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Such was the old system. In the old prison, too, they became acquainted with all sorts of thieves, burglars, and pickpockets; and thus having become schooled and experienced in all the arts of knavery, they left the gaol daring and skilful thieves,-there was no line of demarcation recognized between the innocent and the hardened prisoner. It is simply wicked to punish a lad for an act which he has never been taught not to do; and this raises the question, "Whose fault is it that he was not so taught ?" This idea, neglected by the old system, is a fundamental principle in the new, which insists that the difference between right and wrong should be understood before punishment ought to be awarded to the transgressor. The new system carries out this view. These young outcasts never heard of religion; we will unfold its grand principles to them. They know nothing of their Heavenly Father; we will teach them. Of love, and kindness, and sympathy, they are completely ignorant; we will develop and foster those qualities: they have cared for none, they shall love somebody -us! They shall not only hear of Christianity as a doctrine, but they shall come into contact with it as a fact. The old prison system is in the spirit of the Old Testament, retaliation, revenge, hatred, " an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." atory system is in the spirit of the New Testament, "faith, hope, and charity"-seeking to return good for evil. When this ceases to be the spirit of the system, it will lose its only power. It is not a work that can be done for money-it must be done for love. Of this the members of reformatory institutions are completely persuaded, and therefore they increase so slowly; the difficulty always to be met with is thiswhere can you find a thoroughly good Christian man, imbued with the truths of the system, and with the temper and decision of character to carry them out? The children are waiting, the money is ready; but before you can do anything with a likelihood of success, you must find the man.
The new reform
I will now briefly describe to you what the new home is like. At twelve o'clock on a fine summer's day you go down to the river side, where you may meet with two boys going on board the ferry-boat. They are dressed in thick blue cloth clothes, and the word "Akbar" is marked on their woollen shirts. You step on board the boat, and proceed to your destination, that large vessel lying in the river, which, as you near Rock Ferry, you see more distinctly; and at length you step on board the staunch old Akbar. That ship fought a good fight in the East Indies, and gathered laurels in the last great naval war. But the fight that it is fighting now, is far more important. Then it defended our honour abroad, now it is retrieving our honour at home; and the Akbar in the Sloyne, the home and school of 120 lads who are being brought up as honest English sailors, is a far nobler sight than when she chased the French-frigate Cannoniere, or captured the Semillantes.
But howsoever she was rated
The vessel well her part performed;
From idleness and vice reformed.
Not only taught to read and write,
Which weak well-meaners blindly dwell on
If this from crime would guard a wight,
Far sounder means do we discern
To aid the green, the poor, and lowly;
And keep the precious day that's holy.
* Anonymous lines on the Akbar frigate.
Let us notice as we step on board the little boat that bears us, that there is no master, no superintendent or guide watching the movements of the six lads who have brought us, or the two who have been over to Liverpool to buy bread, and have been entrusted with the sum of £4 for that purpose.
66 The novelty of criminals in their well-known garb passing through our streets on errands involving honesty, punctuality, and attention, and no turnkey or policeman dogging their steps, was singular enough, but not more singular than the continued patience, intelligence, and religious and moral inculcation which produced such a phenomenon as a thoroughly reformed convict."*
By the time that we get on the gangway of the ship, the captain shortly appears, and we are taken over the ship, which is cleaner by far than any of the merchant ships in the river; it is in fact conducted as a model man-of-war, the lads are taught the whole art of navigation, and ruled by naval discipline. They know the name and use of every rope in the ship, much more than many lads on board merchant ships are acquainted with. Five hours are devoted to study. Hanging to the side of the vessel is a slate, "the trustworthy slate;" those lads who went to buy the bread have their names inscribed thereon; and it also contains fully one-half the names of the boys on board. The time of their stay here is about a year and a half, when situations are procured for them on board other ships. Thirty-five of the lads have been transferred to other vessels during the year. The treatment on board the Akbar is, as near as possible, that of any merchant ship.
"Of those boys who have been discharged since the commencement, there have been— Favourably reported..... Fairly....
* Freeman's Journal, October 17, 1857.
"The treatment of the boys on board the Akbar is made, as far as possible, to resemble that in other schools, as the committee consider the boys have received the punishment due to their crimes in gaol, and are sent to a reformatory simply to be fitted for filling a useful position in life. They find that the more completely the boys' antecedents are ignored the more rapidly do they improve; and their past life has never been considered as entitling the boys to more leniency or less punishment than lads of the ordinary class."*
Put into simple English, it means this-"We are not going to treat you differently to anybody else ; you will be treated with affectionate kindness, and taught all that you should know; but if you utter one word of that existence from which when you came on board you were cut off, you are dismissed from us or punished. You shall not grow up to be a thief without understanding what you are doing; both paths of life are thus clearly set before you. is your choice-good on this hand and bad on thattake that which you please." The responsibility is with the boys; upon this does the reformatory system take its stand, and claims with confidence public approval. We say, educate the youth, make him acquainted with right and wrong, and then leave the rest to his own choice. If he sins, then it will not be the fault of society; it will not be because of the neglect of the parents, or the temptations of their poverty-stricken homes: but it will be because, an honest life having been offered to him, he has deliberately preferred to steal. And when the reformatory system shall have become completely developed, a great alteration must take place in the punishment * Third Annual Report of the Liverpool Juvenile Reformatory Association.
of the convicted criminals who remain; the duration of imprisonment and character of the punishment must be completely changed. When we have given the choice to every child, those that err will have no right to ask forgiveness or tenderness from their fellow-creatures.
One more home I shall briefly mention. The Mason Street Reformatory is of another character, and the boys are busily engaged at various industrial occupations; some are shoe-making, others are tailoring; the work is hard, the fare is hard, and the play is hard; but the spirit of sympathy and kindness is there. A home is what they have never seen-here is a home; and the whole system of the house is carried on on that principle. Their clothes are of the cheapest, yet most durable kind; and rest assured clean linen is a great luxury with them. So ignorant are they of cleanliness when they first come, that if you ask them to wash, they do not know what the basin is for-soap is a grand mystery: and if you ask them the commonest question, either religious or political, they do not know what you mean. When you ask five boys consecutively if they know anything about Queen Victoria, they will ask you if it is a kind of "suck" that you mean!— 66 one of those 'goodies' that we buy at the shop?" if you reply 66 Do you mean that you never heard of the Queen ?" They will say Why what is a Queen? I never heard of she." But the new home changes all that. They soon begin to know and appreciate what is taught them, and they become in a short time as it were new beings. boys here are visited by their parents, should they have any, and are allowed to go to their homes at stated times. On Christmas-day there was a numerous gathering, for fifteen or sixteen who had been working out during the week, were also present enjoying themselves.