Page images

every thing, but the curses of the inhabitants, would have taught you to believe, that they were human dwellings. At this late hour she was carried from door to door, only to be loaded with execrations and assailed by threats. Nature was no longer her friend. Her parents and relations were equally inhuman; and, that night, she must have perished ; had not an old woman. given her that corner in a hovel which she occupied when I saw her ;-a hovel, that had no floor but the earth no bed but a pallet of straw.-I saw her; she bloomed,—but it was the hectic Aush; her eyes sparkled,--not with wantonness of vivacity,—but anxiety and pain; she coughed,

-but the exertion overcame her, the pain distressed her, and the sound—to me-was the language of the tomb.

“I was grieved for her soul.-—I did not forget that this miserable hut,—this putrifying tabernacle contained an immortal spirit,--the heir of eternal life or death; and perhaps the purchase of the Redeemer's blood. Before I entered, I heard her bitter cries and her hollow groans; and I soon perceived that she was the subject of powerful convictions. Her bosom was agitated with remorse. Recollection presented, and faithfully recorded every gradation of sin,—not only the actions but the progressions of her thoughts; while guilt overwhelmed her with shame and despair. The prospect of eternity, was constantly before her eyes, covered with the thickest gloom ; and if, for a moment, a beam of hope lighted

it up, it fled, to make the darkness of despair more terrible.

"I did all I could to calm and compose her spirits. I conversed with her for some time, faithfully and affectionately ; and she warmly expressed her gratitude to me for my kindness. I endeavoured to teach her to discriminate between the fear of punishment and a dislike to its cause; and left her in this employment, during the night, when her only companion was the candle which lighted her comfortless resting place.

“I repeated my visits, and found that her mind gradually assumed a firmer tone ;—that hope began to break in upon her prospects ;—and, that acquiescence in the direction of God, and detestation of her conduct and herself, were prominent and habitual tempers. The parish authorities of the place in which she was, would not afford her any relief. At length, however, she was removed to a town where she could have a room, and that attention which her case demanded.

“Subsequently, I visited her; and still hoped, that the impressions made upon her mind were salutary and supernatural ; but, ah! with returning health, who can say, what symptoms may revive! Where is a Penitentiary to be found ?-—where, an Asylum ?”

“J***.!! . By the blessing of Divine Providence, such Asylums are now instituted both in town and country. Their object is to bring back the lost wanderer into

the light of truth, the path of virtue, and the comfort of heavenly peace. It is a great and holy design. But the permanence and increase of such Institutions depend upon the co-operation and assistance of those individuals, whom God has blessed with the means.

It were no difficult undertaking to enumerate adequate motives,—to find convincing arguments for rescuing these unhappy creatures from the abyss of misery into which they have fallen. A moments reflection—and a crowd of considerations immediately presents itself to our view.

Against what class of criminals, let us ask, is the hand of vengeance so heavy Banished from society, and avoided by the light, they are compelled to persevere in the accumulation of guilt; and must be miserable, because they cannot be virtuous.

The character who has abused confidence to the ruin of the honest, or who lives professedly on the fruits of anothers labour, we frequently screen from justice, rescue from suffering, and even afford opportunities of regaining reputation.

The libertine, the villain who has seduced the simple and incautious female from the dignity of public respect,-him we trust with our dearest treasures ; him we may adopt as our greatest comfort. His crime receives an apologising epithet; while, in the virtuous husband and the fond parent, the debauchee, the monster, is forgotten.

How different is the fate of the unhappy victim of lawless passion ! To what shelter can she fly ?-Only

to the arms of her betrayer; which, perhaps, are no longer open to receive her. And then, how quick must be the transition from deluded virtue to shameless guilt,--from shameless guilt to hopeless wretchedness ! Despised and forsaken with anguish she curses the form she is compelled to caress, and viewing the world her enemy she goes forth to ruin all whom she can allure. The tenderness which her sex inspires, and the respect which her sex demands, are equally forgotten.

Surely, then, the weakness of the female character, should ensure the protection—not the persecution of society. Surely, the imperfections which attach to the female character, to which one and all that can tend to soothe the cares, or to refine the joys of life, should be rather lost in the general excellence, than viewed through the microscopic eye of malevolence. Surely, individual distress ought to affect the heart'; and ought to be relieved. It cannot be doubted, that thousands follow this wretched course of life with shame, horror, and regret ; but, where have they to hope for refuge, except in an Asylum?

Now, as members of society, should not even policy stimulate us to lessen the number of its subverters ? What greater enemy has a happy and well regulated society, than vice? And of vice, what species is so powerful and so prolific as that which is the principle of all this consequent depravity ?

To prevent evil, is the great end of a good government; and the end for which vigilance, society, and

regulation are properly employed. Those whom passion or interest have already depraved, have a claim on compassion from beings equally fallible and frail with themselves. To prevent the increase of this deplorable multitude, is a consideration certainly the most pressing; and both these objects will be at least partially accomplished by the establishment of Female Penitentiaries.

Let each individual, then, come forward to promote and secure these invaluable designs. Let the patriot who loves his country and desires its prosperity ; let the parent who is anxious that his cbildren should be preserved from the ways of the destroyer; let Christians of every name who pray “that the Saviour's kingdom may come;" let all, by their money, their influence, and their prayers, assist a design so greatly in accordance with His mind who came “ to call sinners to repentance," and so eminently calculated to promote that righteousness which exalteth a nation.




The Lord's promise to his Church is, that no weapon formed against her shall prosper; and though He frequently allows the machinations of her enemies for a time in appearance to succeed, it is only in such measure as he sees necessary for her purification and the trial of her faith. - Behold,” he says, “ I have

« PreviousContinue »