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Act of last session (19 & 20 Vict. c. 28), some practical amendments are made in Dunlop's Act; the principal of which are, that a child may be detained forty-eight hours while inquiries are being made, and that the magistrate or sheriff may in some cases decline to allow security to be given, when he considers it more to the interest of the child that he should be sent to a school."
In England we have no power of compelling children to attend a school, until they are legally convicted of some crime; and thus our courts and alleys are beset with boys and girls, ragged and sometimes starving, who require training as much as any in Reformatory Schools, and who, if caught sufficiently early, might escape the prison altogether. This is a class which the present ragged schools do not touch at all, or only touch very slightly. The master of such an institution, with whom we are acquainted, says that he continually sees numbers of children in the streets whom he would gladly invite to his school, but that he knows that they are neglected by their parents, and have hardly any other means of getting food than by doing an odd job in the street when they can get one, or by stealing when they cannot. To offer these children instruction without food, is much like giving a stone when asked for bread. We cannot help thinking, therefore, that a legislative enactment is required in England, which, in the event of parents neglecting the proper care of their children, should authorize magistrates to send them to Industrial Schools. Mr. A. Hill says::
"It is fair to state that there is a difference of opinion in Scotland upon the policy of this Act; but, as far as I can learn, the weight of testimony is greatly in its favour.
"At Glasgow I find that there were, in 1855, admitted into the school under this Act 96 children, of whom 3 were returned to their parents, who have given security for them; 1 has deserted and has not since been heard of; 2 have deserted and have since been apprehended, one of whom has been sent to the House of Refuge; 2 have died; 88 have remained quietly in the school. This is very gratifying. At the beginning of the present month there were 124 children in the schools, who
had been sent under the Act. The school report speaks very hopefully of the working of the Act. It says, 'Your directors are aware of the difficulties which have occurred in other cities in working out Mr. Dunlop's Act. In Glasgow none of these have been found to exist; indeed, so far from having experienced any opposition on the part of the parochial authorities, your directors have found the managers and inspectors of the various parishes quite willing to co-operate with them in carrying fully into effect the spirit of the Reformatory School Act' (meaning Dunlop's Act)."
Owing to unavoidable delays, this Act has not long been put into force; perhaps, therefore, we must gain a little more experience before we attempt to introduce a similar one in England.
The narrative of the establishment of these schools, and their management, is very interesting, but too long for insertion; we must content ourselves with one paragraph from Mr. Thomson of Banchory's little book, "Social Evils and their Cure," cited by Mr. A. Hill:
"In October, 1841," says Mr. Thomson of Banchory, "a small subscription, under 1007., was collected for the purpose of making the experiment; rooms sufficiently extensive, but of the humblest description, were hired, and a teacher engaged. Notice was given that such an institution existed, and that poor children who chose would be admitted into it on application, up to the number of sixty, beyond which it did not seem prudent to extend the institution at first, and that they would receive food and instruction, and be employed in such work as seemed suitable to their years.
"The attendance in the school is wholly voluntary, but the child who is absent from morning hours receives no breakfast, absent from the forenoon hours no dinner, and if absent from afternoon receives no supper; and, influenced by these attractions, the attendance on the whole is excellent, better than at an ordinary day-school."
These schools have not, as was expected, proved self-supporting; but the expense of educating and feeding the children is not great,-exclusive of their earnings, about 41. a year, cer
tainly a small sum, in comparison with their cost either in prison or in a Reformatory.
The Aberdeen schools were day-schools. In Dunlop's Act there is a provision for retaining the children altogether, if they had no parents, or bad ones. This we are glad to see is not a compulsory clause. It is not well to break the family tie if it can possibly be avoided; and the knowledge that their children are learning to be honest and industrious, and will be injured by secing evil at home, has a great Reformatory influence over the parents. The good effected by the Aberdeen schools is proved by the fact of the decrease in the number of committals of children under fourteen years of age. In 1841, the year in which the schools were established, they were sixty-one; in 1851, after ten years' existence, the committals were only eight!
Dundee followed the example of Aberdeen in 1816. Similar schools now exist in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley, Greenock, Arbroath, and Perth. At this last town an interesting experiment was tried, by employing the boys to cultivate four acres of land. This succeeded so well that it was determined to take a much larger piece of ground, since the expense of superintendence, which was a serious item, would not have been more, while the produce would be greatly increased. Owing, however, to a notion which prevailed among the neighbouring landowners, that the Farm-school would be a nuisance to the neighbourhood, the directors were unable to obtain a suitable piece of land, and the proprietor of the four-acre piece requiring it for building, the Farm-school had to be abandoned.
The advantage of such employment as the cultivation of land hardly needs to be insisted upon. Sedentary occupations, such as tailoring and shoe-making, do not always suit the active dispositions of lads who have been accustomed almost all their lives to independent action. We remember hearing of a boy, who was most unmanageable in a shoemaking class, becoming orderly and diligent when set to chop wood.
Another circumstance well worth the attention in these Scottish schools is, that when "children leaving the school are put out to employments where they are not boarded, board is frequently found for them at the school, their wages being
drawn and placed against the cost. Such children attend the school on Sunday, and take part in its religious exercises: they are thus kept out of harm's way. Over the former pupils who are not boarded at the school, a supervision is, where practicable, kept up: this is believed to have much effect in keeping them from falling away." This continued superintendence must be productive of very great benefit.
Mr. Alfred Hill's paper, though it does not treat of Reformatories so called, is a most valuable contribution. Such are ten papers read before the sectional meetings of the conference.
The excursions to different Reformatory and other schools proved a very interesting part of the three days' proceedings. Red Lodge, Arno's Court, &c., were all inspected, and gave great satisfaction to the visitors. At one of these a little girl, who had recently arrived from Liverpool gaol, burst into tears on seeing Mr. Carter, the benevolent chaplain of that prison, possibly the only person who had ever shown her kindness until she reached the Reformatory School. Several of the pupils of Red Lodge have also experienced his care, and begged his acceptance of little presents. The gratitude these poor children show their real benefactors, is very delightful to witness, and is the most hopeful sign of their reformation. One boy, who had been at Kingswood, and whom Miss Carpenter sent out to America, gave a convincing proof that her kindness to him had not been unfelt, by sending her a pretty box of his own making, accompanied by a photographic likeness of himself! The letters Mr. Turner receives from his former pupils testify to the affection and gratitude they bear towards him. And we cannot refrain from adding an incident evincing similar feelings in the Mettray lads towards their estimable director. M. Demetz went on one occasion to a town at some distance from Tours, for the purpose of bringing up a fresh party of colons to Mettray. The new colons are always dressed, before starting for Mettray, in the uniform worn at the colony. As the size of the lads is of course unknown, alterations are often required to be made in the clothes before they can be worn, and for this purpose a tailor in the neighbourhood whence the lad starts is employed. If any former colonist, who is a tailor,
VOL. II. NO. III.
can be found living near, the preference is given to him. On the occasion of which we are speaking, alterations as usual had to be made, and the tailor sent for had been a colonist. When he had finished his work, he begged permission of M. Demetz to invite the new colons to supper before they left the town. Consent was readily granted, when the man said he wished to ask a very great favour of M. Demetz, so great, indeed, that he had not courage to explain it. M. Demetz told him not to be afraid, and begged him to say what it was he desired. Notwithstanding this encouragement, it was some time before he ventured to explain that this very great favour was no less than his benefactor's company at the supper. We can readily imagine that M. Demetz did not consider the favour too great to be granted, and cordially accepted his former pupil's invitation. While they were all at table, the host, turning to the youths, thus addressed them :-"You see what I am now. Well, I was once what you have been. I became a colon at Mettray-what you are now about to become; and you see what abundant means of happiness I possess, I have a flourishing business, a good wife, and a child. These are great blessings; but the greatest of all is, to see at my own table, and in my own house, my benefactor, the honoured director of Mettray."
With this anecdote we conclude our notice of the first provincial meeting of the National Reformatory Union;-a conference which excited, not only a local, but a great general, and we trust permanent, interest in the cause. May it prove to have established a principle, not merely set a fashion.