Ethical relativism has, in many people's opinion, destroyed that grand old fellow, Natural Law, and his chum, Moral Absolutism.
The conservative is particularly upset about this. He yearns for the bygone days when manners made the man, and the community was held together by shared values. All that is wrong in the world today he judges a product of the moral anarchy nurtured by the rejection of natural law.
Safe Counsel will be particularly valuable to those who look back nostalgically to the golden age of universal morality. For those adrift on the sea of relativism and naturalism, Safe Counsel is a Gibraltar of immutable rules of conduct.
The book's teachings have much relevance even today, which testifies to their eternal validity. Counsel of particular interest to Harvard and Radcliffe students is printed below on the assumption that enlightenment will lead to ethical goodness.
For patrons of Cronin's: "Alcoholic stimulants have a record of woe second to nothing. The sot is prone in life's very gutter; bloated, reeking and polluted with the doggery's slops and filfth."
For bohemians: "Avoid what is called the 'ruffianly style of dress' or the slouchy appearance of a half-unbuttoned vest, and suspenderless pantaloons. That sort of affectation is, if possible, more disgusting than the painfully elaborate frippery of the dandy or dude."
For Radcliffe freshmen: "Better not be engaged until twenty-two. You are then more competent to judge the honesty and falsity of man. Nature has thrown a wall of maidenly modesty around you. Preserve that and not let your affection be trifled with while too young by any youthful flirt who is in search of hearts to conquer."
For club members: "It is enough to make the angels weep to see a great mass of America's wealthy and better-class sons full of zeal and fire with interest in the surging hundreds of the sisterhood of shame and death."
For Central Kitchen victims: "Should you find a worm or insect in your food, say nothing about it."
Time and circumstances alter, but true moral principles endure eternally. The present generation has forgotten that what is old, is, indeed, good and true.
It is for this reason that Safe Counsel, written in 1904, is a valuable guide for those seeking spiritual and moral redemption. As the authors warn: "Let the reader of this work study its pages carefully ... and remember that purity of purpose and purity of character are the brightest jewels in the crown of immortality."
"Strive for excellence," advise the authors, "and you never will be found in the sinks of pollution, and on the benches of retailers and gamblers."