The Small Pox, 1895

8th May 2015
Rosemary Lane, photograph by Edith Carey, 1929, Priaulx Library Collection

Two letters from the Star, January 3 1895. The picture is a detail from a photograph by Edith Carey, in the Library Collection. Part of the area of Guernsey's 'seething mass of corruption,' it shows Rosemary Lane and the top of Cornet Street steps in 1929.

The Small Pox

I never rush into print, but I cannot refrain from soliciting a small space in your columns to emphasize the observations made by 'Civis' in your last issue, and to supplement them with a few of my own.

If a census of the French population were taken, what proportion of individuals would be found earning sufficient to enable them to live comparatively comfortable and under sanitary conditions? A very small one, I fear; and I feel satisfied that the police, if the word of command were given them, would soon rake out many unwholesome dens where French of both sexes, and children as well, are indecently huddled together.

The low wages they work for compel them to live collectively in atmospheres rendered impure by a natural fondness for uncleanliness, for I deem it next to impossible for them to live decently and under health giving circumstances on their small earnings. Hence the spread of disease, vice, and crime.

Let us hope that Guernsey will not be converted into a cesspool for the reception of the scum and dregs of the populations of French towns. It has been tending in that direction for a long time. Let the progress of conversion be now arrested, and the 'canaille' in our midst be transported to other pastures and fields of labour. These brothels and low houses situated as they are in the main arteries of the town have long been a standing disgrace.

Yours truly,
2 January 1895

'The Wages of Sin'

SIR,—When three weeks ago I publicly called attention to the subject of Social Purity, I had no anticipation of the lurid glare which would so soon be cast on the seething mass of corruption which exists in our midst. I allude, of course, to the outbreak in different localities of foul and loathsome disease, whose origin can be traced to a house of ill fame in Cornet Street.

It is a forcible reminder of Nature's revenge for the outrage of Nature's laws, a striking object lesson In the Biblical and Scientific truth, 'Be sure your sin will find you out.'

I wish to thank your correspondent, 'Civis,' for his courageous letter in your last issue, and heartily support him in his plea for the closing of these disreputable houses, and the forcible removal of the inmates to their native shores.

Hard things are being said of these unfortunate creatures, curses deep if not loud are being heaped upon their heads. But let us go a step further, and free our minds from cant.

The frequenters of these house are as guilty and as worthy of reproach as their wretched partners in vice. It is as true that the demand creates the supply as that the supply increases the demand. For the innocent victims there will be nothing but commiseration, for the guilty sufferers none whatever.

While on this topic I wish also to draw the attention of our authorities to the two or three moral lepers, vicious rascals or idiots, who lurk about our streets, and contaminate the morals of our young girls and boys. If they are rascals, there is a place of them in the prison, if idiots, another in the lunatic asylum.

I plead, Sir, for the protection of the young and innocent; for the careful instruction and warning of children on the part of responsible parents and guardians; for the creation of a healthy public sentiment; for an equal standard of morality for both sexes; for the denunciation of vice, and the advancement of virtue. If the Pulpit, the Platform, and the Press will combine for this purpose, they will unitedly form such a potent moral lever as will speedily make its influence felt for good.

Thanking you for your own observations,
I beg to subscribe myself,
Yours, very truly,

See L'Archipel de la Manche