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by F. Schiller, that with the development of civilization the supply
of prostitutes tends to outgrow the demand.
Charles Booth seems to be of the same opinion, and quotes (_Life
and Labor of the People_, Third Series, vol. vii, p. 364) from a
Rescue Committee Report: "The popular idea is, that these women
are eager to leave a life of sin. The plain and simple truth is
that, for the most part, they have no desire at all to be
rescued. So many of these women do not, and will not, regard
prostitution as a sin. 'I am taken out to dinner and to some
place of amusement every night; why should I give it up?'"
Merrick, who found that five per cent. of 14,000 prostitutes who
passed through Millbank Prison, were accustomed to combine
religious observance with the practice of their profession, also
remarks in regard to their feelings about morality: "I am
convinced that there are many poor men and women who do not in
the least understand what is implied in the term 'immorality.'
Out of courtesy to you, they may assent to what you say, but they
do not comprehend your meaning when you talk of virtue or purity;
you are simply talking over their heads" (Merrick, op. cit., p.
28). The same attitude may be found among prostitutes everywhere.
In Italy Ferriani mentions a girl of fifteen who, when accused of
indecency with a man in a public garden, denied with tears and
much indignation. He finally induced her to confess, and then
asked her: "Why did you try to make me believe you were a good
girl?" She hesitated, smiled, and said: "Because _they say_ girls
ought not to do what I do, but ought to work. But I am what I am,
and it is no concern of theirs." This attitude is often more than
an instinctive feeling; in intelligent prostitutes it frequently
becomes a reasoned conviction. "I can bear everything, if so it
must be," wrote the author of the _Tagebuch einer Verlorenen_ (p.
291), "even serious and honorable contempt, but I cannot bear
scorn. Contempt--yes, if it is justified. If a poor and pretty
girl with sick and bitter heart stands alone in life, cast off,
with temptations and seductions offering on every side, and, in
spite of that, out of inner conviction she chooses the grey and
monotonous path of renunciation and middle-class morality, I
recognize in that girl a personality, who has a certain
justification in looking down with contemptuous pity on weaker
girls. But those geese who, under the eyes of their shepherds and
life-long owners, have always been pastured in smooth green
fields, have certainly no right to laugh scornfully at others who
have not been so fortunate." Nor must it be supposed that there
is necessarily any sophistry in the prostitute's justification of
herself. Some of our best thinkers and observers have reached a
conclusion that is not dissimilar. "The actual conditions of
society are opposed to any high moral feeling in women," Marro
observes (_La Puberta_, p. 462), "for between those who sell
themselves to prostitution and those who sell themselves to
marriage, the only difference is in price and duration of the
We have already seen how very large a part in prostitution is furnished by
those who have left domestic service to adopt this life (_ante_ p. 264).
It is not difficult to find in this fact evidence of the kind of impulse
which impels a woman to adopt the career of prostitution. "The servant, in
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