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the plague, which on that occasion was sent among them, and which destroyed four and twenty thousand, cease, till Phineas, the son of Eleazer, and grandson of Aaron, had slain the Israelite together with his harlot.
And this, gentlemen, though a spiritual offence, and of a very high nature too, as appears from what I have mentioned, is likewise a temporal crime, and, as Mr. Lambard (122) says, against
My lord Coke, in his third Institute, 206, tells us, that, in antient times, adultery and fornication were punished by fine and imprisonment, and were inquirable in turns and leets. And in the year-book of Hen. VII. 1 H. vii. fol. 6. plac. 3. we find the custom of London pleaded for a constable to seize a woman taken in the act of adultery, and to carry her to prison.
And though later times have given up this matter in general to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, yet there are two species which remain at this day cognizable by the common law.
The first is, any open act of lewdness and indecency in public, to the scandal of good manners.
And therefore, in Michaelmas term, 15 Car. II. B. R. sir Charles Sidley was indicted for having exposed himself naked in a balcony in Covent Garden, to a great multitude of people, with many indecent words and actions; and this was laid to be contrary to the king's peace, and to the great scandal of Christianity. He confessed the indictment; and Siderfin, 1 Sid. 168, who reports the case, tells us, that the court, in consideration of his embarrassed fortune, fined him only two thousand marks, with a short imprisonment, and to be bound three years to his good behaviour. An infamous punishment for a gentleman, but far less infamous than the offence. If any facts of this nature shall come to your knowledge, you will, I
make no doubt, present them, without any respect to persons. Sex or quality may render the crime more atrocious, and the example more pernicious ; but can give no sanction to such infamous offences, nor will, I hope, ever give impunity.
The second species which falls under this head, is the crime of keeping a brothel or bawdy-house. This is a kind of common nuisance, and is punishable by the common law.
It is true, that certain houses of this kind, under the name of public stews, have been sometimes tolerated in Christian countries, to the great scandal of our religion, and in direct contradiction to its positive precepts; but in the thirty-seventh year of Henry the Eighth, they were all suppressed by proclamation. And those infamous women who inbabited them, were not, says lord Coke, either buried in Christian burial when they were dead, nor permitted to receive the rites of the church while they lived.
And, gentlemen, notwithstanding the favour which the law in many cases extends to married wonien, yet in this case the wife is equally indict. able, and may be found guilty with her husband.
Nor is it necessary that the person be master or mistress of the whole house ; for if he or she have only a single room, and will therewith accommodate lewd people to perpetrate acts of uncleanness, they may be indicted for keeping a bawdy-house. And this was the resolution of the whole court, in the Queen and Peirson. Salk. 332.
Nor is the guilt confined to those who keep such houses; those who frequent them are no less liable to the censure of the law. Accordingly we find in the select cases printed at the end of lord Ch. J. Popham's reports, that a man was indicted in the beginning of the reign of Charles the First, at the sessions of the peace for the town of Northampton, for frequenting a suspected bawdy-house. And the indictment being removed into the King's Bench, several objections were taken to it, which were all over-ruled, judgment was given upon it, and the defendant fined.
If you shall know, therefore, gentlemen, of any şuch crimes, it will be your duty to present them to the court.
For however lightly this offence may be thought or spoken of by idle and dissolute persons, it is a matter of serious and weighty consideration. It is the cause, says my lord Coke, of many mischiefs, the fairest end whereof is beggary; and tends directly to the overthrow of men's bodies, to the wasting of their livelihood, and to the endangering of their souls.
To eradicate this vice out of society, however it may be the wish of sober and good men, is, perhaps, an impossible attempt; but to check its progress, and to suppress the open and more profligate practice of it, is within the power of the magistrate, and it is his duty. And this is more immediately incumbent upon us, in an age when brothels are become in a manner the seminaries of education, and that especially of those youths, whose birth makes their right institution of the utmost consequence to the future well-being of the publick; for whatever may be the education of these youths, however vitiated and enervated their minds and bodies may be with vices and diseases, they are born to be the governors of our posterity. If, therefore, through the egregious folly of their parents, this town is to be the school of such youths, it behoves us, gentlemen, to take as much care as possible to correct the morals of that school.
And, gentlemen, there are other houses, rather less scandalous, perhaps, but equally dangerous to the society; in which houses the manners of youth are greatly tainted and corrupted. These are those places of public rendezvous, where idle persons of both sexes meet in a very disorderly manner, often at improper hours, and sometimes in disguised habits. These houses, which pretend to be the scenes of innocent diversion and amusement, are, in reality, the temples of iniquity. Such meetings are contra bonos mores ; they are considered in law in the nature of a nuisance; and, as such, the keepers and maintainers of them may be presented and punished.
There is great difference, gentlemen, between a morose and over-sanctified spirit which excludes all kind of diversion, and a profligate disposition which hurries us into the most vicious excesses of this kind. • The common law,' says Mr. Pulton in his excellent treatise de Pace, fol. 25. b. allows many re
creations, which be not with intent to break or
disturb the peace, or to offer violence, force, or ' hurt to the person of any; but either to try
activity, or to increase society, amity, and neighI bourly friendship.' He there enumerates many sorts of innocent diversions of the rural kind, and which for the most part belong to the lower sort of people. For the upper part of mankind, and in this town, there are many lawful amusements, abundantly sufficient for the recreation of any temperate and sober mind. But, gentlemen, so immoderate are the desires of many, so hungry is their appetite for pleasure, that they may be said to have a fury after it; and diversion is no longer the recreation or amusement, but the whole business of their lives. They are not content with three theatres, they must have a fourth ; where the exhibitions are not only contrary to law, but contrary to good manners, and where the stage is reduced back again to that degree of licentiousness which was too enormous for the corrupt state of Athens to tolerate ; and which, as the Roman poet, rather, I think, in the spirit of a censor than a satirist, tells us, those Athenians, who were not themselves abused, took care to abolish, from their concern for the publick.
Gentlemen, our news-papers, from the top of the page to the bottom, the corners of our streets up to the very eves of our houses, present us with nothing but a view of masquerades, balls, and assemblies of various kinds, fairs, wells, gardens, &c. tending to promote idleness, extravagance, and immorality, among all sorts of people.
This fury after licentious and luxurious pleasures is grown to so enormous a height, that it may be called the characteristic of the present age.
And it is an evil, gentlemen, of which it is neither easy nor pleasant to foresee all the consequences. Many of them, however, are obvious; and these are so dreadful, that they will, I doubt not, induce you to use your best endeavours to check the farther increase of this growing mischief; for the rod of the law, gentlemen, must restrain those within the bounds of decency and sobriety, who are deaf to the voice of reason, and superior to the fear of shame.
Gentlemen, there are another sort of these temples of iniquity, and these are gaming-houses. This vice, gentlemen, is inseparable from a luxurious and idle age ; for while luxury produces want, idleness forbids honest labour to supply it. All such houses are nuisances in the eye of the common law; and severe punishments, as well on those who keep them, as on those who frequent and play at them, are inflicted by many statutes. Of these houses, gentlemen, you will, I doubt not, inquire with great diligence; for though possibly there may be some offenders out of your reach, yet if those within it be well and strictly prosecuted, it may, perhaps, in time, have some effect on the others. Example in this case may, contrary to its general course, move upwards; and men may become ashamed of offending against those laws with