Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Libertine

“I fear few villages exist without a specimen of the Libertine. His errand into this world is to explore every depth of sensuality, and collect upon himself the foulness of every one.

He is proud to be vile; his ambition is to be viler than other men. To him purity and decency are a burden, and only corruption a delight
“This creature has changed his nature, until only that which disgusts a pure mind pleases his. He is lured by the scent of carrion. His coarse feelings, stimulated by gross excitants, are insensible to delicacy.”
“The exquisite bloom, the dew and freshness of the flowers of the heart which delight both good men and God himself, he gazes upon, as a behemoth would gaze enraptured upon a prairie of flowers. It is so much pasture. The forms the odors, the hues are only a mouthful for his terrible appetite. Therefore, his breath blights every innocent thing.

He sneers at mention of purity, and leers in the very face of Virtue, as though she were herself corrupt. He assures the credulous and naive disciple that there is no purity; that its appearances are only the veils which cover indulgence. Nay, he solicits praise for the very openness of his evil; and tells the listener that all act as he acts, but only few are courageous enough to own it.
Experience shows that the worst men are, often, the most skilful in touching the springs of human action. A young man knows little of life; less of himself. He feels in his bosom
the various impulses, wild desires, restless cravings he can hardly tell for what, a somber melancholy when all are gay, a violent exhilaration when others are sober. These wild gushes of feeling, peculiar to youth, the shrewd and sagacious tempter has felt, has studied, has practiced upon, until he can sit before that most spacious organ, the human mind, knowing every stop and all the combinations, and competent to touch any note in the unwitting. He decries the virtue of all men; studies to produce a doubt that any are under self-restraint. And edging in upon the yielding youth, who begins to wonder at his experience, he boasts his first exploits, he hisses at the purity of women; he grows yet bolder, tells more wicked deeds and invents worse even than he ever performed. All thoughts, all feelings, all ambition, are merged in one and that lowest, vilest, most detestable ambition.”

Henry Ward Beecher - Lectures to Young Men

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