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The mirror. (Stillwater, Minn.) 1894-1925, May 06, 1897, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90060762/1897-05-06/ed-1/seq-1/

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Vol. X.—No. 41
V 'S
Who takes for liis motto: “I'll do what I can.'’
Shall better the world as he goes down life’s
The willing young heart makes the capable
And who does what he can. oft can do what
he will.
There's strength in the impulse to help things
And forces undreamed of come to the aid
Of one who. though weak, yet believes he is
And otters himself to the task, unafraid.
•I'll do what I can’’ is a challenge to fate.
And fate must succumb when brought to the
A heart that is willing to labor and wait
In the tussel with life ever comes out the best.
It puts the blue imps of depression to rout,
And makes many difficult problems seem
It mounts over obstacles, dissipates doubt.
And unravels kinks in the life’s curious chain
"I’ll do what I can," keeps the progress ma
In good working order as centuries roll,
And civilization would perish, I ween.
Were not these words written on many a soul,
They fell the great forests, they furrow the soil.
They seek new inventions to benefit man.
They fear no exertion, make pastime of toil—
Oh. great is earth’s debt to “I’ll do what I
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Written fur The Prison yiirror,
In order to derive any lasting benefit
from the imprisonment of criminals it
is necessary that the state shall regard
the criminal as an unfortunate mem
ber of its family rather than an out
cast and enemy. The true relation of
the state to the convict should be sim
ilar to that existing between the parent
and an erring child, between the
guardian and his ward. When a
guardian is appointed over a minor it
is because the state in its parental
watchfulness deems such minor in
capable of properly taking care of the
property left it; and it is the duty of
the guardian to watch the every inter
est of his ward as faithfully as he looks
after his own property. Thus the state
guards carefully the interest of her
obedient children, never allowing one
of them to be unjustly treated without
using every possible means to right the
wrong, and if necessary punish the
It is only in the treatment of her
erring children that the state shows a
harshness not compatible with the
kindness and loving care extended to
ward the other members of her family.
Not content with giving a definite
punishment to those black sheep, it
condemns many of them to wear the
garb of disgrace the balance of their
days, with no other consolation than
the faint hope that after they have be
come worn out mentally and physi
cally. and death, perhaps, has laid
the stamp of its near approach upon
them, they will be given freedom for
the remainder of their short term of
Every citizen who has had'any con
nection with this prison, (and it is
probably the same with every prison in
the country) knows that there are men
here who have shown, after years of
confinement, that if they had ever been
criminally diseased, they are now en
tirely cured and are justly entitled to
the exercise of the rights ofJfree men.
And though the state as a body may
be willing to grant such men their free
dom, it is in the power Jof any indi
vidual citizen, who has in the past
suffered at their hands, to keep them
here indefinitely if they are so in
Sf 4.
But the question as to what relation
between the state and the convict will
have the best general results is a many
sided one; it rises gradually from the
stern vindictiveness of the pessimist
and misanthrope to the humane the
ories of the learned penologists. The
man who has had his house broken in
to by burglars, or the one who has had
to give up his property at the point of
a gun, will be inclined to think that
burglars and highwaymen should be
imprisoned for life if not more sum
marily dealt with. While such a feel
ing as this may be very natural, no one
will say it is just; and still, it is indi
vidual feeling of this description that
has kept many a man in prison after
he has made reasonable atonement foi
his crime, and has proven to those
about him that he is fit to be free.
I well remember a time when I was
proud of my own scrupulous honesty,
I had a sum of money stolen from me.
It is safe to say that if the thief was
caught and I had the privilege of sen
tencing him, he would receive every
day that I could give him. My idea
then was that a thief was a special spe
cies of animal, unchangeable in his
evil propensities, and that it was only
a mock sentiment which kept him from
being shot down like a wild animal.
The thought never crossed my mind at
that time that within a few years I
would be classed as one of his kind; as
I felt that such a change was utterly
impossible. There are many people in
the present day who judge the criminal
in about the same manner; they see
only the evil side of a man’s life, and
draw their conclusions from such ob
servation. There are others again, who
do not care how things in general go,
so long as they are not personally in
jured or affected by the wrongs suffered
by others.
But just as long as there are differ
ently constituted men, will we have
different views on the same subject.
The convict should not be cuddled and
coaxed like a sickly babe, but while be
ing firmly dealt with, should be treated
as a man instead of a sort of lower
animal. The state, conscious of its
own dignity and standing, may stoop
to raise up its fallen children, and help
them to become men, rather than cast
them off as enemies.
Our forefathers left to us all the
priceless heritage of “life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness;” and though
the state is empowered to deprive us
of it under certain conditions, it should
return it again unsullied by our past,
when we learn to properly value and
exercise such rights.
Those people who have given close
attention to the study of criminal mat
ters know that the best means of turn
ing men from a life of crime is to deal
with them, as nearly as possible, as you
would with free men. It will be found
that such treatment when we go out
into the world again will be appre
ciated by all prisoners having a spark
of manhood within them by lending
their aid to the general weal. J. L.
Written for The Prison Mirror
As I was parting with the doctor I
said, Doc. you wont let them sing
“One By One” in chapel for me will
you. “No, no, they never shall;” and
his voice had a genuine Geo. Washing
ton ring to it. I was filled with joy.
Alas! that night as I swallowed the
pellets and settled in bed, I dozed off,
made one gasp, clutched at my cata
logue and was gone. I was swiftly
borne over that inky river and was
met on the opposite side by a prepos
sessing young man who made me a
Chesterfieldian bow, and asked “who
are you?” Well, said I, lam one of
the Five Hundred of—“Oh! we did not
expect you until tomorrow; but every-
thing is ready for you. The janitor is
up taking a look out of the observa
tory for the airship.”
Now I have made some bad mistakes
during my life and as I felt those
wings slide into place I realized there
are others. I smiled. He said: “you
are happy; I am glad to know it but if
you don’t like it there come here and
make out your application and be sent
to another planet.” Then, with a dash
of forget-me-not cologne, he said,
“walk right in, just as if you owned
the place.” I did and as I saw an ar
bor covered with blush roses I dodged
behind it unperceived. I was bewil
dered. As far as I could see were the
most beautiful females, all in w’hite
with wings the same length, hair flow
ing over the shoulders, and waists no
larger round than my coffee cup; and
all talking at once yet I could under
stand them all readily. I thought if
the women on earth knew of the
state of affairs here they would all take
the laudanum route and be here except
a few old maids who might stay to
corner the matrimonial market.
But I got a move on me for I feared
the janitor would show up, so I
launched forth by wing. Alas! one
wing would go ahead, the other backed
up; not mates, ’twas plain. But the
move was fatal—l was discovered.
Then such a scream! I had heard it
before at my first entrance into jail.
“Fresh fish!” A little slangy for the
locality, but quite proper, nevertheless.
Then began a scene that beggars de
scription. I was encircled by a Chinese
wall of talking beauties. Everyone
was clamoring, “who are you?” The
same old answer was given. I am one of
the Five Hundred “Oh! Do you know
Tiffany, Worth, the Astors; did I know
Mrs. So and so of Fifth avenue and
Miss So and so of Fifth avenue?” I
was in a fix; the only soul on Fifth av
enue I knew was a policeman. But I
did not say so. I had no time; he had
a coat that belonged to me, but how he
got it and why I did not go after it I
leave the reader to guess. And such
other questions 1 got till my head
swam round and round.
Now a terribly detestable odor of
musk I smelt and a strawberry blonde
sailed into my presence.* They all
looked to her, and I felt by instinct she
was the ringleader. With a wave of
her hand she said: “who was at your
funeral ?” How should I know, so 1
commenced: the Warden and Deputy
and Chaplain—but I saw they grew
suspicious, so I fell back on my Yan
kee wit and said: one lady had such a
peach of an Easter bonnet. If I could
get them to talking bonnets and such
brie a brae I hoped to get a loophole
through the crowd and make a clean
get away. But no; bonnets and puff
sleeves did not count there. “But who
else was there,” exclaimed the whole
outfit. I had met my Waterloo and
the quicker I let the cat out of the bag
the better.
Well there was Tom—and Bill—and
Jack. “What were they doing there?”
said the musky damsel. Five years
apiece for fooling a farmer with the
gold brick swindle. “Oh! he is from
Sing Sing” some exclaimed; others said
“San Quentin.” At last they fixed on
Stillwater. Yes, lam from Stillwater;
and I wish I was back there.
Oh! if I could get the doctor in there
for five minutes with that crowd clam
oring around him I would be even on
all old scores. I made for the door but
I was not to get out till my pride was
trailed in the dust and humiliated to
the last notch. A sympathetic looking
beauty approached me and said: “I am
from Boston, you are from Minnesota.
You are lucky, all the people from
Minnesota are too green to burn.” I
held my anger as best I could and re
plied: thank you Miss Beans from
Boston, for the information also the
I soon reached the door, and
there stood the janitor with a barroom
smile on his face as he said: “not even
you wish to remain.” He unshipped
my wings and led me to a chute fixed
to slide me hence, but I clutched a hand
on his wing with a death grip. “Let
loose!” he said gently. Yes, if you will
answer my question. “Yes, I will tell
you what you wish to hear as I know
your thoughts.
Here is what he said: “Every male
who comes here makes his application
out, and goes to another planet to com
mence life over again. We never had
a genuine railroad man before. A
couple of air-brake summer men, who
work in a restaurant in winter came,
but I booked them as hash-slingers.
Sailors, prisoners, in plenty come but
they are poor stayers. One I remem
ber well a big, clever, good-looking fel
low was hardly inside when he came
out one wing broken and otherwise dis
figured. He wrote his application in
shorthand crying: “press the button!”
U. S. Senators are the best stayers; the
last few stayed a week, but at that
time they were out of wind and gave
it up.”
“Now, are you ready ?” I answered,
yes. I shot down the incline. Whew!
is this more musk or sulphur I smell?
Then a blinding glare shot through my
very soul. I raised my eyes and there
stood our vigilant night watchman
with his bull's eye lantern. As he
made a slant for a neighboring corner
I wiped off the cold sweat and lay back
in bed overjoyed at finding myself safe
where silence reigns supreme and I
made a solemn vow never to doubt our
good doctor’s veracity again, even in
a nightmare. Les.
Written I'or The Prison Mirror
To those of us who intend to get our
living after leaving here, by telling
ladies at the back doors of their homes
how badly the world has used us, and
what pain we're in, consequent upon
the middle of our stomach Happing
against our bockbone, light reading or
the classics of the English language
are filling a long-felt want. A llow of
language enables us to cozen the elu
sive “dooky’’ from the kind-hearted
lady at every strike, thereby saving us
much shoe leather and the humiliation
of the unkind retort: “Xo; we don’t
feed tramps.”
Those of us who are exceptionally
studious will be able to round our lit
tle speech so nicely and throw so much
pathos into it, as to secure a spread on
the mahogany leaving the kind lady
doubtful whether we’re a college pro
fessor on his uppers or an ornamental
But there are a few here who are
constitutionally honest, but who, when
the times were good failed to lay up
for a rainy day and during or since the
late panic got into prison because the
supply of work which furnished bod
ily needs was stopped. And not hav
ing enough nerve to face the possibility
of being answered, “No; we don’t feed
tramps,” they turned for the time
into thieves of the night and got
caught at it.
They are very ordinary fellows;
mostly mechanics, and it makes no
difference to them, whether Goliath
was jolted on the head with a stone or
brickbat; whether the battle of Troy
was fought on account of a woman or
a spavined mule. What they are fig
uring on is to get a chance to improve
themselves in their individual trades.
Books dealing with the “servant girl’s
mystery or who stole the sink,” etc.,
are no helps to them. Trade books,
such as a first-class mechanic generally
has, are what they need. Take paint
ers, for instance. Books treating on
the origin, composition and develop
ment of paints, together with works
on house, sign, carriage and ornamen
tal painting would be a Godsend to
TroMD.I SI.OO per year, in advance
Six Months 50cents.
them. Its the same with every other
Gentlemen of the 13. of M.; we don’t
want to come back here (or get into a
similar place), and you don’t w T ant us
to come back. Therefore help us to
make the most of our opportunities
while here by purchasing some trade
books selected by competent mechan
ics which will be a practical step in
that direction. Xic.
There is one thing in the world worse
than a bad son, but he is an affliction
that makes the heart quiver with pain.
The love that was lavished on him in
infancy, the care that was taken of him
in childhood, the hopes that were built
on him in boyhood, the comfort that
was expected from him in adolescence
—all these add to the woe of his worth
lessness. He is the shame of the
The bad son usually begins to go
down shortly after he is sent out to
work. The possession of pocket money
urges him to find out how to spend it.
He visits saloons, cheap theatres and
other resorts. He learns to stay out
late at night. He forms friendships
with vicious companions. As he grows
a little older nature stirs within him
and he commences to flirt. The re
straints of religion grow irksome.
He looses his innocence and to evil he
says: “Be thou my good!’’—ln the five
years from his fifteenth to his twen
tieth birthday, he takes all the degrees
of degradation—he drinks, he swears,
he gambles, he talks obscenely, he
thinks impure thoughts, he consorts
with the vile, he seeks carnal gratifica
If his mother chides him he shuts
her up with insolence and profanity.
If his father rebukes him he responds
with sullenness or defiance. “I can
take care of myself,” he mutters,know
ing that he has the ability to earn some
wages, but unmindful that he owes
that ability to the training offered to
him by his parents. Eventually home
becomes disagreeable to him—he either
visits it only to eat and sleep, or he for
sakes it altogether.
All the while he is going dow r n
further and further. The prayers that
he first lisped at his mother's knees are
no longer said; the sweet affections of
family life are despised: the principles
of virtue are derided; the duties of re
ligion are ignored; the glory of self
mastery is scorned; and a free reign is
given to passion, sensuality and de
Sometimes he gets married and his
wife either rescues him or completes
his ruination; sometimes he winds up
in the penitentiary; sometimes he is
placed among the incurable of the in
sane asylum; sometimes he fills a
drunkard’s grave. In most cases, he is
lost to self-respect, lost to a useful
career; lost to the honor of his family,
lost to the love of God. The downward
grade is steep and smooth; it is the up
ward track that is of easy incline even
if it be rugged.
See the steps towards the precipice—
too much spending money, late hours,
evil companions, maleficent resorts,
disrespect of parents, dissipation, pro
fligacy, absence from home, neglect of
religion, deliberate and persistent re
jection of grace, vice, ruin.
Is there a young man who will read
this who is on the slope to perdition ?
Let him change his ways today. Let
him take the counsel of his parents or
the malediction of Heaven may come
upon him. “The eye that mocketh at
his father or mother and despiseth to
obey, the ravens of the valley shall pick
it out and the young eagles shall eat
it!”—The Index.
To touch rudely the beard of an ori
ental is to assault violently his personal

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