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standard authors in illustration of what has been alleged as to the pre-eminence of prose, its wider range and superior capabilities as a form of literary art. If her younger muse, like a Cinderella, is generally made to perform all the drudgeries of life and leave the finer fancy-work to her poetic sister, she sometimes throws aside the kirtle and the clog, and appears at the king's feast in rich robes and silver slippers. It is in some of his most splendid and pathetic passages that Shakespeare unclasps the golden cincture of verse, and revels in the fuller freedom of imaginative and impassioned prose ; and there are many portions of Milton's Areopagitica which rival in grandeur the best books of the Paradise Lost. The reader, however, must remember that the prose to which we have awarded the highest place among the fine arts is not that which M. Jourdain had been speaking more than forty years without knowing it. Tout ce qui n'est point prose est vers, et tout ce qui n'est point vers est prose, is a definition well suited to the limited faculties of the Bourgeois Gentilhomme ; but for the purposes of philosophical discussion we prefer the nicer distinction made by De Quincey between “literature (litere humaniores) and anti-literature (litero didactice.)” To literature thus defined belong poetry and prose, including, not the sum total of things printed, but only those books which seek to communicate power, and the purpose of which is not to convey information to the intelligence in a pedagogical sense, but to inform the soul in an artistic or creative sense. To antiliterature belong works of science which seek to impart knowledge, grammars, dictionaries, cyclopædias, chronicles, most histories and books of travel, and, in general, all productions of the press wherein the matter to be communicated is paramount to the manner of its communication.* This immense mass of useful knowledge is wholly excluded from prose considered as a fine art, and consequently can claim no place in literature proper, to which it bears the same relation that the
“Poetry is not the proper antithesis to prose, but to science. Poetry is opposed to science, and prose to metre. The proper and immediate object of science is the acquirement or communication of truth; the proper and immediate object of poetry is the communication of pleasure.” In this quotation from Coleridge, substitute power for pleasure, and the definition becomes essentially the same as that which we have given.
color-bag does to the painting, or the quarry to the cathedral. Art is the service of the ideal; and the more refined and intellectual this service becomes, the more spiritual is the medium which it employs for its manifestation. “Beauty," says Michel Angelo,“ is the purgation of superfluities"; and it is by this law that the progress of art may be computed. Temple, statue, picture, oratorio, and book are not repetitions of the soul, but each in its turn gives a fuller and finer measure of it. They are related to one another like the substances in the chemical tables, where every positive becomes negative by having a new substance placed above it. At present, this highest positive point is occupied by literature. The artists of to-day are the men of letters. But literature itself is only the surrogate of life. Deeds of goodness and courage are a higher incarnation of the beautiful than words, however wise and eloquent. Campbell says of Sir Philip Sidney, that his life was “ poetry put into action.” All the nobilities of his nature were enshrined in that form. Everything that man can do may be divinely done. The great soul converts the lowliest duty into a sublime work.
“A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Makes that and the action fine.” The poet gleans from the barren field a rich harvest which the husbandman knew not of. Beauty will come to every condition of life, when men once learn to lift themselves above selfish aims, and serve the ideal in whatever they do, when all the machinery of our civilization, like the wheels in Ezekiel's vision, shall move in obedience to divine impulses, as the supplements of man's spiritual nature, and the ship, the railroad, and the telegraph be transformed from the mercenary agents of trade into the shining vehicles of truth and liberty and universal brotherhood.
ART. III. – 1. The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philan
thropy. Published Annually under the Direction of “ The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons,” instituted 1787. January, 1866. (New Series,
No. 5.) 2. Twenty-First Annual Report of the Executive Committee of
the Prison Association of New York. Part I. Transmitted
to the Legislature, January 22, 1866. 3. First and Second Annual Reports of the Massachusetts Board
of State Charities. 1865, 1866. 4. Reports of the State Prisons and Penitentiaries of Maine,
New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky, and California, for 1865; of Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, for 1864. 5. Reports of the Board of Inspectors of Asylums, Prisons, etc.,
for 1860 – 1865. (Canada.) 6. Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioners of Public Chari
ties and Correction. New York. For the Year 1865. 7. Reports of the Albany Penitentiary (1850 – 1865); of the
Monroe County Penitentiary (1855-1865). 8. Statement of the Actual Condition of the Prisons in the City
and County of St. Louis. Prepared, after Careful Inspection, and Respectfully Addressed to his Fellow-Citizens. By
Rev. WM. G. ELIOT. St. Louis. 1865. 9. Crime and Punishment. By BLANCHARD FOSGATE, M. D.,
Formerly Physician to the New York State Prison at Auburn. Auburn, N. Y. 1866.
Having attempted, in the January number of the North American Review, to sketch the improvement in Prison Discipline since 1850, it now remains for us to consider what is the condition of the American prisons, in which we have a more direct interest than in those of France or Ireland. And if this subject seems a broad one, whether judged by the extent of America or the number of Reports named above, it should be remembered that mere extent of territory counts for little, provided the same system prevails throughout, while one need only glance at most of the documents named in order to see how little they can add to the world's knowledge. It is by collecting a vast number of imperfect instances, that we must supply the lack of careful observation in this important field. Of late, however, the attention of an unwonted, though still a small, number of close observers has been turned to the investigation of Crime and Punishment; the result appearing in the later Reports of the New York and Philadelphia Societies, and now and then elsewhere. But it is still painfully true that our Prison Reports generally do not even communicate that dry kind of information which they are intended to · convey, or else communicate it very defectively; while some of the best of them are so disfigured with self-complacent praises of the establishment where they are written, and onesided statements of conflicting systems, as greatly to lessen their value. “This is, without doubt, the best prison in the world,” says one warden, speaking of his own penitentiary. The inspectors of a rival establishment say, with a little more apparent modesty, “ Its direction has been animated by the single purpose of maintaining its character as the only penitentiary in which the separate system has been carefully tried.”
If, as advertisements say, “this should meet the eye” of the prison officers at Dublin, Berlin, or London, of M. Duopétiaux, Dr. Wichern, or Sir Walter Crofton, we can imagine the smile which would be excited at the assurance of the Yankees, and for which there would be some cause. Every patriot, of course, believes his own country the best in the world; but it is unfortunate when a board of directors or a warden believe their prison the best, - for then they will do little to improve what is already so superior. The truth is, that not one person in fifty of those who manage the American prisons has ever seen any three of the best European prisons, or even read a good description of them. Pentonville, Lusk, Bruchsal, Moabit, La, Roquette, are but names, if they are anything, to them ; the labors and the publications of Maconochie, Mittermaier, Crofton, and the rest, who have changed the whole aspect of the Prison Question within the last twenty years, are unknown to them. Nay, there are few of them who ever examined a dozen prisons outside of their own State, or who even know the present condition of the lower prisons within their own State. That such
persons should manage prisons well is not strange, for prison management is an art or a gift quite as much as a science; but that they should profess to compare their own success with that of the thousands engaged in the same work all over the civilized world, and to boast themselves superior to all, is something to be astonished at. They must presume on a state of ignorance among their readers still more dense than their own; and unconsciously they do this, — with some reason, too, for how few can contradict such assertions !
All, however, are not such. A few go to the other extreme, and denounce the system which they have been aiding to enforce in language quite as undiscriminating. Dr. Fosgate, in his curious pamphlet on the New York prisons, (the title of which is cited above, stigmatizes the Auburn system in such terms as men use to blacken a false friend, or a religion which they have renounced. No words are too severe ; and yet Dr. Fosgate was, for a while, an officer of the Auburn prison. There are examples, too, of private citizens, accidentally brought to a knowledge of the management of prisons, who use similar plainness of speech in their criticism on the evils they discover. Of this class is Dr. Eliot of St. Louis, whose little tract, attacking the abominations of the city and county prisons of that great Western city, will stimulate inquiry and reformation wherever it is read. Intermediate between the self-satisfied and the censorious are the patient and disinterested investigators. The New York Prison Association has enlisted many men of this class. The Philadelphia Prison Society, like the Boston Prison Discipline Society, has inclined too much to a partisan course, but has still done good service. The Board of Inspectors in Canada (since 1859) and the Board of Charities in Massachusetts (since 1863) seem also to belong to the better class. The newly established Prison Commission of California, and the Department of Jurisprudence in the Social Science Association, have hardly had time to contribute to the literature of the subject; but something valuable may be expected from both.
There is every reason to believe that the Second Part of the Twenty-first Report of the New York Prison Association, soon to be published, will give more information respecting the