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harm has been wrought which it will require the work of years to undo.
The young man we have referred to made indeed a narrow escape, but no
one can safely run such a risk. Even he must suffer all his life the
consequences of a few years of sin.
A Lost Soul.--M. M., of ----, was the son of a mechanic in humble
circumstances. He was an only child, and his parents spared no pains
to do all in their power to insure his becoming a good and useful man.
Good school advantages were given him, and at a proper age he was put
to learn a trade. He succeeded fairly, and their hopes of his becoming
all that they could desire were great, when he suddenly began to
manifest peculiar symptoms. He had attended a religious revival and
seemed much affected, professing religion and becoming a member of a
church. To the exercises of his mind on the subject of religion his
friends attributed his peculiar actions, which soon became so strange
as to excite grave fears that his mind was seriously affected. At times
he was wild, showing such unmistakable evidences of insanity that even
his poor mother, who was loth to believe the sad truth, was forced to
admit that he was deranged.
After a few months a change came over him which encouraged his friends
to think that he was recovering. He became quiet and tractable, never
manifesting the furious symptoms before observed. But the deception
was only temporary, for it was soon evident that the change was simply
the result of the progress of the disease and denoted the failure of
the mental powers and the approach of imbecility. In this condition
was the young man when he came under our care. We felt strongly impressed
from our first examination of the case that it was one of sexual abuse;
but we were assured by his friends in the most emphatic manner that
such was an impossibility. It was claimed that the most scrupulous care
had been bestowed upon him, and that he had been so closely watched
that it was impossible that he should have been guilty of so gross a
vice. His friends were disposed to attribute his sad condition to
excessive exercise of mind upon religious subjects.
Not satisfied with this view of the case, we set a close watch upon
him, and within a week his nurse reported that he had detected him in
the act of self-pollution, when he confessed the truth, not yet being
so utterly devoid of sense as to have lost his appreciation of the
sinfulness of the act. When discovered, he exclaimed, "I know I have
made myself a fool," which was the exact truth. At this time the once
bright and intelligent youth had become so obtuse and stupid that he
appeared almost senseless. His face wore an idiotic expression which
was rarely lighted up by a look of intelligence. It was only by the
greatest exertion that he could be made to understand or to respond
when spoken to. In whatever position he was placed, whether lying,
sitting, or standing, no matter how constrained or painful, he would
remain for hours, staring vacantly, and fixed and immovable as a statue.
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