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of the intelligent and virtuous of society concerning them.
But these are not the only children who are exposed to depravity, even in its worst forms, from a want of regular employment. There are those in this number, who have continued in our schools through the term in which they were allowed to be in them; and others, who were taken from school at the age of eleven, twelve, or thirteen years, that they might earn a dollar a week for their parents, as errand boys in shops and offices. The last named of these children are generally sons of widows, who find in this service the means of paying their rent. Is it thought that his is at once a useful and an honorable employment of these boys ? It is so, indeed, where their employers feel a parental interest in them, and provide for a continuance of the instruction from which they have been taken on leaving school, and exercise a moral superintendence over them, and endeavor to train them to preparation for an apprenticeship. But such parental watchfulness and care is not often exercised over them. It is too generally the case, that little progress in useful knowledge is made by these lads, after their entrance upon this course of life; and that associations are formed by them, and propensities and dispositions are indulged, which, instead of inclining and qualifying them for the steady and orderly labors of an apprenticeship, have the most direct tendency to fit them to fall into the class of idlers and vagrants. They are taken for these employments, with the intention, on the part of their parents, of apprenticing them when their term of service as errand boys shall have expired. But it is felt by these parents, that it is no small sacrifice to which they are called, when they
must relinquish the dollar a week which they have thus been accustomed to receive. A strong solicitude is therefore felt by them, if it be possible, still to obtain wages for the services of these children. It is often found difficult also by these mothers, and perhaps impracticable, at once, or even for a long time, to apprentice these children at any regular employment. They feel compelled, therefore, at once, to bear what they think they must bear from their idleness; to avail themselves of occasional opportunities to earn a little by their services when they can; and to live upon the hope, but seldom realized, of better things to come. These, and other children of poor widows; and children also who have both a father and a mother, but whose parents, either from negligence, or any other cause, fail to put them in the way of regular and useful occupation, soon pass the age at which they can be received as apprentices. They are then thrown entirely upon their own dispositions and resources; and too often acknowledge no restraining power, but that which they shall actually find themselves unable to resist, the authority of a civil officer. From the very circumstance of their manner of living, without rule, under no authority which they respect, with no important and useful end in view, and with little or no sense of accountableness, their reason and judgment become as weak and perverted, as their appetites and passions are prematurely strong and importunate. What, then, is to be looked for from children, who shall thus pass the time from eleven, or twelve, or fourteen, to twentyone years of age? What will probably, and what will almost necessarily be their habits, and characters? Will they now betake themselves to the labors of agriculture, or of the
work-shop? Some of them will be seamen,
But they will generally continue to be, in character, what they were when they embarked in this service. Some, from a better natural disposition than the rest, which it may be has saved them from much of the corruption to which they have been exposed, will fall into the class of laborers, and perhaps may earn the means of their subsist
But many of them, also, and from the causes to which I have referred, will be paupers and criminals; and in these cases, the very education they have received in school may minister even to their capacity in crime. — Consider carefully, then, the classes of those who have no regular employment before the time of their majority; the circumstances under which they are living; and the tempers, desires and habits they are forming; and look at the numbers of these young persons who are convicted of crime, before the law recognises them as freemen; and here, I think, will be laid open a very fearful source of pauperism and crime. The evil, however, I repeat, is within our reach, and consequently within the sphere of our responsibleness.
The third division of these circumstances consists of the temptations and facilities to intemperance, to dishonesty, and to corrupting passions and pleasures, which are directly offered to the young, or which are most reprehensibly left in their way by those who have the charge of them. The exposures, I have said, are peculiar, in these respects, of the children under fourteen years who are not in school; and of those from fourteen to twentyone years of age, who have no regu lar and useful employment. But through the negligen or the evil example of employers or masters, they a
VOL. V.NO. LIV.
many, and great too, even with respect to some who are apprenticed to useful occupations.
In the first place, then, allow me to remark, that while I would not ascribe the licentiousness, the dishonesty, or the crime of any character in society, to any single cause, for the causes of these evils are many, and sometimes very complicated,- the fact of the very peculiar connexion between intemperance and abject pauperism and crime, which has been established beyond contradiction by the investigations which have been made of this subject within the last five years, demands the very serious attention not only of the statesman and the philanthropist, but of every parent, and of every individual who is interested in the well-being of the community in which he lives. Among the various methods taken by the Temperance Societies in our country, to affect the public mind in regard to the enormous evils which have grown out of the cheapness of ardent spirits, the various means adopted to make them as fascinating as possible, and the very reprehensible system of licensing their sale in the form of drams, to an extent to meet the demands of every one who is disposed or may be decoyed to purchase them, one has been, an extensive and careful examination of the records of prisons and almshouses, for the very purpose of learning what proportion of the inmates of those institutions have been brought to pauperism and crime by intemperance. These examinations have brought to light the facts, – before, indeed, supposed, but now proved, - first, that the instance can hardly be found of a convict, who, at the time of his conviction, was not intemperate; and, secondly, that three-fourths of the
inmates of almshouses were brought to the abjectness and degradation in which they are seen there, by intemperance. In view of these facts, then, I take the ground, that whatever goes to prove that intemperance is a cause, and a prevailing cause, of pauperism and crime, goes equally to prove, first, that every intemperate lad or young man, unless recovered from his intemperance, will probably fall into pauperism, or crime, or into both; and, secondly, that the temptations and the facilities to an early love and use of ardent spirits, are direct means, to the extent to which they operate, of producing paupers
and criminals in the city, in the commonwealth, and in our country. The facts here assumed will not be doubted by any one who has attended to the evidence on which they rest. Nor will any one who admits the facts, reject the inferences I have made from them. The question, then, arises, how far may the intemperance, and consequently the pauperism and crime of manhood, and therefore the numbers in our prisons and alınshouses, be fairly traced back to the temptations and facilities to intemperance which are placed in the way of children, and to the love and use of ardent spirits which are acquired by them, both in the city and in the country?
I begin with referring you to the exposures of children who are under fourteen or fifteen years of age. Let us first look at some of them in the poorer, and then at some in the more prospered classes.
The impression, I am aware, soon passes from the mind, of any description of scenes which we have ourselves never witnessed. And yet, till we can persuade others by personal observation to acquaint themselves