Imagens das páginas

pel. Still, he says, they did exceedingly well without the minister, and that he at first used to visit every cell after the religious services were over; but finding that the system worked so happily, he did not feel that there was the same necessity of seeing them so often. He knew nothing of the moral character of the witnesses until the inqury had commenced, then an old convict called and informed him of it. Steel admitted his want of belief in the Bible. Why,” said the righteous lawyer, “ you. áre no better than brutes, for they perish after death.” He did not discharge Steel; he was peculiarly cautious on that point, knowing how ready such persons were to raise the hue-and-cry of persecution on account of creeds.

He was equally satisfied, from the conversation of a prisoner, that the other three overseers ought, immediately, to be discharged. He does not say who the prisoner was that he conversed with, nor what was the nature of the conversation ; nor does he make a single charge against the witnesses; they were, however, discharged; and he tells us that their places are filled by men better qualified for their stations, that is, better able to keep their own secrets. However, the benevolent Wood, and the pious Bradford are still at their posts, and that they are no longer obstructed by Mr. Coxe, between whom and them there was but little harmony. Mr. Coxe manifested peculiar interest in the prosecution ; while Mr. Bradford was prepared to say ignoramus, and let the matter drop. But his brethren thought a resolution in favour of the warden ought to be passed, to which he cheerfully assented, and so the resolution passed.

What an opinion this creature must have had of the intellect of others when he wrote this statement, and supposed that it could have any

other effect than to assist in bringing himself, as well as his friend, into hatred and contempt!

It is consoling, however, to find that, though surrounded by this monstrous depravity, there were circumstances calculated to cheer virtue and honesty. We find four keepers of this bastile, who had good salaries and were living on the fat of the land, that preferred to sacrifice these good things, rather than silently witness that horrid barbarity. We find, too, a judge, who was one of the inspectors, manifesting a disposition to have a fair investigation. This was Judge Coxe, whom Bradford calls' Mr. Coxe, for the purpose of taking our attention away from the fact of his being one of our judges. He was too great a man to be bound up in the same band as the four keepers were, and, with them, to have his character stigmatised by inferences from Blowing Bradford. This is the Judge Coxe that told the intimidated witness to go on, to speak the truth, and fear no man. You will bear in mind that there was nothing even openly alleged, to say nothing of proof to affect the

characters of the witnesses, except Steel's not believing in the Bible. Now Steel was recommended by the physician of the Penitentiary to Dr. Franklin Bache, the grandson of the celebrated Franklin, and when he left the prison the Doctor took him again into his service; and therefore must have had a good opinion of him, notwithstanding the malignant attempts made to blast his reputation, and to effect his ruin.

My remarks, on this subject, I am aware, are getting to a great length, but it must not be forgotten that my purpose is to show you how ineffectual republicanism, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot, are in making a people good and happy. Indeed, my firm opinion is, that they have the very contrary effect, and I am sure that, under a colonial government like the one that existed before the Revolution, such enormous iniquities as those which prevail in the United States could never have taken place. I have no hesitation in saying that the old regime of France, bad and oppressive as it was in many respects, was not so bad and oppressive as this universal suffrage and vote by ballot system is of the United States of North America.

The Bastile of that country, which was so indignantly torn stone from stone, never exhibited anything worse than has been exhibited in this Republican Penitentiary, which seems to have been fully expected by La Fayette, who, on seeing it when building, exclaimed, “What! have you Bastiles in this country ?" And, shortly after, in a letter to an American gentleman, he remarked that “the system was only a revival of the Bastile.” “I hope," said he,“ my friends of Pennsylvania will consider the effects this system had on the poor prisoners of the Bastile. I repaired to the scene on the second day of the demolition, and found that all the prisoners had been deranged by their solitary confinement, except one, and he had been a prisoner 25 years, and was led forth during the height of the tumultuous riot of the people whilst engaged in tearing down the building. He looked round in amazement, for he had seen nobody in that space of time, and 'before night he was so much affected that he became à confirmed maniac, from which situation he never recovered.”

Mr. Roscoe, of England, speaking of this system says, “ It is the most inhuman and unnatural system that the cruelty of a tyrant ever invented ; that the cells are destined to contain an epitome and concentration of all human misery, of which the Bastile of France and the inquisition of Spain were only prototypes and humble models."

How far Mr. Roscoe's prophecy has progressed, in about five or six years, toward the fulfilment, we are informed by Mr. W. Mc Elwee,

“ What do we see? This edifice, which should have been kept as pure and holy as the Inner Temple, is made the resort of infamous harlots ; the offices, devoted to the stern duty of human punish

who says,

ment, polluted with Bacchanalian revelry and Cyprian debauchery; the public property and public funds made the subject of fraudulent peculation, and unlawful appropriation to the private benefit of those who were intrusted by the people with their disbursement ; the laws violated and contemned—the helpless convicts barbarously tortured—one, at least, murdered with every attending circumstance of deliberate cruelty, and all this, too, before the establishment was in operation six years. Well might our venerable La Fayette pronounce it a revival of the system of the Bastile--the cruel code of the most barbarous and unenlightened age; and with equal truth might Mr. Roscoe, in the ardour of his philanthropy, denounce it as the most inhuman and unnatural that the cruelty of a tyrant ever invented.”

Mr. McElwee, in his place in the Assembly, moved that the testimony given in this case should be printed, a thousand copies in English, and five hundred copies in German. He had four of that worthy Assembly to sustain his motion, and eighty-seven against it! And afterwards "a motion was made, calculated to deter him, by the operation of fear, from publishing the only copy which was not in the hands of the friends of the accused."

“ It ought to be observed, that Mr. T. S. Smith, as member from the city, who moved that the testimony should be filed by the clerk of the House of Representatives, is the Mr. Smith who was in partnership with Mr. Wood in the farm, of which something was said in the testimony. The effect of his motion was equivalent to what, in legal phrase, is termed damning a document; it is concealed from public gaze and examination à la Bastille; and such would have been the effect, had not the precaution been taken to provide an accurate copy previous to the action of the House.

Mr. McElwee, in his review of the testimony, tells us that “there was an attempt made to impress the committee with the opinion that Griffith, Halm, Phleger, and others, had formed a conspiracy to drive Mr. Wood from the institution, in order that they might obtain the entire control of it themselves, and that they were profligate characters, unworthy of belief on their oaths. Those representations were not without effect, and their operation on the minds of some gentlemen was the more remarkable, inasmuch as consummate sagacity, powerful influence, and untiring industry were exercised, in order to obtain testimony to impeach the characters of those witnesses, but without effect. On the other hand, men of high respectability declared, upon their oaths, their implicit confidence in the integrity, and in their knowledge of the irreproachable character, of those men.

It is in vain to array surmise against fact. Cruelty, murder, profligacy, and the plunder of public property, have absolutely been proved against the persons implicated in the Eastern Penitentiary; and

we have, as rebutters, the surmised bad character of the witnesses, and the alleged good character of the accused ; and upon those grounds stands the acquittal. Another tribunal might produce a different result, more conformable to justice and the respectability of the institution."

These, then, are the workings of the system projected by those whose philanthropy, we are told, “knew no bounds, whose courage nothing could daunt, and whose industry in benevolence knew no resting-place.” The same kind of benevolence is yet without bounds or resting-place, for the prison still continues to be governed by the gagger, or the Howard of America, who, they tell us, “while in England, on his travels, conversed with some of the Benevolent Society of Friends, from whom he acquired some knowledge of the discipline of English prisons.".

If he had acquired the right kind of knowledge respecting these matters, he would have known that deeds, not a hundredth part as black as his own, caused the magistrates of the county of Somerset to be unanimously of opinion that William Bridle, gaoler of that county prison, was unfit to hold the situation, and that they dismissed him accordingly.

Mr. H. Hunt, then a state prisoner in the said gaol, and certainly more detested by the government than any other man in the country, had, though in that situation, power enough left to cause an investigation into the conduct of the man who carried the keys of his cell. He charged Bridle with having done those things that he ought not to have done, and of having left undone those things that he ought to have done. The charges were as light as air when compared to those against Wood. They fell very far short of murder, ducking, deprivation of food, tranquillising, and gagging ; but still they were sufficient to make humanity shudder, and to cause the guilty to be punished ; while Wood is still warden, and, having been so carefully cleansed by his representatives, he is greater in consequence than he was before the examination,

To know these things, in a republic, where all men are said to have power, argues, indeed, bad for the community in which we live; but it is pleasing to know that, notwithstanding the progress of the “ Alleviators" since the days of the Quaker Lady, there are still left, unconverted to these damnable schemes, thousands of honest and sensible men; one of whom tells me that he lately met the warden, who saluted him with a “ How dost thee do, friend ?" “ Before," said the gentleman, “ I was aware of it, he took hold of my hand, and, until I could get home to wash it, I could not but fancy that it was besmeared with human blood.”

I have many other subjects to notice, and must be brief. I ought, perhaps, to give the majority and minority reports of the famous committee; they should, by all means, be read; they are, however, too long for me to insert; though I cannot forbear to make a few extracts from that of the majority, which is directly at variance with that of the minority.

In the first place, they tell us that the “institution has for Americans the additional interest of having originated with them"--an interest that I should think the most barbarous of all other nations would be ashamed to attempt to disturb.“ To Pennsylvania,” say they," belongs this high encomium. She originated this system, and she has persevered, until success has crowned her perseverance."

Mrs. Blundin, it seems, was discharged soon after the investigation took place. If a female overseer was necessary, why discharge a lady that possessed so much modesty and chastity, and one that was in all respects so qualified for the duties of an overseer? This must have been a heart-breaking thing to Saint Bradford ; unless, indeed, it was done for the purpose of protecting her most delicate feelings from the effects of an overhauling examination of her conduct by the rude committee. Gentle creature! if these were her fears, how groundless! The committee were as gentle as herself, and with all the gallantry imaginable guarded her at every point.

“ As she had ceased to be employed,” say they, “ her conduct, no matter how improper, had ceased to be a matter of any concern to the public, except so far as it might be connected by proof with the conduct of those who were still engaged in the economy and management of the Eastern Penitentiary. In this point of view a full and free inquiry into her conduct, while she resided in the institution, was permitted by your committee;


your committee regret to say that, so far as regards this woman, the evidence did go to prove very gross and improper deportment and practices, entirely unbecoming her sex and condition. The committee might, from the evidence, infer her guilt of the charge now under consideration ; but as that point is no way material to any conclusion to which your committee could properly direct your attention, but in so far as it might be proved that the present officers of the institution had participated in it, the committee refrain from the consideration of this unpleasant point, and pass to the only important inquiry—Was this conduct known, and participated in, by the warden, one John Holloway, and one Richard Blundin ?

“Before your committee proceed to examine this question as it affects the warden, it is altogether proper to state that your committee received evidence of the general good character of that gentleman. It is a wellestablished principle affecting all investigations, which, in their tendency, may be calculated to criminate any individual, that such evidence shall be received, and that when the person accused can make out a general good character, it is strong and persuasive evidence, and, in all cases of doubt, or mere suspicion, should lead to a full and honourable acquittal.

“ On this point the warden occupies pre-eminent ground. For many years a member of the Philadelphia Society for alleviating the Miseries

« AnteriorContinuar »