Page images

is a penal institution. The prison of the future will not be unlike a young ladies' boarding school, where even yet the practice prevails of taking the inmates out all together, with a guard, and allowing no one to leave without a written permit. As society changes, so changes the so-called criminal. In any event, I know this—that Max Nordau did not make out his case. There is no criminal class. Or for that matter we are all criminals. “I have in me the capacity for every crime, said Emerson. The man or woman who goes wrong is a victim of unkind environment. Booker Washington says that when the negro has something that we want, or can perform a task that we want done, we waive the color line, and the race problem then ceases to be a problem * So it is with the Ex. Question. When the ex-convict is able to show that he is useful to the world, the world will cease to shun him. When Superintendent Whittaker graduates a man it is pretty good evidence that the man is able and willing to render a useful service to society.

The only places where the ex-convicts get the icy mitt are pink teas and prayer meetings. An ex-convict should work all day and then spend his evenings at the library, feeding his mind-then he is safe. If I were an ex-convict I would fight shy of all “Refuges,” “Sheltering Arms,” “Saint Andrew's Societies” and the philanthropic College Settlements.” I would never go to those good professional people, or professional good people, who patronize the poor and spit upon the alleged wrongdoer, and who draw sharp lines of demarcation in distinguishing between the “good” and the “bad.” If you can work and are willing to work, business men will not draw the line on you. Get a job, and then hold it down hard by making yourself necessary to Employers of labor and the ex-convicts themselves are fast settling this Ex. Question, with the help of the advanced type of the Reform School where the inmates are being taught to be useful and are not punished nor patronized, but are simply given a chance. My heart goes out in sympathy to the man who gives a poor devil a chance. C I myself am a poor devil!


COLONEL in the United States Army told me the other day something like this: The most valuable officer, the one who has the greatest responsibility, is the sergeant. The true sergeant is born, not made

-he is the priceless gift of the gods. He is so highly prized that when found he is never promoted, nor is he allowed to resign. If he is dissatisfied with his pay, Captain, Lieutenant and Colonel chip inthey cannot afford to lose him. He is a rara avis—the apple of their eye. His first requirement is that he must be able to lick any man in the company. A drunken private may damn a captain upside down and wrong-side out, and the captain is not allowed to reply. He can neither strike with his fist, nor engage in a cussing match, but your able sergeant is an adept in both of these polite accomplishments. Even if a private strike an officer, the officer is not allowed to strike back. Perhaps the man who abuses him could easily beat him in a rough-and-tumble fight, and then it is quite a sufficient reason to keep one's clothes clean. We say the revolver equalizes all men, but it does n't. It is disagreeable to shoot a man. It scatters brains and blood all over the sidewalk, attracts a crowd, requires a deal of explanation afterward, and may cost an officer his stripes. No good officer ever hears anything said about him by a private. The sergeant hears everything, and his reply to backslack is a straight-arm jab in the jaw. The sergeant is responsible only to his captain, and no good captain will ever know anything about what a sergeant does, and he will not believe it when told. If a fight occurs between two privates, the sergeant jumps in, bumps their heads together and licks them both. If a man feigns sick, or is drunk, the sergeant chucks him under the pump. The regulations do not call for any such treatment, but the sergeant does not know anything about the regulations-he gets the thing done at The sergeant may be twenty years old or sixtyage does not count. The sergeant is a father to his men-he regards them all as children, bad boys—and his business is to make them brave, honorable and dutiful soldiers.

The sergeant is always the first man up in the morning, the last man to go to bed at night. He knows where his men are every minute of the day or night. If they are actually sick, he is both nurse and physician, and dictates gently to the surgeon what should be done. He is also the undertaker, and the digging of ditches and laying out of latrines all fall to his lot. Unlike the higher officers, he does not have to dress smart," and he is very apt to discard his uniform and go clothed like a civilian teamster, excepting on special occasions when necessity demands braid and buttons. He knows everything, and nothing. No wild escapade of a higher officer passes by him, yet he never tells. Now one might suppose that he is an absolute tyrant, but a good sergeant is a beneficent tyrant at the right time. To break the spirit of his men will not do it would unfit them for service—so what he seeks to do is merely to bend their minds so as to match his own. Gradually they grow to both love and fear him. In time of actual fight he transforms cowards into heroes. He holds his men up to the scratch. In battle there are often certain

« PreviousContinue »