Newspaper Page Text
Jghx prison 3XXirror.
Edited and Published by tlie Inmates. Entered at the Post Office at Stillwater, Minn., as Second Class Mail Matter. The Prison Mirror is issued every Thurs day at the following rates: One Year SI.OO Six Months 50 Three Months 25 Address all communications. Editor Prison Mirror, Stillwater, Minn. THE PRISON MIRROR is a weekly pa per published in the Minnesota State Prison. It was founded in ISS7 by the convicts and is edited and managed by them. Its objects are: to be a home newspaper; to encourage moral and intel lectual improvement among the prisoners: to acquaint the public with the true xtatux of the prisoner; to disseminate penological informa tion, and to aid in dispelling that prejudice which lias ever been the liar sinister to a fallen man’s self-redemption. The paper is entirely dependent on the public for its financial sup port. If at any time there should accrue a sur plus of funds the money would be expended in the interests of the prison library. Boston's astronomical addendum to the principal stars, was John Lawrence Sullivan. Good gracious! to think that now he is an every day satellite just like the rest of mankind. Another old friend, the Anoka Union , notifies newspaperdom that it begins a new volume —the twenty-eighth! “More prosperous more independent and more saucy than ever," it says. Keep it up, Brother Pease, you are noted for get ting there every time. 1856-1892! The thirty-seventh anni versary of the Stillwater Messenger! Pleasant news indeed to The Mirror who has had a fatherly protection, as it were, from the Messenger. Words are inadequate on such an occasion, dear friend. Virat! Brother Seward. THE DIFFICULTY OF POLITICAL REFORM. The difficulty of effecting political re forms is illustrated in every age, and is a frequent source of discouragement to those actually engaged in such work. Even simple reforms often require years for their accomplishments, while greater ones are sometimes delayed for generations. Nothing could be much simpler or more obviously advanta geous. for instance, than the adminis trative reforms that have so long been desired in this country; yet, after more than twenty-live years of discussion and agitation, these reforms are only just begun. Among the greater politic al movements we may mention that for the abolition of slavery, which had con tinued for nearly a generation be fore public sentiment was thoroughly aroused. In this case, indeed, there was a powerful interest arrayed against the reformers; but the strangest cir cumstance in the case was the pro longed opposition or apathy of the peo ple of the free States themselves. An other remarkable example of the diffi culty of reform was seen in the case of the anti-corn-law movement in Eng land. The abolition of the corn-laws was obviously for the benefit of the mass of the English people; yet it is matter of history that at first the peo ple could not be brought to take an in terest in the reform, and that the diffi culty of effecting it was so great that one time Cobden himself, the great leader of the movement, was on the point of abandoning the task in de spair. AVe think few instances can be found in history of important improve ments in political affairs without a pro longed and persistent agitation in ad vance. The reasons for this fact are various. The sluggishness of public opinion, the opposition of sinister interests, the ab sorption of men’s minds in their per sonal aff airs, and that pride of opinion which makes men unwilling to ac knowledge that anything they have ap proved or sanctioned can be wrong, all have an influence in keeping things as they are, even when a change is imper- atively required. The fact, too, that most men are impervious to new ideas after they have reached middle life is an essential factor in the case; and it not infrequently happens that a new generation has to be trained up in the reform principles before any outward improvements can be effected. Our purpose at this time, however, is not to inquire into the causes which render political changes difficult, but to point out certain circumstances which, in a free country, go far to compensate the evil, and which deserve to be ac counted among the benefits of free gov ernment. Some men, seeing the diffi culty of moving public opinion in a democratic community, and eager to effect improvements in political affairs, are led to doubt the wisdom of popular government, and to say that a benevo lent despot and an enlightened aristoc racy is a better depository of political power than the people themselves. But, besides the difficulty of securing benevolence in a despot or enlighten ment in an aristocracy, history shows that even if they possess these qualities, they are less easily moved to effect re forms than the people themselves. There have been benevolent despots who effected nothing for the political improvement of the nations they gov erned. The Antonines, for instance, were among the best personal rulers the world ever saw; yet they did noth ing of importance in the way of politic al reforms, but left the Roman empire as they found it. As for the aristoc racies, though they often administer the government Avith much intelligence so far as their own interests are con cerned, they are. nevertheless, the most conservative, the most bigotedly op posed to progress of all the species of government that ever existed, as the history of Sparta, Carthage, and Venice abundantly proves. The states that have been most largely and most uni formly progressive have been ivithout exception those of a popular character, or those in Avhich popular influence has been poAverfully[felt; and therefore the impatience that earnest reformers sometimes feel at the sluggishness and perversity of the popular mind ought never to make them lose faith in the benefits of free government. But even if monarchs and aristoc racies were as active friends of pro gress and as ready to effect improve ments as popular governments are, yet improvements made throug#the agency of the people are far more beneficial than those effected without them. For. in the first place, reforms effected by the people themselves, or in accordance with their deliberate desires, are likely to be permanent; while if not thus ef fected, their permanence is uncertain. A benevolent monarch may make great improvements in laws and institutions, and thereby largely promote the well being of the people; but if his successor happens to be a man of a different stamp, as is quite likely to be the case, all the improvements thus made may be set aside, and the condition of the people may become worse than before. Besides, the government of a nation, even under an absolute monarch, is largely infiuenced by public opinion; and if public opinion has not been edu cated to approve and support a reform, it may be set aside or rendered nugatory by the opposition of the people them selves. There are even instances in history where a nation has surrendered liberty itself, simply because the mass of the people had not learned to appre ciate its value. But, under a popular government, where no considerable changes can be made without the con currence of the people, a reform once effected is very rarely reversed. So well is this understood in England, that when an important measure has been carried there with the express approval of the people, no statesman ever thinks of repeating it, but the popular decision is everyAvhere accepted as final. This, then, is one of the benefits of free gov ernment —that political improvements once effected are certain to endure; and in this fact reformers may find encour agement Avhen their temper is tried and their patience exhausted by the slug gishness of public opinion and the seeming dullness of the popular con science. But there is another consideration of still great importance. The general and prolonged discussion which gener ally precedes reform in a popular gov ernment has an educating effect of the highest value. This has long been re cognized by political philosophers as one of the principal benefits that popu lar government confers, and the his history of such government in all ages bears out this vieAV. Even this routine work of government, such as the con duct of municipal affairs, has an edu cating influence of no little value; but it is far surpassed in this respect by those discussions of principle Avhich necessarily precede the enactment of great reforms. Questions involving the principles of morals and the happiness perhaps of millions cannot be pondered by any man Avithout improving to some extent both his intellect and his char acter; and this educating influence is especially A'aluable in the case of the masses of men, because of the nar roAvness of their mental horizon. Men of leisure and men of intellectual tastes can find means of culture and mental stimulus in various Avays; but the minds of the uneducated and toiling masses are seldom roused to thought except by some matter of great impor tance. Xoav, political affairs are of the highest importance to every one; and hence, in a country Avhere the control of affairs is lodged in the hands of the people, the educating influence of polit ical discussion and action is felt in a high degree, and is one of the most potent means of popular culture. This influ ence cannot be made available except under popular government; for the peo ple Avill seldom take a very lively inter est in goA’ernmental affairs if they are not to be called upon to help in decid ing them. But if their voice is potent in deciding Avhat shall be done, no ques tion of importance can arise in Avhich they Avill not take an interest: and then the discussion of such question by the more instructed minds will quicken the popular intelligence and educate the popular conscience as feiv other agen cies will. AYhen, therefore, the.advocates of po litical reform in a free country grow' discouraged, as they sometimes will, and w r ish, perhaps, that they themselves had independentpporersw r ers to carry out their measures, they may find comfort in the thought that while the reforms they desire, if really beneficial, can hardly fail to be realized at last, the mere discussion of them before the peo ple has an effect in the popular mind that may be little less important than the reforms themselves. With English Advertisers. By T. B. Russel. Tlie following picturesque “want” lias just appeared in tlie London Daily News: LADY requires (end of August) Two compe tent Persons to undertake entire duties, as COOK (plain) and HOUSE-PARLOR MAID. Ladies not objected to.—A. B. etc. Ladies “not objected to ” is distinctly good, in the light of recent “ servantgalism.” Servant girls are not “hired” in England: they are en gaged to co-operate in domestic economy. If any reader of Printers' Ink will draw up an adver tisement which will procure me the services of a domestic servant who is good for anything. I will give him—well, I'll give him the one I’ve got now! Good ones are very scarce. Another "want ” is for a shop clerk —“Wanted a young man to be partly outdoors and partly be hind the counter.” The trade journal which quotes this gem of English composition inquires, with solicitude, as to what will happen when the door slams—and no wonder, “Our worst doubts are those w r e can not define.” - <. ■* NEWS OF A WEEK. September 7 George R. Grant, a Chicago attorney, is drowned in Lake Miltona, Minn. John Greenleaf Whittier, the Quaker hard and poet, dies at Amesbury, Mass. Nancy Hank’s 2:07 on a regulation track, on the Hamline fair grounds, breaks the world’s record. Twenty-one rounds decides the battle for the championship, Corbett defeating Sullivan at New Orleans. Another German Lutheran college is to be built in St. Paul which will be one of the largest of the kind in the country. September 8, Jay-Eye-Sfe paces a mile in 2:00 on the Ham line track. W. H. Eustis is nominated for mayor by the Republican party at Minneapolis. I)r. W. O. Stephens, an old and well known physician of Minneapolis dies at his residence. Seven English physicians are inoculated with cholera virus as volunteers in the cause of hu manity. The famous whaleback steamer Charles W. Wetmore is wrecked oir the rocks at Coos Bay, Or. She was valued at $300,000. Gov. Merriam reinstates County Treasurer Peterson of Minneapolis whom he finds careless and incompetent, but not dishonest. September 9. All traces of cholera in Great Britain have been stamped out. It is claimed that all the members of the cabinet will make campaign speeches. The quarantined steamer passengers at New York will be allowed to camp on Sandy Hook. Herbert H. Skinoer a barber at Moorhead, Minn., falls heir to a large fortune in England. Thirty-two cholera deaths occur at sea on board the steamer Scandia which arrives in New York. The cordage plant of St. Paul will occupy ten acres at Como, and will be in operation in January. An order is issued by the postmaster general to put up letter boxes for collection and delivery of mail at house doors. September 10, The steamship companies entirely suspend the steerage passenger business. Cholera deaths in Russia increase at the rate of nearly a thousand a day. The steamer Mary Morton, of the Diamond Jo line, is sunk in the Mississippi. The cashier of the Adams Express company in St. Paul is arrested charged with embezzlement. Corbett is knocked down and narrowly escapes being crushed to death by a crowd at Atlanta, Ga. Edward O'Meagher Condon, government in spector of buildings, dies while en route to Mon tana. He was one of the four Irishman sentenced to be hanged in Manchester, Eng., for trying to rescue Col. Kelly and Capt. Deasy in 18(17. September 11. The Peary expedition to Greenland returns, arriving at St. Johns, X. F. An insurrection breaks out in Mexico which seriously threatens the position of President Diaz. A railroad accident occurs in Massachusetts by which nine persons lose their live and thirty seven are injured. Henry C. Hope of St. Paul, superintendent of telegraph of the Omaha road is heir to an estate in Ireland worth several millions of dollars. Admiral Walker lias lieen sent to Venezuela with three cruisers and is empowered to prevent, if possible, the acquisition of that country by Great Britain. September 12, Ex-Cliief of Police Clark is finally granted a pension. Natives of Fire Island, New York, prevent passengers on a relief ship from landing. The harvest in the West of Ireland which re cently promised to be abundant will prove a failure. A United States monitor may be sent to Fire Island to protect the landing of passengers on that point. Venezuelans attempt to levy tribute on foreign residents but are 1 talked by the action of the United States Minister. All the 8,000 coal miners in the Monongahela river district have struck on the Vi cent reduc tion made by the operators. September 13. Mrs. Harrison's illness is causing considerable anxiety among her friends. The Chicago railroads agree not to carry immi grants not having proper health certificates. The St. Louis Pearl mahogany mills are de stroyed by fire. Loss $110,000; insurance, $50,000. Many of the most valuable forests in Wasliihg ton state are burning. The loss will be millions of dollars. The landing of passengers from the steamer Normannia is effected with the aid of companies of militia. The United States consul at St. Johns, N. F., suffers a severe beating at the hands of four drunken policemen. Over a thousand delegates attend the conven tion of the Associated Bichloride of Gold club at Dwight, 111. What is hell? God gathering His family home and you not among them.. —Miss Fletcher.