It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 3 out of 17
"The best thing you can do is to go home and mind your farm, and get a
sweetheart for yourself, and then you won't trouble your head about me
more than you have any business to do."
This last cut wounded William to the quick.
"Won't you shake hands?"
"It would serve you right if I said no! But I won't make you of so
much importance as you want to be. There! And come again as soon as
ever you can treat my friends with respect."
"I shan't trouble you again for a while," said William sadly.
"Good-by. God bless you, Susan dear."
When he was gone the tears came into Susan's eyes, but she was
bitterly indignant with him for making a scene about her, which a
really modest girl hates. On her reaching the parlor Mr. Meadows was
gone, too, and that incensed her still more against William. "Mr.
Meadows is affronted, no doubt," said she, "and of course he would not
come here to be talked of; he would not like that any more than I. A
man that comes here to us out of pure good nature and nothing else."
The next market-day the deep Meadows did not come. Susan missed him
and his talk. She had few pleasures, and this was one of them. But the
next after he came as usual, and Susan did not conceal her
satisfaction. She was too shy and he too wise to allude to William's
interference. They both ignored the poor fellow and his honest, clumsy
William, discomfited but not convinced, determined to keep his eye
upon them both. "I swore it and I'll do it," said this honest fellow.
"But I can't face her tongue; it goes through me like a pitchfork; but
as for him"--and he clinched his fist most significantly; then he
revolved one or two plans in his head, and rejected them each in turn.
At last a thought struck him. "Mr. Levi! he 'twas that put me on my
guard. I'll tell him." Accordingly he recounted the whole affair and
his failure to Mr. Levi. The old man smiled. "You are no match for
either of these. You have given the maiden offense, just offense."
"Just offence! Mr. Levi. Now don't ye say so; why, how?"
"By your unskillfulness, my son."
"It is all very well for you to say that, sir, but I can tell you
women are kittle folk--manage them who can? I don't know what to do,
"Stay at home and till the land," replied Isaac, somewhat dryly. "I
will go to Grassmere Farm."
"You going to leave us, Mr. Eden, and going to live in a jail? Oh! Mr.
Eden, I can't bear to think of it. You to be cooped up there among
thieves and rogues, and perhaps murderers?"
"They have the more need of me."
"And you, who love the air of heaven so; why, sir, I see you take off
your very hat at times to enjoy it as you are walking along; you would
be choked in a prison. Besides, sir, it is only little parsons that go
"What are little parsons?"
"Those that are not clever enough or good enough to be bishops and
vicars, and so forth; not such ones as you."
"How odd! This is exactly what the Devil whispered in my ear when the
question was first raised, but I did not expect to find you on his
"Didn't you, sir? Ah! well, if 'tis your duty I know I may as well
hold my tongue. And then, such as you are not like other folk; you
come like sunshine to some dark place, and when you have warmed it and
lighted it a bit, Heaven, that sent you, will have you go and shine
elsewhere. You came here, sir, you waked up the impenitent folk in
this village and comforted the distressed and relieved the poor, and
you have saved one poor broken-hearted girl from despair, from
madness, belike; and now we are not to be selfish, we must not hold
you back, but let you run the race that is set before you, and
remember your words and your deeds, and your dear face and voice to
the last hour of our lives."
"And give me the benefit of your prayers, little sister, do not deny
me them; your prayers, that I may persevere to the end. Ay! it is too
true, Susan; in this world there is nothing but meeting and parting;
it is sad. We have need to be stout-hearted--stouter-hearted than you
are. But it will not always be so. A few short years and we who have
fought the good fight shall meet to part no more--to part no more--to
part no more!"
As he repeated these words, half mechanically, Susan could see that he
had suddenly become scarce conscious of her presence. The light of
other days was in his eye and his lips moved inarticulately.
Delicate-minded Susan left him, and with the aid of the servant
brought out the tea-things and set the little table on the grass
square in her garden, where you could see the western sun. And then
she came for Mr. Eden.
"Come, sir, there is not a breath of wind this evening, so the
tea-things are set in the air. I know you like that."
The little party sat down in the open air. The butter, churned by
Susan, was solidified cream. The bread not very white, but home-made,
juicy and sweet as milk. The tea seemed to diffuse a more flowery
fragrance out of doors than it does in, and to mix fraternally with
the hundred odors of Susan's flowers that now perfumed the air, and
the whole innocent meal, unlike coarse dinner or supper, mingled
harmoniously with the scene, with the balmy air, the blue sky and the
bright emerald grass sprinkled with gold by the descending sun. Farmer
Merton soon left them, and then Susan went in and brought out pen and
ink and a large sheet of paper.
Susan sat apart working with her needle, Mr. Eden sketched a sermon
and sipped his tea, and now and then purred three words to Susan, who
purred as many in reply. And yet over this pleasant scene there hung a
gentle sadness, felt most by Susan, as with head bent down she plied
her needle in silence. "He will not sit in my garden many times more,
nor write many more notes of sermons under my eye, nor preach to us
all many more sermons; and then he is going to a nasty jail, where he
won't have his health, I'm doubtful. And then I'm fearful he won't be
comfortable in his house, with nobody to take care of him that really
cares for him; servants soon find out where there is no woman to scold
them as should be, and he is not the man to take his own part against
them." And Susan sighed at the domestic prospects of her friend, and
her needle went slower and slower.
These reflections were interrupted by the servant, who announced a
visitor. Susan laid down her work and went into the parlor, and there
found Isaac Levi. She greeted him with open arms and heightened color,
and never for a moment suspected that he was come there full of
suspicions of her.
After the first greeting a few things of little importance were said
on either side. Isaac watching to see whether Mr. Meadows had
succeeded in supplanting George, and too cunning to lead the
conversation that way himself, lay patiently in wait like a sly old
fox. However, he soon found he was playing the politician
superfluously, for Susan laid bare her whole heart to the simplest
capacity. Instead of waiting for the skillful, subtle, almost
invisible cross-examination which the descendant of Maimonides was
preparing for her, she answered all his questions before they were
asked. It came out that her thought by day and night was George, that
she had been very dull, and very unhappy. "But I am better now, Mr.
Levi, thank God. He has been very good to me: he has sent me a friend,
a clergyman, or an angel in the dress of one, I sometimes think. He
knows all about me and George, sir; so that makes me feel quite at
home with him, and I can--and now Mr. Meadows stops an hour on
market-days, and he is so kind as to tell me all about Australia, and
you may guess I like to hear about--Mr. Levi, come and see us some
market evening. Mr. Meadows is capital company; to hear him you would
think he had passed half his life in Australia. Were you ever in
Australia, sir, if you please?"
"Never, but I shall."
"Shall you, sir?"
"Yes; the old Jew is not to die till he has drifted to every part in
the globe. In my old days I shall go back toward the East, and there
methinks I shall lay these wandering bones."
"Oh, sir, inquire after George and show him some kindness, and don't
see him wronged, he is very simple. No! no! no! you are too old; you
must not cross the seas at your age; don't think of it; stay quiet at
home till you leave us for a better world."
"At home!" said the old man sorrowfully; "I have no home. I had a
home, but the man Meadows has driven me out of it."
"Mr. Meadows! La, sir, as how?"
"He bought the house I live in, and next Lady-day, as the
woman-worshiper calls it, he turns me to the door."
"But he won't if you ask him. He is a very good-natured man. You go
and ask him to be so good as let you stay; he won't gainsay you, you
take my word."
"Susannah!" replied Isaac, "you are good and innocent; you cannot
fathom the hearts of the wicked. This Meadows is a man of Belial. I
did beseech him; I bowed these gray hairs to him to let me stay in the
house where I lived so happily with my Leah twenty years, where my
children were born to me and died from me, where my Leah consoled me
for their loss a while, but took no comfort herself and left me, too."
"Poor old man! and what did he say?"
"He refused me with harsh words. To make the refusal more bitter he
insulted my religion and my much-enduring tribe, and at the day
appointed he turns me, at threescore years and ten, adrift upon the
"Eh, dear! how hard the world is!" cried Susan; "I had a great respect
for Mr. Meadows, but now if he comes here I know I shall shut the door
in his face."
Isaac reflected. This would not have suited a certain subtle Eastern
plan of vengeance he had formed. "No!" said he, "that is folly. Take
not another man's quarrel on your shoulders. A Jew knows how to
revenge himself without your aid."
So then her inquisitor was satisfied; Australia really was the topic
that made Meadows welcome. He departed, revolving Oriental vengeance.
Smooth Meadows, at his next visit, removed the impression excited
against him, and easily persuaded Susan that Levi was more in the
wrong than he, in which opinion she stood firm till Levi's next visit.
At last she gave up all hope of dijudicating, and determined to end
the matter by bringing them together and making them friends.
And now approached the day of Mr. Eden's departure. The last
sermon--the last quiet tea in the garden. On Monday afternoon he was
to go to Oxford, and the following week to his new sphere of duties,
which he had selected to the astonishment of some hundred persons who
knew him superficially--knew him by his face, by his pretensions as a
scholar, a divine and a gentleman of descent and independent means,
but had not sounded his depths.
All Sunday Susan sought every opportunity of conversing with him even
on indifferent matters. She was garnering up his words, his very
syllables, and twenty times in the day he saw her eyes fill with tears
apropos of such observations as this:
"We shall have a nice warm afternoon, Susan."
"It is to be hoped so, sir; the blackbirds are giving a chirrup or
All Monday forenoon Susan was very busy. There was bread to be baked
and butter to be made. Mr. Eden must take some of each to Oxford. They
would keep Grassmere in his mind a day or two longer; and besides they
were wholesome and he was fond of them. Then there was his linen to be
looked over, and buttons sewed on for the last time. Then he must eat
a good dinner before he went, so then he would want nothing but his
tea when he got to Oxford; and the bread would be fit to eat by
tea-time, especially a small crusty cake she had made for that
purpose. So with all this Susan was energetic, almost lively; and even
when it was all done and they were at dinner, her principal anxiety
seemed to be that he should eat more than usual because he was going a
journey. But when all bustle of every kind was over and the actual
hour of parting came, she suddenly burst out crying before her father
and the servant, who bade her not take on and instantly burst out
crying too from vague sympathy.
The old farmer ordered the girl out of the room directly, and without
the least emotion proceeded to make excuses to Mr. Eden for Susan.
"A young maid's eyes soon flow over," etc.
Mr. Eden interrupted him.
"Such tears as these do not scald the heart. I feel this separation
from my dear kind friend as much as she feels it. But I am more than
twice her age and have passed through--I should feel it bitterly if I
thought our friendship and Christian love were to end because our path
of duty lies separate. But no, Susan, still look on me as your
adviser, your elder brother, and in some measure your pastor. I shall
write to you and watch over you, though it some distance--and not so
great a distance. I am always well horsed, and I know you will give me
a bed at Grassmere once a quarter."
"That we will," cried the farmer, warmly, "and proud and happy to see
you cross the threshold, sir."
"And, Mr. Merton, my new house is large. I shall be alone in it.
Whenever you and Miss Merton have nothing better to do, pray come and
visit me. I will make you as uncomfortable as you have made me
comfortable, but as welcome as you have made me welcome."
"We will come, sir! we will come some one of these days, and thank you
for the honor."
So Mr. Eden went from Grassmere village and Grassmere farmhouse--but
he left neither as he found them; fifty years hence an old man and
woman or two will speak to their grandchildren of the "Sower," and
Susan Merton (if she is on earth then) of "the good Physician." She
may well do so, for it was no vulgar service he rendered her, no
vulgar malady he checked.
Not every good man could have penetrated so quickly a coy woman's
grief, nor, the wound found, have soothed her fever and deadened her
smart with a hand as firm as gentle, as gentle as firm.
Such men are human suns! They brighten and warm wherever they pass.
Fools count them mad, till death wrenches open foolish eyes; they are
not often called "my Lord,"* nor sung by poets when they die; but the
hearts they heal, and their own are their rich reward on earth--and
their place is high in heaven.
* Sometimes thought.
MR. MEADOWS lived in a house that he had conquered three years ago by
lending money on it at fair interest in his own name. Mr. David Hall,
the proprietor, paid neither principal nor interest. Mr. Meadows
expected this contingency, and therefore lent his money. He threatened
to foreclose and sell the house under the hammer; to avoid this Mr.
Hall said, "Pay yourself the interest by living rent free in the house
till such time as my old aunt dies, drat her, and then I'll pay your
money. I wish I had never borrowed it." Meadows acquiesced with
feigned reluctance. "Well, if I must, I must; but let me have my money
as soon as you can--" (aside) "I will end my days in this house."
It had many conveniences; among the rest a very long though narrow
garden inclosed within high walls. At the end of the garden was a door
which anybody could open from the inside, but from the outside only by
a Bramah key.
The access to this part of the premises was by a short, narrow lane,
very dirty and very little used, because, whatever might have been in
old times, it led now from nowhere to nowhere. Meadows received by
this entrance one or two persons whom he never allowed to desecrate
his knocker. At the head of these furtive visitors was Peter Crawley,
attorney-at-law, a gentleman who every New Year's Eve used to say to
himself with a look of gratified amazement--"Another year gone, and I
not struck off the Rolls!!!"
Peter had a Bramah key intrusted to him.
His visits to Mr. Meadows were conducted thus: he opened the
garden-gate and looked up at the window in a certain passage. This
passage was not accessible to the servants, and the window with its
blinds was a signal-book.
Blinds up, Mr. Meadows out.
White blind down, Mr. Meadows in.
Blue blind down, Mr. Meadows in, but not alone.
The same key that opened the garden-door opened a door at the back of
the house which led direct to the passage above-mentioned. On the
window-seat lay a peculiar whistle constructed to imitate the whining
of a dog. Then Meadows would go to his book-shelves, which lined one
side of the room, and pressing a hidden spring open a door that nobody
ever suspected, for the books came along with it. To provide for every
contingency, there was a small secret opening in another part of the
shelves by which Meadows could shoot unobserved a note or the like
into the passage, and so give Crawley instructions without dismissing
a visitor, if he had one.
Meadows provided against surprise and discovery. His study had double
doors. Neither of them could be opened from the outside. His visitors
or servants must rap with an iron knocker; and while Meadows went to
open, the secret visitor stepped into the passage and shut the books
It was a room that looked business. One side was almost papered with
ordnance maps of this and an adjoining county. Pigeon-holes abounded,
too, and there was a desk six feet long, chock full of little
drawers--contents indicated outside in letters of which the proprietor
knew the meaning, not I.
Between the door and the fireplace was a screen, on which, in place of
idle pictures, might be seen his plans and calculations as a land
surveyor, especially those that happened to be at present in operation
or under consideration. So he kept his business before his eye, on the
chance of a good idea striking him at a leisure moment.
"Will Fielding's acceptance falls due to-morrow, Crawley."
"Yes, sir, what shall I do?"
"Present it; he is not ready for it, I know.
"Well, sir; what next?"
"Serve him with a writ."
"He will be preciously put about."
"He will. Seem sorry; say you are a little short, but won't trouble
him for a month, if it is inconvenient; but he must make you safe by
signing a judgment."
"Ay! ay! Sir, may I make bold to ask what is the game with this young
"You ought to know the game--to get him in my power."
"And a very good game it is, sir! Nobody plays it better than you. He
won't be the only one that is in your power in these parts--he! he!"
And Crawley chuckled without merriment. "Excuse my curiosity, sir, but
when about is the blow to fall?"
"What is that to you?"
"Nothing, sir, only the sooner the better. I have a grudge against the
"Have you? then don't act upon it. I don't employ you to do your
business, but mine.
"Certainly, Mr. Meadows. You don't think I'd be so ungrateful as to
spoil your admirable plans by acting upon any little feeling of my
"I don't think you would be so silly. For if you did, we should part."
"Don't mention such an event, sir."
"You have been drinking, Crawley!"
"Not a drop, sir, this two days."
"You are a liar! The smell of it comes through your skin. I won't have
it. Do you hear what I say? I won't have it. No man that drinks can do
"I'll never touch a drop again. They called me into the
public-house--they wouldn't take a denial."
"Hold your prate and listen to me. The next time you look at a
public-house say to yourself, Peter Crawley, that is not a
public-house to you--it is a hospital, a workhouse, for a
dunghill--for if you go in there John Meadows, that is your friend,
will be your enemy."
"Heaven forbid, Mr. Meadows."
"Drink this basinful of coffee."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. It is very bitter."
"Is your head clear now?"
"As a bell."
"Then go and do my work, and don't do an atom more or an atom less
than your task."
"No, sir. Oh, Mr. Meadows! it is a pleasure to serve you. You are as
deep as the sea, sir, and as firm as the rock. You never drink, nor
anything else, that I can find. A man out of a thousand! No little
weakness, like the rest of us, sir. You are a great man, sir. You are
a model of a man of bus--"
"Good-morning," growled Meadows roughly, and turned his back.
"Good-morning, sir," said Peter mellifluously. And opening the back
door about ten inches, he wriggled out like a weasel going through a
chink in a wall.
William Fielding fell like a child into the trap. "Give me time, and
it will be all right," is the debtor's delusion. William thanked
Crawley for not pressing him, and so compelling him to force a sale of
all his hogs, fat or lean. Crawley received his thanks with a leer,
returned in four days, got the judgment signed, and wriggled away with
it to Meadows' back door.
"You take out an arrest"--Meadows gave him a pocketbook--"put it in
this, and keep it ready in your pocket night and day."
"I dare say it will come into use before the year is out, sir."
"I hope not."
George Fielding gone to Australia to make a thousand pounds by farming
and cattle-feeding, that so he may claim old Merton's promised consent
to marry Susan. Susan observing Mr. Eden's precepts even more
religiously than when he was with her; active, full of charitable
deeds, often pensive, always anxious, but not despondent now, thanks
to the good physician. Meadows falling deeper and deeper in love, but
keeping it more jealously secret than ever; on his guard against
Isaac, on his guard against William, on his guard against John
Meadows; hoping everything from time and accidents, from the distance
between the lovers, from George's incapacity, of which he had a great
opinion--"He will never make a thousand pence"--but not trusting to
the things he hoped. On the contrary, watching with keen eye, and
working with subtle threads to draw everybody into his power who could
assist or thwart him in the object his deep heart and iron will were
set on. William Fielding going down the hill Meadows was mounting;
getting the better of his passion, and substituting, by degrees, a
Flowers and weeds have one thing in common--while they live they grow.
Natural growth is a slow process, to describe it day by day a slower.
For the next four months matters glided so quietly on the slopes I
have just indicated that an intelligent calculation by the reader may
very well take the place of a tedious chronicle by the writer.
Moreover, the same monotony did not hang over every part of our story.
These very four months were eventful enough to one of our characters;
and through him, by subtle and positive links, to every man and every
woman who fills any considerable position in this matter-of-fact
romance. Therefore our story drags us from the meadows round Grassmere
to a massive, castellated building, glaring red brick with white stone
corners. These colors and their contrast relieve the stately mass of
some of that grimness which characterizes the castles of antiquity;
but enough remains to strike some awe into the beholder.
Two round towers flank the principal entrance. On one side of the
right-hand tower is a small house constructed in the same style as the
grand pile. The castle is massive and grand. This, its satellite, is
massive and tiny, like the frog doing his little bit of bull--like
Signor Hervio Nano, a tremendous thick dwarf now no more. There is one
dimple to all this gloomy grandeur--a rich little flower-garden, whose
frame of emerald turf goes smiling up to the very ankle of the
frowning fortress, as some few happy lakes in the world wash the very
foot of the mountains that hem them. From this green spot a few
flowers look up with bright and wondering wide-opened eyes at the
great bullying masonry over their heads; and to the spectator of both,
these sparks of color at the castle-foot are dazzling and charming;
they are like rubies, sapphires and pink topaz in some uncouth angular
Between the central towers is a sharp arch, filled by a huge oak door
of the same shape and size, which, for further security or ornament,
is closely studded with large diamond-headed nails. A man with keys at
his girdle like the ancient housewives opens the huge door to you with
slight effort, so well oiled is it. You slip under a porch into an
inclosed yard, the great door shuts almost of itself, and now it
depends upon the housewifely man whether you ever see the vain, idle
and every-way objectionable world again.
Passing into the interior of the vast building, you find yourself in
an extensive aisle traversed at right angles by another of similar
dimensions, the whole in form of a cross. In the center of each aisle
is an iron staircase, so narrow that two people cannot pass, and so
light and open that it merely ornaments, not obstructs, the view of
the aisle. These staircases make two springs; the first takes them to
the level of two corridors on the first floor. Here there is a
horizontal space of about a yard, whence the continuation staircase
rises to the second and highest floor. This gives three corridors, all
studded with doors opening on small separate apartments, whereof anon.
Nearly all the inmates of this grim palace wear a peculiar costume and
disguise, one feature of which is a cap of coarse materials, with a
vizor to it, which conceals the features all but the chin and the
eyes, which last peep, in a very droll way, through two holes cut for
They are distinguished by a courteous manner to strangers, whom they
never fail to salute in passing, with great apparent cordiality;
indeed, we fear we shall never meet in the busy world with such
uniform urbanity as in this and similar retreats. It arises from two
causes. One is that here strangers are welcome from their rarity;
another, that politeness is a part of the education of the place,
which, besides its other uses, is an adult school of manners, morals,
religion, grammar, writing and cobbling.
With the exception of its halls and corridors, the building is almost
entirely divided into an immense number of the small apartments
noticed above. These are homely inside, but exquisitely clean. The
furniture, movable and fixed, none of which is superfluous, can be
briefly described. A bedstead, consisting of the side walls of the
apartment; polished steel staples are fixed in these walls, two on
each side the apartment at an elevation of about two feet and a half.
The occupant's mattress (made of cocoa bark) has two stout steel hooks
at each end; these are hooked into the staples, and so he lies across
his abode. A deal table the size of a pocket-handkerchief; also a deal
tripod. A waterspout so ingeniously contrived that, turned to the
right it sends a small stream into a copper basin, and to the left
into a bottomless close stool at some distance. A small gas-pipe
tipped with polished brass. In one angle of the wall a sort of
commode, or open cupboard; on whose shelves a bright pewter plate, a
knife and fork and a wooden spoon. In a drawer of this commode yellow
soap and a comb and brush. A grating down low for hot air to come in,
if it likes, and another up high for foul air to go out, if it
chooses. On the wall a large placard containing rules for the tenant's
direction, and smaller placards containing texts from Scripture, the
propriety of returning thanks after food, etc.; a slate and a couple
of leathern kneeguards used in polishing the room. And that is all.
But the deal furniture is so clean you might eat off it. The walls are
snow, the copper basin and the brass gaspipe glitter like red gold and
pale gold, and the bed-hooks like silver hot from the furnace.
Altogether it is inviting at first sight.
To one of these snowy snug retreats was now ushered an acquaintance of
ours, Tom Robinson. A brief retrospect must dispose of his
When he left us he went to the county bridewell, where he remained
until the assizes, an interval of about a month. He was tried; direct
evidence was strong against him, and he defended himself with so much
ingenuity and sleight of intellect that the jury could not doubt his
sleight of hand and morals, too. He was found guilty, identified as a
notorious thief, and condemned to twelve months' imprisonment and ten
years' transportation. He returned to the county bridewell for a few
days, and then was shifted to the castellated building.
Tom Robinson had not been in jail this four years, and, since his last
visit great changes had begun to take place in the internal economy of
these skeleton palaces and in the treatment of their prisoners.
Prisons might be said to be in a transition state. In some, as in the
county bridewell Robinson had just left, the old system prevailed in
full force. The two systems vary in their aims. Under the old, the
jail was a finishing school of felony and petty larceny. Under the
new, it is intended to be a penal hospital for diseased and contagious
The treatment of prisoners is not at present invariable. Within
certain limits the law unwisely allows a discretionary power to the
magistrates of the county where the jail is; and the jailer, or, as he
is now called, the governor, is their agent in these particulars.
Hence, in some new jails you may now see the non-separate system; in
others, the separate system without silence; in others, the separate
and silent system; in others, a mixture of these, i. e., the
hardened offenders kept separate, the improving ones allowed to mix;
and these varieties are at the discretion of the magistrates, who
settle within the legal limits each jail's system.
The magistrates, in this part of their business, are represented by
certain of their own body, who are called "the visiting justices;" and
these visiting justices can even order and authorize a jailer to flog
a prisoner for offenses committed in jail.
Now, a year or two before our tale, one Captain O'Connor was governor
of this jail. Captain O'Connor was a man of great public merit. He had
been one of the first dissatisfied with the old system, and had
written very intelligent books on crime and punishment, which are
supposed to have done their share in opening the nation's eyes to the
necessity of regenerating its prisons. But after a while the visiting
justices of this particular county became dissatisfied with him; he
did not go far enough nor fast enough with the stone he had helped to
roll. Books and reports came out which convinced the magistrates that
severe punishment of mind and body was the essential object of a jail,
and that it was wrong and chimerical to attempt any cures by any other
Captain O'Connor had been very successful by other means, and could
not quite come to this opinion; but he had a deputy governor who did.
System, when it takes a hold of the mind, takes a strong hold, and the
men of system became very impatient of opposition, and grateful for
Hence it came to pass that in the course of a few months Captain
O'Connor found himself in an uncomfortable position. His
deputy-governor, Mr. Hawes, enjoyed the confidence of the visiting
justices; he did not. His suggestions were negatived; Hawes's
accepted. And, to tell the truth, he became at last useless as well as
uncomfortable; for these gentlemen were determined to carry out their
system, and had a willing agent in the prison. O'Connor was little
more than a drag on the wheel he could not hinder from gliding down
the hill. At last, it happened that he had overdrawn his account,
without clearly stating at the time that the sum, which amounted
nearly to one hundred pounds, was taken by him as an accommodation, or
advance of salary. This, which though by no means unprecedented, was
an unbusiness-like though innocent omission, justified censure.
The magistrates went farther than censure; they had long been looking
for an excuse to get rid of him and avail themselves of the zeal and
energy of Hawes. They therefore removed O'Connor, stating publicly as
their reason that he was old; and their interest put Hawes into his
place. There was something melancholy in such a close to O'Connor's
public career. Fortune used him hardly. He had been one of the first
to improve prisons, yet he was dismissed on this or that pretense, but
really because he could not keep pace with the soi-disant improvements
of three inexperienced persons. Honorable mention of his name, his
doings and his words is scattered about various respectable works by
respectable men on this subject, yet he ended in something very like
However, the public gained this by the injustice done him--that an
important experiment was tried under an active and a willing agent.
With Governor Hawes the separate and silent system flourished in ----
The justices and the new governor were of one mind. They had been
working together about two years when Robinson came into the jail.
During this period three justices had periodically visited the jail,
perused the reports, examined, as in duty bound, the surgeon, the
officers and prisoners, and were proud of the system and its practical
With respect to Hawes the governor, their opinion of him was best
shown in the reports they had to make to the Home Office from time to
time. In these they invariably spoke of him as an active, zealous and
Robinson had heard much of the changes in jail treatment, but they had
not yet come home to him. When, therefore, instead of being turned
adrift among seventy other spirits as bad as himself, and greeted with
their boisterous acclamations and the friendly pressure of seven or
eight felonious hands, he was ushered into a cell white as driven
snow, and his housewifely duties explained to him, under a heavy
penalty if a speck of dirt should ever be discovered on his little
wall, his little floor, his little table, or if his cocoa-bark
mattress should not be neatly rolled up after use, and the strap
tight, and the steel hook polished like glass, and his little brass
gas-pipe glittering like gold, etc., Thomas looked blank and had a
"I say, guv'nor," said he to the under-turnkey, "how long am I to be
here before I go into the yard?"
"Talking not allowed out of hours," was the only reply.
Robinson whistled. The turnkey, whose name was Evans, looked at him
with a doubtful air, as much as to say, "Shall I let that pass
unpunished or not?"
However, he went out without any further observation, leaving the door
open; but the next moment he returned and put his head in: "Prisoners
shut their own doors," said he.
"Well!" drawled Robinson, looking coolly and insolently into the man's
face, "I don't see what I shall gain by that." And Mr. Robinson seated
himself, and turning his back a little rudely, immersed himself
ostentatiously in his own thoughts.
"You will gain as you won't be put in the black hole for refractory
conduct, No. 19," replied Evans, quietly and sternly.
Robinson made a wry face and pushed the door peevishly; it shut with a
spring, and no mortal power or ingenuity could now open it from the
"Well I'm blest," said the self-immured, "every man his own turnkey
now; save the queen's pocket, whatever you do. Times are so hard. Box
at the opera costs no end. What have we got here? A Bible! my eye!
invisible print! Oh! I see; 'tisn't for us to read, 'tis for the
visitors to admire--like the new sheet over the dirty blankets!
What's this hung up?
"GRACE AFTER MEAT.
"Oh! with all my heart, your reverence! Here, turnkey, fetch up the
venison and the sweet sauce--you may leave the water-gruel till I ring
for it. If I am to say grace let me feel it first; drat your eyes all
round, governor, turnkeys, chaplain and all the hypocritical crew!"
The next morning, at half-past five, the prison bell rang for the
officers to rise, and at six a turnkey unlocked Robinson's door, and
delivered the following in an imperious key, all in one note and
without any rests: "Prisoner to open and shake bedding, wash face,
hands and neck on pain of punishment, and roll up hammocks and clean
cells and be ready to clean corridors if required." So chanting--
Robinson set to work with alacrity upon the little arrangements; he
soon finished them, and then he would not have been sorry to turn out
and clean the corridor for a change, but it was not his turn. He sat,
dull and lonely, till eight o'clock, when suddenly a key was inserted
into a small lock in the center of his door, but outside; the effect
of this was to open a small trap in the door, through this aperture a
turnkey shoved in the man's breakfast without a word, "like one
flinging guts to a bear" (Scott); and on the sociable Tom attempting
to say a civil word to him, drew the trap sharply back, and
hermetically sealed the aperture with a snap. The breakfast was in a
round tin, with two compartments; one pint of gruel and six ounces of
bread. These two phases of farina were familiar to Mr. Robinson. He
ate the bread and drank the gruel, adding a good deal of salt.
At nine the chapel bell rang. Robinson was glad. Not that he admired
the Liturgy, but he said to himself, "Now I shall see a face or two,
perhaps some old pals."
To his dismay, the warder who opened his cell bade him at the same
time put on the prison cap, with the peak down; and when he and the
other male prisoners were mustered in the corridor, he found them all
like himself, vizor down, eyes glittering like basilisks' or cats'
through two holes, features undistinguishable. The word was given to
march in perfect silence, five paces apart, to the chapel.
The sullen pageant started.
"I've heard of this, but who'd have thought they carried the game so
far? Well, I must wait till we are in chapel and pick up a pal by the
voice, while the parson is doing his patter."
On reaching the chapel he found, to his dismay, that the chapel was as
cellular as any other part of the prison; it was an agglomeration of
one hundred sentry-boxes, open only on the side facing the clergyman,
and even there only from the prisoner's third button upward. Warders
stood on raised platforms and pointed out his sentry-box to each
prisoner with very long slender wands; the prisoner went into it and
pulled the door (it shut with a spring), and next took his badge or
number from his neck and hung it up on a nail above his head in the
sentry-box. Between the reading-desk and the male prisoners was a
small area where the debtors sat together.
The female prisoners were behind a thick veil of close lattice-work.
Service concluded, the governor began to turn a wheel in his pew; this
wheel exhibited to the congregation a number, the convict whose number
corresponded instantly took down his badge (the sight and position of
which had determined the governor in working his wheel), drew the peak
of his cap over his face, and went out and waited in the lobby. When
all the sentry-boxes were thus emptied, dead march of the whole party
back to the main building; here the warders separated them, and sent
them, dead silent, vizors down, some to clean the prison, some to
their cells, some to hard labor, and some to an airing in the yard.
Robinson was to be aired. "Hurrah!" thought sociable Tom. Alas! he
found the system in the yard as well as in the chapel. The promenade
was a number of passages radiating from a common center; the sides of
passage were thick walls; entrance to passage an iron gate locked
behind the promenader. An officer remained on the watch the whole time
to see that a word did not creep out or in through one of the gates.
"And this they call out of doors," grunted Robinson.
After an hour's promenade he was taken into his cell, where at twelve
the trap in his door was opened and his dinner shoved in and the trap
snapped to again, all in three seconds. A very good dinner, better
than paupers always get--three ounces of meat--no bone, eight ounces
of potatoes, and eight ounces of bread. After dinner three weary hours
without an incident. At about three o'clock one of the warders opened
his cell door and put his head in and swiftly withdrew it. Three more
monotonous hours, and then supper--one pint of gruel, and eight ounces
of bread. He ate it as slowly as he could to eke out a few minutes in
the heavy day. Quarter before eight a bell to go to bed. At eight the
warders came round and saw that all the prisoners were in bed. The
next day the same thing, and the next ditto, with this exception, that
one of the warders came into his cell and minutely examined it in dead
silence. The fourth day the chaplain visited him, asked him a few
questions, repeated a few sentences on the moral responsibility of
every human being, and set him some texts of Scripture to learn by
heart. This visit, though merely one of routine, broke the thief's
dead silence and solitude, and he would have been thankful to have a
visit every day from the chaplain, whose manner was formal, but not
surly and forbidding like the turnkeys or warders.
Next day the governor of the jail came suddenly into the cell and put
to Robinson several questions, which he answered with great
affability; then, turning on his heel, said bruskly, "Have you
anything to say to me?"
"Yes, sir, if you please."
"Out with it then, my man," said the governor impatiently.
"Sir, I was condemned to hard labor; now I wanted to ask you when my
hard labor is to begin, because I have not been put upon anything
"We are kinder to you than the judges then, it seems."
"Yes, sir! but I am not naturally lazy, and--"
"A little hard work would amuse you just now?"
"Indeed, sir, I think it would; I am very much depressed in spirits."
"You will be worse before you are better."
"Heaven forbid! I think if you don't give me something to do I shall
go out of my mind soon, sir."
"That is what they all say! You will be put on hard labor, I promise
you, but not when it suits you. We'll choose the time." And the
governor went out with a knowing smile upon his face.
The thief sat himself down disconsolately, and the heavy hours, like
leaden waves, seemed to rise and rise, and roll over his head and
suffocate him, and weigh him down, down, down to bottomless despair.
At length, about the tenth day, this human being's desire to exchange
a friendly word with some other human creature became so strong that
in the chapel during service he scratched the door of his sentry-box,
and whispered, "Mate, whisper me a word, for pity's sake." He received
no answer; but even to have spoken himself relieved his swelling soul
for a minute or two. Half an hour later four turnkeys came into his
cell, and took him down stairs and confined him in a pitch-dark
The prisoner whose attention he had tried to attract in chapel had
told to curry favor, and was reported favorably for the same.
The darkness in which Robinson now lay was not like the darkness of
our bedrooms at night, in which the outlines of objects are more or
less visible; it was the frightful darkness that chilled and crushed
the Egyptians soul and body; it was a darkness that might be felt.
This terrible and unnatural privation of all light is very trying to
all God's creatures, to none more so than to man, and among men it is
most dangerous and distressing to those who have imagination and
excitability. Now Robinson was a man of this class, a man of rare
capacity, full of talent and the courage and energy that vent
themselves in action, but not rich in the tough fortitude which does
little, feels little and bears much.
When they took him out of the black hole after six hours' confinement
he was observed to be white as a sheet, and to tremble violently all
over, and in this state at the word of command he crept back all the
way to his cell, his hand to his eyes, that were dazzled by what
seemed to him bright daylight, his body shaking, while every now and
then a loud, convulsive sob burst from his bosom.
The governor happened to be on the corridor, looking down over the
rails as Robinson passed him. He said to him, with a victorious sneer,
"You won't be refractory in chapel again in a hurry."
"No," said the thief, in a low, gentle voice, despairingly.
The day after Robinson was put in the black hole the surgeon came his
rounds. He found him in a corner of his cell with his eyes fixed on
The man took no notice of his entrance. The surgeon went up to him and
shook him rather roughly. Robinson raised his heavy eyes and looked
stupidly at him.
The surgeon laid hold of him, and placing a thumb on each side of his
eye, inspected that organ fully. He then felt his pulse; this done, he
went out with the warder. Making his report to the governor, he came
in turn to Robinson.
"No. 19 is sinking."
"Oh! is he? Fry" (turning to a warder), "what has 19's treatment
"Been in his cell, sir, without labor since he came. Blackhole
yesterday, for communicating in chapel."
"What is the matter with him?"
"Doctor says he is sinking."
"What the devil do you mean by his sinking?"
"Well, sir," replied the surgeon, with a sort of dry deference, "he is
dying--that is what I mean."
"Oh, he is dying, is he; d--n him, we'll stop that. Here, Fry, take
No. 19 out into the garden, and set him to work. And put him on the
"Is he to be let talk to us, sir?"
Robinson was taken out into the garden; it was a small piece of ground
that had once been a yard; it was inclosed within walls of great
height, and to us would have seemed a cheerless place for
horticulture, but to Robinson it appeared the garden of Eden. He gave
a sigh of relief and pleasure, but the next moment his countenance
"They won't let me stay here!"
Fry took him into the center of the garden, and put a spade into his
hand. "Now you dig this piece," said he in his dry, unfriendly tone,
"and if you have time cut the edges of this grass path square." The
words were scarcely out of his mouth before Robinson drove the spade
into the soil with all the energy of one of God's creatures escaping
from system back to nature.
Fry left him in the garden after making him pull down his vizor, for
there was one more prisoner working at some distance.
Robinson set to with energy, and dug for the bare life. It was a sort
of work he knew very little about, and a gardener would have been
disgusted at his ridges, but he threw his whole soul into it and very
soon had nearly completed his task. Having been confined so long
without exercise his breath was short, and he perspired profusely; but
he did not care for that. "Oh, how sweet this is after being buried
alive," cried he, and in went the spade again. Presently he was seized
with a strong desire to try the other part of his task, the more so as
it required more skill and presented a difficulty to overcome. A part
of the path had been shaved and the knippers lay where they had been
last used. Robinson inspected the recent work with an intelligent eye,
and soon discovered traces of a white line on one side of the path,
that served as a guide to the knippers. "Oh! I must draw a straight
line," said Robinson out loud, indulging himself with the sound of a
human voice. "But how? can you tell me that," he inquired of a
gooseberry bush that grew near. The words were hardly out of his mouth
before, peering about in every direction, he discovered an iron spike
with some cord wrapped round it and, not far off, a piece of chalk. He
pounced on them, and fastening the spike at the edge of the path
attempted to draw a line with the chalk, using the string as a ruler.
Not succeeding, he reflected a little, and the result was that he
chalked several feet of the line all round until it was all white;
then with the help of a stake, which he took for his other terminus,
he got the chalked string into a straight line just above the edge of
the grass. Next pressing it tightly down with his foot, he effected a
white line on the grass. He now removed the string, took the knippers,
and following his white line, trimmed the path secundum artem.
"There," said Robinson, to the gooseberry-bush, but not very loud for
fear of being heard and punished, "I wonder whether that is how the
gardeners do it. I think it must be." He viewed his work with
satisfaction, then went back to his digging, and as he put the
finishing stroke Fry came to bring him back to his cell. It was
"I never worked in a garden before," began Robinson, "so it is not so
well done as it might be, but if I was to come every day for a week, I
think I could master it. I did not know there was a garden in this
prison. If ever I build a prison there shall be a garden in it as big
as Belgrave Square."
"You are precious fond of the sound of your own voice, No. 19," said
"We are not forbidden to speak to the warders, are we?"
"Not at proper times."
He threw open cell-door 19, and Robinson entered.
Before he could close the door Robinson said, "Good-night and thank
"G'night," snarled Fry sullenly, as one shamed against his will into a
Robinson lay awake half the night, and awoke the next morning rather
feverish and stiff, but not the leaden thing he was the day before.
A feather turns a balanced scale. This man's life and reason had been
engaged in a drawn battle with three mortal enemies--solitude, silence
and privation of all employment. That little bit of labor and
wholesome thought, whose paltry and childish details I half blush to
have given you, were yet due to my story, for they took a man out of
himself, checked the self-devouring process, and helped elastic nature
to recover herself this bout.
The next day Robinson was employed washing the prison. The next he got
two hours in the garden again, and the next the trades'-master was
sent into his cell to teach him how to make scrubbing-brushes. The man
sat down and was commencing a discourse when Robinson interrupted him
"Sir, let me see you work, and watch me try to do the same, and
"With all my heart," said the trades'-master.
He remained about half an hour with his pupil, and when he went out he
said to one of the turnkeys, "There is a chap in there that can pick
up a handicraft as a pigeon picks up peas."
The next day the surgeon happened to look in. He found Robinson as
busy as a bee making brushes, pulled his eye open again, felt his
pulse, and wrote something down in his memorandum-book. He left
directions with the turnkey that No. 19 should be kept employed, with
the governor's permission.
Robinson's hands were now full; he made brushes, and every day put
some of them to the test upon the floor and walls of the building.
It happened one day as he was doing housemaid in corridor B, that he
suddenly heard unwonted sounds issue from a part of the premises into
which he had not yet been introduced, the yard devoted to hard labor.
First he heard a single voice shouting: that did not last long; then a
dead silence; then several voices, among which his quick ear
recognized Fry's and the governor's. He could see nothing; the sounds
came from one of the hard-labor cells. Robinson was surprised and
puzzled. What were these sounds that broke the silence of the living
tomb? An instinct told him it was no use asking a turnkey, so he
devoured his curiosity and surprise as best he might.
The very next day, about the same hour, both were again excited by
noises from the same quarter equally unintelligible. He heard a great
noise of water slashed in bucketsful against a wall, and this was
followed by a sort of gurgling that seemed to him to come from a human
throat; this latter, however, was almost drowned in an exulting
chuckle of several persons, among whom he caught the tones of a
turnkey called Hodges and of the governor himself. Robinson puzzled
and puzzled himself, but could not understand these curious sounds,
and he could see nothing except a quantity of water running out of one
of the labor cells, and coursing along till it escaped by one of the
two gutters that drained the yard. Often and often Robinson meditated
on this, and exerted all his ingenuity to conceive what it meant. His
previous jail experience afforded him no clew, and as he was one of
those who hate to be in the dark about anything this new riddle
However, the prison was generally so dead dumb and gloomy that upon
two such cheerful events as water splashing and creatures laughing he
could not help crowing a little out of sympathy without knowing why.
The next day, as Robinson was working in the corridor, the governor
came in with a gentleman whom he treated with unusual and marked
respect. This gentleman was the chairman of the quarter-sessions, and
one of those magistrates who had favored the adoption of the present
Mr. Williams inspected the prison; was justly pleased with its
exquisite cleanness; he questioned the governor as to the health of
the prisoners, and received for answer that most of them were well,
but that there were some exceptions; this appeared to satisfy him. He
went into the labor-yard, looked at the cranks, examined the numbers
printed on each in order to learn their respective weights, and see
that the prisoners were not overburdened.
Went with the governor into three or four cells, and asked the
prisoners if they had any complaint to make.
The unanimous answer was "No!"
He then complimented the governor--and drove home to his own house,
There, after dinner, he said to a brother magistrate, "I inspected the
jail to-day; was all over it."
The next morning Fry, the morose, came into Robinson's cell with a
more cheerful countenance than usual. Robinson noticed it.
"You are put on the crank," said Fry.
"Oh! am I?"
"Of course you are. Your sentence was hard labor, wasn't it? I don't
know why you weren't sent on a fortnight ago."
Fry then took him out into the labor-yard, which he found perforated
with cells about half the size of his hermitage in the corridor. In
each of these little quiet grottoes lurked a monster, called a crank.
A crank is a machine of this sort--there springs out of a vertical
post an iron handle, which the workman, taking it by both hands, works
round and round, as in some country places you may have seen the
villagers draw a bucket up from a well. The iron handle goes at the
shoulder into a small iron box at the top of the post; and inside that
box the resistance to the turner is regulated by the manufacturer, who
states the value of the resistance outside in cast-iron letters. Thus:
5-lb. crank. 7-lb. crank. 10, 12, etc., etc.
"Eighteen hundred revolutions per hour," said Mr. Fry, in his voice of
routine, and "you are to work two hours before dinner."
So saying he left him, and Robinson, with the fear of punishment
before him, lost not a moment in getting to work. He found the crank
go easy enough at first, but the longer he was at it the stiffer it
seemed to turn. And after about four hundred turns he was fain to
breathe and rest himself. He took three minutes' rest, then at it
again. All this time there was no taskmaster, as in Egypt, nor
whipper-up of declining sable energy, as in Old Kentucky. So that if I
am so fortunate as to have a reader aged ten, he is wondering why the
fool did not confine his exertions to saying he had made the turns. My
dear, it would not do. Though no mortal oversaw the thief at his task,
the eye of science was in that cell and watched every stroke and her
inexorable finger marked it down. In plain English, on the face of the
machine was a thing like a chronometer with numbers set all round and
a hand which, somehow or other, always pointed to the exact number of
turns the thief had made. The crank was an autometer, or
self-measurer, and in that respect your superior and mine, my little
This was Robinson's first acquaintance with the crank. The tread-wheel
had been the mode in his time; so by the time he had made three
thousand turns he was rather exhausted. He leaned upon the iron handle
and sadly regretted his garden and his brushes; but fear and dire
necessity were upon him; he set to his task and to work again. "I
won't look at the meter again, for it always tells me less than I
expect. I'll just plow on till that beggar comes. I know he will come
to the minute."
Sadly and doggedly he turned the iron handle, and turned and turned
again; and then he panted and rested a minute, and then doggedly to
his idle toil again. He was now so fatigued that his head seemed to
have come loose, he could not hold it up, and it went round and round
and round with the crank-handle. Hence it was that Mr. Fry stood at
the mouth of the den without the other seeing him.
"Halt," said Fry. Robinson looked up, and there was the turnkey
inspecting him with a discontented air. "I'm done," thought Robinson,
"here he is as black as thunder--the number not right, no doubt."
"What are ye at," growled Fry. "You are forty over," and the said Fry
looked not only ill-used but a little unhappy. Robinson's good
behavior had disappointed the poor soul.
This Fry was a grim oddity; he experienced a feeble complacency when
things went wrong--but never else.
The thief exulted, and was taken back to his cell. Dinner came almost
immediately. Four ounces of meat instead of three; two ounces less
bread, but a large access of potatoes, which more than balanced the
The next day Robinson was put on the crank again, but not till the
afternoon. He had finished about half his task, when he heard at some
little distance from him a faint moaning. His first impulse was to run
out of his cell and see what was the matter, but Hodges and Fry were
both in the yard, and he knew that they would report him for
punishment upon the least breach of discipline. So he turned and
turned the crank, with these moans ringing in his ears and perplexing
Finding they did not cease, he peeped cautiously into the yard, and
there he saw the governor himself as well as Hodges and Fry. All three
were standing close to the place whence these groans issued, and with
an air of complete unconcern.
But presently the groans ceased, and then mysteriously enough the
little group of disciplinarians threw off their apathy. Hodges and Fry
went hastily to the pump with buckets, which they filled, and then
came back to the governor; the next minute Robinson heard water dashed
repeatedly against the walls of the cell, and then the governor
laughed, and Hodges laughed, and even the gloomy Fry vented a brief
And now Robinson quivered with curiosity as he turned his crank, but
there was no means of gratifying it. It so happened, however, that
some ten minutes later the governor sent Hodges and Fry to another
part of the prison, and they had not been gone long before a message
came to himself, on which he went hastily out, and the yard was left
empty. Robinson's curiosity had reached such a pitch that
notwithstanding the risk he ran--for he knew the governor would send
back to the yard the very first disengaged officer he met--he could
not stay quiet. As the governor closed the gate he ran with all speed
to the cell, he darted in, and then the thief saw what made the three
honest men laugh so. He saw it, and started back with a cry of dismay,
for the sight chilled the felon to the bone.
A lad about fifteen years of age was pinned against the wall in agony
by a leathern belt passed round his shoulders and drawn violently
round two staples in the wall. His arms were jammed against his sides
by a straight waistcoat fastened with straps behind, and those straps
drawn with the utmost severity. But this was not all. A high leathern
collar a quarter of an inch thick squeezed his throat in its iron
grasp. His hair and his clothes were drenched with water which had
been thrown in bucketsful over him, and now dripped from him on the
floor. His face was white, his lips livid, his eyes were nearly
glazed, and his teeth chattered with cold and pain.
A more unprincipled man than Robinson did not exist; but burglary and
larceny do not extinguish humanity in a thinking rascal as resigning
the soul to system can extinguish it in a dull dog.
"Oh, what is this!" cried Robinson, "what are the villains doing to
He received no answer; but the boy's eyes opened wide, and he turned
those glazing eyes, the only part of his body he could turn, toward
the speaker. Robinson ran up to him, and began to try and loosen him.
At this the boy cried out, almost screaming with terror, "Let me
alone! let me alone! They'll give it me worse if you do, and they'll
serve you out, too!"
"But you will die, boy. Look at his poor lips!"
"No, no, no! I shan't die! No such luck!" cried the boy impatiently
and wildly. "Thank you for speaking kind to me. Who are you? tell me
quick, and go. I am ---- Josephs, No. 15, Corridor A."
"I am Robinson, No. 19, Corridor B."
"Good-bye, Robinson, I shan't forget you. Hark, the door! Go! go! go!
Robinson was already gone. He had fled at the first click of a key in
the outward door, and darted into his cell at the moment Fry got into
the yard. An instinct of suspicion led this man straight to Robinson's
hermitage. He found him hard at work. Fry scrutinized his countenance,
but Robinson was too good an actor to betray himself; only when Fry
passed on he drew a long breath. What he had seen surprised as well as
alarmed him, for he had always been told the new system discouraged
personal violence of all sorts; and in all his experience of the old
jails he had never seen a prisoner abused so savagely as the young
martyr in the adjoining cell. His own work done, he left for his own
dormitory. He was uneasy, and his heart was heavy for poor Josephs;
but he dared not even cast a look toward his place of torture, for the
other executioners had returned, and Fry followed grim at his heels
like a mastiff dogging a stranger out of the premises.
That evening Robinson spent in gloomy reflections and forebodings. "I
wish I was in the hulks or anywhere out of this place," said he. As
for Josephs, the governor, after inspecting his torture for a few
minutes, left the yard again with his subordinates, and Josephs was
left alone with his great torture for two hours more; then Hodges came
in and began to loose him, swearing at him all the time for a little
rebellious monkey that gave more trouble than enough. The rebellious
monkey made no answer, but crawled slowly away to his dungeon,
shivering in his drenched clothes, stiff and sore, his bones full of
pain, his heart full of despondency.
Robinson had now eight thousand turns of the crank per day, and very
hard work he found it; but he preferred it to being buried alive all
day in his cell; and warned by Josephs' fate, he went at the crank
with all his soul, and never gave them an excuse for calling him
"refractory." It happened, however, one day, just after breakfast,
that he was taken with a headache and shivering; and not getting
better after chapel, but rather worse, he rang his bell and begged to
see the surgeon. The surgeon ought to have been in the jail at this
hour. He was not, though, and as he had been the day before, and was
accustomed to neglect the prisoners for any one who paid better, he
was not expected this day. Soon after Fry came to the cell and ordered
Robinson out to the crank. Robinson told him he was too ill to work.
"I must have the surgeon's authority for that, before I listen to it,"
replied Fry, amateur of routine.
"But he is not in the jail, or you would have it."
"Then he ought to be."
"Well, is it my fault he's shirking his duty? Send for him, and you'll
see he will tell you I am not fit for the crank to-day; my head is
"Come, no gammon, No. 19; it is the crank or the jacket, or else the
black hole. So take which you like best."
Robinson rose with a groan of pain and despondency.
"It is only eight thousand words you have got to say to it, and they
are not many for such a tongue as yours."
At the end of the time Fry came to the mouth of the labor-cell with a
grim chuckle. "He will never have done his number this time." He found
Robinson kneeling on the ground, almost insensible, the crank-handle
convulsively grasped in his hands. Fry's first glance was at this
figure, that a painter might have taken for a picture of labor
overtasked; but this was neither new nor interesting to Fry. He went
eagerly to examine the meter of the crank--there lay his heart, such
as it was--and to his sorrow he found that No. 19 had done his work
before he broke down. What it cost the poor fever-stricken wretch to
do it can easier be imagined than described.
They assisted Robinson to his cell, and that night he was in a burning
fever. The next day the surgeon happened by some accident to be at his
post, and prescribed change of diet and medicines for him. "He would
be better in the infirmary."
"Why?" said the governor.
"Nonsense, there is plenty of air here. There is a constant stream of
air comes in through this," and he pointed to a revolving cylinder in
the window constructed for that purpose. "You give him the right
stuff, doctor," said Hawes jocosely, "and he won't slip his wind this
The surgeon acquiesced according to custom.
It was not for him to contradict Hawes, who allowed him to attend the
jail or neglect it, according to his convenience, i. e., to come
three or four times a week at different hours, instead of twice every
day at fixed hours.
It was two days after this that the governor saw Hodges come out of a
"What are ye grinning at?" said he, in his amiable way.
"No. 19 is light-headed, sir, and I have been listening to him. It
would make a cat laugh," said Hodges apologetically. He knew well
enough the governor did not approve of laughing in the jail.
The governor said nothing, but made a motion with his hand, and Hodges
opened cell 19 and they both went in.
No. 19 lay on his back flushed and restless with his eyes fixed on
vacancy. He was talking incessantly and without sequence. I should
fail signally were I to attempt to transfer his words to paper. I feel
my weakness and the strength of others who in my day have shown a
singular power of fixing on paper the volatile particles of frenzy;
however, in a word, the poor thief was talking as our poetasters
write, and amid his gunpowder, daffodils, bosh and other
constellations there mingled gleams of sense and feeling that would
have made you and me very sad.
He often recurred to a girl he called Mary, and said a few gentle
words to her; then off again into the wildest flights. While Mr. Hawes
and his myrmidons were laughing at him, he suddenly fixed his eyes on
some imaginary figure on the opposite wall and began to cry out
loudly, "Take him down. Don't you see you are killing him? The collar
is choking him! See how White he is! His eyes stare! The boy will die!
Murder! murder! murder! I can't bear to see him die." And with these
words he buried his head in the bedclothes.
Mr. Hawes looked at Mr. Fry; Mr. Fry answered the look. "He must have
seen Josephs the other day."
"Ay! he is mighty curious. Well, when he gets well!" and, shaking his
fist at the sufferer, Mr. Hawes went out of the cell soon after.
"WHAT is your report about No. 19, doctor?"
"The fever is gone."
"He is well, then?"
"He is well of the fever, but a fever leaves the patient in a state of
debility for some days. I have ordered him meat twice a day--that is,
meat once and soup once."
"Then you report him cured of his fever?"
"Hodges, put No. 19 on the crank."
Even the surgeon opened his eyes at this. "Why, he is as weak as a
child," said he.
"Will it kill him?"
"Certainly not; and for the best of all reasons. He can't possibly do
"You don't know what these fellows can do when they are forced."
The surgeon shrugged his shoulders and passed on to his other
patients. Robinson was taken out into the yard. "What a blessing the
fresh air is!" said he, gulping in the atmosphere of the yard. "I
should have got well long ago if I had not been stifled in my cell for
want of room and air."
Robinson went to the crank in good spirits; he did not know how weak
he was till he began to work; but he soon found out he could not do
the task in the time. He thought therefore the wisest plan would be
not to exhaust himself in vain efforts, and he sat quietly down and
did nothing. In this posture he was found by Hawes and his myrmidons.
"What are you doing there not working?"
"Sir, I am only just getting well of a fever, and I am as weak as
"And that is why you are not trying to do anything, eh?"
"I have tried, sir, and it is impossible. I am not fit to turn this
"Well, then, I must try if I can't make you. Fetch the jacket."
"Oh! for Heaven's sake don't torture me, sir. There is nobody more
willing to work than I am. And if you will but give me a day or two to
get my strength after the fever, you shall see how I will work."
"There! there! ---- your palaver! Strap him up."
He was in no condition to resist, and moreover knew resistance was
useless. They jammed him in the jacket, pinned him tight to the wall,
and throttled him in the collar. This collar, by a refinement of
cruelty, was made with unbound edges, so that when the victim,
exhausted with the cruel cramp that racked his aching bones in the
fierce gripe of Hawes's infernal machine, sunk his heavy head and
drooped his chin, the jagged collar sawed him directly and lacerating
the flesh drove him away from even this miserable approach to ease.
Robinson had formed no idea of the torture. The victims of the
Inquisition would have gained but little by becoming the victims of
the separate and silent system in ---- Jail.
They left the poor fellow pinned to the wall, jammed in the strait
waistcoat, and throttled in the round saw. Weakened by fever and
unnatural exertion, he succumbed sooner than the inquisitors had
calculated upon. The next time they came into the yard they found him
black in the face, his lips livid, insensible, throttled, and dying.
Another half minute and there would have hung a corpse in the Hawes
When they saw how nearly he was gone they were all at him together.
One unclasped the saw collar, one unbraced the waistcoat, another
sprinkled water over him--not a bucketful this time, because they
would have wetted themselves. Released from the infernal machine, the
body of No. 19 fell like a lump of clay upon the men who had reduced
him to this condition. Then these worthies were in some little
trepidation; for though they had caused the death of many men during
the last two years, they had not yet, as it happened, murdered a
single one on the spot openly and honestly like this; and they feared
they might get into trouble. Adjoining the yard was a bath-room; to
this they carried No. 19. They stripped him, and let the water run
upon him from the cock, but he did not come to; then they scrubbed him
just as they would a brick floor with a hard brush upon the back till
his flesh was as red as blood; with this and the water together he
began to gasp and sigh and faintly come back from insensibility to a
new set of tortures; but so long was the struggle between life and
death that these men of business, detained thus unconscionably about a
single thief, lost all patience with him; one scrubbed him till the
blood came under the bristles, another seized him by the hair of his
head and jerked his head violently back several times, and this gave
him such pain that he began to struggle instinctively, and, the blood
now fairly set in motion, he soon moved. The last thing he remembered
was a body full of aching bones; the first he awoke to was the
sensation of being flayed alive from the crown of his head to the sole
of his foot.
The first word he heard was, "Put his clothes on his shamming carcass
"Shall we dry him, sir?"
"Dry him!" roared the governor, with an oath. "No! Hasn't he given us
trouble enough?" (Another oath.)
They flung his clothes upon his red-hot dripping skin, and Hodges gave
him a brutal push. "Go to your cell." Robinson crawled off, often
wincing and trying in vain to keep his clothes from rubbing those
parts of his person where they had scrubbed the skin off him.
Hawes eyed him with grim superiority. Suddenly he had an inspiration.
"Come back!" shouted he. "I never was beat by a prisoner yet, and I
never will. Strap him up." At this command even the turnkeys looked
amazed at one another and hesitated. Then the governor swore horribly
at them, and Hodges without another word went for the jacket.
They took hold of him; he made no resistance; he never even looked at
them. He never took his eye off Hawes; on him his eye fastened like a
basilisk. They took him away, and pinioned, jammed and throttled him
to the wall again. Hodges was set to watch him, and a bucket of water
near to throw over him should he show the least sign of shamming
again. In an hour another turnkey came and relieved Hodges--in another
hour Fry relieved him, for this was tiresome work for a poor
turnkey--in another hour a new hand relieved Fry, but nobody relieved
Five mortal hours had he been in the vice without shamming. The pain
his skin suffered from the late remedies, and the deadly rage at his
heart, gave him unnatural powers of resistance; but at last the
infernal machine conquered, and he began to turn dead faint; then
Hodges, his sentinel at the time, caught up the bucket and dashed the
whole contents over him. The effect was magical; the shock took away
his breath for a moment, but the next the blood seemed to glow with
fire in his veins and he felt a general access of vigor to bear his
torture. When this man had been six hours in the vise the governor and
his myrmidons came into the yard and unstrapped him.
"You did not beat me, you see, after all," said the governor to No.
19. The turnkeys heard and revered their chief. No. 19 looked him full
in the face with an eye glittering like a saber, but said no word.
"Sulky brute!" cried the governor, "lock him up" (oath). And that
evening, as a warder was rolling the prisoners' supper along the
little natural railway made by the two railings of Corridor B, the
governor stepped the carriage and asked for 19's tin. It was given
him, and he abstracted one half of the man's gruel. "Refractory in the
yard to-day; but I'll break him before I've done with him" (oath).
The next day brushes were wanted for the jail. This saved Robinson for
that day. It was little Josephs' turn to suffer. The governor put him
on a favorite crank of his, and gave him eight thousand turns to do in
four hours and a half. He knew the boy could not do it, and this was
only a formula he went through previous to pillorying the lad. Josephs
had been in the Pillory about an hour when it so happened that the
Reverend John Jones, the chaplain of the jail, came into the yard.
Seeing a group of warders at the mouth of the labor-cell, he walked up
to them, and there was Josephs in peine forte et dure.
"What is this lad's offense?" inquired Mr. Jones.
"Refractory at the crank," was the reply.
"Why, Josephs," said the reverend gentleman, "you told me you would
always do your best."
"So I do, your reverence," gasped Josephs; "but this crank is too
heavy for a lad like me, and that is why I am put on it to get
"Hold your tongue," said Hodges roughly.
"Why is he to hold his tongue, Mr. Hodges?" said the chaplain quietly;
"how is he to answer my question if he holds his tongue? You forget
"Ugh! beg your pardon, sir, but this one has always got some excuse or
"What is the matter?" roared a rough voice behind the speakers. This
was Hawes, who had approached them unobserved.
"He is gammoning his reverence, sir--that is all."
"What has he been saying?"
"That the crank is too heavy for him, sir, and the waistcoat is
strapped too tight, it seems."
"Who says so?"
"I think so, Mr. Hawes."
"Will you take a bit of advice, sir? If you wish a prisoner well don't
you come between him and me. It will always be the worse for him, for
I am master here and master I will be."
"Mr. Hawes," replied the chaplain, "I have never done or said anything
in the prison to lessen your authority, but privately I must
remonstrate against the uncommon severities practiced upon prisoners
in this jail. If you will listen to me I shall be much obliged to
you--if not, I am afraid I must, as a matter of conscience, call the
attention of the visiting justices to the question."
"Well, parson, the justices will be in the jail to-day--you tell them
your story and I will tell them mine," said Hawes, with a cool air of
Sure enough, at five o'clock in the afternoon two of the visiting
justices arrived, accompanied by Mr. Wright, a young magistrate. They
were met at the door by Hawes, who wore a look of delight at their
appearance. They went round the prison with him, while he detained
them in the center of the building till he had sent Hodges secretly to
undo Josephs and set him on the crank; and here the party found him at
"You have been a long time on the crank, my lad," said Hawes, "you may
go to your cell."
Josephs touched his cap to the governor and the gentlemen and went
"That is a nice quiet-looking boy," said one of the justices; "what is
he in for?"
"He is in this time for stealing a piece of beef out of a butcher's
"This time! what! is he a hardened offender? he does not look it."
"He has been three times in prison; once for throwing stones, once for
orchard-robbing, and this time for the beef."
"What a young villain! at his age---"
"Don't say that, Williams," said Mr. Wright dryly, "you and I were
just as great villains at his age. Didn't we throw stones? rather!"
Hawes laughed in an adulatory manner, but observing that Mr. Williams,
who was a grave, pompous personage, did not smile at all, he added:
"But not to do mischief like this one, I'll be bound."
"No," said Mr. Williams, with an air of ruffled dignity.
"No?" cried the other, "where is your memory? Why, we threw stones at
everything and everybody, and I suppose we did not always miss, eh? I
remember your throwing a stone through the window of a place of
worship--(this was a school-fellow of mine, and led me into all sorts
of wickedness). I say, was it a Wesleyan shop, Williams, or a Baptist?
for I forget. Never mind, you had a fit of orthodoxy. What was the
young villain's second offense?"
"Robbing an orchard, sir."
"The scoundrel! robbing an orchard? Oh, what sweet reminiscences those
words recall. I say, Williams, do you remember us two robbing Farmer
"I remember your robbing it, and my character suffering for it."
"I don't remember that; but I remember my climbing the pear-tree and
flinging the pears down, and finding them all grabbed on my descent.
What is the young villain's next--Oh! snapping a piece off a counter.
Ah! we never did that--because we could always get it without stealing
With this Mr. Wright strolled away from the others, having had what
the jocose wretch used to call "a slap at humbug."
His absence was a relief to the others. These did not come there to
utter sense in fun but to jest in sober earnest.
Mr. Williams hinted as much, and Hawes, whose cue it was to assent in
everything to the justices, brightened his face up at the remark.
"Will you visit the cells, gentlemen," said he, with an accent of
cordial invitation, "or inspect the book first?"
They gave precedence to the latter.
By the book was meant the log-book of the jail. In it the governor was
required to report for the justices and the Home Office all jail
events a little out of the usual routine. For instance, all
punishments of prisoners, all considerable sicknesses, deaths and
their supposed causes, etc., etc.
"This Josephs seems by the book to be an ill-conditioned fellow; he is
often down for punishment."
"Yes! he hates work. About Gillies, sir--ringing his bell and
pretending it was an accident?"
"Yes! how old is he?"
"Is this his first offense?"
"Not by a good many. I think, gentlemen, if you were to order him a
flogging it would be better for him in the end."
"Well, give him twenty lashes. Eh: Palmer?"
Mr. Palmer assented by a nod.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Hawes, "but will you allow me to make a
"Certainly, Mr. Hawes, certainly!"
"I find twenty lashes all at once rather too much for a lad of that
age. Now, if you would allow me to divide the punishment into two so
that his health might not be endangered by it, then we could give him
ten or even twelve, and after a day or two as many more."
"That speaks well for your humanity, Mr. Hawes; your zeal we have long
"Augh, sir! sir!"
"I will sign the order, and we authorize you here to divide the
punishment according to your own suggestion." (Order signed.)
The justices then went round the cells accompanied by Hawes. They went
into the cells with an expression of a little curiosity but more
repugnance on their faces, and asked several prisoners if they were
well and contented. The men looked with the shrewdness of their class
into their visitors' faces and measured them; saw there, first a
feeble understanding, secondly an adamantine prejudice; saw that in
those eyes they were wild beasts and Hawes an angel, and answered to
please Hawes, whose eye was fixed on them all this time and in whose
power they felt they were.
All expressed their content. Some in tones so languid and empty of
heart that none but Justice Shallow could have helped seeing through
the humbug. Others did it better; and not a few overdid it, so that
any but Justice Shallow would have seen through them. These last told
Messrs. Shallow and Slender that the best thing that ever happened to
them was coming to ---- Jail. They thanked Heaven they had been pulled
up short in an evil career that must have ended in their ruin body and
soul. As for their present situation, they were never happier in their
lives, and some of them doubted much whether, when they should reach
the penal settlements, the access of liberty would repay them for the
increased temptations and the loss of quiet meditation and
self-communion and the good advice of Mr. Hawes and of his reverence,
The jail-birds who piped this tune were without a single exception the
desperate cases of this moral hospital. They were old
offenders--hardened scoundrels who meant to rob and kill and deceive
to their dying day. While in prison their game was to be as
comfortable as they could. Hawes could make them uncomfortable; he was
always there. Under these circumstances to lie came on the instant as
natural to them as to rob would have come had some power transported
them outside the prison doors with these words of penitence on their
They asked where that Josephs' cell was. Hawes took them to him. They
inspected him with a profound zoological look, to see whether it was
more wolf or badger. Strange to say, it looked neither, but a simple
quiet youth of the human genus--species snob.
"He is very small to be a ruffian," said Mr. Palmer.
"I am sorry, Josephs," said Mr. Williams pompously, "to find your name
so often down for punishment."
Josephs looked up, hoping to see the light of sympathy in this
speaker's eyes. He saw two owls' faces attempting eagle but not
reaching up to sparrow-hawk, and he was silent. He had no hope of
being believed; moreover, the grim eye of Hawes rested on him, and no
feebleness in it.
Messrs. Shallow and Slender, receiving no answer from Josephs, who was
afraid to tell the truth, were nettled, and left the cell shrugging
In the corridor they met the train just coming along the banisters
with supper. Pompous Mr. Williams tasted the prison diet on the spot.
"It is excellent," cried he; "why the gruel is like glue." And he fell
into a meditation.
"So far everything is as we could wish, Mr. Hawes, and it speaks well
for the discipline and for yourself."
Hawes bowed with a gratified air.
"I will complete the inspection to-morrow."
Hawes accompanied the gentlemen to the outside gate. Here Mr. Williams
turned. For the last minute or two he had been in the throes of an
idea, and now he delivered himself of it.
"It would be well if Josephs' gruel were not made so strong for him."
Mr. Williams was not one of those who often say a great thing, but
this deserves immortality, and could I confer immortality this of
Williams' should never die! Unlike most of the things we say, it does
not deserve ever to die--
"IT WOULD BE WELL IF JOSEPHS' GRUEL WERE NOT MADE SO STRONG FOR HIM!!"
"WILL you eat your mutton with me to-day, Palmer?" said Mr. Williams
at the gate of the jail.
"I should be very happy, but I am engaged to dine with the
So Mr. Williams drove home to Ashtown Park, and had to sit down to
dinner with his own small family party.
Mr. Williams' mutton consisted of first a little strong gravy soup
lubricated and gelatinized with a little tapioca; vis-a-vis the soup a
little piece of salmon cut out of the fish's center; lobster patties,
rissoles, and two things with French names, stinking of garlic, on the
Enter a boiled turkey poult with delicate white sauce; a nice tongue,
not too green nor too salt, and a small saddle of six-tooth mutton,
home-bred, home-fed; after this a stewed pigeon, faced by greengage
tart, and some yellow cream twenty-four hours old; item, an iced
pudding. A little Stilton cheese brought up the rear with a nice
salad. This made way for a foolish trifling dessert of muscatel
grapes, guava jelly and divers kickshaws diluted with agreeable wines
varied by a little glass of Marasquino & Co., at junctures. So far so
But alas! nothing is complete in this world, not even the dinner of a
fair round justice with fat capon lined. There is always some drawback
or deficiency here below--confound it! The wretch of a cook had
forgotten to send up the gruel a la Josephs.
Next day, after Mr. Williams had visited the female prisoners and
complimented Hawes on having initiated them into the art of silence,
he asked where the chaplain was. Hawes instantly dispatched a
messenger to inquire, and remembering that gentleman's threatened
remonstrance, parried him by anticipation, thus:
"By-the-by, sir, I have a little complaint to make of him."
"Indeed!" said Mr. Williams, "what is that?"
"He took a prisoner's part against the discipline; but he doesn't know
them, and they humbug him. But, sir, ought he to preach against me in
the chapel of the jail?"
"Certainly not! Surely he has not been guilty of such a breach of
discipline and good taste."
"Oh! but wait, sir," said Hawes, "hear the whole truth, and then
perhaps you will blame me. You must know, sir, that I sometimes let
out an oath. I was in the army, and we used all to swear there; and
now a little of it sticks to me in spite of my teeth, and if his
reverence had done me the honor to take me to task privately about it,
I would have taken off my hat to him; but it is another thing to go
and preach at me for it before all the jail."
"Of course it is. Do you mean to say he did that?"
"He did, sir. Of course, he did not mention my name, but he preached
five-and-thirty minutes all about swearing, and they all knew who he
was hitting. I could see the warders grinning from ear to ear, as much
as to say, 'There's another rap for you, governor!'"
"I'll speak to him."
"Thank you, sir; don't be hard on him, for he is a deserving officer;
but if you would give him a quiet hint not to interfere with me. We
have all of us plenty to do of our own in a jail, if he could but see
it. Ah! here comes the chaplain, sir. I will leave you together, if
you please;" and Mr. Hawes made off with a business air.
The chaplain came up and bowed to Mr. Williams, who saluted him in
turn somewhat coldly. There was a short silence. Mr. Williams was
concocting a dignified rebuke. Before he could get it out the chaplain
"I wished to speak with you yesterday, sir.
"I am at your service, Mr. Jones. What is it?"
"I want you to look into our punishments; they are far more numerous
and severe than they used to be."
"On the contrary I find them less numerous."
"Why, there is one punished every day."
"I have been carefully over the books, and I assure you there is a
marked decrease in the number of punishments."
"Then they cannot be all put down."
"Nonsense, Mr. Jones, nonsense!"
"And, then, the severity of these punishments, sir! Is it your wish
that a prisoner should be strapped in the jacket so tight that we
cannot get a finger between the leather and his flesh?"
"Not unless he is refractory."
"But prisoners are very seldom refractory."
"Indeed! that is news to me."
"I assure you, sir, there are no quieter set of men than prisoners
generally. They know there is nothing to be gained by resistance."
"They are on their good behavior before you. You don't see through
them, my good sir. They are like madmen--you would take them for lambs
till they break out. Do you know a prisoner here called Josephs?"
"Yes, sir, perfectly well."
"Well, now, what is his character, may I ask?"
"HE IS A MILD, QUIET, DOCILE LAD."
"Ha! ha! ha! I thought so. Prisoners are the refuse of the earth. The
governor knows them, and how to manage them. A discretion must be
allowed him, and I see no reason to interfere between him and
refractory prisoners except when he invites us."
"You are aware that several attempts at suicide have been made within
the last few months?"
"Sham attempts, yes."
"One was not sham, sir," said Mr. Jones, gravely
"Oh, Jackson, you mean. No, but he was a lunatic, and would have made
away with himself anywhere--Hawes is convinced of that."
"Well, sir, I have told you the fact; I have remonstrated against the
uncommon seventies practiced in this jail--seventies unknown in
Captain O'Connor's day."
"And I have received and answered your remonstrance, sir, and there
that matter ought to end."
This, and the haughty tone with which it was said, discouraged and
nettled the chaplain; he turned red and said:
"In that case, sir, I have no more to say. I have discharged my
conscience." With these words he was about to withdraw, but Mr.
Williams stopped him.
"Mr. Jones, do you consider a clergyman justified in preaching at
"The pulpit surely ought not to be made a handle for personality. It
is not the way to make the pulpit itself respected."
"I don't understand you, sir."
"Mr. Hawes is much hurt at a sermon you preached against him."
"A sermon against him--never!"
"I beg your pardon; you preached a whole sermon against swearing--and
"Oh--yes! I remember--the Sunday before last. I certainly did
reprobate in my discourse the habit of swearing, but no personality to
Hawes was intended."
"No personality intended when you know he swears!"
"Yes, but the warders swear, too. Why should Mr. Hawes take it all to
"Oh! if the turnkeys swear, then it was not so strictly personal."
"To be sure," put in Mr. Jones inadvertently, "I believe they learned
it of the governor."
"There you see! Well, and even if they did not, why preach against the
turnkeys? why preach at any individuals or upon passing events at all?
I can remember the time no clergyman throughout the length and breadth
of the land noticed passing events from the pulpit."
"I am as far from approving the practice as you are, sir."
"In those days the clergy and the laity respected one another, and
there was peace in the Church."
"I can only repeat, sir, that I agree with you; the pulpit should be
consecrated to eternal truths, not passing events."
"Good! very good! Well, then?"
"What Mr. Hawes complains of was a mere accident."
"An accident, Mr. Jones? Oh, Mr. Jones!"
"An accident which I undertake to explain to Mr. Hawes himself."
"By all means; that will be the best way of making friends again. I
need not tell you that a jail could not go on in which the governor
and the chaplain did not pull together. The fact is, Mr. Jones, the
clergy, of late, have been assuming a little too much, and that has
made the laity a little jealous. Now, although you are a clergyman,
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