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life valuable, in the exchange of freedom for the most degrading form of slavery, in the total extinction for the present of that hope of "bettering" which man, according to Schiller, never ceases to cherish, and in the all but total extinction of hope even when liberty shall be regained, do the wormwood and the gall of convict life consist. Moved about in that grave-like silence, every spark of spontaneity quenched in your existence, conscious of being converted from a man into a thing, and made the part of a huge clock-work mechanism, must you not feel the sauds of life drag themselves along with unutterable weariness? The minuteness of the precautions necessary to prevent suicide in prisons demonstrates the agonizing nature of imprisonment as a punishment.
We should try, says Mr. Carlyle, "to do justice" to our criminals. Assuredly; but it is really impossible, at whatever cost in the way of obstruction to the flow of discourse, to proceed practically, without asking what is meant by justice. "I have no pocket definition of justice," angrily replies Mr. Carlyle. The law of England, in respect of criminals, must" correspond to the law of the universe." Wo are to do toward them "approximately as God Almighty does toward them." The "official person, a polite man otherwise," to whom Mr. Carlyle offered this definition of justice to criminals, "grinned as he best could some semblance of a laugh, mirthful as that of an ass eating thistles, and ended in 'Hah, oh, ah !'" The official person could not, without violation of colloquial courtesy, have told his eloquent rebuker that there is no way of extracting rules for practical guidance out of propositions to which a score of persons may attach a score of different meanings. We are forced, however, to pause for a moment in presence of the question,What is justice?
Kant wondered that there is so much kindness and so little justice in the world. John Stuart Mill expresses in his Posthumous Essays the opinion that there is a trace of kindness discoverablc'in nature, but no trace whatever of justice. These are weighty authorities; yet, if justice is the doing or giving something for an equivalent, and kindness the doing or giving something without money and without price, then it seems to me that, in the arrangements of nature, there is more of justice than of kindness. Nature, in a rather vague but, on the whole, trustworthy fashion, does give a quid pro quo. If you plough the ground, sow the seed, hoe out the weeds, and reap the corn, you may count upon having a return for your labor. But nature gives nothmg for nothing. No fruit drops into the mouth. All life, from its first quiverings in protoplasmic jelly, to its manifestation in the highest activities of civilized man, is sustained by what we may figure either as a struggle with nature, or as a paying to nature, in labor, of nature's price. When this price is not paid, nature shows no mercy; and it is not always through wickedness, it is very often through weakness, that nature's price is not paid. Nature's justice is to punish weakness with death. Is this, then, the justice we are to follow in dealing with human criminals?
Within the provinces of life there is kindness; animals are tender to their young, more or less gentle or tolerant to each other, when not raging with hunger; and in human society a great part is played by kindness. But it is only from associating nature, in idea, with sentient, rational, and benevolent beings, that nature can be called kind. The dew-drop is tender, only because it is like a human tear. As wo rise from stage to stage of life, from stage to stage of civilization, we find nature's merciless justice more and more softened. And is theFe not the very highest authority, human and Divine, for asserting that
Earthly power doth then show likest God's
To season justice with mercy is indeed a delicate and difficult problem, and intensest care must be taken that the mercy does DRACONIAN JUSTICE
not corrupt the justice; but the mood of burning anger is not that in which this problem is likely to be rightly solved. "Mark it," says Mr. Carlyle, "my diabolical friends, I mean to lay leather on the backs of you, collars round the necks of you; and will teach you, after the example of the gods, that this world is not your inheritance, or glad to see you in it. You, ye diabolical canaille, what has a governor much to do with you? You, I think, he will rather swiftly dismiss from his thoughts—which have the whole celestial and terrestrial for their scope, and not the subterranean of scoundreldom alone. You, I consider, he will sweep pretty rapidly into some special Convict Colony or remote domestic moorland, into some stonewalled silent system, under hard drill-sergeants, just as Rhadamanthus, and inflexible as he, and there leave you to reap what you have sown; he meanwhile turning his endeavors to the thousand-fold immeasurable interests of men and gods—dismissing the one extremely contemptible interest of scoundrels; sweeping that into the cesspool, tumbling that over London Bridge, in a very brief manner, if needful."
The still small voice of mercy, venturing to season this Draconian justice with the accurate information of science, pauses to inquire who the criminals, thus destined for the cesspool, are. Science finds that there is a too literal truth in Carlyle's description of the dog-faces, ox-faces, and so on, for which he would appoint the whip and the collar. Professor Benedict, of Vienna, having instituted researches into the brains and skulls of criminals, found that, out of sixteen brains examined, not one was normal, all approached the types of brain found among animals. Medical men have discovered that an enormous proportion of criminals possess a naturally defective constitution. Such persons are born to a heritage of woe, placed under fearful disadvantage in the battle of life.
Convicts have been divided by careful and calm observers into (1) those who, by evil propensity and inveterate bent of nature, are incorrigibly bad; (2) those who, not through voluntary badness, but from irremediable infirmity of will, or confusion of mental perceptions, cannot keep up in the march of life, or hold their own in the universal competitive battle, or resist temptation; and (3) those who are, in no deep sense, criminals at all, but have, cither through erroneous judgment of the tribunals, or some quite exceptional act of criminality, become convicts. As an illustration of the kind of justice which may overtake criminals of the third class, I would refer to a case stated by Lord Advocate Young to the Social Science Congress in 1877. A youth, having been respectable, fell into crime, was convicted, conducted himself excellently in prison, and was released with a certificate. Getting employment as a railway porter, he rose to be stoker, and was on the eve of being promoted to be engine-driver, when he was discovered to be a returned convict, and was discharged. Three times he procured a situation, and three times he was turned adrift, because either his employers or his fellow-workmen heard that he had been a ticket-of-leave man. Driven to despair and drink, he fell again into crime, and, wThen the Lord Advocate spoke, he was awaiting his trial. To such an extent had utter hopelessness racked his brain that his reason was in danger.
Justice and mercy both would decline to put the second and third of the above classes of convicts into the same category with the first; and even for the first, who may have inherited criminal propensities of dcmon-like strength, justice and mercy both would prescribe, after due trial made, swift death rather than the chronic death-in-life of hopeless captivity. He who would -lay on the scourge with the heaviness of God's hand would need the omniscience of God's eye.
Mr. Carlyle will have it that intellectual stupidity is equivalent to moral delinquency. "The one always means the other." But ^'is, with the utmost deference consistent with absolute disagreement, I hold to be one of the worst of those
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MERCY JUSTIFIED OF HER CHILDREN.
errors which flaw the rock of Carlyle's mountain-ranges. I cannot imagine any one who has seen the tear gather in the eye of an honest, ingenuous, good child, while it resolutely but vainly attempted to remember the stanza or to do the sum which, to the brighter sister or brother, presented no difficulty whatever, continuing to doubt that a golden heart may beat below a brain of lead. Here again, strangely but indubitably, amidst his Draconian utterances, crops out Mr. Carlyle's optimistic vein. He cannot bring himself to believe that nature could ever treat weakness as vice, unless weakness were necessarily vicious; but those who believe that, at this point precisely, the universal imperfection of created things reaches its climax of imperfection, arc under no temptation to paint the shadows out of nature's landscape. It is because nature's justice is blind and hard, and because man is weak, that the religion of Divine Pity was taught at Bethlehem and on Calvary.
Mercy, at all events, has been justified of her children. While the Draconian method was pursued with criminals—before the reforms instituted by Howard, and carried out by a large succession of men worthy to walk in his steps, were dreamed of — while little boys were hanged with stones in their pockets to make them heavy enough, and criminals of all ages were treated as a "diabolic canaille"—the criminal classes did not diminish, and society was warred upon with a defiant ruthlessness correspondent to its own. But the tempering of justice with mercy, the mingling of hope with the anguish of criminal snffering, the consideration of all those circumstances which mitigate the guilt of convicts, the persevering attempt to awaken within them the reminiscence of a nobler manhood, have proved their efficacy by the gradual but sure curtailment of the criminal class. Crime being found to be, in very many cases, the offspring as well as the parent of misery and misfortune, Borne progress has been made toward the application to the criminal problem, on a far wider scale than had been at