« ПретходнаНастави »
very doubtful identity, we should say he would be very much ashamed of such whining cant when he comes to have a few dollars in his pocket. Poor young men, with a slender stock of sense, are very apt to hate the rich; but if it so chance that they ever get rich themselves they are the first to assist in quieting such busy bodies as Thompson and Martineau. It was by a hard struggle _"pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour"-that we succeeded in binding the states to the close union which now exists, and the pledge remains in full force still. We are not about to sit down quietly and see a few turbulent, needy foreigners; bad subjeets at home, and impertinent visiters abroad; and a few of the discontented, feeble-minded of our own country, sow the seeds of disunion, without giving them a rough shake or two to bring them to their senses.
But we never should have done if we were to touch at every point on which this Malthusian butterfly-no, dragon-fly-has alighted and deposited her spleen and ignorance. She will mystify many of the unwary by her tender cant of sorroro and grief for our misbehavings. The weak and thoughtless are very apt to suppose that a person who can write a book, is fully able to point out faults and dictate a remedy; but they should know that judgment and faculty to write are not always companions. These fault-finders and dictators are always foreigners, and their knowledge of vice and immorality, of awkward manners, of selfishness in steamboats and table d'hôtes, and other venial and trivial offences at watering places, is generally drawn from home sources.
Men and women are alike throughout the civilized world, with this single difference, that in America the women are more on an equality with the men, and have more deference paid to them. Miss Martineau, stung with the difference of treatment between the women here and in England, absolutely hates them for it, thinking it by far too good, and reviles them with great bitterness. What could be more touching and grateful to a mind not devoured with spleen and agrarianism, than the anecdote she relates of the kind-heartedness of five young Virginians, who gave up the whole inside of a coach to a young lady "slightly delicate, that she might have room to lay up her feet, and change her posture as she pleased.” It is nothing rare in our country to see tenderness of feeling of this kind, but we should like to become acquainted with these five gentlemen, if they are not the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Straw, that we may shake hands with them.
Miss Martineau says: “I do not think it rational or fair, that every gentleman, whether old or young, sick or well, weary or untired, should, as a matter of course, yield up the best places in the stage to a lady passenger. I do not think it rational or
fair that five gentlemen should ride on the top of the coach, (where there is no accommodation for holding on, and no resting place for the feet,) for some hours of a July day in Virginia, that a young lady who was slightly delicate might have room to lay up her feet and change her posture as she pleased. It is obvious that if she was not strong enough to travel on common terms in the stage, her family should have travelled in an extra, or staid behind, or done any thing, rather than allow five persons to risk their health and sacrifice their comfort for the sake of one."
The above is one of the Martineau traps of conciliation. There are, no doubt, many selfish men among the Americans who would wish the “fair sex” an overturn in one of these stages, rather than give up a comfortable back s at. It is such churls who will applaud Miss Harriet and vote hur a sensible woman; but we are happy to state that by far the
of our men would put themselves to still greater inconvenience, if by so doing they could add to the comfort of an invalid; we have seen repeated instances of this.
There is a tenderness in the American character rarely seen in that of other nations--a respect for the helpless and unfortunate; it is even extended to the inmates of prisons. Miss Martineau, every now and then, to induce us to forget the many libellous things she says of us, makes a slight report in our favour. She corroborates our statement by saying that “in the treatment of the guilty, America is beyond the rest of the world, exactly in proportion to the superiority of her political principles.” If we look to other parts of her work we shall find that the Americans are far inferior, and as to our morals being par. ticularly pure—alluding to New England—“I am grieved," she says, " to doubt the fact; but I do doubt it."
She says she was "favoured with the confidence of a great number of the prisoners in the Philadelphia penitentiary, where absolute seclusion is the principle of punishment. Every one of these prisoners told me he was under obligation to those who had the charge of him for treating him with respect.' The expression struck me as being universally used by them. Some explained the contrast between this method of punishment and imprisonment in the old prisons copied from those of Europe; where criminals are herded together, and treated like any thing but men and citizens !"
Now with the mode of treatment we have no objection; we, as well as our wise lady, think solitary imprisonment, with labour, the best mode of punishment yet advised. We have no objection, likewise, to the criminal being treated humanelywe say humanely, for if they could have expressed themselves properly, they would have made use of the word humanity for respect. The criminals told her that they thought it the worst of punishments not to be treated with the respect due to men ! How those ruffians must have enjoyed their quiz of the deaf body; they are sly fellows.
Let us but view the thing as it really happened, and then smile at this woman's conceit and impertinence. She is introduced to a man who has brought misery and disgrace on a whole family, by the foulest crime of which a man can be guilty. He is told that a kind English lady is come to ask him questions—the kind English lady shakes hands with him and speaks in a tender, piteous accent, to which he replies, having, as desired, raised the trumpet to his polluted mouth, and breathes into this woman's ear his hypocritical story. She tells him " that the reason of her visiting him was to satisfy herself about the causes of crime in a country where there is almost an absence of that wint which occasions the greater proportion of social offences in England." “Sooner or later," she continues, * all the prisoners told me their stories in full, and I found that in every case some domestic misery had been the poison of their lives !! A harsh stepmother, an unfaithful wife, a jilting mistress, &c.—these were the miseries at home which sent them out to drink: drinking brought on murder, &c. &c.” If she had gone into the House of Refuge she would have found two or three hundred young thieves and reprobates who had neither faithless wives, nor jilting mistresses.
We have scarcely patience to proceed in this nauseous exposure; but Miss Martineau, having run her head into such foul places out of sheer curiosity, and having, by printing her book, invited our notice to its contents, we are bound to proceed. It has been her chief delight to degrade the character of the American women; she does it on all occasions, and most unfaithfully--see page 266, volume second-and taking care to compliment and flatter a few particular persons, by talent or some other cause well-known to the public, it gives her the appearance of sagacity and accuracy when speaking of the remainder. We have shown how reluctant she is even to let these favoured few go scot free; but when she comes to the mass she is most grossly malignant. Even in these sham stories of the murderers, the defilers, the swindlersshe dares to tell us that the cause of all their crimes was a bad stepmother, an unfaithful wife, or a jilting mistress ! sometimes adding an intemperate son or father, for the purpose of not showing her base feelings towards her own sex too glaringly.
We do not believe that another woman could be found, who, out of mere curiosity—a curiosity which any man was as capable of exercising if she wanted the information—would choose to come in contact with such ruffians. If our prisons were conducted as they used to be in the days of Howard, or Mrs. Fry, a woman might be found who would step out of the sphere of her sex and administer relief to that "great amount of suffering” which the economists always talk about. But that a woman, out of mere Malthusian curiosity, should pollute her person and her trumpet by the breathings of the depraved of humanity, and merely for the purpose of asking a foolish question--to which she might be sure of getting a lying answer—is one of the most outrageous insults her sex has ever received.
Is it for this purpose that a woman's “heaven-born spirit" is to range through the universe! Is this the kind of business that she thinks a woman is to long after ? Because she dared do it, and found great satisfaction in coming in contact with the most foul and detestable of criminals, does she suppose that others of her sex are desirous of it? And then, her credulity in believing the sad stories that these criminals told her! But no, she did not believe them ; her knowledge of human nature goes farther than this; she had not the least faith in their sincerity, but it was to work out a theory that she framed all these conversations. Shall she palm them upon us and not be exposed ?
Did she suppose for a moment-does any sane person suppose--that a wretch who was imprisoned for murder or rape, would make a clean breast of it, and show the foul leprosy which instigated him to the crime? Would he tell Miss Martineau to go to his family and see the innocent beings who were crushed to the earth by his fiendish temper, by his cruelty, and by his ignominious punishment ? Harsh stepmothers, unfaithful wives, jilting mistresses !!!! Indeed, this is carrying the joke too far; for one solitary case wherein a stepmother, or a wife, or a jilt, has driven a man to commit murder, rape, or arson, there are tens of thousands that have sprung from the depravity of his own nature.
But this is not all—these monsters in human shape, who have paid no respect to public opinion, to private friendships, to the claims of a deserving and helpless family, and who have disregarded all laws, human and divine, these monsters, grown gray in iniquity, and irrecoverably hardened in sin, are to be put upon the same footing with those who, through some false step ---regretted and discontinued for ever--have been consigned to a few months' solitary imprisonment! Let us hear what this precious reformer says. If ever there was a work calculated to hasten Jack Cadeism and amalgamation, it is this book; and from a woman too!
“There is at present a deficiency in the religious ministration of this prison--(the Philadelphia penitentiary). This is a fact which, I believe, has only to be made known to cease to be
true. Among the clergy of all denominations in Philadelphia, there must be many who would continue to afford their services in turn, if they were fully aware how much they are needed. I know of no direction that can be taken by charity with such certainty of success as visiting the solitary prisoner. I think it far from desirable that prisoners should be visited for the express purpose of giving them religion, and no other instruction and sympathy. Sympathy ! sympathy to a man that has beaten his wife to death in a manner too shocking to relate !) The great object is to occupy the prisoner's mind with things which interest him most; to keep up his sympathies, and nourish his human affections; and especially to promote the activity and cheerfulness of his mind. His situation is suchhe is so driven back upon the realities of life in his own mindthat the danger is of his accepting religion as a temporary solace, of his separating it in idea from life, and craving for the most exciting kind of it; so as that when he returns to the world, he will discard it as something suited to his prison life, but no longer needed, no longer appropriate. If, in keeping this in view, a very few good men and women of Philadelphia would go sometimes to spend an hour with a prisoner, honourably observing the rules, telling no news, but cheerfully conversing on the prisoner's affairs-his work-his family-his prospects on coming out—the books he reads, &c.—if they could carry good entertaining books, and if religious ones, only those of a moderate and cheerful character-such being, indeed, not easy to be found," &c. &c.
It is in vain that we check our indignation at the revelations of such a crude, mischievous mind—it is in vain to say that it is but some idle dreaming, and should pass unnoticed—we cannot do it, we must speak, and in the strongest terms that propriety will admit. We must warn our readers to consider this woman's advice as mischievous and pernicious in the highest degree. What! amuse and entertain a man who has snatched up his tender infant, scarcely a month old, and broken its little bones, one by one, until death relieved its agonies--and all this in the presence of his poor wife, who lay too ill to prevent it! Amuse this man ! amuse and entertain a man who tied his wife's hair to a bed post, and lashed her to death with his whip! Is not this precious stuff! Give sympathy and amusement to such fiends; men who have set fire, out of mere professional taste, to a dozen houses, and by way of giving zest to the entertainment, taken the lives, not only of poor innocent creatures who lay unconsciously asleep, but of those brave, generous spirits who rushed through the flames to save them! Amuse and entertain such men !
The day may come when our author shall sit in sackcloth VOL. XXII.--NO. 43.