The taking of a life, even though it be in accordance with legal forms, should be carefully considered. In sentencing to death the state is following a policy which it can never revoke. Death remains the one unalterable decree. There are few times when this last resort need be brought into play. The protection of society demands that killing be the reward of those whom no other form of punishment can restrain from nefarious ways. Foremost in this class stand the spies within a nation at war. When that nation is forced to devote every energy in a conflict which threatens its very existence, when the enemy of that nation surpasses any people in history in deceit, insolence and violence, there is only one course left to follow. It is folly for that nation to treat these prowling, scheming marauders in any mild, milk-and-water manner. It is more than folly, it is self-destruction. Death is the traditional and just fate of proved spies.
Many citizens have worried that the United States in this war would continue its suicidal lenience in this matter. The gentleness of the American Government in this matter may result from a want of substantial proof, but with German spies accomplishing what they are this cannot long remain the fact. As yet, we have heard no marked sign of encouragement from Washington, although we may believe President Wilson will defend this country to the utmost of his abilities. One statement of hope, however, was made yesterday by ex-President Taft, who, in an address to the Chamber of Commerce of Muskogee, Okla., is quoted as saying:
"Spies should be court-martialed, lined up and their citizenship ended by bullets; those who express treasonable sentiments should be tried and punished, but in all cases law should be obeyed and mob violence, as practised in certain parts of the United States, should be condemned everywhere, that the United States may not sink to the lawless savagery of the Germans."
Love of blood does not prompt such feelings. It is not a question of wreaking stern vengeance on an exasperating foe. But love of country, love of freedom from Teutonism, and love of the right dictates these sentiments. They are not felt by the cold-hearted and stoical alone; the timid share them too. They are the convictions of the thinking part of a nation in a horrible war.