Elizabeth Fry by Elbert Hubbard

Story type: Essay

When thee builds a prison, thee had better build with the thought ever in thy mind that thee and thy children may occupy the cells.

—Report on Paris Prisons, Addressed to the King of France

The Mennonite, Dunkard, Shaker, Oneida Communist, Mormon and Quaker are all one people, varying only according to environment.

They are all Come-Outers.

They turn to plain clothes, hard work, religious thought, eschewing the pomps and vanities of the world–all for the same reasons. Scratch any one of them and you will find the true type. The monk of the Middle Ages was the same man, his peculiarity being an extreme asceticism that caused him to count sex a mistake on the part of God. And this same question has been a stumbling-block for ages to the type we now have under the glass. A man who gives the question of sex too much attention is very apt either to have no wife at all or else four or five. If a Franciscan friar of the olden time happened to glance at a clothesline on which, gaily waving in the wanton winds, was a smock-frock, he wore peas in his sandals for a month and a day.

The Shaker does not count women out because the founder of the sect was a woman, but he is a complete celibate and depends on Gentiles to populate the earth. The Dunkard quotes Saint Paul and marries because he must, but regards romantic love as a thing of which Deity is jealous, and also a bit ashamed. The Oneida Community clung to the same thought, and to obliterate selfishness held women in common, tracing pedigree, after the manner of ancient Sparta, through the female line, because there was no other way. The Mormon incidentally and accidentally adopted polygamy.

The Quakers have for the best part looked with disfavor on passionate love. In the worship of Deity they separate women from men. But all oscillations are equalized by swingings to the other side. The Quakers have often discarded a distinctive marriage-ceremony, thus slanting toward natural selection. And I might tell you of how in one of the South American States there is a band of Friends who have discarded the rite entirely, making marriage a private and personal contract between the man and the woman–a sacred matter of conscience; and should the man and woman find after a trial that their mating was a mistake, they are as free to separate as they were to marry, and no obloquy is attached in any event. Harriet Martineau, Quaker in sympathy, although not in name, being an independent fighter armed with a long squirrel-rifle of marvelous range and accuracy, pleaded strongly and boldly for a law that would make divorce as free and simple as marriage. Harriet once called marriage a mouse-trap, and thereby sent shivers of surprise and indignation up a bishop’s back.

But there is one thing among all these quasi-ascetic sects that has ever been in advance of the great mass of humanity from which they are detached parts: they have given woman her rights; whereas, the mass has always prated, and does yet, mentioning it in statute law, that the male has certain natural “rights,” and the women only such rights as are granted her by the males. And the reason of this wrong-headed attitude on part of the mob is plain. It rules by force, whereas the semi-ascetic sects decry force, using only moral suasion, falling back on the Christ doctrine of non-resistance. This has given their women a chance to prove that they have just as able minds as the men, if not better.

That these non-resistants are the salt of the earth none who know them can deny. It was the residents of the monasteries in the Middle Ages who kept learning and art from dying off the face of Europe. They built such churches and performed such splendid work in art that we are hushed into silence before the dignity of the ruins of Melrose, Dryburgh and Furness. There are no paupers among the Quakers, a “criminal class” is a thing no Mennonite understands, no Dunkard is a drunkard, the Oneida Communists were all well educated and in dollars passing rich, while the Mormons have accumulated wealth at the rate of over eleven hundred dollars a man per year, which is more than three times as good a record as can be shown by New York or Pennsylvania. And further, until the Gentiles bore down upon her, Utah had no use for either prisons, asylums or almshouses. Until the Gentiles crowded into Salt Lake City, there was no “tenderloin district,” no “dangerous class,” no gambling “dives.” Instead, there was universal order, industry, sobriety. It is well to recognize the fact that the quasi-ascetic, possessed of a religious idea, persecuted to a point that holds him to his work, is the best type of citizen the world has ever known. Tobacco, strong drink, and opium alternately lull and excite, soothe and elevate, but always destroy; yet they do not destroy our ascetic, for he knows them not. He does not deplete himself by drugs, rivalry, strife or anger. He believes in co-operation, not competition. He works and prays. He keeps a good digestion, an even pulse, a clear conscience; and as man’s true wants are very few, our subject grows rich and has not only ample supplies for himself, but is enabled to minister to others. He is earth’s good Samaritan. It was Tolstoy and his daughter who started soup-houses in Russia and kept famine at bay. Your true monk never passed by on the other side; ah, no! the business of the old-time priest was to do good. The Quaker is his best descendant–he is the true philanthropist.

If jeered, hooted and finally oppressed, these protesters will form a clan or sect and adopt a distinctive garb and speech. If persecuted, they will hold together, as cattle on the prairies huddle against the storm. But if left alone the Law of Reversion to Type catches the second generation, and the young men and maidens secrete millinery, just as birds do a brilliant plumage, and the strange sect merges into and is lost in the mass. The Jews did not say, Go to, we will be peculiar, but, as Mr. Zangwill has stated, they have remained a peculiar people simply because they have been proscribed.

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The successful monk, grown rich and feeling secure, turns voluptuary and becomes the very thing that he renounced in his monastic vows. Over-anxious bicyclists run into the object they wish to avoid. We are attracted to the thing we despise; and we despise it because it attracts. A recognition of this principle will make plain why so many temperance fanatics are really drunkards trying hard to keep sober. In us all is the germ of the thing we hate; we become like the thing we hate; we are the thing we hate. Ex-Quakers in Philadelphia, I am told, are very dressy people. But before a woman becomes a genuine admitted non-Quaker, the rough, gray woolen dress shades off by almost imperceptible degrees into a dainty silken lilac, whose generous folds have a most peculiar and seductive rustle; the bonnet becomes smaller, and pertly assumes a becoming ruche, from under which steal forth daring, winsome ringlets; while at the neck, purest of cream-white kerchiefs jealously conceal the charms that a mere worldly woman might reveal. Then the demi-monde, finding themselves neglected, bribe the dressmakers and adopt the costume.

Thus does civilization, like the cyclone, move in spirals.

* * * * *

In a sermon preached at the City Temple, June Eighteenth, Eighteen Hundred Ninety-six, Doctor Joseph Parker said: “There it was–there! at Smithfield Market, a stone’s throw from here, that Ridley and Latimer were burned. Over this spot the smoke of martyr fires hovered. And I pray for a time when they will hover again. Aye, that is what we need! the rack, the gallows, chains, dungeons, fagots!”

Yes, those are his words, and it was two days before it came to me that Doctor Parker knew just what he was talking about. Persecution can not stamp out virtue, any more than man’s effort can obliterate matter. Man changes the form of things, but he does not cancel their essence. And this is as true of the unseen attributes of spirit as it is of the elements of matter. Did the truths taught by Latimer and Ridley go out with the flames that crackled about their limbs? Were their names written for the last time in smoke? ‘T were vain to ask. The bishop who instigated their persecution gave them certificates for immortality. But the bishop did not know it–bishops who persecute know not what they do.

Let us guess the result if Jesus had been eminently successful, gathering about him, with the years, the strong and influential men of Jerusalem! Suppose he had fallen asleep at last of old age, and, full of honors, been carried to his own tomb, patterned after that of Joseph of Arimathea, but richer far–what then? And if Socrates had apologized and had not drunk of the hemlock, how about his philosophy, and would Plato have written the “Phaedo”?

No religion is pure except in its state of poverty and persecution; the good things of earth are our corrupters. All life is from the sun, but fruit too well loved of the sun falls first and rots. The religion that is fostered by the State and upheld by a standing army may be a pretty good religion, but it is not the Christ religion, call you it “Christianity” never so loudly.

Martyr and persecutor are usually cut off the same piece. They are the same type of man; and looking down the centuries they seem to have shifted places easily. As to which is persecutor and which is martyr is only a question of transient power. They are constantly teaching the trick to each other, just as scolding parents have saucy children. They are both good people; their sincerity can not be doubted. Marcus Aurelius, the best emperor Rome ever had, persecuted the Christians; while Caligula, Rome’s worst emperor, didn’t know there were any Christians in his dominions, and if he had known would not have cared.

The persecutor and the martyr both belong to the cultus known as “Muscular Christianity,” the distinguishing feature of which is a final appeal to force. We should, however, respect it for the frankness of the name in which it delights–Muscular Christianity being a totally different thing from Christianity, which smitten turns the other cheek.

But the Quaker, best type of the non-resistant quasi-ascetic, is the exception that proves the rule; he may be persecuted, but he persecutes not again. He is the best authenticated type living of primitive Christian. That the religion of Jesus was a purely reactionary movement, suggested by the smug complacency and voluptuous condition of the times, most thinking men agree. Where rich Pharisees adopt a standard of life that can only be maintained by devouring widows’ houses and oppressing the orphan, the needs of the hour bring to the front a man who will swing the pendulum to the other side. When society plays tennis with truth, and pitch-and-toss with all the expressions of love and friendship, certain ones will confine their speech to yea, yea, and nay, nay. When men utter loud prayers on street corners, some one will suggest that the better way to pray is to retire to your closet and shut the door. When self-appointed rulers wear purple and scarlet and make broad their phylacteries, some one will suggest that honest men had better adopt a simplicity of attire. When a whole nation grows mad in its hot endeavor to become rich, and the Temple of the Most High is cumbered by the seats of money-changers, already in some Galilean village sits a youth, conscious of his Divine kinship, plaiting a scourge of cords.

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The gray garb of the Quaker is only a revulsion from a flutter of ribbons and a towering headgear of hues that shame the lily and rival the rainbow. Beau Brummel, lifting his hat with great flourish to nobility and standing hatless in the presence of illustrious nobodies, finds his counterpart in William Penn, who was born with his hat on and uncovers to no one. The height of Brummel’s hat finds place in the width of Penn’s.

Quakerism is a protest against an idle, vain, voluptuous and selfish life. It is the natural recoil from insincerity, vanity and gormandism which, growing glaringly offensive, causes these certain men and women to “come out” and stand firm for plain living and high thinking. And were it not for this divine principle in humanity that prompts individuals to separate from the mass when sensuality threatens to hold supreme sway, the race would be snuffed out in hopeless night. These men who come out effect their mission, not by making all men Come-Outers, but by imperceptibly changing the complexion of the mass. They are the true and literal saviors of mankind.

* * * * *

Norwich has several things to recommend it to the tourist, chief of which is the cathedral. Great, massive, sullen structure–begun in the Eleventh Century–it adheres more closely to its Norman type than does any other building in England.

Within sound of the tolling bells of this great cathedral, aye, almost within the shadow of its turrets, was born, in Seventeen Hundred Eighty, Elizabeth Gurney. Her line of ancestry traced directly back to the De Gournays who came with William the Conqueror, and laid the foundations of this church and of England’s civilization. To the sensitive, imaginative girl this sacred temple, replete with history, fading off into storied song and curious legend, meant much. She haunted its solemn transepts, and followed with eager eyes the carved bosses on the ceiling, to see if the cherubs pictured there were really alive. She took children from the street and conducted them thither, explaining that it was her grandfather who laid the mortar between the stones and reared the walls and placed the splendid colored windows, on which reflections of real angels were to be seen, and where Madonnas winked when the wind was east. And the children listened with open mouths and marveled much, and this encouraged the pale little girl with the wondering eyes, and she led them to the tomb of Sir William Boleyn, whose granddaughter, Anne Boleyn, used often to come here and garland with flowers the grave above which our toddlers talked in whispers, and where, yesterday, I, too, stood.

And so Elizabeth grew in years and in stature and in understanding; and although her parents were not members of the Established Religion, yet a great cathedral is greater than sect, and to her it was the true House of Prayer. It was there that God listened to the prayers of His children. She loved the place with an idolatrous love and with all the splendid superstition of a child, and thither she went to kneel and ask fulfilment of her heart’s desire. All the beauties of ancient and innocent days moved radiant and luminous in the azure of her mind. But time crept on and a woman’s penetrating comprehension came to her, and the dreams of youth shifted off into the realities of maturity, and she saw that many who came to pray were careless, frivolous people, and that the vergers did their work without more reverence than did the stablemen who cared for her father’s horses. And once when twilight was veiling the choir, and all the worshipers had departed, she saw a curate strike a match on the cloister-wall, to light his pipe, and then with the rector laugh loudly, because the bishop had forgotten and read his “Te Deum Laudamus” before his “Gloria in Excelsis.”

By degrees it came to her that the lord bishop of this holy place was in the employ of the State, and that the State was master too of the army and the police and the ships that sailed away to New Zealand, carrying in their holds women and children, who never came back, and men who, like the lord bishop, had forgotten this and done that when they should have done the other.

Once, in the streets of Norwich she saw a dozen men with fetters riveted to their legs, all fastened to one clanking chain, breaking stone in the drizzle of a winter rain. And the thought came to her that the rich ladies, wrapped in furs, who rolled by in their carriages, going to the cathedral to pray, were no more God’s children than these wretches breaking stone from the darkness of a winter morning until darkness settled over the earth again at night.

She saw plainly the patent truth that, if some people wore gaudy and costly raiment, others must dress in rags; if some ate and drank more than they needed, and wasted the good things of earth, others must go hungry; if some never worked with their hands, others must needs toil continuously.

The Gurneys were nominally Friends, but they had gradually slipped away from the directness of speech, the plainness of dress, and the simplicity of the Quakers. They were getting rich on government contracts–and who wants to be ridiculous anyway? So, with consternation, the father and mother heard the avowal of Elizabeth to adopt the extreme customs of the Friends. They sought to dissuade her. They pointed out the uselessness of being singular, and the folly of adopting a mode of life that makes you a laughing-stock. But this eighteen-year-old girl stood firm. She had resolved to live the Christ-life and devote her energies to lessening the pains of earth. Life was too short for frivolity; no one could afford to compromise with evil. She became the friend of children; the champion of the unfortunate; she sided with the weak; she was their friend and comforter. Her life became a cry in favor of the oppressed, a defense of the downtrodden, an exaltation of self-devotion, a prayer for universal sympathy, liberty and light. She pleaded for the vicious, recognizing that all are sinners and that those who do unlawful acts are no more sinners in the eyes of God than we who think them so.

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The religious nature and sex-life are closely akin. The woman possessing a high religious fervor is also capable of a great and passionate love. But the Norwich Friends did not believe in a passionate love, except as the work of the devil. Yet this they knew, that marriage tames a woman as nothing else can. They believed in religion, of course–but not an absorbing, fanatical religion! Elizabeth should get married–it would cure her mental maladies: exaltation of spirit in a girl is a dangerous thing anyway. Nothing subdues like marriage.

It may not be generally known, but your religious ascetic is a great matchmaker. In all religious communities, especially rural communities, men who need wives need not advertise–there are self-appointed committees of old ladies who advise and look after such matters closely. The immanence of sex becomes vicarious, and that which once dwelt in the flesh is now a thought: like men-about-town, whose vices finally become simply mental, so do these old ladies carry on courtships by power of attorney.

And so the old ladies found a worthy Quaker man who would make a good husband for Elizabeth. The man was willing. He wrote a letter to her from his home in London, addressing it to her father. The letter was brief and businesslike. It described himself in modest but accurate terms. He weighed ten stone and was five feet eight inches high; he was a merchant with a goodly income; and in disposition was all that was to be desired–at least he said so. His pedigree was standard.

The Gurneys looked up this Mr. Fry, merchant, of London, and found all as stated. He checked O.K. He was invited to visit at Norwich; he came, he saw, and was conquered. He liked Elizabeth, and Elizabeth liked him–she surely did or she would never have married him.

Elizabeth bore him twelve children. Mr. Fry was certainly an excellent and amiable man. I find it recorded, “He never in any way hampered his wife’s philanthropic work,” and with this testimonial to the excellence of Mr. Fry’s character we will excuse him from these pages and speak only of his wife.

Contrary to expectations, Elizabeth was not tamed by marriage. She looked after her household with diligence; but instead of confining her “social duties” to following hotly after those in station above her, she sought out those in the stratum beneath. Soon after reaching London she began taking long walks alone, watching the people, especially the beggars. The lowly and the wretched interested her. She saw, girl though she was, that beggardom and vice were twins.

In one of her daily walks, she noticed on a certain corner a frowsled woman holding a babe, and thrusting out a grimy hand for alms, telling a woeful tale of a dead soldier husband to each passer-by. Elizabeth stopped and talked with the woman. As the day was cold, she took off her mittens and gave them to the beggar, and went her way. The next day she again saw the woman on the same corner and again talked with her, asking to see the baby held so closely within the tattered shawl. An intuitive glance (mother herself or soon to be) told her that this sickly babe was not the child of the woman who held it. She asked questions that the woman evaded. Pressed further, the beggar grew abusive, and took refuge in curses, with dire threats of violence. Mrs. Fry withdrew, and waiting for nightfall followed the woman: down a winding alley, past rows of rotting tenements, into a cellar below a ginshop. There, in this one squalid room, she found a dozen babies, all tied fast in cribs or chairs, starving, or dying of inattention. The woman, taken by surprise, did not grow violent this time: she fled, and Mrs. Fry, sending for two women Friends, took charge of the sufferers.

This sub-cellar nursery opened the eyes of Mrs. Fry to the grim fact that England, professing to be Christian, building costly churches, and maintaining an immense army of paid priests, was essentially barbaric. She set herself to the task of doing what she could while life lasted to lessen the horror of ignorance and sin.

Newgate Prison then, as now, stood in the center of the city. It was necessary to have it in a conspicuous place so that all might see the result of wrongdoing and be good. Along the front of the prison were strong iron gratings, where the prisoners crowded up to talk with their friends. Through these gratings the unhappy wretches called to strangers for alms, and thrust out long wooden spoons for contributions, that would enable them to pay their fines. There was a woman’s department; but if the men’s department was too full, men and women were herded together.

Mrs. Fry worked for her sex, so of these I will speak. Women who had children under seven years of age took them to prison with them; every week babes were born there, so that at one time, in the year Eighteen Hundred Twenty-six, we find there were one hundred ninety women and one hundred children in Newgate. There was no bedding. No clothing was supplied, and those who had no friends outside to supply them clothing were naked or nearly so, and would have been entirely were it not for that spark of divinity which causes the most depraved of women to minister to one another. Women hate only their successful rivals. The lowest of women will assist one another when there is a dire emergency.

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In this pen, awaiting trial, execution or transportation, were girls of twelve to senile, helpless creatures of eighty. All were thrust together. Hardened criminals, besotted prostitutes, maidservants accused of stealing thimbles, married women suspected of blasphemy, pure-hearted, brave-natured girls who had run away from brutal parents or more brutal husbands, insane persons–all were herded together. All the keepers were men. Patroling the walls were armed guards, who were ordered to shoot all who tried to escape. These guards were usually on good terms with the women prisoners–hobnobbing at will. When the mailed hand of government had once thrust these women behind iron bars, and relieved virtuous society of their presence, it seemed to think it had done its duty. Inside, no crime was recognized save murder. These women fought, overpowered the weak, stole from and maltreated each other. Sometimes, certain ones would combine for self-defense, forming factions. Once, the Governor of the prison, bewigged, powdered, lace-befrilled, ventured pompously into the women’s department without his usual armed guard; fifty hags set upon him. In a twinkling his clothing was torn to shreds too small for carpet-rags, and in two minutes by the sand-glass, when he got back to the bars, lustily calling for help, he was as naked as a cherub, even if not as innocent.

Visitors who ventured near to the grating were often asked to shake hands, and if once a grip was gotten upon them the man was drawn up close, while long, sinewy fingers grabbed his watch, handkerchief, neckscarf or hat–all was pulled into the den. Sharp nailmarks on the poor fellow’s face told of the scrimmage, and all the time the guards on the walls and the spectators roared with laughter. Oh, it was awfully funny!

One woman whose shawl was snatched and sucked into the maelstrom complained to the police, and was told that folks inside of Newgate could not be arrested, and that a good motto for outsiders was to keep away from dangerous places.

Every morning at nine a curate read prayers at the prisoners. The curate stood well outside the grating; while all the time from inside loud cries of advice were given and sundry remarks tendered him concerning his personal appearance. The frightful hilarity of the mob saved these wretches from despair. But the curate did his duty: he who has ears to hear let him hear. Waiting in the harbor were ships loading their freight of sin, crime and woe for Botany Bay; at Tyburn every week women were hanged. Three hundred offenses were punishable with death; but, as in the West, where horse-stealing is the supreme offense, most of the hangings were for smuggling, forgery or shoplifting. England being a nation of shopkeepers could not forgive offenses that might injure a haberdasher.

Little Mrs. Fry, in the plainest of Quaker gray dress, with bonnet to match, stood outside Newgate and heard the curate read prayers. She resolved to ask the Governor of the prison if she might herself perform the office. The Governor was polite, but stated there was no precedent for such an important move–he must have time to consider. Mrs. Fry called again, and permission was granted, with strict orders that she must not attempt to proselyte, and, further, she had better not get too near the grating.

Mrs. Fry gave the great man a bit of fright by quietly explaining thus: “Sir, if thee kindly allows me to pray with the women, I will go inside.”

The Governor asked her to say it again. She did so, and a bright thought came to the great man: he would grant her request, writing an order that she be allowed to go inside the prison whenever she desired. It would teach her a lesson and save him from further importunity.

So little Mrs. Fry presented the order, and the gates were swung open and the iron quickly snapped behind her. She spoke to the women, addressing the one who seemed to be leader as sister, and asked the others to follow her back into the courtway away from the sound of the street, so they could have prayers. They followed dumbly. She knelt on the stone pavement and prayed in silence. Then she arose and read to them the One Hundred Seventh Psalm. Again she prayed, asking the others to kneel with her. A dozen knelt. She arose and went her way amid a hush of solemn silence.

Next day, when she came again, the ribaldry ceased on her approach, and after the religious service she remained inside the walls an hour conversing with those who wished to talk with her, going to all the children that were sick and ministering to them.

In a week she called all together and proposed starting a school for the children. The mothers entered into the project gladly. A governess, imprisoned for theft, was elected teacher. A cell-room was cleaned out, whitewashed, and set apart for a schoolroom, with the permission of the Governor, who granted the request, explaining, however, that there was no precedent for such a thing. The school prospered, and outside the schoolroom door hungry-eyed women listened furtively for scraps of knowledge that might be tossed overboard.

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Mrs. Fry next organized classes for these older children, gray-haired, bowed with sin–many of them. There were twelve in each class, and they elected a monitor from their numbers, agreeing to obey her. Mrs. Fry brought cloth from her husband’s store, and the women were taught to sew. The Governor insisted that there was no precedent for it, and the guards on the walls said that every scrap of cloth would be stolen, but the guards were wrong.

The day was divided up into regular hours for work and recreation. Other good Quaker women from outside came in to help; and the taproom kept by a mercenary guard was done away with, and an order established that no spirituous liquors should be brought into Newgate. The women agreed to keep away from the grating on the street, except when personal friends came; to cease begging; to quit gambling. They were given pay for their labor. A woman was asked for as turnkey, instead of a man. All guards were to be taken from the walls that overlooked the women’s department. The women were to be given mats to sleep on, and blankets to cover them when the weather was cold. The Governor was astonished! He called a council of the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen. They visited the prison, and found for the first time that order had come out of chaos at Newgate.

Mrs. Fry’s requests were granted, and this little woman awoke one morning to find herself famous.

From Newgate she turned her attention to other prisons; she traveled throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, visiting prisons and asylums. She became well feared by those in authority, for her firm and gentle glance went straight to every abuse. Often she was airily turned away by some official clothed in a little brief authority, but the man usually lived to know his mistake.

She was invited by the French Government to visit the prisons of Paris and write a report, giving suggestions as to what reforms should be made. She went to Belgium, Holland and Germany, being received by kings and queens and prime ministers–as costume, her plain gray dress always sufficing. She treated royalty and unfortunates alike–simply as equals. She kept constantly in her mind the thought that all men are sinners before God: there are no rich, no poor; no high, no low; no bond, no free. Conditions are transient, and boldly did she say to the King of France that he should build prisons with the idea of reformation, not revenge, and with the thought ever before him that he himself or his children might occupy these cells–so vain are human ambitions. To Sir Robert Peel and his Cabinet she read the story concerning the gallows built by Haman. “Thee must not shut out the sky from the prisoner; thee must build no dark cells–thy children may occupy them,” she said.

John Howard and others had sent a glimmering ray of truth through the fog of ignorance concerning insanity. The belief was growing that insane people were really not possessed of devils after all. Yet still, the cell system, strait jacket and handcuffs were in great demand. In no asylum were prisoners allowed to eat at tables. Food was given to each in tin basins, without spoons, knives or forks. Glass dishes and china plates were considered especially dangerous; they told of one man who in an insane fit had cut his throat with a plate, and of another who had swallowed a spoon.

Visiting an asylum at Worcester, Mrs. Fry saw the inmates receive their tin dishes, and, crouched on the floor, eating like wild beasts. She asked the chief warden for permission to try an experiment. He dubiously granted it. With the help of several of the inmates she arranged a long table, covered it with spotless linen brought by herself, placed bouquets of wild flowers on the table, and set it as she did at her own home. Then she invited twenty of the patients to dinner. They came, and a clergyman, who was an inmate, was asked to say grace. All sat down, and the dinner passed off as quietly and pleasantly as could be wished.

And these were the reforms she strove for, and put into practical execution everywhere. She asked that the word asylum be dropped, and home or hospital used instead. In visiting asylums, by her presence she said to the troubled spirits, Peace, be still! For half a century she toiled with an increasing energy and a never-flagging animation. She passed out full of honors, beloved as woman was never yet loved–loved by the unfortunate, the deformed, the weak, the vicious. She worked for a present good, here and now, believing that we can reach the future only through the present. In penology nothing has been added to her philosophy, and we have as yet not nearly carried out her suggestions.

Generation after generation will come and go, nations will rise, grow old, and die, kings and rulers will be forgotten, but so long as love kisses the white lips of pain will men remember and revere the name of Elizabeth Fry, Friend of Humanity.

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