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The cause of this desertion of wife and children by a man whose affection for them, as for all related to him, was so often manifested and cannot be questioned, must ever remain somewhat of a mystery. There is reason to believe that the constant temptation to drink, which the social customs and habits of that day, as well as the usages of the sailor's life, offered, proved at times more than he could withstand, and that he experienced a keen sense of mortification whenever his appetite had overcome him. Especially was this temptation strong in a town like Newburyport, itself the seat of numerous distilleries, and having always a considerable transient population of seafaring men, who, accustomed to regular rations of grog at sea, were naturally prone to convivial habits when in port.

‘It was the fashion of the day,’ writes a venerable woman,1 a relative of Abijah, who well remembers that period, ‘to use alcoholic spirit in all places of honor and trust. We had it at our ordinations, weddings, births, and funerals, and the decanter was brought on the table to greet our friends with when they came, and was not forgotten when they left; and if they could stand the test and not reel, they were called sober men.’

There is no evidence that Abijah Garrison ever became an habitually intemperate man; but that his inability always to control an appetite which his wife abhorred with all the intensity of her nature, prevented his obtaining the employment which he had readily secured in previous years, and led him to seek new fields, is not improbable. Certain it is that his wife used entreaty and expostulation to induce him to abandon the habit, and it is related that on one occasion, when some of his fellowcaptains came to the house for a carouse, she promptly

1 Ms.

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