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8

HOLDING TO THE CELLS.

He pointed me to some of them, for he was in cells after this. He was in chains, and in the penal gang, until the day he left the prison a free man. His parents never knew where he

He never, that I can recollect, got a

was.

letter from one of his relations.

He is away

as

now about six months. He promised to write to me, but I have not heard from him yet.

To this young man the punishment cells were anything but a punishment. I have known others, mad or half-crazed men, to hold to them

an Irishman holds to his cabin and bit of ground. A fellow of this kind—a regular wild Irishman-a Roman Catholic, sent for me.

“Well, what do you want with me?”
“I want to change my religion.”
"Why?"
It's no matter, I want to change it.”

"But it is matter. You may have no religion to change.”

“What's that you say?”-looking daggers at the reflection.

MAD AS A MARCH HARE.

9

I repeated the remark

"Perhaps my religion is as good, or better than your own."

Then, why do you wish to change it?”

You may go—I want to have nothing at all to say to you,”—with a wave of his hand. You're a Government man, like the rest of them.” Then why did you send for me?”

" “You may go, I tell you.”

I made my bow and retired ; and in passing through the corridor, observed to a warder,

,

“That fellow seems as mad as a March hare.”

Do ye hear that ?" said a prisoner in the next

' cell.

“What is it?" inquired my proposed con

vert.

He says you're as mad as a March hare."
The reply was a chuckle low down in the throat.

It is hard to deal with such men; or to know what to do with them; or to say whether they are better in or out of cells.

10

ATTEMPTS AT SUICIDE.

But cells, to some, are dangerous places. Since the suicide of Morris, recorded in the fifth chapter of the first volume of this book, we have had three or four other cases of attempted suicide. Some of the officers think they were sham attempts. I do not, although we have, in Spike Island, pri. soners who now and then make feigned attempts to deprive society of their services, by the application of a rusty nail to a vein in the arm, or a handkerchief, a stocking, or the sleeve of a shirt to the throat.

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Four English gentlemen, who style themselves the “Four Visiting Justices of the West Riding Prison, at Wakefield,” visited Ireland in 1861, and then went back and wrote a pamphlet of all they saw, and of some things they did not

see.

Among the things they saw, and on which they seem to lay great stress—in proof of the naturally

12

PHOTOGRAPHS OF IRISH CONVICTS.

bad character of the Irish prisoner, and of the bad native material on which Sir Walter Crofton

had to operate, were prisoners' photographs :

“A doubt having been suggested, by what we heard and saw of prisoners in the latter stages of their improvement, and after discharge, as to whether they really were of the same criminal class as our English convicts, we examined such specimens of the raw material, so to speak, on which the Irish system had to work, as this (Mountjoy) prison presented. Photographs have been taken of the prisoners on their admission, and certainly, making every allowance for the well-known fact that the photograph does not flatter, a series of physiognomies expressing

more

unmitigated ruffianism than the volume of portraits which we saw, presents, it were difficult to conceive."

This is by no means flattering to our vanity as Irishmen, and we must say, a very ugly cut at the national physiognomy, in which we take a national interest. But as we have not seen the photographs of the Four Visiting Justices, we cannot judge of

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