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36
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

than five minutes, including the young lady to whom he was betrothed, because she had followed the advice of her father and mother, and had broken off the match upon the morning of the day on which they were to be married. As the narrator ended the story, which was told in all its dreadful details, he remarked, "And so you see he was almost justified."

This instance, which is simply an example out of a great many of a more or less similar nature, is mentioned for the purpose of illustrating one of the most deplorable facts connected with the administration of the affairs of the island—that is, the inevitable influence upon its inhabitants of familiarity with crime. This young man, neither a criminal nor an executive officer, had come, by constant contact with criminals, to look upon crime with pity in some cases, and with actual approval in others.

It is not my purpose to repeat here in detail the stories of the lives of these people, for those stories are sensational to the last degree, and should be looked upon simply as so many facts in a social study. But, while some of the convicts were indulged, others were treated with unnecessary severity, which merged into cruelty. This unequal justice, or rather the disproportionate punishment meted out to offenders, and over which the officers in charge had full jurisdiction, was, in itself, demoralizing to the great body of convicts, and held out no hope or encouragement to any one to be anything short of the most abandoned criminal. No effort was made to fit the punishment to the crime. Flogging was the one remedy for everything, and, as it always took place in the presence of the assembled prisoners, this became a new element of degradation to the entire community. A convict having stolen a pig, was sent for and flogged. The very next morning the commandant was called to the front door, and there on the veranda stood a man horribly mangled by an assassin. "What does all this mean?" said the commandant. "Fulano has killed me," said the convict. "Away with you to the hospital"; and, turning to an officer, he continued, "and bring Fulano here to me." And Fulano was brought and flogged.[1] The influence of such a system of treatment upon the less depraved classes of criminals may readily be imagined.

Postscript.—The "Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society for July, 1888, contains an article upon Fernando by a gentleman who visited that place in 1887. The convict

  1. I undertook to witness a flogging once, but, as I did not get through it with credit to myself, the less said of that occasion the better. I was informed by one of the officers that, not long before, one convict had been so severely flogged that he had died of his injuries. In the light of these facts it is interesting to read article 1879, section 19, of the Brazilian Constitution of 1824. It is as follows: "From this time forth flogging, torturing, branding, and all other cruel punishments are abolished." It should be added, however, that in 1879, since my visit to Fernando de Noronha, the Minister of Justice of the Brazilian Empire has directed that corporal punishment of the convicts should cease.