Page images

from Girard and Astor downwards, has been noted for his attention to details. Few distinguished lawyers have ever practised in the courts, who have not been remarkable for a similar characteristic. It was one of the most striking peculiarities of the first Napoleon's mind. The most petty details of his household expenses, the most trivial facts relating to his troops, were, in his opinion, as worthy of his attention, as the tactics of a battle, the plans of a campaign, or the revision of a code. Demosthenes, the world's unrivalled orator, was as anxious about his gestures or intonations, as about the texture of his argument or its garniture of words. Before such great examples, and in the very highest walks of intellect, how contemptible the conduct of the small minds who despise small things.”



PERHAPS the most important event in the life of Lawrence was his removal from the country to the city. This is generally a marked era in the history of young men. They may not so regard it, but results sustain our words in this particular. The city is a fearful place for temptations. This is true of even the best city in the world. Vices have an opportunity to thrive there as they cannot in the country. In a rural village there are few openly vicious men to lead the young and unwary to ruin. But in a large metropolis there are great numbers of them, enjoying every facility to accomplish their evil purposes. They are on the look-out at the corner of every street, and thousands fall into their webs of vice every year.

From the days of Babylon to the present time, cities have been famed for moral corruption. There were Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities of the plain, so abandoned and profligate that ten righteous men could not be found within them. There was Jerusalem, over which the Saviour wept, in view of its impending doom, exclaiming in the bitterness of His sorrow : “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,"

There were also the cities of Corinth and Rome, whose gross pollution seems almost fabulous, as it stands recorded on the page of history: they went down from their highest glory to the deepest shame and ignominy.

It is too true now, that cities are the great centres of evil. “ Evil sufficient to poison a universe of corruptible beings is concentrated in a few square miles.” Every form of sin and vice that human wickedness has invented, and every grade of evil-doers, from the juvenile thief to the hardened, desperate murderer, pour in there. On every side the emissaries of Satan watch for their victims, and throw around unsuspecting ones their galling fetters and drag them down to shame. Bar-rooms, gambling-houses, billiard-rooms, dancing-halls, clubrooms, theatres and other dens of villainy, and dens of infamy multiply here. As Cowper says >

" Thither flow,
As to a common and most noisome sewer,
The dregs and feculence of every land.
In cities, foul example, in most minds,
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds,
In gross and pampered cities, sloth and lust,
And wantonness, and gluttonous excess.
In cities vice is hidden with most ease,
Or seen with least reproach ; and virtue,
Taught by frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond the achievement of successful flight.”

If these grosser forms of sin fail to ensnare the new comer, there are pleasures and amusements of a lighter nature, and more dangerous, if possible, for that reason, since they dazzle but to blind, and allure but to destroy. These often appear in attractive and unobjectionable garb, awakening irrepressible longings in young hearts, and thereby leading them to break through every barrier of home influence and moral culture.

It is impossible to describe all the sources of evil to the young in a great city. We have said enough to shew that the young man going thither from the country, inexperienced and unsuspecting, is put in moral jeopardy. He leaves his home with its wholesome restraints, goes among strangers, comes in contact with people of every sort, beholds new scenes and objects of unusual interest, and is continually subject to such excitement as he never before knew. It is not strange that so many are ruined ! Perhaps the estimate which some one has made about this ruin may not be too large. It is that while “ one in fifteen members of colleges are ruined, one in four of young men who go to the city for a fortune turn out badly.”

We have seen that Amos Lawrence withstood the temptations of Boston, and maintained his purity and uprightness from the commencement of his city life.

Probably not half of the young men who have gone from the country to the city, strangers, as Lawrence did, have withstood its temptations. It becomes, then, a matter of deep interest, how he managed to preserve an uncorrupted heart. Fortunately he has not left us in the dark at this point. His correspondence gives us a clew to his moral success. He wrote to a young friend in 1833 :

There was a part of Boston which used to be visited by young men out of curiosity, when I first came here, into which I never set foot for the whole time I remained a single man. I avoided it, because I not only wished to keep clear of the temptations common in that part, but to avoid the appearance of evil. I never regretted

and I would advise all young men to strengthen their good resolutions by reflection, and to plant deep and strong the principles of right, and to avoid temptation, as time gives them strength to stand against it.”

He avoided “the appearance of evil,” and kept out of the way of temptation, and this preserved him. Had he been curious to see what there is of evil in the city, as many young men are, he might have fallen a victim to his folly. Self-confidence usually goes before a fall. Men venture upon forbidden ground before they are ruined. There is an old proverb : “If you would not be found in the devil's power, do not be caught in the devil's pound,” and they who heed it are safe. As

“ Man cannot be ruined till he has been made confident. A traitor must get into his victim's

it ;

South says:

heart with fair speeches and promises, before he can come at it with a dagger.” Lawrence feared to trust himself where he knew temptations abounded, and he was thereby saved. He obeyed the divine injunction : “ Enter not into the path of the wicked,” and God blessed him.

Augustine tells of a pious young man who was induced by his associates to enter the amphitheatre. He knew his weakness, and for some time he kept his eyes closed. At length, however, a tremendous shout of applause caused him to open them and look. The moment he caught sight of the blood shed by the gladiators, he seemed to catch the enthusiasm of the spectators around him-he applauded loudly-shouted forth his admiration of the combatants—and when he went away, his desire to witness another game was uncontrollable." Wilberforce states, that when he was twelve years of age, his thoughts were turned to the subject of religion. Some of his godless relatives, observing it, sought to dispel his seriousness by almost dragging him to the theatre. At first, the play was distressing to him; but he soon acquired a relish for it, and, to use his own words, “ became as thoughtless as the rest.” Such facts prove that man cannot safely trust himself where the tempter multiplies his greatest lures. Young Lawrence understood it, and was wise.

The temptations of city life would far exceed those of the country, were the theatre the only source of evil it possessed. Perhaps a larger number of youth and young men, who go from the country to the city, are ruined through its fascinations and impurities, than by all other popular amusements combined. Walter

« EelmineJätka »