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[Readings]

Cold as ICE

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From a letter written in 1897 to the editor of the British newspaper the Daily Chronicle. The letter is included in The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde, published in May by Harvard University Press.

Sir,—I learn with great regret, through the columns of your paper, that the warder Martin, of Reading Prison, has been dismissed for having given sweet biscuits to a hungry child. I saw the three children myself on the Monday preceding my release. They had just been convicted, and were standing in a row in the central hall in their prison dress, carrying their sheets under their arms. They were quite small children, the youngest—­the one to whom the warder gave the biscuits—being a tiny little chap, for whom they had evidently been unable to find clothes small enough to fit. The cruelty that is practiced by day and night on children in English prisons is incredible, except to those that have witnessed it.

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