Lectures to Young Men on
Various Important Subjects
Ward Beecher, 1849
To Lyman Beecher,
To you I owe more than to any other living being. In childhood, you were my Father; in later life, my Teacher; in manhood, my Companion. To your affectionate vigilance I owe my principles, my knowledge, and that I am a Minister of the Gospel of Christ. For whatever profit they derive from this little Book — the young will be indebted to you.
Having watched the courses of those who seduce the young — their arts, their blandishments, their pretenses; having witnessed the beginning and consummation of ruin, almost in the same year, of many young men, naturally well disposed, whose downfall began with the appearances of innocence; I felt an earnest desire, if I could, to warn the young, and to direct their reason to the arts by which they are, with such facility, destroyed!
I ask every young man who may read this book, not to submit his judgment to mine, not to hate because I denounce, nor blindly to follow me; but to weigh my reasons, that he may form his own judgment. I only claim the place of a friend; and that I may gain his ear, I have sought to present truth in those forms which best please the young. And though I am not without hope of satisfying the aged and the wise — my whole thought has been to carry with me the intelligent sympathy of young men.
[From D. H. Allen, Professor at Lane Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
"We have a variety of books designed for young men, but I know of none worth half as much as this. It will be sure to be read, and if read, will not be easily forgotten; and the young man who reads and remembers it, will always have before him a vivid picture of the snares and pitfalls to which he is exposed. Every youth should possess it. Every father should place it in the hands of his sons. It should be in every Sabbath School Library, on board every Steamboat, in every Hotel, and wherever young men spend a leisure hour."
[From Wm. H. McGuffoy, Professor at Woodward College, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
"Mr. Beecher sketches character with a masterly hand; and the old, as well as the young, must bear witness to the truth and fidelity of his portraits. I would recommend the book to the especial attention of those for whom it was designed, and hope that the patronage extended to this may encourage the author to make other efforts through the press, for the promotion of sound morals."
[From Dr. A. Wylie, President of the Indiana University, at Bloomington.]
"The indignant rebukes which the author deals out against that spirit of licentiousness which shows itself in those frivolous works which he mentions, and which are corrupting the taste as well as the morals of our youth, have my warmest approbation. The warnings which Mr. Beecher has given on the subject of amusements are greatly needed. In short, the book deserves a place on the shelf of every household in the land, to be read by the old as well as the young!"
(From Dr. C. White, President of Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana.]
"Beecher's Lectures follow a long series of elaborate and able works addressed to young men by some of our best writers. It is no small merit of this production, that it is not less instructive and impressive than the best of those which have preceded it, at the same time, that it is totally unlike them all. Mr. Beecher has given to young men most important warnings, and most valuable advice with unusual fidelity, and powerful effect. Avoiding the abstract and formal, he has pointed out to the young, the evils and advantages which surround them, with so much reality and vividness — that we almost forget we are reading a book, instead of looking personally into the interior scenes of a living and breathing community. These lectures will bear to be read often."
[From Hon. John McLean, Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.]
"I know of no work so admirably calculated, if read with attention, to lead young men to correctness of thought and action, and I earnestly recommend it to the study of every young man who desires to become eminently respectable and useful."
[From E. W. Sehon, General Agent American Bible Society for the West]
"The intention of the author is well preserved throughout this volume. We commend the book for its boldness and originality of thought and independence of expression. The young men of our country cannot too highly appreciate the efforts of one who has thus nobly and affectionately labored for their good."
[From Pastor James H. Perkins, Cincinnati, Ohio]
"I have read Mr. Henry W. Beecher's lectures to young men with a great deal of pleasure. They appear to me to contain advice better adapted to our country, than can be found in any similar work with which I am acquainted; and this advice is presented in a style far better calculated than that common to the pulpit, to attract and please the young. I would certainly recommend the volume to any young man, as worthy of frequent perusal, and trust our American pulpit may produce many others as pleasing and practical."
[From T. E. Cressy, Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
"There is so much ignorance among good men in general, in all our cities and large towns, of the astonishing prevalence of vice, especially of licentiousness and of its procuring causes; and there is such a false delicacy on the part of those who know these things, to hold them up to the gaze of the unsuspecting, that this book will not pass for its real worth. But it is a very valuable work. It speaks the truth in all plainness. It should be in every family library; every young man should first read and then study it!"
(From J. Blanchard, Pastor of the Fifth Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
"The book is both pleasing and profitable. It is filled with vivid sketches and delineations of vice; weighty instructions, pithy sentiments, delicate turns of thought, and playful sallies of humor! And in style and matter, is admirably adapted to the tastes and needs of the class for whom it is written."
[From T. A. Mills, Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
"The matter of this work is excellent — and the style striking and attractive. The dangers of young men are vividly portrayed, and much moral instruction given. Many of the popular vices of the present day are handled as they deserve. No young man can read the book attentively without profit, and its perusal would prove advantageous even to those who are immersed in the cares and business of life. It will need no recommendation after it becomes known."
[From the Indiana State Journal.]
"We have no doubt that these Lectures, as read, will produce a powerful impression! The pictures which glow from the hand of the artist arrest the eye — so admirable is the style and arrangement; nor will the interest once aroused slacken, until the whole sketch shall be contemplated. And the effect of the sketch — like that of a visit to the dens of iniquity shorn of their blandishments — cannot fail to be of the most wholesome warning character."
[From the Daily Cincinnati Gazette.]
"To find anything new or peculiar in a work of this kind, now-a-days, would indeed be strange. In this respect we were agreeably surprised in looking over the book before us. The subjects, though many of them are common-place, are important and handled in a masterly manner. The author shows himself acquainted with the world, and with human nature, in all its varying phases. He writes as one who has learned the dangers and temptations that beset the young — from personal observation, and not from hearsay."
[From the Ohio State Journal, Columbus, Ohio.]
"The garb in which the author presents his subjects, makes them exceedingly attractive, and must make his Lectures very popular, when the public shall become acquainted with them. When delivered, it was not the design of the accomplished author to publish them — but at the earnest solicitation of a number of prominent citizens of Indiana, who were convinced that they would have a highly beneficial influence in arresting the progress of vice and immorality — he prepared them for the press, and they are now published in a cheap and neat form."
[From the Baptist Cross and Journal, Columbus, Ohio.]
"It is an excellent book, and should be in the hands of every young man, and of many parents. But few of those who are anxious to place their sons in large towns and cities — are aware of the temptations which beset them there; or of the many sons thus placed, who are unable to withstand these temptations. This work will open their eyes, and place them on their guard. It is written in a popular, captivating style, and is neatly printed. It goes right at the besetting sins of our age, and handles them without gloves. It ought to be extensively circulated."
[From the Cincinnati Daily Herald.]
"Mr. Beecher looks at things in his own way, and utters his thoughts in his own style. His conceptions are strong, his speech direct and to the point. The work is worthy of anybody's perusal. This book is entirely practical, and specially appropriate to the times — and its views, so far as we can speak from our own perusal, are just, and very forcible."
[From the Louisville Journal.]
"It is the most valuable addition to our youth literature that has been made for many years. Let all get it and read it carefully."
[From the 'Olive Branch']
"Beecher's Lectures To Young Men is one of the most able, interesting and really useful works for young men. Every young man should have a copy of it!"
[From the New York Commercial Advertiser.]
"The subjects are practical — such as concern all young men especially at the present day. The sentiments of the writer are put forth with much conciseness and vigor of style, for Mr. Beecher writes like one in earnest. We would wish that every young man had the book put into his hands — especially every youth "whose avocation or choice may lead him to reside in any of the larger cities."
[From the Christian Observer, Philadelphia.]
"This is a new edition of an approved and excellent book, which it affords us pleasure to recommend to young men in every part of the country. The author's thoughts, style, and manner, are his own; and his vivid sketches of the evils which surround the young, are replete with important counsels and valuable instruction."
[From the Christian Mirror, Portland, Maine.]
"Characters and qualities, whether for warning or imitation, are drawn with uncommon graphic power and justness of delineation, as anyone may satisfy himself who will turn to 'the picture gallery,' and survey the full length portraits of the Wit, the Humorist, the Cynic, the Libertine, the Demagogue, and the Party-man. Would that every family might procure and peruse it!"
[From the Christian Citizen.]
"This is a volume of good strong Saxon thoughts, which no young man can read without thinking the like. The author talks right into the avocations of every-day life, as if he had been there himself, and were not dealing in kid glove theories of life and duty. Young men, you had better buy this book; it costs but little, and it will be worth a hundred dollars a year to you — if you read it in the right way!"
[From the Christian Reflector, Boston.]
"This is especially the 'young man's manual'. It treats of the most important subjects, with simple directness, and yet with the hand of a master. There are thousands of young men in Boston who should read it with profit and interest, and not a few whom its perusal might save from the yawning gulf of corruption and ruin! Let every young man secure this book, and read it!"
[From the Portland Transcript.]
"In handling his subjects, the author has a peculiar style. There is a freshness and originality about it, which at once arrests attention. He writes with an ungloved hand — presents truth, as truth should be presented — naked! Whatever there is beautiful, or whatever there is hideous about her — there she stands, a mark for all to gaze at! We have vices enough in New England which need rebuking and reforming. There are none so virtuous who may not be profited by these lectures. They are addressed to the young men particularly — yet the aged may glean from them many a useful lesson. We commend the work heartily to all. It is not a dry, abstract treatise on morals; but highly practical throughout. The pictures presented are life-like — flesh and blood portraits. The illustrations are apt and insightful, while an occasional vein of humor comes in as a very agreeable seasoning. The author writes like one in earnest, like one who feels the importance of the duty he has assumed. A better work for the young, we have rarely read."
[From the Daily Evening Transcript, Boston.]
"These Lectures abound in important and impressive truths, expressed in clear and pungent language. Mr. Beecher's style is remarkable for compactness and forcibleness. He occasionally thunders and lightenings, but it is to arouse young men to the dangers to which they are exposed. There is a freshness and vivacity about his thoughts and language, which must interest as well as instruct and warn the young. We desire that every young man in our city — yes, in our country — had a copy of these lectures in his hands! They can scarcely fail to interest every intelligent reader, nor to benefit every young man not lost to a sense of duty, not blind to danger, not in love with vice."
[From the Advocate of Moral Reform, New York.]
"Wherever this book is known, it is regarded of superlative worth. In our judgment no young man should enter upon city-life without it. Employers, both in city and country, should place it in the hands of their clerks and apprentices. Fathers should give it to their sons, and sons should keep it next their Bibles, and engrave its precepts upon their hearts. We are glad to learn, that, although so recently published, it has passed to a third edition, and the demand for it is increasing."
[From the Congregational Journal, Concord, N. H.]
"The writer draws his sketches with the hand of a master, and entering upon his work with a hearty interest in the young, for whom he writes it — he makes them feel that he is honest and in earnest. While the book is not lacking in seriousness — it has the charm of variety; and though it encourages solemn Christian and moral principles, the pictures drawn in it are so vivid, that it will be read with the interest of an ingenious work of fiction. Every father should read it in his family!"
Highly recommendatory notices appeared in the New York Evangelist, New York Observer, Christian World, Christian Register, Christian Watchman, etc, etc. Valuable notices have appeared in most of the papers in New England and New York state, too numerous to copy.