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establishment.""That those ladies had instituted complicated inquiries as to the truth of the statements that had been received, taking as little as possible upon trust."" Since the opening of the asylum, though the means of the committee have, in every respect, been limited, nearly two hundred forlorn objects have been admitted. From the investigation of these cases, the ladies-committee have derived a considerable quantity of important, though afflicting information. A part of it is submitted to the notice of this meeting."" They feel themselves compelled, by a sense of duty, which they owe to the public, to state, what they found to be one of the most constantly operating, yet least known causes of the vice and misery which this meeting deplores, and which, it is hoped, with heart and hands they will endeavour to diminish. They will labour, however, to discharge this somewhat irksome duty with as much propriety and decorousness of expression as possible:" and further on, it says, "However difficult it is FITLY to write on such subjects;" and, in another place," the committee will not impose upon the delicacy or harass the feelings of the meeting further." Can it be possible that any set of men could have been so infatuated, so bigoted, so blind, as to place their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, or female acquaintance, in a situation to hear the tales of two hundred of most depraved wretches, of the off-scourings of the earth, of the sweepings of the streets, to hear such tales, that they themselves find it irksome and a labour to repeat even a part of them, a part of the best of them, with any propriety or decorousness of expression, or fitly. I think it perfectly unnecessary to make any further comments on this; the thing speaks for itself most completely.
The object to be gained would have required to have been very important indeed, and the certainty of obtaining it very great, to have at all justified, or even excused, the adoption of such means. It appears to me, however, that the object of the Society's labours, even if they were crowned with complete success, would be, comparatively, of very little consequence. The title-page of the report states, that the Society has been formed to provide "temporary asylums for prostitutes, removed, by the operation of the lares, from the public streets." Now, I believe, the operation of the laws never takes place until these women have behaved themselves ill, have got drunk and behaved saucily, have been attempting to pick pockets, or, at the very least, have descended so low in the scale of degradation as to be openly forcing their company and blandishments upon every man passing.-Bad, profligate, and abandoned, as the strollers on the streets have become, still this conduct is yet confined to a few, and many a poor woman is forced, by necessity, to walk the streets, who would sooner throw herself into the river than be guilty of it.
But, taking it for granted that the Society intend to extend their assistance to all the prostitutes who are to be found on the streets; and, supposing it possible that they could convert the whole of them, still they would have made very little progress towards the reformation of the public morals, and far less to their preservation. -Above twenty years ago the number of women in London living by prostitution was estimated at forty thousand; those who make a practice of prowling the streets do not, I believe, amount to one thousand. A few of those may have been accomplished women, who have fallen into that situation after having gone through several progressive gradations; but the far greater proportion are girls from the lower classes, who, having had a véry confined education, have nothing but their personal charms to recommend them; and being, for the most part, seduced by young men of nearly their own class, who are unable to support them, they are, generally, almost immediately turned loose into the streets, where they soon sink into the lowest state of depravity.
The object of the Society's labours is, evidently, therefore, of very minor importance, even if complete success were to crown them; but I do not hesitate to declare it to be my most decided opinion, that it is perfectly impossible to be attained. Reformation of prostitutes, who have prowled the streets of London, who have been removed from thence by the operation of the laws !-as well might you attempt to wash the Ethiop white, or to take the spots out of the leopard's skin. I am convinced that that woman who has lost, not merely the delicacy, but the feelings of her sex so much, who has so completely degraded herself, as to wander the streets, offering her person indiscriminately to every man she meets, who has associated with the profligates of both sexes to be found there, and has wallowed in all their vices, can never again become fit to be a member of the society from whence she has been expelled. She may see the evil of her ways,—she may leave them off, and may reform, but she never can recover that delicacy of feeling, that ignorance of evil, that innocence of mind, requisite to fit her for a companion to virtuous females. It is perfectly impossible, as well might you endeavour to restore her body to its former healthful state, after it has been destroyed by dissipation, debauchery, and disease.
However amiable, therefore, however praise-worthy, the endeavouring to ameliorate the lot and to lessen the sufferings of these unfortunates may be, yet the attempting to restore them to their former place in society appears to be a hopeless project, impossible to be executed, and which ought never to be attempted. Indeed, I conceive, that, in doing so, the Society are completely wasting
their energies; they are absolutely throwing away both time and money, which might be much better employed. In putrid fevers, there is a tendency to mortification, which, generally, first attacks the extremities, sometimes the fingers, but more frequently the toes. In these cases, when a medical practitioner is called in, he begins by getting quit of the mortified parts; if the subject will bear it, he cuts them off, and then applies strong internal remedies to save the vital parts from corruption. What would be thought of a medical man, who, instead of following this practice, wasted his time and his talents in making local applications to the mortified toes, to endeavour to restore them to their former sound state, while he completely neglected the vital parts, which might otherwise have been saved?
I hope and trust, that I am neither hard-hearted nor narrowminded; but I cannot help declaring, that I look upon those objects of the Society's labours, as mortified members of the body-moral of this country, which ought to be cut off, in order to preserve the yet sound parts from corruption; and the more that I am convinced of this, the greater is my wish, my anxiety, my eagerness, to accomplish that object. If such be the effects of seduction and prostitution,-if every female, who falls a victim to these, bę irretrievably lost to society, then is every inhabitant of the country without discrimination, whether he be a Christian philanthropist, or an infidel misanthrope, imperiously called upon to do his utmost to stem the destructive torrent, by preventing its being augmented by fresh victims, not by unavailing and fruitless efforts to drag those out of it, who have been completely overwhelmed in its deleterious
If the Society, therefore, wish to do their country a real service, if they have any desire to immortalize their names, to raise their fame even above that of the successful advocates for the abolition of the slave-trade, let them probe to the bottom this dreadful distemper, let them find out the real cause, and let them exert themselves to have a remedy, or remedies, applied to it. Then, instead of merely receiving into their asylums a few hundred of worn-out victims, they may be the means of saving thousands of their fair country-women from a state of slavery and misery,worse, much worse, than that of the African in the West Indies.
To facilitate their researches is the intention of my addressing you. For this purpose, I shall state what appears to me to be the great cause of this evil, and what the only effectual remedies that can be applied to it.
The great cause of this dreadful evil may be given in a very few words. It is the perfect impunity with which Seduction is allowed to be practised in this country.
It is certainly very surprising―nay, it is almost incredible, that, in Great Britain, a country which is not only held up as a pattern for the excellence and perfection of its laws, but extolled for its religious and moral character, there should be no punishment attached to the crime of Seduction. The penal statutes now fill a great many volumes, and in every session of Parliament additions are made to them, so that there is scarce a crime that can be thought of, for which a punishment is not provided; and yet, astonishing to relate, there exists no statute against, or punishment for Seduction.
Only two excuses suggest themselves for this neglect, either that the crime is unknown in this country; or that it is but a venial one, from which no very bad consequences can possibly ensue. Neither of these are, however, available. So far from its being unknown in this country, I do not hesitate to aver, that seduction of unmarried females is more practised, and openly practised, in Great Britain, than in any other civilized state in the world; and it is not confined to the wealthy, the great, and the fashionable;-to those who can afford to squander large sums in such pursuits, and to pay procuresses extravagantly; it has spread through every rank of society, and, more especially among the lower orders in London, the progress it has made, is dreadful beyond conception. Fashionable Beaux used to boast of their knowledge of intrigue, and of their success; but many a journeyman and apprentice could now be produced who excel them far in both. The early age at which those practices are commenced is shocking and disgusting;-a great deal was said in the papers lately, about a boy of eighteen having carried off a girl of fifteen, and having been traced to a house where they had been living together for some days; I have reason to believe, that such things happen much more frequently than the public, or at least the members of your Society, seem to be at all aware.
It is this licentiousness among the lower orders which principally contributes to fill the streets with nightly wanderers, and which has so very much destroyed the class of servant girls in London.
But seduction is not confined to the higher and lower classes of the community; it is unhappily making rapid progress in the middling class,-in that class, for which Britain has been so long celebrated, that class which can only be found in a free country, that class which has so long successfully opposed corruption in politics and corruption in morals, and which, alas, is now fast falling a sacrifice to both. As a proof of what I am asserting, I beg leave to recal to your recollection an incident, which will serve to shew how far seduction is now carried, and in what light
it is viewed. It was a case recorded in the papers of August 1815, of a young man, who attempted to carry off the daughter of a respectable merchant in the city; and, when opposed by her two sisters, persisted in his design; and at last drew a cane-tuck upon the crowd collected round. When he was carried before a magistrate, so far from being ashamed, he boldly avowed his intention, and apparently gloried in it. After lying a night in the Poultry Compter, he told the magistrate, with a sneer, that he was the son of a friend of his, and was much obliged to him for the lodgings he had provided for him. Had he met his deserts, he should have had those lodgings for life; and yet, for this outrage upon all decency and morality, he was not, by the laws of this land, liable to any punishment.
It is this prevalence of seduction that is the real cause of respectable females being now so little employed in shops or warehouses in London, and not the reason reported to have been quoted by a reverend gentleman, at the meeting, a reason which reflected no credit on the person from whom he had it, nor on him for repeating it. Had he made the inquiry of proper persons, he would have been told that no prudent or respectable parents, if they can possibly help it, will ever put their child to a public business in London; because, in such situations, it is now scarcely possible for her to escape pollution. A milliner's, dress-maker's, or haberdasher's apprentice is reckoned fair game by every high or low, young or old puppy in London, and she is beset and attacked on all hands. I rather wonder that some of the tales, that were told in the report, did not open the reverend gentleman's eyes on this head; they certainly do corroborate, véry strongly, what I am now asserting. Many respectable tradesmen decline taking female apprentices on this very account; and if legal protection is not speedily extended to them, there will very soon be no respectable female found in such situations. It must be evident, therefore, that the seduction of unmarried females is too well known, and too much practised in this country.
Neither is it a venial crime; on the contrary, it is next to murder of the greatest turpitude, and of the most disastrous con- ` sequences to society. Nay, it is frequently a prelude to murder, and to murder of the deepest dye. How many instances have, of late, occurred of men murdering the victims of their seduction, and how many, indeed more frequent instances occur of these victims becoming self-murderers! Even when such dreadful effects do not immediately take place, what are the invariable consequences attending this crime? The unhappy victims of lawless passion are precipitated from a state of respectability, comfort, and happiness, at once, into the lowest pit of human misery. To