Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/758

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all have some one or more of the scrofula's varied physical degradations or sickening deformities, and occasionally one of them goes out like an ill-made candle.

A few years ago the people of Holland were threatened with a most serious calamity. Depraved heredity, unwise sexual selection, or some other controlling cause, had resulted in the production, as the Prince of Orange—the crown prince—of an individual of a weak, inferior, and depraved nature. His was such a nature as, on a throne, becomes a fountain of numberless oppressions and evils, and rarely fails to goad the unhappy subjects into rebellion, attended with the usual frightful losses of life and property and vast sorrows. Fortunately, he had destructive vices. The appetites of these led him to Paris. A few years of riot and debauchery sapped away the dangerous life of "Lemons," as his worthless boon companions nicknamed him, and he died as the fool dieth. The only harm he was able to do was the indirect damage of a bad example, and the good people of the Netherlands were rid of a possible Louis XV, at no greater cost than that of some years of extravagant life in the French capital. His father's youthful excesses and present penchant for pretty ballet girls have rendered it wholly improbable that there will be any other heirs to the Dutch throne, and so the country will shortly glide into a republic, without any of the wrench and sanguinary convulsions that usually attend such political transitions. The superior economy and other advantages of a Parisian brothel over civil war as a political means are obvious to the naked eye.

The most commendable feature of this self-pruning of the objectionable growths in society is that the victims destroy themselves under the hallucination that they are drinking the richest wine of earthly pleasure. When execution can be made a matter of keen relish to the condemned, certainly nothing is wanting on the score of humanity.

I anticipate the objection that slaying bad men by means of their own vicious propensities brings much misery to those connected with them. But then all innocent persons connected with bad men are fated to suffer in exact proportion to the closeness of the connection, whether the bad men are destroyed or not. Weak, selfish, perverted, and criminal men always inflict misery upon their relatives and associates. This is not usually intensified by their being also drunkards, or débauchés. It is also true that no one of Nature's methods of extinction is pleasant to those connected with the victim. A thief or a thug providentially dying with the delirium tremens is certainly quite as bearable a sight to those before whose eyes it may come as the spectacle of a virtuous man, the sole support of his family, slowly wasting away with consumption, in spite of all that loving services and agonizing sympathy can do to retain for him a life that is of so much value to all.