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The Subterranean Brotherhood   By: (1846-1934)

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First Page:

FOOTFALLS

In the cell over mine at night A step goes to and fro From barred door to iron wall From wall to door I hear it go, Four paces, heavy and slow, In the heart of the sleeping jail: And the goad that drives, I know!

I never saw his face or heard him speak; He may be Dutchman, Dago, Yankee, Greek; But the language of that prisoned step Too well I know!

Unknown brother of the remorseless bars, Pent in your cage from earth and sky and stars, The hunger for lost life that goads you so, I also know!

Hour by hour, in the cell overhead, Four footfalls, to and fro 'Twixt iron wall and barred door Back and forth I hear them go Four footfalls come and go! I wake and listen in the night: Brother, I know!

(Written in Atlanta Penitentiary, May, 1913.)

THE SUBTERRANEAN BROTHERHOOD

By JULIAN HAWTHORNE

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTORY II THE DEVIL'S ANTECHAMBER III THE ROAD TO OBLIVION IV INITIATION V ROUTINE VI SOME PRISON FRIENDS OF MINE VII THE MEN ABOVE VIII FOR LIFE IX THE TOIL OF SLAVERY X OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER XI THE GRASP OF THE TENTACLES XII THE PRISON SILENCE XIII THE BANQUETS OF THE DAMNED XIV THE POLICY OF FALSEHOOD XV THE FRUIT OF PRISONS XVI IF NOT PRISONS WHAT? APPENDIX

PREFACE

These chapters were begun the day after I got back to New York from the Atlanta penitentiary, and went on from day to day to the end. I did not know, at the start, what the thing would be like at the finish, and I made small effort to make it look shapely and smooth; but the inward impulse in me to write it, somehow, was irresistible, in spite of the other impulse to go off somewhere and rest and forget it all. But I felt that if it were not done then it might never be done at all; and done it must be at any cost. I had promised my mates in prison that I would do it, and I was under no less an obligation, though an unspoken one, to give the public an opportunity to learn at first hand what prison life is, and means. I had myself had no conception of the facts and their significance until I became myself a prisoner, though I had read as much in "prison literature" as most people, perhaps, and had for many years thought on the subject of penal imprisonment. Twenty odd years before, too, I had been struck by William Stead's saying, "Until a man has been in jail, he doesn't know what human life means." But one does not pay that price for knowledge voluntarily, and I had not expected to have the payment forced upon me. I imagined I could understand the feelings of a prisoner without being one. I was to live to acknowledge myself mistaken. And I conceive that other people are in the same deceived condition. So, with all the energy and goodwill of which I am capable, I set myself to do what I could to make them know the truth, and to ask themselves what should or could be done to end a situation so degrading to every one concerned in it, from one end of the line to the other. The situation, indeed, seems all but incredible. Your first thought on being told of it is, It must be an exaggeration or a fabrication. On the contrary, words cannot convey the whole horror and shamefulness of it.

I am conscious of having left out a great deal of it. I found as I went on with this writing that the things to be said were restricted to a few categories. First, the physical prison itself and the routine of life in it must be stated. That is the objective part. Then must be indicated the subjective conditions, those of the prisoner, and of his keepers what the effect of prison was upon them. Next was to come a presentation of the consequences, deductions and inferences suggested by these conditions. Finally, we would be confronted with the question, What is to be done about it? Such are the main heads of the theme.

But I was tempted to run into detail. Here I will make a pertinent disclosure. During my imprisonment I was made the confidant of the life stories of many of my brethren in the cells... Continue reading book >>




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