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I could hardly understand the indignation to which you are moved by this sentence, did I not recognise its source in a foregone conclusion in your own mind, derived from the language of our opponents; who invariably beg the whole question by assuming that their method of “stopping the rayages of disease” is the sole method; and also invariably assume that, because we oppose their method, we do not desire to stop the rayages of disease.
I think I am justified in believing you to be influenced by this foregone conclusion, because you add, further on, that “to sacrifice the health and vigour of unborn creatures to the rights of harlotry to spread disease without interference, is a doubtful contribution to the progress of the race.” Surely, without the bias produced by some such foregone conclusion, one so logically-minded as yourself would hardly assume that because we deprecate this method of interference-being convinced by the evidence of the “competent persons” I have quoted that the apparent immediate sanatory benefit produced by the Acts is illusory, and that their ulterior effect would be injurious—we are therefore opposed to all interference whatsoever.
Suppose two surgeons to be called in to consult upon the method of curing a diseased limb. The first declares amputation to be necessary; the second declares that judicious medical treatment will cure the sore and save the limb:Would the first surgeon be justified in accusing the second of “resisting a humane and expedient measure for lessening disease ?”.
Suppose the second surgeon were to say that, “even though it were proved” that amputation "would stop the ravages of disease,” he should still declare the method j“ worthy of his strongest reprobation ;” basing that reprobation on his conviction that the ravages of disease might be stopped without condemning the patient to lose his limb :-Would the first surgeon be justified in accusing the second of “refusing to mitigate the sufferings of the poor wretch ?”
Suppose the friends of the patient should desire to try the curative method suggested by the second surgeon; being convinced by his arguments that amputation was not the sole method of stopping the ravages of disease : Would the first surgeon be justified in accusing them of “sacrificing the health and vigour” of the patient “without interference,” simply because their method of interference differed from his own ? or in telling them that it was “something of a paradox for them, out of compassion” for a diseased limb " to suppress the tending of the sick,” because they desired to tend the sick on a plan that differed from his own?
Now as to what you say of punishment. You tell us that “people insist on shutting their eyes to the existence among us of masses of men and women who are virtually in the condition of barbarians, and whose practices can only be repressed by the same wisely coercive methods which have always been essential to raise a barbarous community into a civilised state."
I doubt the expediency of such methods in the present case; but surely if any are deserving of punishment for sexual license or depravity, it is not the wretched prostitutes whose position deprives them of all power of choice among the companions of their “practices;" but the married frequenters of brothels, who are the immediate and active agents in spreading disease to their innocent wives and children. Who has given them the “ right of spreading disease without interference ?”
Miss Garretti tells us that the injustice of applying these measures to women only, is merely apparent;-because there is “ no parallel class” of male sinners. Dr. Webster, at the late meeting of the Social Science Association, answered this objection in part, by reminding us that in the military and naval stations, there is a scarcely-to-be-mentioned class of men, far more degraded than the prostitutes upon whose degradation they live"barbarians, whose practices” it has not been thought necessary “wisely to repress by coercion.”
Are not brothel-keepers a class ? Yet, so far from wisely coercing them into civilisation, our opponents are quite eloquent upon the improved cleanliness and decency (!) of these barbarians.
No class of criminals was ever yet known to classify itself, in order to facilitate penal legislation; but, if desirable, nothing could be easier than for the Government to employ the same detectives in plain clothes, who now watch over and entrap the women, to watch over and entrap the male frequenters of brothels (who are well known to them), and to classify them at once. God forbid that I should advocate such a system ; but those who consider it just and wise to apply it to the weak, should be the first to recommend its extension to the strong.
I have dwelt thus far on the tragic aspect of this matter. It has also its grimly comic side. Our opponents tell us that provision is made by these measures for the reformation of the women, " as far as is consistent with the spirit and intentions of the Acts,” and they quote with satisfaction the evidence of certain chaplains, and amongst others the chaplain to the hospital at Chatham, who, when asked “whether any other way would be so effectual with a view to the reformation of the women, as the mode under this Act, of committing them to to the hospital,” answers, “ No; I cannot see that any other plan could be devised;" and goes on to explain this by saying, “ because we have no other means of coming in contact with the women than by meeting them at the hospital !"
If the subject were not too sad and serious for laughter, there would be something irresistibly farcical in the spectacle of these Christian shepherds, who cannot devise any other method of coming in contact with the erring sheep among their flocks than their imprisonment in Lock hospitals by the police ! One could fancy one's self listening to Mephistophiles, performing the part of Tartuffe, with embellishments of his own invention.
Another painfully ludicrous aspect of the matter is the declaration repeatedly made by the framers and supporters of the measure, that “it is popular with the women;" they come “willingly" (why then enforce their compliance by penal laws ?) to enjoy the benefits of this “humane and expedient measure." Yet all our opponents with one voice declare that this beneficent measure cannot be applied to men, because “ they would not submit to it.”
Strange and unique instance of masculine abnegation !
Suppose a case ; I admit it to be a quasi-impossible one; but let us, for the sake of illustration, suppose a Board of Guardians to introduce a really humane
(1) If you had not spoken approvingly of Miss Garrett's letter, I should willingly have abstained from all allusion to a lady who can publicly advocate these Acts on the ground that they prevent her sister women from returning to the trade of prostitution “ long before they are in a fit condition to do so." I am glad to believe the opinion unique, that any condition of bodily health can render women fit for prostitution.
and expedient measure for lessening disease and suffering in the workhouse of their parish, and to try the effect of plentiful and wholesome food, clean beds, excellent ventilation, and, above all, first-rate medical attendance, with tender and gentle nursing :-Can you conceive that they would find it impossible to carry out the measure on any but female paupers, because the manly pride of the males would not submit to it? Can you conceive that the female paupers would require to be alternately driven or entrapped into these ideal workhouses by the police ? To my poor mind it seems likely that there would be such a rush of males to enter them, that if the police were required at all, it would be to allow some few poor women a chance.
Prostitution is, you say, “a fact of which we are bound to take cognizance.” Granted; but that cognizance must be wise, just, and consistent. What should we say of a father who helplessly declared to us : “My son has acquired such a vile habit of drunkenness, that I am obliged to go to an enormous expense in order to provide him with specially chosen and medicated wines, so that his constitution (and, consequently, that of his innocent offspring) may suffer as little as is compatible with that habit ?” Should we not advise him first to put every obstacle in the way of such excess, and then seriously and earnestly to endeavour to teach his son the duty of temperance and self-control; assuring him that when the young man had once acquired the self-respect and true dignity of manhood, it would no longer be necessary to watch over him like a greedy child.
We have been accustomed to cherish the “weak and windy” notion that it is the first duty of a constitutional Government to represent the moral force of the nation, and to instruct as well as restrain the people, by giving them good and sufficient moral reasons for every penal law.
Now if—as many of the supporters of these Acts affirm-prostitution is a necessity, in order to avert the greater suffering and evil that would arise from continence, then it cannot be a sin; and it would be well for us all that our rulers should make up their minds which they believe it to be, and give the weak and illogical of the ruled a reason for the license allowed or the coercion enforced. They might be mistaken in their decision, for even our legislators are human; but if they were to state their belief openly, and act up to it consistently, they would not be absurd.
If they believe prostitution to be a necessity, it is their duty to afford the tenderest care, encouragement and shelter, as well as the best medical aid, to the victims sacrificed to the cause of national health ; so as to render their loathsome duties (!) less painful and less dangerous.
If they believe prostitution to be a sin, it is their duty seriously to exert the moral and physical force at their command to restrain the “barbarians” of both sexes, “whose practices can only be repressed by the same wisely coercive methods which have always been essential to raise a barbarous community to a civilised state."
There is no rational or moral middle course.
Our rulers have attempted to rush into health, precisely as the nation has rushed into disease-lightly, inconsiderately, and brutally: influenced by alarm at the physical misery resulting from the actual condition of things; but with no distinct decisive aim in view, and no thought of the future result upon the morality of the nation, which can never safely be forgotten in legislation. Their primary object has been, not to secure a gradual, lasting, honourable advance from brutal license towards rational morality, for the well-being of the whole nation; but to maintain the present degraded state of things at less expense of suffering to the stronger half of the community.
“For the temporary realities of the hour, our legislators have forgotten the eternal reality of justice. The temporary advantage will cease, and the difficulty of returning into the path of justice will be increased by the moral deterioration inevitable whenever principle has been abandoned for expediency." Human law itself-the compulsion of individuals by the force of society--is, when not sanctified by a principle, a crime. The police, when they are not the instruments of the moral force of the nation, are degraded into the dangerous hireling tools of the tyranny of the strong over the weak..
What is wanted in the present case, is not a temporary material guarantee against one of the evils of prostitution; it is the gradual creation of permanent moral and material guarantees against both the physical evils and the moral causes of prostitution; and we have no right to declare this impossible until we have earnestly and faithfully endeavoured to achieve it. : “However fatal to the lifeblood of the State are the physical disorders following in the wake of prostitution, infinitely more fatal is the league which a State, by publicly discountenancing the disease and not the acts which bring it about, makes with prostitution itself.”1
Assuming, therefore (what we do not believe), that these Acts are immediately beneficial in “stopping the ravages of disease,” we repeat that we still “declare them worthy of our strongest reprobation,” because we are profoundly convinced that the result of educating the rising generation in the belief that not immorality, but the disease consequent on immorality, is obnoxious to the State, would be so debasing as ultimately to lead to more extended, degraded, and injurious forms of sexual vice; and that the Acts would, consequently, fail to permanently secure even the physical benefit for which higher aims have been overlooked; proving once again the truth which the largest-minded politicians have long preached in vain,--that injustice is always, in the long run, inexpedient.
We ought never to lose sight of the demoralising effect produced upon the young by the maintenance of a Pariah class in the heart of the community. The greatest Continental thinker of our day has wisely said, “The Spartans diverted education from its true aim, and condemned their republic irrevocably to death, on the day when, to teach their children temperance, they showed them the spectacle of a drunken Helot.”
Logic and justice are twin-sisters. You remind us that the sufferers are human beings. We answer that mankind is one, and whatever temporary beneficial results (in this case unproven) may result from neglect of justice, it is-thank God !--morally and physically impossible to benefit humanity by the degradation of a single individual. .. “Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto."
E. A. VENTURI,
for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts.
SOME BOOKS OF THE MONTH.
On Labour. By W. T. THORNTON. Second Edition. Macmillan. 148. It is worth while to call attention to the appearance of a second edition of this valuable book, because Mr. Thornton has added a considerable quantity of new matter; partly controversial, dealing very instructively with some of the various criticisms which the positions of the first edition suggested, and partly descriptiye, as the supplementary chapter, for instance, on Co-operative Progress and Prospects.
The Mythology of the Aryan Nations. By G. W. Cox, M.A. Two vols.
Longman. 288. A LEARNED and elaborate contribution to the science of comparative mythology. Besides very ample illustrations of the resemblance or identity between the myths of the Aryan nations, the author claims the discovery and proof of the facts that “the epic poems of the Aryan nations are simply different versions of one and the same story; and that this story has its origin in the phenomena of the natural world, and the course of the day and the year.” The mass of information which the writer has collected is thus arranged with a view, first, to the identification of the Aryan poems and stories; and, second, to the establishment of their physical origin, Mr. Cox is as resolute an enemy as Sir Cornewall Lewis himself to arbitrary and unverified theory, and the peculiarity of his method is a careful and full statement of facts, and the evidence they furnish.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Policy of Count Beust. By an
ENGLISHMAN. Chapman and Hall. 98. An authentic account of the policy of the Austrian Government since the catastrophe of 1866, and the subsequent accession to power of Count Beust. The writer quotes chapter and verse of dispatches, statistical tables, and so forth, and is evidently thoroughly well-informed. His view is eminently favourable to the policy of which Count Beust has been the originator and guide.
The Morning Lana. By EDWARD DICEY. Two vols. Macmillan. 16s. MR. DICEY went to the East as special correspondent for an important daily paper on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal, and these two volumes are his letters reprinted. Turkey, Egypt, and the Holy Land are included under his title, and he tells us what he saw in an exceptionally sensible, instructive, and entertaining manner. He has travelled too far in his life not to be free from the preposterous affectations and random enthusiasm of the novice in travelling. There is probably no book about the East which reproduces so faithfully and naturally as Mr. Dicey's book does, the impression which an intelligent and reflective traveller is most likely to receive on his first visit.