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superficial view of the subject will take more time than we have at our disposal; and I shall therefore hurry on to the simpler part of the interesting question which we are about to discuss. I will hardly touch upon the great cause of crime, but rapidly moving into the middle of my subject, I will describe to you the life of the children who live by crime alone. I will point out where the old system by which we tried to cure them of their crimes, has failed. I will tell you what we are doing now, and point out the results of what has been done. I will refer to some of the objections that have been raised against the plan; and I will conclude with a few practical words to you, endeavouring to impress upon your minds a deep sense of gratitude and thankfuluess to your Creator that you have not to tremble for the future of your own children.
Before there can be uneducated and neglected, and therefore criminal children, careless, heartless, and therefore criminal parents must have existed. The condition of existence is that we must work or we must starve. The criminal classes repudiate the condition: they will not work, neither do they starve. They not only repudiate the condition by which they can alone remain honest, but they undertake responsibilities for others which they have not the intention, hardly the wish, to discharge aright. They marry and are given in marriage-nay, they establish themselves in homes, blessed by no religious ceremonial, and legalized by no social law. God and man are alike set at defiance. The result is the juvenile delinquent population about whom I am going to speak to you this night. I would not go into statistics, but I must refer to them to a certain extent. In the town to which I belong, there are from 6000 to 8000 children, male and female, above 5 and under 16 years of age, who have been brought up to no honest means of gaining their daily bread, but who live, not in luxury, but still supplied as far as their physical
wants are concerned, by the proceeds of their thefts. In the metropolis, for the figure 8 you might read 30-it has been fixed by some as high as 50,000who live upon the principle that when they want anything to eat, they steal it; they know not the name of God, except when they use it in an oath; and if you ask them if they ever heard of Queen Victoria, they will ask you if you mean a policeman: such, in a sentence, is the life they lead and knowledge they possess. Let us see the homes where they live. On such a night as this, when the east wind blows into every crevice of your snug rooms; when you button up your coats as you pass through the deserted streets; at such time you will find these unfortunate creatures, crouching in the door-ways of our warehouses, or clustering near some blazing brick-kiln in the outskirts of the town, where they are not unfrequently found by the police the next morning, half dead with the bitter cold, or half suffocated by the fumes of the kiln. These are the homes of some of these young outcasts; living by theft, society is ever at war with them; and even their own parents seem leagued against them, and turn them out of their wretched homes. I visited a few days ago a house where some of them are taken in for the night; for there are some places where they can obtain a night's lodging: the walls of the building were falling, the windows were broken, and the ground upon which the lads were sleeping was inches deep in dirt and filth with scarcely a rag to cover them, there they lay close together in the cold, trying to shiver through the night, and for this they had to pay a sum of threepence, as much as their elder brethren the adult thieves, who were comfortably lodged. Such is their home. Bear it in recollection, for their new homes shall be laid before you. 'In a night excursion that I made with the inspector of lodging-houses in the North End, I was introduced to scenes which my pen is unable to describe. The graphic art of him who
has pictured 'Tom-all-Alone' and 'Jacob's Island' could perhaps reproduce them. Two houses on each side of the court in B.-street were in such an unsafe condition, that their walls were propped up by balks of timber both in front and at the sides. Many of the partition walls in the interior were falling into decay; all evidently harboured vermin, and though the inspector took me to at least twenty houses, there were only two where he could speak to the keepers of cleanliness being observed. I entered rooms which were filled by men, women, and children; one, I remember, was about four yards square, and in it were three men, three women, and three children. The atmosphere of these rooms it is hardly possible to conceive. When the doors were open a dense vapour, palpable to the touch, so heavy was it and so dank, came out upon me, almost turning me sick, and the inspector informed me (and I could readily believe him) that he had several times been obliged to go home from his duty, positively made ill by the gas which he had breathed. But in this atmosphere these unfortunate beings spend their nights all the year round."*
And their daily life, what is it? If they hear a policeman they run; if they meet an honest man, they skulk away; but if they see a drunken man, he is their prey, and they make the most of him; his pockets are quickly ransacked, and they would perhaps hardly pause in taking the life of a fellow-creature to accomplish their nefarious ends if their safety was at stake. Another avocation is,-running after the cotton carts, and pilfering from the bales. A bale of cotton is sold to the spinner for a certain price, but before it can be got to the railway station it will have lost some 3lbs. or 4lbs., so that the Ashton manufacturer is a loser by 2s., while the thief has sold it for d. per lb. Here, at all events, is a cogent reason for reform; we are individually pecuniary
* Rev. S. A. Steinthal's Report of the Domestic Mission, 1857.
losers when we allow these juvenile pilferers to be at large, and to this the great question of juvenile delinquency has come. It is for the interests of our own pockets that we should take all the steps in our power to encourage the reformatory movement.
From my own personal experience, and from the tales I have heard whilst acting as manager of one of the smaller reformatories in Liverpool, I will take the lives of four boys, and tell them as nearly as I can remember them, for the purpose of showing you the chance that there is of their reformation. first case was that of a boy called George, whose first case of theft was under the superintendence of a man who prevailed upon him to seize a favourable opportunity to steal some fruit.. It had been agreed between them that the man should be in waiting at one of the doors of the market, and the spoil should be equally divided; but mark-such had been the school where this lad had been taught, that he took good care that his preceptor should not participate in what he got. The lad told me that the very first time, instead of going out at the door agreed to, and dividing what he had stolen, he went out at the other door, and kept the proceeds of his larceny, and then commenced business for himself. I tremble, as a Liverpool merchant, when I think of the immense amount of property annually appropriated by our criminal population. This lad had a sister who was the most expert pickpocket in the town, or perhaps in any other. Her usual rendezvous was the landingstage, which is so much frequented by all holiday folks, when they flock to the sea-side to breathe the fresh sea air, and I need scarcely say we are always right glad to see you; yet a feeling of alarm passes through our minds as we think of the way in which you must be taken in, and the chance that you should suffer from the doings of the light-fingered gentry who are daily in attendance there. This sister of George drove a most lucrative trade, and George
made himself useful in carrying away the plunder, for he had the art of looking so simple and so honest that none would ever have suspected him of beingat all connected with such matters. For months and months that trade went on, and I hardly dare ask you to believe what a trade it was. In one day he said he had thrown a roll of £5 notes, of the value of £75, into the river, as he crossed the bridge from the landing-stage, because it was a rule among them not to make use of bank notes, for fear of detection; and when I showed him a bill of exchange for £100, he said he had seen such documents before. It had been calculated that an expert thief, in the full swing of his trade, allowing him six months in prison and six months out, would destroy property to the amount of from £300 to £400 a-year. But George's career was stopped, and he was doomed to four years' servitude in the south. In due time he came from that prison, and in four or five days he again became acquainted with his sister and other friends. But his better nature conquered, and he came to the reformatory, and, relating his story, said, "If I am not pulled out of this, and that quick, I shall be where I was four years ago." He was accordingly placed in a private reformatory, where he stayed some time. He is now in India, having joined the 6th Regiment of Foot, and has been engaged in the struggles before Lucknow. So much has the reformatory system done in the case of George.
Edward is the next case that I shall take. His father was the head cook at a large hotel; a rich, but immoral man. There is no language strong enough to condemn those parents who throw off the responsibility of educating their children in the way in which they should go; you bring them into i the world, and if you then desert them, you may pass through the world as respectable people, but there is One above who will judge you, and not them, for you are responsible for their crimes. "We