Cast Adrift by T.S. Arthur
To the Reader.
In this romance of real life, in which the truth is stranger than the fiction, I have lifted only in part the veil that hides the victims of intemperance and other terrible vices--after they have fallen to the lower deeps of degradation to be found in our large cities, where the vile and degraded herd together more like wild beasts than men and women--and told the story of sorrow, suffering, crime and debasement as they really exist in Christian America with all the earnestness and power that in me lies.
Strange and sad and terrible as are some of the scenes from which I hare drawn this veil, I have not told the half of what exists. My book, apart from the thread of fiction that runs through its pages, is but a series of photographs from real life, and is less a work of the imagination than a record of facts.
If it stirs the hearts of American readers profoundly, and so awakens the people to a sense of their duty; if it helps to inaugurate more earnest and radical modes of reform for a state of society of which a distinguished author has said, "There is not a country throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse; there is no religion upon the earth that it would not deny; there is no people upon the earth it would not put to shame;"--then will not my work be in vain.
Sitting in our comfortable homes with well-fed, well-clothed and happy-hearted children about us--children who have our tenderest care, whose cry of pain from a pin-prick or a fall on the carpeted floor hurts us like a blow---how few of us know or care anything about the homes in which some other children dwell, or of the hard and cruel battle for life they are doomed to fight from the very beginning!
To get out from these comfortable homes and from the midst of tenderly cared-for little ones, and stand face to face with squalor and hunger, with suffering, debasement and crime, to look upon the starved faces of children and hear their helpless cries, is what scarcely one in a thousand will do. It is too much for our sensibilities. And so we stand aloof, and the sorrow, and suffering, the debasement, the wrong and the crime, go on, and because we heed it not we vainly imagine that no responsibility lies at our door; and yet there is no man or woman who is not, according to the measure of his or her influence, responsible for the human debasement and suffering I have portrayed.
The task I set for myself has not been a pleasant one. It has hurt my sensibilities and sickened my heart many times as I stood face to face with the sad and awful degradation that exists in certain regions of our larger cities; and now that my work is done, I take a deep breath of relief. The result is in your hands, good citizen, Christian reader, earnest philanthropist! If it stirs your heart in the reading as it stirred mine in the writing, it will not die fruitless.