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ciations formed in the lobbies and saloons of a theatre, or the purlieus of some fashionable oyster establishment, are among a few of the primary causes which have gathered around us such a mountain of guilt, crime, and misery. Young men, without professions or trades, are thus thrown wild and reckless upon the world, encircled in a chain of crime from which they cannot escape, and hence it is they resort to such means of procuring a livelihood, and which reflect
upon the fair character of a city a shadow so dark, that time itself cannot eradicate it. These means are anything but reputable—the low gambling-house, the brothel, the dens of infamy, which abound in all cities, and their places of resort—and in them, by them, some way or another, they drag out a miserable existence.
Petty thieving has of late become frequent, and, strange as it may appear to our readers, at least those unacquainted with the ways of the town, children are employed as agents in crime, and administer to the wants of their guilty employers. We stated in a former leaf that there are many children who beg for their parents; it is now our painful duty to state that there are those who steal for them! In other places, and under a different signature, we have frequently called the attention of our police to the great number of little girls and boys who are daily seen perambulating the streets, ragged and dirty, and whose conduct and actions are alike vile and disgusting. Many of these miserable creatures pretend to sell fruit, matches, &c., when in fact their ostensible object is plunder, and in some instances, particularly among the girls, it is far worse. You will find them along the wharves, stealing old iron, hoops, copper sheathing, lead, empty barrels, boxes, &c., while in the more popular streets, they carry off door-rugs, brass work from the doors, and these are readily disposed of, for there are many facilities of disposing of stolen goods as yet unknown to our efficient police!
This picture is a sorrowful one, and Mr. Street in his perambulations has had frequent opportunities of witnessing scenes of crime such as we have hinted at; but it is not in the
power of one man to put a stop to them ; it must be by the public; a decided, bold, and fearless action. It is in the power of our philanthropists to effect it; but they slumber over their labors, and dream of the work when they should engage in it. Of an evening, let the good citizen walk up Chesnut street-not as a man of the world, gazing about him and around him, admiring this, that and the other -let his eyes follow the dictates of his own good heart, and he will see sights which will urge him on to the good work of reform. In the vicinity of hotels, Arcade, theatres, &c., he will see a number of ragged boys and girls, with little baskets upon their arms, asking alms, and if the passerby refuse them, he is instantly assailed in language not only vulgar, but profane. Many of these girls who are daily seen in Market and Front streets, are nightly to be seen in the pits of our theatres, or at the circus, presenting a picture of juvenile depravity shocking to the sober and thinking portion of our citizens. Are these things always to be ?
The Home Missionary has, as we have already shown, done much good. He has traced out honest poverty, and provided for it; he has talked to the wild and dissipated, prayed with the repentant sinner, and soothed his passage to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. There is one family of five persons who are now reduced to abject poverty in consequence of the guilt of him who should have been their guide and protector. He is now paying the penalty of his crime at Cherry Hill, and his victims are dependent on the Home Missionary for bread!
What a picture is that which he paints in his last report! It is of an aged couple living in a stable! Aye! an old man and his wife lying on straw, in a common stable, exposed to the inclemency of a winter's night, or at least, partly protected by a few loose boards thrown carelessly together. Imagine, ye who roll in wealth, an old lady, on whose head Father Time has scattered the gray hairs of sixty winters, exclaiming, in a calm voice, the voice of resignation to her fate—“I am now where our blessed Saviour was born-in a stable!” This reflection soothed her sorrowing breast, and the associations of that eventful page in the history of Jesus Christ made her feel her pangs far less than if that Christian feeling had not dwelt in her bosom. The same star that pointed out to the Eastern Magi the birth-place of our Saviour has already conducted the good and charitable to their relief.
Let us try to reform the vices of our city-let us go around among the poor, and ascertain by actual observation the causes which have produced so much distress among us. By so doing, the guilty will be discovered and reformed, their children kept from the public streets, and that youthful depravity which now, like the fabled Upas tree, spreads a poison over our city, will be corrected, and the public voice act as an antidote.
Nothing else will do—and until this be done, vice will flaunt in the sunshine as boldly as it does under the sombre covering of night.
The incidents of the following sketch will be remembered by many of my readers. I have given the circumstance the advantage of a new dress, in which it has appeared in some of our most popular periodicals. Connected with this sketch, the author cannot resist this opportunity of relating an incident, which occurred on board of the steamboat South American, in the fall of 1846, while on her passage down the Mississippi river to New Orleans. The reader will excuse the vanity which prompts the recital, after he has read the sketch, for the fact itself will elicit a tear, which language alone could never effect.
An old gentleman had been for several days poring over an old scrap book, and seemed much occupied with its contents. It was on this occasion, seated near him, when of a sudden he took from his pocket a handkerchief, and commenced wiping his eyes. “ Well,” says he, “ if any one had ever told me that the mere reading of a story would bring tears into my eves, I should have laughed at him, and yet, Sir,” looking toward me, 6. I have shed tears over that, —there, Sir, read it, and bear me company.” I cast my eyes on the book, and, to my utter surprise and astonishment, I found the old gentleman had been shedding tears over my sketch of the “ Auction.” His name was Robbins, and I hope he will pardon me for giving publicity to this truly amiable trait in his character. The tears that flow for the poor are messengers of joy to the distressed. They come up from the deep fountains of the heart, and, like the gentle
dews of heaven, shed their blessing on all around. The most sacred tears, says Byron, are those
“ That start at once, bright, pure, from pity's mine,
A SKETCH FROM REAL LIFE.
Ask you why Phrynne the whole Auction buys?
It was a tempestuous night—the winds whistled fearfully, and hail-stones, whose size threatened to demolish the windows of the houses, rattled against them with a determined pertinacity, as if to test their strength. In the parlor of a fine old-fashioned house, beside rather a comfortless fire on such a night, were seated the family of Mr. Sunderland, consisting of himself, wife, daughter, and a faithful maid servant. A heavy gloom, more of sorrow than anger,
rested on each brow, not even excepting that of the maid servant alluded to, from whose eager glances, ever and anon cast toward the family group, the close observer would have noted the deep interest she took in the cause of their gries.
The picture was a melancholy one, for virtue in distress has no light shade to relieve it; all around and about it is dark and sombre. The sensitive artist would have thrown aside his pencil if the subject had been presented to his view, as we have described it, and his heart would have received an impression which could not have been transferred to the canvas.