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AMONG THIEVES AND ASSASSINS.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.—St. Luke x* 80.
This attack of highwaymen was in a rocky ravine, which gives to robbers a first-rate chance. So late as 1820, on that very road, an English traveler was shot and robbed. This wayfarer of the text not only lost his money and his apparel, but nearly lost his life. His assailants were not only thieves, but assassins. The scene of this lonely road from Jerusalem to Jericho is repeated every night in our great cities—men falling among thieves, getting wounded, and left half dead. In this series of Sabbath morning discourses on the night side of city life, as I have recently explored it* I have spoken to you of the night of pauperism, the night of debauchery and shame, the night of official neglect and bribery, and now I come to speak t<s you of the night of theft, the night of burglary, the night of assassination, the night of pistol and dirk and bludgeon. You say, what can there be in such a subject for me? Then you remind me of the man who asked Christ the question, "Who is my neighbor?" and in the reply of the text, Christ is setting forth the idea that wherever there is a man in trouble, there is your neighbor; and before I get through this morning, if the Lord will help me, I will show you that you have some rery dangerous neighbors, and I will show you also what is your moral responsibility before God in regard to them.
I said to the chief official, "Give me two stout detectives for this night's work—men who are not only muscular, but who look muscular." I said to these detectives before we started on our midnight exploration, * Have you loaded pistols?" and they brought forth their firearms and their clubs, showing that they were ready for anything. Then I said, "Show me crime; show me crime in the worst shape, the most villainous and outrageous crime. In other words show me the worst classes of people to be saved by the power of Christ's gospel." I took with me only two officers of the law, for I want no one to run any risk in my behalf, and, having undertaken to show up the lowest depths of society, I felt I must go on until I had completed the work. One of the officers proposed to me that I take a disguise lest I be assailed. I said, " No; I am going on a mission of Christian work, and I am going to take the risks, and I shall go as I am." And so I went. You say to me, **Why didn't you first look after the criminal classes in Brooklyn?" I answer, it was not for any lack of material. Last year, in the city of Brooklyn, there were nearly 27,000 arrests for crime. Two hundred burglaries. Thirteen homicides. Twenty-seven highway robberies. Forty thousand lodgers in the station houses. Three hundred and thirty-six scoundrels who had their pictures taken for the Rogues Gallery, without any expense to those who sat for the pictures!. Two hundred thousand dollars' worth of property stolen. Every kind of crime, from manslaughter to chicken thief. Indeed, I do not think there is any place in the land where you can more easily get your pocket picked, or your house burglarized, «r your signature counterfeited, or your estate swindled, than in Brooklyn; but crime here is on a comparatively small scale, because we are a smaller city. The great depots of crime for this cluster of cities are in New York. It is a better hiding-place, the city is so vast, and all officers tell us that when a crime is committed in Jersey ZJity, or is committed in Brooklyn, the villain attempts immediately to cross the ferry. While Brooklyn's sin is as enterprising as is possible for the number of inhabitants, crowd one million people on an island, and you have a stage and an audience on which and before whom crime may enact its worst tragedies.
There was nothing that more impressed me on that terrible night of exploration than the respect which crime pays to law when it is really confronted. Why do those eight or ten desperadoes immediately stop their blasphemy and their uproar and their wrangling? It is because an officer of the law calmly throws back the lappel of his coat and shows the badge of authority. The fact is that government is ordained of heaven, and just Bo far as the police officer does his duty, just so far is he a deputy of the Lord Almighty. That is the reason Inspector Murray, of New York, sometimes goes in and arrests four or five desperadoes. He is a man of comparatively slight stature, yet when one is backed up by omnipotent justice he can do anything. I said, "What is this glazed window, and who are these mysterious people going in and then coming out and passing down the street, looking to the pavement, and keeping a regular step until they hear a quick step behind them, and then darting down an alley?" This place, in the night of our exploration, was what the Bible calls "a den of thieves." They will not admit it. You cannot prove it against them, for the reason that the keeper and the patrons are the acutest men in the city. No sign of fltolen goods, no loud talk about misdemeanors, but here a table surrounded by three or four persons whispering; yonder a table surrounded by three or four more persons whispering; before each man a mug of beer or stronger intoxicant. lie will not drink to unconsciousness; he will only drink to get his courage up to the point of recklessness, all the while managing to keep his eye clear and his hand steady. These men around this table are talking over last night's exploit; their narrow escape from the basement door; how nearly they fell from the window-ledge of the second story; how the bullet grazed the hair. What is this bandaged hand you see in that room? That was cut by the windowT-glass as the burglar thrust his hand through to the inside fastening. How did that man lose his eye? It was destroyed three years ago by a premature flash of gunpowder in a store lock. Who are these three or four surrounding this other table? They are planning for to-night's villainy. They know just what hour the last member of the family will retire. They are in collusion with the servant, who has promised to leave one of the back windows open. They know at what time the man of wealth will leave his place of dissipation and start for home, and they are arranging it how they shall come out of the dark alley and bring him down with a slungshot. No sign of desperation in this room of thieves, and yet how many false keys, how many ugly pocket-knives, how many brass knuckles, how many revolvers! A few vulgar pictures on the wall, and the inevitable bar. Hum they must have to rest them after the exciting marauding. Rum they must have before they start on the new expedition of arson and larceny and murder. But not ordinary rum. It is poisoned four times. Poisoned f|rst by tbe manufacturer; poisoned secondly by tbfi wholesale dealer; poisoned thirdly by the retail dealer; poisoned fourthly by the saloon-keeper. Poisoned four times, it is just right to fit one for cruelty and desperation. These men have calculated to the last quarter of a glass how much they need to take to qualify them for their work. They must not take a drop too much nor a drop too little. These are the professional criminals of the city, between twenty-three and twenty-four hundred of them, in this cluster of cities. They are as thoroughly drilled in crime as, for good purposes, medical colleges train doctors, law colleges train lawyers, theological seminaries train clergymen. These criminals have been apprentices and journeymen; but now they are boss workmen. They have gone through the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes of the great university of crime, and have graduated with diplomas signed by all the faculty of darkness. They have no ambition for an easy theft, or an unskilled murder, or a blundering blackmail. They must have something difficult. They must have in tleir enterprise the excitement of peril. They must have something that will give them an opportunity of bravado. They must do something which amateurs in crime dare not do. These are the bank robbers, about sixty of them in this cluster of cities—men who somehow get in the bank during the daytime, then at night spring out upon the watchman, fasten him, and for the whole night have deliberate examination of the cashier's books to see whether he keeps his accounts correctly. These are the men who come in to examine the directory in the back part of your store while their accomplices are in the front part of the store engaging you in conversation, then dropping the directory and investigating the money safe. These are the forgers who get one of your canceled