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Courage to Begin Again

Frederick Charrington was a member of the wealthy family in England which owned the Charrington Brewery. His personal fortune, derived solely from his brewing enterprise, exceeded $66 million.

One night, Charrington was walking along a London street with a few friends. Suddenly the door of a pub flew open just a few steps ahead of the group, and a man staggered out into the street with a woman clinging desperately to him. The man, obviously very drunk, was swearing at the woman and trying to push her away. The woman was gaunt and clad in rags. She sobbed and pleaded with the drunken man, who was her husband.

“Please, dear, please!” she cried as Charrington and his friends watched. “The children haven’t eaten in two days! And I’ve not eaten in a week! For the love of God, please come home! Or if you must stay, just give me a few coins so I can buy the children some…”

Her pleas were brutally cut off as her husband struck her a savage blow. She collapsed to the stone pavement like a rag doll. The man stood over her with his fists clenched, poised as if to strike her again. Charrington leaped forward and grasped him. The man struggled, swearing violently, but Charrington pinned the man’s arms securely behind his back. Charrington’s companions rushed to the woman’s side and began ministering to her wounds. A short time later a policeman led the drunken man away and the woman was taken to a nearby hospital.

As Charrington brushed himself off, he noticed a lighted sign in the window of the pub: “Drink Chrarrington Ale.” The multi-millionaire brewer was suddenly shaken to the core of his being. He realized that his confrontation with the violent husband would not have happened if the man’s brain had not been awash with the Charrington family’s product. “When I saw that sign,” he later wrote, “I was stricken just as surely as Paul on the Damascus Road. Here was the source of my family wealth, and it was producing untold human misery before my own eyes. Then and there I pledged to God that not another penny of that money should come to me.”

History records that Frederick Charrington became one of the most well-known temperance activists in England. He renounced his share of the family fortune and devoted the rest of his life to the ministry of freeing men and women from the curse of alcoholism.

Ron Lee Davis, Courage to Begin Again, (Harvest House, Eugene, OR; 1978), pp. 81-82