But, your Honor, that is not all there is to boyhood. Nature is
strong and she is pitiless. She works in her own mysterious way, and we
are her victims. We have not much to do with it ourselves. Nature takes
this job in hand, and we play our parts. In the words of old Omar Khayyam,
we are only
"Impotent pieces in the game He plays Upon this checkerboard of
nights and days, Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays, And one
by one back in the closet lays."
What had this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was
not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed
to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did
not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay.
There was a time in England, running down as late as the beginning
of the last century, when judges used to convene court and call juries
to try a horse, a dog, a pig, for crime. I have in my library a story of
a judge and jury and lawyer's trying and convicting an old sow for lying
down on her ten pigs and killing them.
What does it mean? Animals were tried. Do you mean to tell me that
Dickie Loeb had any more to do with his making than any other product of
heredity that is born upon the earth?...
Your Honor, I am almost ashamed to talk about it. I can hardly imagine
that we are in the 20th century. And yet there are men who seriously say
that for what Nature has done, for what life has done, for what training
has done, you should hang these boys.