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Sir, they do not! Is it not there that the evil spirits of impurity and of crime, insinuate themselves into the good opinion of the thoughtless youth? Is it not there that he often picks up an acquaintance, who leads him, after the farce is concluded, to the tavern--to the gaming table to the bouse of ill-fame? Is it not there, that the profligate female practices her arts of seduction, and bears off, in her unhallowed embraces, the palm of his virtue ?. Is it not there, amidst scenes of lewdness, which no pencil can sketch, that he learns a profane language, and familiarizes himself with vice in its most nauseous and disgusting forms ? Is it not to this school of virtue-to this resort of the wisest and the best-to this elysium of bliss--to this paradise of excellenceregained from the defection of puritanism; that many, that very many of the young of both sexes have ascribed their ruin? Wonder, 0 ye heavens, and give ear, 0 earth!!! The school of virtue, teaching vice! the resort of the wisest and the best, the haunt of the most licentious !—the elysium of bliss, the common receptacle of outcast misery!-paradise regained, the ill fated spot, where the demon of lewdness triumphs over subdued chastity-where iniquity reigns, as in the high place of its dominion, and on which, thousands look in all the bitterness of anguish, as the spot where they fell, from their original purity and honour, to the lowest abyss of crime!!”
Mr. Talbot. You can paint, Sir.”
Mr. Lewellin. But not the theatre as it is. That's impossible. I cannot describe the evils, the contaminating evils, the subduing evils, to which a young person is exposed, who visits this haunt of vice--this dwellingplace of sin—this temple of lewdness, of whose priests and priestesses it is a shame even to speak of those to the grave.
* In conversation with a very intelligent gentleman, who has served the office of constable in Birmingham, he said, “I observed the number of prostitutes were considerably increased very soon after the opening of the theatre; many also coming from neighbouring towns during the theatrical season, Strange, indeed, if the stage be the school of virtue, that these pests of society should always be found existing near it! When we see the vultures of destruction flying towards any particular spot; we naturally expect to find a carcase, not of healthful vigour-but of corruption.
things which are done of them in secret—this Augeap stable of infamy, which no waters have ever been able to cleanse. You say, that while the youth is within the theatre, he is preserved from the temptations which are out of doors; a truism no one will doubt; and so he is, when in a gaming room, and so he is when in a tavern of nightly dissipation; but, Sir, is he not, when coming away from the theatre, exposed to the out door temptations, and very often prepared, by what he sees and hears, to yield more easily to them. The following fact, Sir, which is too well attested to be denied, lets us into the awful secret of the tendency of theatrical exhibitions; and if it were necessary I could adduce many instances of the most promising young men, and of the most amiable females, who, by frequenting a theatre, have lost their character; blasted their prospect of happiness for life, and brought down the grey hairs of parental affection with sorrow
“The robberies committed daily in the streets, during the representation of the Beggar's Opera, were beyond the example of former times; and several thieves and robbers afterwards confessed in Newgate, that they raised their courage in the playhouse by the songs of their hero, Macheath, before they sallied forth on their desperate nocturnal exploits. So notorious were the evil consequences of its frequent representation become, that the Middlesex justices, united with Sir John Fielding, in requesting Mr. Garrick to desist from performing it, as they were of opinion that it was never represented on the stage, without creating an additional number of real thieves.” Thus we see the debt of gratitude which the morality of the public soon contracted with this agent of its reformation, who, for 63 nights in succession, during the first season of his labours, delivered his maxims of wisdom, and his lessons of virtue, which, by some peculiar fatality, became the means of corrupting the audience to a most alarming extent; but to hold the stage responsible for this, would be, of course, a breach of the law of charity, THOUGH IT WOULD BE AN ACT OF
“ The second season of this opera was as productive as the first; nor were the provincial stages without their gleanings from the poet's harvest :
it was acted 50 nights at Bath"and Bristol. Not only Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, but Minorca, and other distant regions, saw it in their theatres; while the songs were every' where to be read on fans, handkerchiefs, and fire-screens.” Wherever this thiefmaker went, he was received with raptures by the admirers of the drama; they sung his praises ; they gave him the homage of their affection as the idol
their theatrical adorations, and he had, like ancient Moloch, the high gratification of seeing many of his devoted worshippers doomed to an timely destruction. And yet, Sir, with
such facts staring you in the face; with such confessions of convicted guilt; amidst such cries of expiring life, you have the temerity to maintain that the theatre is favourable to the cultivation, and the growth of public and private virtue! Can you hope to gain proselytes to your opinion? Do you imagine that we are to be gulled into the admission of an assertion, which no argument can support; which recorded facts so unequivocally disprove; and which the worst men, in common with the best, reject as an insult offered to the obvious dictates of their understanding? Do you suppose that we have reached the dotage of our existence, when the intellect, paralized by some extraordinary visitation of Heaven, or worn out by the intensity its own labours, is to sit down at the feet of absurdity with a docile simplicity to receive the monstrous extravagancies of convicted falsehood, as the lucid and resistless enunciations of oracular truth? No, Sir. A general belief is gone abroad, and it exists no less firmly amongst many of the admirers of the drama, than amongst its most determined opponents, that while the stage may be vindicated as a source of amusement, an attempt to vindicate it, as the handmaid of virtue, is no less disreputable to the understanding, than it is to the moral taste of the advocate, who, however dexterous he may be in his pleadings, labours under the disadvantage of appearing in court, after the judges have taken the verdict of an honest and enlightened jury.
“ She says, that she abhors slavery, because it is unjust and cruel; and after shedding her crocodile tears over the poor wretches who are groaning away a life of torture and ofmisery, which exceeds all conception, she rises from her mournings, and says to the friends of humanity, ‘ Do not press me to emancipate them! Oh! do not press me to emancipate them.” Page 3.
“ Yes, if you like to visit such a country! a country where every particle of matter is tinged with human blood ;-where every echo that has ever awoke to mortal sounds, from the days of Elizabeth to the present hour, has been roused to utterance, by the voice of lamentation, and woe, and bitter crying ;-where every native production is matured and ripened under the influence of the most torturous oppression ;--where Christianity has been compelled to associate with her existence men, who surpass in cruelty the fallen angels of darkness, for we never read of their reeking their vengeance on their own species! I mean by the place which I have thus imperfectly described, (for no language can possibly describe it,) THE WEST INDIES. The land of slaves. The land in which the proud, the magnanimous, the independent, the life-giving spirit of the English people succumbs to the base passions of the slave merchant ;-- the land in which the principle of justice has a name, but no local habitation ;-in which benevolence, and sympathy, and compassion, are treated as the pioneers of destruction, rather than cherished as the offspring of heaven;where philanthropy is expatriated as the hydra-headed monster, who carries in his looks, who utters in his sounds, who breathes in his moanings, the spirit of malevolence and public wrong ;- the land which the genius of Britain has converted into a public store-house, for the reception of stolen property—and that stolen property is not the goods and chattels of the merchant, is not the silver and the gold of the moneychanger, is not the live cattle of the agriculturist, but the body and the mind of man! The body like our own, though of different colour;- the mind equal in dignity, equal in capacities, equal in duration of existence with our own, though inferior in intellectual attainments ;-a land which exists on the confines of Europe, as the prison-house of liberty, kept and guarded by the sons of freemen; and which a distant posterity will visit, to read on its summits or in its vallies the recorded cruelty, and horrid impiety of present times !”
As I have devoted several numbers of the Rambler
the question of West Indian slavery, I wish to call the attention of readers to it once more, before I close my labours. The slave-trade has been abolished by the government of this country, eighteen years; but slavery still exists, and flourishes amidst the degradation and tortures of hundreds of thousands of human beings. And