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The prison mirror. [volume] (Stillwater, Minn.) 1887-1894, June 22, 1893, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86063465/1893-06-22/ed-1/seq-1/

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Vol. VI.—No. 46.
For The Mirror.
The world without these prison walls
Both joy and beauty yields.
And Aowers waste their sweet perfume
Upon a thousand Aelds.
But who will send one little rose
To grace a convict’s cell;
Or waste a single thought on them
in solitude that dwell.
When freedom perched upon my brow
A thousand friends were mine;
Then, is it any wonder now
I murmer and repine?
Tis not the galling chains I wear.
That starts the scalding tear;
Tis only that I cannot see
The friends I love so dear.
1 could not see the laughing eyes,
The form I could not see;
Nor did I know two gentle hands
Were culling Aowers for me.
1 could not see the roses bright,
Beneath the cottage eaves;
Nor could 1 see the warm, red lips,
That kissed their sunny leaves.
A pure white silken band she wore *
About her snowy throat;
She tied it round their verdant stems.
Then on a card she wrote;
•• I send this box of roses sweet
To cheer the lonely hours
Of one dear friend who made my life
As sunny as the Aowers.”
When 1 received the fragrant gift.
And saw their tints—oh then
1 thought the angels had come down.
To dwell with mortal men.
Oye! of philanthropic mind,
Who live in Aoral bowers,
Would you reform the hardest heart.
Bend on your gift of Aowers.
Because you see us occupy
A convict’s cell to-day.
Do not conclude our hearts are Aint,
Our bodies useless clay.
- You’ll sometimes Ami-a precious gem
Within the clod hard pressed;
You’ll sometimes And an honest heart
Within a convict’s breast.
Sisyphean Labors.
• Sisyphus was condemned to roll up a steep hill
a, huge boulder, which, on reaching the summit,
rolled down again, and thus made his task an
endless one.— Ancient Mythology.
In the untiring efforts being made by
the judicial and official departments of
justice to prevent crime and simplify
its detection, it is a lamentable fact
that, in many respects, it is a miserable
failure. As system after system has
been applied with the hope of stopping
the increase of crime and of making
its detection more certain, so also has
the criminal applied new thought and
energy to defeat the ends of justice and
escape the well planned systems adopted
for his conviction. We may review
briefly a few of the many systems that
are in vogue in the official departments
of justice, the same being indorsed by
many penologists of prominence, who
think by adopting a system that will
record the minutest detail of the hu
man form, a lightning process of pho
tography, or an electric signal system,
they will circumvent the criminal and
assure his speedy detection. One un
familiar with both sides of the question
would naturally think the criminal
pretty sure of getting caught, and, as a
result, be discouraged from further
pursuing such a risky and unprofitable
vocation, and thereby crime would de
crease. But it is sad to relate that,
with all these great police systems with
their experienced directors and counsel
ors, they have failed, owing to the low
estimate they have placed on the intel
legence and energy of the criminal. In
New York city, the official center of
our most vigilant police and detective
systems, what are the results obtained
in the suppression of crime? This
large city, with the most experienced
and shrewdest men of the times to di
rect and superintend the workings of
this system to decrease crime, has failed
most lamentably in its undertaking.
As a result, New York city is the finish
ing school from which the most expert
safe workers, forgers, and the elite of
the criminal profession are graduated.
There is no city in the world—
possibly with the exception of London
and Paris—that can compare in its
criminal records with New York, and
of the undetected and unknown crimes
committed, who can give a fair esti
mate of the number 't Next in im
portance let us take the World’s Fair
city, as an example of what the present
police systems are doing to decrease
crime. This fair city, like unto another
Athens of old, seeking to surpass all
competitors in civilization by the ac
quisition of arts, knowledge and scien
ces, has more than her share of official
protectors of society and law. Yet this
large force, comprising the police of the
city, the detective force of the same,
with innumerable other agencies for
the prevention and detection of crime,
fails to effect its object or lessen the
list of crimes committed. Even this
large force of guardians fails to allay
the apprehensions of the thoughtful
citizen, who, after the fall of darkness
settles over the city’s streets, wisely
chooses the middle of the street, in
preference to getting too near the reach
of—perhaps a wooden Indian, that
stands as a tobacconist's sign. Experi
ence may have taught him that all is
not wood that stands with club uplifted,
and he may have read of the garroter and
thug who ply their brisk trade on the
streets and alleys of this well-guarded
city, and he wisely profits by the knowl
edge. But if he should be misled by
the flattering eulogies of a partisan
press on the perfections of the great po
lice system of the city in which he lives;
if such a one would learn the truth —
without experiencing the sometimes
severe lesson of feeling it —let him go
with some one who can show him the
seething caldron of crime in all its hid
eous details. Let him enter the breed
ing dens of vice and depravity, that ap
pear peaceful and innocent to the
searching eye of law and society, and I
warrant he will say with me, that
this prevention of crime by numerous
and intricate police and detective sys
tems is so much labor and brain waste
for nothing. These systems tend to
give an outward appearance of security
and power, but the real effects are only
to be seen below the surface. They
may prevent crime from stalking
abroad under the clear light of the sun,
but we may be sure that at least eight
hours out of the twenty-four, King
Crime reigns supreme, and his subjects
continue to increase, and teach the
coming generation of criminals by their
experience and knowledge new methods
by which they may reach a higher al
titude in shrewdness and intelligence,
and defeat the many so-called systems
of justice. • Petora.
Labor organizations, as a rule, spring
from the relations existing between em
ployer and employee. A mere glance
at these relations, before and during
the civil war, reveals changes of im
mense importance, and affords a sub
ject for much study. About twenty
five years ago, employer and employee
worked side by side with equal energy
and without fear or danger of any rup
ture of either's confidence in the other.
His interests were their’s, and their’s, his.
There were no evident feelings of jeal
ous superiority, coupled with extortion
and greed. Since then, machinery has
taken the place of hand labor, and in
vention has furnished ease of execution
to skillful labor, to such an extent that
now, there exist so many differences and
prejudices between them, that we are
forced to ask ourselves, “ Have we been
benefited as a nation ?” The many im
provements in machinery lightened la
bor in its severity, and made it nearly
as easy for novices to perform an amount
of labor equal to that effected by skill
and long experience, until the common
laborer on the street began to think his
place was just as much in the shop as
the mechanic’s. In order to protect him
self from this robbery of his source of
daily bread, the workman began to or
ganize against the impositions of the
“tramps.’’ Competition ripened into a
desire for increased wages and less
Labor Organization.
hours of labor. A new-born fear on
the part of the employer awakened him
to mistrust .and mutiny, and the prof
fered shield of corporations and syndi
cates, was welcomed with a warm recog
nition. Serious differences arose, wide
spread animosity and jealous vigilance
were the signals for entrance in the
coming race for money. Even blood
shed has darkened the door of honest
toil in several instances, notably, the
Homestead strikes. This has a tenden
cy to discourage investment, and con
tinued disparagement must eventually
result in paralysis. In Australia, orga
nized labor has struggled with organized
capital for the past five years, until the
conflict has deadened opportunities for
favorable investment, and industry is
arrested both by the selflsh desire of
labor unions for recognition, and the
equal determination of capital to refuse
these considerations. Out of compara
tive quietude, chaos has sprung, with
many perplexing arguments intended
to benefit each combatant, and to-day
the labor question is extensively agi
tated on all sides. The outcome can
only be revealed by the future. It is
almost too late for restoration of peace
by innoculating the standard of justice
into each party, and it seems that the
struggle must * continue until one con
quers, apd until the path of labor enter
prise is made smooth by the removal
of many obstacles. Vic.
Day Dreams
If there is one folly nearer a crime
than another it seems to be that of
day dreaming. There are two branches
of this foolishness: building castles in
the air of what may be, and digging
out the corpses of the past and erecting
what might have beens w r ith them,
cementing them together as Donnelly’s
Caesar’s Column was, a monument of
horror. If we could read the future aright
the majority of us might cry for death at
once; and those whose lines were laid in
pleasant places would come nigh mar
ring them by some vain effort to make
them a little better than ordained. What
does it protit them to build these airy
nothings—baseless fabrics of vain de
sire ! It merely disquiets; it removes the
mind from the present and exposes us to
a liability of a lapse of discipline. Vain
imaginings disquiet the mind; for we
are apt to become so absorbed in the fairy
vision that w r e yearn for the air picture
as if it were a tangible reality, the
withholding of which from our grasp
becomes an absolute injustice. It un
balances, and most of us are sufficiently
so already, or we should not have been
brought here. These are not the days of
fairy god-mothers who convert pump
kins into coaches, and rats into pranc
ing steeds. The only fairy god-mother
known ihese times is intellect, and her
wand is labor.
To resurrect the past is an equal folly.
It is absolutely gone, like the Hash of
lightning hurled from the clouds; like
the smoke-wreath curled upwards from
your pipe; like the meteor that has mo
mentarily tinged the face of heaven
with its evanescent gleam. Among the
ancients those who robbed the graves
were known as ghouls, and were
spurned, despised and cast out from
their fellows. The mental ghoul should
have like treatment. It might have
been is vastly more purposeless than
it may be, because there is nothing
absolutely impossible in the future; but
to turn the sun backward is the vain
fancy of him who builds his castles on
the moldering dust of yesterday. Call
to mind the manna provided for the Is
raelites in the wilderness; to-day's was
good, wholesome and nourishing; but
yesterday’s was putrid and loathsome.
Was there not a dual lesson in this
rapid decay; first as a rebuke to the
want of faith in Jehovah’s promise that
it should be daily supplied; secondly,
that as of the past, it was worthless.
The Jews.had come up out of the bitter
past, were living in the present and
looking towards the land of promise.
So must we if we want present peace and
Tcoue. i W-00 P er year, in advance,
i tKMS. | si x Months 50 Cents.
future happiness. We are in the wil
derness, being disciplined in the present
to bring our minds back to equipoise
and prepare them to handle the future
with promptitude and dispatch as it
comes by. Let us rest quietly in this pres
ent, and absorb our minds in it and its
duties. Be content with it, because it
is where God’s will has placed us, and
to be dissatisfied is only to induce
mental and moral fever. Robert Bruce,
king of Scotland, did not waste his
time in prison—not a light and airy
one as ours is, but a deep, dark and
dismal dungeon, where it was just pos
sible to notice the efforts of a spider,
lie abode in peace, keeeping mind and
body ready to grasp such opportunity
as the future might offer; and when it,
came along he laid fast hold of it and
regained his crown. Had he been build
ing bright castles in the air, or digging
up the dry bones of the past, his preoc
cupation would perhaps have lost him
the sight of that winged opportunity
fleeting by. Freedom is of course de
sirable. But let us go to nature for il
lustrations of the benefits to be derived
from temporary loss of freedom. The
caterpillar voluntarily imprisons him
self that he may meditate upon the
roses, cabbages and other greenery he
has so ruthlessly appropriated to his
own uses, and in his cell to change his
nature and be ready to grasp the oppor
tunity of the first warm summer day to
come forth a bright and beautiful but
terfly. Again, behold the seed; it is
imprisoned in the ground, bound by
chains of ice, to return to the world
with spring-time, a tiny, green speck,
growing and spreading, according to
its kind, into a handsome tree, or an
humble and modest flower or leaflet.
We each have a lot when, “is the win
ter of our discontent made glorious
summer.” Be it mighty oak, modest
flower or humble blade of grass, we
know not; this is our transition state;
let us make the best of it. R. F.
Is Money Our Best Friend,
There is an old adage which says;
Money is our best friend,” but what
does experience say? Xo doubt, when
used in the proper way, money becomes a
mighty good servant; so, also, does fire;
but if we allow fire, as men too often
allow money, to become our master,
then, instead of finding in it a good
servant, it proves a cruel tyrant, in
whose hand is ruin, destruction and
death. That great and wise king, Sol
omon, once said that the destruction of
the poor was their poverty. Well, per
haps so—but I think he might have
added that the destruction of the rich
was their gold. Does wealth tend to
make those who possess it better men ?
I think not. True, it frequently covers
a multitude of shameful and disgrace
ful doings among the so-called better
class, which those in the humble walks
of life ignore; still, in spite of their
golden cloak, enough of it comes to
light to convince any reasonable person
that many of them stand in need of a
better friend. The rich man of the
Bible so loved this so-called friend that
he willingly risked his immortal soul
rather than part with it. Was wealth
a friend in his case or was it his worst
enemy ? It is difficult, no doubt, for
the poor man to discern a blessing in
his poverty, but were his circumstances
changed, and he suddenly possessed of
limitless wealth, the transition would
only shorten his days and embitter
them —far worse than poverty could
have done. Wealth cannot make men
happy; it stands between them and true
friendship, one with another; it stands
between them and that rest of body and
mind which nature would have us all
enjoy to its fullest extent, and it stands
between them and their God, and the
hope of Heaven. A man who has noth
ing in life that he holds nearer and
dearer than his gold is a man more to
be pitied than envied. Dextep.
Xo news is good news when a rival
paper has it.— Puck.

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