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with the scenes of vice and misery which are around them, and from an actual knowledge of which they would learn their duties in regard to the vicious and miserable, as they cannot otherwise be learned, we must be content with bringing before them such poor descriptions as we may, of the evils which ought to excite a universal sympathy and concern; and which, if cared for as they should be, might to a great extent be remedied. How often have I wished that I could bring those, who have a strong general interest in the well-being of society, and whose opinions exert a most important influence where I have no power, into the families of poor and intemperate parents. There let them see in what wretched rooms these unhappy beings are sometimes lodged; rooms as cold as wide chinks and broken windows can make them; the poor, broken, and scanty furniture; and the bed, not unfrequently lying upon the floor, and without a bedstead; and, it may be, consisting only of straw or of shavings. There let them see to what deep degradation our nature may be brought, through abandonment to the sin in which these parents are living. Will it be said, that parents in this condition are beyond the reach even of hope? I think otherwise; for no one is to be considered, or treated, as beyond hope, while God shall spare him. But I am not now pleading for these parents. I would direct attention to their child
Here are boys and girls, with bodies which are seldom washed, and which are covered at best with fil thy and tattered garments. These children probably go to no school; and they learn nothing but from the example of those with whom they associate. They are unaccustomed to any regularity in their meals, and they
look for their food perhaps alınost as much from home, as at home. They are now, it may be, caressed with the extravagance of intoxicated affection, and now beaten with the extravagance of intoxicated anger. They are every day deceived by their parents, and they every day in turn deceive them. At one hour they are kept at work, to procure fuel, or perform some other service; and in the next are allowed to go where they will, and to do what they will. They every day hear profaneness, and see intemperance, and witness parental contests; and are daily the companions of those, who live amidst the same scenes, and are forming under the same influences. They are allowed, also, not only to drain the cup which an intemperate father or mother has not quite emptied, but their portion of it is soinetimes given to them. If they are advised or encouraged by these guardians of their morals, it is to be more wary, more cunning, more artful. Not unfrequently, also, do these children fall into the service of the lowest of the profligate. They are ready for any guilty service within their power, by which they may earn anything; and they have not an association with wrong, but the fear of detection and of punishment. What, then, is to be expected from these children? Is it surprising, that very early they become greatly depraved? I have spoken, indeed, of the most degraded parents, and of the most exposed children. But there are more of these parents and children, even in our greatly favored city, than would be suspected by those who know those among whom they live only as they pass them in the street. And there are children of other poor parents, especially of poor widows, who, though
they have in this respect no evil example at home, are yet under but a feeble parental restraint; and are associates, and learners of the language, and sharers of the occupations and the pleasures of those, whose very homes are schools of the grossest depravity. I pray, then, that it may be known, and thought worthy of remembrance, that we have children of this class in our city, who, if neglected as they now are, as certainly as they live, will become paupers and criminals. And on whom will fall the heaviest responsibility for their guilt and misery, but on those to whom God has given all the means of saving them, and who fail to use these means for the purposes for which he
gave them? Again. There is a higher class of parents, who would shrink from a dependence upon charity, but who are hardly less negligent of the moral condition of their children. I refer to parents, some of whom are far from indifference respecting the education of their children for an apprenticeship, and for the means of selfsupport, as far as the education of the school is concerned. But, from ignorance, or inefficiency, or the want of a strong moral sensibility, or if they have religious and moral feeling, yet from a want of judgment, are unable to control, or at least do not control, their wayward children. These parents and children are without the circle of my own ministry. But very painful cases now and then occur, in which the effects are brought to light, and made known, of that evil communication which the children of whom I am now speaking have with those, who are lower in outward condition, and more depraved, than themselves. From the united tendencies of neglect, or of injudiciousness, or of inad
equate authority at home, and of vicious excitement and example abroad, there are children of this class who become truants from school; who, as idlers and companions ofthe vicious, are led to acts of petty pilfering; who acquire a taste for the pleasures of the theatre; who practise with their companions such modes of gambling as they may; and who occasionally earn small sums for small services, which, like any money they may otherwise obtain, are expended for gratifications, each one of which advances them further in iniquity. The excitements and indulgences which they find at the theatre exert over them a very corrupting influence. I have no doubt, indeed, that a considerable number of the lads of whom I am speaking, are corrupted principally by their love of theatrical exhibitions. But when it is considered, that they are daily losing the little knowledge they had obtained at school; and are living almost without any law, but that of their appetites and passions; hearing and seeing every day, what, if possible, they should never hear or see; and almost without restraint, are encouraging and strengthening each other to that which they should never do; it will not seem strange if they should be alike disqualified for, and indisposed to, the restraints of a regular and useful occupation. Some of them may, and will be, rescued from the dangers which threaten them, by the persevering efforts of their immediate friends. And some will be recovered, because while equally exposed as others, they have a better moral temperament; or because, while at home, they have been unde better antagonist influences. But not a few of them, if left unregarded, will be the victims of early bad associations, propensities and habits, miserable themselves, and the bane of society. But is the evil, even with respect to them, irremediable? I think not. And if it be not, where lies the chief blame of their guilt and wretchedness, but with those to whom God has given the means of their salvation?
I have spoken of the moral exposures of those who are under fourteen years old. But still greater are the exposures, in these respects, of those between fourteen and twentyone years, who are living without any regu. lar employment. These, almost without exception, fall into intemperance; and a large proportion of them are pilferers. I have distinctly spoken of these lads on a former occasion, and I therefore here make only a passing reference to them. Their claim, indeed, is loud, to more than a passing thought, or a momentary recollection of their condition. Would that it might excite the sympathy and interest which it justly demands from us !
There is, however, yet another class of those between fourteen or fifteen and twentyone years old, who are peculiarly exposed to pauperism and crime. I refer to those who have obtained employment for this critical season of life, but who, either through the negligence, or the evil example of their masters, are exposed to great and pressing temptations. Such is the condition of apprentices who know that their masters live in the daily practice of drinking ardent spirits. Who can doubt whether this knowledge will be held to be a sufficient sanction of the practice, where there is even but a slight inclination to indulge it? The custom, also, of the eleven and four o'clock dram in the work