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  • Sept. 16, 1871


    Another of those periodical volcanic upheavals has taken place, demonstrating the false sense of propriety which permeates the humanity of today, and wakes up momentarily the slumbering community to a realization of the state of affairs existing in the every day life and practice of everyday people. Is it not strange that the public at large will steadfastly refuse to look at the stern logic of fact—will ignore the principles underlying the social problems of today—until some poor unfortunate who lives off the endeavors of persons to hide acts which their very natures prompt (but which the false opinions of society compels them to hide) forces attention to their own sins. This is the case with the celebrated "trunk tragedy." Poor Alice Bowlsby lies in the Potter’s Field; a martyr to the outrageous opinions of the unthinking, who set up a standard of virtue which no man endeavors to follow, and which it is no sin in any man to evade privately.

    We lay the death of Alice Bowlsby, of Walter Conklin and the deed of [abortionist] Doctor Rosenzweig at the door of society. We bring the dead bodies of the father, mother and the unborn child and lay them on society’s doorstep, saying, "Behold your handiwork." This is no time to be scrupulous in our language. We cannot stand to pick words which hundreds are running the risks which Miss Bowlsby ran to satisfy the laws of society. We say that society itself is the patron of abortionists, that society'’ present laws make their occupation excusable, nay, a necessity; that the very men who are so loud in their denunciations of Rosenzweig and his class have, nine out of every ten of them, paid for his assistance, and, among women, nine out of ten would act as Alice Bowlsby did, if placed in the same position.

    Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot carry out your social system; you have taught it in your schools, at your firesides, in your churches; you have made it a tool of respectability; you visit the deepest, the blackest, the direst of punishment upon all who transgress your rule, and yet you fail. The sons and daughters who have been reared in its atmosphere, ignore it; they cannot act up to it, and as regards the male portion, you do not dare to attempt to enforce it. All you dare do is to exact that they hide it as much as possible.

    Your social civilization is a failure, and you know it, yet you say, "hush, don’t say anything about it." There are scores of abortionists in this city alone, some worth millions. Where did they get it? Working girls cannot afford the hundred dollars necessary to employ a Rosenzweig, therefore it is, of course, upper tendom [sic] who supports them, aye, makes their immense fortunes while paying their enormous advertising bills.

    You screech at Rosenzweig today; you employed him yesterday, and will produce patients for his successor tomorrow, and go to church next Sunday and look as devout as a Chadband. And yet, as society exists, he has been your friend. How many of your daughters owe the shelter of your roofs to him? Ah! were that question fairly solved, it would ignite a torch whose lurid glare would inflame this city from end to end, and every one would proclaim how dreadfully bad his neighbor was, and point out the skeleton in his neighbor’s closet.

    You may execrate Rosenzweig, but you cannot hide the fact that his labors are a necessity so long as your social system endures. You create the demand for his occupation and supply the material for it. Here is a fair consideration of the facts of the case.

    You have erected a social system which you teach from childhood to manhood, which you inculcate at home, at school, at church, and in all your social relations. Yet the victims are made daily in spite of the inhuman punishment you inflict for a non-compliance with your standard. Now in dealing with your system, we say here are a hundred victims; if they have no means of escape, at least ten will commit suicide, at least fifty will be driven from home into the streets, and the remainder will have the finger of scorn pointed at them so long as they live, while ninety children will be brought into the world under a ban of shame, which the better men they become, the harder will that ban be to bear, the deeper will it sink into their heart, although they had no control over the circumstances that make them degraded for life.

    The Rosenzweigs step in and say, practically, "I will spare you nine deaths out of the en (for only one in a hundred dies under my hands). I will send fifty more out of the hundred victims home, still virtuous according to your rules, because no one knows of the so-called transgression, and the remainder shall have their error known only to their parents or relatives, and the outside world and future husbands shall remain in happy and blissful ignorance of the truth. All this I will do for one hundred dollars each." You find the money, you have the private interview with Rosenzweig (not that you are interested; oh, no, it is all out of pure friendship; you didn’t do it; it was some other man.) You cheat society’s rules of its victims, until another victim dies. Then you howl at their depravity and Rosenzweig’s villainy.

    These facts cannot be evaded; look them in the face; they invite you daily, even in the daily papers, where the advertisements are blazoned forth, ending, "Dr.----- doesn’t humbug ladies with medicine. Private rooms for nursing and children adopted out."

    But of course you don’t read these, or turn up your dainty noses at them until you have a case on hand.

    Rosenzweig’s case will soon be forgotten; all will run on as before until the next trunk turns up, and some other unfortunate fails to successfully perform the task you engaged him to perform—and so wags the world.




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