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Much of your valuable time has been devoted to the cause of humanity; and the results of your efforts, with those of your amiable coadjutors, need no assistance from the journalist or historian to give them durability; they live in the grateful hearts of those who were blest with your salutary instructions; and from the solicitude evinced by many of those unfortunate persons, as I have often seen, to impress this feeling on the pliant minds of their children, it is not, I think, presuming too much to say that it will be cultivated and cherished, in distant parts of the world, by generations yet unborn.
To appreciate duly the benevolent and happy la.. bours of the LADIES' COMMITTEE, one must have witnessed human misery in its pitiable extremes ; in all the pollution and loathsomeness of the licentious gaol; and patiently contemplated the benign influence of moral precept, meliorating such condition, as reflected in the melting heart and the hallowed tear of the sincere penitent, retracing the devious path that first led from innocence and peace.
Admiration of that zeal which urged you, regardless of all personal inconvenience, to erplore the long neglected recesses of the friendless prison ; to awaken the minds of its forlorn inmates ; to rouse the dor
mant principles of virtue; to teach them to reflect ;and veneration for that unwearied philanthropy which has lifted from despair so many drooping hearts; impelled me to give your grand experiment a fair trial ; to prove how far the system of kindness and confidence, so auspiciously commenced in Newgate, .could be made to answer under other circumstances. Accordingly, the measures employed in the Morley were, as nearly as possible, the same as those used by the Committee; with what success, it is not for me to determine. If, however, it be found that iny
observations, as detailed in the present volume, should contribute in any degree to facilitate the truly Christian design of the Committee, it will afford me lasting satisfaction to know that my endeavours have not been in vain.
Your faithful servant,
THE general state and condition of those unfortunate persons whose crimes had brought them under the severe cognisance and judgement of the laws, and whose lives only had been spared by the late happily increasing liberality of modern opinion and feeling, have for a long series of years occupied little public attention. Those, indeed, who bestowed any thought at all upon the final treatment of convicts, viewing the provision made for safely securing them on board of Hulks, or within the walls of Houses of Correction, or having them afterwards removed altogether to remote countries, thus restrained apart from general society for a certain time, and so long withheld at least from depredation, seem to have indulged with a degree of selfishness in the idea of personal security only as affecting themselves, or at most as extending to the other branches of the community. It seems to have appeared to the minds of such people, quite generous enough that the offender's absolute wants were provided for, and that all was effected when he was put out of the way of doing further harm : beyond
that, the condition of the convict was without consideration *.
Who can fail to observe without pleasurable emotion and interest, that a far different spirit is now stirring in the minds of mankind, and that the times have become happily enlightened, not by the dissemination of irreligious, under pretended philosophical principles, but in the diffusion of Christian truth and knowledge? The present age will ever be distinguished by the temperate, disinterested, and steady efforts made to communicate to the great mass of the population the blessings of Gospel instruction; and in the forci
* As there appears a strong coincidence between this opinion and one expressed in the preface to the “ Rules for the Govern
ment ofGaols," I beg leave to add an extract from that excellent publication, which appeared in 1820, but had not been seen by me until long after the above was written. “It must be apparent to all who have directed their attention to this subject, that the system of Prison Discipline too generally prevalent in England was confined to a single object, the safe custody of the prisoner ; and to one method of accomplishing that object, severe and sometimes unnecessary coercion : if the prisoner could be retained within the walls of a gaol by bars, by chains, or by subterraneous and unventilated dungeons, by the use of any rigour or privation, this plan, aiming only at his personal security, was deemed sufficient : the possibility of reforming the criminal seems never to have been contemplated; no rule was in force, no arrangement existed, which could be referred to such a purpose : the attempt to disengage the culprit from long formed habits of vice, and to rekindle in his breast the latent sparks of virtue, were schemes known indeed by the writings of Howard, but generally regarded as the visionary efforts of an excessive philanthropy."