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THE HISTORY OF PROSTITUTION, its extent, and effects throughout the world.

Being an official report to the Board of Alms-House Governors of the city of New York. By WILLIAM W. SANGER, M. D; pp. 686. New York. Harper & Brothers-1858.

Dr. Sanger's book is one which must originate a train of thought, the character of which will depend entirely upon the individuality of the reader.

The fact that prostitution is as old as the history of the world, is brought forward with a perspicuity as irresistible as it is striking.

That men will be men, in spite of all the so called refinements of society; in fact, that the refinements of society are in themselves calculated to increase the sexual propensity, is abundantly proved. This fact demonstrated, Dr. Sanger goes on to show the evils of prostitution with which we are all familiar.

The great human passion of sexual instinct is a virtue, which like all others, carried to excess becomes a vice. Not only must those be the sufferers who, through ignorance or willfulness, are its votaries; but society generally and particularly the offspring, consequent on the gratification of such passion, must and does suffer.

Circumstances must of course enter into the list of considerations which influence our feelings toward those unfortunate persons, whether male or female, who are the perverters of Natural Law; and these circumstances are set forth in Dr. Sanger's book with a distinctness which is alike creditable to his head and heart.

In his endeavor to give us a correct history he has gone back to the earliest period of the world, of which we have record. He speaks of it as it existed in Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, and among the ancients generally; of the position kept women occupied, of the influence they wielded, the control they exerted over public affairs, and how the greatest and most learned men yielded to their powers. Many of the prostitutes were famous in their day as wits, and many an author, whose writings are handed down to us, has chosen them and their charms as a theme.

From the facts given in the work, one would not suppose the laws governing prostitution were very strict, yet such was the fact, that although tolerating it, the regulations were rigidly observed. Among the Barbarous nations, geographical position has much to do with their morals. Some are described as dissolute and profligate in the extreme and characterized by their indecency and lewdness. Others, especially the pastoral and more ferocious, are more given to husbandry and arms than debauch. Among these nations natural affections are very weak. Mothers abandon their children to avoid the trouble of rearing them, and husbands drag their sickly wives into the woods and there leave them to perish. The marriage relation is not regarded as sacred and we have polygamy rather than prostitution. Among many of these nations adultery is severely punished.

Among civilized nations it is shown that prostitution, when regulated by law, does not affect the public morals as much as when stringent laws are enacted to suppress it.

Dr. Sanger gives a large amount of statistics regarding the present state of prostitution in Europe, and France especially, together with the regulations of the different countries.

We cite the following facts in relation to its existence in Paris: The present number of prostitutes is estimated at 4500 or thereabouts, which gives one prostitute, to every two hundred and fifty of the total population. The city itself, of course, furnishing a large proportion, more than one third. The most of these are children of operatives and mechanics. Of 828 fathers, 16 only were professional men. Most of the prostitutes are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Of the causes which led to this mode of life, the author gives the following: want, 1441; expulsion from home, or desertion of parents, 1255; desire to support old and infirm parents, 37; desire to support younger brothers and sisters, 29; widows with families to support, 23; girls from the country to support themselves, 280; girls brought to Paris by soldiers, clerks, students, &c, 404; servants seduced by masters and abandoned, 289; concubines abandoned by their lovers, 1425.

In reference to New York, we have the following as some of the facts he has collected. There are 6000 public prostitutes in this city, the majority of whom are from fifteen to twenty-five year old; not quite one-half were born in the United States; one-fifth are married women. The average duration of a prostitute's life is only four years. The ratio of mortality among children of prostitutes is four times greater than the ordinary ratio among other children. The capital invested in the business is nearly four millions of dollars. The annual expenditure is more than seven millions of dollars.

Of the causes which lead to it we have, of 2000 cases questioned, the followings inclination, 513; destitution, 525; seduced and abandoned, 258; drink and the desire to drink, 181; ill treatment of parents, relatives or husbands. 164; as an easy life, 124; bad company, 84; persuaded by prostitutes, 71; too idle to work, 29; violated, 27; seduced on board emigrant ships, 16; seduced in emigrant boarding houses, 8.

We think the book well calculated to do a great amount of good, and heartily wish it a large circulation, as it is only by exposing these - vices that we can hope to eradicate or prevent them.


ADDITIONS TO THE HOMOEOPATHIC MATERIA MEDICA. Collected and arranged by HENRY THOMAS, M. D.; pp. 104. Manchester. Henry Turner & Co., 1858. This little work is a sort of Index in regard to the new medicines, of which we have as yet no regular provings, and which are not included in the Homoeopathic Materia Medica, but to which the attention of the profession has been called from time to time during the last few years, in the journals of our school. It comprises more than two hundred remedies, arranged in alphabetical order; and gives for each the authorities, book and page, so that much time will be saved the practitioner, who wishes to refer to, and study, any of our new remedies. Of course, it is not complete, and a cursory glance through it, suggested to us several omissions: but that is evidently no fault of the compiler, who has bestowed great pains upon his work, and has succeeded in giving the progressionists of our school a useful auxiliary. It is quite flattering to the pride of us Americans, (a share of which article our English friends are the last to deny us) to see how large a part of this work is drawn from American journals and authors. We smiled when we read that the Ailanthus Glandulosa “blooms in Rhode Island in July, and for a fortnight sends out upon every breeze the most sickening and disgusting odor imaginable.” We should hardly feel justified in using such strong expressions in regard to this shade tree which is to be found from one end of the Union to the other, though we agree that its odor is decidedly unpleasant; and in our own case we have found that it extended its influence not so much “upon the stomach and entire alimentary canal,” as upon the respiratory organs, occasioning in us, at certain times, asthmatic symptoms.

Under the head of Apis mellifica, we find no mention of Dr. Wolff's monograph on that remedy; and so of several other omissions; but on the other hand we find many things that we never knew before, and trust that the appeal in the preface to the Homoeopaths of America will not be disregarded, and we are sure that with us, “this fragment of fragments” will prove very useful as a convenient reference and index. KELLOGG.



The proceedings of the fifteenth Annual meeting of the American Institute of Homoeopathy have come to hand. The report is before the members at an earlier period this year than usual, thanks to the diligence of Dr. Payne, the Secretary. If our present purpose holds, we shall in a future number notice some of the papers read before the Institute, and published in the official pamphlet. At present we have a word or two to say in regard to the use and abuse of Medical Societies, generally, with no particular reference to either the Institute or its Report.

It is really a question of some considerable doubt-whether Medical Societies are of sufficient service to our science to compensate for the time, money, and trouble necessary to carry them on. Their ostensible purpose is the interchange of mutual experiences; and in the course of this interchange, every member is not only allowed but oftentimes solicited to speak. All the men must “have their say” on any and every subject which comes up. Now, as out in the world, so in a Society; there are many ignorant, many stupid, many conceited, many ambitious, and many jealous persons, whom to listen to, on any subject, much more on a subject in which one is deeply interested, is as tiresome as useless; and these as a general thing, are the very men who always talk most. Even supposing they all talk to the point, and are relating their own experience in the treatment of a particular disease; and supposing them, also, uninfluenced by the very natural desire to appear better and more learned, and more successful than they really are; we ask, in the name of Heaven, of what earthly value can be the experience of such men, necessarily component 'parts, of every Medical Society? It is taken for granted that descriptions of morbid phenomena, are very difficult; that the sequence of effect as distinctly connected with any particular cause, when that cause is to be followed through all .the mazes of the intricate vital actions, is to many minds entirely impossible: and that even a plain statement of actual results may some times be hampered with prejudice in favor of a particular theory. In view of all these circumstances how can we expect any thing of real value from the “gathering of ourselves together” unless holding elections, becoming irritated, and forming cliques for mutual admiration, be counted of service?

If Dr. A. B. C. wishes to ventilate his views, and experience in measles, or even in seven diseases at once, as was attempted on a certain occasion; let him read his paper to his wife, and if she approves, send it to the printer. To speak plainly, though a member of several Medical Societies, we are decidedly of the opinion that the day when Medical Societies were of any essential use, has gone by. They were founded originally for mutual instruction, because of the rarity and expense of medical books and periodicals. The members hoped to gain, by word of mouth, those facts which they had no other means of obtaining; but which are now to be had, at a very small monthly expense, through monographs and periodicals. It is true that those who are the best society men; are as a general thing the best supporters of literature. They are indeed eager for knowledge and take every means to obtain it; but we warrant the best of them are with us in our opinion of the inutility of medical gatherings unless for social purposes. PERKINS.



We have received the first number of this new work, a pamphlet of ninety-six pages, large octavo.

We do not purpose to review the work now; but, waiting until several numbers shall have appeared, that we may the better judge of its merits, we merely desire at this time to notice its publication.

The number before us is filled with some very interesting introductory remarks, and short histories of the various systems of medicine with sketches of their founders. The author has commenced in the present number, a life of Hahnemann which will be continued, and will probably be the most complete one ever published of him.


THE GREAT REPUBLIC MONTHLY, Devoted to the best interests of American Literature. New York, Oaksmith & Co.

This new Monthly is one of the many new periodicals just commenced. Among its list of contributors we recognize the names of many well known to the literary world. Two numbers have been published. In the second we find a very correct sketch of the life of Hahnemann. This is the first account of him we remember to have seen in a secular journal and indicates the popularity of our mode of cure.


Source: The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 06, 1859, pages 275-277
Author: AHomeo01
Year: 1859
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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