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Jul 26 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, July 26, 1902

The Efficacy of The Lash

The revival of "hooliganism" in various parts of the world is once more provoking and urgent demand for some adequate method of repression. Not only in London, England, but even here in Montreal, it is becoming an incident of altogether too frequent occurrence for peaceable citizens to be waylaid, maltreated and robbed by gangs of rowdies.

In most instances, as might be expected from the nature of the offence, there is some difficulty in apprehending the offenders. The natural inclination is, of course, to blame the police officials, and account for the frequency of these disgraceful occurrences by charging the guardians of the peace with slackness in the performance of their duties. At the same time another feature of the situation is almost entirely overlooked, and that is whether the prospective penalty is likely to in any reasonable degree act as an effective deterrent.

By what process of reasoning our jurists have come to believe that simple incarceration is an appropriate punishment for every class of crime I do not know; but I feel convinced that the conclusion is an illogical one. Never having been in gaol myself, I cannot know by personal experience just what amount of dread the prospect of compulsory confinement inspires in one who has already undergone it. One may reasonably suppose the shrinking from the disgrace involved would not act as a very strong deterrent after the first fall. It is doubtless a very unpleasant thing to be deprived of one's liberty, but does the prospect of its irksomeness often amount to positive agony? On the other hand, no matter how dull a man's finer sensibilities may become, his epidermis still retains its sensitiveness.

For this reason I have strong faith in the efficacy of the cat of nine tails. I believe that the prospect of an extremely painful thirty minutes is likely to make a more vivid impression upon the mind of the average criminal than the dull monotony of a year.

It has been frequently stated that corporal punishment is brutalizing in its effects. This objection I am unable to answer, because I have never heard any arguments offered in its support. It must not be imagined that I am an advocate of the return of the public pillory of whipping post, any more than that the death penalty of necessity implies a public gallows. But when a man has allowed himself to degenerate to the merely animal, he should be appealed to on that side of his nature which is the most sensitive to impressions, viz. the physical. Every few weeks some human brute is convicted of some outrage too horrible and revolting to be even hinted at in a newspaper report; and the term of imprisonment invariably imposed seems about as adequate and appropriate as to stand a small boy in the corner for kicking his baby sister in the face.

The lash would also, I am convinced, be found a most excellent preventative for juvenile crime. There is a certain class of juvenile incorrigibles who look upon it as a heroic experience, and one to be boasted of, that they have spent a few hours or days in the cells, but the fear of sound flogging would effectually deter them from entering upon a career of crime.

If any of The Herald's readers would care to express an opinion on this matter I should be happy to hear from them.

The Difference in Manner

Dear Tatler-I do not see how your spirit-of-the-backwoodsman idea as an explanation of the free and easy manner of Americans can be applied to residents of large and old-established cities, like New York and Boston, where the pioneer period is some centuries back. Don't you think you'd better guess again?

Yours, etc., J.A.C.

It "J.A.C." will "guess again," I think he will see that the point he mentions is just what proves the correctness of my theory. In New York, but more particularly in Boston, which is older still, social lines are drawn much more closely, and introductions are a far more important matter than further west, in Chicago or Denver, for instance, that is to say, the newer country. So much so that "western ways" seem to us very much as "American manners" appear the Englishman; and I venture to say that a young man raised in Denver finds an Easterner just as "stand-offish" as a New Englander finds an Englishman. In Canada, too, one often hears people remark how much easier it is to make friends in Vancouver than in Montreal, for instance. Why? Simply because almost all the residents still feel themselves to be comparative newcomers, and as such feel a natural tendency to fraternize with other new arrivals. Social circles are still in the nebulous stage, and have not had time to become even "select" much less to have become petrified into an "old aristocracy."

An Obnoxious Official

The announcement of the dismissal of De Barry, the notorious immigration agent of the United States Government at Buffalo, will be received with extreme satisfaction on both sides of the border. Probably no other petty official within recent years has succeeded in making for himself a name so cordially detested or has done so much to arouse international ill-feeling. One would almost suppose, from the many occasions on which he managed to make himself obnoxious, that he took a positive delight in submitting the travelling public to inconvenience and indignity. Nobody supposes that the United States immigration law was directed against Canadian travellers, and one is equally ready to concede the right of that Government to check undesirable immigration through the Dominion. On a continent where such things as passports are unknown, it is evident therefore that the successful carrying out of such legislation must depend entirely on the officials to whom it is entrusted. At the other ports of entry, officials did not seem to have much difficulty in discriminating between penniless immigrants and travellers of other classes whose business or pleasure took them across the border. But De Barry, by his stupidity and maliciousness, was continually causing trouble. The reason why he was not discharged long ago was, I suppose, that the same political pull which got him his position kept him in it, until finally he went so far that even his pull could not save him.

A Coming Prime Minister

T.P. O'Connor believes that Lord Curzon will probably be one day Prime Minister of the Empire. Speaking of his wonderful success in life, Mr. O'Connor says:- "The secret of his career- apart from his brilliant abilities - is that he devoted himself wholly and entirely to politics from his earliest youth. When he was but a stripling he was making journeys all over Asia; sometimes risking his life - always risking his somewhat poor health - penetrating to remote and perilous spots where mighty empires approach each other's frontiers, and look across the boundary with suspicion and fright and defiance. He was writing big books on Persia, Korea, the problems of the East, when most young men of his age were falling in and out of love, or playing polo of cricket, or taking what Carlyle calls "mud-baths of vice." And the result is that his career has been glorious; and that it may end in being still more illustrious."

First Fijians in England

One of the most picturesque of the groups of representatives who have lately come to London from distant dependencies, has been that made up by the Fijians under Major Joske. They are the first Fijians who have stood upon English soil, for, unlike most Polynesian islanders, the natives of the old 'Cannibal Islands' seem to have an aversion from travelling abroad. Here and there a chief has been sent down to Sydney or Auckland to school, but, as a rule, they have always been impatient to get back to their homes among the palm groves again. Major Joske's men have been amazed at the sights of London, and they will, doubtless, have some startling stories to tell their friends when they get back to Suva. They have not yet, of course, set eyes upon the "Tuini-Britania" but if the coronation comes soon - as now happily seems probable - they may have their greatest wish gratified before sailing for the Pacific again.

The Fijians were once aptly described by a well-known traveller as the Irish of the Polynesian world - generous-spirited, chivalrous by instinct, and fight-loving - and it is somewhat curious that they have had a good deal to do with Irishmen since they came under British rule. Sir Hercules Robinson (Lord Rosmead) took the islands over from King Cakobau, and the late Governor, Sir George O'Brian, hails from Queen's County.

A Useless Crown

It is difficult to understand why the Italian King has a crown at all, as he never wears it. King Victor Emmanuel has never had his crown on his head, and probably never will have. The only time in which he will come near it will be after his death, when it will be laid at his side, on a cushion together with his orders, sword and helmet. One can only suppose that Italy has a crown because it is a kingdom and must have an outward symbol, and because that particular crown has a history.

The Iron Crown of Lombardy is one of the three most celebrated in the world. "Iron" is quite a misnomer as it is really made of large gold hinges, profusely decorated with jewels, the whole made firm by an iron band inside. It is said that the base metal was a nail from the true cross and that the gold is merely a protection for it. In any case, it dates from about 395, and was one of the most precious possessions of the Emperor Constantine. As to whether it was used by the first Lombard Kings is disputed, but it is certain that Berengario was crowned with it at Milan in 888. The two last times it was used was in 1805, by Napoleon I., and in 1838 by Ferdinand I. of Austria, both at Milan, which the Italians would like to forget, as they were both foresteri (foreigners) and conquerors, and hated accordingly.

It is now in the custody of the Church, but belongs to the King and it was said that at the time of the death of the late King Humbert threats of taking it by force and not returning it had to be used before the clergy would allow it to be placed by the side of the dead monarch.


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