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Vol. No. 12.
K At the last meeting of the Chautauqua prison circle one of the members gave the above lines in response to the roll call, and, as the beautiful verse fell upon my ear, the splendor of the theme dazzled me so, that for the double purpose of “lifting up” and "looking up” I have made it the subject of this contribution, "disjointed and out of gear” though it may be. Considering that man has the God-given right of will, the power of which he can exercise to his ad vancement or ruin, as he pleases, it is no wonder that the pages of history of every country of the world, but notably of Amer ica, should brighten here and there with the achievements of men, who have sprung— not from the downy couch of the million aire, or the book scattered libraries of tire college, but from the most menial grades of society—nay, from the very dregs of degra dation to which society had consigned them, and by their strength *of character, which consists of power of will and power of self restraint, forced the world to recognize their worth, and write their names and deeds in golden letters upon the annals of their country’s story, to be read with won derment and delight, long after the hand that traced them and the mind from whence they flowed have sunk into eternal quie tude. The strength of man is measured by the power of the feelings he subdues, not by the power of that which subdued him; hence calmness is often the highest proof of strength. Did you ever see a man receive a great injustice, and bearing with him a hopeless daily trial, buffeted and spat upon by Iris fellow-man and yet restrain himself and forgive? Did you ever see a man amid the wreck of the present and the barren outlook of the future—though indignation raged furiously within him—stand nobly serene, and bear upon his manly brow the impress of a quiet fortitude, awaiting pa tiently the hour of his vindication? Did you ever see a man breasting the storms and adversities of an early career, calmly rising above the waves and turning the tide to the shores of comfort for his suffering fellow-man? Herein you will find the strong man and on the tablets of your mem ory write him the moral hero. Scanning the long list of such men that the past has given to us for our guidance and benefit, I stop at one who has left behind him "Foot prints on the sands of time,” which for ages yet to come will be the beacon light of hope and love to all those whose pathway lies towards heaven —John Boyle O’Reilly. On Aug. 10. 1890, this great and good man died, and truly has the poet said — “The morn rose brightly and sweetly smiled On the dancing waves, like a happy child; 1 was singing softly, when some one said, •The truest of all the true is dead.’ ” Boru in the land whose name ever clustered as a garland of shamrocks around the four corners of his loving heart, he was on the Qjve of his 22nd birthday—tor the awful crime of loving Ireland—sentenced to death, which later was commuted to imprison ment tor life and afterwards to 20 years penal servitude. In 1867 while still but a lad he was ban§ ished from his native heath to the penal @l)e flrieiin Jttirrar. HABIT. “How shall I a habit break?” As you did that habit make. As you gathered, you must lose; As you yielded, now refuse. Thread by thread the strands we twist Till they bind us neck and wrist; Thread by thread the patient hand Must untwine ere free we stand. As we builded, stone by stone. We must toil unhelped, alone. Till the wall is overthrown. But remember, as we try. Lighter every test goes by; Wading in, the stream grown deep Toward the center's downward sweep; Backward turn, each step ashore Shallower is than that before. Ah, the precious years we waste Levelling what we raised in haste; Doing what must be undone Ere content or love be won! First across the gulf we cast Kite-borne threads, till lines are passed. And habit builds the bridge at last! —John Boyle O’Reilly, Tile Footprint. “Lives of great men, they remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And departing leave behind us. Footprints on the sands of time.” “ IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” Stillwater, Minn.,Thursdag, Oct. 30,1890. colony of Western Australia; far away from the mother whom he so passionately loved, from the friends to whom he was so loyally devoted, from the land—grief stricken and desolate —to relieve which he would have willingly sacrificed his young and hopeful life. With nought to comfort him in his journey to exile, save the hope within him, that ever shone as a brilliant star throughout his eventful career, that the God of his fathers would see him justified, he found mental peace and consolation in the outpourings of his own Christian and noble soul— “In this brief life despair should never reach us; The sea looks wide because the shores are dim: The star that led the Magi stilt can teach us The way to go, if we but look to Him.” As he entered the convict settlement which, the enemies of his country would have made his sepulchre, the grossjin justice he was the recipient of was no impediment to his resolve to make his future beautiful, clear, shining, gracious. No curse on the hand that scourged him, no foul-stained epithets on those who trampled upon him. no thought of sinful revenge ever floated between his God and his daily prayer for his beloved Ireland and his enemies. As he turned on his pallet of straw and heard the clink of the chains that bound him, his heart in spirit fondly flew to his once happy home in his beloved Meath, and there at the knee of the mother who sorrowed for him, found strength as of yore in the aspiration. "Coinfortress of the afflicted, help me.” As his biographer says: "The dominant trait in his character was mercy. He not riierely forgave his enemies, he forgot their injuries to him. The sufferings he endured for his country in English prisons and penal settlements which would have hardened and embittered a lesser man, only deepened his fellow-feeling for the oppressed. When the sufferings he endured for Ireland had wrought their perfect work in him, Ireland gave him to humanity. ”In February ’69,by the aid of a Catholic priest he escaped, and in November of the same year landed in America—a free man, in a free land. The knowledge of his isolated condition —for he knew not a soul here —or the fact of his be ing friendless and penniless did not deter him from setting about the work of build .mg up that citadel of the future which afterwards he adorned so beautifully by magnanimity and love. In a few months his strength of character began to be felt — in a few years he stood out as the most be loved, and the greatest benefactor, that the land of his adoption ever opened her arms to receive. He was the friend of all. The lowly and oppressed were his favorites, and his fertile pen never wavered in upholding and defending those upon whom the world trampled, or made unhappy by its frowns. Such in brief was John Boyle O’Rielly. Would that I could linger a little longer, and tune my thoughts a little sweeter, be side this crystal stream of every virtue, along whose banks the flowers of holiness grew. Flowers that can be gathered by those whose lives —line his—are free from guile; the fountain of whose thoughts—like his —flow on uninterruptedly through the mountains and valleys of life scattering in its journey, sunny showers o’er mossy banks and barren inlets until lost in the boundless ocean of Eternal Love; and who—like him —putting forth their strength of character, despising the trials and tribulations of life, the storms and winds of adversity and the temporary inconvenienc es of an act of an earlier and less experienced hour, gallantly renew the battle ot life, and w’in for them selves a name and a fame alike admirable in the sight of God and their fellow men. The expression of the heart’s affection is none the less fervent because conveyed by a hand that —though manacled —once plucked the shamrocks in O’Rielly’s beloved Erin; nor is tlfe sorrow of the human heart less keen because that fount of human existence is covered by the rags of degradation— “ And I knew —his dearest friends apart. The life of his life and the heart of his heart None wept more for that vacant place Than 1 who never had seen his face.” Best! brave patriot! As in lowliness I bend o’er your, alas, too early grave, and place thereon this trivial tribute of affection and love, the prayer of my heart 1 lisp, j God rest your soul. May those you loved so tenderly here, find peace in the hope of an eternal reunion hereafter, and may the land that gave you birth —the vision of your life’s dream—shaking off the shackles of a long and dreary servitude, soon take her rightful place at the council board of the nations — * “Great, glorious and free First flower of the earth, first gem of the sea.” INNISF ALLEN. Prison Sunday. Prison Sunday was pretty generally ob served this year. Ministers spoke to their congregations upon the various phases of the prison reform question. It is to be sup posed that these talks to the people will do much to awaken a more general and active interest in the prison and prisoners. At the People’s church in St. Paul four prom inent gentlemen, ex-Gov. A. K. McGill, Judge John F. Norrish, Labor Commis sioner John Lamb, and Kev. S. G. Smith, delivered short addresses. The main ques tions discussed were: "The Contract Sys tem versus the State Account;” “The Ef fect of Convict Labor Upon Free Labor;” and "What Shall We Do With Our Con victs?” The following is the portion of ex- Gov. McGill’s address as it is given in the Pioneer Press: t gov. m’gill’s address. . Prisoners have as well defined rights as freemen,” said the speaker. Not as many, to be sure, but nevertheless rights. They have the right to be punished accord ing to law for the crimes they have com mitted. This does not seem a great priv ilege, but it is one. The immutable laws of justice forbid their cruel and inhuman treatment, and there is nothing in the laws of man to warrant it. All laws are sup posed to be founded in justice. Therefore, prisoners have the lawful right to just treat ment. This does not imply that they are to be fondled and petted, by any means. 1 have but little sympathy witli that gush ing sentimentality so often evinced by amiable people for qrjminals, simply be cause they are criminals. Crime should be punished and must be if we would preserve public morality and decorum. Let the punishment be certain—swift if you please —but not cruel or unjust. Prisoners detect cruelty as readily as other people, and re sent it as warmly. Notwithstanding their crimes they retain an appreciative sense of justice—in fact 1 have sometimes thought that this sense is made mote acute by their imprisonment and the contemplation of their misdeeds. But the contract system, as has already been said, is a bad one, i. e., the system which sells the labor of prisoners to outside parties who buy it for what money there is in it. We all admit nowadays that slavery is an evil, no matter what our political af filiation may be. But this selling of pris oners is slavery with a good many added horrors. My own judgment is that the system should be abolished throughout the entire country—in every state. In some states the evils as above set out have’ been very much mitigated. In Minnesota, for instance, no special cruelties have resulted from it. but the system was repealed here, notwithstanding, by our state legislature at the session of 1887. out of deference to the demauds of the labor organizations of the state. The conditions in Minnesota and in the South are very different, and much better results could be obtained here than there under the same system. If sufficiently ob jectionable, therefore, here to call for its abolishment, how loud must be the call there. The question is whether our South ern friends will hear the call. 1 take the ground that punishment is something that cannot properly be delegated. Labor is a part of the punishment of prisoners and is imposed by the same sentence which de prives them of liberty. The state stands in the attitude of guardian and is responsible for their care and treatment as well as for their punishment. Its duty to them is one it cannot in honor shirk. The prisoner who has been sold by the state —for the selling of his labor and the delivery of his person is tantamount to a sale of his being —feels that he has been wronged, that the state has been unjust to him and that in stead of reaching to him a helping hand to lift him back to respectable citizenship has loosed its obligation to him and tried to shirk its just responsibility. No doubt right at this point may be found the reason with many prisoners for abandoning well considered resolutions to reform and lead better lives. You may say the reason is not a good one. No matter; if it operated to prevent reform it should be removed. The state should be big enough and strong enough and just enough to impose its own punishments instead of farming them out to the highest bidder. The opposition to the contract system by Rive Gents. organized labor, as I understand it, is two fold, first, because of its degrading in fluences on the prisoners themselves, and second, for the reason that it brings prison labor into competition with free labor, and in a manner that pushes the products of free labor to the wall, the former being purchased at so low a rate that the latter cannot compete it. They recognize, as everybody must, that for reason of health as well as of discipline, the prisoners must be employed—that a continual condition of idleness is not to be thought of. The prod ucts of their employment, must, of course, be marketed, but if judiciously handled un der the direct authority of the state itself, this need not be. to the detriment of free labor. As far as practicable the state should avoid bringing the work of prisoners into competition with that of free labor. With the contract system abolished and a wise business administration of the prisons instituted, all the discussion and trouble about prison labor in competition will dis appear. While it would not do to support prisoners in idleness —a proposition that does not admit of argument—at the same time the state cannot afford to manage its pris ons simply for the money that can be made out of them. It must be actuated by nobler motives. Let the prisoners be worked and worked hard. There is no reason for baby ing them. They are sentenced to hard labor, under the law. and the sentences should be properly enforced. They expect it. But 1 would have them engaged in such labor as would qualify them to earn their own living after leaving prison. This is the correct policy for the state to enforce. It is not so much consequence what it costs to keep criminals in prison as it is what it will cost after they are liberated, i. e., what kind of lives they will lead. 1 have very hastily and very imperfectly stated my views above. To summarize: I should abolish absolutely the contract system of prison labor throughout the country—first, because it is degrading in it self; second, because it brings prison labor into an unjust and unfair competition with free labor, and, third, because it stands in the pathway of prison reform. 'L'here are many collateral reasons which need not be given. The system, in my judgment, an tagonizes reformatory work at every point and helps it at none. In closing you will permit me to add, the great opportunity for reformatory work among criminals occurs before they reach the prison—while they are yet novices in crime—or indeed before they have commit ted any. I think the Infinite judgment will find a great difference in persons who have committed exactly and only the same offenses. One of the most beneficient institutions in this state, to my mind, is what is known as the state public school at Owatonna, an institution whose mission it is to gather up the abandoned and homeless children of the state —the little fellows whose parents are dead or have deserted them or who are un able to take care of them; who have no rel atives to care for them and are utterly alone in the world—and provide for them good, comfortable, Christian homes, meantime kindly caring for and educating them at the home school at Owatonna. 1 know of nothing more beneficent in the line of public charity. Besides, think of the wis dom of it. Instead of permitting Its home less children to run wild and drift off into criminal channels and become criminals and expensive public charges, as the larger percentage of them naturally would, the state steps in and makes good citizens of them —moral, upright men and women whose value cannot be measured by dollars and cents. This is the kind of work that does away with the need of prisons, and the more we have of it the better for all the people who inhabit the earth. A Life Prisoner’!* Affliction. A report has reached this city that Bar tholomew Mahoney, who was sentenced to Clinton prison for life for the murder of Michael Lyons had become blind at that institution. For some offence at the prison Mahoney, it is said, was put in a dark cell and kept there for twenty-nine days, living on nothing except bread and water. On the twenty-eighth day he told the keeper when he came again to bring a coffin. The next morning when the keeper called to see Mahoney, the latter, it is reported, fell prostrate on the floor, and when picked up was stone blind.—Troy Press.