation in Rochdale owes something of its vitality to the results of this meeting. An evening meeting was held at Heywood, but before leaving next morning, another meeting was convened in the main street by sending the bellman round, and one of the mills stopped working in order to allow the workpeople the opportunity of attending. At Ashton, the Superintendent Wesleyan Minister presided; and early next morning Charles Hindley, Esq., afterwards M.P. for Ashton, sent for us to breakfast with him, and we were very much pleased with the interest both he and Mrs. Hindley evinced in the object of our mission. It was three o’clock in the afternoon before we entered Stockport, and by some mistake no place had been secured for the meeting, and it was not until half-past six that the Primitive Methodist Chapel was obtained. Up to this time no notice had been given of any meeting. What was to be done? “Have you a drum,” said I, “and a man that can beat it?” “Yes.” Both were immediately procured; I ordered the car out, and off we started. We drove rapidly through the streets, stopping at every crossing, one beat the drum, another called out the meeting, and the rest of us showered out the tracts. The fact is, such an excitement of the kind I never saw before or since. Our purpose was answered, and an hour and a half seemed on this occasion sufficient to accomplish what, on our modern slow going system, would require a fortnight. Mr. Harrison, schoolmaster, took the chair. At Manchester the meeting was held in the theatre of the Mechanics’ Institution, and was addressed by six of us, who were constantly interrupted by the plaudits of the assembly, consisting in a fair proportion of the upper and working-classes. At this meeting a man named Kennedy was made a teetotaler, and he afterwards came to Preston once every year, while he was able, to express his gratitude for the blessings he had received. Our last place was Bolton, and the meeting was held there in the Independent Methodist Chapel on the Saturday night. The effect of the addresses by our reformed drunkards was shown by the tears that were shed, and by every other demonstration of feeling. The chapel was granted for me to deliver a regular lecture in, on the following afternoon, Sunday. It commenced at a quarter to five, and continued about an hour and a quarter, listened to by a large audience with great attention. Up to this time, like all the rest, the Bolton Society was on the basis of abstinence from spirits only, the vicar being the president; but in the following week “The Bolton New Temperance Society” was inaugurated, I and two others from Preston assisting on the occasion. After the meeting was over we had to drive to Preston, 20 miles. Thus ended a hard but a glorious week’s work, and which served to show how much may be done by few hands and humble instruments where right principles have taken deep root, and where regard for respectable appearances, and the fear of man, are entirely abandoned.
Mr. Brearley, of Rochdale, became an abstainer by hearing our addresses at “The Butts,” and remained so to the day of his death. The following are letters from him and his wife out of many other similar ones which I received:—
My dear father and friend in the God-like cause.—It is a long time since I either saw you or heard from you; but the first week Mr. Gladstone brought out the budget, the spark of love you have in you was kindled toward your fellowman, and I saw your name in the newspapers calling us all up to duty; and this week I see you have written to Mr. Gladstone. It did me good to read your name, and I blessed the paper and kissed it for your sake. Believe me, I never lay me down in my good bed but I think of you coming to Rochdale. I can never pay you for what you have done for me. I should like to see you once more before we die. When you have a tea party, or a move of any sort in this good work, I would gladly come over. We are doing a great work at our hall. It would do you good to be among us; I am almost worked to death in this good cause. You will see by those small slips what I have to do. God bless you and your wife, and all your children, and forgive me troubling you in this way.
I remain, yours truly,
Closses Bamford, near Rochdale, March 22, 1860.
My dear father and mother in the Heaven-born cause.—I was very glad to see you look so well the other day in the neighbourhood of Lancaster. Oh I did rejoice on your behalf. May God ever bless you and mother in your health, in your basket and store, in your down-lying and up-rising, in your out-going and in-coming. I am still president of the Total Abstinence Society at Rochdale, and I can assure you I am almost worked to death during this cotton panic. Last night, I had to walk seven miles and a half from where I live to a meeting, at a place called Royton, and after having spoken an hour and a quarter, had to walk that length back by myself. On Sunday night last, I had to speak at Rochdale, and I shall have to go to a meeting there to-night, and to-morrow night I shall have to go again to take the chair at a tea meeting. Rochdale is more than two miles from my house, so you see how they work me up. I bless God a thousand times over that I ever heard your voice and saw your face, and I hope God will bless you and mother with good health and long life. I should be glad to hear from you soon. My wife and children send their love to you and mother, with ten thousand thanks, and pray that God will bless all you take in hand.—We remain, yours in love,
John and Betty Brearley.
Closses Bamford, near Rochdale, Oct. 13, 1863
For three or four years after we at Preston had adopted the teetotal pledge, we were battling with the adverse party, who contended for a liberty to drink beer and wine in moderation, and most places were unwilling to surrender. As Christianity was fettered a long time with Judaism, and found it difficult to get clear of its traditions, so was teetotalism with the universally received doctrine of abstinence from spirits only. The towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and other counties, having become indoctrinated with teetotalism, the great centres of Birmingham and London had to be attacked. It fell to my lot to be the first to visit each of these places single-handed. All our meetings at that time went by the common name of “Temperance,” and sometimes parties were thus taken in who attended them. The following is a brief notice of my first visit to Birmingham:—
I arranged to visit Birmingham in 1834, and a meeting was announced to take place in the Friends’ Meeting House, on Tuesday evening, the 17th June. But when I arrived, I found there was a “hitch” which had nearly prevented the meeting taking place. I shall never forget Mr. Cadbury (who died in 1860, aged 91) coming into his son John’s counting-house, and stating that it had been told him that I intended to lecture against both wine and beer, adding, that if I did so, it would ruin their society; and he referred feelingly to his good wife, who had nearly all her life taken her glass of beer. My reply was that I could preach no other doctrine, and if the chapel was withheld, as was intimated, I should make the street my meeting place. Not liking to be idle, at the dinner time I gave an address to a number of working-men, in St. Luke’s churchyard, for about half an hour. “To be or not to be,” was now the question as to the evening’s meeting in the chapel; but before the hour arrived, the bills having been out and expectation raised, I was told that I might take my own course. I repeated my lecture, and gave the illustrations on the malt liquor question, and such was the impression and such the effect upon Mr. Cadbury himself, that a letter followed me to London the next day, requesting that I would return that way, and re-deliver the same, which I did to a crowded and enthusiastic meeting. I scarcely need add that few families have been more true to the teetotal cause than the Cadbury’s. Following upon this, our friends Swindlehurst, Teare, and Grubb visited Birmingham two months after, and held four meetings in Livery Street Chapel, commencing on Tuesday evening, August 11th, and which were also addressed by Messrs. Chapman and Cadbury, and three or four reformed drunkards, all of Birmingham. They were opposed by a medical gentleman, who on the last evening was answered in such a powerful address from James Teare, including copious extracts from medical writers, that upon the formation of their Teetotal Society, this same gentleman, it is said, expressed his willingness to sign the pledge. In the autumn of the same year, Birmingham was visited by Mr. Buckingham, M.P. for Sheffield, who warmly advocated the cause; and in the following February, a crowded meeting was held in the Town Hall, at which a report was read attributing the prosperity of the society to the visits of the men from Preston. This meeting was addressed by the Rev. J. Allport, Messrs. Buckingham, M.P., Chapman, Barlow, and others, whilst numbers who could not get admission were addressed on the Wharf steps by Mr. E. Brittain and other speakers. Mr. James Stubbins, solicitor, took great interest in the progress of the cause, and assisted much in its advocacy through the medium of the press.
London was the seat and centre of The British and Foreign Temperance Society, under royal, noble, and sacerdotal patronage, and contended for the moderate use of fermented drinks; but, like other places, was compelled at last to yield to the teetotal doctrine, ”pure and simple.” I proceeded alone to the great metropolis direct from Birmingham, on Wednesday, the 18th of June, 1834. One of my earliest visits was to the Society’s room in Aldine Chambers, where I saw Dr. Edgar and others, but received no encouragement from them, it being pretty well understood that I had come to advocate the teetotal heresy. Help or no help, I was determined to have a meeting, and after many applications for a place to lecture in without success, at last, after the loss of more than a week, I got the promise of a preaching room in Providence Row, Finsbury Square, then occupied by a Rev. —Campbell, who had lately seceded from one of the dissenting bodies. It was several steps below the level of the street; I got a number of posters, but they were lost among the flaring bills on the London walls; also, a quantity of small bills, which, in my simplicity, I went up and down affixing to the walls with wafers in various places, and, among the rest, I remember, in the passages of the Bank of England. The meeting should have taken place on the Friday evening, the 27th, but it turned out, by some mistake, that there was to be preaching that evening, and so I was put off till the next night—Saturday. I then posted the front of the building, and got men to parade with notices during the day. It was the malt liquor lecture I intended to deliver, and I had to see after all the preparations myself. I applied to a chemist to distil me a quart of ale, for which he charged me half a guinea, but I got him to deduct 2s. 6d. I engaged an aged man named Phillips, who was the Society’s porter or messenger, to procure me barley, scales, weights, &c.; but one day he called at Mr. Mark Moore’s, where I lodged, and I was both vexed and amused when I was told that he had brought the basket, bottle, ale, scales, barley, and all the rest, with change out of a sovereign which I had given him, and placed them on the parlour floor, with this message,—”Tell Mr. Livesey I am very sorry, but I dare not do anything more for him, for the committee have intimated to me that if I give him any assistance it is as much as my place is worth.” Well, Saturday night came, and after all this loss of time (some ten days), labour, and expense, my audience consisted of about thirty persons! It was, however, the beginning of the good cause for London. Shortly after my return I received the following note from Mr. Pascoe: ” Sir,—Temperance, I think, is gaining ground in London. I am informed that much good has resulted from your lecture in Providence Row. The proprietor, who is an ale brewer and partner of Dr. Epps, has given up the use and sale of it from what he heard at your lecture.” I met with a few temperance friends who were in favour of the new doctrine, and who continued to adhere to it. Mr. and Mrs. Grosjean took up the question, and after a lapse of some time, he invited a number of practical teetotalers to meet at his home, which they did on the 10th of August, 1835 including himself, Mrs. Grosjean, Messrs. Nichols, Perkins, Pascoe, Giles, Corley, Busil, Yerbury, Boyd, Young, and Boatswain Smith. These formed themselves into a provisional committee, adding the name of Morris, Mr. Nichols being appointed secretary. Having determined to establish a teetotal society, they invited myself, Messrs. Swindlehurst and Howarth, to come to London to assist them. We arrived on Monday, August 31, and the next night we held our first meeting in Theobald’s Road, Red Lion Square, in a room then occupied by the Owenites. At this meeting, attended by from three to four hundred persons, a society was formed, called The British Teetotal Temperance Society,” with the following pledge: “I voluntarily promise that I will abstain from ale, porter, wine, ardent spirits, and all intoxicating liquors, and will not give nor offer them to others, except under medical prescription, or in a religious ordinance.” I can scarcely pass over one incident connected with this meeting. When it was getting near the time to commence the attendance seemed very slender, and feeling rather cast down, I said to Swindlehurst and Howarth, “We must try to get more people to hear us;” and with this, Howarth and I went out and borrowed a small bell, and started through the adjoining streets, ringing the bell, and calling the meeting. We had not gone far when a policeman came up and told us that that sort of work was not allowed in London, intimating that if we did not instantly desist, he would have to do his duty. Of course we did as requested, but it will be seen that our conduct was productive of good results. We all spoke, and evidently astonished the people, and especially Mr. Howarth, who, from his being about the stoutest man in Preston, was generally known as “Slender Billy.” We held three other meetings on the succeeding nights; agitating and distributing tracts during the day. That on the Wednesday evening was held in the National School Eoom, Quaker Street, Spitalfields, at which our friend John Andrew, of Leeds, gave us help. That on Thursday night was in Humphrey’s Riding School, Waterloo Road. At these two meetings I delivered the malt liquor lecture, and at the latter it was said that three brewers and about twenty publicans were present. The others also addressed the meeting, and at the close I challenged any present to come forward to dispute my statements, but no one responded. The Friday night’s meeting was held in the Mariners’ Church, Willclose Square. Mr. Swindlehurst impressively urged the importance of the cause, and Mr. Andrew also; but what is remarkable, so far as I can remember, no Londoner came forward to speak excepting a working man or two. My own visit in 1834, and this in 1835, were the means of starting a new organization, in the face of “The British and Foreign Temperance Society.” The conflict for a time was severe, but the truth prevailed.
Being told that Mr. Inwards, who kept a shop in the neighbourhood, dated his teetotalism from our first meeting, I wrote to enquire if this were so, and which of the Inwards it was. The following is the reply:—
Houghton Cottage, Leamington, May 2nd, 1867.
My dear Sir,—Your first meeting, announced by yourself and the other two noble pioneers in the temperance cause, with the bell in Theobald’s-road, I so well remember that I can never forget it. Both myself and neighbours made sport of the whole affair, and thought the men were mad. I and my next door neighbour (a poor dissipated drunkard) went. The meeting commenced, and I was offered a seat but would not take it. I began to feel interested; we both remained standing until the meeting was over, when you made an appeal to all to try the system, if only for a month. My neighbour said to me, “Inwards, what do you think of it?” I replied, “Well, what do you think of it?” “Why,” says he, “we are beat; I will have a month if you will.” I at once saw the good of it, if it would only keep him sober a month, and I replied, “I will.”That night we both signed and commenced; the man was completely changed; his wife rejoiced, and his family were blessed. From that moment I saw and felt the glory and the greatness of this holy cause. Some of the worst drunkards in the neighbourhood were reclaimed, and brought under the sound of the word of life. They gladly received it, and of those who were added to the churches in the vicinity, many are now living ornaments to the cause, or added to “the just men made perfect.” Eternity alone can reveal the infinite importance of the early operations of this movement. I soon after went into Bedfordshire, and pressed the subject on all my family. My brothers and sisters heard with attention—were amazed, but having reflected, pronounced it right. They adopted it, and commenced advocating it faithfully. I wish to be very modest in this statement, but cannot help referring with pleasure to the long, faithful, and useful advocacy of my dear brother Jabez, as one of the results of your first meeting. I am happy to inform you that myself and all my family have been true to the good cause ever since, and I have reasons for stating, that my journeyings through the country as an ardent teetotaler, defending and advocating it in almost all the commercial rooms in the North and Midland counties, have been attended with the most cheering results. Eejoicing to know that you are still labouring in the great work,—may the remaining journey of your pathway through life be illumined by the sun of righteousness, and its healing beams enjoyed until all your labours shall end in the paradise of God.—I am, yours very sincerely,
I have avoided giving many details of my own labours during the early days, but as I often took tours for a week or so at once, a report of the following, I think, may be useful:—
Colne.—On Monday Night, March 2, I attended a meeting held in the Piece Hall, consisting of about 1700 persons, the Rev. J. Henderson, in the chair. My friend Anderton commenced and finished with powerful appeals, and the recitation of pieces of poetry. To a person who had not heard of Colne, the number and manifest zeal of the friends here would appear extraordinary. I delivered my lecture on malt liquor, the effect of which was rendered still more impressive by the opposition of two gentlemen present. Their arguments were so futile and so foreign to the subject, as to confirm the hearers in the truth of what they had heard. Many of the higher classes in Colne set a good example, by giving the Society their decided support. I cannot but mention the kindness of Mr. Bolton, Solicitor and Clerk to the Magistrates, who sent his horse and gig with us all the way to Halifax. Halifax.—Social Tea Meetings were held here next day, being Shrove Tuesday. About 650 persons sat down to tea in two of the Sunday schools. A public meeting was held in the evening, in Zion Chapel, G. B. Browne, Esq., in the chair. The cause in this place appears to have been in a languishing state for some time, but from the speeches of the gentlemen on the occasion, it appeared that the beginning of a revival had been experienced. After the addresses of the Rev. Messrs. Hawkins, Turner, Preston, Whitewood, Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Anderton, I delivered the usual explanations respecting malt liquor, which seemed to produce a good impression. Mr. Cartwright, from Preston, a reclaimed character, gave an affecting detail of his past habits, and of his change to a sober life.
Huddersfield.—The meeting, the following evening, was held in the New Connexion Methodist Chapel, and was addressed by Mr. Thompson, of Halifax, Cartwright, Anderton, and myself. Among the good effects produced, it is said, that many of the workmen belonging to Mr. Brooks’s Iron Foundry, Longroyd Bridge, have determined to test the truth of my doctrine in their own experience. The Society for some time has been holding weekly meetings, the advantage of which was beginning manifestly to appear.
Leeds.—On the Thursday evening, we held a most interesting meeting at Leeds, in the Music Hall. Every part of -the place was crowded, and many could not obtain admission. Mr. Bulman, surgeon, was called to the chair, and after a few introductory remarks, explaining that the Leeds Society was not pledged to the statements which would be made that night, Mr. Thompson, from Halifax, gave an explanation of his labour, as a cloth presser, and stated that at one time he believed it was impossible for such as he to do without home brewed beer; but having tried it for three or four months, he could sincerely state, that he could do his work better, was less fatigued, less thirsty, and instead of being heavy and sleepy in an evening, he could sit up reading for several hours. My lecture followed, and the meeting was concluded by an address from Mr. Anderton, which was much cheered. At the conclusion 26 names were added to the abstinence pledge. The following note from a friend at Leeds, since received, has reference to this meeting: “Your visit to Leeds has been productive of much good. Several drunkards have signed, the objections of many moderate men removed, and the conviction has been produced in the minds of many, that the teetotal plan is the only sure and effective remedy for the evil to be removed.”
Bradford.—The cause at Bradford seems to have been languid for some time, although there are many decided friends to the cause who have made great sacrifices to promote its prosperity. But as in most of the towns in Yorkshire, there seems to be indications of a speedy revival. Our meeting on Friday evening was in the Friends’ Meeting House, which was well filled by a very well behaved audience; Mr. Wm. Cole, Bowling, in the chair. We were met here by our zealous champion, Swindlehurst, who delivered an address, the effects of which were seen on the cheeks of many of his hearers. My lecture on the great delusion, and the danger and inconsistency of moderate drinking, was here repeated. Anderton followed by a display of wit and sarcasm, such as astonished many of the people. At the conclusion of the meeting, 43 names were obtained to the abstinence pledge.
Stockton.—The meeting was fixed here for the Friends’ Meeting House, but upon arriving in the town, I was told that the meetings had been thinly attended, and that fears were entertained that there would be a slender attendance. Feeling anxious to prevent the mortification of speaking to empty benches, I adopted the following expedient to excite the attention of the town. Furnishing myself with a large quantity of tracts, and having applied to the bellman to hire me a small cart, we both took our seats, drove first into the Market Place —the bellman having an advertisement in his hat—showering tracts in every direction. He rang his bell, and I delivered the following announcement, “This is to give notice, that Mr. Livesey, from Preston, is going to deliver a lecture this evening, in the Friends’ Meeting House, on malt liquors, at seven o’clock, in which he engages to prove that there is more food in a pennyworth of bread than there is in a gallon of ale. All the drunkards and tipplers, and those who have their clothes at the pop shop, are requested to attend.” We proceeded first through the main street, then through the back streets, halting at every suitable place, throwing out the tracts and giving the same notice.—One week I travelled above 300 miles in six days (there were then no railways), attended five evening meetings, and spoke nearly two hours each evening, besides a noon meeting at Sunderland.