The inhabitants of one of the old cities were told that they would have to fly for their lives. Such flight would be painful, even in the flush of spring-time, but superlatively aggravating if in cold weather; and therefore they were told to pray that their flight be not in the winter.
There is something in the winter season that not only tests our physical endurance, but, especially in the city, tries our moral character. It is the winter months that ruin, morally, and forever, many of our young men. We sit in the house on a winter’s night, and hear the storm raging on the outside, and imagine the helpless crafts driven on the coast; but if our ears were only good enough, we could, on any winter night, hear the crash of a hundred moral shipwrecks.
Many who came last September to town, by the first of March will have been blasted. It only takes one winter to ruin a young man. When the long winter evenings have come, many of our young men will improve them in forming a more intimate acquaintance with books, contracting higher social friendships, and strengthening and ennobling their characters. But not so with all. I will show you before I get through that, at this season of the year, temptations are especially rampant: and my counsel is, Look out how you spend your winter nights!
I remark, first, that there is no season of the year in which vicious allurements are so active.
In warm weather, places of dissipation win their tamest triumphs. People do not feel like going, in the hot nights of summer, among the blazing gas-lights, or breathing the fetid air of assemblages. The receipts of the grog-shops in a December night are three times what they are in any night in July or August. I doubt not there are larger audiences in the casinos in winter than in the summer weather. Iniquity plies a more profitable trade. December, January, and February are harvest-months for the devil. The play-bills of the low entertainments then are more charming, the acting is more exquisite, the enthusiasm of the spectators more bewitching. Many a young man who makes out to keep right the rest of the year, capsizes now. When he came to town in the autumn, his eye was bright, his cheek rosy, his step elastic; but, before spring, as you pass him you will say to your friend, “What is the matter with that young man?” The fact is that one winter of dissipation has done the work of ruin.
This is the season for parties; and, if they are of the right kind, our social nature is improved, and our spirits cheered up. But many of them are not of the right kind; and our young people, night after night, are kept in the whirl of unhealthy excitement until their strength fails, and their spirits are broken down, and their taste for ordinary life corrupted; and, by the time the spring weather comes, they are in the doctor’s hands, or sleeping in the cemetery. The certificate of their death is made out, and the physician, out of regard for the family, calls the disease by some Latin name, when the truth is that they died of too many parties.