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REFORMATION OF JUVENILE THIEVES.
institution, where he remained for six months, during which time he also was taught to read and write. His parents were traced out and written to, and they, mourning over their past sinful desertion, came from the country, whither they had gone, and gratefully received him and took him home; and in a letter lately written by him to his former benefactor, he states, that his parents, who were formerly dissipated and depraved, are now sober and anxious to do well, and that they have got him into a situation, in which he feels 'very comfortable. With these instances as an example of the way in which we are now and then privileged to bring joy into the bosom of a mourning family, we would proceed to specify a few particulars in the history of some of those who have emigrated.
"W. s., in a cold wet day, was found lying on the pavement in Duck Lane in a state of insensibility, produced by want of food: he was removed into the institution, where the means employed were effectual in restoring him to consciousness, but it was ten days ere he recovered sufficiently to be able to walk; he was then asked whether he would remain or return to his former associates; he wisely accepted the former offer. We had known him for twelve years, and, as a matter of course, knew his habits of life. He was grossly ignorant, not knowing a single letter of the alphabet. He was taught to read and write, and after being trained to habits of industry, and giving some evidence of a moral change, he was sent out to America, where he soon got honest employ. ment. Thus was one, who had spent fourteen years of his life in stealing and uttering counterfeit money, taught to live honestly, 'working with his hands. In a letter lately written by him, he states, that he has three dollars a week, and his master promises him one dollar more if he continues to please; he adds, Oh, sir! I was once a vagabond, but now I feel happy--- I am an honest man; I was once miserable, but now I am happy.'
“The case of P. M. differs in some respects from those whom we generally take under our care, but its peculiarity induced us to transgress our established rule. The Missionary met him one day in Duck Lane with a band of thieves, and expressed surprise at finding him in such company. P. M. replied, ' You would not be surprised, sir, if you knew what I have suffered;" you have known me,' he continued, 'for thirteen years,
my mother also, she drank rum till she killed herself, she drove me from the house. I have travelled through England seeking work, and for four months that I was away,
I had only three weeks' employment, and many a day during that four months I had nothing to eat but turnips and raw potatoes, and many a night I had no place else to sleep than behind a hedge or under the shelter of a tree, and now,' he added, "I don't care what befall me, I have given myself up as lost.' He was offered a pound of bread per day and the floor of the school-room to sleep on; this he gladly accepted, stating he would rather go to the ends of the earth and work for his living than lead the life of a thief. He was shortly after admitted as an inmate of the institution, where he remained till he was fitted for emigrating; he was then sent to America, and in writing therefrom he says: · After arriving at New York I took my bag upon my back, and left for the country. I travelled upwards of twenty miles...... came to a farm-house ......got engaged to the farmer for two dollars a week and my
THE WIDOW AND HER SON.
board; 1 have now three dollars, and I am very happy. God bless you, sir, and the kind friends that sent me here.'
“We night refer to many more cases of interest that have, through the medium of this institution, been drawn from the haunts of vice to occupy honourable, because honest, positions in society, but space will not permit us to notice more than one, who left his home in 1843, and was associated with thieves for nearly seven years; he was brought to the institution, and continued for some months, and was then sent out to America with the other two, one of whom had been four years a thief, and the other nine. His friends had not heard of him since he left home, but a legacy having been left him, they employed every means to find him out, and at length traced him to this institution, but not till two days after he had sailed. He and his companions are located in the same town in America; they have written home several times, and say they are succeeding well.
“The foregoing statements being, as we think, more than sufficient to illustrate the beneficial tendency of such an institution, we might now conclude, but cannot without adverting to one more fact, simply to show that the impressions made upon those who have been under our care are not like the morning cloud and the early dew. "A
young man, whose case was noticed in our last Annual Report as having spent ten years in a course of crime, after which he was sent out from this institution to America, has since written several letters, giving pleasing accounts of his success. In one letter he states, that he hopes the first emigrants sent from the institution will be sent to him, as he could find them all employment, even to the number of twenty. In another letter he writes: often think of home, I mean Pear Street; I wish I could hear the children sing my favourite hymn,
Around the throne of God in heaven.' We have sent him five lads, and he found them employment immediately on their arrival; they also have written letters of a pleasing character.'
Space will not permit us, at present, to extend our observations on this interesting and important subject. We leave the facts recorded for the consideration of our readers, intending again to return to it in a future number.
THE WIDOW AND HER SON. "And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse : and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for mé and my son, that we may eat it, and die."-KINGS xvii. 12. It was the beautiful evening of a summer day. We had a day to spend in our native city of Glasgow, after an absence of many years. The companions of our youth were sadly thinned by the hand of death, and their places were now occupied by those whom we had left as children. The city had rapidly, and wondrously extended itself to the west along the banks of the river, which had proved to it a stream of wealth. Places where we had in childhood gathered wild flowers and chased the butterfly, were now in the centre of busy traffic, where men were bent in the like phantom chase as we had been, and where riches, like unto our captured moths, often take unto themselves wings and fly away. Tired with the sameness of rows of white-stoned stately edifices, the mansions of the rich, we visited the ancient cathedral, serenely
THE WIDOW AND HER SON.
seated, like some ancient dame, amidst a city of the dead. We passed to the east of the city, and passing from Duke Street to Gallowgate, we had our attention arrested by what to the busy passer-by was but a matter of the veriest insignificance.
There was a deep hollow, some former quarry or clay pit, and which was in the process of being filled up by the refuse of factory furnaces or the stuff dug from the foundations of the fast extending streets around. On the precipitate face of these avalanches were two human beings; one a middleaged woman, clad in humble, yet tidy and clean raiment, and with the large white cap and the broad black riband, which proclaims in touching significance the widow's humble lot. A little boy, very slender, numbering some six years, with scanty boyish garb, obviously not made to suit his tiny limbs, but the gift of some charitable hand, was by her side. The mother had a bag, and both were intent in turning over the fresh deposits, with far keener eye than geologists, and every small piece of bone, or glass, or metal, found a place in the widow's bag. Ever and anon, as the little urchin found a prize in some broken hoop or bottle, his light heart was gladdened, and we heard his gleesome laugh as he showed his trophy to his mournful mother, who, without lifting her eyes from the mass, wearily plodded her irksome toil. We stood and looked for awhile, while the setting sun cast all objects into the shade ; the mother and child of poverty, with shadows now prolonged into gigantic length, still perseveringlý prosecuted their labour, and still their wallet was but scantily filled. We left them at their work, the mantle of night closing around them. The widow was now on her very knees, her eyes intently on the rubbish, and her little boy seemed reluctant to go any distance from her, but held by a corner of her apron, whilst his little hands were still fishing for reward.
Alas! thought we, how true it is that one-half the world knows not how ill the other half lives, and cares still less. The merchant princes in the west fare. sumptuously every day, and the widow of the east knows not what any day is to bring forth of food to keep the soul and body in cement. Perhaps here is one who, but a few years ago, was a blooming and happy-faced maiden, the envy
of her own sex and the attraction of the other. She became a mechanic's wife; and who, early removed by some accident or pestilence, with which large towns are so rife, left her a widow, totally unprovided for, with a little boy, at once the solace and solicitude of her solitary hours. Even now they have been in labour for a day to gather enough to purchase a little meal for the one frugal repast which to many is the only daily support of a widow's life. What may be the future fate of that little one! The chance in human calculation is that death will relieve him of life's struggle, and remove him from the evil to come. It may be that, without a father's restraining care, he may fall within the moral malaria of evil companionship; and become an early social pest—the marked one of police vigilance, and end an exile from his country, (home he never knew,) and cause a mother's heart to break, which could better stand the death of husband and of child. But what if some kind Christian hand is extended to the little boy? Some Sabbath School teacher or City Missionary finds the little waif, and procures him a Christian asylum, where he may be taught of Christ, the Saviour of sinners. He may receive a good because a godly education, and find a father in a friend. He may learn some honest line of industry, and become the support of his now aged mother. They may be found daily at the throne of grace, and weekly in the house of God. A life of contentment with little may end in admission to a glorious inheritance of much. How much of evil might Christian philanthropy thus prevent—what a multitude of sins might it cover-what a rich harvest of good might it reap, if sowing thus in faith and in dependence on the blessing of the Lord of the
vineyard! Then pity the poor, and visit the widow and fatherless.
Methinks my evening scene is a fit emblem of the occupation of the vast proportion of the inhabitants of the world. Men are like so many ants of
unceasing toil in their fragile tenements, scraping together the small but glittering particles of gain, and storing them each in his bag of selfishness. The gloom of night may be gathering around them, but men gloat the more over the treasures of mammon, and count and clutch their talents, as if these were their own, and not lent them but for a season. "Lay not up for
yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Perth, 6th Sept., 1851.
EFFICIENCY OF INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS, ETC. It has been remarked, with a good deal of truth, that statistics may be brought to the support of almost any opinion or set of opinions. This, however, arises from partial views being taken of particular results ; for when due allowance is made for disturbing causes, the evidence of figures is, next to that of one's own senses, and actual facts, the surest index to the soundness or otherwise of any particular theory. Thus, for example, many estimable persons who entertain a profound reverence for the genius of arithmetic, taking up the returns of our County Police, prove to their own abundant satisfaction, that crime has, within the last half century, or it may be a shorter period, enormously increased. They see in 1850 perhaps 20 convictions for 1 in 1800—and therefore, say they, crime must be twentyfold increased. Those, however, who penetrate beneath the surface, will admit the increase of the convictions, without feeling at all shut up to the conclusion that there is any absolute increase of crime whatever. We have before us a graphic picture of the state of this county at and previous to the establishment of the useful Rural Constabulary Force in 1840, sketched by the Commissioners of Supply, to prove the necessity for the “application of some effectual check” to crime and vagrancy in the county. They say—“Every part of the county suffers more or less from vagrants ; but the more remote districts suffer most severely from the visitation of gangs of four, ten, or fifteen masterful beggars, who establish themselves for days or even weeks together in a place, and levy contributions from all around; and if not supplied with what they want, help themselves without scruple—and are withal so formidable that the tenantry are afraid to meddle with them, and rather submit to the evil than incur their vengeance by complaining to the magistrates.” Every one of the assaults, breaches of the peace, thefts, etc., which “masterful beggars" or others, now commit, results, with scarcely an exception, in conviction; whereas, formerly, this class was probably ten times more numerous, and the crime fifty-fold greater than now, with many fewer convictions. The key to this apparent contradiction is, that an efficient police force now exerts a paramount influence over rogues, who formerly plundered with impunity honest people who feared them.
The following figures show forcibly the increased efficiency of the Rural Police Force, comparing the first year with the eleventh year of its existence. The number of vagrants apprehended in 1840-41 was 2459, yet the convictions obtained amounted to only 113. After ten years' experience, we find the apprehensions of vagrants reduced to 843, while the convictions have increased to 242. Thus, there are more convictions,” but fewer “masterful beggars.” In the days of our forefathers, the “liberty of the subject” amounted to "licentiousness,” compared with what is enjoyed now, when every blow given in a drunken brawl leads to conviction for assault.
Let us next see what effect education, or rather the want of education, has as a crime-producing cause. In the eight years from 1843 to 1850 inclusive, the number of persons confined in the Aberdeen prisons, who Could not read, was
1,236 Could read with difficulty
3,218 Could read well
Could write none
Thus, while the number of prisoners who could read none or with difficulty was 4,454, the number who could read well was 1,914 ; and only 515 prisoners could write well, compared with 4,860 who could write none or with difficulty. The number who had a superior education was only 55. It is hence quite clear that, while education alone does not always keep an individual out of prison, yet the classes without education are manifold more criminally disposed.
The above figures, we should mention, as well as those which follow, are compiled from the returns of the Governor of the Aberdeen prisons and the Superintendent of Rural Constabulary Force, and are, therefore, quite reliable. We have already alluded to the deceptiveness of figures when partially looked at; but we believe it will be generally admitted that the fair and rational method of dealing with the evidence of statistics is, to compare one year or series of years, with another year or series of years, in which the means of detection and other circumstances were, as nearly as possible, equal, and to draw a conclusion accordinglý. Taking this view, the following statistics show incontestably that Industrial Schools are producing a decided effect in abating crime. The figures have been partly employed for the same purpose in various ways before ; but those now submitted come down to a later period, are more complete, and are presented in a somewhat different form. The following table shows the number of persons committed to the prison of Aberdeen, with their ages, during the nine years from 1843-51, ding 30th June each year :
Year. Age 12 and under. 13 and under 17. 17 to 20. 20 and above.
18 and 20. 21 and above. 1848
524 The Industrial School system came into full operation in May, 1845. Let us, therefore, contrast the three years preceding 30th June of that year, with an equal period ending at the same date this year :Prisoners 12 and under.
Prisoners 12 and under. 1843
13} Thus, the average of criminals under 12 for the last three years, as compared with that of 1843-44-45, is little more than a fourth! for each of the last two years it is considerably under that figure. But if the schools have an influence in preventing crime, it must now tell, after six years' full operation, on the class above 12 years of age. Accordingly, the following is the contrast for the like period as above of prisoners committed at the ages of from 12 to 17 or 18:13 to 17
13 to 18
108; -A year more is included in the last column ; yet the result is marked. Thus, the class beyond children in point of age, yields considerably fewer criminals now than before-a fact which surely proves that some check, whatever it be, is operating at the sources of crime. Can we doubt what that influence is ?
But if the young are getting better, the following figures show that the old are getting 'worse. Coming to prisoners above 20, and taking the same triennial periods, the results are:Above 20
Above 21 1843 477 1849
532 1844 454 1850
670 1845 459 1851
524 Yearly average. 463;