[N. p., but New Hampshire, February, 1834]. Stitched fascicle with one inserted leaf laid in, approx. 10 x 8.5 inches, 20 pages of text. Approx. 6000 words, with corrections, deletions, and additions. Some staining to the rear final leaf and a few adjacent leaves, with some general light browning; a few small holes along the old light vertical crease to a couple of leaves, with a little loss (but no loss of sense); in very good condition, quite legible throughout. Item #18564
“An old gentleman in my immediate neighbourhood was for years habitually intemperate. He was troubled with liver complaint, and hiccups, and tremblings, and loss of appetite, & the thousand other ills that tiplers are heir to; as he was wealthy and paid willingly, my services were of course always promptly rendered, & my bills usually averaged from twenty to thirty dollars a year. I did at last what I should have done at first, I told him plainly rum was killing him, that however others might drink it, & live, he could not. He was not offended & promised to reform, but the very same week, after his Eleven Oclock dram (he was very regular in his habits always observing time & seasons) he slipped on the ice, & was obliged to be carried home in broad day light, with his face bloody & disfigured. I was sent for, & the scene in that otherwise reputable family can be more easily conceived than described. His wife and children were in tears. Said the old gentleman, i’ll drink no more. You will, father, said a daughter. It has got such a hold of you, you can’t resist it. I will resist it, said he & from that time till his death he was a reformed man, & from that day twelve month, my services as physician were not needed for him. There was a dead loss to me of at least twenty dollars the first year from a single reformation.” This unsigned physician’s address celebrates the national temperance movement, the development of a temperance movement in New Hampshire, and shows much in the way of fine-tuning or revision throughout, the wide-ranging oration touching on the nature of temperance—from the physical effects of alcohol (he makes passing reference to spontaneous combustion, which he has not seen and says seldom occurs; the address also passes baleful comments on tobacco, noting “they always go together every drunkard uses tobacco”), to detailed and entertaining attacks on the social, religious, and political effects of intemperance: “Did you ever hear of a riot, assault or battery; of a theft, robbery, or murder, but rum directly or indirectly was the prime mover of it?” The lengthy address winds up with some optimistic reports of recent temperance efforts in New Hampshire, noting in part, “Much good may be expected to result to the cause the ensuing year, from the circulation of the Temperance Herald, a paper issued monthly by the Executive Committee of the New-Hampshire Temperance Society. As every family in the State will be furnished with a copy, no individual can justly consider himself pointed at by having a copy presented for his acceptance, & no one can have occasion for offence.” Despite the identification of the location of the address “Putnams Meeting-house, Dunbarton” (the church then under the care of Rev. John H. Putnam), this address clearly does not come from Putnam’s pen; one likely candidate would be Reuben D. Mussey, M. D. (1780-1866), then a Dartmouth professor and the first president of the New-Hampshire Society for the Promotion of Temperance from its establishment in 1828; one finds echoes of this address and its case studies in his contemporary “Essay on ardent spirits and its substitutes as a means of invigorating health,” collected in the Temperance Prize Essays (Washington: Duff Green, 1835). A brief memoir of Mussey in a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association of May 9, 1896, from Dr. Irving C. Blaidsell, the son of one of Mussey’s students, would support a possible association; Blaidsell notes in part, “I find among other papers, a part of a temperance lecture, which must have been delivered [by Mussey] shortly after my father had left the medical school; it was about the time Neil Dow was beginning his temperance work in Maine, some sixty years ago. The lecture met with much favor, it would appear, in the rather scholarly town in which he had located. I was surprised, to see how fearless as a young doctor, he handled his subject, neither having fear of foe, or quoting favors, showing plainly the action of alcohol in its various forms on the human system, and its moral and political influence throughout the broad land of ours.” A glance by a researcher distant from this cataloger at the columns of the February and March numbers of the Temperance Herald from the New-Hampshire Temperance Society (mentioned above, which began publication in January, 1834) found no mention of this specific address (whether by Mussey or another physician) in Dunbarton in February, 1834. Comparison of the hand in this address to a brief 1838 letter of resignation from Mussey to the president of Dartmouth (the example supplied courtesy of the Rauner Library at Dartmouth) would seem inconclusive, though with enough discrepancies such as the flourish on the descenders, the style of the letter “p” and a few other aspects in the known Mussey example to make an attribution uncertain, and there is cause of course to be conservative in assigning responsibility for this manuscript. But of the two temperance addresses delivered in New Hampshire and published separately in 1834 (per OCLC), one might presumably eliminate this as a version from the pen of Rev. Oren Tracy (who delivered an address in Newport, N. H. on Feb. 25) or the Rev. E. Wellington (who delivered an address on Feb. 24 in Mason, N. H.), as both authors had a clerical rather than medical vocation. Dr. John Wheeler of Dover, N. H., another physician who served as a vice-president of the New Hampshire society seems a possible candidate for authorship, but he seems to have left little trace of publication or in the way of public addresses.Regardless of the current obscurity of an unknown attribution, an uncommon and detailed example of a likely unpublished temperance address from the Golden Age of American antebellum reform.