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A MODEST PROPOSAL. For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland by Jonathan Swift

A MODEST PROPOSAL
For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland,
from being a burden on their parents or country,
and for making them beneficial to the publick.

Image result for a modest proposal

by Dr. Jonathan Swift


1729

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands.
There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expence than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.
The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couple, who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom) but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; they neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old; except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers: As I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriments and rags having been at least four times that value.
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
 I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.
I do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine, and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.
I have reckoned upon a medium, that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, encreaseth to 28 pounds.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolifick dyet, there are more children born in Roman Catholick countries about nine months after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of Papists among us.
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants, the mother will have eight shillings neat profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flea the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
As to our City of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.
A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supply'd by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service: And these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our school-boys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable, and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission, be a loss to the publick, because they soon would become breeders themselves: And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.
But in order to justify my friend, he confessed, that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Salmanaazor, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country, when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality, as a prime dainty; and that, in his time, the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the Emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at a play-house and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for; the kingdom would not be the worse.
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young labourers, they are now in almost as hopeful a condition. They cannot get work, and consequently pine away from want of nourishment, to a degree, that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it, and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of Papists, with whom we are yearly over-run, being the principal breeders of the nation, as well as our most dangerous enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country, than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.
Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to a distress, and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.
Thirdly, Whereas the maintainance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old, and upwards, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby encreased fifty thousand pounds per annum, besides the profit of a new dish, introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom, who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among our selves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.
Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.
Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards, or enforced by laws and penalties. It would encrease the care and tenderness of mothers towards their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the publick, to their annual profit instead of expence. We should soon see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives, during the time of their pregnancy, as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, or sow when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barrel'd beef: the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well grown, fat yearly child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a Lord Mayor's feast, or any other publick entertainment. But this, and many others, I omit, being studious of brevity.
Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants flesh, besides others who might have it at merry meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.
 I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.
Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.
But, as to my self, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.

After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, As things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for a hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, There being a round million of creatures in humane figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two million of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession, to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and labourers, with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect; I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor cloaths to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of intailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed for ever.
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the publick good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.



AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE. A short story by Ambrose Bierce


AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE

by
Ambrose Bierce
  


A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners—two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest—a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground—a gentle slope topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway up the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators—a single company of infantry in line, at "parade rest," the butts of their rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well fitting frock coat. He wore a moustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgement as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift—all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by— it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and—he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. "If I could free my hands," he thought, "I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance."

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.


II
Peyton Farquhar was a well to do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician, he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with that gallant army which had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in wartime. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in the aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

"The Yanks are repairing the railroads," said the man, "and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels, or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order."

"How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?" Farquhar asked.

"About thirty miles."

"Is there no force on this side of the creek?"

"Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge."

"Suppose a man—a civilian and student of hanging—should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel," said Farquhar, smiling, "what could he accomplish?"

The soldier reflected. "I was there a month ago," he replied. "I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tinder."

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.



III
As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened—ages later, it seemed to him—by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness—of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!—the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface—knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. "To be hanged and drowned," he thought, "that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair."

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!—what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. "Put it back, put it back!" He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire, his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!

He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf—he saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies' wings, the strokes of the water spiders' legs, like oars which had lifted their boat—all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a gray eye and remembered having read that gray eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking at the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly—with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquility in the men—with what accurately measured interval fell those cruel words:

"Company!… Attention!… Shoulder arms!… Ready!… Aim!… Fire!"

Farquhar dived—dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dull thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream—nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning:

"The officer," he reasoned, "will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!"

An appalling splash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, DIMINUENDO, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps! A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken an hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

"They will not do that again," he thought; "the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me—the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun."

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round—spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men, all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color—that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream—the southern bank—and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of AEolian harps. He had not wish to perfect his escape—he was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and a rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman's road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famished. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which—once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue—he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forwards with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon—then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

If New York City can afford to pay janitors $100,000 a year , they can buy 3 buses for foster kids. You make a promise, stick to it.


NYC foster care kids among those still without school bus pick ups 3 weeks into fall semester, advocates say
By MICHAEL ELSEN-ROONEY
SEP 26, 2019
Some kids in foster care still aren’t getting school buses three weeks into the new year—despite a promise in last year’s budget to “ensure busing" for those students, advocates alleged Thursday.
City officials committed in last year’s budget to use existing resources to provide school buses to kids in foster care so they don’t have to switch schools. But advocates say the city Education Department’s policy of providing buses only to students near existing bus routes — and offering only Metrocards to the others — is leaving kids and foster agencies in the lurch.
 “What we’ve seen this year is a continuation of the same frustrations and problems as last year,” said Cara Chambers, the director of an education project at the Legal Aid Society.
That Legal Aid Society and 24 other organizations sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio Thursday urging the city to “honor its commitment” to provide buses.
State and federal law requires schools to provide students in foster care transportation so they don’t have to switch schools — a disruption that can send already traumatized students spiraling.
The city Education Department says it complies with the law by providing buses to some students and Metrocards to others.
“We work closely with ACS, and last year we provided busing to the majority of students in foster care who requested it,” said Miranda Barbot, an Education Department spokeswoman.
But foster agencies said they’re not comfortable sending young kids on public transit alone. That forces agencies into the difficult choice of assigning staff to accompany students on sometimes long trips or switching kids’ schools.
 “A Metrocard is entirely inadequate,” said Chambers. “You might as well give the child a scooter and tell them to find their own way to school.”
The most recent data from the city Education Department showed that 60% of bus requests for students in foster care were approved, because they either lived close enough to an existing bus route or are guaranteed busing through special education plans, according to Chambers. But that leaves hundreds of kids and foster parents to find their own ways to school.
 “We had staff members who had to wake up at 5 a.m.” to chaperone kids in their care on the way to school, said Brenda Triplett, the education director at Children’s Aid, a foster care agency.
[More Education] MTA officials ask Orthodox Jewish transit worker to prove he’s observing Rosh Hashanah: union »
The Education Department hired a foster care transportation coordinator this year to oversee all foster care-related transportation requests and speed up bus requests. Advocates said transportation staffers have been quicker to address complaints so far this year, but without a policy to guarantee busing and resources to back it up, little will change.
“It doesn’t resolve the underlying issue,” Chambers said.
The ongoing transportation challenges have even made it harder to recruit potential foster parents, Chambers said. Prospective parents have declined to take in foster kids in part because of the burden of having to get them to far off schools without buses, Chambers said.
[More Education] Administrative judge recommends city fire school cafeteria manager who served Bronx kids recalled food and ignored broken freezer »
Fewer than 1,000 kids in foster care would need the additional buses, Chambers said.
“It’s not a huge number of extra kids but it means everything to them," she said. "They’re the most likely to drop out of school…if we can preserve school stability, it’s going to benefit them, and going to save the DOE a lot of money in the long run as well.


Raise your hands and step away from the classroom....


The mythical but prosperous land of Poyais


In 1535, a cartographer exploring the regions around Mexico waters recorded an island he dubbed Isle Bermeja.  Actually, there was no such place. Isle Bermeja never existed but it survived on official international maps until the late 1990s, when the UN determined that there was proof such the island ever existed.
Which bring us to another place in Central America that never existed, the Kingdom of Poyais.
It’s a remarkable story if only because it stands as almost a monument to human gullibility and greed. It’s a simple story too. For sixteen years, 18-21-1837, a Scotsman named Gregor
MacGregor convinced thousands of people in England and Paris that he was the king of a nonexistent central American nation called Poyais. MacGregor managed to get at least 500 people to buy Poyaisian government bonds and land certificates and sold another 250 people immigration Visa issued by the Poyaisian government who actually moved to the make-believe nation. MacGregor was eventually brought to trial but wasn’t convicted and died a wealthy man.
MacGregor was an officer in the British Army from 1803 to 1810. In December of 1811, MacGregor’s very well-connected and extremely wealthy wife Maria died and with her went MacGregor main income source.
                                                      MacGregor as a young man

With little else left to him, he resigned from the British Army and left for Latin America to work as a mercenary at the rank of general, on the Republican side in the Venezuelan War of Independence in 1812. MacGregor was an astonishingly good field commander. Among other battlefield victories, he captured Amelia Island from the Spanish in 1817 on behalf South American revolutionaries as well as booting the Spanish out of Florida, which he proclaimed as the "Republic of the Floridas".
A national hero, MacGregor was granted a substantial land grant, some 12,500 square miles, in the Mosquito territory (roughly near the coasts of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras) The jungle land was beautiful to the eye but totally unfit for human habitation or for any type of farming or industry. MacGregor called the land "Poyais" after the natives of the highlands around the Black River's source, the Paya or "Poyer" people (today called the Pech) 


A much-romanticized version of the Black River Port in 1820

He returned to England in 1821 and spread a story that King George Frederic Augustus of the Mosquito Coast in the Gulf of Honduras had created made him “Cazique of Poyais” explaining that Poyais was a developed colony that was developing rapidly thanks to its large community of industrial British settlers. (Cazique is a Latin American word for a native chief, which MacGregor's retranslated as "Prince")
MacGregor, outlandish, charming and intelligent "a great adornment for the dinner tables and ballrooms of sophisticated London" and spread dozens of rumors about himself, including one that he came from Scottish royalty. MacGregor also carried with him what he said was a copy of a printed proclamation he had issued to the Poyers in April 1821.
  

MacGregor as King of Poyais

MacGregor gave newspaper interviews claiming that he had returned to London by invitation from the English royal family to attend King George IV's coronation and that while in Europe he was considering allowing some European and investment and immigrants into the land Poyais.
What the Londoners didn’t know was that before he left South America, MacGregor had drawn up impressive but total fake documents about Poyais outstand parliamentarian government, its remarkably liberal constitution, its banking system. He even had drawings of distinctive uniforms for each regiment of the Poyaisian Army. He had a Green Cross flag made up and flew it over his rented home and set up an embassy in London and chargĂ© d'affaires offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Paris where investors could buy impressive-looking land certificates. He invented the “Order of the Green Cross” which he handed out like confetti to members of the English aristocracy. English military men were inducted into the Poyaisian "Royal Regiment of Horse Guards" . From that, he was presented to King George IV as "Gregor the First, Sovereign Prince of the State of Poyais"

'Bubbles for 1825 - or- fortunes made by steam', Charles Williams, 1824. The 'Poyais Company' is visible in a large bubble in the center.
  
MacGregor’s public relations campaign was aggressive. He gave interviews to any publication that wanted one or outright paid for them by bribing news editors. He hired a small army of publicists to write advertisements and “Poyais ballads” which were sung by paid performers on the streets of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. He hired a writer to put out a 355-page guidebook "chiefly intended for the use of settlers" which was created a "Captain Thomas Strangeways, aide-de-camp to the Cazique”
The book claimed that the Poyaisian climate as "remarkably healthy ... agreeing admirably with the constitution of Europeans." In fact, it was so healthy, that Poyais was a spa destination for sick colonists from the Caribbean. It read that the Poyaisian soil was so ridiculously fertile that a farmer could have three corn harvests a year in the same dirt that grew tobacco. The Poyaisian Department of Agriculture projected a forecast that would return millions of dollars for farmers. The book claimed that there were so much fish and game that days hunt or fish would ensure enough of a catch to feed a large family for a week.
  Poyais royalty in quad, or the cacique waiting for bail', William Heath, 1827.

Added to this were the incredibly happy native population who were intensely pro-British and, if that wasn’t enough, spoke English. The nation’s capital was St Joseph, a beautiful seaside town of 20,000 English inhabitants who strolled the wide paved-crime free boulevards and lived in colonnaded buildings and mansions. The city had a theatre, of course, an opera house and a domed cathedral and was the home of the gold-domed Poyaisian houses of parliament and a royal palace. (St. Joseph had been a real place in the Black River settlement of the 18th century but never materialized into anything more than a hamlet.)
 For Europeans, Latin America was a confusing mystery of a place. The entire continent was in near-constant turmoil with governments rising and falling several times a year and for all the average European knew, there could have well been a nation called Poyais and it wasn’t impossible, at the time, that a military man like MacGregor might be its leader.
After the set up complete, MacGregor moved in for the kill. Through his supposed official office, he sold Poyaisian land certificates at two shillings and three pence per acre, roughly
equivalent to a working man's daily wage at the time, a remarkably good investment on paper. The offer was met with great demand, so MacGregor upped the price to two shillings and sixpence per acre and then to four shillings per acre. (Each British pound was made up of 240 pence, with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound)
The Poyaisian government came to the attention of the banking and Sir John Perring, Shaw, Barber & Co., an established and much respected London bank underwrote a £200,000 loan. The average, respectable income in Britain at the time was about 80 pounds a year, so 200,00 pounds wasn’t an exorbitant loan amount but considering that loan security didn’t exist, it was pretty good.



Emigration to Poyais would serve to reassure potential investors that Poyais was a secure investment and MacGregor targeted his fellow Scots, whom, he figured correctly, would be more likely to trust him. He offered skilled tradesmen and artisans free passage to Poyais, supplies, and lucrative government contracts. He printed up certificates, headed with a coat of arms and the words "One Dollar, Bank of Poyais", and used them for barter with would-be settlers, taking their real British money in exchange.
Of the 250 sad souls who emigrated to MacGregor's invented country in 1822–23, about half of them died from various jungle aliments simply because they had no money to return to Europe. In 182, 50 returned eventually returned England and actually defended MacGregor against the press, claiming that they had been misled by guides and not by MacGregor.
The French government didn’t buy it. They arrested the Scotsman and put him on trial in 1826 but he was acquitted. He returned to England, where, remarkable, he tried the scheme all over again. In 1838, MacGregor returned to Venezuela, where he was welcomed back as a hero. He died in Caracas in 1845, aged 58, and was buried with full military honors in Caracas Cathedral.



This is an outrage and, added to the outrage, Kim Foxx found time to fix Jesse smollett but can't find time to correct this?




A travesty of justice that Kim Foxx can and should fix
By Rob Warden

He’s 47 and he’s suffered for 23 years under the yoke of a Kafkaesque injustice.
I won’t mention his name here to avoid embarrassing him with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, who know not of his plight. I’ll just call him K. But I am sending details of his case to Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s Conviction Integrity Unit, in the hope that the tragedy that befell him, as described below, will be mitigated.




In April 1996, an 8-year-old girl accused K, then 24, of sexually molesting her a year or two earlier while she and her older sister were in the foster care of K’s mother in suburban Tinley Park.
K initially denied the allegation—but after an all-night interrogation signed a statement confessing to the crime.
Why, if innocent, would he confess?
K suffers from acute learning disabilities, making him especially vulnerable to high-pressure police interrogation techniques. It’s doubtful that he understood the Miranda warning he was given or, for that matter, the ramifications of signing the confession—which he says he did in a state of fear and exhaustion.
False confessions are a familiar phenomenon—they occurred in nearly a third of 236 Cook County cases in which convicted defendants have been exonerated in the last three decades.
So that K’s confession was false is understandable, and it’s easier yet to understand why he would plead guilty in 1997 to a single count of criminal sexual assault a crime that 13 years later the purported victim would testify hadnt happened.
Had K exercised his right to a trial, his conviction and a prison sentence were virtually inevitable—but under his plea agreement he received just four years’ probation.
The plea rendered him a convicted sex offender—which was greatly preferable to prison.
The purported victim’s motive for falsely accusing K is less intuitive, but nonetheless clear.
K’s mother and step-father separated in 1995, whereupon K and his mother moved into a small apartment where there was no room for foster children.
The Department of Children and Family Services moved the sisters into another home—where, according to affidavits they provided in 2010, they were beaten, verbally abused, and punished by, among other things, being denied food.
The younger girl described the K’s parents’ home as “the best” of 15 foster homes in which she had lived during her years as a ward of the state and the new home as “the worst.” Her sister echoed those sentiments, describing the former as “a nice atmosphere,” in contrast to the latter, where their foster mother frequently beat them, forced them to “kneel on dried rice for hours at a time,” and once “locked me standing up in a pantry overnight.”
In 1996, according to the younger girl’s affidavit, her foster mother falsely accused her of “inappropriately” touching the foster mother’s natural daughter. The foster mother “became angry and started screaming at me,” the affidavit said. “She said that [K] had done this to me, that I had learned the behavior from him. I denied this, but [she] pressed the issue. [She] hit me. I remember how terrified I was. I finally gave in, even though I was 100 percent certain that [K] never touched me inappropriately.”
Thus began K’s Kafkaesque nightmare, followed by his confession and guilty plea.
In 2010, K’s accuser, by then 22, recanted in a telephone call her sister arranged with K’s mother and soon thereafter provided the affidavit quoted above and corroborated by her sister’s affidavit.
Because K’s case was procedurally defaulted and because he was not in custody, he had no remedy in the courts—his only hope for justice is a gubernatorial pardon based on innocence.
The Northwestern Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions petitioned for such a pardon, but the prosecution—under State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez—opposed it, in keeping with the office’s longstanding, albeit wrongheaded, policy of rejecting relief predicated on recantations.
Kim Foxx defeated Alvarez in 2016, thanks to voters who came to realize that the incumbent had failed miserably in her primary responsibility to fairly prosecute criminals and move with dispatch to exonerate the wrongly convicted.
Foxx promised a new deal.
K’s case is an opportunity for her to show she meant what she said.


Rob Warden is co-director of Injustice Watch and executive director emeritus of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Pritzker Schoo