Baltimore Evening Sun (10 March 1913): 6.
The issuance of a warrant at Hagerstown for the arrest of the Hon. Charles L. Henry on the charge of deceiving and swindling a good samaritan who had befriended him adds the final touch of absurdity to the singularly violent and unconvincing report of Dr. Goldsborough’s Penal Commission. It was upon the testimony of the Hon. Mr. Henry that two-thirds of the charges against the Terrible Wayler were based, and as a reward for his stupendous efforts as a witness he was given a pardon by Dr. Goldsborough. This was on January 23. Within three weeks he is again a fugitive from justice, charged with an offense so grossly dishonorable that nine-tenths of all pickpockets would be ashamed to be accused of it.
Ingratitude is no new diversion with Hon. Mr. Henry. By his own evidence, he was treated well by Warden Weyler. Sent up for six years as a thief, he broke the prison rules by having liquor in his possession and by stealing shirts from one of the prison contractors, but despite all this he was accorded every chance to redeem himself. The dreadful cuffs never encircled his wrists; he was given light and agreeable work; no convict in the institution had less to complain of. All this he admitted himself when the Penal Commission first tackled him. To quote him exactly: “I have been treated very kindly, I have no complaint to make.”
But the commission heard “through sources which need not be disclosed” (Cf. its report, p. 168), that he could be induced to remember things by an appropriate process of stimulation, and on Friday, September 13 (fatal day!) it went to the Penitentiary and began business with him. Henry, at the start, continued reluctant. He repeated that he had been well treated and that he didn’t want to “get back at anybody.” Also, he expressed a fear that a. too lavish garrulity might get him into trouble and lose him the confidence of Warden Leonard. But the chairman of the commission (the Hon. Eugene O’Dunne) quickly reassured him:
You can talk to us perfectly frankly. * * * [What you say will] not hurt you in any way, shape or form, and it will not be known to havo come from you at all. There is no officer in this room connected with the institution. They do not see this testimony after it is written up, and they do not know anything about this, and they shall not know about it. There will be no comeback of any sort on you; you can depend on that. [P. 169.]
Naturally enough, this specific promise that the officers of the Penitentiary would have no chance to defend themselves, combined with obvious eagerness of the commissioners (they kept insisting, for example, that “we know it and we know you know it”), had its effect upon the exquisite Henry. In brief, he began to leak testimony of a highly satisfactory and affecting sort. He was full of information about the Terrible Weyler’s deviltries. He told of the manufacture of contraband chicken coops (p. 170), of the visits of Engineer Frank Hare to the Weyler farm (p. 172), of the sale of potatoes to the Penitentiary (p. 173). And then, obviously feeling that he had done enough, at least for one day, he began to hem and haw. But the commission heartened him.
Mr. O’Dunne--Let’s have the whole story. All you know about the crookedness over here of any kind. We will protect you and you will feel better for it. * * * It will not hurt you in any way. [The witness hesitated.] Mr. O’Dunne–Let’s have all you know about it. Henry–I will study over it. Mr. O’Dunne–We want the story now, while you are here. * * * Tell us as much as you can tell us in a half hour. Do your fellow-men a good turn. You have a thousand fellows who are subjected to just what you are subjected to. [P. 75.]
There was, of course, no evidence fore the commission that Henry had been “subjected” to anything; he appeared upon the punishment books but once and then he got 90 days’ loss of privileges for the offense before mentioned. He himself made no complaint of ill-treatment. But inspired by this line of questioning, he began to remember “mysterious things that have happened with me since I have been with the institution,” and to discourse darkly of “punishments” meted out to him, though without ever specifying them. [P. 176.] To allay his last fears the commission proceeded to definite promises, to wit:
I will be perfectly plain with you and say that if you are disciplined in the slightest for anything you tell us over here we would not hesitate for one minute to go right straight to the Governor and tell him to pardon you on the spot. [P. 177.]
So Henry began remembering more things--about the neglect of the lighting plant [p. 179], the theft of nails [P. 180], and finally, the famous burglary of bread-crumbs [P. 181]. But having gone so far, he began to feel, it would seem, that he should have some more definite promise of reward before going further. The result was another hiatus for hemming and hawing. Thus he was set going again:
Mr. O’Dunne–Don’t you know what I am trying to teach? There is something else that you know about in here and that you have not told us about, and I want you to tell us of your own free will. You need not mind how much of a row it brings out because it will not hurt you any. Henry--Well, will it benefit me any? Mr. O’Dunne–It probably will. [P. 183.]
True enough, Mr. O’Dunne hastened to assure Henry that this was not to be taken as a guarantee of a pardon, but in the same breath he practically offered such a guarantee. The wily Henry was not slow to rise to the occasion. Reluctant before, he now gave his testimony fluently and copiously, and it was testimony so juicy that it is set forth at length in the report [pp. 194- 195]. And what is more, he duly got his pardon. It was issued by Dr. Goldsborough on January 23, and Mr. O’Dunne took it to the Penitentiary in person. The same afternoon Henry visited the commission’s office, in the Munsey Building, and in that soothing atmosphere embellished and augmented his testimony [pp. 196-200]. A week later he was in Hagerstown robbing a man who pitied him and sought to be kind to him.
Such is the origin and history of the chief testimony against the unspeakable Weyler. I do not argue that the Commissioners set out deliberately to manufacture a case: on the contrary, I am convinced that they went into the thing with a reasonable intent to be fair. But what I do allege is that they allowed themselves to be influenced lamentably by newspaper bosh and pother, that they accepted with gravity the “evidence” of a cunning rogue, that they encouraged the fancy of this man by their obvious eagerness to hear more, and that their verdict, in consequence, is not worthy the serious attention of fair men.
Boil your drinking water! Cover your garbage can! Sign the Harry petition! Weep with the suffragettes!
The Democratic Telegram speaks of Richard Wagner as the composer of “Lowenthal.” Can it be that it alludes thus inaccurately to his celebrated opera of “Loewenbraeu”?