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Judge Coleridge's fallacies.

dismissed Governor of Birmingham Gaol, who had been conivicted of various acts of cruelty to Edward Andrews, a prisoner, which terminated in the suicide of the offender, thus excuses himself for leniency in condemning Austen to only three months' imprisonment. First, the learned Judge contends that, excess of zeal alone having caused Austen to be guilty of torture and homicide, his punishment ought necessarily to be slight, and next argues that, as the welfare of society demands some punishment for every recognizable offence, he is compelled to sentence Austen to imprisonnent for a short time. In fact the learned Judge's argument comes to this— Austen, the over-zealous man, deserves no punishment—but, for example's sake, I am forced to punish him. Here are the Judge's own words: “The great object of all punishment was—that a warning might be given to all other persons; and, with that view, the sentence which he, (Mr. Justice Coleridge) was directed to pronounce, was—that the defendant be imprisoned in the Queen's Prison for three calendar months; and, during that time, be kept among the first class misdemenants.”

How long is law to be administered by fallacies like these? The plea for punishing the bad Governor at all is—“that a warning might be given to all other persons.” Is the argument sound? The shade of Bacon would prove you by fact, and the inductive process, that warnings never do warn. Experience proves, however, that they often attract. How frequently may one observe that the occurrence and punishment of some horrid crime-made as public as possible for example’s sake-are followed by many other crimes just of the same sort? There seems to be a mysterious attractiona fearful contagious epidemic-like power of spreading in crime, that would incline wise legislators rather to deal with it as with the plague, and subject it to quarantine and cordons, than to bring it into full contact with man—for warning's sake. "Flagitia abscondi oportet-is a maxim which might be learned from the wisdom of antiquity. Can any one believe that the gallows, or any such warning, ever checked a man in the moment of passion? The very punishment—to man's strange nature—becomes an attraction. Witness the Jack Shepherds of a past day, with whom to march to the gallows with a nosegay and to die game was an object of high ambition. The experimental proof that punishments did not act as warnings, but the contrary, is, that crimes have diminished in proportion as penalties have been remitted. Forgeries, highway robberies are dying out into the past, and, altogether, our criminal calendar does not keep pace with the increase of our population. It is true that the Capital punishment should be abolished at once.


newspapers sometimes relate the (to me apocryphal) wordsin the last dying speech of some brutal wife-murderer—that he would not have gone so far had he thought he should really be hung for it. But I imagine there is little reality in such words, even supposing them to have been uttered. Either they are prompted, or the man would get up a claptrap at his exit-or possibly he believes, in the cool prison, what certainly would not have been the case in the heat of wife-murder. Notwithstanding this little bit of humbug, there begins, almost everywhere, to be a dim misgiving that example is but a scarecrow and executions serve no good end. Hence some, who do not go so far as abolition, wish that execution should take place in private. No wonder! considering the horrid scenes—as unlike the good effects of a wholesome warning as possible—which have taken place at some executions in our day: of that of the Mannings for instance.

Others again-benevolent but cautious—are for a gradual abolition of capital punishments, and would defer the final consummation of their far-sighted humane projects until men are educated and bettered up to the proper point and fitted for such a millenium. But whether the remission of capital punishment itself would not hasten the millenium, just as (possibly) the abolition of South State American Slavery might—is another question which few ask themselves. Yet this might seem plain—that whatever punishment ought to be huddled up in private ought not to take place at all, and that whatever ought to be abolished at some distant day is unsound and can serve no good purpose any day. Away with such rotten deceptions, and sawdust of old saws !

Let me say a few words on the second principle of the Munich Prison, namely, the inducing offenders to govern themselves rather than restraining and governing them ab extra.

Surely in the long run this is the best policy, for, even if the severe system answers while the ciminal is in durance, what good will it have done when the offender is turned out again upon society? As the Governor of the Munich Institution said, “No punishment or system can effect permanent good that is not felt and accepted by the criminal himself.” The proof is, with us, the quick return of old offenders to their old prison : while, from the Munich Governor I learnt that it was the rarest case to have a criminal, once emancipated, return to the institution. Self-conviction, self-government, self-restraint, are for all times and places. The fact is, we are so taken up with the old phantoms, fearful warning, and terrible example, that we think very little about the criminal himself. And there he is, a man, endowed with a human heart, with human passions, with a


We care not for the unhappy criminals.

sense of justice-oh, how injured ! writhing under the neglect of his fellow-men, and having a whole world in him of which they know nothing. No! He is not to be a man, but a warning, an example. And was it for this that God created him? No wonder he blasphemes. How can he believe God cares for him when he sees man does not? With him it is a virtue to be an atheist, for the God that he deduces from the treatment he receives would be to him a demon. Is not his case hard? Yet God, perhaps, created criminals, that we might have our best feelings excited in trying to reclaim them. The sick are a cry for a physician.

To produce an inward change in an offender, to make the criminal feel that he is a criminal, and acknowledge the justice of his sentence, as regards himself and others--these are high ends which it were well to aim at. Criminals do not understand our justice. They have been born into the realm of nature, as her human wolves or tigers (there are also toads and bats, but these generally get on very well), badly organized, low in intelligence; and then they have not been elevated by discipline and education, their animal propensities have not been balanced by mental culture. Was this their choice? Do men choose misery and torture? Scarcely do they understand their own acts, not at all their punish

Like Schiller's “criminal from lost honour," or the Michel Kohlhaas" of Von Kleist, they imagine that they wage a fair war with society who has done so little for them. On our side, as Schiller truly says in the masterly preamble to his Verbrecher, 8c. (speaking of a crimiual), “We regard the unhappy person, who was still as much a man as ourselves, both when he committed the act, and when he atoned for it, as a creature of another species, whose blood flows differently from our own, and whose will does not obey the same regulations as our own."

How beautifully does the great master go on!

“But the friend of truth seeks a mother for these lost children. He seeks her in the unalterable structure of the human soul, and in the variable conditions by which it is influenced from without; and by scarcling both these he is sure to find her. He is no more astonished to see the poisonous hemlock thriving in that bed, in every other part of which wholesome herbs are growing, than to find wisdom and folly, virtue and vice, together in the same cradle. Not to mention (continues Schiller), any of the benefits which psychology derives from such a method of considering the criminal, this method has alone the preference, because it uproots the cruel scorn and proud security with which erect and untempted virtue commonly looks down upon the fallen.”


Our treatment of criminals radically wrong.


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From this great gulf between the two classes, designated, in common parlance, the good and bad (as if gradations between the two were not infinite), comes it that our efforts to convince many a criminal of his guilt and of the justice of his sentence are abortive. The right chord is not struck in them. Thus, Barthelemy (whose organization has been so finely explained in The Zoist) when he is assured of the claplain's good will towards him, only replies, “If you mean me well, why am I not free to walk out of this place ?” Difficult question to answer, when a man is only free to walk out from a prison to a scaffold. In the face of such a fact, it would be absurd to attempt to convince a criminal that society meant well by him. But, if we could say, “Let you out we dare not, for you would still do more than you have done, injure yourself and others; but we keep you here to teach you self-restraint,” then indeed might we consistently talk to a prisoner of our Clıristian love towards him and our interest in his welfare. And even Barthelemy had a soft point in his heart. He wept when his father was mentioned, and held in his hand on the scaffold, as a last consolation, the letter of the only person who he thought really cared for him through guilt and sorrow.

Truly has Harriet Martineau said that the worst have in them a vulnerable point, a tender chord which may be touched,-a fact which she exemplifies by relating how she tried in America to soften and better a prisoner under solitary confinement for some grave offence; how, at first, she failed so entirely as almost to doubt hier own theory ; till, at last, she happened to say to the man, “You have a mother !” when he burst into a passion of tears, and the ground was broken up for the good seed of gentle remonstrance.

That there is something radically wrong in our system of treating criminals, no one who observes facts can doubt. So far from teaching those, for whose instruction we are responsible, the worth and reward of good conduct, we seem to try to render it valueless in their eyes. With this tendency of our laws, I was struck during a visit to the Tothill Fields Prison, which, nevertheless, is as good a prison as can be under our existing systems, and is admirably and benevolently administered by Mr. Tracy, the Governor, a man whose zcal is in every respect, the opposite of that of Lieutenant Austen. Mr. Tracy had explained to me that certain placarded numbers affixed to the boys' arms meant the number of times they had been returned to the prison. Observing a boy of about eight years of age, with a non-criminal physiognomy, who yet had upon his arm No. Six, I asked the little fellow for what fault he had been so often committed to prison ?


What happens in our prisons could not at Munich.

The answer was, “For not moving on, Sir.” I looked sur. prised, but Mr. Tracy assured me the boy had answered me with perfect truth. He was no thief, no ill-doer, only apt to be in the way of the police, because, like the poor boy in Bleak House, he did not know where to go. Yet on either side of this harmless and neglected one were little thieves of as arrant a dye as any organization could proclaim. Now, what must be the tendency of imprisonment on such a boy as the poor little fellow who would not (or could not) keep moving ? Certainly not self-acquiescence in the justice of his punishment, but, unless he be a miracle of goodness, a rebellious dissatisfaction which must tend to make him a useless, if not a hurtful, member of society.

Again, see what happens from our prisoners not acquiescing in our tender mercies towards them, in our treadmills, silent systems, solitary confinement systems, and all the ingenious tortures devised on the terrible-example principle. Under the head of “Poisoning Extraordinary," I find in the Daily News an account of the death of a convict in the Junior Prison at Parkhurst. He was transported about five years since for robbing a till, that is, transported to the prison at Parkhurst. The evidence on the inquest disclosed the extraordinary efforts devised by the prisoners for escaping their daily employ (what daily employ ?), and gaining admission into the hospital. Some of them, with this view, were in the habit of making their eyes and legs sore, running stocking-needles right through their knees, eating ground glass, or bleeding themselves with knives or lancets (surreptitiously obtained) down to death's door. The man in question had, by the prescription of a fellow-prisoner, scraped verdigris off an old pump, made it up into pills with soap, thinking only to make himself sick ; but, taking too strong a dose, had killed himself.

Now could such a case have occurred in the Munich Prison, or in any prison where the mind was ameliorated instead of the body being tyrannized over? Gross ignorance on the part of the criminals, ignorance that lies at our door, is at the bottom of all this. Our prisoners come out of an uninstructed class, and no pains is taken to make them feel the justice, or even understand the meaning of their punish

Of the three men, who now lie in gaol for the Waterford murder, it is stated in the Sun) that “they are all extremely ignorant, and seem unaware of the consequences of a conviction of the offence with which they stand charged.” Ought these things to be ?

Then, as to the useless labour system, so well repudiated in the Munich Prison, what good results can come from thus


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