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them. Tell me,
are not the days at hand of which he spake, who was of my kindred in the flesh, but my
Master in the things of the spirit? Are not the days nigh when
? there shall be woe to the daughters of Jerusalem who bear their
young whither they go, and when the barren shall be more blessed than she that hath borne seven ? Why discern ye not better the times and the seasons?
Samaritan: — The husbandman hath waited patiently for the early and the latter rain. Shall not we also wait patiently to know the will of the Lord ?
Stranger. Wait upon Jehovah; but do also the work of Jehovah, under the laws which he hath given, and moved thereunto by thy faith.
Hearken! I was with the Prophet when he carried out to burial, and raised him up, so that he hath gone to and fro among us since. Let not thy faith be as the young man of Nain when he was indeed fair to look upon, but cold and still, and tending to decay. Let it rather be as the living man who glorifieth God, and showeth loving-kindness unto man. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
WHILE, as a nation, we are setting to work in earnest to prepare for ourselves institutions which will, in all probability, lessen the amount of crime within our borders, the greater number of us are little aware how barbarous are those
* The Eighth Report of the Committee of the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline. 1832. Punishment of Death. A Series of short Articles, &c. 1832.
of our regulations which relate to the custody and punishment of criminals. Our ignorance is not the less because we venerate the names of Howard and of Romilly. If this had been enough, their philanthropic successors would not now have had to deplore that the work begun by them has made little progress, in comparison with the time which has elapsed since they set it on foot; and that our treatment of the sinning part of our population is as largely compounded of folly and cruelty, as if our Christianity were no more than a name, and our civilization a false and conceited assumption. As a nation, we have not even arrived at the principle of punishment; we are blind to its objects, and therefore erring in the use of its means.
The lowest classes among us look upon punishment as sheer cruelty, inflicted by those who have power, for some unknown purpose of gratification or advantage. Those a little above them regard punishment as vengeance; others, as something connected with crime by an unknown moral necessity; others, more enlightened, see in it a benevolent purpose of preventing more evil by the infliction of less. Few, very few, question whether any right exists to inflict punishment at all, except in as far as punishment is involved in the regulations by which the orderly part of society is secured from aggression. Of all these, the lower classes know most of the facts of the treatment of our criminals; and all that they know is so corroborative of their notions of punishment being either gratuitous cruelty or vengeance, that we must not expect them to improve their conceptions till we have amended our management.
In order to bring about this amendment, the comparatively enlightened classes must be more fully informed than they are of the actual state of our criminal policy; and such of them as are practised in tracing institutions to their principles must be loudly called upon to apply their philosophy where it has never yet been applied by more than a few individuals, who,
groaning in spirit, have taken upon themselves' as much as individuals might bear of the responsibilities of a nation. It is not enough to carry on Howard's department of the work, or even to perpetuate the labors of Romilly; for, like all other moral labors, this grows upon the hands. It is not enough (though, alas! it is still much wanted) to go into our prisons, and see that the inmates have air, and light, and food, and water. It is not enough, though it is much, to see that they are not confined month after month, year after
year, before there is so much as an attempt to prove a charge against them. It is not enough, though it is much, to strive to free our penal code from the barbarities and absurdities of former ages. Further than this, it ought to be, it must be, ascertained what constitutes crime in the present age; how society may be best guarded from its aggressions; and whether that kind of punishment which consists in the arbitrary infliction of suffering serves the purpose of security, or any other purpose ; and whether, therefore, such infliction is authorized.
It is clearly the duty of a government to protect its subjects from the aggressions of crime; and, in consequence, to seclude, or otherwise render powerless, its criminal members. This appears to us to be the limit of its authority, in the first instance. This should be the object, not only in the process of arrest and custody previous to trial, but after conviction. We cannot discern whence is given the power to inflict arbitrary suffering in the case of guilt, more than in any other
A just direction of natural consequences answers all the good purposes ever contemplated in the institution of arbitrary punishments, and refers the responsibility whither it ought to rest, on that Providence which has ordained misery to be the natural consequence of guilt. A man breaks into his neighbour's dwelling to steal his goods : we punish him with death. This certainly secures society from his
future trespasses; but it does much more, - much more, that we can perceive no warrant for our doing. It destroys a life which we recognise no commission to take; and which, for aught we know, might be made useful to the community and happy to the individual : it perplexes the notions of moral cause and effect, right and wrong, duty and Providence, in the minds of multitudes; and excites tumults of angry passions : thus demoralizing instead of warning, and tending to the propagation instead of the repression of evil. How different are the effects of punishment by natural consequence!
The man has done his neighbour wrong, and must therefore be secluded, that he may not again do an injury. This is the reason of his imprisonment, which is longer or shorter, in proportion to the apparent probabilities of his repeating the offence, - that is, to the aggravation of the circumstances and to the offender's known character. In prison, he must not be a burden to the community, and must work, not only for his bread, but for the expenses which he has caused to be incurred in secluding him. This is the reason of his being condemned to hard labor. If, in his seclusion, he attempts further injury to those yet within his reach, a closer confinement is ordered for the same purpose as the first. Hence solitary confinement, and, if ever necessary, fetters. The other regulations of his prison arise, some out of the position in which the culprit has placed himself, and not out of the will of his judges and jailers; and others out of their responsibility for his benefit, that he shall re-enter the world no worse, as far as in them lies, than when he quitted it. Hence arise the circumstances of his abode, his employments, his recreations, - in short, the routine of his prison-life. Is not this what is wanted for the security of society? Is not this still punishment, - most irksome punishment to the offender, while it allows him to feel himself, not the victim of
tyranny, but the ward of justice? Is not this the discipline to satisfy instead of revolting the injured, to obviate the oppressions of the agents of the law, to educate the moral sense of the community, while it answers all the proposed objects of an arbitrary penal system? Is it not easy to be understood in its
purpose and in its workings? — far more easy than the inexplicable and empirical method, - if method it may be called, — according to which justice is at present administered?
That human governments will in time bring their penal rule into an analogy with the divine, we cannot doubt. The divine government ordained arbitrary punishments in the infancy of the peculiar people, and afterwards withdrew its ordinances, when they became capable of recognising and anticipating natural consequences; and thus ought it to be with human governments. In barbarous ages and countries, crimes are little less arbitrary than punishments; as in Russia, not very long ago, the wearing of shoe-strings was punishable with imprisonment, and in India the killing of a cow, with death. In proportion as States approximate to a right application of the eternal principles of morals, should their penal government approximate to the divine rule of natural consequence; for which precisely the same reasons exist as that a parent should lay aside the rod and the holidaytreat when his child grows up into the youth.
It is a difficult task to arrange the penal government of a nation like ours in its present state, combining as it does the wisdom of manhood and the lowest ignorance and folly of infancy, - much of the refinement of advanced civilization, and some of the brutalization of a savage state. It is difficult to provide punishments which it does not shock the consciences and sensibilities of the injured to inflict, and which may at the same time be prospectively dreadful to the aggres
This difficulty, great at the best, we aggravate to the