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advocates of fictitious writings? Was there ever a novel found in the library of a single one who ranks as one of the founders of our government? The vox sapientiae* is unanimous in favor of the negative of the question under debate, and as for the vox populi, it may sustain the affirmative side, and crucify the liberties of America, the same as it did the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.
6. As for style it is bombastic and vulgar; for clearness, simplicity, strength, or beauty, the advantages are always in favor of the sound literature, and the young will find, by reading books of biography and history, as much to captivate and allure towards the pinnacle of usefulness and fame, as there is on the side of works of fiction to contaminate and sink into hopeless wretchedness. As for cheapness, the American Bible Society furnish books at a lower rate, which lead to eternal bliss instead of eternal misery. As for a taste of the fine arts, the reverse is true. The dowdy obscene wood-cuts of novels create a taste for all that is madening and tantalizing. The gloomy cloud hiding the setting sun of many who were born with the brightest earthly prospects before them, has carried when too late, the saddest intelligence to many agonizing hearts, that bad books, novels, and romances, are public fountains of vice.
7. Works of fiction tend to give unnatural views of life, and render a distaste for all that is holy. Whoever heard of a novelist that was fond of studying and practising the precepts of our Savior. Whoever knew a real novel but tended to render the head silly; the heart treacherous and corrupt.
28. The only reason why works of fiction are tolerated, is, that they are diluted with a few facts, sugared over with a little virtue, but the poison is sure to produce its fatal results. The haunts of dissipation and wretchedness teem with novels. The worst members of society, if they read at all, are certain to read them to the exclusion of all books which tend to make the head wiser and the heart better.
29. Works of fiction, as their name imports, are silent companions of guile and falsehood. An eminently wise man once said, "Let me see the favorite books of an individual, and I will tell you his character," and another once remarked, "Let me write the book for a nation, and I care not who makes the laws."
10. Works of fiction are pernicious in the extreme, because they create a relish, as their name imports, for falsehood; they tend to make weak minded and treacherous men silly, and dissolute women. They scatter the seeds of dissipation and depravity, and stifle all holy aspirations for the lofty and ennobling principles of the Bible. It should never be forgotten that this book is the basis of civilization, and of hu
The voice of the wise.
man improvement. No real liberty or happiness has ever existed, nor can it ever exist without it. Truly it "transforms the tiger fury and blindness of man into the gentleness of the lamb and the harmlessness of the dove. Wherever its principles are not studied and revered, republicanism and human bliss are alike unknown.
11. Many instances are known of ladies whose youth was as unsullied as the untrodden snow, the pride of their families, bidding fair to shine among the brightest literary stars, who began by reading the best illustrated novels, and ended with the worst, abandoned their dearest friends, carried the grey hairs of their parents in sorrow to the grave, terminated their own lives as outcasts in the vilest dens of iniquity.
12. Were we compelled to lose our life or take a partner addicted to reading works of fiction, we would choose the former, but were this poor boon denied and the alternative of the latter presented, with that of a lady addicted to habitual drunkenness then praying for death, we should take the latter, for her habits brutalize directly the body, and render her an object to be shunned, whereas those of the former deprave the soul and beguile only to ruin forever.
? 13. Works of fiction are greater scourges than war, pestilence, the inebriating bowl, and famine combined for these have intervals of cessation, or are mostly confined to the worst part of the race, but the former are ever present, and are perpetually ensnaring multitudes of youth of both sexes, and particularly the fairer and better part of creation. Novels and romances, these keenest missiles of Satan, are no longer confined to the places of their origin, the despotisms of the old world, where they beguile the attention of subjects and aid kings, the better to forge their fetters, they are stealing the names of cheap literature, and flooding our land.
14. Our country youths as they for the first time visit some of the great marts of the Union are beset on boats, cars or dock, and first enticed by stool-pigeons of crime to buy the last historical novel; then follows in quick succession the depraving romances of France, in which are wilily concealed cards pointing out the most horrible dens of iniquity into which no one has ever or can ever enter with safety.
15. The reader of works of fiction like the drinker of ardent spirits knows not where he will stop, or the evils that will result therefrom. No one can with truth say they will not injure me, for millions have said the same and been irretrievably ruined.
16. If man dies not as the brutes of the field and the trees of the forest, if the mind lives forever, if human existence be given to fit and strengthen the mental faculties for the life to come, then is every work which tends to divert attention from the goal to which we are all rapidly
hastening, and unfitting us for the end of our creation, pernicious in the
17. Novels and romances insidiously allure us from the duties to ourselves, our friends and our Creator, and engender a distaste for reading the HOLY SCRIPTURES, taking away the purest happiness on earth, and the strongest hopes of BLISS IN HEAVEN. The leaves of the novel, like those of the flower that conceals the deadly asp of the Nile, if handled at all, are liable to impart an unseen sting of unutterable anguish and
Is it Wrong for a Government to Deprive a wilful Murderer of Life ?*
1. In supporting the affirmative of this question, we shall not attempt to justify the murderer; we wish him to receive even hand justice, but we desire that he may be punished otherwise than by death, and in a way that the community will be benefitted by his living. For death, we propose to substitute imprisonment for life. This plan will be greater punishment, and will also produce a revenue to the State, and often save the lives of innocent persons.
2. Many have been executed for supposed crimes, who afterwards were proved innocent. By imprisoning alleged criminals, they may, when proved guiltless, be set at liberty. The murderer, imprisoned, is a living beacon to guard the young against the dangers and penalties of crime, and affords the strongest protection to the community. Again, taking the life of the murderer, is contrary to Scripture. After Abel was killed by Cain, the Lord pronounced a seven-fold vengeance on any one who should put him to death. The Bible reads, "Thou shalt not kill." Putting the murderer to death is killing him, and therefore a direct violation of the law of God. The Savior prayed for his murderers.
3. If persons are condemned to death for crimes by the laws, it lessens the value of human life in the eyes of the community. "Draco's bloody code doomed to death every person who committed the least fault; but this instead of lessening crime increased it. The Romans punished with death many small offences-and behold the result, the community valued human life so little, and the frequent executions had so hardened the hearts of the people, that the deadly combat of the gladiators was a source of great amusement even to the ladies, who looked on with joy to see man butcher his fellow-man, and hear his death-struggle with delight. In England, a few years since, the stealing of a watch was a capital offence; yet, while one man was being
* See Civil Magistrate, Burleigh's American Manual, pps. 268 to 285, inclusive
executed for that crime, it was reported that five hundred watches were stolen from the crowd who came to witness his execution, and crimes increased with a fearful ratio, so that the government was convinced of the necessity of abolishing capital punishment for minor offences. In our country, when executions were public, every species of crime was committed under the gallows, and frequently other murders were perpetrated in the vicinity of the execution, at the very time or soon after. Again, capital punishment is a species of revenge, a relic of barbarism; the principle is the same as if one man who being knocked down, must in turn knock down his antagonist."
24. The object of law should be the reformation of the criminal, as well as the prevention of crime. This is the end of the Divine law and government. The Creator does not cut off immediately even the greatest rebel against his just laws, but uses means to reform him, ever holding out the sceptre of peace and salvation, and entreats him to turn and live. Here then is a perfect example for the magistrates of earth in the making and executing of laws. For these and the other reasons adduced and proved by facts and the Bible, capital punishment is wrong, a monstrous, cruel and barbarian custom, a disgrace even to savages. As light is dawning on the moral darkness of our globe, we trust that this and every other custom that is wrong, will soon be banished from the civilized world.
1. On this subject so much depends on the peculiar feelings of individuals, and the judgments which they form, that unanimity cannot be expected unless we set out from acknowledged principles, and steadily pursue them to their legitimate consequences.
2. The great object of punishment is the prevention of crime. The wilful murderer commits the greatest outrage; hence a government has a right in his case to inflict that punishment which will best prevent
23. The death penalty is universally viewed with more horror than any other. Hence it is the most efficacious by way of prevention. No murders would ever be committed if the life of the offender were certain to be forfeited. There never was and never can be a sentence to prison for life without a hope on the part of the culprit for escape.
4. The death penalty of our country offers a reasonable time to the convict for repentance. A person who has committed one wilful murder, will be certain to commit another, if permitted to live in society, and many, if not a majority of them imprisoned for life are pardoned; they contaminate and ruin thousands; their very breath is a moral pestilence; who can doubt but that their death would tend to prevent crime, and be productive of more good than evil.
5. The affirmative do not attempt to justify the murderer, but their arguments from beginning to end tend indirectly to encourage base assassins, robbers, murderers and pirates. Imprisonment for life a greater punishment than death, was there ever a criminal that preferred the latter to the former, "by their actions shall ye judge.”
§ 6. The most heinous convicts always have confederates or associates, who offer vast wealth to the attorney for obtaining a release. Whoever knew a lawyer who could not procure a pardon with a bag of gold for the most revolting butcheries.
7. The governor of one of the largest States not many years ago went into office worth about four thousand dollars, and went out worth half a million, he pardoned only 236 criminals. Think of the number of uncalled for pardons that have been granted in our own state. Imprisonment for life to prevent murder is no more sensible than it would be to pile up walls of tow to stop the progress of the raging flames.
8. The fallacious efforts of the affirmative to prove the correctness of their position by the Bible, are similar to those of the Atheist, to prove there is no God. When he reads the latter part of the verse, "there is no God," and omits the first part, which says, "the fool hath said in his heart," there is no God.* The quotations to sustain the other side of the question when properly explained in fact sustains ours. But we will give a quotation which answers them, "whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed.”†
9. The safety of the community is endangered by permitting the murderer to live. Among the numerous facts on this head, we will cite only two. A few years ago, a murderer in Mexico, was sentenced to die on the wheel; both of his legs and one arm were cut off and he was supposed to be dead. His mangled body was given to the physicians, they took it to the dissecting room and there they discovered signs of life, and, moved with pity, they used the means to resuscitate him with success.
10. They placed him by the side of the public highway that he might be supported by the charity of travellers. After being there for some time, a wealthy gentleman was passing, of whom the beggar solicited alms-(his remaining hand being concealed under his coat;) he held to him a gold coin-the solicitor requested him to put it in his pocket, stating that he had lost both of his hands: while stooping to fulfil his request, the donor started back at the sudden appearance of a hand with a dirk in it; he took the villain into his carriage and carried him to the nearest public house, examined him, and found in his pocket besides the dirk a whistle, which at once suggested the idea that he was associated with a band of robbers.
*See Psalms, chap. liii. 1st. verse.
† Gen. ix. 6.