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Vol. VL—No. 43. For T7ie Mirror. A BUNDLE OF LETTERS. Thou Bundle of Letters, before me lying, What strange presentments from thee leave, And soft amid our heart-strings plying. With gentle touches, cheer or grieve. Aroused by thee, some thoughts so chill, Make war with love, disturbing ease. And court command of “ Peace Be Still,” That leveled once the troubled seas. And, numerous tears of joy, unchecked. That blur the eye, thee to peruse. Are born as moonlight’s rays reflect. In evening, from the sun of Muse. Thus, thoughts conflicting thou dost bring Of past events we much regret. And fain from Time’s strong arm would wring, With treacherous memory ease forget. These thought-waves lashing with their neighbor, Resemble stubborn wills, unkind, When they against love’s counsel labor. And coils of discord swift unwind. In future let us close pursue Those well-taught lessons of old days; Our stubborn natures calm subdue, ’Till they forget their sinful ways. Thus, turning from their wayward steps. As, round obstructing mountain, flows The stream of Patience, searching depths Anew, let hearts forget their woes. Vic. The Injustice Of Courts. The laws of all civilized communities prescribe for the criminal periods of imprisonment varying in length accord ing to the viciousness of his offense, and by leaving a certain latitude be tween the maximum and minimum periods of time that he may be required to serve, it is presumed that the judge who passes sentence will have room to exercise his judgment, as to whether or not there are extenuating circumstances that will justify him in being lenient to the offender. Without a doubt, two men may be charged with a like crime, and still not be equally criminal. The man who is driven to crime by want or misfortune, or commits a deed of vio lence in a moment of passion, is not so much a criminal as he who follows thieving as a livelihood in preference to labor, or does deliberate violence; and the law is right and just in allow ing distinctions based upon circum stances. But is the trial judge, upon whom devolves the duty of passing sentence, always the best qualified per son to learn and judge of these circum stances? In some cases he may be; as would happen w hen the offender has lived long and is w r ell known in the neighborhood. In such a case he can readily acquaint himself with facts and ■circumstances which will enable him to pass a just and intelligent judgment. But a large proportion of those who are sent to prison are men w T ho have got in to trouble in a strange place. A breach of the law is committed; the offender is arrested and thrown into jail. The trial oomes on; an ex-parte statement of the facts is made; he is found guilty, or perhaps pleads guilty—and then comes the matter of -sentence. The judge knows nothing of the man beyond what has developed at the trial, and the cul prit being a stranger and friendless, has no means of satisfying the court, other than his own unsupported state ment, that he is not a wanton criminal. His sentence is passed, based upon w’h'at is known—upon what has been shown in evidence, and the man is sent to pris on. If he is an old offender the less light thrown upon his past, the better, perhaps, for him; but if he is a man who has been driven to crime by force of circumstances, rather than from incli nation—and there are many such, this obscurity militates against him. The judge cannot tell, from the little that has been shown, to which of the tw o classes he may belong, and the period of imprisonment will be determined principally upon the demonstrated facts of the case, and largely, even, upon the character of the judge—w’hether he be severe or lenient ; and who will deny that men differ w’idely in these qualities. It has been said that ones religious faith depends in a great measure upon the place of one’s birth; so, too, in a sense, does one's punishment for crime “ IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, JUNE 1, 1893. depend largely upon where the offense has been committed; that is to say, up on the judge who passes sentence. Hence it is we so often see men serving a first term in prison of tw’ice or thrice the length of another's, who is serving a second, or even a third term, though both are charged with similar offenses. In the first instance the offender’s ina bility to prove a good character, prob ably, had something to do with the length of his sentence; and in the sec ond, the inability of the prosecution to prove a bad character was a potent factor in its brevity. If both these men had stood before the same judge for sentence, charged with similar off enses, and the judge, being cognizant of the facts and the disparity of guilt, were to sentence the old offender to one year's imprisonment and the other to three years, w r ould he not evidently be doing an injustice? Granting this, does the fact that the sentences are imposed by different judges make the injustice any the less? Yet such cases of injustice (or, had I rather say of unequal justice) come under the observation of prison officials all too frequently. It may be that the shorter sentence is adequate for the offense committed ;*in that case the other is excessive; and it is unjust in exactly the same degree that it is ex cessive. There is error or injustice somewhere. That these errors or in justices exist, can be demonstrated in this, and, I presume, in all other peni tentiaries, w r here the same system of criminal judicature obtains; and, wheth er the wrong be upon society in the inadequacy of the one sentence, or up on the criminal in the excessiveness of the other, the fact remains, that there is something wrong in the system of criminal judicature. Xow, if this state of affairs demon strates any one thing, it is that the criminal courts are not the best quali fied mediums to determine w hat meas ure of punishment shall be sufficient to accomplish the two objects of the law’; the protection of society, and the refor mation, as well as, the punishment of the criminal. Several plans have been suggested, and, in some instances put in operation, for the correction of these defects—notably the Board of Pardons, the Indeterminate Sentence, and our ow r n Parole System; and it w r ill be ob served that each and all of these plans trend to the placing of greater discre tionary pow’er, in the matter of releas ing prisoners, in the hands of prison officials. This, I think is as it should be; and it will result in better protection to society and more exact justice to the prisoner. Cadmus. Choosing; a Profession. Among the reiterated statements ap pearing from time to time to the effect that the professions are overcrowded, there is one that stands conspicuous by its absence, and that is the electrical. Some may object and call it a science, re quiring years of study and application; while this is, no doubt, true in the sense of experiment and investigation, still in its commercial aspects it may be also considered a profession or trade. Among all the fields of occupation that are open, there is none that is so inviting and fascinating as that of electricity. When we consider that comparatively it is still in its infancy, and how wonder fully it has grown and developed in the past ten years; and reflect on the con stant increase and demand for its ap plication to the various industrial en terprises, we cannot but realize that it is the future field of employment of thousands. The majority of‘the men employed therein, and even those oc cupying the most responsible positions, are young men from 25 to 35 years of age; the larger proportion of them have started at the lowest round of the lad der, probablv as assistants to men stringing wires, and by study, in quiry, and observation, have worked themselves up to the top. In no other profession or trade is the youthfulness of the men engaged therein so notable as in this one. This very youthfulnes^ adds simply another inducement for entering it; a person will have more confidence in himself and his future career, when he is conscious of the fact, that he is not hopelessly behind the times; and that his confreres are of his own age, and like himself students of the science, doing their best and recog nizing that they are all, to a greater or less extent, novices. We are fortunate ly in the West, and the progressive energy of the people of this section makes the demand for able and ex perienced electricians greater than the supply. In all modern conveniences and in the demand for the same the West is far ahead of the East, and thus a future field of employment is directly at our doors. It simply requires pluck, enterprise and thrift, the elements that make up the American character. Why not at least give this field a trial ? Observer. It Mig-ht Have Been. Does prison life tend to deaden the faculties of the mind that produce in terest or purpose in the individual ? If not, why is it that so many criminals have no other object in view, than to serve out their sentence and regain their liberty ? Some may consider their liberty enough to be interested in of it self, and so thinking, fold their hands while not engaged in their daily labor and let their minds sink into a kind of Rip Van "Winkle sleep, of perhaps 5,10, or 20 years duration, or until the time arrives for them to enter the world of society again. Will no regret enter that man’s mind in the evening of his life, that he failed to attain some ac complishment that he might have ac quired during those years of exile from the outside world ? Will he give utter ance to the “ saddest words of tongue or pen,” in saying: “It might have been?” Could we but look into the hidden future, how great would be the change in our lives, to fit ourselves for the coming years! To those under the iron hand of the law—the future has a dark and gloomy aspect; it would seem that the law, in depriving them of home and liberty, drew a dark curtain be tween their mind and the bright stars of faith and hope. All things have lost their beauty and sweetness to one so afflicted: justice riveted its chains, not only on his limbs, but also on his mind— a Shylock could ask no more. Why then should we wonder when we see the hardened and cheerless visages of some of our desperate criminals, as the press of the country is pleased to style any person who has the misfortune to get in durance viie. I would like to ask them, has the man or woman any reason or cause to smile or beam happy looks on the beholder of their disgrace and shame ? Then why be surprised that the very name of criminal brings to the mind a type of half beast and half human, when such a gloomy prospect overshadows his future, in having once fallen into the muck ©f crime, and en tered a prison cell. Yet if we go beyond the average strength of the intellects we meet in prison, and consider the many who have the capabilities of mind to rise above the level to which weakness or misfortune has brought them, how r many of such criminals receive the credit for the trial or effort they may make to lead better lives ? Take, for example some of the worst criminals, whose lives have been followed from childhood to the grave, and recorded in the books of jails and prisons all over the country, during their checkered career of crime and convictions; how many of them have confessed that, at some period of their career, a bright spark of hope entered their hearts, and kindled a desire for a better and hap pier life; but their past arose like a gloomy spectre, and warned it off, or the watch-dogs of society and law, killed hope and faith by hunting them to crime and degradation; and in after years, while lying on his cot within a prison cell, the convict may with jus tice review the dark past and still more gloomy future, and say, with a weary sigh, “Ah, yes, ‘ltmight have been/” * Petora. This is a wonderful age, an epoch in the history of the world made resplen dent by the triumphs of peace. Never before were the promises of the future more flattering. Seldom has the world been made happy with such prosperity. This long peace that has blessed the world with enlightenment has prompted geniuses to explore the hidden depths of science and mechanical arts. They have made the world, by their valuable discoveries, a more agreeable place of habitation, and prolonged our time of enjoying it. The United States has gathered the works of genius together and becomes the host of all the world; bidding all welcome to this crowning triumph of a wonderful age—the World’s Fair. Although the leading nations support great armies, they have lost the crimson ambition of martial valor, and deserted the temple of Mars to pay homage to the goddess of Peace. They have come with their w orks of art, their creations of science and their monuments of industry, to contest for the laurels of peace. All this speaks of elevation; it points the w'ay to the long delayed millenium, and gives promise of future peace, prosperity and w r ealth. C.C. This is a blessed thought, and should cheer the heart of each one of us as we sit in the lonely solitude of our prison cell. Let no one think that he is en tirely forgotten. Somewhere on God’s green earth there is a heart aching in pity for you, and longing to see you free. You have not lived in the world twenty or thirty years without making a friend; and that friend has not en tirely forgotten you. Some one has said: “True love never dies,” and the same may be said of true friendship. Some day we will hear from the friend whom we now accuse of forgetfulness. It seems strange, at times, to one— a prisoner here, for instance—who, when he is out in the world, has his liberty and is considered an all-round good fel low generally, how many friends he may have, how warm-hearted and sympa thetic they are, and how willing they are to do him a favor when an oppor tunity is at hand. But, alas! when he gets into trouble, when the sky is ob scured by dark and gloomy clouds, when his liberty is taken away and he can no longer even enjoy the presence and realize the affection and love of his mother, his father, or, what is still more dear to him, his wife and children —it is then he is brought face to face with the most melancholy thoughts, the most extreme heartaches that he ever encountered in his weary travels through life before. There are many inside these majestic prison walls who to-day are pining for loved ones at home—who shed many silent tears as they wear away the snail-like hours. Xo one can thoroughly realize the need of liberty until he (or she) is deprived of it for a time. And when “ letter day ” passes and no cheering, comforting word is recieved from the loved ones at home, the heart’s wound is torn open afresh and sleepless nights rise up be fore one like a spectre of sorrow, and one continues to gaze into vacancy and suffer until the letter is recieved.—Pris on Trusty. We have laws against gambling, and yet the fact w r as published all over the country that Jim Keene won $1,500,000 on the deal that resulted in the down fall of the cordage trust, and no arrests have been made. Newsboys are jailed for risking a nickel at craps, and the majesty of the law r is vindicated and apparently satisfied.— St. Paul Sat. Eve. News. All the gestures of children are grace ful. —Sir Joshua Reynolds. The man that paints the town never uses water-colors. — Puck. V '■ x Tcduo. ' Sf-00 per year, in advance, i tHMB. , Six Months 50 Cents. A Wonderful Agre. The poet has beautifully w'ritten “ There is a tear for all who tile. A mourner o’er the humblest grave.” * •