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2-162 (Raw)

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The fretfulness of temper which so peculiarly characterizes the intercourse of society in our penal colonies, may be attributed, I think, almost exclusively to their convict system. Degraded servants make suspicious masters; and the habit of suspicion being once given, masters soon begin to suspect their equals and superiors, as well as their inferiors; whence, among other symptoms, impatience and irritability under Government regulations and judicial decisions, however just or well founded. The total disuse, moreover, of moral motives in the domestic relations of life, and the habit of enforcing obedience by mere compulsion, give a harsh and peremptory bearing in all transactions, which being met by a corresponding tone in others (the upper classes acting and re-acting on each other exactly as the lower), every difference of opinion constitutes a ground of quarrel, and disunion becomes extensively prevalent. Much, too, exists in the mere arrangements for convict discipline, as now maintained, which fosters these lamentable results. A constant interference of the police with private feelings and interest is absolutely unavoidable in existing circumstances; and the summary and peremptory character of decisions in cases of discipline, scarcely admitting of appeal, and practically almost always confirmed against both convict and master (because, even if appealed from, the reply is contingent on a report from the magistrate who has passed the first sentence), is alone calculated, I think, to exasperate even mild Spirits.