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blood run cold. It is indeed softened down from
the horrible "sentence of doom" usual in ancient
times, when the criminal was fated to be cut down
"yet quick" and sensible, to be disembowelled
while still alive, and to have his quivering
vitals "flung in his face, or in the blazing
fire." Revolting as that form of sentence
is, the annals of England present too many
instances of its execution. All know now,
that the horrible accessories of the great penalty
will be commuted, yet never is the sentence
heard without a feeling akin to horror. A quiet
movement of the judge's hand stops the breath
of every one in the court; an odour like that of
the grave seems to fill the air as the judge slowly
lifts up and places on his head the small black
velvet cap with lappets of the same funereal
colour. A little thing this, but ominous of the
most awful change. The silence, deep as that
of the tomb, is broken only by the tremulous
voice of the minister of Justice telling the living
man, with all his pulses thrilling, that he must
surely die.

The condemned are sentenced to be quartered,
and in fearful mockery their severed limbs are
said to be placed at the disposal of her Majesty.
Is it right, or fitting, or Christian, that the
title of a merciful Sovereign should be mixed
up with such a sentence as this? The
statute-book contains much that is obsolete;
but why this? Such frightful but useless
accessories cast a barbarous colouring over the
remainder of the sentence, however righteously
deserved, and foreigners believe that with all our
civilisation, our code is merciless and sanguinary.

The condemned are brought back to the
place from whence they came, to experience, we
now know, the blessed prerogative of mercy.
We breathe more freely now. The court is rapidly
emptied, and the keen air from without rushes
through the building. The Crown lawyers have
been mild and generous. The young and
thoughtless have been lightly dealt with. A
voice within each man's breast said that the
Queen would give life even to the most guilty.
The Commission is ended; may it never have to
execute such work again!


MANY readers of Uncle Tom's Cabin will
remember the harrowing appendix to some of its
later editions. The details of real cruelty and
suffering set forth in it proved the fiction to be
under-coloured, and roused the indignation of
the civilised world. Authentic records were
quoted of the proceedings against slaves; the
place, time, and circumstance of specific acts
of barbarity were minutely given; and the
result was an array of evidence against slavery,
which has borne, and is still bearing, fruit. It
was possible for upholders of the institution
to sneer at Legree as an exaggeration, and to
disparage Uncle Tom's somewhat unctuously
demonstrative piety; but there was no explaining
away the hard facts contained in the newspaper
extracts, and the proofs of branding,
cutting, and maiming, of brutal wickedness, and
confirmed demoralisation they contained.
Highborn English ladies, it will be remembered,
formally remonstrated with their American
sisters on the horrors perpetrated with the
sanction or through the indifference of the
gentlemen slaveholders, and received a tart
retort, telling them to look at home, and to give
up girding at their neighbours until their own
social anomalies were redressed. The sufferings
of milliners and work-girls, the extremes
of poverty and wealth to be witnessed in our
cities, and the selfish indifference of fashionable
life, were all aimed at in the reply; and
disinterested readers of the correspondence
probably thought, with Sancho Panza, that "a good
deal might be said upon both sides." Were
any similar controversy to arise now, the American
ladies could quote facts from a recently
published blue book, which go far to show that
some of the worst evils of the slavery they have
abolished flourish among us, and that in many of
our English counties bands of children of tender
years are handed over bodily to brutal and
irresponsible tyrants, who corrupt and maltreat with
as much efficiency as any Southern overseer.

The sixth report of the Children's Employment
Commission may be purchased for less than
two shillings, and is one of the most painfully
suggestive volumes ever issued from the press.
Like the appendix to the novel, it furnishes
minute and faithful particulars of cruelty and
ill usage, and supplies the whereabout of the
victims and of those responsible for their
treatment. Clergymen, magistrates, parents, and
children, all give outspoken evidence against the
system exposed; and that the analogy between
American and English slavery may be complete,
champions are not wanting for the evil cause.
The employment of gangs of children on field
labour often means simply selling them to a gang-
master or mistress, who lets them out on hire,
and pockets the difference between the sum
they earn and the sum he pays for their use.
The man is generally a broken-down worthless
fellow, without education or character, and
upon his solitary discretion the treatment of the
children rests. Boys and girls, some infants,
some approaching man and womanhood, are
employed indiscriminately in a gang. Sometimes
they sleep together in a barn at night, at others
they trudge long miles every night and morning
between their labour and their home. One
gang-mistress, referred to in the report, is a
character of the worst description, and, as in
the case of the gang-masters, there is absolutely
no check upon the character of those following
the trade, or of their fitness for the supervision
of the young. It is purely a question of barter,
and the slave-dealer who by blows and oaths
succeeds in screwing the greatest amount of
work per day out of his wretched little bond-
servants is the best master of his trade.

Here is a picture elucidatory of the subject
from the hand of the Reverend F. G. Holmes,
of Denham, Wickham Market, Suffolk: "The
gang-master is a drunkard, and leaves the
children by themselves in the field or under the

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