Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/556

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538
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

method of dealing out punishment, as such, and thus keeping alive the spirit of vengeance?

What a ghastly, ludicrous state of affairs it must be, to see the murderer condemned to die, and awaiting in his cell the arrival of the fatal day, assured by his spiritual advisers that he has been pardoned by his Maker, and that the gentle Saviour is waiting to receive him in eternity, and still not have a ray of hope that the measure of the penalty, judicially pronounced, will be diminished! It would seem reasonable that a man who has been pardoned by his Creator should be pardoned by his fellows, and he surely should be if punishment was the only design. If, however, competent men have decided that his life is a menace to human society, then the questions of punishment and forgiveness are not to be considered. Even the great physician, Galen, seventeen hundred years ago wrote, "The evildoer is one whom we must destroy, not punish," repeating very nearly the words of Aristotle that when a criminal is a criminal by nature he ought to be destroyed, not in revenge, but for the same reason that scorpions and vipers are destroyed. Seneca advocated the same axiom. Let us, therefore, eliminate from our laws, which are or ought to be of benefit to humanity, all idea or notion of punishment; for, while our codes continue to present it, the whole aim and object of our common law, as it relates to the criminal, can not but point to the single fact of an effort to inflict pain on a human being. We try a man in order to ascertain if he must be punished, and the other higher, broader, and more noble function of the court, namely, to protect the majority of law-abiding citizens, is lost sight of by the larger proportion of the human race. The simple term justice or condemnation will convey the idea that the good of society is the consideration of the court, while the term punishment conveys the idea that the individual alone is the factor, and we can not blame the criminal, as long as it remains on our statute-books, for imagining that the whole force of our courts is to cause him bodily pain.

 


 
While studying the songs of birds, Mr. Charles A. Witchell soon found that young birds acquire first the call cries and alarm notes of their respective species; that in each species these notes are much less liable to vary than are the songs; and that in different species physically allied they are more alike than are the songs of those species. Another interesting feature was the prominent occurrence of a particular cry in the species; its repetition in a less marked form in one or two allied birds, in which another cry might be the most pronounced; and the utterance of this second cry by some other allied birds, which had not the first-mentioned note. These facts are commended by the author to naturalists as bearing on the question of a common ancestry of species.