« السابقةمتابعة »
ments of society.* It is in the same conversation between the same individuals, from which the foregoing extract was taken : "Let me advise you on no account, [said Wood,] to fly to strong waters for consolation, Joan. One nail drives out another, it's true; but the worst nail
*There are many arrangements in society, which are not only unjust, but are of the most pernicious tendency. Not the least among them; is the unequal distribution of punishment. What is meant by this statement, will be learned, as applied to the particular instance given in the following extract:
"We read in a New York paper, that Oliver Major was sent to the City Prison for 30 days, for stealing one boot; Cornelius Sullivan, to Blackwell's Island, for three months, for stealing three Guernsey frocks; Joe Thompson, for 60 days, for stealing one ham. We suppose that the first was barefooted, the second barebacked, and the third hungry. In the same paper we read that the Newburyport Bank, in Massachusetts, had failed with about $100,000 of immediate liabilities, and about $13,000 of immediate means; that its notes were offered at a discount of 50 per cent. with no buyers; that one poor man, who had been saving money to pay his rent, had $30 of its notes, for which he could not obtain more than $6; that another poor and old man had just been paid $10 in its notes, which was his all; that many widows and orphans were holders of its notes; and that one man connected with it, and who employs many hands, paid them in its notes on the very afternoon before its failure, in sums of from $3 to $15, to the amount of $800. Here are the beauties of the promise banking system! Theft and robberies by wholesale!
Now if either of these poor men, or of these hands, had sto len one boot or one ham, what an outcry justice would have made, and how promptly she would have sent them to prison! But when a bank director, who employs many hands, whose daily labor is all their means of daily bread, deliberately swindles them with the notes of a bank which, he well knows, will explode in a few hours through his own management, he is still allowed to strut through society, followed by no curses, excepting from the poor whom he has plundered, and greeted with the adulation of all who found respectability upon wealth."-Phil. Ledger.
you can employ is a coffin nail. Gin Lane's
the nearest road to the church-yard." "It may be; but if it shortens the distance, and lightens the journey, I care not," retorted the widow, who seemed by this reproach to be roused into sudden eloquence. "To those who, like me, have never been able to get out of the dark and dreary paths of life, the grave is indeed a refuge, and the sooner they reach it the better. The spirit I drink may be poisonit may kill me-perhaps it is killing me: but so would hunger, cold, misery-so would my own thoughts. I should have gone mad without it. Gin is the poor man's friend-his whole set-off against the rich man's luxury. It comforts him when he is most forlorn. It may be treacherous, it may lay up a store of future wo; but it insures present happiness, and that is sufficient. When I have traversed the streets a houseless -wanderer, driven with curses from every door where I have solicited alms, and with blows from every gateway where I have sought shelter-when I have crept into some deserted building, and stretched my wearied limbs upon a bulk, in the vain hope of repose-or, worse than all, when frenzied with want, I have yielded to horrible temptation, and earned a meal in the only way I could earn one-when I have felt, at times like these, my heart sink within
me, I have drunk of this drink, and I have at once forgotten my cares, my poverty, my guilt. Old thoughts, old feelings, old faces, and old scenes have returned to me, and I have fancied myself happy-as happy as I am now.' And she burst into a wild, hysterical laugh."
"Poor creature!' ejaculated Wood. 'Do you call this frantic glee happiness?" "
"It's all the happiness I have known for years,' returned the widow, becoming suddenly calm, and it's short-lived enough, as you perceive. I tell you what, Mr. Wood,' added she, in a hollow voice and with a ghastly look, 'gin may bring ruin; but as long as poverty, vice, and ill usage exist, it will be drunk.'
How many poor creatures, frowned on by the world, driven from all chance of repentance, without one friendly voice to say as the Saviour said, "go, and sin no more," have reasoned as this woman reas easoned, and gone to destruction while attempting to drown their guilt and sorrow in the bowl of intoxication. It is in vain to disguise the fact, that the largest share of the squalor and filth, the poverty and intemperance, the prostitution and fraud, which exists in every community, may be fairly charged to the follies, unnatural rules, vicious fashions, and demoralizing examples of society. Think of it and talk of it as we may, it is solemn truth, that most of
the poor and the wretched owe their degradation to that wicked state of society which consigns them to drudgery, and shuts them out from all hope of rising to better things, by making them "hewers of wood and drawers of water." Can any person deem that state of society kind, (thank God, it is passing away!) which sanctioned the laws that tore the poor and honest debtor from his family, to place him in a hopeless imprisonment, where, without the possibility of obtaining means to pay his debt, he was left to rot into his grave with despair, while his wife and children sunk into unpitying poverty, and perhaps to crimes that make the heart creep with horror? Well did an English author represent a poor debtor in Fleet Prison answering a man who spoke to him of friends : "Friends!" interposed the man, in a voice which rattled in his throat; [he was sick ;]" if I lay dead at the bottom of the deepest mine in the world, tight screwed down and soldered in my coffin, rotting in the dark and filthy ditch that drags its slime along beneath the foundation of this prison, I could not be more forgotten or unheeded than I am here. I am a dead mandead to society, without the pity they bestow on those whose souls have passed" away. "Friends to see me! My God! I have sunk from the prime of life into old age in this place,
and there is not one to raise his hand above my bed, when I lie dead upon it, and say, 'it is a blessing he is gone.'"
It is incredible to persons entirely unacquainted with the history of the imprisonment of debtors, what cruelties have been practiced, and barbarous indignities have been heaped upon persons whose only crime was debt-cruelties and indignities which could not raise money, nor return aught to the creditor or to community, save the miserable reflection that revenge was glutted with suffering. Let any person read, the Life of John Howard carefully, and any of the documents relating to the imprisonment of debtors in our own country, and the conviction will not come slowly that the tender mercies which have fallen upon them, are the most unchristian vengeance-dishonorable to the creditor, dishonorable to legislators, and cruel to its victims. I would by no means justify a man in wronging his creditor, by obtaining his property, and deliberately determining to swindle him out of it. Such a man should be punished in all ways that tend to enforce restitution and check the evil in others. But of what utility can it be, to take a debtor, especially one whose misfortunes render him unable to pay, and separate him from his family, whose