« НазадПродовжити »
monstrance, " you are hurting yourself. much more than I am hurting you; you should keep still, and not wriggle about so.”.
After which friendly hint he cut at him again, and speedily brought the disgusting spectacle to an end.
It was the first time I had seen the lash applied to the back of a fellow creature. I hope never again to witness such a performance; but at the same time I am bound to say that it would have given me much more satisfaction if, at least in one case—that of Master Regan-I had been able to turn my back upon Newgate with more pity for the flogged, and less contempt for the flogger and his implement. I have no idea who prescribes the size, weight, and pain-inflicting properties of the Newgate cat, or whether the judge who passes the awful sentence ever asks to see the instrument with which it is to be carried out. If neither of their Lordships has done so yet, I would humbly advise them to make the inspection without delay. The very cat with which the ruffian Regan, and after him Lily, were lashed, might, without fear of shocking them, be laid before them, and that just as it was when its frightful work was done, since its every tail was clean and white, and as free from crimson stain, as when the hangman brought it out of his cupboard.
I hope that I am not one who delights in the utmost rigour of the law ; indeed, it is my opinion, that, as a rule, transgressors are too severely punished; but, at the same time, I have no hesitation in declaring that it would be a salutory amendment if the Newgate cat were made at least twice as formidable as it is at present. Undoubtedly it inflicts considerable pain—the discoloured backs and subdued moans and mouthings of the two men I had seen were sufficient proof of that; but more than this is needed. It is generally understood that the application of knotted thongs to the bare human back is productive of a spell of agony so intolerable that the mere threatening of it acts as a check against men of such devilish inclinations even as Regan. The law and the people tolerate the use of the dreadful cat-o’nine-tails only because they believe that the worst of criminals, such as garotters, are more afraid of it than of Portland slavery or solitary confinement; and, supposing the lash to be real and not make-believe, the conjecture is correct. It is a fact that Regan, with all his brute strength and barbarous recklessness, dreaded Saturday morning so much that several days before he pretended illness, and would have been content almost to live on physic for a time, if he could have shirked the punishment which he had heard was so terrible. But can any one believe that the brute who could stamp on a fellow-creature's head for the sake of the few shillings in his pocket, was tormented through the day, and haunted through the night, by imagining the sort of scourge that the hangman whipped him with ? There can be no doubt that his horrified mind pictured an instrument many times more severe, and it is an injustice to those who rely on the law for protection that his tormenting bodings were not amply justified by the result.
It is to be hoped that the convict Regan will be the last who will be able in truth to tell his comrades, that the much-dreaded lash-at Newgate at leastmeans nothing more than a whip of string which does not hurt more than a birch rod, wielded by a man whose arms have grown feeble with age, who commiserates those on whom it is his duty to carry out the law's
just sentences, and who furnishes them with valuable hints against their hurting themselves more than in the tenderness of his heart he would.
It may be as well to state that immediately after the appearance of the above facts, in the columns of the Daily Telegraph, an inquiry was instituted, and the old unsatisfactory condition of things at once amended. The next gang of garotters sentenced to the lash found a very different reception than that given to Messrs Regan and Co. In place of the feeble old hangman, there stood two stalwart young prison warders, and the "cat” was one that could scratch in real earnest.
A DAY WITH THE HOPPERS.
TRAVELLERS by early trains may see strange sights, and meet with strange company. As a rule it would be difficult to imagine a place so comfortless and dreary as a great railway station at an early hour in the morning. The dirt and litter of yesterday's traffic are not yet effaced from the platforms and waiting rooms; the dead and cold ashes lie in the yearning grates; hollow echoes attend the slamming of the great doors; the jaded and breakfastless aspect of the third-class passengers proves that they have been roused from bed hours before their customary time of rising, so as to avail themselves of Parliamentary fare ; while the sleepy snappishness of inhospitable night clerks and porters attests their impatience to get off duty.
All these untoward elements combine to damp the spirit, and incline one to the opinion that it is possible to be too early a bird, whatever the quality and dimensions of the prospective first worm. It is not always, however, that the daily business of the railway commences so unpromisingly. Before now it has happened that the peaceful pilgrim in quest of the train that starts at 5.40 A.M. has been startled and amazed to find the company's premises besieged by a mob as hideous to contemplate as it would be dangerous to approacha gaol-cropped dirty crew of foul-mouthed roughs, restrained from committing acts of outrage and violence there and then only by a significant display of staves on the part of a small army of policemen in attendance. These were the prize-fighting gangs at whose illegal doings railway directors used to connive; enabling the lawless ruffians to slip away down into the country, and “pull off their little mill” before the constable of the peaceful village they had honoured with their patronage had rubbed his sleepy eyes open. Since the decline of the P.R. this pretty exhibition has become rare ; but there is one equally strange, though not so repulsive, which may be seen at this season of the year almost any morning by the early passenger who takes train at London Bridge.
As the said passenger contemplated the motley assemblage squatting on the steps and on the pathanywhere till the station doors should be opened-his first impression doubtless would be not that “the beggars were coming to town,” but that they were quitting it, pack and baggage, never to return. Else why do they carry with them their household gods, their pots and kettles, and articles of crockery? Why are they laden with those enormous bundles which are almost as large as beds? Why have they been at the pains this fine morning to carry with them their umbrellas, if they are merely jolly beggars out on a pic-nicing excursion, and intending to return at night.? Being beggarsand what else can they be, weather-stained, ragged, and shoeless as nine-tenths of them are ?—what on earth can they want with umbrellas ? Yet every family group is possessed of an umbrella—a capacious whalebone-ribbed gingham, gartered in the middle, and with a protuberance below the tie as stout as the calf of a man's leg. In some cases, where the members of a family are numerous, two umbrellas may be seen stacked with the rest of the luggage. .