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would earnestly insist that our readers should consider the above cases of hopeful reform, in the House of Refuge, and then conclude whether something is not done by this most interesting charity, and enough too to warrant continued exertions to improve the condition of the ignorant and vicious. FIVE Points.
Baltimore, March 28, 1831. • Rev. J. R. McDow ALL, New York:
Dear Sir—I received a note from Mr. H. on the 19th instant, inclosing your letter to him, with two tracts—one, the constitution of your society; the other, on “Vice and Virtue.”
Mr. H. was prevented by indisposition from handing them to me sooner, and I embrace the first leisure to satisfy, as well as I can, your inquiries on an interesting subject to every benevolent mind.
A few Christian people had their attention drawn to the dreadful condition of poor, degraded, ruined females in our city.
Meetings were held among them, and a few attended. One of the first attendants continued constant, and was repeatedly conversed with by judicious, aged, pious women, who, being inspired with hope that she was sincere, determined to take her under their care, and procure a place for her to board. They did so, raising the money needed by contributions from a few individuals, until an association was formed according to the accompanying constitution. Several other individuals were taken under their care at various times, but the first was the only one that afforded them much satisfaction. She became convinced of her state as a sinner, and gave satisfactory evidence of a change of heart, and after being under the care of the society between three and four years, she died a happy death, in the same family she had lived with from the time of our taking her.
Thus we have been amply repaid for all our trouble and expense, notwithstanding our unsuccessful attempts in many particulars. It became evident that to succeed, we must have a refuge. A house was rented, and prepared for a beginning, and two different matrons were engaged ; both of whom became alarmed, and were deterred from undertaking the duties that awaited them. The owner of the house also partook of the contagion, fearing the character of his house would suffer, so as to prevent his renting it in future—so that we could not proceed. And such is the opposition of some, and the indifference of others, that as yet we have not been able to move forward, although several appeals have been made to our citizens, to endeavor to enlist their co-operation, to enable us to purchase or build a house.
Having obtained an act of incorporation, could we succeed in this, we have no doubt we might be instrumental in reclaiming many of these poor outcasts.
We are gratified to hear of your operations and success in this cause—also at Boston and Philadelphia, we have reason to believe considerable good has been done.
Mr. Alexander Henry is one of the managers of the institution in the latter city.
What is doing in this cause in other places, we are not informed ; but we fear it claims too little attention and prayer, almost every where; or that its claims, like too many on various subjects, are too much disregarded. Praying you may succeed beyond your most sanguine hopes, I remain
It is said that nothing can be done to reclaim females who, by the villainy of profligates, have been led to ruin, and are now cut off from the society of the good and the virtuous. , And it is said, too, that this is “a necessary evil.” And both of these remarks are made by the same class of persons. Some interesting instances of good done to and among this very class of persons, in the city of New York, may be related in their proper place. For the present, the following report of the “Philadelphia Magdalen Society,” will furnish much encouragement to the friends of the New York Magdalen Society.
Philadelphia Magdalen Society—formed A. D. 1805.
Magdalens admitted between 1805 and 1831, - - - 350 Magdalens reclaimed, and living reputably in reputable families, some of whom are married, - - - - - - 150 February, 1830, there were in the family - - - - 13 Admitted between February, 1830, and February, 1831, - 22 Total at the asylum since February, 1830, - - 35
Placed at service, or returned to their friends, since February,
Total, for the year, - - - - - - -
At a meeting of the Magdalen Society of Philadelphia, held on the 8th February, 1831, the following report was received, and directed to be published. r
To the Magdalen Society.
The character of the Divine Redeemer, and of his mission to our fallen world, are no where more beautifully illustrated than in the scene in the Pharisee's house, between him and the woman in the city, which was a sinner. There is something in her faith, humility, and patience, in the pride and unbelief of the Pharisee, and in
the divine condescension, compassion, and power of our Lord, which
gives the interview between them an unsurpassed interest.
The gospel of this same Jesus breathes the spirit of love and forgiveness which filled its author; and it leads to just such efforts as the Magdalen society has been making for a quarter of a century to reclaim sinners from their evil ways, and to save them from brutal degradation, bitter tears, and endless wo.
Sometimes she who has been thus rescued from infamy and death, has been an orphan—she was cast upon a friendless world—she never heard a mother's voice—she never received a father's blessing —restraint and education in childhood would have rendered her an object of esteem, perhaps of admiration. But she was left to choose her own associates, to fix her own habits, to walk in her own ways, till she found they were ways of sorrow, and then she fled for refuge to your asylum. If she had parents, she was a neglected, misguided, uninstructed child; her wild and wayward follies were unchecked, she early became familiar with vicious persons and places; her ear was not shocked by the profane oath and obscene jest; without the cautionary influence of intellectual and moral culture, she gradually lost that self-respect and delicacy of feeling which constitute at once the ornament and defense of her sex. Without a guide, counsellor, protector, or friend, who will wonder that she became the dupe of some artful enemy, or that when once beguiled into the path of licentious pleasure, she would consume her strength and life in a course of guilt? Who rejoices not that a heaven-born benevolence seeks her out, and brings her to a safe and happy home?
But sometimes she has been her father's joy—tender and only beloved in the sight of her mother—she was deceived, insulted, and abandoned—(the story has often been told by a broken-hearted parent, on the way, in sorrow, to the grave)—life became a burden to her, and she gave herself up to the destroyer—disease, distress, and want, at length brought her to herself, and she sought and found the sympathy and comfort which this charity has provided.
The history of the inmates of a Magdalen asylum would be a history of the treachery and shame of man. It is fit, therefore, that we should do all in our power to repair the injuries which have been done by the base and reckless of our sex. The success of past efforts may well excite our gratitude, and fill us with new energy and confidence. And in estimating this success, the peculiar obstacles to it must be kept in mind.
Those whose welfare we seek, are necessarily secluded from observation—thousands suffer and die alone. If accident discloses their condition, such is the strength of vicious habits, the influence of associates in crime, the dread of solitude and reflection, and the unwillingness (even in the last stages of degradation) to confess their infamy and submit to control, that the obstacles at the outset are of no inconsiderable magnitude. If, however, the voice of kindness reaches the abode of infamy, and is heard and regarded, and the unhappy being who dwells there comes to the door of your asylum, she comes with thoughts, habits, and feelings exceedingly averse to moral influence and restraint—profane, and obscene, and rude language must be discarded—domestic arrangements must be observed—the duties of social life must be fulfilled—and the thoughtless and abandoned slave of vice must become the subject of unyielding and steady, though gentle and salutary restraint. Is it surprising, under such circumstances, and in the free exercise of their own will, many should decline the offer of protection and guidance ; Is it not more surprising that any should avail themselves of it?
After the preliminary obstacles are overcome, there is another, and a very formidable difficulty, to which the board of managers have often and earnestly asked attention. The most careful and rigid examination of character and profession is sometimes unavailing. Hence it has been found, when it was too late to prevent the consequences, that those who have found admission to the asylum by pretended penitence and desire of protection, have exerted a most disastrous influence on others, with whom they must necessarily associate. This evil has been long and severely felt. Some of our brightest hopes of reform have been blighted in this way, and those whose feet seemed to have found the path of peace, have been allured back to the ways of death. The only remedy for this obvious and increasing evil, is classification. Whatever mischiefs have resulted from a want of classification in other schemes of reform, have attended ours; nor can we judge correctly of the institution or its prospects, until provision for this arrangement is amply made. If every applicant could be subjected to such initiatory discipline, as would test the sincerity of her professions, and her willingness to become a permanent inmate, and at the same time afford opportunity to become acquainted with her peculiar temper and habits, the evil to which we just alluded would be effectually obviated—she would not become the companion of those who were already seeking a good and right way for themselves, till her fitness for their society should be ascertained; and while such a measure would be safe for them, it would be exceedingly salutary to the individual herself. Again, therefore, do we urge (with greater earnestness than ever before) the immediate adoption of some measures for the attainment of this object. If the rescue of such beings from their evil courses is at all worthy of your efforts, it is worthy of all the effort which is necessary to accomplish it; and this, too, in the most advantageous form. We do know and feel that classification is indispensable to the judicious administration of your charity; and that without alterations and additional buildings, (involving an expense not exceeding $2000) such a
No. I.-JANUARY, 1832. 8
measure is utterly impracticable. The number at present under our care is unusually small, and this circumstance may be considered propitious to the immediate enlargnment and modification of the buildings.
During the past year, religious, instruction has been communicated in such forms and at such times, as seemed best adapted to the circumstances of the family. A library of suitable works has been gratuitously furnished, for the profitable and entertaining employment of their intervals of leisure. It is gratifying to state that the salutary influence of these measures has been very obvious. We have reason to believe that the voice of tenderness and sympathy has not been uttered in vain; and that the means of grace which have been employed there, have, in many instances, excited the tears of contrition, and the prayer of penitence. We are persuaded that the blessing of heaven is upon this labor of love. Let an effort be made on three hundred and fifty individuals, all of them addicted to some particular crime, and some of them completely enslaved to it; let this effort be made under great disadvantages, with respect to restraint and classification, leaving it entirely to the choice of the offender, whether he will remain in sin or betake himself to a virtuous and sober life, and giving him opportunity to exert his influence (whether happy or ruinous) over the company to which he is admitted, and let one hundred and fifty or three hundred and fifty be reclaimed, and elevated to places of usefulness and honor among men—would not the annals of prisons be searched in vain for a parallel? Yes, this has been our success, and to the Almighty be all the glory for it ! . His wisdom must still guide us— His grace must excite the sympathy and benevolence of the community, for this suffering class of our sinful race. In him we trust to awaken still more extensive confidence, and a still higher interest in our institution, and he alone can multiply the instances in which the trembling penitent shall find hope and joy in her return to a forgiving God. (Signed)
* ALEXANDER HENRY, Chairman of the Board of Managers,
Philadelphia, February 1, 1831.
It is certain the benevolent and humane not only believe it is possible, but are also ready to do good to all orders of human beings, that need their assistance. All that this praiseworthy class of persons require to induce them to give alms, is to have their attention turned to the subjects of want and suffering. Such subjects are numerous in our cities, and may be ranged in different classes. One