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are not contending that poor parents should rear up their children as if they were the offspring of a higher class in the community; God knows the children of the poor are not reared; they are, as Charles Lamb said, 'dragged up;' and if, from the foul and reeking slum of the city lane, some poor human soul should be snatched and placed before a magistrate to appal him by ignorance and squalor, we would not visit the crimes of that child upon the child, but upon the parents; and sad as it may be to tell yet such is the truth-hundreds of children are yearly brought before the magistrates and judges who are in this wretched condition, because their parents, for their own vicious ends, teach, encourage, and desire that their children should continue in these sinful or criminal courses.'
Edward's father left England for Constantinople some time ago, there to make his fortune, leaving the youth without a sixpence. It is however refreshing to think of the way in which that boy was taken in, and fed and lodged by an honest couple, upon whom the lad had no claim whatever; "their home was his home from that day." If they had added to the gift of board and lodging a few hours of daily schooling, I should not have the tale to tell. But he could not be kept from evil he played from morn to night in the streets; elder fellows made him assist in working out their ends. "Look here," they said, you come with us, and we'll do something for you.' He was to be made a cat's-paw of, in stealing a number of fowls, but he was not to participate in the spoil:: Oh no-although all the risk would devolve upon him, his was not to be the gain, for there is not a word of truth in the adage that there is "honour among thieves." He was to be put over the wall to rob the hen-roost, and they were to sell what he handed over, and divide the proceeds. There was a policeman there, and Edward was caught, but the
*Notes on Reformatories for Ireland, by Patrick T. Murray.
instigators of the crime got off scot free. He was sent to a reformatory, where he was carefully looked after, and in course of time he shipped as a sailor on board a ship bound for Australia, and is likely to do well. He was of a restless disposition, and no occupation seemed to suit him so well as that he has chosen.
As I have now given you two cases where we have succeeded, it is but fair that I should give you one or two where we have not done so. Thomas was the son of an Irishman, an undoubted thief, who had taken Thomas as his assistant in the pickpocket department. Great hopes were entertained of that lad when he came amongst us. I thought he would make a good groom, or something of that sort, for he was the wrong disposition for a steady-going trade; we did hope that he would get some interesting work, and that we might thus possibly keep him on the right side of honesty. But his own choice was to be a printer, and twelve months ago he entered that business; he came home regularly each day from his work, and the mark of the devil seemed to be erased. But one evening, when he was walking up town with one of the most steady of the boys, he caught sight, at the bottom of the street, of a drunken man and a crowd. He said to his companion, "just wait a minute, while I see this row; I like a row;" and, despite the solicitations of his friend, he went, but returned almost immediately. As they neared the Reformatory he said, holding out his hand, "You won't tell, will you; look here:" and he displayed three sovereigns, which he had abstracted from some pocket in the crowd. The whole was the work of a few moments, but the temptation had swept away the whole year's instruction; the religious teaching, and everything else that had been done for him, was all as nothing; the mark of the hereditary thief was there, and the great temptation of getting £3 so easily was not to be resisted.
was soon after imprisoned for a year for another offence, and it was not till then that he told me of his first fall from the new life which was opening to him.
One more case and I shall dismiss this part of my subject. Henry was what we call "short," a penny short, or perhaps two-pence short. He, poor lad, never knew what it was to have a house or mother. He had never been in prison, but he had never gained an honest penny in his life, and he was 14. at Bridewell, one day, on some trival charge. He think of picking a pocket! or of burglary! the idea was ridiculous: he was too clumsy for the first, and not plucky enough for the other. He had merely lived by the carelessness of the shopkeepers, who so place their goods, as to give the pilferer every opportunity to filch a potatoe, or whip off a piece of meat from the edge of the shop-board almost with impunity. By this carelessness, and by the enormous amount of property lying about docks, warehouses, and other places, the pieces of iron and brass, the pickings from the cotton bales tumbling down in the streets, do such as Henry manage to eke out a miserable existence; for a penny is sufficient to purchase a meal such as they get. And thus potatoe stealing has always appeared to me as a species of pilfering that seems connived at by the police. A lad, no matter how, gets five potatoes, which he takes to an adjoining shop where he can exchange them for three cooked ones, stewed in fat, and made savoury, on which he can make a meal. Is not this "receiving stolen goods from well-known thieves ?" In this category come the marine-store dealers. Whether they are "the demand which creates the supply," or "the supply which creates the demand," is a difficult question for political economists; but I can safely assert, that if they did not exist, there would be no juvenile delinquents. Henry was the dullest boy in the school; he had the vagrant mark upon him. If you had not left him
he was gone.
at times to do as he liked to go out and lie in the garden in the rain, or bask in the sun when opportunity offered, listlessly and alone, he would have left the house. "Go away," he would say to the other lads, as he lay full length on the ground apart from the rest, "go away, I don't want to be bothered by anybody, I am quite comfortable." Well, we humored him as much as we could, and he stayed with us nearly two years. We promoted him to the post of honour as monitor of his class, and he seemed quite satisfied, and talked very seriously to us of the prospects of his future life. But one fine morning, If a thunder-clap had fallen upon the establishment it could not have had more effect than the announcement of this intelligence. However, in four days he returned. He had walked as far as Stafford, to see a brother, of whom he had not told us. He there met a gentleman to whom he told his tale. The gentleman put the question as to what they would think about his running away in that manner, at the establishment; would they not think it strange, wicked, and ungrateful? "So they will," said he, "I did not think of that:" whereupon he started back to Liverpool, and stayed with us until a gentleman found him work as a gardener, and he is now earning just enough to keep himself.
To what is this lad's unfortunate condition owing? He is what he is, by the dissipation and drunkenness of his parents, and because he was neglected in his youth. If he was not a little short-witted, do you think there would be a doubt that that lad had a conscience the same in all respects as ours? Had his parents done their duty to him as they ought, our teaching, even had he come amongst us at all, would have had its desired results, and we should have had no such difficulty in teaching him what we wished.
Such is the juvenile delinquent. Those who abuse the reformatory system tell you that the punishment of such lads should be "short and sharp." But when
they tell you that, they beg the whole question. That you do punish young boys by imprisonment, with its comparatively plentiful fare and comfortable lodging, is a delusion. Is it punishment that is wanted for that class, or is it a new life that will purge them of their vagrant or dishonest habits? Brutality, harshness, whipping, the crank, solitary confinement, is what they have experienced all their life, in that or in other forms; and do you think they can be reformed by giving them, in prison, exactly the same treatment which they have met with in the world? Is it any punishment at all? Is it not merely physical comfort from which they have hitherto been debarred, added to another form of the harshness and want of sympathy which has made them what they are. You give them what they sinned to get-clothing, food, and lodging; and by these means you think you are going to deter them from committing further crimes! Monstrous error! Hear what the Rev. J. Kingsmill states, in his work entitled "Prisons and Prisoners." In shewing that punishment does not reform, he states, that to ninety of the inmates the following questions were put, and the subjoined answers received:
"1. What was your opinion of a jail, before you were imprisoned?-Seventy-nine say they had a great dread of it; six never cared about it.
"2. What after the first imprisonment?-Eightyfour say they became hardened in sin; six desired to reform.
"3. What after the second imprisonment ?Eighty-six confess that they became more and more hardened; four desired to reform.
"4. What after frequent imprisonments ?-Without any exception, all declare that they are weary of life, and that they looked upon prison more as home than as a place of punishment.'
This will go far to account for frequent imprisonments in the case of the same child.