Livesey autobiography — chapter 14

Back to Contents

Among our various schemes for inducing the hard drinkers to cast in their lot with us by becoming teetotalers, has been that of making feasts—say a knife and fork tea party—inviting a selected number, and after tea addressing them in the most urgent and affectionate manner to change their course of living. We had several got up by Mr. Bruckshaw, now of Bolton, and others. Perhaps the results were not always satisfactory; still some good was done, and our friends can point now to individuals whose change by these treats has been remarkable. The feasts, I think, were on too small a scale, but the greatest defects were these: the invitations were confined to drinkers, and were not followed by repeated visitation; hence many of the parties gave way before temptation. On the approach of Shrove Tuesday last, it was determined to renew these attempts, with some improvements. The improvements were, that females, the drinker’s wives as well as the husbands, should have tickets given them; that the number should at least be doubled, and that instead of the expense being thrown upon one individual, others should be allowed to purchase either personal or presentation tickets at 1s. each. The result has given great satisfaction. A capital tea, with sandwiches and other accompaniments, was made; about 60 drinkers were invited, who, along with a number of abstaining friends, enjoyed a pleasant evening. Every arrangement was made to prevent any of the invited thinking that they were brought to the meeting to be gazed at, or treated in any respect different to others because of their habits. A great object to be kept in view in getting up these tea parties is, to create more cordiality between the classes. As in religion so in teetotalism, there should be as much equality as possible; the drinkers should feel that they are cared for, and that it is for their benefit that our efforts are constantly directed. Indeed, “Pity for the drinkers” should dwell in every abstainer’s heart, and it should never be concealed that the blame does not belong exclusively to any one, but that if justice were properly meted out, it ought to be distributed to the drinkers, the parents, the teachers, and all others who had contributed in any way to the wrong-doing of drinking men or women. Several females treated the company with songs and music; stirring speeches were delivered, principally by old fuddlers, and the alcohol in intoxicating liquor was burnt before the audience. Judging from the conduct of the guests, some of whom had never been in the Temperance Hall before, they were highly delighted, and the hope is, that some at least will forever forsake their ale guzzle, and begin to live a new life. It is very important that we should learn not to be so severe, either in our censures or conduct, towards those who have fallen from a sober life. In many cases the cause is a misfortune rather than a crime. If they had been looked well after when young, and if their teachers and parents had been watchful and had supplied a good example, a world of misery and suffering might have been prevented. At any rate, I feel no misgiving in strongly recommending all our societies to imitate what is here set before them.

The following address was read, and copies given out for distribution:

An Address to all who are invited to the Temperance Shrove Tuesday Tea Party, March 1st, 1881.

Dear Friends,—You will excuse the liberty I am taking in addressing you. I assume that most of you are not teetotalers; at the same time you know that I am warmly attached to that party. I have adopted their principles, and followed them faithfully for 50 years. Not a drop of intoxicating liquor, neither gin, rum, brandy, whiskey, ale, or wine has gone down my throat; I keep none in the house, and would not allow so destructive an article to enter my doors; and I am enjoying all the benefit of this. Just think for a moment what a gain it must have been to my family in health, wealth, comfort, and happiness; and what blessings my example and efforts have conferred upon thousands of others who have read my papers. What an old man just entering upon his 88th year can do, surely you can do the same. What hinders you? Nothing, I venture to say, upon which you can for shame to dwell. I know what drinkers, even moderate drinkers, feel; and still more, what those who go to excess have to endure. Now let me say to you all,—let bygones be bygones; make up your minds to live as God intended you to live. Keep ALCOHOL, the intoxicating stuff, out of your mouths; never touch it. Let your wages be spent upon your families, your houses, and yourselves. You who are working men, beware of Saturday afternoons; this is the time when the temptation is often very strong. Some men will run to the drinkshop the moment they get out of the workshop or mill. They only intend to get a glass or so, but they don’t leave till they have spent a great part of their wages. Oh! what madness! What folly to go on in this way, which leads to nothing but misery and wickedness, and to setting a shameful example all around them!

You have been invited here to let you see how teetotalers enjoy themselves, and to help you to decide at once to give up your drinking habits, to begin to live like men, to care for your families, and to lead a new life.—I am, Your old friend, J. Livesey. 13, Bank Parade, Preston.

In looking over my Moral Reformer, The Preston Temperance Advocate, and the various pamphlets and tracts which were issued in the early days of our enterprise, I cannot help remembering with delight the zeal and devotedness of those with whom I had the pleasure to work; and am apt to contrast these with the boasted activities of the present day. Judging from what we hear and read, many are apt to think we are now doing wonders, but these are mostly young converts or persons who are taken with the laudatory reports which appear in our periodicals. Impressed with this truth, that alcoholic drink is the stumbling block in the way of every good thing, and that personal abstinence is the starting point in the enjoyment of individual, domestic, and national happiness, our primitive men made the advocacy of teetotalism pure and simple their first and most important duty. Money, influence, labour, were incessantly devoted to the work, not making it only a matter of convenience, nor allowing themselves to be diverted from their proper work by side issues. Gradually this zealous devotion cooled down; and the love of ease, so common to a state of prosperity, soon created a disposition to rely upon proxy instead of personal labour. The employment of missionaries and agents is good in its place; but when we depend upon these, instead of working ourselves, we make a great mistake.

I feel thankful for the measure of success which has been attained, but still I am anxious that it should be of a more decisive character. The only true test of progress in the abstinence cause is the returns of Government as to the “home consumption” of intoxicating liquors. When the present yearly consumption is reduced by 10 millions, we shall have proof that we are succeeding, and when the amount is reduced to one half, as it ought to be, then we might proclaim the hope of a decided victory. It is true our principles have made, and are making, great progress; but the practice of abstinence does not keep pace with it; and if the societies and the teetotalers as individuals could be aroused to do their duty, as in primitive times, a more cheering prospect would ensue.

If our cause is to succeed, we must try k> enlighten the whole people as to the nature and properties of all our popular drinks. Never till the public are sufficiently enlightened as to the worthlessness of alcoholic liquors, and their injurious influence upon the human system, will the temperance cause make that progress which all teetotalers are anxious to witness. We should incessantly work at this, and try by every means to impress correct views upon the minds of those who are the teachers and leaders of the people. There should not be a minister or a man of any position uninformed on this question. It is by the press, chiefly, that we can reach this class; and we should spare no pains or cost, in circulating sound information among them. Declaiming merely against “drunkenness,” and its horrid effects upon society, is comparatively a loss of time, so long as “drinking” is passed over in silence. Until we have convinced the public that it is the alcohol in the drink, and neither the assumed “adulterations,” the “house,” nor the “man” that sells it, which is the cause of the evil, we are making no headway, and deceiving ourselves with hopes that will never be realized. I repeat, we must concentrate our labours and our best energies upon the drink and its alcoholic properties, and show that it is the moderate and fashionable use which constitutes the greatest obstruction to the success of our labours. I seem like one of the “ancient men,” who, at the building of the second Jewish Temple, “wept” on beholding its inferiority compared to that which was erected by Solomon.

In the early days every meeting we went to in town or village was crowded. Those engaged at present, whose teetotal experience does not reach beyond ten or twenty years, think they are doing a great deal; and if we read the reports of fifty societies, including the large organizations, we always find a laudatory tone—an enumeration of great efforts; but, when we apply to the true test—the quantity of liquor consumed and the number of places that sell it—we find the facts are against us. This should arouse our societies from their slumbers, and warn them against complacency and self-deception. In the early days we felt that we were really engaged in a “Temperance reformation.” We gave heart and soul to it. The conflict was fierce; and the resistance manifested in hostile opposition, served only to fire our zeal. We seemed as if we would turn the world upside down.

The following address, which was largely circulated, shows so forcibly the spirit and earnestness of our early workers in Preston, that I feel anxious to have it preserved, especially as it contains the names of thirty of our reformed drunkards.


Friends! —You are miserable and wretched, both in body, soul, and circumstances; your families and friends are suffering through your folly; you have no peace here, and can have no peace hereafter; and all this proceeds from the delusive, maddening habit of drinking intoxicating liquors. You are told that these liquors do you good. It is a falsehood, invented and propagated for the purpose of getting your money. Judge of the good they have done by the effects which they have produced upon yourselves and others. Oh! shun the publichouse as you would do a plague, and the company of drunkards as you would a gang of robbers.

Friends! —We were once drunkards, and most of us were in the same wretched condition as yourselves; but being reclaimed, we are anxious for you to enjoy the same liberty and blessings which we enjoy. We are now happy: our wives are comfortable; our children are provided for; we are better in health, better in circumstances; we have peace of mind; and no tongue can tell the comfort we have enjoyed since we became consistent members of the Temperance Society. Ale and strong drink have slain more than war or pestilence; and while we refuse no kind of food or drink which God hath sent, we abstain from all diluted poison, manufactured to ruin mankind, and to rob our country of its greatness. We have seen our delusion: and we now drink neither ale, wine, gin, rum, nor brandy, nor any kind of intoxicating liquor. There is no safety for you nor us but in giving it up entirely. Come forward then, ye tipplers, drunkards, and backsliders! attend our meetings, and be resolved to cast off the fetters of intemperance; and once and for ever determine to be free!

John Billington, Weaver. William Parkinson, Clogger. John Brade, Joiner. Joseph Richardson, Shoemaker. Richard Bray, Fishmonger. Richard Rhodes, Weaver. Robert Caton, Spinner. James Ryan, Spinner. William Caton, Spinner. Richard Shackleton, Spinner. William Gregory, Tailor. Samuel Smalley, Spinner. George Gregson, Plasterer. Joseph Smirk, Moulder. John Gregson, Mechanic. James Smith, Spinner. William Howarth, Sizer. George Stead, Broker. Robert Jolly, Sawyer. Thos. Swindlehurst, Roller Maker. William Moss, Mechanic. Randal Swindlehurst, Mechanic. Mark Myers, Shoemaker. John Thornhill, Cabinet Maker. Henry Newton, Mole Catcher. Richard Turner, Plasterer. Thomas Osbaldeston, Moulder. Joseph Yates, Shopkeeper. Robert Parker, Moulder. William Yates, Weaver.

Preston, Dec. 27th, 1833.

The following report of a week’s proceedings at Blackburn in the year 1835, (abridged from the Temperance Advocate) will give an idea of the zeal and enthusiasm which characterised the advocacy of total abstinence at that date. It would be a blessing if that and other towns could now be stirred up after the same fashion:—

An extraordinary effort was made in Blackburn during the week preceding Easter week, (1835) in order to form a New Temperance Society on the teetotal principles, and to produce an impression in its favour; and it is pleasing to add, with the most extraordinary success. The Committee of the Preston Temperance Society, anxious to spread the principles of their Society, engaged the Theatre for six successive nights, in order that the blessings which had accompanied the labours of their friends in Preston might be extended to Blackburn. On Monday evening, Messrs. Swindlehurst, Broughton, Stagg, Speakman, Spencer, and H. Olitheroe, proceeded from Preston to Blackburn in the “teetotal car” and addressed the meeting, Mr. Swindlehurst in the chair. On Tuesday, Messrs. Livesey, Osbaldeston, and Richardson, from Preston; Gardner, Blackburn; and R. Threlfall, from Moon’s Mill, were the speakers. The chair was taken by the Rev. J. Cheadle, from Colne. Mr. Livesey delivered his Lecture on the great delusion respecting the properties of malt liquor. The other advocates related their conversion to Temperance, and the blessings connected-with a sober life. On Wednesday, the chair was occupied by a reverend gentleman of Blackburn; and Messrs. Teare, Bradley, Jolly, Bimson, Caton, and Johnston, from Preston, addressed the meeting. On Thursday, the Rev. J. Fielding, of Preston, was called to the chair, when Messrs. H. Anderton, J. Johnson, G. Gregson, D. Crossthwaite, and —Greers, from Preston, addressed the meeting. On this evening the new Society was formed, and a Committee appointed, consisting of persons who had signed the previous evenings. On Friday, Messrs. Broughton, Swindlehurst, Brade, Moon, Howarth, and Mrs. M. Grime, from Preston, addressed the meeting, Mr. Baxendale in the chair. On Saturday, Mr. J. Finch, from Liverpool, took the chair. Messrs. Cartwright, Walmsley, J. Whitehead, R. Swindlehurst, J. Livesey, (a boy 13 years old) J. Whatmough, and H. Bradley, from Preston, and J. Margerson, of Blackburn, addressed the meeting. I have attended many Temperance meetings in different parts of the country, but never witnessed so much zeal and good feeling as pervaded these meetings. The result of the week’s meetings is, 330 persons, including a considerable number of the most degraded characters in the town, have signed the pledge.

John Cassell was a grand worker in our cause, and honoured it in practice during his life. It was a subject of deep regret that he should have had so many other engagements. It was when lecturing in Mr. Beardsall’s Chapel, Oak Street, Manchester, that I first saw him, standing just below, or on the steps of the platform, in his working attire, with a fustian jacket and a white apron on. He was then an apprentice, and, without serving his time, he left Manchester, a raw, uncultivated youth. “It was in October, 1836, that young Cassell arrived in London, in quest of employment as a carpenter, and shortly after spoke at a temperance meeting in the New Jerusalem School Room, near the Westminster Road. Mr. J. Parker, who was present, describes him as a gaunt stripling, poorly clad, and travel-stained; plain, straightforward, and earnest in speech, but very broad in provincialism. Shortly after this, on the 17th of November, he spoke in Milton Street, Barbican, with an energy and effect, despite his provincial brogue, which gained him friends on the spot, and stamped an epoch in his onward and upward career. He is said to have frankly owned, on some of these occasions, that he carried his worldly all in his wallet, and had only a few pence in his pocket. Mr. Meredith became his friend, and enrolled him among the temperance agents whom he was generously maintaining at his own expense.” In the Advocate for April, 1837, it is said, “John Cassell, the Manchester carpenter, has been labouring amidst many privations with great success in the county of Norfolk. He is passing through Essex on his way to London. He carries his watchman’s rattle, an excellent accompaniment of temperance labour.” It deserves to be recorded that the Rev. C. Garrett, now a giant in the cause, and Mr. T. H. Barker, secretary of the Alliance, were converted to teetotalism by hearing John Cassell; so that their temperance genealogy brings them back to Preston. The following note refers to the former:—

Dear Sir,—On the evening of November 24th and 25th, 1840, Mr. John Cassell, as the agent of the New British and Foreign Temperance Society, delivered lectures at the Town Hall, Shaftesbury. After the second lecture, the Shaftesbury Total Abstinence Society was formed; several persons having signed the pledge, among them Charles Garrett, then a lad; the Rev. Thomas Evans, Congregational minister of this place, still living; and John Rutter, Esq., a solicitor of the town, who was one of the speakers at Covent Garden Theatre at the first world’s convention. I signed on the 27th, and it was at a small members’ meeting, sometime afterwards, in a School Room, that I, as the chairman, induced Charles Garrett to speak, for the first time, on teetotalism. James Teare had previously (in 1836) visited this neighbourhood, but his labours in this town were, I believe unsuccessful.—Yours truly, G. E. Norton.

Alluding to this meeting, Mr. Garrett says, ” I remember the excitement caused by the publication of Cassell’s bills—the wonder what ‘ teetotalism’ meant, and the amazement with which everybody regarded the proposal to abstain from ale and cider. The publicans sent men to upset the meeting, and, amidst the row, I was the first to sign.” The Teetotal Times, issued by our lamented friend, was one of the best periodicals ever printed; and in the Standard of Freedom and other publications teeming from the press in Belle Sauvage Yard, he always advocated our principles. His portrait (given with Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper of May 20, 1865), now lies before me, and calls up recollections hard to endure. Many a time have I wished that his large mind had been less burdened with the cares of business. The last time I saw him was at the Hydropathic Establishment, Benrhydding, Ilkley, and the marks of declining health were then but too visible. He died on the 2nd of April, 1865, cut off at the early age of forty-six, leaving his widow and daughter (still living) to mourn their loss. His name will always be honoured as the first of the firm in the great printing and publishing house of ” Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, Ludgate Hill, London.”

Previous | Next

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s