There is a standard in vice as well as in virtue. While some are held up as models of virtue, others may be regarded as the very personification of evil. We should learn to profit by both,—be encouraged by one, and warned by the other.
The unfortunate boy whose history I am detailing finally became a proverb in his native town. Good mothers often exhorted their children not to be like Charles Duran! Who of my little readers would like such a distinction as this? Try to live so that parents may point you out as good examples for their children to follow.
THE FATAL NIGHT.
In country villages, as well as in larger cities, parties often meet for dancing; and balls are frequently held, especially in the winter season. Many young people, whose thoughts and time are not better occupied, seem to derive a great deal of pleasure from such amusements.
These gatherings frequently embrace a large number of the young of both sexes, from the towns in which they are held, and often many from neighboring towns. They are usually held at some tavern where rum is sold. The parties arrive in the forepart of the evening, and the dance commences at eight, or from eight to nine o’clock, according to arrangement. Wine, cordials, and other stimulating drinks, are freely furnished, and freely used. Toward midnight, when chaste young ladies and sober young men should be at home, the ball-supper is served up. Rich viands and sparkling drinks are on the table. One becomes drunken, and another surfeited. The sound of the viol is again heard, and the merry dance is kept up till near morning light. The parties then gradually retire. Some of the young ladies, from over excitement in the ball-chamber, and subsequent exposure to the night air, take severe colds, become speedily consumptive, and from the place of rioting and mirth are carried to the grave! In this country, where consumption is so prevalent, and accomplishes its work so rapidly, the distance from the midnight ball-room to the grave is very short.
Most young men who attend balls go home inflamed with wine. I say most of them. It is not unfrequently the case, however, that some of them cannot get home. They have to stay behind until they have, in a measure, slept off the fumes of strong drink: and then, with bloodshot eyes, fetid breath, and staggering gait, they reach their homes. Such young men have received a new impetus in the way that leads to destruction, and such are the common fruits of a village ball.
Why do fathers and mothers,—and some of them professedly Christian parents, too,—allow their daughters to mingle in these scenes, and expose themselves to the contaminating influence of such associations? How any well-disposed mother can do this I am at a loss to determine.