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checks and one of your blank checks, and practice on the writing of your name until the deception is as perfect <ae the counterfeit check of Cornelius Vanderbilt, indorsed by Henry Keep, in 1870, for $75,000, which check was immediately cashed at the City Bank. These are the pickpockets, six hundred of them in this cluster of cities, who sit beside you in the stage and help you pass up the cltange! They stand beside you when you are shopping, and help you examine the goods,and weep beside you at the funeral, and sometimes bow their heads beside you in the house of God, doing their work with such adroitness that your affliction at the loss of the money is somewhat mitigated by your appreciation of the skill of the operator! The most successful of these are females, and, 1 suppose, on the theory that if a woman is good she is better than man, and if she is bad she is worse. She stands so much higjher up than man that when she falls she falls further. Some of these criminals, pickpockets, and thieves also take the garb of clergymen.* They look like doctors of divinity. With coats buttoned clear up to the chin, and white cravated, they look as if they were just going to pronounce the benediction, while they are all the time wondering where your watch is, or your portmonnaie is.
A thousand of the professional criminals do nothing but snatch things. They go in pairs, one of them keeping your attention in one part of the store, the other doing a lively business in another part of the store. At one end of the establishment the proprietor is smiling graciously on one who seems to be an exquisite lady, while iu another part of the same establishment a roll of goods is taken up by a copartner in crime and put in a crocodile pocket, large enough to swallow everything. These professional criminals are the men who break in the windows of jewelry stores and snatch the jewels, and before the clerks have an opportunity of knowing what is the excitement are a block away, looking innocent, ready to come back and join in the pursuit of the offender, shouting fvith stentorian voice, "Stop, thief I" You wonder whether these people get large accumulation. No. Of the largest haul they get only a fifth, or a sixth, or a seventh part. It is the receiver of stolen goods that gets the profit. If these men during the course of their lives should get $50,000 they will live poor, and die poor, and be poor to all eternity. Among these professional criminals in our cities are the blackmailers—those who would have you pay a certain amount of money or have your character tarnished. If you are guilty I have no counsel to give in this matter; but if you are innocent let me say that no one of integrity need ever fear the blackmailer. All you have to do is to put the case immediately in the hands of Superintendent Walling of the New York police, or Superintendent Campbell of the Brooklyn police, and you will be vindicated. Depend upon it, however, that every dollar you pay to a blackmailer is toward your own everlasting enthrallment. A man in a cavern fighting a tigress might as well consent to give the tigress his right hand, letting her eat it up, with the supposition that she would let him off with the rest of his body, as for you to pay anything to a blackmailer with the idea of getting your character cleared. The thing to be done is to have the tigress shot, and that, the law is willing to do. Let me lay down a principle you can put in your memorandum books, and put in the front part of your Bible, and in the back part of your Bible, and put in your day-book, and put in your ledger— this principle: that no man's character is ever sacrificed aati! be sacrifices it himself. But you surrender Jqm reputation, your fortune, your home, and your immortal soul, when you pay a farthing to a blackmailer.
Who are these men in this room at Hook Dock, or at the foot of Roosevelt street? They are professional criminals. Under the cover of the night they go down through the bay, or up and down the rivers. Finding two men in a row boat going to some steamer, or to one of the adjoining islands, they board the boat, rob the two men of their money, and, if they seem unreasonably opposed to giving up their money, taking their lives and giving them watery graves. These are the men who lounge around the solitary pier at night, and who clamber up on the side of the vessel lying at wharf, and, finding the captain asleep give him chloroform to help him sleep, and then knock the watchman overboard and take the valuables. Of this class were Howlett and Saul, who by twenty-one years of age had become the terror of the twenty-one miles of New York city water front, and who wound up their piracy by a murder on the bark "Thomas Watson," and crossed the gallows, relieving the world of their existence.
But in all these dens of thieves we find those who excite only our pity—people flung off the steeps of decent society. Having done wrong once, in despair they went to the bottom. Of such was that man who last Wednesday, in New York, stole a roll of goods, went to the station-house, said he was hungry, and asked to be sent to prison. Of such are those young men who make false entries in the account-book, resolved to "fix it up;" or who surreptitiously borrow from the commercial establishment, expecting to "fix it up;" but sickness comes, or accident comes, or a conjunction of unexpected circum stances, and they never "fix it up."
In disgrace they go down. Oh! how many, by force of circumstances, and at the start with no very bad idea, get off the track and perish. A gentleman sitting in this assemblage this morning told me of an incident which occurred in a large commercial establishment,! believe the fourth in size in the whole country. The employer said to a young lady in the establishment, "You must dress better.,, She said, "I cannot dress better; I get $0 a week, anfl I pay $4 for my board, and I have $2 for dre&s and for rny car fare; I cannot dress better." Then he said, "You must get it in some other way." "Well, I suppose she could steal. I do not know how that incident affects you; but when it was told to me it made every drop of my blood, from scalp to heel, tingle with indignation. The fact is that there are thousands of men and women dropping into dishonesty and crime by force of circumstances, and by their destitution. Under the same kind of pressure you and I would have perished. It is despicable to stand on shore laughing at the shipwrecked struggling in the breakers when we ought to be getting out the rockets and the lifeboat and the ropes from the wrecking establishment. How much have you ever done, to get this class ashore? In our city of Brooklyn we grip them of the police. Then we hustle them into a court room amid a great crowd of gaping spectators. Then we throw them into the worst jail on the continent—Raymond Street Jail. We put them in there with three or four confirmed criminals, and then actually deny $500 to the chaplain, who is giving his time for the alleviation of their condition, and putting our refusal of the $500 on the ground that if we support that thing in the penitentiary, and if we have religious services there it will be so much like uniting church and State!
"But," says some one at this point in my discourse, "where does all this crime come from?" Let me tell you that New York is now paying for the political dishonesties of ten years ago. Do you believe that the political iniquities of 1868, 1869, 1870, and 1871 could be enacted in any city without demoralizing the community from top to bottom? Look at the sham elections of 1868 and 1869. Think of those times when a criminal was auditor of public accounts, and honorable gentlemen in the legal profession were put out of sight by shyster lawyers, and some of the police magistrates were worse than the criminals arraigned before them, and when the most notorious thief since the creation of the world, was a State Senator, holding princely levee at the Delevan House at Albany. Ahl my friends, those were the times when thousands of men were put on the wrong track. They said: "Why, what's the use of honest work when knavery declares such large dividends? What's the use of my going afoot in shoes I have to pay for myself, when 1 can have gilded livery sweeping through Broadway supported by public funds?" The rule was, as far as I remember it: Get an office with a large salary; if you cannot get an office with a large salary, get an office with a small salary, and then steal all you can lay your hands on, and call them "perquisites;" and then give subordinate offices to your friends, and let them help you on with the universal swindle, and get more "perquisites." Many of the young men of the cities were then eighteen years of age. They saw their parents hard at work with trowel and yardstick and pen, getting only a cramped living, while those men who were throwing themselves on their political wits had plenty of money and no work. Do you wonder that thousands adopted a life of dissipated indolence? Ten years having passed, they are now twenty-eight