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THE SOCIAL EVIL.
Illicit intercourse has been a foul blot upon humanity from the earliest
periods of history. At the present moment, it is a loathsome ulcer
eating at the heart of civilization, a malignant leprosy which shows
its hideous deformities among the fairest results of modern culture.
Our large cities abound with dens of vice whose _habitues_ shamelessly
promenade the most public streets and flaunt their infamy in the face
of every passer-by. In many large cities, especially in those of
Continental Europe, these holds of vice are placed under the
supervision of the law by the requirement that every keeper of a house
of prostitution must pay for a license; in other words, must buy the
right to lead his fellow-men "down to the depths of hell."
In smaller cities, as well as in large ones, in fact, from the great
metropolis down to the country village, the haunts of vice are found.
Every army is flanked by bands of courtesans. Wherever men go, loose
women follow, penetrating even to the wildness of the miner's camp,
far beyond the verge of civilization.
But brothels and traveling strumpets do not fully represent the vast
extent of this monster evil. There is a class of immoral women--probably
exceeding in numbers the grosser class just referred to--who consider
themselves respectable; indeed, who are considered very respectable.
Few are acquainted with their character. They live in elegant style
and mingle in genteel society. Privately, they prosecute the most
unbounded licentiousness, for the purpose of gain, or merely to gratify
their lewdness. "Kept mistresses" are much more numerous than common
The numerous scandal and divorce suits which expose the infidelity of
husbands and wives, are sufficient evidence that illicit commerce is
not confined to the unmarried; but so many are the facilities for
covering and preventing the results of sins of this description it is
impossible to form any just estimate of their frequency. The
incontinence of husbands and the unchastity of wives will only appear
in their enormity at that awful day when every one shall "stand before
the judgment-seat" and hear the penalty of his guilty deeds.
Unchastity of the Ancients.--We are prone to believe that the present
is the most licentious age the world has ever known; that in the
nineteenth century the climax of evil has been reached; that the
libidinous blood of all the ages has culminated to produce a race of
men more carnal than all predecessors. It is a sickening thought that
any previous epoch could have been more vile than this; but history
presents facts which disclose in ancient times periods when lust was
even more uncontrolled than now; when vice was universal; and when
virtue was a thing unknown. A few references to historical facts will
establish this point. We do not make these allusions in any way to
justify the present immorality, but to show the part which vice has
acted in the overthrow of nations.
From the sacred record we may judge that before the flood a state of
corruption prevailed which was even greater and more general than any
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