Rise and Fall of the New York Free Love League

“The Free Lovers.  Practical Operation of the Free-Love League in the City of New-York.  An Evening at Headquarters,” The New-York Daily Times, October 10, 1855: 1-2.

In a recent article on the rise and progress among us of the doctrine that aims to substitute for the existing institution of Marriage, a Free-Love System, in which Passional Attraction shall be the sole guide and restraint of the intercourse of the sexes, we stated that there was in this City an organized Society called The League, devoted to the dissemination of these opinions; and that it holds weekly meetings at a central point in the City, which are attended by both sexes, and which are devoted to dancing, speaking, conversation, &c.  A correspondent who has enjoyed ample opportunities of observation, sends us a sketch of the operations of this League—which we publish, as exhibiting something of the plan which this party seeks to inaugurate.

Passional Attraction is the watchword that unlocks the door of the secret places.

Passional Attraction—the tocsin which sounds the signal for the onset.

Passional Attraction—the rallying cry of the marshaled forces.

Passional Attraction—the beacon-fire, the blood-red cross, the general order of the day.

Passional Attraction—the motto upon the Free Lover’s shield—the words, blazoned in characters of gold, upon the standard he unfurls in the day of Battle—the symbol of the doctrine in which he lives—the faith in which he means to die.

In short—we have been in a Free-Love Meeting.

“Passional Attraction?”—said the doorkeeper, as we requested entrance.

“Passional Attraction”—we replied.

“Twenty-five cents admission, Sir!”


We gained access to the inner mysteries of the Order.  We heard the talk of hundreds.  We sympathized with the enthusiastic outbursts of the faithful—until we found out exactly what they meant; and then the leaven of Conservatism in our heart refused its sanction.

They danced; they made merry; they took part in plays of whist and chess and backgammon; “jumped” each other at draughts; entered with zeal into philosophical speculations; regarded the relations of the sexes; touched upon the sinfulness of mankind; rejoiced in the freedom of woman; discussed the pages and embraced the doctrines of [the novel by Mary Gove Nichols about Free Love,] Mary Lyndon; were much delighted at the fairness of the strictures of the Daily Times on which subject we strove to draw out the leaders of the movement; and after such converse, separated, each with a copy in his pocket of the Circular which the League has flung abroad to the winds, laden with seed for the dissemination of its doctrine.

A deep and a dark mystery lies shrouded in the web which that industrious spider—Passional Attraction—has woven.  By your kind leave, Sir, we shall endeavor to unravel it.

The web is closely woven.  It is somewhat difficult to see through it.  There is a great deal of intricacy in its entanglements.  It will not be strange if we fail to get at the sweetest of the kernels that are locked up in its secret storehouses.

Nearly a year ago, the disciples of the new System declared war against Conventionalism and organized a body which was then, and still is, known by the title of “The League.”  Its most common cognomen now is The Club.  Its average number of visitors is one hundred and fifty.  The members are generally pleasant-faced, jovial, communicative, sympathetic; restrained by no foolish pruderies.  Introductions of parties who desire to cultivate each other’s acquaintance are conducted upon the most liberal principles.  You need fear no repulses—if the Passional Attraction only inspires the degree of magnetism that is necessary under circumstances of this nature.

The body is now fully in working harness.  It remains to be explained how, and where its operations are conducted.  Yet here, most unluckily, there is a barrier.  One of the dark convolutions of the web meets you at the first turn.  Yet the progress is not slow; nor is the access to the temple so difficult as may be imagined by the uninitiated observer.


It is hardly two years since the system found an effective organization in this City.  A gentleman who is very well known as an acute and able writer, a linguist, and a man of much general information, was the pioneer.  He opened his house—invited his friends of kindred sympathies—prepared refreshments for the intellectual whose “attractions” drew them towards him—his lady, a woman of elegant manners, presided at these soirees, with grace and dignity—it was a select circle.  In time it grew and strengthened—as all such affairs will grow and strengthen.  New-York was favorable to its development—philosophy found its expression, and Passional Attraction its end.  At first it was intended that the body should have a purely political bearing.  Measures were taken to accomplish this end.  Even clergymen were brought into it.  We could name these gentlemen if it were necessary.  They would probably not be greatly obliged to us for doing so.  In time, however, both clergy and “flock” decided that to popularize was better than to revolutionize.  Hence, all things having had due weight, it was finally resolved to enlarge the sphere of operations—to remove to larger quarters—to open the doors of a place by means of regulations, rather than to continue meetings in private residences, through the agency of simple personal invitations.  Being resolved upon, it was accomplished.

The formal organization of these Reformers was effected less than one year ago, in a bare, unpromising suite of apartments in the Bowery.  In company with a friend, whose Open Sesame unclosed the portals, we entered.  At the threshold stood a priest of the Order, holding in his hand a manuscript.  This manuscript was the


It reads, according to the best of our memory, something after the following fashion:

“In becoming a member of this League, you do solemnly declare that you will not promulgate anything to the detriment of the body, nor denounce, either publicly or privately, any member or members of the League; and you do further declare that so long as you continue a member of this body, you will not divulge any of the secrets that may be confided to your custody; and you do also promise that in case you meet with opinions or doctrines which you cannot embrace, you will quietly withdraw from the said League, and not bring disrepute upon the body through any publication, either in private or in public, of anything which you may have observed during the period of your membership herein.  All this you do promise, upon your honor as a gentleman.”

Having been required to subscribe to this formula, we naturally hesitate in speaking in any way of many of the scenes which we have witnessed.  For nearly a year, in truth, we have observed the utmost silence.  No word, detrimental to or in praise of the policy of the League has passed our lips.  All we now propose to do, is to give such an idea of the workings of the plan known as the Free-Love System, as shall neither be offensive to the members of the community, nor tread upon tender callosities.  Without any violation of the obligation which we were required to indorse, we may safely dwell upon the general principles that govern the action of the League.  The seal of secrecy rests inviolate upon the chance conversations that we have heard.  These were only the more minute elaborations of the theory upon which the League was organized.  The Chief, to whom reference has been made, as a citizen well known and in respectable standing, will do us the favor to take no offence at our exposition of the plan he has inaugurated, and in the development of which he has succeeded in finding so many willing helpers.


The unfurnished apartments in the Bowery presently proved of too limited capacity.  They were forsaken eight months ago.  A suite of spacious rooms—which have no drawbacks except a want of ventilation, a very considerable altitude, unpainted panels and some other things—was engaged on Broadway.  The place of meeting is now so familiar to several hundreds of persons, that we shall be pardoned for omitting to mention the number more definitely than to say it is among the 5’s.  We fall back upon the instructions of the League—which say:

“No steps will be taken to communicate to the public the times and places of its assemblages, nor the terms of admission.  Those who are interested to inform themselves will find the means of doing so, or will wait till the information comes to them in some appropriate way.”

Acting under our instructions, we respectfully desire the reader who may wish to penetrate the mysteries, to refrain from persecuting us for further information; being aware, as he now is, of the restrictions under which we labor.


Up three pairs of dingy staircases.  Through tortuous passage-ways.  In and out of a great receptacle of useless lumber.  Past three doors of offices.  Up—up—up—till the last landing is reached.  A small room is here partitioned off, to receive hats, cloaks, canes, a small table, and a heavily-bearded gentleman, who receives the money.

But it is not alone the key of silver that unbars these gates.  The golden voice of approval is the potential lever.  In plain English, you must be introduced.  Your integrity must be vouchsafed, your sagacity indorsed.  You then pay and walk in.


Early in the day, it was but a trifling pull upon the purse strings to foot the bill for entertainment.  The smallest piece of new silver—American currency—did the business.

But presently it was discovered that a larger amount had become necessary.  Not that the exchequer was ebbing, but that the balance between the sexes hung unevenly.  A considerable preponderance of gentlemen had rendered a choice of partners the occasion of much heart-burning.  So the price of admission went up one hundred and fifty per cent.  This arrangement still holds; but it is coupled with a provision that in case a lady and gentlemen come in company, the former tariff for each person shall be considered as still prevailing.  If it still happen that the gentlemen go unattended, the new scale of charges will be found in active operation.  The change in the interior arrangements, in consequence of this action, is most salutary.  Sunshine plays around the apartments, where late the lorn visages of mateless men reigned paramount.  Peace prevails.  The exchequer is replenished.  Crowds flock in, and there is a happy season.

It is proper to state that the funds received in this way are the means relied upon to meet the demands of the landlords and Gas Company.


A pavilion, composed of red drapery, fences off a portion of the outer chamber.  This is the retiring room for the ladies.  It is not our province to enter it.  The gentlemen, as they enter, deposit their outer garments miscellaneously upon the chairs and under them, or hang them on pegs stuck into the walls; or, if they be careful souls, they pay two cents and get a ticket, which insures the safe keeping of the articles that have been deposited.


One long apartment, uncarpeted and unadorned, leads into a smaller one, which boasts a carpet and a few adornments.  There is a raised desk at the upper end; and below it are two large tables, temptingly displaying chess and backgammon boards, piles of playing cards (for whist only,) and heaps of draughts-men.  Gathered about these places of favorite resort are groups of men and women.  In the outer room, dancing is going on.  A fiddler, playing not for money, but because of his “attraction,” dispenses music to the series.  The “groups” distribute the “series,” the “series” produce the “harmonies.”  Attraction is the keystone that binds them all together.  And here let it be distinctly understood that nothing is done here for the sake of “paltry pelf.”  All is attraction—as we stated in the outset.  If there is no attraction, there is no magnetic sympathy.  One is a consequence of the other.  A lady who has embraced the new doctrines fervently, said to us, one evening, “We believe that there is a native sympathy between minds of the same stamp, and this sympathy, which we term magnetic attraction, is that element of the mind which produces affinities; and results, as a natural consequence, in mutual admiration.”  All which was very clear to us.  And then she added, with a smile that dinted the dimples in her cheeks and sank straight down into our heart—“I felt that you would be here; I had a magnetic feeling that I could not have expressed; but I was as certain that you would be here as I am certain that I live.  I cannot explain it.  I don’t know what put you in my thoughts.  I had not thought of you for months till to-night; but my impressions were vivid.”  We thanked the lady for the compliment implied—declared it was nothing less than a similar magnetic power which had drawn us near to her—and in the interchange of thoughts, ideas, emotions, forgot the hours, and dwelt contented in discussions of abstractions.

As we have before taken occasion to state, the number of persons who are in attendance at the regular meetings of the Club averages one hundred and fifty.  The highest figure yet reached is, we believe, somewhere in the region of Two Hundred; the lowest notch is Sixty.  For reasons already adduced, the proportion of the sexes is nearly equal.  The amusement chiefly patronized is the dance.  Conversation does not lag.  There are several members who have not been taught of Terpsichore, and so forsake the floor to subside into dreamy quiet.  Non-dancers will find attractions.  Non-talkers will dance.  All enjoy themselves.

Regular times of meeting are set apart.  At first, it was only one day in the week.  Now, it is twice a week.  Presently, it will be every evening—so they say.  The beginning and the middle of every week, Summer included, are the periods when the congregations go up, under the existing arrangements.  The hour of opening is 8 P. M.  The assembly disperses at 11.  There is nothing during all this interval that will offend the sight.  Those who may have conceived the most repulsive pictures of midnight orgies or licentious privilege, would find, if they entered the rooms of the Club, that there is nothing to repel the most delicate observer.  Whatever there may be in the theory which binds these people together, there is, it must be said, nothing to the outward view which differs from the scenes of an ordinary family party.

If the “Passional Attraction” take another channel to develop itself, it is not permitted to bring disrepute upon the locality which the Club has chosen.  Mind, we do not say that anything of an improper character has occurred, or can occur, elsewhere than in the immediate precincts of the Club.  Our remark has simple reference to the erroneous opinions which we find prevalent in regard to the practices at these semi-weekly reunions.  It is no defence of the principles, policy or tendencies of the new organization, that its character be presented in the true light.


A Circular, marked “Secret and Confidential,” was picked up by a friend of ours a few weeks after the League took upon itself the form of a regularly organized Association.  The Circular expresses the objects of the Propaganda.  It declares that:

“The League is an organized body, with its headquarters in New-York, its ramifications in the different towns and cities of the United States, and with a capacity of extension to all the countries of the world.  Its existence marks an epoch in the progress of liberality and thought.  . . . The League embraces men and women of all nations and creeds, whose religion is devotion to Humanity and Truth, without inquiring whether their conceptions are embodied in Abstract Principles or in Personal Forms.  In the contemplation of the League, all Truth is equally Divine Truth, whether existing in the Discoveries of Science or in the Revelations of a Prophet.  . . . The League will adopt from all the existing institutions of Society, public and secret, those features which approve themselves to common sense, and to the principles of social science, so far as understood.  Accordingly, different Orders will exist, within the League, communicating and cooperating with each other.”

It is no harm to say here that the Orders to which reference is made in the Secret Circular are already organized—though only, as yet, in part.  The sphere of their operation is very various.  We have heard it hinted that the following are to be among the earliest to go into active operation:

The Grand Order of Religion.
The Grand Order of Justice.
The Grand Order of Charity.
The Grand Order of the Social Relations.
The Grand Order of Recreation.
The Grand Order of the Beautiful.
The Grand Order of Discovery.
The Grand Order of Literature.
The Grand Order of Science.
The Grand Order of Labor.
And—ad infinitum.

In addition to these, it is intended to found classes for instruction in the Languages; (in fact these have already commenced in French;) to occupy the desk with lectures, scientific disquisitions, and it is hinted that among the amusements provided for the entertainment of the company private theatricals are to be introduced.  The play will be liberally patronized.  We are not sure but one of these displays will take place before the lapse of many moons.

All these add to the number of the “Attractions.”  They are mentioned here quite incidentally.  Any corrections which the Chief may please to order, on the next evening of our meeting, we shall be happy to receive.  It is quite possible that in making this running summary of the principles and objects of the League or Club, we may have laid ourselves open to the charge of betraying the secrets of the Order.  But we beg not to be misunderstood.  We have been assured upon high authority that the publication of the sentiments of the body would give no offence, provided the details, the places and times of meeting, and so forth, were not furnished to a greedy public.  This we have virtuously refrained from doing.


It now remains to be considered whether the real objects of this enterprise are properly understood by the public.

Is it true that Education and the development of Science are the great ends of the new organization?

Is it the fact that the assemblages of the believers are but a higher class of impure connections?

Neither of these positions is true.

The ultimate aim of the new movement is, unquestionably, that of producing a state of society similar to the one pictured in Mary Lyndon.  Yet in avowing that this is the real object of these demonstrations, candor and justice require the admission of the fact that no misconduct in public finds countenance among the members of the League.  It is in private that the rules of the new society prevail.  Publicity is not desired.  The “attraction” of the Club is not like that of gravitation, operating in every time and place.  It is a secret thing.  It is locked up in the breast of the individual—at least, until he finds a partner to share it with him.

The worst feature that we have seen in this scheme is its tendency to attract the Youth.  Every evening when the Club gets together, there is a thick “sprinkling” of beardless faces—lads whose admission is neither desirable for their own sake nor that of society.  Leering with sensual eyes upon the company, they seek only the gratification of the whim of an hour—to boast of conquests afterward, (if they make them.)  They have neither skill, experience, nor strength of character to resist, or guide, or suggest.  We are given to understand that the propriety of admitting this class has been made the subject of earnest debate.  It was determined, however, that no let or hindrance should be placed in their way.

Nor are all the grown men and women who attend these meetings earnest advocates of the system.  Many of them are but “seekers after light”—as they are pleased to term themselves.  They drop in at intervals to see the progress that has been made.  They are often men of families.  Their families occasionally accompany them—children and all.  You may, as at other public places, buy bouquets of bright-eyed lads.  You may have the company of a lady with a musical voice, who will sing to you and them.  And you may chance to hear, as we did, of young men who came to laugh, and remain as devotees.  A case of this kind happened only a fortnight ago.  Two came, gave false names, returned to the keeper of the gate after an hour had elapsed, gave in their real names and their adhesion—and they are now “passionately attracted.”

But the real, hearty Free Lover is an institution by himself.

If a man, he is exceedingly hirsute.  Such eschew razors as an unclean thing.  He probably affects a Byronic collar; has bushy hair; takes excellent care of his teeth, which usually sparkle like double rows of ivory; is careless in dress, but bathes freely, and so is not offensive.  He is often a man of learning, profound in the language of pleasing address, and is a rabid Socialist.

If a woman—and here, what shall we say?  It is tender ground.  We fear to offend, and yet may catch ourselves in the opposite extreme.  The Free-Love woman is usually large-waisted.  She is at least sufficiently sensible to know that she possesses organs which will not bear close compression.  She is dressed very modestly.  Young ladies at fancy balls would do well to take pattern from her (in this respect only).  She is necessarily strong-minded.  She is fond of the society of gentlemen.  Her affinities go out wool-gathering, like some men’s wits.  She occasionally lights upon an “attraction.”  The Free-Love woman (here they are all “women,” no “Ladies” were ever made,) is thoroughly posted up in the literature of the New School.  She is likely to be a bit of a Phonographer, a Spiritualist, a Swedenborgian—an artist perhaps—makes her living in the new channels of industry—is passionately fond of game, and beats all the men at a rubber of whist or a move upon the chessboard.

In person, she is cleanly tidy, and not greatly given to the graces of the toilet.  She affects ringlets, and the silky brown hair clusters over a brow which tells of intellect, perception, and a slim modicum of the moral or religious.

Many of the more rigid Socialists in this City have not yet signified their adhesion to the new plan.  They stand aloof until such time as its practical operations shall become manifest.  When that event is to transpire we have not been accurately informed.  It is in the future.

Among the collaterals of this project are the ideas of establishing a great Restaurant, located in a block of Associational Buildings.  At the tables there will be room for all; at the kitchen ranges, unheard of facilities.  We are not aware that this portion of the project has yet reached fulfillment.


We have thus set forth the origin, plan and present position of the League.  It is essentially the Head Quarters of the Free-Love movement in this City.  It has not before arrived at newspaper publicity.  The seal of secrecy has been laid upon its acts.  It has had no public advocates.  All the agencies it has employed have been personal and secret.  In the course of months, it has reached a height of prosperity which was not unexpected in a City like New-York.  Depending upon no favorable notices of the press, it has kept aloof from that respectable fraternity.  Disclaiming any desire for notoriety, it has held no public convocation.  Complete in itself, founded upon a single idea—INDIVIDUALITY—it has renounced communion with the existing Society, and stands, not exactly as the Pillar of Salt in the Wilderness, but very much resembling in its tendencies the event which that monument is intended to commemorate.  It looks back to Barbarism—proposes to break the bonds of the marital relation—declares that Passional Attraction is the great end of life—that Divorce should be made easier—that no man should be compelled to pass his life with a woman he cannot adore—that women have by Nature a perfect right to the control of their persons, property and affections—and that the existing system of social relations and obligations is absurd, unjust, and so rotten at the core that it must presently fall to pieces of itself.

In making this exposition of the new Theory, as reduced to Practice, we have not violated the confidence that was reposed in us.  Among the thousand members which the League now numbers, there are many who will bear us witness that the sketch we have given is fair and truthful.  We have nought extenuated, nor set down aught in malice.

The acts of the Club are on record.  We have given them their first public airing.

“Free-Love in New-York.  Individual Sovereignty Realized.  Secret Society of the League.  Its Origin, History and Organization.  Principles and Practice of the Free-Lovers,” The New-York Daily Tribune, October 16, 1855: 5-6.

We have for sometime been aware of the existence in this city of a body of persons united in a secret society for the purpose, not merely of discussing those principles of extreme social lawlessness known by the general term of Individual Sovereignty, and of confirming themselves in such principles, but also of carrying them into practice, especially in the sexual relations.  As soon as this fact came to our knowledge, we did not fail, of course, in the discharge of our duty to the public, to set on foot an investigation for the purpose of ascertaining the truth with regard to such a society, in order to bring the same to the tribunal of public opinion.  But the obscurity in which its members saw fit to envelop their transactions was so complete that it was not practicable to obtain accurate and trustworthy information, and we were constrained to keep silence on the subject.  Recently, however, the obligation of secrecy has been in a great measure if not altogether relaxed; and we have succeeded in obtaining from various sources the subjoined accounts of this society, its past history and its present state and purposes.  Of these accounts, some, as will be seen, are furnished by persons attached to the movement, while others are hostile to it; but we believe the facts stated are in every respect correct.


This society, or as it calls itself, the Progressive Union club, has grown out of an organization devised by certain social theorists, including Messrs. Stephen Pearl Andrews, Albert Brisbane, and others, who give it the appellation of The League.  It was designed by them as a secret political order, which was to obtain power and place after the manner of the modern Hindoos, and then regulate the affairs of commerce and price of corn on the basis of [the anarchistic principle enunciated by the founders of the Modern Times community on Long Island, Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews,] “Cost the limit of Price;” but, before getting their machinery in running order, they noticed the waning fortunes of the Know-Nothings, and, being all philosophers, wisely concluded that secret political parties were not quite the thing after all, and so abandoned it or laid it on the table; while, for the time being, some of them, led by Mr. Andrews, betook themselves to the consideration of Passional Attraction, or Free Love.  The League which yet exists, and as far as possible endeavors to extend its organization and influence, is still much more of a secret society than the Club, and very little is known of its doings by those who are not members.  Occasionally, the Chief issues a bulletin, of which we give a sample below, and which is so general and vague in its terms that it may mean something or nothing, one thing or another, according to the mood or imagination of the reader.

The Club, on the other hand, is a fixed fact.  It meets on Monday and Thursday evenings of each week, over Taylor’s upper saloon, No. 555 Broadway.  This club is composed of between five hundred and six hundred members, with an average attendance of one hundred and fifty; though the attendance has been much larger than usual since the affair has gained some general notoriety.  There were, as we understand, some three hundred present at the last meeting.  At these semi-weekly meetings, the members of the Club and the strangers whom they introduce, walk, talk, waltz, sing, flirt, and endeavor to enjoy themselves as best they may—each selecting his or her associate according to attraction and affinities, and always with a due regard to Individual Sovereignty.  Occasionally, the audience is amused, entertained, or bored—as the case may be—by a speech from the chief, or some other great man in the Free-Love Israel, who may be impressed with the idea that he has an important message to communicate.  Although the exercises, topics, and amusements indulged in take a wide range, the main idea which draws and holds together this motley part is Free Love, or Passional Attraction, as some of them prefer to call it.  They repudiate the present system of marriage, deny the right of society or the state to interfere in any way with the subject any further than it may rightfully interfere with any civil contract, and contend that marriage may be a limited or life partnership, at the option of the man and woman who are the sole and rightful judges of the time and manner of its beginning and termination.  One of their favorite dogmas is that a woman has the right to choose the father of her own child.  This theory, has, we understand, been reduced to practice to a considerable extent in this city.  One young man, whose name we withhold, had considerable difficulty in converting his wife to the new theory, but finally succeeded, and was rather crestfallen when he discovered, a few months later, that his wife was “attracted” in another direction than to himself.  He took the matter philosophically, however, and, by the infallible law of passional attraction, finally discovered his true partner in the person of another man’s wife; and the four, re-mated are now said to be living lovingly under the same roof.  Another case is that of a woman of fine talents and accomplishments, and rather pretty withal, who actually believes in the new theory, and whose worser half not being the right one, selected the father of her child, a short time since, in the person of a respectable young married gentleman, and is now living on very short commons in an attic, where she is very much unnoticed by the fraternity of Free-Lovers and Leaguers.  Instead of sustaining her as they ought, if they are in earnest, the leading and more respectable portion of them, at least, shrug their shoulders and say they are sorry this lady took the course she did; they think it was very unwise and premature; that society is not quite ready for the reception and experimental illustration of their ideas, while they go on preaching the theory which they condemn this zealous advocate for reducing to practice.  The father of her child, who is said to be abundantly able to support her, declines doing so on the plea that such assistance would not leave the lady free, but put her in bonds, etc.  It is due to her to say that she is very heroic; and in reply to a letter of condolence was quite indignant at expressions of pity and sympathy for her condition.  She understands, she says, very well what she is about.  She knew beforehand what she was taking upon herself.  This was the way by which society was to be reformed and purified, and she was willing—nay, even proud—to bear her full share of the burden and disgrace, if the world chose to call it so, attending such reformation.

The members of this Club have the privilege of introducing their friends, and hence many strangers find their way into the hall.  It is an object to attract as many ladies as possible to these gatherings, and so they put an extra tariff on the gentleman who comes unaccompanied by a lady—charging for the admissions of a single gentleman twenty-five cents, and for a gentleman and lady only twenty cents.  Public prostitutes, we are told, are often seen there, notwithstanding the Chief (Mr. Andrews) holds absolute authority at these gatherings.  He hires the hall and pays for the use of it, receiving for his services any surplus funds that may turn up.  Although a member of the society may introduce any friend (who of course must be a proper person), the Chief retains the right to dismiss or eject such person if in his wisdom he may think it proper to do so.  He regards the gathering as his party, and in accordance with the doctrine of Individual Sovereignty claims the right to say who may and who may not attend.  We learn that at present the receipts of the Club much exceed the expenses, and that the Chief finds it so profitable a source of private income that he is about to increase the number of weekly meetings very considerably.

We learn that the League is about to issue an official journal, to be called The Monitor, which will be published semi-occasionally, or oftener if the people will buy it.

The following is one of the official bulletins issued by Mr. Stephen Pearl Andrews in his capacity of Chief of the League:

[Secret and confidential.]

The League Union of the Men of Progress of all classes, charging themselves with the investigation of all subjects relating to the welfare of man, and with the promulgation and realization of new truths in every department of human affairs.


The League is an organized body, with its headquarters in New-York, its ramifications in the different towns and cities of the United States, and with a capacity of extension to all the countries of the world, its existence marks an epoch in the progress of liberality and thought.  The elevation of its purposes transcends the petty ambitions of ordinary political parties as much as its universal toleration and breadth exceed the narrowing and belittling conditions of religious fanaticism and sect.

The League embraces men and women of all nations and creeds, whose religion is devotion to humanity and truth, without inquiring whether their conceptions are embodied in abstract principles or in personal forms.  In the contemplation of the League all truth is equally divine truth, whether existing in the discoveries of science or in the revelations of a prophet; the interests of all rational beings, in all spheres, are the interests of each; and every healthy human aspiration is a guiding indication of the divine will.

At the same time no conformity of opinion is enforced, even in the construction put upon these principles, and still less in the form of their expression.  They will be accepted by each individual mind only so far as their truth becomes obvious to it, and put in such forms of utterance as shall suit best each individual conception.  Apart from the most external particulars relating to organization—such as the terms of admission, for example—no concurrence in action will be obligatory, beyond such as shall result naturally from attraction, and from a constantly increasing understanding of the scientific conditions of true organization, which it will be a principal object of the League to investigate and ascertain.  The broadest scope will be given to individual ambition in the performance of individual functions, whether leading or subordinate.  Election will consist of the natural and voluntary assumption of a leading position, and the suffrages—afterward cast—of the loyalty and allegiance with which others choose to follow any banner which is unfurled.  Such, and none other, is the tenure by which the chief of the movement holds office, and assumes to issue this bulletin, and all other documents which he may from time to time address to the League.

The League, although it has its political side, is not an American party, as defined by the accident of birth or by lines drawn across the surface of the globe.  It is only American by its devotion to American ideas, and devoted to them only so far as they are right.  It includes and admits people of all nationalities and opinions.  It has among its members doctors and students of divinity, Christians of various denominations, Jews, infidels and atheists; and is equally open to the reception of Mohammedans and Pagans.  It is probably the first society ever organized upon principles broad enough to include and to harmonize all those conflicting universities of men.

The League will adopt from all the existing institutions of society, public and secret, those features which approve themselves to common sense and to the principles of social science, so far as understood.  Accordingly, different orders will exist within the League, communicating and cooperating with each other; as, for example:

I. THE GRAND ORDER OF RELIGION, which will seek to discover those general truths which affect the spiritual nature of man and his relations to the central source of wisdom and love in the universe, upon which all thinking men can coincide, and to remove all superstition from the human mind by separating the true from the false in every creed and every shade of human opinion; to find, in fact, either a basis of unity or of legitimate diversity in matters of faith which will tend to the fullest recognition of the central Christian ideas—Love, and the actual brotherhood of the race.

II. THE GRAND ORDER OF JUSTICE, which will charge itself with solving all the problems which affect the relations of capital and labor, and with the establishment of justice and equity in the several departments of human industry by scientific, by social, and lastly by political means.

III. THE GRAND ORDER OF CHARITY will take charge of the best methods of furnishing relief to the suffering poor without encouraging beggary, and with the philosophical and governmental questions which relate to the alleviation of pauperism and crime.

IV. THE GRAND ORDER OF THE SOCIAL RELATIONS will investigate the rights of women, the existing and the true laws of marriage and divorce, and physiology as applied especially to the rearing of children and the prevention of the terrible loss of life among infants which is the affliction and the reproach of the science of civilized countries.

V. THE GRAND ORDER OF RECREATION will attempt what can be done to organize the amusements of the people upon a basis of cheapness and of accommodations for vast numbers, which will bring them within the reach of the whole people, and, by their frequency, variety and moderation prevent them from degenerating into dissipations.  The effort will be made, at the same time, to place amusement upon the footing of the development of the latent powers of the people to entertain, while they cultivate and refine, themselves and each other, rather than to depend upon the administration of delight by professional performances conduced by a distinct and separate class of persons.

IV. THE GRAND ORDER OF THE BEAUTIFUL, devoted to ascertaining the nature and the highest purpose of art, and to forwarding its practical development; THE GRAND ORDER OF DISCOVERY; THE GRAND ORDER OF INVENTION; THE GRAND ORDER OF LITERATURE; THE GRAND ORDER OF SCIENCE; THE GRAND ORDER OF THE UNITY OF THE SCIENCES; THE GRAND ORDER OF LABOR; and so on, with a different “grand order” devoted, according to the attractions of the individuals who compose them, to every branch of affairs within the entire range of human concerns; with subordinate orders, acting collectively in every minor branch of the movement, down to the individual who finds a specialty in which to engage, in cooperation with the purposes of the League.

In the idea of conserving what is good and rejecting what is bad in existing institutions, the League has first turned its attention to the question of organization, and especially to that of secrecy in its proceedings.  It has resolved itself into a secret society with the belief that it has arrived at the means of availing itself of all the benefits without incurring the evils of that feature.

The names of its members, the names of its officers, or of those who lead in the different departments of the organization itself, and its various transactions, will, except so far as they are intended for the public, be guarded by the members as secret.  An obligation is required as the condition of membership, to that effect; the same in kind as the implied obligation of secrecy which rests upon an individual who is admitted to the hospitality of a private family not to divulge what they prefer not to have known, or that which rests upon a gentleman who is informed confidentially of the state of the affairs of a mercantile friend.  On the other hand, all secret oaths and obligations of continued fidelity for a single hour, to any person, doctrine or line of conduct, are discarded as wrong in principle—since the human mind perceives as erroneous, at any moment, what it had before accepted as true—and as liable, at least, to be wicked and pernicious in their results.

By this measure and degree of secrecy the following advantages are obtained:

1. There is a charm and attraction for the human mind in the sense of privacy, which belongs to the retired and secret association with one’s fellow men, such as all have experienced in the bosom of the family and the convivial circle, and which is the equally characteristic of the larger fraternity of the lodge.  Hence, a new pleasure is gained.

2. While intolerance and persecutions of one kind or another are rife in the world for any freedom of opinion or conduct, which it is the right of another to entertain and pursue, secrecy furnishes a just and necessary protection against an impertinent and prying curiosity into the affairs of others.  Society needs an escape from the repressive influences of sect, and of an ignorant and bigoted public opinion—some refuge where every man shall feel free to utter his truest and most intimate convictions upon all subjects, with the assurance that he is not “casting pearls before swine, who will turn again and rend him.”  It is the strong alone who can dispense with such protection.  Hence, a defense for the weak is the next advantage secured.

3. Every human being has a right to his own privacy, among the prerogatives of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—a right which is constantly liable to be invaded in the prevalent ignorance of rights, and a right which men vindicate every day, with a jealous and vigilant respect for their own individuality, in the private and business relations of life.  No limit can be put upon the exercise of that right by reference to the number of persons assembled in one place or taken into the secret.  Hence, a valuable and important right of humanity is asserted and maintained.

4. Secrecy is an element of power.  In war, strategy is equally as important as valor or skill.  “In union there is strength.”  All collective action of men might be objected to on that ground as well as secrecy.  The remedy for the dangers of power is not to prevent the accumulation of power, but to know the principles by which it can be so directed as to be beneficent instead of being destructive and bad.  The whole of life is a struggle, or a species of warfare with evils of some kind, and no legitimate means of power can be spared.  Every cabinet, every merchant in his counting-house, and every individual, makes use of secrecy for this reason, and it is just that they should.  Hence an additional efficiency is obtained.

5. Finally, there is a tendency on the part of all to attribute an undue weight, or to refuse the due weight, to opinions, arguments or measures, on the ground of personality.  An abstract principle is equally true, whether it is discovered by a good or a bad man—by an American, an Englishman or a Turk.  By secrecy in relation to the origin of views, this natural prejudice is forestalled and prevented.  Hence, finally, by secrecy, the greatest practical degree of impartiality is reached.

The chief of the League, acting upon his own judgment, and upon his estimate of the concurring sentiment of the individual members, will issue from time to time special bulletins to the League, or to the public, defining the general action of the League, or the measures determined upon for immediate action.  All measures so announced will be equally open for discussion after as before they are adopted.  The dissent of any member from any single principle or act not deemed vital, or his partial dissent from a general policy, will thus have the precise weight to which it may be entitled upon the internal public opinion and on the success of the League, upon which alone the security of the chief depends: while an entire dissent from the whole current of action will appear in the defection and secession of members.  This, it is believed, is the natural system of checks and balances in the true order of organization or government—a scientifically regulated authority, voluntarily assumed because there is consciousness of power for good uses, and voluntarily accepted so far only as it is attractively and wisely administered.

Programmes, reports and treatises, from the self-constituted orders and boards within the league, will also be continuously published by the league, for which neither the chief, nor the league as a body, nor any individual on account of his membership of the league, will be in any sense responsible, except to the extent that such documents are deemed worthy of attention and consideration.

The league will unduly hasten nothing in its announcements to the public, nor in its public measures.  It will be more anxious that its work shall be well done than that it be done quickly.  Results may not appear in many of the branches of its action indicated above for months, and in some not for years.

Those which are most important, and in which its investigations are first crowned with success, will take precedence of others.  When such intimations are put forth by it as the people obviously deem fundamental and of paramount importance, the league will stand ready to lead the way to their realization, by political or other appropriate means.  Meantime the league is a grand university, charging itself with the investigation, and with the training of its members into a knowledge of all that relates to the rights and the well-being of the people; a senate in secret session, discussing and watching over their interests; an active and efficient agent for the interchange of their opinions and views; and a cheerful and half-domestic gathering point or social center for every class of citizens, in some of the nooks and corners of which they will find themselves as much at home with their wives and families as the solitary male visitor is in the clubs of London or New-York.

The league is not the idea of a day, and is not, it is confidently believed, destined to an ephemeral existence.  It is the natural confluence, at the right time, of the reformatory currents of thought which have been swelling during the last fifty years in the nations of Christendom, by the adoption of the only principle of consociation broad enough to accommodate the diversities, and to conciliate the good will and arouse the enthusiastic cooperation of all classes of men.  The principles of its organization have been cautiously and profoundly studied during a long period of time.  It embodies at present, in the extent of its organization, in its aggregate of numbers, of wealth, of social position, of education, of thought, and of the plain common sense of the masses of the people, an assemblage of elements which insures its rapid and permanent growth, and renders it, even already, in no mean sense, a notable power in the earth.

No steps will be taken to communicate to the public the times and places of its assemblages, nor the terms of admission.  Those who are interested to inform themselves will find the means of doing so, or will wait until the information comes to them in some appropriate way.

The circulation of this document is to be confined strictly to the members of the league, except when intrusted by members to friends who are considering the question of becoming members, and then only under the seal of confidence.

The following directions for the management of the social gatherings of the Club emanate from the same dignitary:

To the members of the Club of the Grand Order of Recreation.

By the Chief of the League.

The Grand Order of Recreation will attempt what can be done to organize the amusements of the people upon a basis of cheapness and of accommodation for vast numbers, which will bring them within the reach of the whole people, and by their frequency, variety, and moderation prevent them from degenerating into dissipations.  The effort will be made at the same time to place amusement upon the footing of the development of the latent power of the people to entertain, while they cultivate and refine themselves and each other, rather than to depend upon the administration of delight by professional performances, conducted by a distinct and separate class of persons.

It is the purpose of the Order also to furnish a cheerful and half-domestic gathering point or social center, for every class of citizens, in some of the nooks and corners of which they will find themselves as much at home with their wives and families, as the solitary male visitor is in the Clubs of London or New-York.

In respect to the method of procedure in our assemblies, the experiment will be made of seeing how far men and women can be intrusted with the preservation of order and of a gentlemanly and ladylike deportment, without being directed by arbitrary rules or constrained by external force.  The design of the assembly of the Club is simply the extension of the parlor for the accommodation of the whole people, so fast and so far as the different portions of the people prove themselves, on trial, to be fit inhabitants of a parlor.  At the same time, the most absolute authority is reserved by the chief to cause any person to retire who shall wantonly disturb the harmony of the assemblies, or who FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER is not regarded by him as a desirable member, and to give or not to give his reasons for such action, as he may see fit—the club rooms being in all respects his own private house, to which he invites his friends, upon certain expressed and implied conditions, among which is this: that they render themselves agreeable and acceptable companions, and orderly members of the society of which, by their presence here, they become temporary members.  The right to one’s own premises and to the choice of companionship is among the most sacred of rights, and one of the most important applications of the Sovereignty of the Individual.  The obligation taken at the door is to respect that right.  No offense is therefore intended, and, upon true principles, none should be taken when any member is politely requested not to continue his attendance.

The “corps of servitors” (ladies and gentlemen) are distinguished by a star of red, white and blue.  The chief of the corps will wear two stars and a sash.  Any stranger is authorized, without introduction, to apply to any of this “star police” for aid in procuring introductions and acquaintanceship, and any member of the corps will be free to address any member of the Club without introduction, at which no offense should ever be taken, as the necessity and utility of such an arrangement is obvious.

No rule prohibits any person not wearing a star from addressing any other member of the Club, lady or gentleman.  No offense should be taken at being so addressed; but as the sovereignty of the party addressed authorizes him or her politely to decline the acquaintanceship in words, or by a reserved deportment, no offense on the other hand must be taken on account of such declinature.  To avoid the repulse, therefore, which one is exposed sometimes to encounter, and which he may not have always at hand the philosophy to endure without an unpleasant sensation, it will be found usually best for strangers to avail themselves of the services of some one of the servitors (stars) to ascertain whether the acquaintance will be mutually agreeable.

Boxes are provided at the door for the deposit of hats and the outer garments of ladies and gentlemen.  They are not required to deliver them into keeping, but unless they do so no responsibility will be assumed.

Members are held responsible for the honorable intentions of others introduced by them only to the extent of guaranteeing to the company that they are not persons of so undeveloped or perverted a character as intentionally to create a disturbance or render themselves disagreeable to others.

Members of the Club observing anything in the deportment of others which they conceive to be in bad taste, and to require reprobation or suppression, are requested not to interfere offensively with it, except in cases of great emergency, but to report it instead to the chief, the floor-manager, or one of the servitors.

The floor manager is decorated and distinguished by a scarf with a star upon the right shoulder.

The “stars” will also give information in relation to French, dancing and other reasons connected with the Club.  The assembly opens at 8 and closes at 11 o’clock.  An early attendance is desired.  The club-rooms will be open hereafter to the members during the daytime as a social home, which may be visited without charge, with the request, however, that mere visitors will not disturb classes which they may find in session.

Members wishing to introduce friends whom they do not accompany, will be required to do so by a note addressed to the janitor of the Club, containing the names of the person introducing and the person introduced.

We should add that among the leading members of this Agapemone are some semi-literary, semi-histrionic men, quite distinguished in their way.  Mr. [Edward Fitch] Underhill, a literary gentleman with a decided ability for the stage, is a coadjutor of Mr. Andrews, and a leading member.  Mr. U.’s name may be fresh in the remembrance of some readers by the satisfactory manner in which he filled the role which was allotted to him on that same memorable night at Wallack’s theater.

Quite a pleasant, and, in a psychological respect, deeply interesting incident happened the other evening, when a charming widow had a little fight with a rather tall, but very fascinating lady, which would probably have ended in womanslaughter, if it had not been for the timely interference of some of the gentlemen present.  Jealousy had instigated the feud, Mr. ________ _______, another prominent leader of the association, having allowed himself to be passionately attractionized by both ladies, one being his wife.  We cheerfully record this incident.  We accept it as a gratifying proof of the stern inflexibility of the laws which prompt human emotions; we see that even in an Agapemone, where all are supposed to be impregnated with a heavenly spirit of concord and harmony, where angelic kindness is expected to preside over every word and every deed, and the whole atmosphere to be saturated with a spirit of love, a monstrous passion like that of jealousy will creep in.


To the Editor of The N. Y. Tribune:

SIR: To disguise the fact that there exists in this country at the present time a new element, which is sooner or later to have an important bearing upon the social future of the human race, is to disguise the truth.  Whether that element be a Pandora’s box filled with multiform evils, which threaten disaster to human progress by undermining all the structures which human wisdom and human philanthropy have so far reared; or, whether it be the initiative of a better and higher order of things, in the moral, intellectual and physical well-being of the human race—in either case, to disguise its existence is attended with results detrimental to the cause of truth.  In the one case it is to leave the human race in fancied security until the storm bursts upon them, and they unprepared to resist its fury; in the other, it is to keep from their knowledge these things which are calculated to advance their happiness.

The element to which I refer is a subdivision of the socialistic movement in this country, and at the present time it is absorbing more of the public attention than any of its coordinate branches.  It embraces within the scope of its designs an entire change in all institutions having any relation to human affections; or, in other words, it seeks the emancipation of the affections from all outward interference.  Such are its avowed objects.  The initiatory step which has been already taken bears directly upon love and the relations of the sexes.  The idea upon which it is based may be formulized in two ways:

1. The overthrow of the institution of Marriage as being hostile to

2. The regulation of the relations of the sexes by the law of Passional Attraction.

The present Free-Love movement has existed as a movement about two years; yet, so rapid has been its growth that the name “Free-Love” is now on the lips of everybody, and the inquiry in relation to what is implied by it, and what the real facts are, is now made more than ever.  Those who regard the movement as one destined to only an ephemeral life I think are mistaken.  The questions involved in the issue in this movement in which the free-lovers have arrayed themselves against the current of public opinion, when they are settled finally, will be settled after a full, profound and philosophical investigation into the whole subject.  The work must be an intellectual work; and, unless this country is to be involved in the dispute for a long time, conservative intellect must move and give the new philosophy its quietus at once.

The statements and conclusions which I have given above are the result of an intimate familiarity with the Free-Love movement in this country, and particularly in this city.  That the readers of The Tribune may not suppose my statements and conclusions are predicated without a just basis, I propose in this article to give an impartial and succinct history of the Free Love movement, and then leave them to judge whether I am right or wrong.

Years since, when the question of Social Reorganization was seriously and extensively agitated in this country, the people were not a little startled by the announcement that among the doctrines which were a part of the Socialistic philosophy were those which contemplated the subversion of the institution of marriage.  Most of the Socialistic leaders, however, either denied that a proper understanding of the doctrine would justify such a conclusion, or else asserted that to attempt a realization of the doctrine at the present time would be inexpedient.  The ill success and subsequent failure of most of the Socialistic experiments caused the further discussion of the subject to cease, and nothing further was heard of anti-marriage or Free-Love doctrines until nearly three years since, when an intelligent disciple of [Charles] Fourier, Dr. [Marx Edgeworth] Lazarus, wrote a work which was devoted wholly to a discussion of the questions of love and marriage, not, however, with reference to any but an ultimate realization.  This was followed by a discussion of the subject in the columns of The Tribune, between Mr. [Horace] Greeley, Mr. Henry James and Mr. Stephen Pearl Andrews, in which the first named took the conservative, the second the middle ground, in which he argued for increased facility of divorce, and the last the broad position of the largest liberty of the affections, with a view to the immediate realization of the doctrines in practice.  Neither the work of Dr. Lazarus nor the discussion gave the movement any impetus, so far as was perceptible, though through them, the term Free Love had become familiar to the ears of a few.  The subsequent announcement, in the Summer of 1853, that the water-cure establishment of T[homas] L[ow] Nichols and Mrs. Mary S. Gove Nichols at Port Chester had become a point whence the Free-Love luminaries sent forth their rays of Free-Love intelligence, and the consequent discontinuance of the establishment, again fixed public attention upon the idea for a time, but soon after it was again forgotten.

In October, 1853, all the persons who openly professed the Free-Love doctrines would not include more than a baker’s dozen of ladies and a score of gentlemen.  Soon after, Mr. Andrews, (who by this time had become generally acknowledged as the head of the little coterie of free-lovers,) invited this circle to visit his house one evening weekly.  The invitation was accepted, and the parties were continued during the Winter and Spring, and until the heat of the Summer occasioned most of the members of the circle to absent themselves for a few weeks in the country.  The circle had gradually increased until it had reached double the original number.  They were ladies and gentlemen of a high order of intellect, and all were persons of rare intelligence and cultivated minds; some of affluence, also, and some, too, well known to fame.  The evenings were passed mostly in conversation, though the enjoyment was occasionally heightened by vocal and instrumental music.  Another feature which was occasionally introduced, was the so-called modern spiritualism, no inconsiderable number being spiritualists, and some, mediums.  William North, the student, linguist, writer and poet, whose death by suicide took place subsequently in November, was present on nearly every occasion.  On the return of the cold weather, the parties were resumed: and as they continued, the numbers who gave in their adhesion to the Free-Love doctrines gradually augmented.  In December, a very general desire was expressed to have the circle enlarged; and acting in accordance with what seemed to be the demand, Mr. Andrews engaged a small hall situated in Bond street, near Bowery.  A coadjutor in the movement sent invitations to some eighty ladies and gentlemen to meet in the hall on a certain evening.  The night was intensely cold, but about thirty ladies and forty gentlemen responded by their presence, most of whom had been members of the circle which had been accustomed to meet at Mr. Andrews’s residence.

The object, as then announced, was to form the nucleus of a secret society, the object of which should be the mutual enjoyment of its members, and in the meetings of which everything like stiff conventionalism was to be tabooed—where no subject was too sacred for discussion, and where attraction was to be conducted under the auspices of an individual head, he taking all the responsibilities, being accountable to nobody, and he requiring of the members their cooperation only so far as they were attracted to give it; and when they were in any way dissatisfied they were at full liberty to withdraw their cooperation.  They were particularly invited to do nothing from a sense of duty, but everything from a sense of individual enjoyment.  Mr. Andrews announced that he had elected himself to the position of chief of the organization, which he christened “The Club,” and that he should require of each member, whether lady or gentleman, the sum of ten cents on each visit which they made; and he gave his assurance that he should render no account of the manner in which he managed the treasury.  In conclusion, he read the form of an obligation, which he asked each lady and gentleman to subscribe to.  It was substantially as follows:

“You do solemnly declare, by every obligation held sacred among men, that you will not divulge the secrets which may be confided to you in the meetings, or by any members of this club, or even the existence of this club, or place of meetings; and further, if you are dissatisfied with its plans and purposes, or with its chief, that you will quietly withdraw, and under no circumstances ever betray its secrets.”

After the obligation was read, each person in the room, myself included, with the exception of two or three, took the obligation, after which the evening was passed until about 11 o’clock, when the company separated.  I might add, that I was intrusted with no secrets to betray, and hence my inability at that time to violate my obligation had I the disposition.

The following week, the meeting of the Club was held in another hall, situated on the fourth floor of a government building in Broadway, in the vicinity of the St. Nicholas hotel, where they have since been held.  For three or four weeks, the meeting-nights were unfavorable, there being either heavy snows on the ground or the weather being unpropitious in other ways.  The attendance was consequently small, there being not more than fifty persons present at any of the meetings, the majority of whom, if I recollect aright, were ladies.  As the Club grew older, however, it increased in numbers, the augmentations being for some weeks more from the ranks of the ladies than from the gentlemen.  For a time, injunctions were given to exercise caution in introducing members, the aim being, I believe, to admit at first none but those who were familiar with Free-Love principles, or who were familiar with Free-Love principles, or who at least were desirous of learning, with the view of advancing truth, what the doctrines and purposes of the Free-Lovers were.  The object of this, I presume was to secure a predominance of intellectuality until such time as the Club was sufficiently powerful in this respect to preserve for it a distinctive intellectual as well as Free-Love character.  As the numbers increased, this rule was made less stringent, and the doors were opened to any persons who might be introduced by members.  For some time, the numbers of each sex in attendance of both was about one hundred and twenty.  It was anticipated that during the heat of the past summer the attendance would materially diminish.  The contrary, however, was the fact.  A noticeable feature about this period was an alarming accession to the Club of the lords of creation; so great, indeed, that partners were found difficult to obtain in dancing.  The preponderance of men continued, and it was thought best by their chief to make use of some means to bring the numbers of the sexes to an equilibrium.  Accordingly, it was announced one evening that the prices of admission would remain the same, that is, ten cents for each person, except in the case of gentlemen unaccompanied by ladies, who would be required to disgorge a quarter of a dollar.  About this time the meetings had become too crowded for comfort, and the hall was opened for a second evening each week, which arrangement still prevails.  The attendance at the Club at the present time varies from one hundred and fifty to two hundred persons, there being still a large attendance of males.  At present the Club numbers nearly twelve hundred members.  The obligation which was administered to members in their initiation I believe is now no longer used, the simple introduction of a person by a member being regarded as sufficient.  In this, however, I may be mistaken.

Having given a cursory history of the Free-Love movement in this city up to the present time, I propose now to give your readers some insight into the nature of the meetings.  About 8 o’clock in the evening we meet at the door of the building on Broadway, and at once proceed up three flights of stairs until we reach the entrance of the Club room.  I inform my friends that the tickets can be purchased from a bearded gentleman who sits in a seven-by-nine place not unlike the ticket office of a theater.  The two gentleman, having each a lady, put down a quarter and receive in return their admission tickets for themselves and ladies and five cents change.  The other gentlemen pay a quarter each, but having no lady receive a ticket and no change.  A few steps further on, and the party are informed that their hats, overcoats, cases, and the like will be taken care of for an additional compensation of two cents.  Nobody finds fault with the price, and the superfluous apparel of the party is carefully stowed away.  The doorkeeper receives the tickets.  The ladies pass into the ladies’ dressing-room to prepare their toilet, and we now enter the hall of the Club.  The main room is about seventy-five feet in length, and with a height of about twelve feet.  Five sets of quadrille are already arranged on the floor, and the floor-manager gives the signal to the musicians—two violinists and a pianist—to commence, and in a moment the dancers have taken the initiative “right and left first four.”  Seated about the room, engaged in conversation or observing the dancers, are perhaps about fifty or sixty ladies and gentlemen.  Presently, however, the room becomes crowded with visitors, and all the available space on the floor is occupied with the votaries of Terpsichore.  Not a few gentlemen are looking on somewhat gloomy because they have no partners, while some forgetting that such acts are generally deemed to be in bad taste, engage perhaps in a dance with each other, though a polite request from one of the managerial officials is sufficient to cause them to discontinue.  The floor-manager is ornamented with a badge of office—a beautiful scarf; and he has as his aids a body of self-elected policemen and police women, whose badge of office is a rosette in the form of a star.  All who occupy any positions in the Club do it, it is said, from attraction, and elect themselves.  Leaving the dancers, we enter the rear room, which is about forty feet in length by twenty in width.  This is also crowded.  Seated about tables are parties engaged in playing whist, euchre, backgammon, chess or checkers.  Others occupy their time in conversation—some discussing the subject of Socialism and reform, others, all that is new and old in the artistic world.  Occasionally the announcement is heard that Mr. Crower or Miss Squeak will favor the company with a song, and all who are attracted at once gather around the piano.  There are several quartets of singers who are members of the Club.  Two or three well-known composers and pianists also add their efforts to interest the company.  Comic songs and delineations which are occasionally given only serve to heighten the pleasure on the occasion.

A word now as to the character of the members.  The Club is made up from all the respectable ranks of society, and though it may be that persons of disreputable character are sometimes present, yet the fact is seldom indicated by their actions.  Any actions offensive to the company are generally manifested by young men, and the worst that they do is to show off a little boisterousness, but a gentle reproof from one of the police officeresses is sufficient to cause them to desist.  Where rowdyism, however, is a ruling spirit with a person, one or two visits to the club are sufficient to satisfy him that he can find but little sympathy there, and he stays away in the future.  Among the members perhaps one-third have a fair comprehension of the doctrines of the Free-Lovers, and fancy they foresee their ultimate bearings upon society in case of their general realization in practice.  There are ladies and gentlemen of rare intelligence; in many instances of high intellectual worth, who occupy superior positions in society, and against whom as respects morals nothing can be set down.  It is they who give to the Club its tone of thought.  In this circle may be found members of the bar, the medical profession, the newspaper press, authors, poets, artists, composers, merchants, teachers, architects, leading mechanics, and others—many of them persons of distinction in their several walks.  The stage, too, is represented in the Club by persons occupying leading positions in the drama.

If the activity of the circle which we have just mentioned lies in their heads, the activity of the remainder lies in their feet.  They are persons who know but little of the Free-Love movement further than that it contemplates the doing away of the marriage institution and asserting the right of persons to say what relation they will maintain to any other, and how long the relation shall exist; not a few of these, I believe, will be found on being questioned to express no sympathy with the movement whatever, and who attend the parties solely because of the entire absence of conventionality, to hear music, and participate in the enjoyments afforded.  The members of the Club are of all ages, from ten years up to three-score and ten.  The majority, however, are persons under thirty years.  Nearly all shades of religious belief are represented.  I am acquainted with Catholics who are members of the Club.  Most of the Evangelical denominations are represented in the meetings, though the representation is quite sparse.  The great majority are Unitarians, Universalists, or Spiritualists in belief; most of the leading members of the Club being also adherents to these ideas.  Husbands are often present with their wives, sons and daughters.  Still another class of persons are those come, under the impression that its members—both men and women—are an organization of fanatical sensualists, whose highest purposes are the gratification of their lusts.  Such persons visit the Club under the impression that they will be afforded facilities for such gratification themselves.  They generally give false names to the person who has charge of the registers, and the consequence is the number of Smiths, Browns, Joneses, Johnsons and Thompsons who are members of the Free Love Club is astonishing to contemplate.  Should any of these persons make any overtures to the ladies unwarranted by “passional attraction,” they generally receive a severe rebuke from the ladies themselves, who inform them that they have mistaken the character of the place they have visited, and it may be, that the offended lady will leave the gentleman’s company abruptly, even though in the midst of the quadrille.  In such case, the gentleman looks decidedly sheepish, walks off a wiser man, possibly asks pardon of the lady for the affront, and it not unfrequently happens that he seeks to learn what the true purposes of the Free-Love movement are, becomes converted, introduces his lady friends, records his real name in the register, and henceforth announces himself a Free-Lover.  Instances have occurred wherein men have called uninvited at the residences of lady members of the Club, and have received for their pains and insulting proposals—insulting, because not the outgrowth of “passional attraction”—a peremptory order to leave the house; and in some instances their departure has been greatly facilitated by the lady’s husband or brother, in a manner quite as undesirable as it was unexpected.  In attending the meetings of the Club, the noticeable feature is that all seem to enjoy themselves, all stiff formality being thrown aside, each person being the law unto himself, with nothing to restrain except one’s own sense of individual propriety and gentlemanly and lady-like deportment—except, that the conduct of persons is offensive to the chief, who, being the proprietor of the place, reserves to himself the right of resorting to extreme measures, if need be, to secure conformity to his estimate of propriety.  Such measures, I believe, have never been resorted to yet, the simple request of the chief or his aids (not he of the City hall nor his shadows) having been sufficient thus far in the history of the Club.  The only feature which strikes you as varying in any way from the ordinary course of conduct in parties or balls is that Free-Lovers of the two sexes—all who are not afraid to do so—often promenade the room with their arms entwined affectionately about one another’s waists.

The chief has announced that it is his purpose to make the club an institution for education also, and already a French class has been organized under competent instructors.  The instruction is given gratis to the members of the Club.  A dancing class is also organized by a young lady at a low price for tuition.  A class in phonographic short-hand, I have been informed, is soon to be organized by another lady.  Private theatricals, too, it is said are soon to constitute a feature.  The chief informed me a few days since that he has it in purpose not only to open the Club for meetings six evenings in the week, but also to enlarge the premises, and under a belief that Free Love is soon to be the general rule, (enthusiastic man!) he contemplates the establishment of a unitary edifice, in which “the good time coming” is to hold a perpetual jollification.  On Sunday evenings he talks of having public lectures, in which it is proposed to prove that the world is an old fogy, and that it ought to reform.

Such is the history, and such the present facts in relation to the Free-Love movement in this city.  In other cities, and in the country, the doctrines have been extensively promulgated and have found many adherents, though I believe that no organization so effective as the one in New York exists elsewhere.  The Free Lovers are more active than ever in their exertions in propagandism, and their success and their numbers increase with rapidity.  Were the movement based upon a religious dogma or a Scriptural interpretation, I should believe that it would die of itself.  But it is not.  It prescribes no belief, but accords the largest toleration, and, being based upon a well-digested philosophy, with men of acknowledged powers of mind as its champions, it bids fair to become a power in this country, unless, as I stated at the beginning of this article, the movement is attacked through its philosophy.  If it can be proved that its conclusions are false, though drawn from true premises, or that the premises are false, then the Free-Love movement will lose the sustaining power of the intelligent mind which is now embarked in it, and this gone, its end will speedily follow.  I am, sir, yours very respectfully,

New-York, Oct. 13, 1855.


New-York, Sept. 30, 1855.

DEAR—:  Don’t be alarmed at this formidable-looking sheet.  I do not know that I shall fill it; but I have some things to say that will not keep, at any rate they won’t keep hot until I see you; so I am going to write an old-fashioned letter, and run the risk of exhausting your patience.  I will not, however, waste longer time in preamble, but plunge at once into the subject of this epistle, which is—what do you think?  A Visit to the “Progressive Union” Club, or so-called “Free-Love” Society.

A few evenings since, I was invited by a friend to accompany him to the place where these meetings are held.  It is a large room over Taylor’s upper Saloon on Broadway.  I must confess to a degree of trepidation as we mounted the successive flights of stairs, and a confused notion of something dreadful in the shape of ferocious men with “immense whiskers,” “Mysterious crimson curtains,” &c., and I felt very much relieved when, after having safely passed the whiskers, we arrived without accident at the door of the “Club” room.

At the upper end of this room, and immediately before us, was an extension table, around which were seated some dozen or fifteen persons representing both sexes, who were engaged in reciting a French lesson upon a new, and certainly the most rapid plan I had ever heard.  Upon inquiry we found that this class is taught gratuitously by Mr. Andrews, the founder of the club, who devotes to it one hour (from 7 to 8 o’clock) of each evening that the society meet.  Rather surprised at this feature in a place which we had supposed would be a sort of Bacchanalian orgie, we began to breathe more freely, and took advantage of the few moments at our disposal before the hour for opening to take observations and make discoveries.

And first we looked for the crimson curtains which in the excitement of our entrance had been forgotten; but they were not to be seen.  There was a small room partitioned off as a lady’s dressing-room, but it contained nothing except ordinary shelves, a looking-glass and toilette.  We were about giving up in despair, and feeling very much as if we were witnessing a play of Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet omitted, when my friend exclaimed joyfully, “There they are,” pointing at the same time to the lower end of the room, where, sure enough the crimson curtains were fitted into a kind of recess; but what were they for? and what mysteries did their long folds conceal?  This question we determined to solve; so, making our way firmly to the spot, we took a chair and accidentally drew aside the drapery which had caused so much excitement, disclosing to our view an enormous—STOVE, rusty and venerable with age.  “Whew!” said my friend, “is that all? very nice arrangement for hiding the old stove, but no necessity for people to make such a fuss about it.”

By this time the rooms began to fill with persons, two-thirds of whom were gentlemen, and their external appearance certainly presented a study for the physiognomist.  It really seemed as if every section of Queerdom was represented.  Among the gentlemen, beards and mustaches appeared to be the predominating feature, while some of the ladies were distinguished by the immense quantity of skirt, and the small quantity of waist, in the material which composed their dresses.  To do them justice, however, these were the exceptions to the general rule.  And among others we noticed calm, intellectual faces, and many that were bright and intelligent; and we longed to ask them upon what common ground they could meet with those whose external appearance bore witness to a life of sensual indulgence.  Men and women there were, too, with genius and talent written upon their broad, high brows, looking with earnest, thoughtful eyes upon the strange panorama before them.  There sat the stern materialist from “Modern Times” with an uncompromising “turn-down” collar, side by side with a perfumed exquisite, who eyed him through his opera-glass with a glance of astonishment, not unmingled with fear.  Then came a grave philosopher, whose whole life has been spent in a mental laboratory, out of which he has succeeded in demonstrating the fact that—nothing is nothing.

But for what purpose was this mass of incongruous material, numbering now some two hundred persons, brought together?  This question I constantly asked myself, and at length determined to apply to some one for a solution of the difficulty.  Among other peculiarities we had noticed that several persons wore a sort of badge—one, we were told, to designate his office of floor manager, while several other persons of both sexes wore a sort of star rosette, forming, as we found upon inquiry, a corps of servitors, whose duty it is to facilitate introductions, preserve order, and assist, as far as possible, in promoting the happiness of all.  A broad band, fastened with a star to the shoulder, designates the chief of this odd kind of police; and, as she was a young lady of near my own age, I thought I would avail myself of the common privilege and obtain the information I sought; accordingly, the next time she passed me, I accosted her, and, placing my card in her hand, told her my object, when she kindly promised me every information in her power.  Finding that I was an entire stranger, she placed herself at my disposal for half an hour, and gayly asked me how I had dared to risk myself among such a wicked set as they were represented to be.  I answered in the same tone that I did not measure my corn by other people’s bushels, but preferred to come and see and judge for myself.

“And how do you like us?” said she, with a penetrating look.

“That I can hardly tell, just now; I am an ‘indefinite article.’  I am surprised at the number and kind of people I see here, and I should like to know something about them and what they come here for.”

“Well, you see distinctly three classes of people here; do you not?”

“No, I see nothing distinctly.  Pray define.”

“Excuse me; I forgot that you were a negation.  I will simply assert, then, that there are three classes of people here, and depend upon your observation for proof.  The first are the reformers and thinkers of every grade and nation; the second are those who come first from mere curiosity and afterward for amusement; the third are sensualists, who imagine that here they will find the gratification of their depraved appetites.  What we desire is to furnish the means for social and intellectual enjoyment, and then bring these people together to act and react upon each other.  If we can gratify the mere pleasure-seeker and at the same time infuse into his soul a nobler purpose—a higher life—is it not so much gained?  If we can wake up the dormant energy in the mind of the animal and make him feel himself a man, by bringing him in contact with other minds, perhaps not superior to his own, but born in a clearer atmosphere and directed to nobler pursuits, is it not worth working for?”

“That sounds well enough; but is it practicable?  Will it pay for the sacrifice which these superior minds must make in being brought into contact with persons so infinitely below their standard?”

“I do not consider that they make any sacrifice, if they give an idea.  They do not lose anything, and they gain the friction of social life, which is usually needed by them very much.  Besides, nature has a private system of compensations, which all will discover who choose to lend her anything.  I know the broad democracy of Mr. Andrews’s idea is very distasteful to aristocratic reformers; but exclusion and exclusive privileges have been too long the rule; it is time we should feel that we can work with and for all God’s children; and while permitting the broadest freedom consistent with the rights of others, and in giving them, and in working out the idea of a true life.  A person with an organization entirely different from my own is not necessarily bad because he does not see things as I see them.  A mere intellectuality would be just as imperfect an organization as one with an overflow of animal life.  I do not know that I make myself understood.”

“Yes,” said I, “you would go through a sort of compounding process to make an extract.”

“Exactly.  This, however, is only one of the objects of the association.  These develop themselves as numbers increase and the work progresses.”

“I have heard,” said I, “that they were about establishing a sort of immense boarding-house or ‘Unitary Home’—that is the word, I believe.  How is that?”

“Not on a large scale, at present,” said my companion.  “Such a movement would be premature.  It may grow out of it by and by; but, to succeed, it must develop itself naturally and gradually.”

“How many persons are engaged in this work?”

“You mean in this particular association?  That I cannot exactly tell.  The regular members do not probably number more than forty or fifty.  Quite a large portion of the more conservative class have fallen off, still indorsing the idea, but unwilling to do the kitchen-work necessary before mounting into freer and purer air.”

“And do you indorse the Free Love idea which forms so prominent an article in their creed?”

“If you mean freedom of the affections, I do; and so must you; for you know, if you know anything, that we cannot control their direction, though we may their manifestation.  But if you mean the indulgence of every caprice, or ministering to the depraved appetites of irregular minds, I say emphatically No.  It is precisely this state of things that we desire to do away with by substituting the pure and natural law of attraction for the base and unworthy motives, which too often actuate people in the formation of their legal unions.”

“Your law of attraction,” said I, “would do very well if people had progressed far enough to be a law unto themselves; but, with our imperfect organization and perverted inclinations, we cannot always tell whether an attraction is the result of a true spiritual affinity or not.”

“Very true; and I do not want people to act upon they do not but upon what they do know.”

“There is a class of people, and some of them come here, who are not capable of understanding the spiritual principle, but would take in at once a gross idea.”

“That is true; but they can be educated into it; and we have confidence in the power of Good and our own strength of purpose.”

“Ah!” said I, “why do you not say confidence in God?”

“That is the truest confidence in God,” said she, gently, “God within us.  But see; the German lady is going to sing, let us hear her.  Has she not a noble expression, and eyes which really light up her face?  That woman has lived and suffered.”

We listened, spell-bound, to a song so wildly mournful, and then joyfully triumphant, that it seemed, as my companion said, like the struggle of a soul.

“Who is the gentleman who is now talking to the German lady?  He impresses me as being some one worth knowing.”

“That is Dr. S., and you are right in your estimate; he is a noble and very gifted man, a fine scholar, and a true reformer.  To his principles he has sacrificed wealth, position, fame, and is at present laboring as an unpaid missionary for the interest of the cause he has at heart.”

“Is that — and the gentleman next him the author of —?”  “Yes.”

“Have you read that book?”

“No.  I have heard of it, and met the author at the North American phalanx.”

“But who is that tall gentleman; he has just stopped to speak to some one?”

“That is S. P. Andrews, the founder of the club, and the gentleman he is talking to is —, the editor of the —.”

“Who are the two gentlemen who just passed us?”

“Don’t you know the celebrated — and his friend and his fellow-laborer, Mr. —, a universal favorite he is, too; you ought to know him?  But come with me, and I will introduce you to a brave woman.  I think you will like her.”

We walked to the lower end of the room, near the entrance, where seated at the table before mentioned many persons were engaged in playing whist, checkers and various kinds of games, while a few were haply engaged in conversation; among these latter was the lady before whom my companion stopped, and presenting me, said:

“Mrs. T—, permit me to introduce to you my friend, Miss H—.”

“I shall be very happy to become acquainted with Miss H— at some future time,” said Mrs. T—, “but at present I am engaged.  When I talk to her I should like to be interesting to her.  Just now I am interested in something else.  So please excuse me.”

We turned away—I feeling rather crest-fallen at our summary dismissal; but to Miss L. it seemed to be a matter of course.

“That is a very good illustration,” said she, “of our doctrine of Individual Sovereignty.  Mrs. T. was probably interested in her conversation with that gentleman and did not wish to be interrupted; so she dismissed us; and you know one of our first principles is entire personal freedom.  But I must leave you now.  Shall I introduce you to some one, or would you rather be left to your own resources for a while?”

I professed my willingness to be independent, and so, gayly kissing her hand, she left me to reflect, wonder, and finally become absorbed in what was passing around me.

I saw quite a number of persons whom I had met at different places before, but none recognized me.  There was Mr. — of the — newspaper, and —, who was formerly editor of the —, and artists and poets, with many others of less note.

While thus indulging my faculty for observation, a young gentleman “made to order,” with hanging sleeves, mustache and a drawl, lounged up and informed me confidentially that it was his first evening there.  I expressed my sympathy, as we were fellow-sufferers in that respect.  He opened his eyes, declared himself perfectly delighted; patronisingly informed me of his intention to dance with me occasionally, and proceeded to say that his father was very wealthy and had a splendid country seat at Glen Cove; but he—the son—was not at all proud on that account.  He gave me a narrative of his recent travels, and was getting quite eloquent on the subject of natural scenery, when we were interrupted by an older man, who seated himself on the other side, and said that he judged from my manner that I was a stranger.  I told him that was my first evening.  He asked me what was my object in coming there.  I said, to acquire information; that the idea upon which the club was based was not altogether new to me, but still it was simply theoretical, and I wanted to see a little of the practical working of the system.  He desired to know the result of my investigations so far.  I replied that I had a conviction that, though the abstract idea might be correct, no dozen people in any one place were sufficiently developed to make a proper practical application of it.  He thought I did not understand or appreciate their idea, and did not know how many people had progressed to that plane of thought.  He said those attractions were generally of an internal or spiritual nature.  I told him in that case I thought the manifestation of it ought to be of a spiritual nature also; but so far as I had been able to judge, the outward indications of this spiritual sentiment were singularly like the grosser idea of the outward world.  He said I did not yet understand the principle on which they acted.  The idea was this: that every person was a magnet, and had a right to appropriate to himself everything he could attract; for instance, supposing I loved him.  I thought that was hardly a supposable case.  Well, he continued, for the sake of illustration, suppose I loved him; he should feel a perfect right to appropriate to himself as much of myself as such an individual as he would naturally attract.  If I loved him entirely, I should belong wholly to him and it would be prostitution to give myself to any one else.  He then went on to say that he was unhappy in his marriage relations; that his wife did not sympathise with his higher nature at all; that his intuitions were so perfect, and his interior illumination so clear, that no subject was too high or too profound for his mind to grasp.  He said he had felt no anxiety on the subject of his marriage relations, because he knew the right person would come along and fill up the measure of his life.  Finally, he felt an interior conviction that I was that one, and was also sure that the attraction must be mutual, as his interior promptings were never wrong.  I told him I was afraid he would have to confess himself in error this time, as, upon the principle he had just explained to me, I belonged to somebody else.

By this time it was nearly 11 o’clock the hour for closing; and my friend, whom I had not seen for some time, joined me, and thought it was time to leave.

“How do you like ‘Free Love’ society?” said he, as we passed into the street.

I replied by a slight sketch of my recent experience.  He laughed heartily.

“I don’t think,” said he, after a pause, “that you ought to take this man’s selfish philosophy as an exposition of the views of the leaders of the Society.  Mr. Andrews’s idea is much broader, more comprehensive, and humanitary.  I had an interesting conversation with him this evening; and though I cannot agree with him that the times are ripe for promulgation of the principles of ‘Individual Sovereignty,’ and ‘Harmonial Attraction,’ yet I like him for his sympathy with the down-trodden and oppressed, his persevering effort, and consistent action.  He is about adding several new features of interest to the club, which will help to define its character and increase its intellectual interest.”

“I am glad of it,” said I, “and I like the idea of working upon inferior minds by surrounding them with pleasant, happifying influences, and bringing them in contact with minds superior to their own.  But I doubt their success.  Good is not always positive to evil in this world; and as a friend of mine expresses it, ‘Old Nick always seems to keep the sharpest lookout.  For myself, I must confess a predilection for old-fashioned marriages, homes, and thanksgivings.  When men and women are capable of being a ‘law unto themselves,’ then, and not till then, may they live without the restraint of any save that ‘higher law,’ the germ of which is implanted in the breast of every man; but now so often buried beneath a load of ignorant prejudice as to be hardly discoverable.  But here we are at the door.”

And thus ended my evening at the “Free Love” Society.

L. L.


To the Editor of The N. Y. Tribune.

SIR:  I have to complain.  As one who believes that communication is free between spirits who are no longer incumbered by a clothing of mortal flesh and spirits who still breathe this grosser air, I have to complain of you and of society.  You have proscribed us; you have covered our faith with ridicule; you have put us beyond the pale of social sympathy.  Most of us care nothing for this, and can bear anything more which your ingenuity may suggest; we have withdrawn from the unbelieving world.  But the effect of this isolation upon those whom we loved most tenderly has been terrible, and you cannot but shrink from beholding it.  You know very well that our mediums are essentially receptive; that they are extremely sensitive to impressions, and that without the warmth of human sympathy they cannot live in this world.  Some of these delicate natures have been caught in a fatal snare.  For a year or two past a man who preaches the “freedom of the affections,” which I have understood means a total abolition and demolition of marriage and the implicit following of every freak of fancy or libidinous curiosity in the sexual relations, has been endeavoring to get up a society in which to reduce his disgusting theory to practice.  He of course required for this purpose a set of women who should be reckless of reputation—he has since avowed this openly—and who were refined and attractive, and yet had not sold their virtue.  He accordingly embraced Spiritualism, and began to throw around those of our mediums with whom he thought he might succeed, those influences which he supposed would be most grateful to them.  Being possessed of a very insinuating manner, he, after securing their friendship, gradually began to bring before them in the most plausible form the idea that a woman “should not be forever tied to a man whom she might and often did cease to love.”  From this he went on to inculcate the entire abolition of marriage, and then to heaven knows what.  The poor girls had to throw off all regard for public opinion when they became spiritualists; that is your fault; the rest is his.  At first, he held his levees under the guise of social parties at his own house; then he transferred them to a public hall, at which the meetings are quite private, and many estimable people followed him there.  But lately he has introduced everybody, and the revolting features of his project have revealed themselves so unmistakably that these people have left in disgust.  The thing still progresses, I believe, being now sustained by the same class of people who support some ten or twenty thousand abandoned creatures in this city as long as their beauty lasts.  I know of many families which have been broken up by these doctrines.  The man has found other attractions, sometimes several others, in more than one case eight or ten; the woman lives with another man, and her attractions are not entirely confined to him; the children, poor things, if they have the misfortune to be unable to take care of themselves, are the sufferers.  Their mother, a mother to them no longer, is perhaps raising up another brood, which excludes them from the sad remnants of a mother’s love which she may still retain for them.  Long ago, when I supposed that this free-love doctrine existed only in theory, I heard that the wife of the leader of the movement loved her husband so tenderly and so truly that it would break her heart if she knew that he practiced his principles.  She now knows it; she can now bear it; the doctrine has done its work for her.  This is not your fault, but the saddest result is.  Many of those who were once blessed to be the mediums of the truth to us from the spirit world have fallen, and that is your work.

Your obedient servant,
New-York, Oct. 12, 1855.


From the Editorial Correspondence of The Sandusky Register.

On Broadway is a room occupying the whole fourth story of a large building, where gather the professors and the disciples of the “Free Lovers.”  These persons abrogate the marriage laws, and deny their binding force.  They propose, as the only true marriage, that persons of both sexes shall come together from “affinities”—that is, they will live together as man and wife when their spiritual natures assure them they are fitted for one another, and shall only live together so long as their natures are “harmonious”—when this harmony ceases, the parties are at liberty to choose other associations, and bed and board with other of the opposite sex if they please.  This is the sum and substance of the whole institution, regard it as we may, and its fruits may be easily guessed.

We entered the room at 8 o’clock.  At one end of the large saloon was an ante-chamber, carpeted nicely, and fitted up with sofas, tables, &c.  A company of men and women—including several persons whose names would not look well in print, but who ought to be known nevertheless—were gathered around a table, reciting French to Professor [George] Batchelor, the somewhat noted French socialist, and coadjutor of Albert Brisbane and Stephen Pearl Andrews.  After a short time the lessons were over, when commenced the usual hilarity of the evening.  The attendance became constantly greater—chiefly of young men and women.  The exercises consisting of promenading—the men clasping the women around the waist, and talking apart in low tones.  This was in earnest of the “assimilation of soul” so beautifully set forth by these impractical abstractionists; and it was also in earnest of such a sin as this pen cannot record without a sense of humiliation for poor, perverse human nature.

The promenading and “reasoning together” goes on for a while, when music strikes up and the floor is filled with dancers.  All, then, looks well enough to the careless observer; but let a watchful eye be kept, and see the pressing of hands that is going on, the leering of eyes, the encircling of waists by the gentlemen’s arms, and there is little room for doubt of the character of the “affinity which would bring souls harmoniously together.”  We looked on in utter astonishment, and could but turn in indignation to the apostles of such a gross deception, to protest against its enormity.

In a lady present we found a willing communicant, and facts enough were given us to authorize the interposition of the strong hand of the law to break up the gatherings.  Young women, beautiful and accomplished, were pointed out to us as having given themselves up to the embraces of certain young men, for whom they had an “affinity,” while the whole brotherhood looked on approvingly and seemed to regard it as entirely proper!  One beautiful French girl, present, looked worn and exhausted; it was told us by our lady informant that six weeks ago Mademoiselle was as blooming and lovable a creature as ever graced any parlor—that she had become so thoroughly indoctrinated with the Free-Love principles as to become a truthful disciple—and, as a consequent, she had become the mistress of four or five of the “spiritual minded,” and was now but a wreck of what was a pure woman a few weeks since!  This, we were assured, was but one of many instances; and yet the “Club” was rapidly increasing, drawing within it many people of intelligence and virtue, who thus blindly sold themselves to the devil, in the pursuit of an abstraction which is but impurity itself in its reduction to practice.


To the Editors of The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser.

I read in The Morning Express of Tuesday an article copied from The Sandusky Register, written by one of its editors, O. J. Victor, headed Free-Love, describing a club in New-York advocating that principle.  He began his description by saying that several persons were gathered around a table reciting French to Prof. Batchelor, the coadjutor of Albert Brisbane and S. P. Andrews.

Now this Mr. Victor begins by telling a very silly and superficial falsehood at the outset.  Prof. B. is not a coadjutor of mine in any way.  He is a very remarkable, quiet and retiring gentleman, who I have met several times in New York, and for whose sterling qualities I have much esteem, but with whom I have no operations in common of any kind.  If this Mr. Victor had as much regard for truth as he pretends to have for morality, he would inform himself more carefully of the relations of persons and their operations, before he spreads a calumny which will run over the country from the character of the details which he connects with it.

A reader would infer that Prof. B. and myself were coadjutors in getting up the club, and that I was at the bottom of it.  Now, in fact, I had nothing to do with it—neither the honor nor dishonor, as the case may be—and Prof. B., I am sure, had as little.  I mention this simply as a fact, not that I wish in the least to disclaim a copartnership with any operation, however unpopular, for I do not seek the passing popularity of public opinion.

The gentleman who got up the club has succeeded beyond anything that I anticipated.  He had two objects in view; one was to furnish cheap amusements for the people, to give them balls, parties, soirees, &c., bring them together, and enable them to enjoy a social intercourse which now is not within their reach.  The other was to establish the principle of the sovereignty of the individual, that is, the right of every individual to be the sole judge of his or her own actions, and to follow the dictates of his or her own attractions, provided it did not infringe upon the rights of others.  This would lead to Free-Love or not, according to the taste of individuals.  It proclaims liberty in the exercise of the sentiments, breaks down prejudices, and the rights of criticism, and establishes tolerance in the opinions of persons as regards each other’s actions.  I doubt very much whether the civilizees have strength and elevation of character sufficient to be allowed to exercise the principle of Individual Sovereignty; if they had, it would be a good means of discipline.  Disorders and follies would occur in the beginning, but they would be of very little consequence.

If a man has a right to think for himself, he has a right to feel for himself.  If he has a right to follow his own ideas, he has a right to follow his own attractions.  Before Luther’s time, the right of man to think, to examine his individual reason, was denied to him; at the present day, the right of the individual to feel for himself, to follow his attractions, is condemned by the moralists as immoral and vicious.  They who advocate the Sovereignty of the Individual assert that this new principle must be proclaimed and battled for till triumphant.

All beginnings or transitions are imperfect, and the Club in question may be no exception; but the principle in the abstract is true.  How far its advocates may succeed in establishing it, I do not know; but I wish them success.  Any thing that helps break up the spiritual stagnation of present society, is a good thing.

Mr. Victor describes a French girl as worn and exhausted, which I am sure is another falsehood, prompted by prejudice.  He recommends that the Club be held up to scorn by the press, and suppressed even.  If he is as zealous as he pretends, and as much in earnest, let him begin at home in his own town of Sandusky.  I will warrant him that a goodly number of Free-Love clubs are to be found in it, with women very much “worn and exhausted,” and frequented by men whose names, as he says, should be made known.  I recommend him at once to commence his investigations, and publish a few names of his fellow-townsmen as he does of persons in New York.


“The Free-Love Meeting.  Immense Attendance.  Interference and Arrests,” The New-York Daily Tribune, October 19, 1855.

The “Club” last evening, in consequence of the publicity of its designs given by The Tribune on Tuesday last, was very largely attended.  There could not have been less than five hundred persons present.  Most of the ladies of the club, anticipating a great crowd of all sorts of people, stayed away.  Not more than fifteen or eighteen were present.  Mr. Andrews was confined to his bed, having had a severe attack of hemorrhage of the lungs.  Those of his lady friends who had called to see him, he had exhorted to attend the club, and to be firm and brave, whatever might occur; he feared that this night the crisis would come.  They must remember that they were struggling now for the freedom of their sex in all time to come.

The crowd came in, and the room was soon filled almost to suffocation.  Most people had to look behind the crimson curtains at the mammoth stove described in The Tribune, and some of them contemplated it as though it was a tremendous engine to blow up society with.  Your reporter was a novice at the Club, and was among this number.  Others, however, after a careful searching scrutiny into all faces and behind all curtains, whispered to their friends that the whole affair was a humbug, and they didn’t believe in Free-Love at all.  After desperate efforts on their part to get their quarter’s worth in staring and wondering when the performance was to come on, Mr. Henry Clapp mounted on a platform at one end of the hall and made a speech.  Your reporter learned that this speech-making was a device of Mr. Andrews to drive away the crowds of men whom it was supposed the exposé in The Tribune would bring.  Whatever may be thought of Mr. Andrews as a practical man generally, no one can deny but this was a most ingenious and effective expedient.  As the speech was intended to be a bore, and the smaller room was rendered endurable by the withdrawal of people to hear the speech, your reporter made himself as comfortable as possible in that room in conversation with some ladies to whom he had been introduced.  A few straggling words, which reached his ear, enabled him to know what was going on.  Mr. Clapp gave an account of the origin and growth of the league, and told how it was transformed into the club; a better history was given in our issue of Tuesday.  Mr. Clapp told all outsiders that they had been fooled by the press, and would not find anything of the kind which they had anticipated; in fact, that they had been cheated by the newspapers out of twenty-five cents.  Most of those present cheered this declaration of their own asininity, evidently determined to cheer something.  So closed the first speech.

Mr. Albert Brisbane then took the platform and made a few remarks on the same subject, stating that Mr. Andrews’s object had been to organize amusement for the people; to get up a place for them where they could come at a small expense, find rational amusement instead of going to grog-shops and gambling-houses.  He proceeded to make some remarks considerably over the fact that the time had come when the great principles of Free Love could be discussed.  He adverted to the opposition which Temperance and anti-Slavery met with in their early days, and rejoiced that the doctrine of Free Love also had passed its time of persecution.  He mentioned incidentally to those who came out of morbid curiosity that the free love which they desired they could find in Mercer street.

The speeches, to a considerable extent, had the desired effect, many people having left, and the hall began to be comfortable again, when suddenly it was noised about that the police were at the door and about to arrest this party en masse.  The effects produced by the announcement were various.  Men scattered like sheep, and very soon there was an equilibrium between the sexes.  Masculine Free-lovers were among the missing, and more than one of the ladies was obliged to accept the arm of a reporter.  The lady of the chief of the league remained until all had gone.  When asked to go, and when threatened by the police with arrest, she said, “My Willie is here—he will have to stay until all are gone; I cannot go and leave him.”  The passage down stairs was tolerably well lined with policemen, and the ladies found no great difficulty until they arrived at the sidewalk.  Here the entrance was beset by several hundred rowdies, among whom there were no policemen, as usual.

The crowd yelled and hooted like demons, but readily made way, so that there was little difficulty in passing through them.  It was long before the crowd disappeared, even after all had gone and the door was locked.


A crowd of two or three hundred persons followed Captain Turnbull and Officers Cunningham, Roach, McGinney, Van Buren and Beach, with their prisoners to the Eighth ward Station house, where the scene was of a most exciting nature.  The prisoners were marshaled before the bench, and their names as follows taken by Captain Turnbull, and entered, with their offenses, upon his register:

Albert Brisbane, disorderly conduct.

Thomas Harland, assault and battery, and keeping a disorderly house.

John Henderson, interfering with officers in discharge of their duty.

Benjamin Henderson, attempting to rescue prisoner.

The majority of the persons in the Station house were personal friends of those arrested, although there were several among the crowd who seemed to relish the affair as a great joke, and acted in such a manner that the captain was obliged to call them to order.

Among the property handed over to the captain was the sum of one hundred and eight dollars and thirty-nine cents in gold, silver and bills, by Mr. Harland, the receipts of the institution up to the time of the arrests.

The complaints having been made and entered upon the register, the prisoners were taken below and locked up in separate cells; after which the Station house was cleared of those persons having no business there.

The following statement relative to the affair was [     ]

The captain says his attention (last evening) was attracted to the place by a large crowd at the front door, among whom he recognized several suspicious characters.  He immediately sought out Capt. Kissner of the Fourteenth ward and consulted with him on the subject, which consultation resulted in a determination to visit the place, as they both had during the day heard rumors that a disturbance was anticipated at the club in the evening.  They accordingly went up, but were stopped at the door.  Having stated who they were, the door-keeper told them it was only a private party, and that they had no business there in their official capacity.  They then paid twenty-five cents each and were allowed to enter.  They proceeded to the head of the room where Mr. Brisbane was making a speech, using language in violation of all decency.  After listening a short time to his remarks they returned to the rear of the room, when they heard a scuffle in the hall, and upon going out found Mr. Cockefair and Mr. Harland, the door-keeper clinched.  Captain Turnbull asked Harland if his name was Wheeler, to which Harland replied in the negative, and that he was only the door-keeper.  Upon complaint of Cockefair Mr. Harland was then arrested on a charge of assault and battery.  At this time Mr. Brisbane came into the hall, when he was also apprehended for disorderly conduct.  Mr. Henderson made some impertinent remarks, when the captain told him to go on or he would arrest him; but the former replied that he could not take him.  Henderson then called for his friends, and Capt. Turnbull called upon the citizens for assistance.  Henderson and his brother were then arrested, the former, as was alleged, for interfering with an officer in the discharge of his duty, and the latter for attempting to rescue a prisoner.

Mr. Harland told our reporter, on a visit to his cell, that the first disturbance which he saw was from a man who came up to him and attempted to pass him without paying the usual charge.  He stopped him, and the man, who proved to be Mr. Cockefair, a “shadow,” as we were informed by a policeman, caught Mr. H. by the collar and there were some blows.  Mr. Harland called upon Capt. Turnbull, who was near by, to arrest the intruder, and was himself immediately arrested.


To the Editor of The N. Y. Tribune.

SIR:  For some time past a small society has been accustomed to hold their weekly meetings in a room on Broadway, hired, furnished, lighted, and provided for in all respects by themselves, asking fear nor favor from any.  Their assemblies were of the most orderly and peaceful character; their amusements of an intellectual and social nature.  The society itself was composed of persons, many of them scholars and men of high reputation, and slander would have shrunk abashed from the presence of the noble women who added the charm and grace of their presence to these social gatherings.  Within a few weeks, however, various rumors and reports have spread themselves abroad in the city, slander has been busy with the private character and pursuits of individuals who sought for no publicity, nor yet shrank from it, having nothing to conceal.  The press has used its freedom to propagate these infamous slanders, and thereby awakened the curiosity of the vilest, most degraded portion of the population of New-York, and the consequence is one of the most outrageous and infamous acts of despotism that ever disgraced the page of history.  Last evening the society met as usual, and commenced its exercises, when to the astonishment of the regular attendants, crowds of strange-looking men poured in, gazing here and there with looks of eager curiosity, what did they expect to see?  Their presence broke up the usual quiet and harmony of the club.  The members could do nothing but sit still, and watch the proceedings of their strange looking, and still stranger acting, visitors.  Still anxious to do something for their entertainment, and partly atone for the absence of the chief, (who was prevented by sickness from being present), some gentlemen volunteered speeches, which were simply expositions of principles—explanations of the aims and objects of the leaders of the society.  It was an organization for the discussion of social, moral, political, and religious subjects, and comprehended means for recreation and amusement of an innocent character, open to all.  Where then is the justice of a horde of men breaking into a peaceful meeting, interfering with the exercises by their disorderly conduct, and then followed by a gang of policemen, who, instead of arresting the disturbers of the peace, bluster about trying to frighten women, and finally carried off a man known all over the world—for what?  For persevering efforts in behalf of the degraded masses; for earnest devotion to what he believed to be the truth; and for this, on this 18th day of October, 1855, in the free and enlightened city of New-York, this man was dragged off to the Tombs, in company with another equally innocent person, and two frightened women; and where were the mob who had done all the wrong that had been done?  Stationed at the door to bravely hoot and yell at the noble women who dare think for themselves, but upon whose fair fame no breath of suspicion has ever rested.  Where is the freedom of speech, freedom of action, in this boasted America, when a quiet meeting is permitted to be broken up by a disorderly rabble, and the ears of pure, innocent women saluted with language fit only for the vile dens of Water street?  But do they think by these means to put a stop to free, independent thought and action?  No, ten thousand times, no.  Every breath will be but the echo of a thousand voices, from all parts of the world, proclaiming freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of action, as the Divine right of man.  And for what, in the name of all that is good, has this cruel and wicked injustice been done?  Because a few men and women chose to meet together for instruction and amusement, throwing their doors open to the investigation of the public, because this public, excited by a venal press, crowded the little gathering out of their accustomed enjoyment, and obliged them to sit quietly down and wait the issue of this measure.  In the course of events they must not only quietly submit to the disturbance, but they must be branded with every opprobrious epithet, hooted at and vilified by an insane mob, and then deprived of personal liberty, and sent to associate with the vilest wretches and most degraded outcasts.  This is the liberty of New-York!  For this, our fathers fought and died!  Glorious descendants of such sires, well have ye kept what they died to win.

L. L.

“A Rich Development.  Free Love Nowhere.  The “Club” Broken Up by the Police.  Intense Excitement.  Albert Brisbane in Prison.  Three Others Keeping Him Company.  A Series of Speeches That Made a Serious Row.  Full Details of the Explosion,” The New-York Daily Times, October 19, 1855.

The Free-Love Club is broken up—its glory departed—its leaders in prison—its funds in possession of the Police—its “attractions” ended.

The Police last evening made a descent upon the premises occupied by the Club, at No. 555 Broadway, over Taylor’s saloon, and arrested Albert Brisbane, the well known Socialist, and three others, who were confined in prison during the night.  The event created the most intense excitement in the vicinity.

The particulars are as follows:

The usual Thursday meeting of the Club took place last evening.  At the appointed hour, 8 o’clock, the regular members who attend punctually, were duly on hand.  They were followed in the space of two hours by a great crowd of men, young and old, who were in search of novelties, and found them before the evening was over.  It had been anticipated that the members in attendance on this particular evening would be some thing extraordinary, in consequence of the newspaper publicity which has been given to the doings of the Club within the past fortnight.  The expectation was not disappointed.  There were probably upward of three hundred persons present, first and last, during the entertainment.  Many of these were very young men.  Many were old men, gray haired and venerable, who embraced Free Love doctrines fervently.  All went on quietly until about 8 ½ o’clock, when speaking was commenced.  Mr. Henry Clapp, who is a prominent spokesman for the Socialists, led off.  He made a violent speech in denunciation of the Press of this City, which we sketch below.  Mr. Albert Brisbane, followed him in a harangue, in which he declared that New-York’s chief institution is Mercer street, and that without that locality New-York would not be what it is; it would be simply a dull city of merchants.

Mr. Brisbane’s remarks were received with decided disfavor, and it was feared that he would be assaulted before he could leave the room.  Two Police Captains, Capt. Turnbull of the Eighth, and Capt. Kissner of the Fourteenth wards, happened to be among the audience during the delivery of Brisbane’s speech, having dropped in to take an observation, in consequence of complaints which had been entered against the establishment by Mr. Taylor, and others doing business in that vicinity.  The gatherings had been complained of as disorderly in their character, and there were rumors afloat that the house had been brought to the notice of the Grand Jury.

These facts induced the Captains of the Eighth and Fourteenth wards to concerted measures for suppressing the concern.  Early in the evening, a crowd began to collect about the doors of the saloon, and the business of the adjoining houses was seriously interfered with.  Capt. Turnbull observed among this crowd a number of suspicious characters, known to the Police, and considered that the proper time had arrived for interfering with the performances up stairs.  He accordingly conferred with Capt. Kissner, and the two Captains, accompanied by Officers Cunningham and Roach of the Eighth District, proceeded to the place, demanded entrance, and were refused, on the plea that the gathering was a private one.  Capt. Turnbull and Capt. Kissner were both in plain clothes, wearing only their stars.  The officers finally paid the entrance fee of 25 cents, and walked in.

After Brisbane had concluded his speech, Capt. Turnbull heard a scuffle in the hall, went out to see what was the matter, and found the door keeper, Mr. Thomas Harland, clinched with a Mr. Cockefair.  Capt. Turnbull asked Harland if his name was Wheeler; he replied “No; that he was acting for Mr. Wheeler.”  Cockefair made a charge of assault and battery against Harland, and upon this charge it became Capt. Turnbull’s duty to take Harland into custody.  Harland resisted; Capt. Turnbull called for assistance; several citizens stepped forward, and Harland was taken down stairs and put in charge, to be conveyed to the Eighth Ward Station house.  Two brothers, John Henderson and Benjamin Henderson, who came to the rescue of Harland, were likewise arrested for interference with the officers in the discharge of their duties.  Mr. Brisbane himself came out to see what the trouble was, and was arrested by Capt. Turnbull, on a charge of disorderly conduct, and was also conducted to the Station-house.


The scene that followed these arrests baffles any description.  There was no longer any “passional attraction.”  It was all passionate repulsion.  Several highly respectable gentlemen, well known in the literary world and in politics, sought to make a speedy exit.  The Police Captains stood by the door, warning the company to disperse quietly, and the ladies hurried to their dressing room to recover hats and shawls, and then rushed out to find their escorts.  Nervous young gentlemen, destitute of hats and bemoaning rent gloves and departed overcoats, dashed about to add to the confusion.  Mr. Stephen Pearl Andrews, the financial and reformatory mover in this enterprise, was absent, for the first time since the organization of the Club, suffering under severe illness.  A large number of ladies were present—strong minded women, who came to reason philosophically, and found to their sorrow that philosophy did not work.  At 9 ¼ o’clock precisely, the gas was turned off in the larger room; fifteen minutes later the entire premises were in darkness, and our reporter, with precisely five other men, descended the staircases in profound silence and darkness.  (Our reporter is generally on hand where there is anything brewing; he was morally certain there was to be a row, and so dropped in—hoping, like Paul Pry, “that he did not intrude.”)

In Broadway, around the doors of Taylor’s small Saloon, and thickly packed upon the sidewalks for nearly the distance of a block, stood an expectant crowd, who had got wind of the fun that was to be heard of above, and who watched with intense eagerness the egress of one victim after another in the relentless grasp of the Police.  Our reporter made unto himself “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” and went to the Station-house to hold converse with the unhappy persons who had already been conveyed to that secure retreat.

As the female members of the Club emerged from the doors, like a flock of frightened sheep chased by wolves, the Police following closely in their track, the crowd raised loud shouts—“Make way for the ladies”—Here they come”—Three cheers”—“Let us see ‘em”—Hoo-rar for the Free-Lovers,” &c., &c., &c.


The scene at the Eighth Ward Station-house, if it had not been melancholy, would have been very comical.

Brisbane, descending a pair of stairs, (which we must say were uncommonly clean for a Prison staircase,) was ushered into an apartment guarded by a superfluity of iron latticing, and of confined dimensions.  Here the key was turned upon him, and here we left him at 12 o’clock, philosophically resigned, and anxious that nothing should be published.  This was, however, a request which we find it impossible to grant.  The charge upon which Mr. Brisbane is committed, is that of disorderly conduct in making an incendiary speech, calculated to create a disturbance.

Mr. Thomas Harland, the acting door-keeper, stood by the Captain’s desk counting up his money, in order that it might be deposited in the Captain’s charge till morning.  The amount of the night’s receipts was very respectable, figuring up the handsome sum of $108.29; in specie and bills as follows:

In Bills  $ 62.00
In Gold      3.00
In Silver    43.29

TOTAL $108.29

To which add contents of a wallet:

Total      $443.82

Mr. Harland having disposed of this “pile,” divested himself of his watch and penknife, and was marched below to be locked up.

The two Hendersons, before mentioned, were locked up on a charge of resisting officers.

Mr. E. F. Underhill made a bee-line for a Magistrate, but failed to find Justice Bogart, so Mr. Brisbane remained in custody.

There was great excitement and a considerable crowd in the Station-house.

All the arrested parties will have their hearing this morning at 7 ½ o’clock, at the Jefferson Market Police Court.


Mr. Henry Clapp and Mr. Albert Brisbane have themselves to thank for the catastrophe.  Had they refrained from the very incautious, injudicious and grossly offensive addresses which they put forth during last evening, their performances would probably not have suffered a violent interruption.  The crowd would have dispersed quietly, at the bidding of the Police, and no arrests would have been made.

We have not space, in the overcrowded condition of our columns this morning to report the speeches, further than to give a general idea of their scope and tenor.

Mr. Clapp said the “Club” had issued no prospectuses, had published no bills, had desired no publicity.  But publicity had been given to it; its objects had been misrepresented; its aims falsely stated.  It had no objection to publicity.  It did nothing of which it was ashamed.  It had not sought publicity; but publicity had been thrust upon it.  It was something, in this cowardly Nineteenth Century, to find a few men and women, who were above suspicion of wrong, who would come forward and boldly avow their belief.  The “Club” threw wide open the doors of its hospitality, and invited to its meetings men and women who were not afraid to utter reformatory sentiments.  But the Press, said Mr. Clapp—(and here he became very violent)—with ever-eager eyes—fixed upon anything that promises to pander to a prurient curiosity—ready to do anything and everything to add to its lust of gain—ready to fall down and lick up the very mire in the streets—looks down our chimneys, seeks to invade our domestic circles; misrepresents us in every possible way.  Through its influence you have come here to-night, gentlemen!  And what have you found here?  Are we men and women, who meet here day by day for social intercourse, or are we a pack of idiots, as we have been told by that greater idiot, the Press?  James Gordon Bennett, Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond, par nobile fratrum, are the glorious triumvirate to whose agency we are indebted for these favors.  (Great sensation—hisses—cheers, &c.)

Mr. Brisbane was loudly called for.  He got up on a chair, with right leg extended upon the baize-covered table before him, and spoke rapidly for half an hour.  After discussing the affairs of the “Club” on general principles, he branched off in a sidelong dissertation on Prostitution.  He said that New-York was nothing else than a Great Free-Love Club!  Men came here from abroad because it is so.  Mercer street is full of Free Love Clubs; without them New-York would not be what it is.  It is they which attract such crowds of strangers hither, and if any man then present could say he had never been in that locality, and had found what he went to seek—in short, if there was one purely moral man in the room, Mr. B. wanted him to step forward where he could be seen.  (Here there was observed a general shrinkage.)

Mr. Brisbane continued in this strain for some time longer.  Taylor’s saloon, he said, was a grand depot for the female members of these Free-Love Clubs that congregated in Mercer-street.

Suppose all this were blotted out—What would New-York become?  It would be so dull a City that nobody would come to it.  [Roars of laughter; the women began to blush.]  It would become a City dull and stupid—nothing but a congregation of merchants!

The speeches ended in a row.  The row ended in arrests.  The arrests ended in a prison.  What the prisoners will do to-day remains to be determined.  It was a rich, rare, funny and ever-to-be-remembered development.


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