Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

18 articles on this Page


: Merthyr Corporation Finances.

[No title]

A Single Box of Cuticura Ointment…


... !Merthyr Watch Committee.

,, Caerphilly District Council…






League of Young Liberals.


.. The Dark Side of Convict…


The Dark Side of Convict Life. [Being the Account of the Career of HARRY WILLIAMS, a. Merthyr Man.] CHAPTER XII. Small encouragement is given to a man, even to take his first step towards reforming, when he is treated in •such a way as already describ- ed. A convict is sent to prison to reform, but the question is, does he reform? No doubt, many of them make a daring attempt to do so. but they all fall back again into their old course, and to prove this I will just show how impossible it is and how difficult it is for a convict to make a real and true determination to amend his ways. In the year 1902 I passed a convict at Portland Prison by the name of McCarty. He was undergoing a term of four yers for no very great crime, for, according to his statement, he got it for sleeping on duty during active service at the time of the late South African War. He was next cell to me at Portland in the corrugated iron cells men- tioned in a previous chapter, and every night just about bedtime, or what is commonly call- ed in prison "turning in" time, I heard him muttering something to himself Thinking the man to be a bit weak in his intellect I decided to listen to what he was saying every night., One night I was listening when I distinctly heard the man uttering fragments of the Holy Catechisim. Then I came to the conclusion at once that he was a Roman Catholic, and that he wa.s praying to the Virgin Mary One night while I was lying down on my hammock I could hear this poor fellow engaged in deep communion with his God- When suddenly, I heard a loud rapping at his cell door, and an officer said, "I've caught you at last, I'll stop that talking for you to-morrow." "I'm not talking, sir," answered the poor chap, "I am only saying my prayers." "Saying your pray- ers, are you," said the officer, "you can say them to the Governor in the morning; per- haps he would like to bear them." Then. coming to my cell, he said, "Look here, Williams, was not that man talking to you?" "No, certainly not," I answered, "the man is talking to his God, and not to me." "Oh," says he, "you're a bit funny, too, I ,think, and I will wipe the pair of you up to- morrow." So, losing my temper, and knowing he would act in accordance with his threats, I shouted out, "If you take a liberty with me, mind, I will wipe you across the lug with the stone pick as soon as I get you out in the quarry," for I had already been punished for assaulting one of the officers for a similar lib- erty that had been taken with me before. I Said no more, so the following day I and this poor fellow were brought before the gov- ernor, and he was awarded one day bread and water, and to forfeit seven remission. "They were talking so loud," said the officer, "that one could hear them from their cells to the breakwater." Then the governor put the same matter of form to me, "What have you got to say?" I acknowledged the threats I had used, but played on the case that the officer had committed himself by threatening me and making a false accusation against me. Where- upon, the governor id. "I must believe the officer: he would not tell a lie." "No, sir," I said, "there is none of them can tell a lie." "That will do," says he, "three days bread and water, and forfeit eleven days' remission." Now this man who was reported with me was a devout Christian, for anyone could see that by the continual visits he received from the priest that it was no sham. Convicts do not sham in this matter. The day after he came off punishment, he sent for the priest, and told him of the liberty the officer had taken with him, and the onlv thing the priest said was, 'Never mind, McCarty, those who suffer unjustly in this world will be rewarded in the next." This was poor consolation for the poor fellow, who was trying hard, and God knows as hard as ever he could try, to do that which was right. It is utterly useless for a man to send for the chaplain or the priest for what is said to the doctors of divinity they will cer- tainly bring out a passage of Scripture as a means of consoling one. Still, I can iustly say ths only true and real friend is the prison chaplain, but he does not like to interfere with the discipline side of the prison, no matter how he would wish to. I can well remember a cer- tain chaplain speaking to me in confidence of what he had seen with his own eyes It was the case of a poor chap being kicked by offi- cials. "But, you know. Williams," says he, If I were to interfere I would very soon be told to mind my own business. had complaints and complaints from you men as to the way you are treated, but I never believed it until I actually saw it with my own eyes." But he went on to 6ay, "You know, I am powerless how to act." I side a great deal with prison chaplains in this matter, because I know from experience they are thorough good men. and I have even known chaplains to throw a hint or two from the pulpit, and they have put it in such words that the governor himself f could make nothing of it. It is a great Mistake for any one to believe that a man is sent to prison to reform, for is not given a chance to do so in spite of tlo, chaplains' attempts to bring him nearer God. There are officials who make it thci business by the way they beat them to mah the man a brute himself, in order to gain theii- own end.. (To be continued.) » • j