« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
PRISONERS IN TROUBLE.
pushed back for months. A punishment of this kind sometimes renders a man reckless. It is some time before he gets on his good behaviour again.
The prisoners who get into punishment cells, or, as they style it, "into trouble," are most frequently, as a general rule, men of a low order of intellect. But there are exceptions to this rule. A remarkable instance was that of a fine English lad, a native of Bristol. His answering at Bible-class often astonished me. His clear scriptural views, and his ability in answering almost any question, were worthy of a bishop and logician. He invariably put his finger on the right place. But M could not keep a civil tongue in his head for the warders. He despised them and their punishments. He went on in this way from bad to worse, until he was placed in the penal gang, heavily chained from wrist to ancle, dressed in black frieze, with a horrible masked cap containing two holes for the eyes. It often thrilled my nerves to
A CONVICT IN THE CELLS.
hear the clanking of his chains as he came into church, guarded by a warder. I could not have felt more for him if he had been my own son, and I believe he knew it. I entreated him one day, with tears in my eyes, to change his line of conduct, and get out of that horrible penal gang, that looked as like a company of damned spirits as could well be. He raised the mask off his cap, and, with a sweet smile, assured me he did "not mind it ;" that he was not ambitious of " a good prison character." Shortly after this he got himself into punishment cells, where he was on bread and water for a week or ten days.
There he seemed perfectly content. met me with a smile, was "quite well," and wanted "nothing." He seemed as independent in his cell as Diogenes in his tub; but treated me with far more courtesy than the cynic philosopher treated Alexander the Great.
"Now, M--,” I said, addressing him when he came out, "I know you deliberately
CALCULATION UNDER DIFFICULTIES.
committed yourself in order to get into the cells. Why did you do it?"
He smiled, as he replied, "I left a book behind me the last time I was there—a book of difficult calculations and there were some of them I had not mastered, and so I went back to them again.”
"Where did you put the book," I inquired, knowing that such a book would not be allowed to a prisoner undergoing cellular punishment; and also knowing that the cell contained no furniture during the day but a small round boss, or footstool, on which the prisoner sits.
"I had it hid in the heart of the boss."
"But how did you know you would go to the same cell?"
"I took my chance."
"Did you go to the same cell ?"
"I got the book.”
"But how did you work out your calculations
without pen and ink, or slate and pencil?"
"I did them on the whitewash of the wall,
with a pin."
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
was. He never, that I can recollect, got a letter from one of his relations. He is away
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 as 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?"
"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.
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
66 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.