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We know absolutely nothing about the Editor of the paper above alluded to, and which was the immediate cause of our bringing before the public, views and opinions, which have extended and gathered strength every year of our matured existence; but we wish him “God speed.” He is laying open the hiding-places of pollution ; and though he may do it with an unskilful hand, we honor him for his high motives and moral courage.
Ours pretends to be a moral and religious community, and, comparatively, it is so. We feel strong sympathies with the good and great. Our hearts burn within us, when we hear of the simultaneous movements throughout Christendom for moral and religious purposes,- of societies for benevolent effort, for promoting peace, for teaching the blind and the dumb, for missionary labors, for extending the blessing of education to every son and daughter of the land. Yet it becomes us to “watch and pray,” to keep guards in readiness and sentinels on duty, or vice, subtle, destructive vice, will creep into our very bosom.
Are not our American youth, for of foreigners we will not speak, often seen on our Sabbaths staggering home from the licensed dram-shop, - or wending their way, with reckless oaths and shameless bra vadoes to the tolerated brothels, which are suffered to exist in the very heart of our cities and villages ? Nor do our youth alone follow the path which leads to destruction. Our rulers, our lawgivers, our men of power and influence mingle with the multitude on this road to infamy and moral ruin. But when such ones are seen in the throng, the whispered detail of the fact is silenced by “Oh, such names must not be held up for scorn to point at. They are men of property and influence; it will be unpopular to expose them, – their great connexions must be considered.” Should this be so ? Are we to tolerate vicious conduct at our very thresholds because the sinner is a great or a rich man?
Boston is justly renowned for its moral elevation. Many, very many of its citizens are an honor to human nature; but monstrous abuses exist even here, in this emporium of literary taste and high moral and religious principle. Licensed dram-shops and tolerated houses, of a kind calculated to facilitate vices of the grossest nature, are plague-spots upon the fair fame of our noble city,
of man ;
It is asserted by an eminent writer, that there is no man, who, in a case where he was a calm bystander, would not look with more satisfaction on acts of kindness, than on acts of cruelty. Is not this equally true of all moral action ? Does not the pure and high-minded command the homage of every looker-on, for the time being, let his own individual character be what it may? We believe so; and since we feel sure, that the human race are the children of one Parent, that God breathed into them all the breath of life, we are as sure that vice may be rendered abhorrent to every son and daughter of Christendom. If public opinion strongly and steadily opposes the advance of sensual and debasing vices, their progress will be checked, their destruction must
Let us not then admit for a moment, that seduction is a necessary evil. Pleasures derived from low objects and degrading vices find no quiet resting-place in the mind
- at their approach all is tumult. They are usurpers, and deadly warfare commences and continues till they are driven from the invaded territory. Look at the face of a consistently good man, and mark the peace that reigns
- then cast your eye on the man of lawless appetite, of low pursuits ; — how striking the contrast ! Does it not prove, that man is doing violence to the nature God has given him, when he admits vice to usurp the powers of the immortal mind? If so, we certainly wrong those powers, given by Almighty Love, by which to form our characters, when we despair of reclaiming a fallen creature and bringing him back to a true sense of his high and holy destiny.
Time has been, and nations have existed, in which men gloried in crime, — when to sit at the convivial board and drink till the subtle poison almost destroyed the life within was honorable, when profligacy was in fashion, and the “ bravest man he that made himself the veriest beast ;" but now, in this nation, reason, religion, purity all cry, Shame on such brutality. The fact indicates some progress in virtue, that men now resent being accused of crime. And shall so many fear losing popularity by arraigning the conduct of the occupants of the high places of society ?
Our duty demands, that we carefully note the amount of obligation devolving on a Christian community. We are not in heathen darkness. The sun of righeousness has risen high on our meridian. We know our duty. The
VOL. XV. N. S. VOL. X. NO. II. 21
law of God is written on tables of stone, and “ he who runs may read.”. Can we then tolerate gross vice and suffer it to dwell unmolested even at the doors of our holy temples, and be blameless? The brandy-drinker is shunned and despised : so let it be with the betrayer of innocence, the seducer, the vile procuress. Let every virtuous woman turn with abhorrence from the heartless profligate. Let no brilliancy of talent, no literary fame, no vast possessions of wealth or of honor conceal from her eye, or protect from her contempt, the wretch, who enters a worthy family and leaves it not, till some victim falls a prey to his designs, and broken hearts, or maniac despair, are the dreadful trophies of his villany. Let the young man, who boasts of his dissolute habits, be no longer styled by the gay leaders of fashionable life — " a dear, wicked, fascinating creature”; but let him be banished from circles where purity alone should breathe in the surrounding atmosphere. Let this be done, and profligacy will be driven from us, far sooner than it could be by the united powers of the gallows and the penitentiary.
We have the power of becoming a holy and a virtuous people. In the name of all that is pure and excellent, let us use this power; and, to use it effectually, every respectable member of the community must feel his or her individual aid and example of vast importance. It is painful to see sensible and respected women treat this evil, of which we complain, lightly. We have heard such say,
66 We must take the world as we find it, we must not expect too much of human nature,– perfection is not to be hoped for. If our daughters can marry men of good standing in society, we must be content, and not inquire too closely into characters.” Better, far better, lovely daughters of America, that ye never wed, than that ye yield your pure affections to the polluted wretch, who deserves the names of libertine and seducer. A broken heart, a premature grave, or utter moral degradation is the consequence of the monstrous union of purity with impurity.
In the comparatively small sphere in which we move, enough has occured to rouse every power within us to vigorous effort, to waken public attention to the enormities of seduction. It is said that “to the pure all things are pure” ; but, like other sayings, its meaning is vague. Does it mean
that a pure mind cannot conceive of vice? It cannot, if it would, refrain from seeing it. The purest mind must see and be revolted at gross crime. We hope we deserve to be called
pure, in some good degree ; but to us it did not seem pure for a polished man of literary eminence, to enter the sanctuary of sleeping innocence, of absolute childhood, for the basest purposes.
We did see it, however, and though more than forty years have since passed by, we recollect with almost incredible vividness the shudder of terror and disgust which then shook our infant frame. We have traced the career of that man. He seduced the woman, whose children he would have corrupted, caused the selfmurder of a wife and mother, and afterwards married the daughter of his victim. He is dead, and the horrors of his mind, during a lingering disease, were the dreadful fruits of sin; but not of disgrace, for this man always had a good standing in society.
We once knew a clergyman, who took under his protection a lovely orphan-girl, whom an anxious mother intrusted to her pastor with almost as perfect confidence as she would to her Maker. He instructed her ;- she
grew up to womanhood and fell a victim to the seduction of her teacher, her minister, her guardian ! She died, - her infant died, - her mother became a maniac,--the clergyman's wife died of a broken heart, - yet this man was restored, after confessing his guilt, to his station, became a teacher of youth, and again occupied the sacred desk. He is now dead.
We hope we are not unforgiving ; but we honestly believe, that a distinction should be established between virtue and vice. The seducer and murderer may repent, and we would forgive them, - encourage them, support them; but we would not restore them to their rank in that society, the fundamental laws of which they had long and deliberately violated. Conscious of our own liability to err, we would not be uncharitable, nor would we require more of human nature that it can perform. But let us ask, if human nature has not been unjustly slandered. Has not God given us minds capable of choosing between good and evil? Else where is our moral freedom ? “ That liberty,” says a writer of eminent abilities," which is found in mechanical freedom, is nothing more than a lever suspended in mid-air, waiting for a moving power.” If then we believe we are free moral
agents, not machines acted upon by foreign influence, have we any excuse for joining in any act we know to be criminal, or for suffering to exist, unmolested, haunts of vice, that would shame the untaught heathen ? Can we be justified, because the subject involves remarks from which sensitive delicacy does, and we hope always will, shrink with intuitive disgust, if we let a vice grow and flourish amongst us, till innocence is scarcely safe in a father's arms ? Let it not be so. Let us fearlessly unmask the specious villain, draw from her den of infamy the vile procuress, expose to public scorn, alike, the man of wealth, the youthful sinner, the middle-aged voluptuary, and the hoary-headed reprobate.
In a community like ours, where the press teems with books of high moral character, where pulpit instructions are open to all, where the Bible is in every house, where every man, woman, and child can read about their duty or hear it preached in language which cannot be misunderstood, what excuse is there for the prevalence of crime? Is it too much to expect, that, in such a country as this, gross vice should be banished from among us? Absolutely banished; for we would have no hiding-places, no secret haunts. We would not furnish her with a mantle wrought with graceful manner and fine-spun sentiment. We would drive her from us, naked, exposed, abhorred, to go to her own place, to leave our sons and daughters free to seek and to secure the glorious reward, which God has promised to all who love Him.
Are there any among us so miserable as not to have heard of the way to eternal life; any one who has no joys but sensual ones, who believes existence reaches only to a hopeless tomb? We would give to so unfortunate a being our deepest commiseration ; — we could hardly blame him, even if he resort to haunts of pollution to revel away the miserable hours which are hurrying him to the abyss of annihilation. It is the nominal Christian, the learned voluptuary, the rich and influential seducer and profligate, that we would have exposed to deserved obloquy. It is the wretch, who, knowing his duty, lurks like the deadly serpent in the pathway of our blooming daughters and unguarded sons, that we would draw into open day, and drive for ever from our shores.
Vice is rarely the offspring of ignorance. Even the boldest villain is not without a conscience, and chooses the