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dark arched cells, where no ray of light but by the door could find entrance, and where all that is imagined of the solitary and subterranean dungeon-holes of feudal castles might be fully realized. Strong, massy chains were fastened to the floor, and the grating, and the thick ironstudded doors, now thrown down, showed that an attempt at escape must have been futile. No prisoner has occupied these horrible abodes for nearly forty years. The last prisoner had been thrust in for some crime out of the usual course, his situation not made known to the keeper, and he perished miserably, without being able to make his voice heard. What must have been the sensations of the poor wretch, thus to feel life passing away in the horrors of famine and darkness!! The upper rooms on Walnut street are, we believe, chiefly used for the sick, and so also with one or two in the rear. Beyond these, in the upper story, is a series of cells, wherein are confined several prisoners for crimes of various degrees of atrocity. We passed to this place over a kind of bridge, and it seemed to us a 'bridge of sighs;' heavy chains rattled at the doors of the corridors that passed between the range of cells, and numerous heavy bars were removed, and strong locks turned, before the iron doors rolled heavy upon their reluctant hinges. We could see, through the gratings,
the miserable prisoner stretched out upon the floor of his narrow abode, little curious to ascertain what had caused the disturbance, certain that it could not reach through the iron of his dungeon, or suspend the steady, galling operation of the deep and just vengeance of the law.*
"We paused at the grating of a cell, and the gentleman who accompanied us, spoke to the inmate. The voice was that of kindness, and it was evident that the prisoner was used to that tone from the keeper. He stepped forward from the dark rear of the cell, and placed himself against the grated door. Ten long years had been passed in durance by this offender against our laws, and a strong iron frame, that had stood up against war and the elements, was yielding as a consequence of inaction. A strong light from an open grate in the passage where we stood, fell on the pallid features of the prisoner, and placed him in bold relief in the dark ground of his unlit cell.
"The multitude in the yard and the workshops were busy; they seemed little different
*Vengeance'? Are our laws indeed vengeful? We fear they are-yes, even revengeful in some cases. Oh, Judge of all the earth, may they soon become as thou requirest us to beas Thou art-benevolent, forgiving, kind-remembering mercy amid chastisement, and seeking the reformation of the suffered in all punishments!”—Rev. A. B. Grosh, of the Magazine and Advocate, Utica.
from the inmates of an almshouse; their number and movements prevented reflection; but here was food for thought. Hope had almost ceased with the man. Sixteen years of his sentence were yet unexpired, and there was scarcely a ground to expect that he would survive that period in confinement. With this world thus receding, we questioned him of his hopes of that towards which he was hastening. His mind was clouded; there was a lack of early favorable impressions, and he seemed to share in the common feelings of convicts, that his crime had not been more than that of men who had escaped with less punishment, and when we asked him of his sense of guilt towards Him who was yet to be his judge, the poor man confessed his offences, but so mingled that confession with comparisons of crime, that we feared he saw darkly the path of duty; there was no complaint; much humility, much sense of degradation distinguished his speech, and a deep sense of gratitude towards the keeper who accompanied us, was manifest in his manner and language.
"Having answered the questions which he put to us on important subjects, with what little ability we had, and added the advice which mankind are more ready to give than to follow, we prepared to depart; a slight flush came to
the cheek of the prisoner, as he pressed his forehead against the bars of his cell, and his hand, which long absence from labor and from light had blanched to the lustre of infancy, was thrust through the aperture, not boldly to seize ours, not meanly to solicit, but rather as if in the hope that accident might favor him with a contact. Man, leprous with crime, is human—and a warm touch of pity passes with electric swiftness to the heart. Tears from that fountain that had long been deemed dried up, fell fast and heavy upon the dungeon floor.
"The keeper had moved away from the grate, and we were about to follow, when the prisoner said, in a low voice,
"One word more, if you please. You seem to understand these things. Do the spirits of the departed ever come back to witness the actions and situation of the living?''
Many people believe it,' we replied, ‘and the Scripture says that there is 'joy in heaven over a sinner that repenteth' on earth. It may, therefore, be true.'
'My poor, poor
66 6 It may be,' said the man. mother!!" "
That fearful imprisonment could not touch him-but when the thought came rushing into his mind, that his mother witnessed his situa
tion, his degradation, imprisonment, and sufferings, his heart felt its power, and he bowed before the shrine of that mother's memory, who had watched over him in infancy, and with paternal fondness sought many methods to secure his happiness and welfare. But, though fact might be piled upon fact, yet it could not be rendered more demonstrably true, that the law "overcome evil with good," is the only correct principle upon which to found all prison discipline intended to cure offenders, and render them useful members of society. Still, notwithstanding Christianity, notwithstanding experience and humanity, very many of even American prisons carry out their internal regulations solely through fear of the whip. And if a prisoner infringes a law governing his actions while in confinement, his person is seared with the bloody marks of the lash, every stroke of which, not only inflicts pain upon his body, but strikes degradation and infamy deeper into the soul, until the last hope of reformation is extinguished. Oh, with all our boasted light and civilization, in many things we grope in darkness which belongs to the thirteenth, rather than to the nineteeth century. For we give up the holy, governing power which Christianity puts into our hands, and consent to use a barbarism