A Visit to the Poor Drunkard’s Home (1 of 2)

Band of Hope Review, The (1851) A Visit to the Poor Drunkard’s Home (1 of 2). [Image]

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This article from the The Band of Hope Review, Jan., 1851, is a form of ‘documentary exposé’ which was common in temperance propaganda. Interestingly, this was the first issue of a magazine for children, showing what was to be one of the main strands of content, the sensational. The image draws on the motif of the squalid room empty of household items, which had been established by Cruikshank in The Bottle four years before.


Those only who have frequently visited, or lived in the home of a drunkard, can conceive of half the sorrow and suffering which daily flow from the sin of Intemperance. We have visited or conversed int eh streets with hundreds of poor drunkards, and assisted not a few home who were unable to walk, and can testify that there are many poor mothers and children in this country suffering far worse than West Indian Slavery. For these we would plead. Amongst the sights we have witnessed is one partially described by the annexed engraving. It was on a Saturday night in 1848.We had spent the greater portion of the evening in company with our valued and now departed friend Jno. Wm. Locking, of Hull, when we felt impelled to pay another visit to ___. We found him seated near the fire-place, with his head buried in his hands. He was very sullen, being still stupid with the effects of long continued drinking. He seemed unwilling to be spoken to, and for a time our entreaties that he would commence a new life were only replied to by the most awful curses upon himself. At length we referred to his departed MOTHER. The mention of this name had a magical effect upon him. His bad conduct had aided in bringing that mother with sorrow to the grave, but she had offered up many prayers to God for him, and on her deathbed had charged him to give up his drinking companions. Degraded and far fallen as he was, yet there was a charm about his mother’s name which he could not resist. Despite of his efforts, the tears began to trickle down upon his broad face. It was an affecting time. With our hands placed upon his shoulder we kindly urged him to seek the Almighty’s pardon. Turning to the disconsolate wife and children we said, “If Father gives up drinking will you not all be glad, and try to make home happy?” They gathered round him, and in a manner which words cannot fully describe, expressed their hope that he would adopt our advice. “Do you really think, Sir, that there is hope for me – I have been so bad?” he inquired. We pointed him to the assurance of God’s word that all who are willing to turn from their sins shall have help to do so.

We now inquired of the wife what food she had for the family, when she replied, “Nothing, Sir, he has got through about five pounds this week, I have not had a farthing of his wages – we have had nothing to eat to-day.” “Five pounds!” we exclaimed, “how can he have had such a sum to spend in one week?” She then pointed to the place where the chest of drawers, the clock, and other articles of furniture had stood. All these had been carried away by him and his drinking companions, and pawned for drink. Taking one of the children, we sent back a sufficiency of food to supply their wants over the Sabbath.

We frequently say the man after the above interview, and his conduct was on the whole much improved, but he could never be induced to give up

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