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gretted that one whose feelings are so good, and whose intentions are so benevolent, should blindly pursue a course in politics which, if it were successful, would revive in London and Manchester the prison-scenes of Paris and Lyons. There are men whom it is better to have against us than with us,- -men whose hearts and understandings are so tainted, that some evil motive may reasonably be suspected whenever, by any apparent eccentricity, they happen to take the right side. But it is a melancholy thing when benevolence is duped into an alliance with that principle of evil which is at work night and day for the destruction of laws, monarchy, religion, and social order.
It was very long before the prisons attracted any of that charitable feeling with which England has at all times abounded; nor is this to be wondered at, for the innocent and the meritorious have assuredly a stronger claim in their misfortunes upon sympathy and benevolence, than those who have drawn their wretchedness on themselves by chusing the evil part, and attempting to prey upon society. The first persons in this country who appear to have felt any compassion for the sufferings of guilt were the Methodists. Their founders at the beginning of their career visited the prisons. Afterwards one who had been connected with them was condemned for some petty robbery, and sent for a woman, remarkable for enthusiastic charity, to assist him with her prayers. Her name was Sarah Peters, and it deserves to be honourably recorded; for though the jail-distemper was at that time raging, she attended him and the other poor wretches who were under sentence of death, regularly for about three weeks, till they went to execution rejoicing in a full belief that their sins were forgiven; then she sickened and died of the infection to which she had exposed herself. Silas Told, a credulous and weak-minded but well-meaning man, accompanied her on these visits, and as long as he lived, which was about five and twenty years, he used to preach and pray with the condemned malefactors and accompany them to Tyburn. Since that time the Methodists have occasionally followed these examples, but it has not been a part of their economy to visit the prisons, and no institutions analogous to the Misericordia of certain Catholic countries has ever been formed in this. Indeed this kind of charity when confined to condemned criminals, though eminently meritorious in the individual, dies with its object, and effects little or nothing by example. It is at once the most painful and most unprofitable manner in which charity can be employed; the zeal which expends itself upon cases thus lost to society has frequently strayed into indiscreet and mischievous language, both in administering consolation, and in boasting of its success.
Of that charity which, tending directly to amend the guilty, is beneficial
neficial to the public as well as to its immediate objects, a memorable example has been given in Mrs. Fry and those other generous Quakers who have effected so great a change in the condition of the female prisoners in Newgate. Their zealous and well-directed benevolence is beyoud all praise, and as it proceeds from the most exalted of all motives, true Christian charity-so beyond all doubt it carries with it the highest of all rewards. An army officer, one who was what the world calls a man of pleasure, was asked by some of his free companions what was the greatest pleasure he had ever felt. After pausing awhile, he replied- When we were on our march in Ireland, in a very hot day, I called at a cabin by the road side, and asked for a little water. The woman brought me a cup of milk. I gave her a piece of silver-and the joy which that poor creature expressed gave me the greatest pleasure I ever had in my life. Now,' says Wesley, by whom this story was related in one of his sermons, if the doing good gave so much pleasure to one who acted from natural generosity, how much more must it give to one who does it on a nobler principle, the pure love of God and his neighbour !'
But as heroic virtue will not always supply the want of military discipline in war, so neither should it be depended upon for remedying the defects of civil institutions; nor indeed ought there to be a call upon the sublimest charity for a purpose which may be perfectly well effected by the machinery of good regulations. Separate the prisoners, according to their different degrees of criminality and hardihood in evil; provide instruction for all, with more or less of solitary confinement, according to their deserts; let no spirits or fermented liquors enter the prison; suffer no gambling there, or sports of any kind ;-it is a place of penance,—a lazarhouse of guilt,-a hospital for the treatment of moral diseases. Toward those who evince a desire of amending their lives, let there be as much kindness and encouragement shown, as is consistent with their situation. Let the prison-fare be a penitentiary regimen, any improvement of which the patients must deserve by good conduct, and earn by their labour; and let a portion of their earnings be carried to account, and paid them when their confinement is at an end, and they leave the prison with habits of industry, regularity, sobriety, and temperance. However unpleasant their abode may have been, the greater part of the persons who have had these virtues forced upon them will look back upon the infirmary with gratitude, and will respect those laws by which they have been chastised in mercy, and saved from wretchedness and utter destruction. The prison at Philadelphia affords a model for such regulations, and they may be introduced wherever they are needful, with little difficulty, and sure success.
When the measure of punishment exceeds the offence, the laws are in contradiction to our natural sense of equity, and a hostile feeling towards them is excited, innocent and even honourable in its origin, but dangerous in its consequences. On the other hand, the laws are brought into contempt when they neither tend to reform the offender, nor in the slightest degree to prevent him from repeating the offence. It is not our present intention to inquire how far our laws are faulty in either respect, but we will venture to point out a very easy, and at the same time a very necessary and material reform. We venture to ask whether it be absolutely necessary that so many loop-holes should be left for the escape of guilt? Whether the purposes of justice are not sacrificed to the technicalities of law, which is sacrificing the end to the means? and whether the weight which is allowed to flaws and informalities in the practice of our courts, and the importance which is attached to things so utterly insignificant in themselves, be a whit more honourable to the profession of the law, than the grossest quackery is to the science of medicine?
The evil will be more clearly understood by general readers, and may perhaps strike professional ones more forcibly, if a few cases be stated to exemplify it. Some years ago a man was tried for forgery; the fact was proved against him, and his condemnation would have been certain, had it not been perceived just in time that his Christian name, which happened to be Bartholomew, had been abbreviated in the indictment. It was one of those cases, we believe, in which no person, not even the prosecutors themselves, could be sorry that the prisoner escaped; this however was merely accidental, and matters nothing to the point before us. There was no doubt of the man's identity, there was no doubt of his guilt; and what did it signify in the eyes of justice, or of common sense, whether his Christian name were written at full length or not? In a more recent case, a flaw of the same kind, and if possible still more contemptible, sufficed to save an offender from punishment, where there was certainly no room for compassion. The crime was the odious one of writing letters to threaten the life of a timid and defenceless woman, for the purpose of extorting money from her, and that too under circumstances of peculiar aggravation; and the guilty party was acquitted because the phrase by-nights in the letter had been written by night in the indictment! It might be expected that so flagrant an instance as this would have excited the attention of the legislature, and that paltry pedantries would no longer have been suffered to disgrace our courts by frustrating the very purpose for which laws were instituted. It is not long since an attempt was made to invalidate an indenture, berause, though perfect in all its parts, the paper upon which it was
written was straight at the top! The judge, upon hearing the objection, desired to look at the deed, and taking his scissars from his pocket, he quietly zigzagged it, and returned it to the party by whom the quibble had been started, as a valid instrument. Is there any imaginable reason why such flaws as those which we have instanced, should not in like manner be amended upon the spot, or overlooked, as unworthy even of the expense of time in amending them? Let us also be permitted to hint, as an additional reason for correcting this abuse, how possible it is that such flaws may not always be accidental.
Connected with this subject, there is another point which requires notice. Any person who can invent a new method of defrauding either individuals or the public may, in the present state of things, enjoy the fruits of his ingenuity with perfect safety, till a law be made, declaring the new invention to be criminal. The reader will recollect the case of Mr. Aslett. A more recent one is that of a stationer who prepared paper of extreme thinness in such a manner that when it was stamped, one stamp sufficed for three sheets, and the sheets being afterwards separated, the revenue was thus defrauded of two parts in three: when the trick was detected, it could not be punished, because no such fraud had been foreseen. And in the case of that nefarious manufactory of tea which has lately been brought to light, the persons upon whom the wholesale stock of this poisonous preparation was found, were liable to no punishment, because it could not be proved that they traded in the article. Surely such cases might be reached by some general provision. Nice points of casuistry are entrusted to our juries, such as were never contemplated when juries were instituted; cases of fraud are too palpable to be mistaken by them; and all minor degrees of punishment might safely be left to the discretion of the judge.
These indeed are not the reforms by which popularity is to be courted, and which the professors of humanity are ambitious of bringing forward; but they are among the means by which the only real reformation is to be effected; they are among the means by which the laws may be made more effectual, and criminals more sure of conviction and correction. Nor can it be doubted but that real reformation would be facilitated by the preventive measures upon which we have enlarged, and which it is in the power of the magistrates, the clergy, and the parochial officers to execute. From such measures, simple and easy as they are, the greatest good may be expected ;-but more especially from general education, and most of all from careful religious instruction, without which education will be worse than useless. It is our business to sow the seed, and weed the ground well; we may then look with full assurance for the harvest. Let us do our duty in enacting new laws H 3
where they are needful, and enforcing those which the wisdom of our ancestors has provided: we may then, to use the happy language of an old chronicler, trust that all things may continually amend from evil to good, from good to better, and from better to the best.'
ART. IV. Letters from the Hon. Horace Walpole to George Montagu, Esq. from the year 1736 to 1770. WE have here another volume of Letters, from an author who may decidedly claim pre-eminence for ease and liveliness of expression, terseness of remark and felicity of narration, above almost all the letter-writers of Britain. The peculiarities and even the foibles of Horace Walpole's character were such as led to excellence in this style of composition; and, although his correspondence has not always taught us to respect the man, the writer seldom fails to amuse us.
We know little of Horace Walpole's character but what his works and his letters lead us to infer, and these present extraordinary and strangely blended features. He was in politics, by principle, personal and hereditary, a determined Whig; yet no man seems to have held the profane vulgar in such sacred and aristocratic horror. In this particular, as in some others, he seems rather to have felt like a French noble than like an Englishman of rank. This contempt for the vulgar would naturally have been associated with the corresponding ambition of a man of family and fashion to distinguish himself at court; and it may be esteemed a contradiction, that Horace Walpole, the son of a prime minister, vain of his rank in society, should have spent the greater part of his life in the lists of opposition. Here, however, his Whig principles thwarted a strong natural propensity to breathe court air; for while he expatiates with ill-concealed complacency on the necessity of attending the Princess Amelia, and receiving the Duke of Cumberland or Duke of York, he finds it necessary to veil the glow of satisfied vanity with an affectation of ruffled philosophy and disturbed retirement.
I will tell you how the calamity befel me, though you will laugh instead of pitying me. Last Friday morning, I was very tranquilly writing my Anecdotes of Painting-I heard the bell at the gate ringI called out, as usual, "Not at home;" but Harry, who thought it would be treason to tell a lie, when he saw red liveries, owned I was, and came running up, "Sir, the prince of Wales is at the door, and says, he is come on purpose to make you a visit!" There was I, in the utmost confusion, undressed, in my slippers, and with my hair about my ears; there was no help, insanum ratem aspiciet—and down I went to receive him. Him was the duke of York. Behold my breeding of