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enable him to renew his gluttony. With still grosser sensuality he
stimulated his satiated passions with philters and various aphrodisiac
Nero, the most infamous of the emperors, committed rapes on the stage
of the public theaters of Rome, disguised as a wild beast.
If this degraded voluptuousness had been confined to royalty, some
respect might yet be entertained for the virtue of the ancients; but
the foul infection was not restrained within such narrow bounds. It
invaded whole empires until they fell in pieces from very rottenness.
What must have been the condition of a nation that could tolerate such
a spectacle as its monarch riding through the streets of its metropolis
in a state of nudity, drawn by women in the same condition? Such a deed
did Heliogabalus in Rome.
In the thirteenth century, virtue was almost as scarce in France as
in ancient Greece. Nobles held as mistresses all the young girls of
their domains. About every fifth person was a bastard. Just before the
Revolution, chastity was such a rarity that a woman was actually obliged
to apologize for being virtuous!
In these disgusting facts we find one of the most potent agents in
effecting the downfall of the nations. Licentiousness sapped their
vitality and weakened their prowess. The men who conquered the world
were led captive by their own beastly passions. Thus the Assyrians,
the Medes, the Grecians, the Romans, successively fell victims to their
lusts, and gave way to more virtuous successors. Even the Jews, the
most enlightened people of their age, fell more than once through this
same sin, which was coupled with idolatry, of which their seduction
by the Midianites is an example.
Surely, modern times present no worse spectacles of carnality than
these; and will it be claimed that anything so vile is seen among
civilized nations at the present day? But though there may be less
grossness in the sensuality of to-day, the moral turpitude of men may
be even greater than that of ancient times. Enlightened Christianity
has raised the standard of morality. Christ's commentary upon the
seventh commandment requires a more rigorous chastity than ancient
standards demanded, even among the Jews; for had not David, Solomon,
and even the pious Jacob more wives than one? Consequently, a slight
breach of chastity now requires as great a fall from virtue as a greater
lapse in ages past, and must be attended with as severe a moral penalty.
We have seen how universal is the "social evil," that it is a vice almost
as old as man himself, which shows how deeply rooted in his perverted
nature it has become. The inquiry arises, What are the causes of so
monstrous a vice? so gross an outrage upon nature's laws? so withering
a blight upon the race?
Causes of the "Social Evil."--A vice that has become so great an evil,
even in these enlightened times, as to defy the most skillful
legislation, which openly displays its gaudy filthiness and mocks at
virtue with a lecherous stare, must have its origin in causes too
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