If there is such a thing as justice it could only
be administered by one who knew the inmost thoughts of the man to whom
they were meting it out. Aye, who knew the father and mother and the grandparents
and the infinite number of people back of him. Who knew the origin of every
cell that went into the body, who could understand the structure, and how
it acted. Who could tell how the emotions that sway the human being affected
that particular frail piece of clay. It means more than that. It means
that you must appraise every influence that moves them, the civilization
where they live, and all society which enters into the making of the child
or the man! If your Honor can do it--if you can do it you are wise and
with wisdom goes mercy.
a Thing as Justice
No one with wisdom and with understanding,
no one who is honest with himself and with his own life whoever he may
be, no one who has seen himself the prey and the sport and the plaything
of the infinite forces that move man, no one who has tried and who has
failed,--and we have all tried, and we have all failed,--no one can tell
what justice is for someone else or for himself--and the more he tries
and the more responsibility he takes the more he clings to mercy as being
the one thing which he is sure should control his judgement of men.
It is not so much mercy either, your Honor.
I can hardly understand myself pleading to a court to visit mercy on two
boys by shutting them into a prison for life.