Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rum Drops (NY Times, 1853)

Here's a gem that I came across in the NY Times archives that was originally published August 3, 1853...rum drops anyone??

Rum Drops.

   Our mothers, free from guile and in their child-like innocence of heart, looked out, long years ago, from their virtuous farm-house homes upon the crime-famed City of New York. They believed that here the enemy of their race had exerted to the utmost his dire abilities for the invention and display of temptations whereby the groundwork of morals and religion, in the character of the young, could be undermined or obliterated ; whereby their prospects of prosperity here, and hope of happiness hereafter could be destroyed. They were mistaken. And well they might be; for who of those who have lived on the scene, and watched our mighty strides in commerce and in crime, would not, if asked his opinion, at any given period within the past twenty years, have said, “Crime in the City of New York has reached its culmination." But it still goes on increasing. Its progress is only equaled by the other and more desirable advancements of the City. This fact is one with which our readers are painfully familiar. It is only used here as preliminary to a word upon a comparatively new and more than ordinarily skillful trick for bringing beauty and innocence, the most unsuspecting victims, within the reach of evil.

   The allurements of the Club, and of the occasional glass withafriend, have been sufficiently characterized. They have acquainted our young men with the evils flowing from such indulgencies. Women, young and old, convinced of the impropriety, and of the injurious consequences of female wine-bibbing, have, as a rule, ceased to sip. In fact, all the evils whose origin lies in the two free use of strong drinks, are read and known of all men and women equally, and the libertine now looks in vain, or, at best, but seldom finds an unnaturally flushed cheek on which to imprint his passion ; a disordered imagination, in the ear of which he dares to whisper. He has grieved at the change, and, as the opportunity for sinning became less frequent, had almost resolved to make a virtue of necessity, and be an honest man. But he need not do it now. The devil seldom leaves his friends, until their day of usefulness is over. The libertine cried out for victims, and the CONFECTIONER answered the call. Rum-drops, brandy-drops, and wine-drops, appeared, and were spread out temptingly on the tables of our fashionable saloons; and through them, the girl who would have been insulted by the other of a glass of the sweetest Wine, becomes familiar with the taste and exhilarating effects of the strongest and most common alcoholic drinks.

   As many of our readers may not have seen the article to which we refer, it may he well to say that these drops are made in the form of the ordinary peppermint-drops, and are about live times as large. The sugar of the peppermint drop, however, is impregnated with the essence, and the moment the tongue touches it the presence of the essence is apparent. Not so the rum-drop. The outer composition, poisonous though it he, is free from taste or smell of ardent spirits. It is but the envelope. The ruin is concealed within, so that before you are aware of its presence the sugary coating has prepared the way—the alcohol comes upon a tongue already covered with sweets; its unpleasantness to the unused palate is destroyed; its strength is not apparent, and any idea of its quantity confused.

   No more ingenious method could be conceived for the purpose of producing alcoholic effects upon those who could not be persuaded to touch it in any other form.

   These drops are not to be found in the saloons where men alone resort. They are not intended for the use of men. If you want them, go to our magnificent and respectable saloons—to those to which your daughters are conveyed for refreshments, at the close of the concert, when the play is over, or after promenade on Broadway. There—in the afternoon, or from evening to nearly morning,—you will behold scores of couples seated comfortably at costly tables. Wait until the ice-cream is set aside, and you will see the willing waiter return with a mint-julep for the young gentleman, and “ a dozen rum-drops " for the lady. Beholding this, is it any wonder that so many young women are led astray !

   This is no imaginary scene. We have witnessed it, and know that such are presented daily and nightly in the places we have described. it may be said that we are mistaken in supposing that the females who are thus seen are respectable. We answer, we know them to be. But how long they will remain so, under such influences, cannot easily he told. The indulgence increases in ratio with the improvements of the exterior and interior embellishments of these saloons, and ere long many a tale of sorrow will commence with the introduction of the “ Rum-drop. ”

The New York Times
Published: August 3, 1853
Copyright © The New York Times
(Transcribed by Ethan Bailey)

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