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manner. He was still engaged upon tion, it would at least prevent such it when the ominous knock came terrible occurrences as that which to the door which announced the took place at the death of Richard executioner ; then he quietly laid Hodson. down the last mouthful of bread Persons comforted themselves he had been about to eat, and on that occasion, as they are wont yielded himself up to the hands to do under other aspects of the that in five minutes more had tinal mystery, by the assumption îinished their work upon him. that at least death had been in

It seems right, in the interests stantaneous. This is not a subject of other criminals who may have which can be discussed ir these to meet the same doom, to state pages, but we cannot leave it withwhat occurred at the execution of out the simple statement, founded Richard Hodson, though we will on recent experiments in France touch on the facts as briefly as and elsewiere which have proved possible. The unfortunat, man conclusively the fact,—that it is not suffered a death to which he had possible to assign to any tixed time not been condemned by law-he the cessation of consciousness. So was, in fact, violently decapitated. far as the investigation has gone In the opinion of the bystanders at present, it is certain that it enthis catastrophe occurred entirely dures to a later period after the through the mismanagement of breath ceases than has been supthe official most concerned. The posed to be the case hitherto. manner in which that individual The ethics of suicide, as they treated the matter at the inquest may be studied within the Silent was not calculated to allay the World, offer many problems for universal indignation aroused by our consideration. It is an in the event : he spoke of it with dictable offence, and we have careless unconcern, as a little ac- therefore the opportunity oî seeing cident which was quite likely to it under very varied aspects, some happen often on these occasions, of which we shall exemplify by and which simply could not be giving an account of a few typical helped. This opinion was endorsed, cases. In one respect, however, only in more gentlemanly terms, they are all absolutely identical, by an answer given to a question and that is in the imniutable conasked in Parliament respecting viction on the part of the persons this case : it was then again concerned, that they have a perfect affirmed that such occurrences right to destroy their own lives if might be expected when the phy- it pleases them to do so, and that sical characteristics of the crimi- the act does not render them nals were of a nature to produce guilty of any sin in the sight of them.

God, although it has been deIf there must be a death penalty creed that it should be reckonců in England, it would surely be well an infringement of human laws. that it should be accomplished in So far as the experience of the such a way as to render similar ca- present writer extends, it has been tastrophes impossible. Since the found completely impossible to confirst day of the present year it has vince men and women who are been the law in America that exe- desirous of ridding themselves of cutions should be carried out by the burden of existence, that they electricity. Whether or not this will commit even a venial error by may be a desirable mode of opera- accomplishing their own release.

It is simply useless to call it the stored to life and the opportunity criine of self-murder, or to talk of of amendment ?" the sanctity of human life which “No," she said, lightly; " for if God alone can give, and therefore they had let me alone, I should He alone has a right to recall. In have been done with it all, and the case of prisoners who are suf- had no more trouble or worry, and fering punishment for the attempt that was just what I wanted. I there is sonetimes a diplomatic wish they had left ne at the endeavour, from mere policy, to bottoin of the river." give an asseut to the moral re Sometimes the immediate causes flectious pressed upon them : but which lead to suicide seem strangely when driven to speak their winds disproportioned to the gravity of honestly, they invarialıly repeat the step. One girl, who was ready that they see 110 reason why they to Aling maledictions at her resshould not divest themselves of cuers, had three several times done au embar rassing possession. with her best to put an end to her exwhich no one but theinselves has istence. On two of these occasions "uy concern whatever.

she had, so far as her own will was This mode of dealiug with the concerned, practically succeeded — subject is perhaps natural enough once by poison, and once by stranon the part of persons who have gulation. She was to all appearnever taken any serious view of ance dead the last time, and would their moral responsibilities, but it very soon have been so in reality, is less easy to account for the ex but for the care and toil bestowed traordinary light-heartedness with on her by a kindly physician who which, for the inost part, they are was sent for on the discovery ready to plunge into the unknown of her condition, and who spent a darkness of the last mysterious whole night in unceasing efforts to change. As we have already said, restors animation. He succeeded no thought of what may lie beyond at last, and she did not thank him! disturbs their inind; but it might She was given up to what she and have been imagined that the her companions of the same unghastly associations of the grave happy class term with unconscious and its slow decay, would at least irony “a gay life." and she did bave moved them to some shrink- find a fitful hollow enjoyinent in ing from the physical results of the excitement of evenings spent dissolution. It is not so; they in theatres and dancing - hooths, take the fatal step as casily and and in the extravagant dresses carelessly as they would lay them and jewellery with which she selves down to sleep in thei. bed. adorned herself; but there caine

had succeeded in your at- to her sudden woments when the tempt to kill yourself,” the writer whole brilliant phantasmagoria of said to a young prisoner who had her existence would seem to roll been rescued almost lifeless from away from her, and the reality of che river where she had fung her. her position appear in its true self, "you would have been lying colours, and straightway, without now cold and stiff under the coffin an instant's hesitation, she would lid, unable to see the light of day take the best means in her power or to hear the voice of a friend, to divest herself of it altogether. and with no time left for repent. She exemplified the truism that ance, or even a prayer for pardou. extremes meet. For the manner Are you not thankful to be re in which the subject is regarded

“If you



by these, the lowest outcasts of the living at all. She began by selling people, is exactly similar to the her little possessions, one after view taken of it by the high-class another in order to obtain food, leaders of society in modern France, and in this way she managed to where it is the fashion now to say, live for a few weeks. When

every“On vit, parceque à moins de se thing was gone except the scanty tuer-on ne peut pas faire autre- furniture of one rooni, the landlord ment." The hapless inmates of appeared and claimed it for his unour prisons, however, consider the paid rent. It was all carted away, alternative of killing themselves including even the chest containpreferable to an unwilling endur. ing her clothing; then he turned ance of the primary evil.

her into the street and locked the While the recklessness and in- rloor. There was but one refuge difference with which suicide is open to her on earth-the workresorted to, is almost universal in house; but that last abode of the lower stratum of society, the wretchedness

to hold causes which lead to the impulse place in the ininds of the poor--are of course very varied and often indeservedly we think-equivalent most pathetic. A poor old woman in horror to one of the circles of who had nearly reached the Scrip- Dante's Inferno.

The idea of gotural threescore years and ten, ing to it does not seem to have was sentenced lately to a short occurred to the forlorn widow.. term of imprisonment for attempt- She looked back for a moment at ed self-destruction. It had very the closed door of her little earthly nearly been successful, and in fact paradise, and then took her way was so in the end, as the shock to shivering through a public park to her system from immersion in ice- the river. There, without apparentcold water proved fatal, and she only ly the slightest shrinking or dread, lived one week after her release she flung herself into the water from jail. She related her simple under a cold wintry sky. Two history with the utmost coinpo- men happened to be going past in a sure. She had lived happily and boat. They rescued her just as she respectably with her husband from was sinking; and after consciousthe time of her early marriage in ness had been restored, she was youth. He had a pension as a re- brought to the prison. She passed tired soldier, which supported them the time of her sojourn there in a in coniparative comfort when he strange dreany state, talking only was too old to work. Their lioine of her husband, and her hope of for twenty-eight years had been seeing liim perhaps again if she the little cottage in which he died could succeed in i getting out of at the commencement of an unusu- this weary world." This hope had ally severe winter. “He had been only been suggested to her mind an angel,” the poor woman said — by the religious consolations afso good and steady, and so kind forded to her in the prison, but to her ;” and when he was gone, it proved completely in possible to she clung witli passionate attach- persuade her that she lad not been meut to the little house in which perfectly justified in trying to die. she had spent so many happy year's She would have been quite willing with him but she could not pay to have repeated the experiment the rent. His pension had of if death had not inercifully come course expired with biw, and she to her uncalled, and thus at last was, iu fact, without the means of lice desire was granted.

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A young man was once com- the wildest and most unmanagemitted to jail on the same charge, able. His brothers and sisters who had acted apparently with as were all doing well in good situalittle thought of all that death tions — steady and respectablemight mean, as had been mani. helping their parents out of their fested by the simple old widow; earnings; but he had never been but his case was otherwise in successful in anything, simply bemarked contrast to hers.

cause his roving disposition had He was fairly well educated, led him to abandon every employthe son of a respectable trades- ment he had tried after a short man who lived with his family in time, and


off in quest of someLondon, and the young man was thing new. He had been unstable extremely pleasing both in appear and thoughtless, fond of amuseance and manners. It happened ment, and, above all, of his liberty; that the writer saw him for the but he did not seem to have been first time when he was being con- addicted to vice of any kind. A veyed to the jail by the police, im- spendthrift, however, he had been mediately after he had been taken most emphatically, and his mother out of the river in which he had had again and again struggled to tried to drown himself.

pay his debts and give him a fresh rather a piteous spectacle ; his hat start in some new career. This had been lost, and his fair hair, she had done a very few months dripping wet, hung over his eyes, previously, and a good opening had that were glaucing vaguely from been found for him in a provincial side to side. He walked feebly, city. She had furnished him with leaning heavily on his grim sup- the means of establishing him in porters, and had altogether a be- it, and had made a heartfelt appeal wildered look, as if he could not to him to give up all his careles3, understand how he happened to unsatisfactory ways, and set himbe still alive. Under the circum- self to work hard for his living stances the visitor was very glad in an honest, respectable manner. to be left alone with him in the She told him that if he failed prison cell next day, in order to again, she did not think it would hear from him what had led to his be possible for her to help him out abhorrence of life at an age when of any difficulty. She had como it is wont to wear its brightest to an end of her resources, and hues before the unclouded eyes of this was really his last chance and youth. He was quite willing to hers; if he again came back to tell his story without reserve; her penniless and in debt, it would but the sum and substance of his break her heart. Thus far the explanation was simply this: “I young man had gone quickly could not face my mother." through his history, but when he

He had been expected home for a came to that point he turned his holiday on the evening of the day head away, shamefaced and crimwhen he had flung his young life son to the temples, with tears in to the river depths. He had pre

Then ho owned that the ferred to lie “unccflined and un- love of pleasure and freedom had annealed” rather than ineet his again been too much for him. The mother's reproachful eyes. He weather had been beautiful and had been the best loved of her sunny; the duties of his post kept children-apparently, as is often him at grinding toil amid dust and the case, just because he had been gloom. Without a thought of the future or of the consequences one those who had not hesitated to way or another, he had broken deal severely with him, so far as away from it all, following the his moral turpitude was concerned, first shining temptation that had were ready to be his true friends lured him out to a summer day's in helping him to make a new beenjoyment. Then, ashamed to go ginning. Some necessary assistback to his employers, yet more ance was given to him; he was reashamed to face his mother, to conciled to his parents, and amply whom alone he could go even for fulfilled his promises of amendfood and shelter, he had obeyed a ment. Most satisfactory accounts sudden wayward impulse, and flung have been received of him, and of himself to the embrace of death, the steadiness and self-denial with with no other thought but that which he laboured to support himit was a means of escaping his self in an honest and independent immediate difficulties. It appeared manner. It was one of those cases that he had not for a single in which the advantages of the sysmoment reflected on the dread tem of prison-workers was strikimport of the act, whereby he not ingly manifest. If this young man only destroyed all the fair promise had left the jail as reckless, and of a life in this world which had hopeless as when he entered it, scarce reached maturity, but im- the probabilities are that he would perilled also the fairer hopes that at once have taken means to acmight have shone for him in the complish more effectually than beeternal future.

his eyes.


fore, his final disappearance out of The term of imprisonment which this visible world. this young man went through We had another instance of comproved to be of incalculable value plete reformation, in the case of a to him. His advisers within the woman, who was, without excepjail saw that it was a case which tion, the most lawless and daring required very plain speaking as to young person whom we ever found the errors of his past, if his fu- trying conclusions with the authorture was to be conducted on bet- ity of the prison officials. She was ter principles and more creditable a handsome dark-eyed girl, lithe and motives. He was not spared any active, possessed of an inexhaustible of the stern truths which his un- fund of energy and vigour, of which justifiable conduct demanded ; and she made use in every reckless freak he had ample time to ponder them she could think of —not excepting in the solitude of his cell. The a rush into the realms of death result was that a really remarks whenever the fancy took her to able change took place in him : invade his unseen dominion. The his eyes were opened to the serious beginning of her troubles in this misdeeds of which he had been 'life had been a stepmother. That guilty; and although, in his case especial relation is a fruitful source as in all others, it was impossible of evil and misery to the unconto make him believe that suicide trolled and undisciplined class was in itself a crime, he get did which swells the population of our perceive most strongly, how utterly prisone. unfit and unprepared he had been No. 14, after a few pitched batfor an entrance on the unseer ties with the functionary who occueternity.

pied that position in her father's When the timc came for his house, had departeď one dark release from prison, he found that night from her home, and was seen


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