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MURDEROUS EXTREMES

Our title may suggest a reference in the
reader's mind, to those much maligned
persons, the ticket-of-leave men, who at
present favour the metropolis with more of
their exemplary business-transactions than is
appreciated with becoming gratitude by an
ungrateful public. It is not intended,
however, to have that significance. We have
over and over again in these pages dwelt
upon the consequences to which a preposterous
encouraging and rewarding of prison
hypocrisy, were inevitably leading. Whether
they have ensued in sufficient abundance
(being met by a corresponding decrease of
efficiency in the Police), and whether the
issuing of an Order in Council, any time
within the last six months, for the incarceration
and severe punishment of convicted
offenders enlarged upon commuted sentences,
unable to show that they were honestly
employed, would have been as good a symptom
as the Income Tax of our really living under
a Government; all our readers can judge for
themselves.

The Murderous Extremes to which we
will, in very few words, entreat serious attention,
appear to us to have a remarkable bearing
on, and to be forcibly illustrated in, the
Parliament Street Murder; than which an
outrage more barbarous in itself, or more
disgraceful to the country, has not been
committed in England within a hundred years.

The only circumstances in this act of
brutality which our present object requires
us to revive, are, that it was committed in a
public shop (made the more public by being
extraordinarily small, and nearly all window),
at an early hour of the evening, in a great
main thoroughfare of London; that it was
committed with by-standers looking on, and
by-passers asking what was the matter;
that the blows of the murderer, and the
feeble groans of the murdered, were audible
in the public street to several persons; and
that not one of them interfered, saving a
poor errand boy.

Is it worth any man's while to ask himself
the question, how does it happen that a
passiveness so shocking was displayed in such a
case? Is it worth any man's while to ask
himself the question, how does it happen that
a similar passiveness, in similar cases, is
actually becoming a part of the national
character, brave and generous though it is?
For, we assume that few can stop short at
the Parliament Street example, and
comfortably tick it off as a Phenomenon, who
read with the least attention the reports of
the Police Courts and of the Criminal Trials:
in which records, the same ugly feature is
constantly observable.

We have made bold to question our own
mind on this painful subject, and we find the
answer plainly, in two murderous extremes
in two wrestings of things good in themselves,
to unnatural and ridiculous proportions.

Extreme the first:

It has been, for many years, a misfortune
of the English People to be, by those in
authority, both over-disparaged and over-
praised. The disparagement has grown out
of mere arrogance and ignorance; the praise,
out of a groundless fear of the people, and a
timid desire to keep them well in hand.

A due respect for the Law is the basis of
social existence. Without it, we come to the
Honorable Preston S. Brooks, Kansas, and
those two shining constellations among the
bright Stars of Freedom, known by the names
of Bowie-knife and Revolver. But, have none
of us Englishmen heard this tuneful fiddle
with one string played upon, until our souls
have sickened of it? From the Bench, from
the Bar, from the Pulpit, from the Platform,
from the Floor of the House of Commons,
from all the thousand fountain-heads of boredom,
have none of us been badgered and
baited with an Englishman's respect for the
Law, until, in the singular phraseology of
Mr. Morier's Persian hero, our faces have
turned upside down, and our livers have
resolved themselves into water? We take leave
to say, Yes; most emphatically, Yes! We
avow for our own part, that whensoever, at
public meeting, dinner, testimonial-presentation,
charity-election, or other spoutation
ceremony, we find (which we always do), an
orator approaching an Englishman's respect
for the Law, our heart dries up within us,
and terror paralyses our frame. As the
dreadful old clap-trap begins to jingle, we
become the prey of a deep-seated melancholy
and a miserable despair. We know the thing
to have passed into a fulsome form, out of

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