Newspaper Page Text
%• prison JMtrror.
Vol. 3. No. 51. SWEET MEMORIES. Amid the silver glacier’s light Far up the mountain's frozen height The Alpine flowers bud and bloom Within their dreary ice bound home; Like gems of purest light inlaid In some dark cavern’s dismal shade. Beneath the soft and fleecy clouds That float like angels veiled in shrouds. Athwart the rosy tinted brows Of peaks that rise in northern snows— These fragile “things of beauty’’ sweet Spring up mid parks and slopes of sleet. Bven thus within the human heart Some gentle memories ne'er can part; Their unknown incense gives relief, And soothes the bitter storms of grief; And still they bloom tho' sorrows roll A green oasis for the soul. Human Longevity. The terra of “threescore years and ten” is usually looked upon as the outer limit of human life, and a man is said, on reaching that period, to have arrived at “a good old age,” But yet. we can scarcely take up a number of our daily and weekly journals without meeting numberless instances in which hearty and healthful life has been prolonged to the century, and not unfre quently, considerably beyond it. This lon gevity is due to a variety of causes; and. as we all desire to live as long as we can, the subject will not be uninteresting, as a mat ter of inquiry and contemplation. The page of history discloses the fact that longevity is frequently hereditary, not only in individual families, but in commu nities and nations. In olden times, when the occupation of the people was chiefly confined to agriculture and stock raising, the normal average term of life ranged from 150 to 200 years. Among the Indo-Euro pean races, the ordinary period of existence is about 120 years, and the extreme limit is officially placed at five generations, or 150 years. Among the African races, we find numerous authenticated instances where the limit of 100 years has been exceeded, but none of them reach the age of the Cau casian. The average duration of life in Europe (in the nineteenth century) is very brief; ranging from 26 to 33 years—a fact mainly attributable to the poverty of the masses and their want of attention to sani tary and hygienic laws. In the more densely populated cities and towns of the United States, the average duration of life does not exceed 35 or 38 years; though in the agricultural and more sparsely settled districts there are a large number of families and individuals, the span of whose lives is extended,*until the age of 80, 90, 100 and even 105 or 106 is reached. It may at first seem somewhat surprising that, in a climate so bracing and health inspiring as ours, and with the sub stantial, wholesome food so generally ob tainable in this country, the average term of life should be so short; but, when we take into consideration, the high pressure (mentally and physically) maintained by the ordinary American citizen, the amount of mental excitement and physical exertion which he crowds into one day of business life; the extraordinary means he adopts to “keep up the steam,” and his reckless, ir regular, careless habits as to food, clothing, sanitary and household matters —it is al most a miracle that he lasts as long as he does. Button, Haller and Flourens, the great ethnological authorities, assert that every animal, the human race included, lives in in its normal condition, six or seven times the period of its growth, the minimum of which is 18 years, making a total of from 104 to 125 years, and fixing the average duration of man’s life at from 90 to 100 years. In ratification of this theory, they relate a number of cases in which the ex treme limit reaches nearly two centuries. • Sir Henry Holland, another celebrated eth nologist, has expressed his belief, founded on well-ascertained facts, that human ex istence is frequently prolonged to between 110 and 140 years; while a recent writer, a Mr. Thomas, remarks that the evidence as yet afforded of any existence beyond the age of 110 is exceedingly untrustworthy. In a work published in London, England, in 1844, by Sir John Sinclair, and entitled —New Orleans Picayune “ IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” Stillwater, Minn., Thursday, xJuly 31, 1890. “The Code of Health aud Longevity,” we have an authenticated account of an Hun garian, who died at the age of 184 years. He had a son living, by his third wife, who was 97 years of age. This old man’s only food was milk and cakes; and he lived long enough to see and know his descendants to the fifth generation. Another Hungarian, John Rovin, was 174 years old and his wife Sarah 164 years of age, and their great grandsons respectively 27 and 35 years old, at the time of their death. Great Britain records a host of long-lived men and women. The celebrated Henry Jenkins lived to the age of 169; and Old Parr who lived in the reigns of ten kings and queens to 152 years. In a work pub lished by James Easton, at Salisbury. Eng land. in the year 1799, the ages of 1712 per sons are recorded, all of whom considerably exceeded 100 years; 1310 of that number lived until between 100 and 110; 277 from 110 to 120; 84 from 120 to 130; 26 from 130 to 140; 7 from 140 to 150; 3 from 150 to 160; 2 from 160 to 170; and 3 from 170 to 185. We might continue to enumerate in stances of longevity all over the world, suf ficient to fill two pages of this paper, were it necessary; but we will content ourselves by referring our readers, for further in stances of extraordinary longevity—and proceed to the question at issue, viz.: “How is it that the term of man’s life has been shortened to one-third its natural span?” Scientific studies and philosophical con templation, when pursued in moderation, do not tend to shorten life, for the average age of the ancient philosophers was 98 or 100. Clergymen seem to be the longest lived, as a class, in the entire ' community, though many of our poets and prose writers live to a good old age. But Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was surgeon general in the American army of the Revolution seems to have struck the key-note to the whole ques tion; at any rate, as regards the causes of longevity, or the reverse, in the United States. He considers temperate, regular living, adherence to hygienic and sanitary laws, and an inherited strength of constitu tion. the most essential requisites for lon gevity. He says: “My experience has been that intemperance in eating is more prejudicial to long life than intemperance in drinking, for I haye only met one man of 84 years of age who was a glutton, for five who were occasionally intemperate in drinking, and reached that age.” He ex presses a strong dislike to spirit drinking, and considers it a great shortner of life. He looks upon active engagement in busi ness, politics, religion and studious pur suits as great incentives to long life, if they are not carried on to excess, so as to ex haust the mental and physical faculties, “as they impart a vigor to the understand ing, which is sympathetically conveyed to and participated in by the physical func tions—thereby securing health and long life.” But now the question will naturally oc cur to our readers: “How is it that the in dustrial classes, as a body, are so short lived?” They, the “working-bees” of the community, do not, in fact, live out, half their days. While at the zenith of ‘their usefulness, with their intellectual forces and mechanical skill at the maximum of vigor, are stricken down by disease and suf fering; their affections and mental faculties disturbed, deranged and paralyzed; ending, in a fearful majority of instances, in perma nent disablement or early death. The pro lific causes of this calamitous state of things may be easily discovered in the degenerating influences existing in our cities aud towns, and the aimless, hand-to-mouth existence they lead. Living in crowded dwellings, surrounded by poisonous exhalations of all kinds, their homes unattractive and un healthy, for want of care and cleanliness, impoverished by insufficient or improper food; and unable, from the limited means at their disposal, to indulge in the necessary relaxation from continuous and inadequately remunerative toil, their minds and bodies become enervated and prostrated; and, just at the time when their service would be of the greatest value to those dependent upon them and the community at large—they are cut off and annihilated as a producing power, and either become paupers or “teu ants of God’s acre.” It is not our province to point out a rem edy, or demonstrate where the responsibil ity for this condition of thiugs may lie; we can only state the fact, and leave the mat ter in the hands of political and social econ t omists, for them to find a practical and ef fective remedy. F. J. G. Charlestown Prison, Mass. Schools In Prison. In these enlightened days, crime is looked upon as indicating the presence of a disease capable of yielding to proper remedies and specific individual treatment. It is true that the science of peno neurological treat ment of crime diseases is still in its infancy; yet it has made more progress in the last decade than has any other section of the alienist’s province in medicine. Every ad vanced penologist looks upon new discover ies with something akin to pleasure, if those discoveries but promise a solution of the weighty problem of the rehabilitation of the criminal. Such men as Richard Vaux and Major McLaughery are always in search of new methods to gain the end for which all penal institutions are established. This end is the perpetual protection of society through the reformation of the criminal. Fichte claims that this reformation must needs be a political reformation, “since no man can judge of the inner changes of a man’s moral nature.” While there is. and always will be, room for hypocrisy and imposition in such matters, experience teaches that it is possible to judge of the certainty and gen uineness of such changes as would warrant a belief in a desire to live rightly in the future. Such a moral change as society has a right to demand can be indicated only by conduct without verbal professions. It is not difficult to pick and choose the false from the genuine. The difficulty rests en tirely in finding the means of making or producing this change, ‘i hose who have given the matter most thought have declared that education based on moral instruction or religion will do more toward accomplishing this end than all other methods combined. The first announcement of a purpose of trying to school the manhood of convicted criminals was made by Gen. A. C. Pilsbnry, of the Albany County Penitentiary, in 1870. He defined his position in a paper read be fore the National Prison Congress, and boldly declared his belief in the efficacy of moral and literary instruction in aiding a man to overcome temptation. This, too. was by the advocate of the strictest of prison disciplinary systems. He established his prison class of ninety-three members. Of those ninety-three, only four men afterward returned to a life of crime. The suceess of this first American prison school was so pronounced as to lead to the opening of one in Sing Sing. Of this Sing Sing school the Superintendent of Prisons has this to say: “For five years this school has been in suc cessful operatiou, and has proved a most ex cellent auxiliary in the discipline of the prisoners, transforming noisy and restless men into quiet interested readers of good and profitable books.” (Report of Superin tendent, 1888.) In the report of the warden it is thus spoken of: “I never in my exper ience visited a school in which the pupils have made more rapid progress aud paid more respect to their teacher and to the rules. Its effect upon discipline is good, as many of the men who, when entirely igno rant, were noisy in the cells and restless, are now quiet readers of profitable books.” (Warden Brush, 1888.) If school work in prison can accomplish no more than this, it pays, and pays well. To prove that school work can and does do more than aid in maintaining perfect discipline, we will refer to other prison re ports. The first at hand is that of the “In spectors of the Michigan State Prison for the closing year June 30, 1888.” In this report, Mr. Howe, superintendent of schools, says that its (the school’s) work has been of in calculable benefit in forming character and enabling the officials to judge of the “trend of social life maintained in the prisoners, a life which must [shall] lead to a disdain of meanness and wrong” (pages 58 and 60 of aforesaid report). In the Michigan school there are 498 convicts enrolled. The course is that of an ordinary graded school. The teachers are both keepers and prisoners. In the Indiana Pi ison North, we find the work thus mentioned: “We are glad to learn that the privilege is highly appreciated by the inmates, and that those in attendance are showing a marked degree of improve ment.” (Remarks by the warden in his re port for 1888.) The instructor in that prison speaks of his work in this way: “The ea gerness with which this opportunity has been seized by the prisoners, and the persever ance they have shown in the prosecution of their simple studies, would be considered quite enough to justify the outlay, even if Rive Gents the real benefits were left out of considera tion. Besides the knowledge of the branches pursued, mention may be made, however, of the habits of method, order, and system, and the application to mental pursuits which these men incidentally acquire through the school.” Success in the northern prison led to the opening of a school in the “Prison South,” at Jeffersonville. At Chester we find the following state of affairs: “During the period covered by this report, I have conducted two terms of school in the prison; and, allowing for the disad vantages which necessarily beset such an undertaking, I am greatly gratified with the results, and flatter myself that we have been very successful. For teachers, I have had to rely entirely upon the voluntary and un paid assistance of prisoners, who have never failed me yet, and have cheerfully and in telligently worked with as much interest as do the teachers in our public schools. To ask men to work hard all day and to teach school without compensation until nine at night is making a severe demand on good nature. The best men and women who are free would hesitate to work in this manner without compensation; yet these convicts do it gladly.”—Thos. M. Giffith, Chaplain Southern Penitentiary, Chester, 111. Richard Vaux, one of the men best qual ified to speak of such things, considers men tal and manual training the most efficacious of all measures looking to the reformation of the crime class. His opinion is shared by Warden Cassidy, of the Eastern Peniten tiary, of Pennsylvania. We are coniine more and more to believe that the prisons of a commonwealth have very much higher duties to perform than to simply retain the prisoner for the term of his sentence, aud then turn him out to re sume his old life with renewed zeal, stimu lated by long confinement and strengthened by long association with the worst criminal types. It is a punishment to be deprived of liberty; but punishment is only a secondary object subsequent to conviction. It is inci dental to the process used to bring about the prisoner’s reformation. It is, of course, reasonable to believe that he who commits one crime has the characteristics which will enable him to commit another; and. while those characteristics remain, there is reason to fear for continued commission of crim inal actions. The duty of the penologist is to so treat a man as to produce a moral change that will enable him to do the right either for the right’s sake or because it is the wisest thing to do. This can be accom plished in three ways, or rather by three agencies: First, useful labor, involving the acquisi tion of habits of industry, and desire of in dustry in place of the life of indolence to which the criminal has been accustomed. It is necessary to his health and to the sec ond agency, mental development, which, while it does not contribute directly to moial culture, is necessary to good citizenship. Good thoughts exclude evil ones; and the mental requirements ot a prison should be of a character that will test to the uttermost every inmate of that prison. The third remedy, or agency, for advancement should be moral and religious training. The foun dation of the State is good morals; and the foundation of good morals is religion. Without the one, the other is impossible. We should either accept religion as a power ful factor in affecting human conduct or we should reject it altogether. If it is of value to society, it must be to a prison population. If men are to be shut up because they are unfit to live at large, it would certainly be wrong to deprive them of any of the refin ing influences used for the betterment of men outside a prison. To properly appreciate the advantages of religion and moral development, literary training is certainly required. Without that foundation we cannot build. With it we can build up such a character as will enable any discharged convict to live well and honestly.—O. L. Syrski, in the Christian Register. Stuck to Their Seats. When the contribution plate was passed at the dedication services at the new Con gregational chureh at Moorland, lowa, Sun day not a single person arose to leave his seat. One reason was because the varnish on the seats was not sufficiently dried and the entire congregation found itself tightly glued down. At the close of the service it took three quarters of an hour to free all of the prisoners. All the ladies’ handsome toilets were ruined, and large portions of them still decorate the newly painted pews of the church. —St. Paul Pioneer Press.