Lewis Masquerier, “Temperance” (1835/1877)

TEMPERANCE.

No animal so much as man,
Transgresses nature’s law and plan;
Each brute selects its drink and food,
Rejects whatever tastes not good,
Without the aid, as some would say,
Of reason and philosophy;
While man, endowed with every kind
Of sense and quality of mind,
Will drink his death in every bowl
Through sensual appetite’s control;
Will swallow burning alcohol.
And eat tobacco’s bitter gall;
While some prefer themselves to choke
Upon its suffocating smoke;
While some think two ways not enough
To use it, turn it into snuff;
And had they thought of it, no doubt
Intemperance, of every kind,
Had snuff’d in ears as well as snout.
Of body, appetite, and mind,
Must be reformed and neutralized
Before men can be moralized.
Intemperance causes much more sin
Than other cause, without or in;
And is, when in its proper sense,
The overplus of temperance;
All virtue, this, is but, it seems,
The medium between extremes.
All virtue then may be convolved,
And into temperance resolved.
It is my wish, ‘tis my advice,
To practice not a single vice:
The practice of one vice alone
Can nothing short of life atone;
A certain vice some men will curse,
And yet will practice one much worse:
Those sins they love to nurture best,
They consecrate, forgive and bless;
While sins for which they have no passion
They curse and condemn, as out of fashion.
Thus some, although they do not drink,
Habituate themselves to think
Tobacco is to them of use,
And not like liquor an abuse.
Oh, how terrific is the force
Of habit, and the drunkard’s course!
At first he drinks a little, then,
He hankers for some more, and when
The burning taste a pleasant thought
Produces—soon he grows a sot;
Instead of wandering to the hill
Where springs the cool and lucid rill,
That ripples o’er its moss grown bed,
And courses through the verdant mead—
Oh why not then your thirst assuage
By drinking nature’s beverage?
Go quaff the cool life-giving fountain
Distilled from caverns in the mountain,
Instead of drinking liquid fire
Which only makes the toper drier.
Ye drunkards, try for once to think
What evils are produced by drink!
What thousands die off every year,
Cut off in early life’s career.
Reform thy drinking!—Oh try!
Abstain, you live—indulge, you die.
If you true happiness would find,
Keep from excess of every kind:
Obey the laws of temperance,
Life, pleasure, health and thought enhance
Oh, persevere, and overcome
An appetite so troublesome.
Oh! see the wretched, outcast sot,
By friends as well as foes forgot;
Oh! see him reeling from the shop,
And in the mire senseless drop!
Oh! see his feeble limbs and wits,
His foaming mouth and crazy fits;
His bloated face, his matted hair,
His pallid looks and frightful air;—
See—see—the more disgusting sluice
Of corn, and of tobacco juice
Stream down the chin in colored streaks,
Like sap that from a tree knot leaks:
Oh! hear his groans, and dying sighs,—
His threatening oaths, with frantic eyes,—
His faltering words, his rattling breath,—
The preludes of approaching death.

TEMPERANCE EXHORTATION.

No animal so much as man,
Transgresses Nature’s law and plan;
Each brute by taste selects its meat,
Whatever it was made to eat,
Without the aid, as some would say,
Of Reason and Philosophy;
While man, endowed with every kind
Of sense and quality of mind,
Will drink his death in every bowl
Through sensual appetite’s control;
Will swallow burning alcohol.
And suck tobacco’s bitter gall;
While some prefer themselves to choke
Upon its suffocating smoke;
Yet some think two ways not enough
To use it turn it into snuff;
And did they think of it, no doubt
Would snuff in ears as well as snout.
Let every wight then take advice,
To practice not a single vice;
The habit of one vice alone
Can nothing short of life atone.
A certain vice some men will curse,
And yet will practice one much worse;
Those sins they love to nurture best,
They consecrate, forgive and bless;
While sins for which they have no passion
Curse and condemn, as out of fashion.
Thus some, although they do not drink,
Habituate themselves to think
Tobacco is to them of use,
And not like “Bourbon” an abuse.
Oh, how terrific is the force
Of habit, and the drunkard’s course!
At first he drinks a little, then,
He hankers for some more, and when
The burning taste a pleasant thought
Produces—soon he grows a sot.
Go wander to rock-footed hill,
Where springs the cool pellucid rill,
That ripples over pebbled bed,
Through ranker grass of greener mead
And there your burning thirst assuage
By drinking Nature’s beverage.
Yes, quaff the cool life-giving fountain
Distilled from caverns in the mountain,
Instead of drinking liquid fire
Which only makes the toper drier.
Ye drunkards, try for once to think
What evils are produced by drink!
What thousands die off every year,
Cut off in early life’s career.
Reform thy drinking!—Oh try!
Abstain, you live —indulge, you die!
If you true happiness would find,
Keep from excess of every kind;
Obey the laws of temperance,
Life, pleasure, health and thought enhance
Oh persevere and overcome
An appetite so troublesome.
Oh see the wretched outcast sot,
By friends as well as foes forgot;
Oh! see him reeling from the shop,
And senseless in the mire drop.
Oh! see his feeble limbs and wits
His foaming mouth and crazy fits;
His bloated face, his matted hair,
His pallid looks and frightful air;
See, see, the more disgusting sluce
Of lager and tobacco juice
Stream down his chin in colored streaks
Like sap that from a tree knot leaks;
Oh! hear his groans and dying sighs,
His threatening oaths, with frantic eyes,
His faltering words, his rattling breath,
The preludes of approaching death.


  • Lewis Masquerier, “Temperance,” Boston Investigator 5 no. 26 (September 18, 1835): 4.
  • Lewis Masquerier, “Temperance Exhortation,” Sociology (New York: Lewis Masquerier, 1877): 184–186.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2272 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.