Cortland Evening Standard, Thursday, March 1, 1894.
The Libel Law.
◘ The New York Herald is earnestly engaged in an effort to amend the libel law of the state so as to make it conform, in some degree at least, to the intelligence and decency of the closing years of this century of progress. In this work it deserves the cordial assistance not only of every newspaper editor and publisher but of every public-spirited and liberal-minded citizen.
For some unaccountable reason law-makers have generally been found in sympathy with an illiberal and unreasonable libel law. The old doctrine of "the greater the truth, the greater the libel" was simply infamous, yet it stood its ground in this state against all attacks till the people in constitutional convention inserted in the fundamental law of the state, what legislatures would not enact, the following:
SEC. 8. Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libels, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury, that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.
Could a better protection for a scoundrel be conceived of than the doctrine of "the greater the truth, the greater the libel," backed up by the presumption of malice on the part of the person publishing the truth? What a club such a rule would be in the hands of a Boss Tweed or Boss McKane! Where would freedom of the press be under such a rule? When this rule governed, however, the press was a small matter compared with what it is to-day, and freedom of every kind was much more limited.
Yet the condition of the press at the present time is only a single step in advance of what it was under the old rule, so far as civil suits for libel are concerned. If a newspaper publishes an article, except a true report of some public or official proceedings, which, if it were false and malicious would properly be actionable—though it may be gospel truth and written under a high sense of public duty—the law infers that it to both false and malicious, and the editor or publisher who gives it to the world to held to be guilty till he proves both the truth of the article and the absence of malice. A murderous brute caught in the very act of butchering his victim is presumed innocent till he to proven guilty, but an intelligent and conscientious journalist who attacks a political scoundrel or an official thief or a public abuse, if some thrifty [missing line at bottom of news page—CC editor] individual is mixed up in it, is presumed to be a liar and a malignant assassin of a spotless reputation till he clears himself of the charge. And any candidate for cropped hair and prison stripes who is shown up in his true light is privileged to strike hands with some shyster lawyer and put the man who has unmasked him to all the trouble and expense of which the complicated machinery of the courts is capable. The bare statement of such a condition of law ought to work its change, but ultra-conservative legislators have thus far in this state been successful in continuing it.
If The Herald is unsuccessful before the legislature it should carry the fight into the constitutional convention. The people have taken a hand in this matter once before and it is time that they did it again. The man accused of libel should at least be given as fair a chance as a horse thief, and his accuser be made to prove both the falsity of the matter complained of, the malice of the person who published it, and his refusal to retract and correct when the truth was brought to his knowledge. And if retraction has been made, the person aggrieved should be allowed to recover only such actual damage as he can prove, and not be entitled to "smart money." The present law is barbarous, unreasonable and out of harmony with the simplest and clearest principles both of law and equity. It should be wiped out at once and forever.
◘ The question of consolidating New York city, Brooklyn, Staten Island and several outlying towns on Long Island into one vast city—Greater New York—will be submitted to the voters of those districts next November. They might vote in favor of it just to make New York greater than Chicago.
◘ A melancholy report comes from the Marquesas and other French islands in the south Pacific. It is to the effect that the natives of those islands are being exterminated by opium. Mr. W. Hoffner, formerly manager of the French Commercial company there, says of them:
"The natives are dying off like flies. In 10 years, if the present rate of mortality keeps up, there will not be one of them left." The French government itself introduced opium to the natives 20 years ago, and the present deplorable state of affairs is therefore directly due to France. Now the authorities are trying to stop the deadly traffic, but in vain. When a whole race becomes so depraved, deteriorated and dirty that it to a menace to the rest of mankind, nature summarily snuffs it out, as she is doing with the Marquesas and Dominique islanders now. But what should be said of the civilized French nation that anticipated and upset nature by destroying with opium a fine, strong race of savages who might have become a credit to civilization, just as the new style of Indian will be in America?
Attend the Caucuses.
Republican caucuses are to be held this evening in the several wards to choose delegates to the convention to nominate village officers. Every Republican should attend them. A wise, energetic and economical administration of the affairs of the village is as important in its way as a similar management of national affairs is on the broader field of the country. The way to secure officers fitted for such conduct of village government is to turn out at the caucuses and see that delegates are chosen who will nominate them. To grumble and complain and curse the officials after they are elected, or to vote the ticket and help elect other candidates who are less desirable than the regular nominees is no way to correct real evils or to make it clear that fancied ones do not exist.
If the duty of attending the primaries were as faithfully met as is the most important business obligation, there would be less grumbling at village government, partly because there would be apt to be less cause for it and partly because a larger number of citizens would share in the responsibility of nominations. When the time comes that district and ward associations are formed, all Republicans enrolled and only those enrolled allowed to vote at caucuses, far more interest will be taken in primaries than now, but even under the present somewhat informal and hap-hazard system there is no reason why every Republican voter who means to do his full duty as a citizen should not turn out and make his influence felt. A good start in the right direction cannot better or sooner be made than this evening.
HE TOOK PARIS GREEN.
A Summerhill Minister was Tired of Life.
James W. Miller, a sort of travelling missionary preacher of Summerhill, took Paris green in Syracuse yesterday and nearly put an end to his life. He fell upon the street overcome with the poison. Prompt medical attendance saved him. He had lately been married to a nineteen-year-old girl of Pompey. Miller is twenty-four years old. Later he learned that she had been married to another man within two years and had been divorced from him. She had since become tired of Miller and had gone home again. That made Miller tired of life, and he concluded to put an end to his existence. He was taken to the House of the Good Shepherd, and will undoubtedly recover.
The Letter Writing Crank Sentenced to Eighteen Months.
BALTIMORE, March 1.—Joseph Donjon was convicted by a jury in the United States district court for violating a section of revised statutes in regard to mailing threatening postal cards. Donjon mailed a postal card in Baltimore, Dec. 20, 1893, to Vice-President Adlai Stevenson demanding $25, and threatened to kick the vice-president out of office if he did not send that amount back.
Lieutenant Lewis H. Hallenberger and Richard E. Weeden of the Washington detective force testified that Donjon admitted to them that he wrote the card.
Donjon testified in his own defense that he was born in Austria, came to this country in 1882, was a molder by trade; that he had written the vice-president, before Senators Sherman and Gray, the senators of New Jersey and President Cleveland and had not been charged with doing anything wrong. He did not mean to injure anybody.
His counsel tried without avail to have the court declare the indictment invalid because it omitted the fact that he refused to ask for the money "for expenses." Judge Morrison sentenced Donjon to 18 months in the penitentiary.
Caused by a Broken Rail.
SING SING, N. Y., March 1.—The through mail and express train on the New York Central & Hudson River R. R., due at the Grand Central depot at 6 o'clock this morning, was wrecked about two and one-half miles below Sing Sing at 5:30 o'clock. It was a heavy train with two engines. The first engine went in the river and was badly wrecked. The other engine, with two forward cars loaded with express matter, also left the track and are [sic] badly damaged. No one was seriously injured. The cause of accident is said to have been a broken rail. Travel was blocked for three hours.
|John Y. McKane.|
Off For Sing Sing.
BROOKLYN, N. Y. Mar. 1.—Sheriff Buttling announced this morning that he would start with McKane for Sing Sing shortly after noon. McKane's brother James was at the jail this morning. He will have charge of his brother's affairs. There was a crowd around the jail to witness the departure.
—The first day of the almanac spring.
—March comes in like a lamb. How will it go out?
—The telephone rate [each call] to Syracuse will hereafter be thirty cents, instead of thirty-five cents.
—Members should remember that the regular meeting of the Wheel club occurs at 8:30 o'clock to-night.
—Mr. W. S. Copeland yesterday purchased Mr. L. J. Fitzgerald's interest in the Cortland Water works.
—A sleighload of about twenty couples drove to Preble last night and spent the evening at Mr. Seeber's.
—The Alpha C. L. S. C. will meet with Mrs. J. O. Reid, 128 Main-st., Monday, March 5, at 7:30 o'clock.
—Republican caucuses to-night from 7 to 8 o'clock. It will be a fine night and there is no excuse for any Republican staying at home.
—Mr. F. N. Harrington shipped this afternoon a fine, large chestnut gelding to Mr. George H. Barlow of Binghamton. Consideration $400.
—The regular meeting of the board of managers of the Hospital association will be held at the hospital Monday, March 5, at 3 P. M. Let every member be in attendance.
—Seven couples drove to Mr. David Fox's at Preble last evening and spent a part of the night in dancing. Mr. John McDermott's orchestra furnished the music. They returned at about 4 o'clock this morning.
—Mr. A. M. Jewett has souvenir spoons of the Cortland Normal, which are models of neatness. In the bowl is carved an almost perfect reproduction of the Normal buildings and the handles are of the latest patterns.
—Just forty people started on the 3:15 train for Elmira this afternoon to attend the athletic contests of the Twenty-sixth Separate company, N. G. S. N. Y., in that city to-night. Various teams from the Cortland Athletic association are entered.
—Mr. A. S. Perry has accepted a position with the well-known firm of Messrs. Wanamaker & Brown of Oak Hall, Philadelphia, to represent them as salesman. Mr. Perry is a young man of sterling business quality and has an excellent reputation as a worthy and honorable young man.
—The Epworth leaguers from this part of the country will go to the convention at Cortland on a special train on Thursday afternoon at 3:30. It will stop at all stations to and including Van Etten, and then only at Ithaca. Not less than 100 will start from Elmira. The train will return Saturday morning. Elmira Star.
—Teachers' examinations for first and second grade certificates are to-day being held by Commissioner Miller in room 215, Normal building. Thirty-four people are taking the examinations, Examinations for third grade certificates will be held in the same place to-morrow.
The Epworth league convention opens in the First M. E. church to-night. This evening's program consists of an address of welcome by Dr. F. J. Cheney. This will be responded to by Dr. E. M. Mills of Elmira, president of the league. Chancellor J. R. Day of Syracuse university is also expected to be present and deliver an address. Should the Methodist church not be large enough to accommodate the great number who are expected to be present arrangements have been made to hold an overflow meeting in the Presbyterian church. The program for to-morrow as previously published in The STANDARD will be carried out.
The Mozart Society.
Last Saturday evening Miss Covil's advanced pupils met at her studio and organized a musical society which will be known as the Mozart society. They elected Miss Covil, president, Miss Ruth Carpenter, secretary, Mr. Dell Kingsley, Miss Maude Pike and Miss Sadie Hatler as executive committee. The society will meet once a month, when a program of vocal and instrumental music, with readings and recitations will be given. The first meeting will be held at the home of Mrs. N. Jay Peck, the last of March.
To McLean and Return.
The following young people enjoyed a sleighride Tuesday night to McLean: Misses Grace Stark, Gussie Randall, Lena Sanders, Jessie Fowler, Rosa Goldsmith, Lena Rittenhouse and Messrs. Bert Stark, Fred Goldsmith, Bert Klotten, Arthur and Charles Williamson, Harry Weatherwax, Andy Warwick, Clarence Gridley and Charlie Mead.
A Pleasant Company.
Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Geer entertained a few friends at their home on Pearne-ave., Tuesday evening, in honor of their guest, Miss Jennie A. Clark of New York City. Progressive euchre was played. The evening passed very pleasantly until 10 o'clock when the prizes were awarded. Miss Jennie S. Weyant carried off the lady's first prize, a lovely pink and white workbasket, and Mr. O. W. Monroe the gentleman's, a handsome photograph case. Dainty refreshments were served at 10:30 o'clock.
Those present were Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Winchell, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Gladding, Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Monroe, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Lanning, Mr. and Mrs. W. Seamans, Misses Jennie S. Weyant, Mae Hollister, Kittie May, Messrs. Earl Tanner and Will Hollister.
Miss Clark returns to her home in New York the latter part of this week.