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• Reg. 689 is an instance of a mind of some power, but previously uncultivated. He could read when he came, but had no knowledge of figures. Having made himself master of Thompson's Arithmetic however, he is now working at mensuration by himself; for the masters lose no time upon such.
Of Reg. 504 I may confidently say that he so cultivated his mind in solitude, latterly with the help of books only, that he was sufficiently well grounded to begin a course of study in the higher departments of almost any one subject of useful knowledge. His proficiency in the trade of basket-making was equally remarkable. Being very much interested in this young
man, I took a copy of one of his letters to his family, in which he says :-"I will tell you how I amuse myself of an evening, after work, on school-days, and at meal-times. I peruse and study those works which you were so kind as to send me, and then when my hands are busily engaged in bending the pliant twig,' my head is equally busy in applying the theory. I divide my subject into three parts, and allot a fixed portion of time to each; and when I am at exercise I have a turn at mental arithmetic. That pump is a rare place for summing; the revolutions of the handle answer the purpose of a slate, and the clicking of the wheel makes it equal to any readyreckoner. During the summer I had an hour's practical experience in the study of natural history every day; it was rather on a small scale, and I dare say you will smile at it, but it gave me information and amusement too. In front of our airing-yard there is a grassplat, and I distinguished about a dozen different sorts of small plants and grasses, to which I gave names of my own.
I found out at what time they came into flower, how long they remained, and the degree in which each was able to bear the drought that occurred. I learned the habits of several kinds of insects; and the sparrows, building their nests or feeding their young in the holes of the wall, afforded me another source of entertainment. Such is the plan I have adopted. It may seem foolish to you, who may look about you as you please, but it is to this I attribute, with God's blessing, the good health I enjoy and the rapidity with which time passes away.”'
We shall not extend this paper by tracing more minutely the various feelings and dispositions educed under the Separate System. Nor shall we dwell on the testimonies of the Judges and other responsible watchers of this discipline. As one example, we find the Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland expressing in his evidence (a most careful and elaborate document) great satisfaction that the arrangement of most of the Scotch jails is now such as to admit the adoption of the Separate System, and his earnest desire to see the same thing practicable at Edinburgh and Glasgow. But let us at once proceed to the history of the convicts after their removal from Pentonville.
About 218 were sent to Van Diemen's Land, under regulations laid down in Lord Stanley's able dispatch of November, 1842. According to these a prisoner could by good conduct VOL. LXXXII. NO. CLXIII.
gradually pass through various grades of relaxation of his sentence, until he entitled himself virtually to absolute pardon: but the radical defect of the system rendered all skilful details quite nugatory. Criminals were associated in gangs, and therefore deteriorated; the shocking scenes brought to light by the Reports on our convict population in Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land, paralleled only by the cities of the plain, proved too clearly the wisdom of Paley's rule,' the necessity of dispersion.' These Reports, too, show that the Assignment System, which separated and absorbed the criminal population, was preferable to that which succeeded it. It succumbed, as we all know, to the cry of white slavery,' though in reality it had a far greater analogy to our home apprenticeship, with all its inequalities of lot, than to that with the name of which it was stigmatized. However, the Pentonville prisoners who arrived at Van Diemen's Land under promises of employment, found none. They were thrown among large gangs of convicts, idle, reckless, and depraved-and moving in masses over the country, to the terror of the inhabitants, no wonder that the good seed was choked by the tares. Some appear to have struggled hard, judging by their letters; but the very great majority, we believe, fell rapidly to the level of the slime.
The condition of the convict colonies was such that it was deemed fit to put a stop for a period to further transportation thither; but as no other of our colonies will receive a criminal population, or can legally be compelled to do so, an expedient was now resorted to which permitted them to receive transports without infringement of the law. The convicts lost their penal character—were dubbed · exiles,' and thus acquired at once, within the colony, the privileges of freemen. In a word, in lieu of the old system of transportation, criminals underwent 18 months of the Separate System, and were sent abroad pardoned and free, with the sole condition that they should not return to England pending their term of sentence. Of the working of this plan in the case of some 460 Pentonville convicts, we have found access to pretty full details—and we can thus enable our reader to judge for himself what is the amount of punishment awarded by England in A.D. 1847 to the second class of crimes. We must premise, however, that the whole of this most difficult subject seems to be at sea at present. We are apparently about to abolish transportation and adop: the old systême des Bagnes of France, while our neighbours themselves are doing away or modifying the system of keeping criminals at home, and adopting that of deporting them to Algeria. We are thinking of employing convicts in gangs on public works and in our arsenals; our neighbours have come to
the conclusion that the valuable property contained in them would be just as safe when unguarded by a population who do not stick at murder or arson to gain their liberty. We have as yet limited the cellular discipline to eighteen months. Prussia and France and other countries have made it indefinite. However, among ourselves it would appear that many would see no objection to a longer period, or at least to recommittal to the same discipline on a second offence. Mr. Recorder Hill would only let the criminal free on proof of amendment; fixing no limit to imprisonment but that of public safety; modifying, however, the rigidness of the discipline; in short, treating the incorrigible as mad, or at least as constitutionally or organically vicious. If society could tolerate the notion, in the first place, in its present mood, and, in the second, the expense, it would certainly be protected by this mitigated Draconism– for the hopelessly incorrigible would die out with no worse treatment than that under which Messrs. Oxford and Macnaghten do not groan.
In the Appendix to the fourth Report on the Model Prison is a letter from Mr. Hampton, who took out 345 Pentonville people in the Sir George Seymour, in October, 1844, containing a very curious account of their amusements and occupations. The convicts seemed to have profited amazingly by their education in the prison, judging from the topics on which they · lectured'-—' advantages of education,' use and abuse of music, comparative anatomy,' • English history,' 'origin of names, ' 'astronomy,' 'poetry,''the duties of domestic servants,' • architecture. No doubt many of the lecturers were previous adepts-for, alas, the prison has had its scholars as well as its clowns. But the thirst for knowledge increases very greatly in the cell
, and it is rapidly imbibed. We have had access to some other letters from gentlemen in charge of convicts, which bring the story of the experiment down to the present year. For example, Mr. Baker (an amiable and judicious surgeon of the Royal Navy) writes thus to the Governor at Pentonville from Port Phillip, May 9, 1847:
'The exiles, taking them as a whole, behaved well during the voyage, but there was a marked difference. I had three times the number of Pentonville men that I had from Milbank—and the Milbank offenders were very much more in number and out of proportion, and their crimes more serious. I cannot account for this; they were, with one or two exceptions, rather younger than the Pentonville men, but apparently older in iniquity, and required constant watching on my part to keep them from making a disturbance when below; they in fact had not the quiet, social gregarious habits of the Pentonville men.' Another experienced superintendent, Dr. Robertson, R.N.,
writing on the 19th of July, 1847, after his return to England, says,
'My voyage to Hobart-town lasted 118 days. Prayers were read twice daily, and every Sunday a portion of Scripture was expounded, and I have much pleasure in saying that I never saw greater decorum and apparent sympathy in scriptural feelings than on all occasions of worship. To myself they were at all times obedient, attentively anticipating my wishes, and in every way conducted themselves to my satisfaction; indeed their manner did not cease with their leaving the ship, for I subsequently experienced it from them, wherever I met them in the colony. As a proof of the confidence I had, on arriving at Hobarttown I volunteered to take them on to Port Phillip without any guard, civil or military. I feel quite positive that if I had had a thousand such men, they would have been readily engaged within the week. .
During the ninety days I spent in the Port Phillip district I visited various parts of the country within a hundred miles of Melbourne, frequently meeting the exiles in the fields and on the roads, &c., some as shepherds, some as labourers in the charge of wool-carts, and one as a bullock-driver. They seemed to a man satisfied with the treatment they received from the country gentlemen; and I was glad to find that there was general satisfaction expressed by the latter. •
A petition was being signed for the purpose of inducing the Home Government to continue sending out these servants; and expressing their readiness to hear the half of any expense it may cost to send out their wives and children also. With respect to the number of men that might annually find employment in the district of Port Phillip, I should say at least 4000—[ have been told the double, by persons of experience—and I have no doubt that in a few years, as the stock increases at the rate of one hundred per cent. annually, they will require the larger number. At present the sheep are put into flocks of 4000 and upwards, from the want of persons to attend them in the proper divisions of 1000 each, much to the injury of the feed and stock.'
We have also on our desk a whole sheaf of epistles from exiled convicts to their friends at home, and from these we shall select such specimens as will afford clearer notions of their lot than anything we could substitute.
"Geelong, Port Phillip. ‘Rev. Sir,- I beg to be excused for taking the liberty of addressing myself to you, but I feel it my bounden duty to return you my sincere and humble thanks for all the instruction and many good advices I have received from you, which I hope have not been altogether in vain.
'Since my arrival in this colony I have had an opportunity of observing the general conduct of many of the first P. P. exiles, and I am happy to say that many seem to have profited by their late afflictions, and to live an upright and honest life; but, on the other hand, I am sorry to say that some appear to be almost past recovery, and to have
forgotten all the good resolutions and the many solemn promises made
Jan. 30, 1817. 'Dear MOTHER AND RELATIONS, I write these few lines hoping they will find you all well, as they leave me. I have now been in this colony six months, and I have seen a little of the bush. At first I thought a life in the bush would agree well with me; but a country life here is quite different from a country life in Britain. It is very lonesome here, the houses being so far from one another. My next door neighbour is three miles off, where we are obliged to go two or three times a-day, often upon any little errand; but three miles are thought no more here than 300 yards in England. I very seldom see any fresh faces. In Britain the merry church-bells are to be heard on Sundays in all directions ; but here there are no churches, only in the towns, and they are few and far between. I am 30 miles from the nearest place of worship, which is a mission station. The natural result of the absence of places of worship is, that there is very little difference between Sunday and another day. It is a common saying that Sunday don't cross the Breakwater (which is a bridge near Corio); but public-houses are to be met with in all directions, and they are the ruin of hundreds in this colony, wine and spirits being very cheap.
"It is now the end of winter here, and very pleasant weather it is. The rain sometimes pours down in torrents for six or seven days together without stopping, and hailstones as large as marbles sometimes break windows, and even kill small birds The thunder-storms are awful,—the flashes of lightning follow each other so rapidly, that it seems one continual blaze, -the thunder roars, the rain pours down in torrents, the wind tears up trees by the roots,-in short, it is enough to make the stoutest heart tremble, and forces at least an awful reverence for nature's God, who rules and governs all, at whose words the fiery elements are pacified, the rains and wind cease, and pleasant summer once more takes their place. If God give me health, I shall be able to save at least 501. in four years, when, please God, I shall return to my injured friends. I have had very good health since my arrival here ; and this is a country where there is plenty of work for every body, and where there is no want, but all enjoy the necessaries, and even the luxuries of life, which is not the case in England. But still there is no place like home. Though I have a large share of what ought to make life