Sivut kuvina


day sees a young female starting up into womanhood, amiable, gentle, and affectionate, listening to, and obeying her mother's advice and her father's precepts, the pride of the one and the delight of the other. The breath of pollution infects her, and to-morrow sees her driven from her paternal mansion to wander the streets, without a habitation or a name, and to associate with wretches already sunk in the lowest depravity. Forced by hunger and nakedness to follow their practices, if madness do not instigate to immediate suicide, shame and disgrace prey upon her mind, and, aided by the effect of cold, drunkenness, and disease, soon put an end to her miseries, and she sinks unknown and neglected into a premature grave. Well may unhappy woman exclaim :—

Who steals my purse, steals trash;
'Tis something, nothing;


'Twas mine, 'tis his, and may be slave to thousands:

But he that robs me of my virtue,

Takes that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

And this is the crime,-I beg pardon, sin, I should say,—which is not to be found in the list of crimes in the boasted penal statutes of this most religious and most moral country. Blush, oh, ye legislators, and hide your heads, oh, ye statesmen! You have been called a nation of shopkeepers; and sorry, indeed, am I to have to say, that your penal statutes corroborate this assertion in the strongest manner. The preservation of property is by them so completely fenced, that it is almost impossible to devise a mode of robbing, stealing, plundering, cheating, swindling, breaking or betraying trust, or wrong appropriating another's property in any manner or way, for the remedy of which a statute is not provided, with an adequate punishment. And yet woman, weak woman, is left to be robbed of the most precious jewel she possesses, without any restraint or possibility of redress whatever. If a man obtain money from me, under false pretences, he is liable to punishment; but he may with the most perfect impunity employ the most false and deceitful pretences to rob fond, believing, unsuspecting, confiding woman of her virtue.


Nay, such few statutes as glance at this subject, smell strongly of the "love of lucre," and are actually an insult to the sex. A woman who is entitled to property, either immediately or at her parents' death, is deemed by the law of this land not to be capable of taking proper care of it, until she is twenty-one years of age, but of her virtue she is left completely mistress after twelve; a man, therefore, is prevented getting possession, in a lawful way, of her and her property until she is twenty-one, but of the other

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he may rob her whenever he can, perfectly unchecked. If a father seeks redress, by these boasted laws, for being robbed of his daughter, he must do it under the low and disgusting plea of being deprived of her services; he must prove that, in return for the expense he had been at in her education and maintenance, she had served him in the capacity of a cook, a chamber or a nursery maid,-degrading idea! for being robbed of an amiable and, accomplished being, just starting into an agreeable and entertaining companion in health, a tender and affectionate nurse in sickness, or to be the future mother of children, among whom he might have looked forward to spend his latter days in domestic comfort and happiness, he can receive no redress; but must sit down quietly to mourn over his loss, aggravated by the hopes of the future being blasted for ever.'

Oh, my gentle, but ill-fated young country-women, my heart bleeds, and tears obliterate my words, when I reflect upon your lot; when I think how much you have been neglected, and how hardly many of you are treated in this highly-favoured land. While man, selfish man, has fenced round his pelf, his dirty pelf, with triple guards, your fair, but fragile forms have been left defenceless to the pelting of the pitiless storm, to be scorched and withered by the sirocco of seduction, and swept away in the whirlwind of pollution.


It may be inquired, what remedy does the society of this country provide for this dreadful omission in the penal statutes. It will naturally be conceived that its doors will be kept shut against the perpetrator of such an outrage, and that the unfortunate victim will experience all commiseration and every possible alleviation of her hard fate. Here, again, nothing but disappointment meets By the conformation of society in this most moral country, while the seducer is received, without scruple, into every company, the unhappy victim is driven, with unrelenting severity, entirely out of the pale; she is hunted like a wild beast until she is completely inclosed in the toils of misery, wretchedness, and death. On this head, what are called the laws of society are so severe, that, out of respect to them, many a deeply-wounded, but tenderhearted parent, is forced to shut the door against a repentant child, who would otherwise have been received into their bosom.

I cannot help here expressing, not merely my surprise, but my utter astonishment, at the manner in which this subject has been

Another instance of this pelfish disposition of the laws may be here mentioned. If a parent met with that heart-rending calamity, the having a child stolen, and discovered the depredator, until very lately the party was not punishable for that crime, but had to be tried for stealing the clothes that were on the child, which might not be worth five shillings.

treated by an Irish barrister, who has lately acquired considerable celebrity for eloquence. In a speech, which has been published: and hawked about London, said to have been made by him, on a trial at Roscommon for seduction, I find the following paragraph;

“You must not forget, gentlemen, (addressing the jury,) that it is not the unfortunate victim herself who appeals to you for compensation. Her crimes, poor wretch, have outlawed her from retribution; and, however the temptations by which her erring nature was seduced, may procure an audience from the ear of mercy, the stern morality of the law refuses their interference." Had this barrister wished to have given a specimen of real elo quence, of eloquence of matter as well as words, he could not certainly have had a fairer or a better opportunity. If the particulars stated be true, there never was a more atrocious or a more infamous case of cold-blooded, concerted seduction. A warm indignant burst of eloquence upon the evident omission in the laws of this country of a punishment for seduction, which deprived the miserable victim of any redress, and, therefore, forced the unhappy parent to come forward with the selfish plea of having been deprived of her services, would, I conceive, have had more real effect upon the jury and the country at large than all the flowery language the gentleman has used.

As I am aware, however, that he is far from being singular in his opinions, I shall beg leave to investigate a little what the crime really is, for which the unfortunate victim is doomed to be so completely outlawed. It is not a crime against nature, for if she obeyed the law of nature she would do the very thing she is condemned for. It is not a crime against the laws of God, for he has expressly instructed mankind to increase and multiply and replenish the earth. But, I may be told, that it is against the decalogue, wherein it is said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Waving several strong objections that occur to me upon the application of this law, I will, for the sake of argument, allow it to be perfectly imperative, give it its fullest force; what is the conclusion? does it apply exclusively to women? are not men also subject to it? is it not addressed to all mankind indiscriminately? why, then, make women alone subject to it? Nay, why make them subject to such dreadful penalties and sufferings, on this earth, for a breach of a law, which, however it may have been applicable under its first promulgation, is, by the Christian dispensation, only pun ishable in the world to come? Neither is this a crime against the laws of the country, at least, as applicable to women alone. I believe no such thing is to be found in all the numerous statutes that have been made. But I shall be told, I presume, that it is against the laws of society. It is not, then, for a crime against the

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laws of God, for a crime against the laws of nature,-for a crime against the laws of her country, that poor unfortunate woman is doomed to be so severely punished, in fact, to be outlawed, but for a breach of the laws of society; and that not of all society, but merely the society in this country. Providence has, for the wisest purposes, planted in every human being, male and female, an inclination for the continuance of the human race. This is universal over the whole earth, and has been so from the creation of the world. But in the formation of the different associations of mankind, for their own preservation and enjoyment of life, in most of those societies which have or do exist, it has been found necessary, for their mutual comfort and well-being, to lay some restrictions on this passion. These, however, have been, like all the works of man, various and dissimilar in almost every country. In a few, this restraint has operated equally upon male and female. In most, however, it has been laid exclusively upon the latter. In some, the women are allowed every liberty before marriage. In others, the unmarried females are strictly watched and kept virtuous, but whenever they get married they are allowed all liberty. In a third, females of every age and every degree, unmarried or married, are not only expected to be virtuous, but are punished by expulsion from society if they are not. In this last class, the society of this country stands pre-eminent; for there a woman who transgresses is not merely expelled or excluded from general society, but is actually deprived of her natural protectors, is driven from her parental residence, and is forced to die of want, or to support a wretched existence by a repetition of the crime for which she is suffering. I am aware that I shall be told, that all this is for the good of society; and I freely acknowledge, that, to a certain degree, it is my firm belief that it is so. That not merely the highest, the "purest, the most refined pleasures of this life, but even the commonest comforts, nay, the existence of society, such as it is in this country, depends upon the virtuous, the moral conduct of our females, I am ready to acknowledge. But if the happiness of man as well as woman depends upon this, why should the whole weight of the transgression be allowed to fall upon the latter, while the former is completely exempt? Because, I shall probably be told, a woman's transgression affects society more. Granted. But who established this society? who formed those rules by which it is so regulated? Why, man-selfish man, to serve his own gratifica tions. Is it then just, is it equitable, is it moral, that he himself should be allowed to break these very laws and arrangements, with perfect impunity, whenever he thinks proper? Man says to woman, it is for our mutual comfort, happiness, and enjoyment in

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society, that you preserve, upon all occasions, your virtue; and, therefore, such of you as do not shall be expelled from respectable society. Agreed, says woman; but, as the benefit is mutual, let the penalty be mutual also, at least, so far as to inflict some punishment upon the man who uses insidious arts, who employs false pretences, to tempt us to our ruin. No, says man; although, in some cases, it may be most for my enjoyment in this life, that you preserve your virtue; yet, in others, it may be more for my. gratification that you do not; I, therefore, insist upon being left at full liberty, not only to attempt but to effect your ruin in any way I may think proper, without your having any redress from me whatever; and remember, if you do fall you must suffer all the penalties. Whatever the temptations may be, by which your erring nature is seduced, the stern morality of the law must not interfere.

Is it possible, that this really can have been intended? that this gentleman learned in the law is correct in his exposition, and that what I have been treating as an omission in the penal statutes of this country, has actually been preconcerted and designed? No; I cannot, I will not believe, that man, in this country, can ever have been so deliberately unjust; and I hope and trust, that, now the question has been agitated, measures will be taken to wipe out the foul reproach. If not, woe, woe to the land, for it must soon sink under the load of corruption and licentiousness that is fast overwhelming it.

O, ye fair daughters of Erin, arise, and join the daughters of Albion, in asserting your rights, in claiming from the laws of the country that protection which you are so justly entitled to. And treat, as he deserves, that countryman of your's, who, with such talents as he possesses, has sacrificed all the finer feelings of the soul, that devotion to the fair sex which is the characteristic of an Irishman, and has attempted to raise himself a character for eloquence, by seeking for man, selfish man, pecuniary recompense, for being deprived of his wife or daughter,-while, at the same time, he tramples, with unrelenting and remorseless severity, upon these unhappy victims of deceit and duplicity, whom he chooses to call wretches, whose crimes have put them out of the protection of the law.

He can expatiate in flowery language, upon the husband's or the parents' sufferings; he can tell the jury in continuation of the sentence I have already quoted: "No, no; it is the wretched parent who comes this day before you,-his aged locks withered by misfortunes, and his heart broken by crimes of which he was unconscious. He resorts to this tribunal in the language of the law, claiming the value of his daughter's servitude; but let it not

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