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The Curse Of Bad Example

or, The Drunkard's Wife

The Dawn Volume 2, Number 10. Sydney, February 5, 1890

Is a pitiful fact to contemplate that according to the existing conditions of modern civilization, it can be looked upon as little short of a miracle should the average youth reach man's estate, and escape the contamination of vice which daily example makes him familiar with from babyhood. To be able to swear, smoke, drink, or, gamble like a man, is the Alpha and Omega of his infantile dreams. Is it not a painful sight to see cripples and pale children, some mere babies, with the marks of an early grave upon their pinched faces, behind hoardings or up dirty lanes “heading them”; with childish eyes shining bright with excitement through the smoke of paper cigarettes. Useless for the passer-by to stay and ask these babies not to smoke while every other man we meet has a cigar in his lips. Useless, also the protest against gambling, when the pile of forgotten dailies which the urchins are supposed to be on the street selling, contain exaggerated descriptions of the palatial splendour of some new gambling hell, and are loud in praise of its manly and enterprising promoter. Useless indeed are woman's tears, and woman's prayers, while the votaries of vice hold dominion of the city, while single men and abandoned women, obtain licenses to open as a public house, any tottering mass of rottenness they may select, for the purpose of giving the weak another push hellward. Verily, “man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” Will it be believed a hundred years hence that such a state of things existed, and none but “women and cranks” had courage to raise their voices in protest. Walk down George street from nine to twelve o'clock any night, and see the traps laid for our sons and brothers. The sailor boy leaving home for the first time amid a mother's hopes and fears, is led into a Chinamen's den the first night he puts foot on the soil of Sunny New South Wales, when, in less time than it takes to write it, the pocket-money given by a self-denying parient to spend on land, is transferred to the keeping of a Chinaman. Is it not enough to make one's blood boil to see the son of Britain, while professing contempt for the “yellow heathen,” triumphantly led in to a den by a greasy Mongolian, who actually patronises the Britisher, as he leads him like a dumb, driven beast; from this place he emerges with empty pockets


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to find himself on the pavement, perhaps battered and maimed for a fancied offence by some drunken stranger; the Chinamen, standing round, complacently watching with evident satisfaction the Britishers fight. Is it not a sound to make one shiver, to hear the curly head of a stripling bouncing from off the hard stone curb, while men cry “stand back and let them have it out,” and some good woman's boy goes down again, while men fairly gloat over the scene. Perhaps some tow-headed, painted barmaid with the unquenchable tenderness of a woman's heart, not dead within her, rushes into the ring and stops the assault. But the police, where are they? Ask the Mongolians! The proverbial terrace is no myth! Can we wonder that a woman, lately, in defence of self and children entered and smashed the mirrors and decanters of a drinking den where her husband continually spent his time and money to the neglect of his children. Is it to be wondered at, that this woman, seeing how worse than useless was the outlook for help from any quarter, took the law in her own hands and vowed to damage the property of every publican who gave her husband drink. Oh, woman! Is this always to be? Are ye never going to make an effort to purify humanity? Content to suffer and degenerate, pander to men, and give birth to boys for this. If too apathetic to care for self, for the sake of your precious children, rise as one and denounce these vices, the result of men's weakness and apathy. If the father, who is in power, and helps to make the laws, has not the moral courage to put down these vices, how can the son be strong enough to avoid them handicapped as he is by transmitted weakness. Oh, Sisters! lookdown at the sweet, baby boy resting on your soft, white bosom, and picture it, think of it. Say, “Shall this fate be his?”

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