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nizes its own personal identity and permanence. The subject consciously stands over against the object. Our language implies this consciousness of our own existence and that of the world without, and bears witness to the very beginning of the process of separation between these in the human mind.
“ The baby new to earth and sky,
What time his tender palm is pressed
Against the circle of the breast,
And learns the use of 'I' and me,'
And other than the things I touch.”” Moreover, the expression of the mind's thought or emotion in words in some manner gives the thought or emotion a separate and independent existence, though at the same time we recognize them as modifications of self.
So far as we can make out, there is nothing of this true and complete consciousness to be found in the brute creation. Does the bee ever say or think within itself, “I am a bee,” or “ That is a flower”? The bee perceives the flower, but acts in reference to it only by a blind impulse, without any distinct apprehension of its own personality or the flower's separate existence. If the bee had the intelligence which should enable it to say to itself, “I am," and “ That is," might it not make itself the subject of its conscious thought? Might it not also rise superior to its emotions and impulses, and contemplate them as something separate from itself? Does not true self-consciousness imply reason, and hence potentially all rational knowledge? If the brute could consciously say or think, “I am,” might it not also ask, “Whence am I?” And might it not attain to the knowledge of a first cause, or a God? Instead of any such development of mind in the brute, we observe only the operation of faculties which have no power of developing at all; but which act blindly and unconsciously all through the animal's life in a certain definite and unvarying course, and for the accomplishment of material objects only.
Turning from the lower animals to man, we find that a
conscious separation of self from the objective world is instantly effected by every individual of the race. The child accomplishes this separation in the very first distinctive act of perception. The first time he intelligently says “I,” he proclaims by words that he has attained to conscious personality. The savage, without the least culture, not only consciously separates himself from the outer world, but to a certain extent makes himself an object to himself by reflection upon his own emotions and desires, by contemplation of the right and the wrong tendencies of his nature, and by thought of his spirit's continued life in another world.
Can there be any personal immortality for the being which has attained in this life to no conscious personality? The immaterial principle that constitutes the animal's life-spring may be in its own nature indestructible; but it would seem that, if it be so, it must continue the same imperfect life it lived before; it would seem that it could not have a personal existence of which it had known nothing in this life. Even if this being shall no longer have a separate existence, but its life shall be absorbed in the future into some fountain of general life, or shall go out in darkness, as a candle goes out when burnt to the socket, the loss of existence would not seem to be a wrong done to the being itself, or a folly committed by the Creator. But the self-conscious personality of man is a guaranty that, if the spirit outlives the body, it will carry with it its essential attribute of conscious selfhood; and, more than this, it seems to be a pledge that this spirit which now dwells in the world, and is yet consciously separate from it, that this spirit which is bound up in material bonds, and yet feels itself free from them, that this spirit which is aware of an ever-changing state of consciousness, and yet sees itself remain the same, will continue to live after the body perishes. And who shall count the value of existence to this self-conscious being, just awakened here into life, of such capabilities of growth and enjoyment, and longing for a career of unending life?
We do not, of course, presume to pass judgment upon our humble neighbors of the brute creation. The thoughts and illustrations which have occupied our attention may serve in some manner to indicate what others have thought of their fate, and what we ourselves think it may be. But we feel that we are walking in a realm of mystery, and that our human reason throws only a glimmer of light upon the realities about us.
ART. IV. – PRISON DISCIPLINE IN ENGLAND.
The Prison Chaplain: a Memoir of Rer. John Clay, B. D. By his
Son, Rev. W. L. CLAY, M. A. Cambridge and London: Macmillan & Co. 1861. E
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A SERVICE would be rendered to public morals by a popular edition of the Life of John Clay, prison-chaplain at Preston. The bulk, expense, and faultiness of arrangement in his son's Memoir, the wearisome interpolation of long quotations from old prison reports, the copious use of such slang as “scattercash justices,” “ bribe-sucking Parliaments," the “ statueworry” of Howard, and the “ orange-peel” state of England's great minister, demand a better treatment of so good a theme; notwithstanding the thorough study of the history of “pænology,” the excellent feeling and mature thought, which the Rev. Walter Lowe Clay has contributed to this monument of his noble father.
It must be familiar to all who have cared to inform themselves about prisons, that the British system, when Howard was led so providentially to its investigation, was incredibly and altogether bad ; that confinement in jail was almost inevitable ruin ; that barbarities worse than death were systematically practised, even in London, upon helpless prisoners; that no thought of criminal reformation was anywhere entertained ; that some convicts were starved, some robbed, some kept in drunkenness, gambling, and other iniquities in the company of their jailers ; and many annually murdered by the ever-present jail-fever and small-pox. It is enough to know that the English jails were dram-shops,
where the keeper sold liquor as money was furnished from without or within, and, so long as this partnership in selfindulgence paid well, never troubled himself about the scenes of riot, the debauchery, gambling, and murder, right beneath his own eyes. Having bought an unsalaried office, he was bent on making the most of his bargain.
It was not to have been expected, in so conservative a country as England, that even the entire devotion of Howard's life to the reform which has made his name immortal could have cured so deep-seated an evil. He was not a great man, though he started a great movement. He was not inspired with the wisdom which has been worked out slowly since his day through many a failure ; but he was through all his life feeling his way forward, creating a public opinion, and making ready the ground on which future reformers would build. With his death, in 1791, public interest naturally waned. Gloucestershire was probably the only part of England where the problem of a proper discipline was attempted to be solved by a division of prisoners in the jail into three working-classes, separation at night, and the employment of a schoolmaster and a chaplain. But the vast increase of English crime at the beginning of this century overcrowded this jail, as it did every other, and “the deluge swamped the separate system at Gloucester.” There was no doubt a universal loss of ground at that time. Old abuses crept back. New schemes were ridiculed out of sight. Once a criminal was set down to be forever a criminal.
Yet, only two years after Howard's death, Bentham was urging his own defective system of discipline with such power as to attract public attention, and nearly secure the erection of an immense Panopticon, over which the philosopher himself was to preside. But, besides the insurmountable physical difficulties in his way, his scheme was certain to fail by rejecting the invaluable aid of religion. Its hope was just that semi-civilized one realized by many a state-prison in America, to make the institution support itself, and the criminal repent through the magical power of industry. Unspeakably better than Sydney Smith's brutal idea of reclaiming the vicious by cruelty alone, safer certainly in its results than
Mrs. Fry's plan of reformation by religion alone, Bentham's plan fell altogether short of the only thorough discipline, the combination of industry and religion with kindness and hope, in awakening contrition and producing a change of life. It was, however, the agitation of the subject by Jeremy Bentham, though immediately the motion of Sir Samuel Romilly, which gave the first system of revived interest in the erection of a National Penitentiary at Millbank, - a melancholy experiment, made in one of the worst situations that could possibly be found, — marshy, wet, gloomy, and pestilential.
It is hard to conceive, in a civilized land, the condition of criminal law which prompted the labors of Romilly. Partial reforms might be attempted, here and there, by some energetic magistrate ; but at each fresh story of daring crime the cry went up at once for summary execution of the laws, — laws which punished no less than two hundred offences with death. Then, as soon as a few had suffered capitally, would come a natural relenting, which made jurors violate their oaths rather than hang a man for stealing forty shillings, or burn a woman for passing counterfeit coin; and so the whole system got crippled and demoralized. Horrible inhumanities remained, the barbarisms of " Old England.” Women as well as untried prisoners were still heavily ironed ; brutal keepers still starved their victims; typhus-fever hovered around the filthy, crowded prison-cell ; mutual corruption seemed the design of this “ school of morals”; the hulks, those hot-beds of iniquity, gave the finishing touch to the monstrous cruelty which English justice systematically wrought upon thousands of thousands.
Then came Mrs. Fry's mission, resembling that of Miss Dix, though far inferior to it in comprehensiveness, energy, wisdom, and success, and only surpassing it in originality and courage. Some of her agencies were merely temporary. Her ladies' committees easily became discouraged by their small success, as female convicts are always less hopeful subjects than men. Her idea of reclaiming idle prisoners by religious services, without any separation day or night, was simply absurd. Unlike the shy IIoward, she rather courted publicity; had her reception days at Newgate ; invited the wealthy and