Our next door. Nobody will go to jail nowadays who thinks anything of himself.
The fire-tender. When society seriously takes hold of the reformation of criminals (say with as much determination as it does to carry an election) this false leniency will disappear; for it partly springs from a feeling that punishment is unequal, and does not discriminate enough in individuals, and that society itself has no right to turn a man over to the Devil, simply because he shows a strong leaning that way. A part of the scheme of those who work for the reformation of criminals is to render punishment more certain, and to let its extent depend upon reformation. There is no reason why a professional criminal, who won’t change his trade for an honest one, should have intervals of freedom in his prison life in which he is let loose to prey upon society. Criminals ought to be discharged, like insane patients, when they are cured.
Our next door. It’s a wonder to me, what with our multitudes of statutes and hosts of detectives, that we are any of us out of jail. I never come away from a visit to a State-prison without a new spasm of fear and virtue. The faculties for getting into jail seem to be ample. We want more organizations for keeping people out.
Mandeville. That is the sort of enterprise the women are engaged in, the frustration of the criminal tendencies of those born in vice. I believe women have it in their power to regenerate the world morally.
The Parson. It’s time they began to undo the mischief of their mother.
The mistress. The reason they have not made more progress is that they have usually confined their individual efforts to one man; they are now organizing for a general campaign.
The fire-tender. I’m not sure but here is where the ameliorations of the conditions of life, which are called the comforts of this civilization, come in, after all, and distinguish the age above all others. They have enabled the finer powers of women to have play as they could not in a ruder age. I should like to live a hundred years and see what they will do.
Herbert. Not much but change the fashions, unless they submit themselves to the same training and discipline that men do.
I have no doubt that Herbert had to apologize for this remark afterwards in private, as men are quite willing to do in particular cases; it is only in general they are unjust. The talk drifted off into general and particular depreciation of other times. Mandeville described a picture, in which he appeared to have confidence, of a fight between an Iguanodon and a Megalosaurus, where these huge iron-clad brutes were represented chewing up different portions of each other’s bodies in a forest of the lower cretaceous period. So far as he could learn, that sort of thing went on unchecked for hundreds of thousands of years, and was typical of the intercourse of the races of man till a comparatively recent period. There was also that gigantic swan, the Plesiosaurus; in fact, all the early brutes were disgusting. He delighted to think that even the lower animals had improved, both in appearance and disposition.