|03-02-2008, 06:24 AM||#1|
Manic Do Fuse
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Howe, William and Hummel, Abraham: Danger! v1, 2 Mar 2008
A TRUE HISTORY OF A GREAT
CITY'S WILES and TEMPTATIONS
THE VEIL LIFTED, AND LIGHT
THROWN ON CRIME AND ITS
CAUSES, AND CRIMINALS AND
THEIR HAUNTS. FACTS AND
From the Preface:
It may not be amiss to remark, in explanation of the startling and sensational title chosen for this production, that logic has not yet succeeded in framing a title-page which shall clearly indicate the nature of a book. The greatest adepts have frequently taken refuge in some fortuitous word, which has served their purpose better than the best results of their analysis. So it was in the present case. "Danger!" is a thrilling and warning word, suggestive of the locomotive headlight, and especially applicable to the subject matter of the following pages, in which the crimes of a great city are dissected and exposed from the arcanum or confessional of what we may be pardoned for designating the best-known criminal law offices in America.
So much for the title. A few words as to the motif of the publication. Despite the efficiency of our police and the activity of our many admirable reforming and reclaiming systems, crime still abounds, while the great tide of social impurity continues to roll on with unabated velocity. Optimists and philanthropic dreamers in every age have pictured in glowing colors the gradual but sure approach of the millennium, yet we are, apparently, still as far from that elysium of purity and unselfishness as ever. Whenever the wolf and the lamb lie down together, the innocent bleater is invariably inside the other's ravenous maw. There may be—and we have reason to know that there is—a marked diminution in certain forms of crime, but there are others in which surprising fertility of resource and ingenuity of method but too plainly evince that the latest developments of science and skill are being successfully pressed into the service of the modern criminal. Increase of education and scientific skill not only confers superior facilities for the successful perpetration of crime, but also for its concealment. The revelations of the newspapers, from week to week, but too plainly indicate an undercurrent of vice and iniquity, whose depth and foulness defy all computation.
We are not in accord with those pessimists who speak of New York as a boiling caldron of crime, without any redeeming features or hopeful elements. But our practice in the courts and our association with criminals of every kind, and the knowledge consequently gained of their history and antecedents, have demonstrated that, in a great city like New York, the germs of evil in human life are developed into the rankest maturity. As the eloquent Dr. Guthrie, in his great work, "The City, its Sins and its Sorrows," remarks: "Great cities many have found to be great curses. It had been well for many an honest lad and unsuspecting country girl that hopes of higher wages and opportunities of fortune, that the gay attire and gilded story of some acquaintance, had never turned their steps cityward, nor turned them from the simplicity and safety of their country home. Many a foot that once lightly pressed the heather or brushed the dewy grass has wearily trodden in darkness, guilt and remorse, on these city pavements. Happy had it been for many had they never exchanged the starry skies for the lamps of the town, nor had left their quiet villages for the throng and roar of the big city's streets. Weil for them had they heard no roar but the river's, whose winter flood it had been safer to breast; no roar but ocean's, whose stormiest waves it had been safer to ride, than encounter the flood of city temptations, which has wrecked their virtue and swept them into ruin."
By hoisting the Danger signal at the mast-head, as it were, we have attempted to warn young men and young women—the future fathers and mothers of America—against the snares and pitfalls of the crime and the vice that await the unwary in New York. Our own long and extensive practice at the bar has furnished most of the facts; some, again, are on file in our criminal courts of record; and some, as has already been hinted, have been derived from the confidential revelations of our private office. With the desire that this book shall prove a useful warning and potent monitor to those for whose benefit and instruction it has been designed, and in the earnest hope that, by its influence, some few may be saved from prison, penitentiary, lunatic asylum, or suicides' purgatory, it is now submitted to the intelligent readers of America.
Note: This book was first published in 1886, the cover I have used is a fairly recent photograph of New York City. I do not want to suggest that any of the "Great City's Wiles and Temptations" were going on at the time the photo was taken.
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