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“Soon after her death a beautiful shrine was erected to her at Kildare, wrought in gold and silver filagree-work and precious stones ; a crown also was hung up for her in the cathedral, the walls of which were painted with portraits. She died about the year A.D. 500, and was buried in a triple vault at Down-Patrick, between the saints Patrick and • Colum. It is not known who this Colum was, as there were many. Before Bridget died there were fifteen Bridgets, all of them women of rank and influence, and one of them little inferior to the eminent lady of Kildare herself. When such lives become legends, they are naturally confused together, and when they are referred to one person they are pregnant with inconsistencies and impossibilities.
“Bridget had a church erected to her at Abernethy, by Necton, King of the Picts. Her name and character, therefore, were known to Drust, his successor,
when he received her countrymen, the sons of Erc, from Dalriada.”—Pp. 435, 436.
We hope Mrs. Gray may be induced to follow up the line she has here marked out; a real history of the early British Church is as yet a desideratum.
INTERMEDIATE PRISON DISCIPLINE.
The Purgatory of Prisoners ; or an Intermediate Stage between the
Prison and the Public: being some Account of the Practical Working of the New System of Penal Reformation, introduced by the Board of Directors of Convict Prisons in Ireland. By the Rev. ORBY SHIPLEY, M.A., Deacon in the Diocese of Oxford. London : Masters.
UNDER this quaint, and-spite of the Author's orthodox explanation-somewhat far-fetched title, we have given to us an interesting account of a new system of Prison Discipline, which is being tried on a large scale in Ireland, and which appears to be attended with the most encouraging success in the reformation of convicts.
The historical portion of the pamphlet is not very clear ; but we gather from the general narrative, that about two years ago the officials who direct the government of Irish prisons, were prevailed upon to make a full and fair experiment, with a view to solving the great problem of the “Reformatory” system, as applicable to the adult inmates of our prisons. The essence of the experiment is an intermediate stage of discipline, occupying a considerable space of time towards the close of the allotted time of punishment; and standing midway between the actual correction and confinement required by the offender's crime, and the freedom of action which accompanies his restoration to society at the final expiration of his sentence. This intermediate state of imprisonment is used as a means for expurgating the evil babits of the convict, and developing those good principles which, in all Christians not utterly abandoned, lie hidden and compressed beneath them; and assuredly Mr. Shipley's testimony in favour of the results following its comparatively recent adoption is such as to raise a wish for its much more extensive introduction into our prison establishments.
The management of prisons varies so much, in some cases from the necessities of locality, in others from the good or bad character of the building set apart for the confinement of offenders, and still more from the tone of the officers in charge of them, that it is almost impossible to speak with justice of any general system, at least in England. It is, however, certain that there is a very prevalent disposition among all connected with such establishments, to make the reformation of prisoners a more prominent part of their system than has been the case hitherto. Less than a century ago, most of our prisons were looked upon simply as places where offenders against society could be locked up in security as so many wild beasts, who could not be trusted to roam at large. At that time the head gaolers were mostly men of depraved character themselves, and often keepers of dram-shops adjoining the very walls of the place of punishment, as shown by many passages of Howard's journals, and by the following extract from the London Magazine for 1741, which contains so many illustrations of the state of our gaols in the last century, that it is worth inserting at length. The date of the “affair” is June 21, 1741 :
“ A very extraordinary affair happened at the county gaol in Hertford, where four highwaymen, very stout lusty fellows, viz., Theophilus Dean, Charles Cox, alias Baconface, James Smith, and Luke Humphrys, lay under sentence of death, passed on them the last assizes, and were intended to have been executed the following day. Mr. Oxenton the gaoler, who keeps an inn opposite to the prison, went into the gaol about four o'clock in the morning, as was his custom, attended by three men, to see if all was safe, and, having locked the outward door, sent one of his men down to the dungeon, where the four felons had found means to disengage themselves from the pillar and chain to which they had been locked down ; and one of them, viz., Baconface, had got off both his handcuffs and fetters. On opening the door they disabled the man, and all rushed out. Then coming up stairs they met the gaoler and his other two men, of whom they demanded the keys, threatening to murder them if their request was not immediately complied with. They then forced his men into the yard beyond the hatchway, and a battle ensued, in which the gaoler behaved so manfullythough he had but one man to assist him—that he maintained the possession of his keys till he was heard by his wife, then in bed, to call out for assistance, who, fortunately having another key to the gaol, ran to rescue him. The fellows saw her coming, and demanded her
key, threatening to murder her if she offered to assist her husband. By this time the neighbourhood was alarmed, and several persons got to the gaol-door, when Mrs. Oxenton, notwithstanding their threats, at the utmost hazard of her life, opened the same and caught hold of her husband, who was almost spent, and, with the assistance of some persons got him out, and locked the door without suffering the fellows to escape. They continued cursing and swearing that they would murder the first man that attempted to enter the gaol. In the meantime Robert Hadsley, Esq., High-Sheriff
, who lives about a mile from the town, was sent for, and came immediately. He parleyed with them for some time to po purpose ; then ordered fire-arms to be brought, and in case they would not submit to shoot at them, which these desperadoes refusing to do, they accordingly fired on them, and Theophilus Dean receiving a shot in the groin, dropt. Then they surrendered, and the sheriff instantly caused Bacon-Face to be hanged on the arch of the sign-iron belonging to the gaoler's house, in the sight of his companions, and great numbers of people. The other three were directly put into a cart, and carried to the usual place of execution, and there hanged before seven o'clock that morning."
Such a state of things as this has long ceased to exist : and, whatever the impression which “Never too late to mend”
may have left upon the public mind, it may be safely asserted that there are no prisons in England at the present day in which either wanton cruelty or excessive punishment would not be immediately detected, and severely visited. Governors of prisons are in general men of intelligence and humanity, often of very respectable standing in society, and far above any imputation of dishonourable tampering with the system they administer : visiting Justices are mostly men of discernment and high integrity, and though perhaps often slow at distinguishing with niceness the point where judicial firmness ends and personal feeling begins to rule, very, very seldom otherwise than gentlemen such as the country may be proud to have abounding in every county. In short, though there might be some ground in the case of a particular prison for the accusa. tions made in the popular work we have referred to, no one acquainted with those establishments in general will fail to stigmatize the charges as extravagant exaggerations, when levelled without discrimination against the whole prison system of the land.
At the same time, while the present century has seen so vast a change in the management of imprisoned criminals, it does seem as if more might be done than has hitherto been effected, towards making our prisons in general places of reformation. Those who are sent there are in many cases no doubt, hopelessly irreclaimable, and for them there is nothing else to be done, but to carry out their punishment as a punishment, and—short of anything like cruelty—to make it so severe as to be a just vengeance on the part of society against the offender. But by far the larger proportion of those who find their way within prison walls are men, women,
and children who are sent there for comparatively venial offences, and in whom the moral sense has by no means been obliterated by frequently repeated crime. Not many of the worst criminals reach prison, in proportion to the numbers under confinement. Good as our police may be, there is a vast number of thieves and worse who rarely if ever come within its clutches : while of such as do, very many are those who have not been sufficiently practised in crime to escape detection. Any one whose heart is fixed upon winning back souls for Christ, naturally turns towards this large class, to ask whether among these there are not some who may not only be reclaimed as good members of society, but who also may be so checked in their career of bad principle, and so built up in Christian strength, that they may become soundly religious and pious members of the higher society whereof Christ is the Head and Bond.
If the Intermediate System be what it is represented to be, it is capable of being made a real and powerful instrument in the working of this true and thorough reformation : and if found as successful as it promises to be, it must before long be looked to as the central point around which all the arrangements of punishments and discipline---short of the more extreme kind-must be made to gather; for if once a criminal is fitted to be brought under its operation, there will be good hope of his restoration to the world beyond prison walls in a moral condition far higher than that in which he first entered within them.
But every apparent reformation of the criminal will be apparent only, or at least very temporary, unless it is built on that foundation which the Church alone can lay. We are glad to have Mr. Shipley's assurance that the foundation on which the Intermediate System in Ireland is based, recognizes in a greater or less degree this essential principle; and the more so, as—such a foundation seeming a priori discordant with modern Government systems—his own convictions as to its necessity are very decided. Mr. Shipley holds, as we do, “ that no reformation of an adult criminal can succeed otherwise than in appearance, based upon a principle otherwise than religious. Religion, and the teaching of the Church, are the only real foundations of penal reformation.” It is painful to find from some remarks made at page 17 of his pamphlet, that this high Christian theory laid down by the Directors of the Irish Prisons is not carried out with anything like zeal by the Chaplains -either Anglican or Roman-whose duty it is to second their wishes in this particular to the full extent of their ability. In a subsequent part of the pamphlet he is even more explicit :
“Upon Sundays the Roman chaplain attends his flock early in the morning, the Anglican chaplain performs Divine Service half an hour after midday, and the Presbyterian minister officiates in the afternoon. It is sad to think, that at this critical period of a prisoner's career, little more than a mere outward recognition of the public offices of religion, under the direction of the appointed channels, once in seven days, is customary. What an opening is here for an earnest, a hardworking, a zealous, a truly religious man! What result might not the daily offices of our holy religion effect, in the still ductile minds of the lately reformed? What good might not a Field, a Burt, a Kingsmill, a Clay perform? What results might not arise from the daily ministration, from the daily working of the Church's system, upon the minds of men so peculiarly, so advantageously circumstanced? Instead of this daily devotion in the cause of Christ, we find that the chaplains of both communions, besides the hebdomadal Service, are accustomed to look into the prison upon an average two times every week. The Roman chaplain generally calls on Friday and Saturday to hear confessions; the Anglican doubtless makes his visits on some other days, though it is not reported of him, that he follows his fellow chaplain's godly discipline, and to men so situated, most seasonable service.”Pp. 82, 83.
If an opportunity has been afforded by the secular government for making a thorough experiment as to the reformation of prisoners on the most exalted Christian principle, it is sad to think that it may not be laid hold of by the Church for want of a more earnest zeal on the part of her ministers; and we sincerely trust that Mr. Shipley may be somewhat mistaken on this point.
During that period of the convict's imprisonment in which he is put under the influence of the Intermediate System, great pains seem to be taken to bring out those principles of exactness and honour which lie at the root of all real social prosperity. The prisoners are allowed an extent of liberty scarcely less than that permitted to workpeople under ordinary circumstances; they are employed in various handicraft pursuits of a remunerative nature to themselves and the prison establishment, and this not always within its walls. As their time of probation draws to a close, they are trusted more and more, so as gradually to let them feel the ground—as nurses say of children learning to run alone'-before they are again sent forth to encounter the temptations ordinarily belonging to their position in society. The education of the school, and something beyond, are going on all the while, and with apparently much more favourable result than in the usual prison school. But such education is of far less consequence in reality, than that training of the moral man which forms so striking a part of the system.
“Each prisoner is supplied with a small account book, in which he regularly enters his amount of labour finished, his amount of earnings drawn, his amount of gains saved. The former is left in his own possession; the latter is kept by the authorities. This little book plays an important part in the system of reformation. It represents to the