Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

is, that they shall not be pardoned as "good men," when only good prisoners. The whole difficulty lies in this last indicated question--How am I to know the reformed MAN? And beyond all doubt Mr. Field's plan will, at the expiration of the sentence send forth, if any human beings can do it, reformed men; but then many of these may have been reformed long before the completion of the period for which they were originally sentenced ; and thus it will come to pass that what Mr. Recorder Hill has called "a waste of human setlering" is incurred, and the first fruits of repentance may wither because neglected. In fact the whole question resolves itself into this-Our Convicts are to be 'reforined—there are two systems pursued, the first that of strict, stern justice ; the second one of justice, and of discrimination, the first may lead to despair. ing impenitence, tlie second to presumptuous hypocrisy. On both sides there are difficulties—we but record opinion sand facts,

But, it may very reasonably be asked-is Ireland attempting nothing in the good cause of Reformatory Schools and of the amendment of Prison Discipline ? Truly she is, but entirely through government agency.

We have now three Commissioners of Convict Prisons, most*: earnest and active in all the duties of their important Com, if mission, i and in none more than in the Reformation of 1 Juvenile Offenders, in the reclaiming of “The City Arab." !! It is as yet too soon to write of these things, but before three months shall have passed, a system will have been organized, . placing the whole management of Juvenile Convicts on a safe and reasonable basis. «To quote facts and figures now, in :3 support of the Reformátory System, or the Separate Systemi,"

. said an Irish Commissioner to us a few days since, " is a waste of time, paper, and words, the systeins are proved and admitted, we want only the men with wills."*

There are, however, certain Boards of Commissioners in Ireland, possessing almost unlimited power, who can aid us effectually; and, chief, and first, and most powerful of these is The Poor Law Commission Board. With officers trained, with clever and experienced Inspectors, with buildings in all parts of Ireland admirably adapted for such schools as those we claim, the Poor Law Unions of Ireland are precisely calculated for the formation of Districts for Reformatory School purposes. The evidence of Mr. Corry Connellan, and of Mr. Senior, as quoted

See post, p. Ix.
D

in our last Record, and of Lieut. Col. Jebb, as quoted in the present, all show how much can be effected by the co-operation of the Poor Law Guardians and of the Poor Law Commissioners. Make the Unions subject to the support of all criminal juveniles whose parents cannot be responsible; pass, for this country, a stringent Vagrant Law, and let all children who live by begging be considered criminals of the lightest class, and send them by force of positive law to workhouses, if we cannot have Refor. matories—for young persons.

This will be a revolution in our system,

it
may

be at the outset a source of increased expense, but it will be in the future, a saving of moral waste, a saving of vast sums to the counties and to the Unions. The excellent system of juvenile training carried out in the Mountjoy prison, under the inspection of Captains Knight, Crofton, and of that esteemed gentleman, Mr. Lentaigne, forms a most admirable model for all our county prisons, and for our Poor Law Union Boards. However, until our system of convict support is assimilated to that of England, where every convicted prisoner is paid for out of the Consolidated Fund, all the efforts of the Commissioners of Convict prisons must be cramped, confined, and thwarted. We most earnestly hope that this condition of affairs may not continue; with enlightened Com. missioners, untainted by theories or by crotchets, it is pitiable to reflect that these, and all who desire to see the Reformatory, and Separate systems carried out in Ireland are driven to attempt these things as best they can, unaided by the legislature, and forced to work with gaol governors who are, in most cases, but fitted to be the turnkeys of well conducted prisons, or at best but booking clerks in a parcel office-where to keep all safe, to lose nothing, is the best recommendation.

We are happy in being able to record that, during the quar• ter, the question of Juvenile Reformation has received very considerable aid from the Irish newspaper press. Most of the English reports of meetings on the subject have been condensed in Saunders' Newsletter, and in the provinces, several journals have explained the objects of the movement. Amongst these we would particularly name The Tipperary Free Press, which has devoted several « leaders,” to the advocacy of the question, and which will, we hope, be continued ; and at a recent Meeting of the Clonmel Literary Society, attended by several of the most influential inhabitants of that important town, the capital of the great county Tipperary, a most able, eloquent, and important essay, on the Treatment of Juvenile Criminals, was read by Mr. William Hackett, Barrister-at-Law: and more recently, the Sources of Crime were taken as the subject of debate. On both occasions the deepest interest was evinced in these topics by the members of the Society. These are cheering facts, and the example set by the Clonmel Literary Society is worthy the notice and imitation of more pretentious towns, such as Cork, Belfast, Limerick, and above all, Dublin. We do not contend that the inhabitants of these cities should become practical philanthropists individually-but we do contend for all expressed by Mr. Hackett, when he said :

"I do not desire to argue that each of you should be called upon to bestow personal exertion in the prevention or reformation of juvenile crime, but I do wish that you should contribute towards creating public opinion on the subject—that you should exhibit the deep conviction which a community entertains, that there is an urgent necessity for legislationwisely and prudently devised—to meet and stem the torrent, which

even amongst ourselves, is daily swelling, to the prejudice of social order, and to the detriment of the character of our country and its people.”

Towards the close of this quarter, many excellent publications were placed before us, all supporting the Reformatory School Movement. Amongst these we may mention a new fortnightly journal, entitled The Philanthropist, A Record of Social

Amelioration, and Journal of the Charitable Institutions. We would also record the appearance of an excellent little book, twelfth of the series of Edinburgh Temperance Tracts, entitled Juvenile Delinquency, the Fruit of Parental Intemperance, by Miss Carpenter. Although not published as yet, we may record the delivery of a lecture on Mettray, revisited, by Mr. Robert Hall, the Recorder of Doncaster. Ilis recent most severe accident, from which, however, lie is now happily recovering, has alone prevented the publication of this lecture ; we hope most sincerely that when Mr. Hall shall be restored to health he will give to the country the results of his visit, and if further proof of the excellence of the Mettray system be needed, it will be found, as we know, in the experiences of Mr. Hall, who unites to a genuine chris. tian pluilanthropy all the advantages to be derived from a sound and logical understanding, and from rare powers of earnest investigation and never-tiring personal examination.

Mr. Recorder Hill, has, however, come forward at the close of this quarter, as he came forward at its commencement, the advocate of Mettray and of its training. In the February number of that most able quarterly, The Law Review, he addressed a most admirable letter* to Mr. C. B. Adderley, M. P., explaining the vast benefits conferred upon France by Mettray, and urging upon Mr. Adderley the importance of keeping continually in view the adaptability of most of the Mettray rules to English Reformatories. And when one comes to read this letter, to contemplate the great good done by Mettray to France; the noble characters of those who designed it, and who carried out every principle; the never-flagging zeal, the whole heart devotion, the glorious faith of M. Demetz, he wonders that, for the glory of France, for the pride of having produced so noble an institution, the subvention is not doubled, as a matter of national honoror of national foresight-if the nobler feeling cannot prevail.

Mr. Hill commences his letter by stating to Mr. Adderley, that he addresses him as the leader of the Reformatory Movement, in Parliament, and in the country, and chiefly for the purpose of urging,

The great advantage which would arise from every person who is called upon to act an important part in such an enterprise, repairing to Mettray, not merely for a visit of an hour or two, but with the intention of studying the subject of his inquiries fully and completely; and on the spot at which he will find in successful action, almost every expedient hitherto devised to secure genuine and permanent reformation.

The Colonie, as it is called, is placed in a rural district, about five miles from Tours, which city is connected with Paris by rail. way. Mettray then may be reached from the capital by a day's journey, and the traveller will find a convenient hotel close at hand.

In the surviving founder, M. De Metz, he will discover a sufficient explanation of the high excellence which Mettray has attained. He can scarcely be long in the society of that extraordinary per. son without seeing that he is urged on by a philanthropy so intense as to have become a passion, which might be as injurious as it is beneficial, were it not under the dominion of the soundest judge ment.

“ The inquirer will soon perceive that M. De Metz is not the man to rest satisfied with simply gaining the affections of his lads. Permanent reformation is not an affair of sentiment alone, even when that sentiment is founded on Christian impressions, but one

* Since published in pamphlet form by Cash, London, price 3d.

of Christian sentiment enlightened by knowledge and confirmed by habit

, and above all habits, by that of industry. Here, again, the inquirer will have much to observe how many motives are brought into operation at Mettray to promote good habits of conduct ! First, the selfish interests are appealed to as those which operate upon all, from the lowest in moral condition to the highest. Good conduct is of course rewarded and its opposite punished. There is pothing new in a resort to these principles ; it is made everywhere : nerertheless much may be learned in studying their skilful applica. tion at Mettray. But Mettray would be very inferior to what it is there the selfish interests alone regarded. Let the inquirer mark the constant appeal to the highest feelings, temporal as well as eternal

. I would speak here of the social interests and their cul. tivation. The five or six hundred youths at Mettray, while they form one community, are, as it is known, divided into many families, the members of each family having, to a great extent, common interests

. For instance, every week an account is taken in order to ascertain which family has best obeyed the laws and caught the spirit of the colonie-in short, which family has been the best citizens of the little commonwealth. And the most deserving family is honoured with some appropriate reward, say the possession of the colonial banner-a distinction highly prized, as might be expected, by the youth of a gallant and sensitive people. I must bere

pause for a moment to guard myself against being supposed to hold up every expedient at Mettray as fitted for importation into England. These expedients were devised by Frenchmen, and are adapted with exquisite skill to the pecularities of the French character. We must look to the principle, and seek out English equivalents to bring it into action at home. Nothing is so sure of failure as mere servile copying. The musician Paganini was observed by his brother artists to draw wonderful tones from his violin by means of a bow, which having been fractured was repaired with a splicing of green silk thread; and his rivals were some of them accused of breaking their bows wilfully for the purpose of tying them up again after the exact fashion of Paganini (green silk and all), in the fallacious hope of obtaining a similar command over their instruments.

By the arrangement of which I speaking, strong social feelings are brought into play. Each lad is conscious that default on his part will not only bring ill conse. quences on himself, but on his family ; while on their side his brethren have strong motives, hy watchfulness, exhortation, and above all by example, to keep nim in the right path. My time, and your patience, would botl' be exhausted long before I could etulerate a tithe of the admira le appliances of one kind or other which may be witnessed in operation at Mettray. The result is, that every variety of mind is wrought upon by every variety of good motive, none of them violent in their action, but none of them for a moment relaxing their influence. Thus the habits of an idle and vagabond life are gradually changed into those of settled industry, and an amount of labour (profitable labour be it remembered) is thus got out of the lads which would be yielded

a

was

« PreviousContinue »