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compassion they have moved, and that fatherly protection they have received; thus, while the human body slowly toils on to its last stature, and the soul late unfolds its power, and its might, every bad passion is swift to increase, and before nature has finished her work, vice has sunk it to decay.
You feel less pity for these women, perhaps, because you associate to their former life, riot, extravagance, and mad luxury; rather associate to it the feelings of infamy, of hunger, of remorse, of houseless, friendless, and unpitied want: The sufferings of the respectable poor are bad enough ; but if you will fathom to the lowest the misery of our nature, look to the union of poverty, and vice. Behold the dying prostitute, so joyous once, so innocent, and so good, behold her in some dismal recess of a crowded city, slowly yielding up her life to sorrow, and to pain. So lies this poor forgotten creature, without the blessing of parents, or the voice of kinsmen, or the sweet counsel of friends, and when you see her face pale with weakness, and her limbs withered with
.. disease, and her dwelling loathsome from
want, forget not that she has yet a sorrow which no human eye can reach, the remembrance of a mispent life has broke her heart; and though she send forth no plaintive voice, and though she shed no idle tear, she is mastered by an unknown spirit within, and sinks sadly down to her long, and lasting home.
To such scenes as these, sound policy, and genuine piety, unite to call your attention; to educate, to reclaim, to diffuse morality, and religion, is the most comprehensive wisdom, and the truest philanthropy. If laws give efficacy to morals, morals give efficacy to laws; and it is rather, perhaps, in the disposition to obey, than in the power to enact, that the security for human happiness consists.
The number of these deluded women is so great, and their sufferings, in process of time, so lamentable, that, considered by themselves, they become an object of political interference, and christian compassion; considered as to its general effects, the in
crease or diminution of this species of profligacy, becomes of the highest civil importance. Who, then, shall set bounds to those labours which go to increase the sum of virtue in a state; or who shall assign the precise limits where the work of reformation shall stop, and the bad be abandoned ? If education have been tried in vain, we will set to work the great engine of repen-, tance, which ręsts upon experience, and model afresh the human mind softened by affiction. The fears of mankind are in general resorted to, rather than their ductility; and it is more common to punish than reclaim ; a supposed necessity alone can justifyt his rough melioration of our species; but the voluntary labours of the truly good, and respectable men who preside over this Society, show you that no such necessity exists, and deserve your warmest protection, as they substitute for severity, persuasion, and effect the purest end by the gentlest
The great attention which has always been paid to reconcile reclaimed children to their
parents, is a very pleasing feature in
the conduct of this charity; the protection, and countenance of the parent gives stability to the new virtue of the child; and the renewal of this endearing relation is strictly congenial to our most lively feelings.
A young female was received some time since into the Society, who, in consequence of the infamous character she had incurred, had been wholly abandoned by her poor, but respectable parents, for above four years. You all know the extreme care with 'which the poor people attend to the religious, and moral education of their children in this part of the world; and will, I am sure, in the goodness of your hearts, anticipate the feelings of two poor villagers as they speculated on the future prospects of their late beloved inmate, their fears for her safety, their humble ambition, their hope that they had not in vain suffered want for her improvement, their ardent prayer to Almighty God for their child. Not to dwell upon intermediate scenes, by the interference of the Society; the father agreed to receive his daughter, and they were brought together; the appearance of each, just before they met, was wonderfully impressive: In the child there were marks of the deepest contrition, and humility; a sense of joy, at the idea of seeing her father, mingled with a perturbation which bordered on delirious wildness; in the poor man there was an honest shame at the disgrace which his daughter had incurred, not wholly devoid of anger; but it was easy to see how much his compassion ruled over every other feeling of his mind : Such was the interesting appearance of these poor people before they met; but when they saw each other, there was no shame, there was no dread, there was no anger, there was no contrition; but there were tears, and cries, and loud sobbings, and convulsive embraces, and the father wept over his daughter, and loved her; and they that saw this, bear witness how blessed a thing it is to snatch a human soul from perdition, to show the paths of God to poor sinners, and to shower down the glories of virtue, and religion on the last, and the lowest of mankind. Will you then suffer me to plead to you in vain, in such a cause as this? Will you