This moral vortex
(D. R. Thomason, "Fashionable Amusements" 1831)
This world contains both innocent and sinful pleasures. It is the part of virtue to choose the former—and to reject the latter. To make the necessary selection, it must be remembered, that the great end of our present existence is to form a virtuous character, and therefore those pursuits and pleasures which are compatible with such a design—may be considered legitimate; but whatever, on the other hand, appears subversive of this object—must be prohibited as sinful and dangerous.
The theater may afford a degree of innocent pleasure and useful instruction—but these benefits are more than counterbalanced by the great moral evils which it produces.
The evil circumstances of theatrical amusements cannot, with justice, be denied. Their number and their weight—it is impossible to estimate. How many, within the ensnaring precincts of a play-house, have met with occasions of sin, having entered with the express purpose of finding them; while others have been unexpectedly surprised by their temptation! How many workings of unhallowed passion have been felt, which would never have operated—but for the excitement which this scene of guilty fascination has supplied! How many foul acts of sin would never have been perpetrated—but for the temptations which have here been afforded! How are evil practices here multiplied, and formed into inveterate habits! What momentum is given to the evil bias of the heart! What impetus to sinful desires! What acceleration to the advances of impiety! What aggravation of guilt, and accumulation of misery are occasioned! What havoc of happiness has here been made! How many a flower of virtue, once fresh and fair, has been plucked by the hand of the destroyer, robbed of its charms, and thrown away like a worthless weed! How many a youthful foot, has here been drawn aside from "wisdom's ways of pleasantness and peace," and conducted to those regions of infamy and woe—where "entering her house leads to death; it is the road to hell. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life!"
Many who once were industrious, frugal, and moral—until, by developing a taste for theatrical pleasures—they became idle, dissipated, and worthless! Many, whose wanderings from virtue's paths have been wide and irrecoverable, are compelled to identify the first step which led them astray—with this scene of temptation! Many are forced to confess, that here they first pressed to their lips that fatal chalice which enchantment had given at once—both fascination and destruction! Many a virtuous person, a noble bark on life's wide ocean, whose moral course was faultless—until the bewitching melody of the enchantress, which inhabits this moral vortex, allured them to shipwreck and death!