If these two boys die on the scaffold, which I can never bring myself to
imagine,--if they do die on the scaffold, the details of this will be spread
over the world. Every newspaper in the United States will carry a full
account. Every newspaper of Chicago will be filled with the gruesome details.
It will enter every home and every family .
Will it make men better or make men worse? I would like to put that to
the intelligence of man, at least such intelligence as they have. I would
like to appeal to the feelings of human beings so far as they have feelings,--would
it make the human heart softer or would it make hearts harder? How many
men would be colder and crueler for it? How many men would enjoy the details,
and you cannot enjoy human suffering with out being affected for better
or for worse; those who enjoyed it would be affected for the worse.
What influence would it have upon the millions of men who will read it?
What influence would it have upon the millions of women who will read it,
more sensitive, more impressionable, more imaginative than men. Would it
help them if your Honor should do what the state begs you to do? What influence
would it have upon the infinite number of children who will devour its
details as Dicky Loeb has enjoyed reading detective stories? Would it make
them better or would it make them worse? The question needs no answer.
You can answer it from the human heart. What influence, let me ask you,
will it have for the unborn babes still sleeping in their mother's womb?
And what influence will it have on the psychology of the fathers and mothers
yet to come? Do I need to argue to your Honor that cruelty only breeds
cruelty?--that hatred only causes hatred; that if there is any way to soften
this human heart which is hard enough at its best, if there is any way
to kill evil and hatred and all that goes with it, it is not through evil
and hatred and cruelty; it is through charity, and love and understanding.