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PARKHURST PRISON FOR JUVENILE CRIMINALS, ENGLAND. The following account of Parkhurst Prison, is derived from the evidence of Capt. ain Hall, the Governor, before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1847, and of Lientenant-Colonel Jebb, the Visitor:
“ This is a penal establishment for boys who have been sentenced to transportation, usually between the ages of 10 and 18, but even at 8 or 9 many have been thus sentenced, with a view of getting them here, and not long ago there were as many as 60 or 70 at this tender age. On the boy's first arrival at ihe prison he is placed in a probationary ward, where he is kept in separate confinement for 4 months or more. During this time he is not allowed to hold any intercourse with the other boys, but for at least five hours he is at different times in the presence of others, either for exercise, instruction, or religious service, and during the time he is in his cell, he is supplied with occupation and books, and is visited by the officers of the establishment. “This is not, therefore, a stringent separate system. The boys appear good spirits, cheerful and happy, nor does their health in any way suffer; indeed, boys have frequently asked to go back to the probationary ward after having left it, from feeling there a de. gree of security from temptation to commit prison offences, and consequently to incur punishment. After this the boys are placed together where they learn trades, and converse or play with each other, under the eye of warders--the meals being taken together, 360 in a large hall. The boys remain at Parkhurst from 2 to 3 years, sometimes longer, during this time a highly favorable change is generally perceptible in the whole disposition of the boy; there is a great difference beiween the first and second year, and a still greater difference between the third and the former year. The state of health has been remarkably good, only fourteen deaths having occurred during 8 years, among nearly 1.200 boys. On leaving Parkhurst they are generally sent to the colonies, and much depends on the circumstances in which ihey are there placed. In Western Australia, there is an officer of the government, styled the Guardian of Juve. nile Emigrants, who is appointed to apprentice the boys and to see that the conditions of the indentures are fulfilled, visiting them once in six months. It is feared that in other colonies such provision has not yet been made, and that the boys are consequently exposed, on arriving, lo much danyer of falling back into dishonest means of gaining a livelihood. Excellent reports have been received recently of the conduct of boys sent out to Western Australia ;-of 62 boys, 50 were first-rate lads, but 12, about 1-51h, were very troublesoine, and great difficulty was felt in disposing of them. This has also been experienced in making satisfactory arrangements for those sent very young to Parkhurst, who after passing through the appointed time, and having received the requisite instruction, were not old enough to be sent abroad, and having a prison brand affixed to them, could not be otherwise placed out. For such cases, Col. Jebb seels it would be most desirable to provide District Penal Schools similar to Parkhurst, where they could be properly arranged for, leaving only the boys above the age of 15 to come into the hands of government for transportation.”
Thus far the establishment would seem a good one, were it restricted to such boys of 15 or 16 and upwards, as have so thoroughly resisted every attempt to reform them, that their absolute removal from society is the only safeguard from their evil influence on it. But what is to become of the young boys,-of the female convicts altogether? These have been quite uncared for in the provision made for the older boys.
Above 2000 of the annual fresh supply of male juvenile delinquents are under the age for Parkhurst. Mr. Neison's statistic tables show that, during the 9 years for which the tables are drawn, females constituted one-fifth of the total tried at assizes ; about one-fourth of the summarily convicted, and of the whole number re-committed, one-third were females. But of those 14 years of age and under, only between one. seventh and one-eighth were girls. A yet more striking fact is derivable from a paper delivered into the Lords' Committee in 1847, by Mr. Chalmers, Governor of Aberdeen Prison. The percentage of female prisoners in all the prisons of Scotland, is nearly one half; of juvenile female prisoners under 17, between one-fifth and one-sixth ? but the per centage of re-committants of juvenile female prisonets greater by one-half than that of males. This statistic fact would indicate that young girls are generally much less prone to crime than boys of the same age, but that their tendency to it rapidly increases with their age, and that when they have once embarked in a criminal career, they become more thoroughly hardened than the other sex. The correctness of these painful results is proved by the testimony of the Bishop of Tasmania before the Lords.
After speaking of the fearful condition of the female convicts in the colonies, which surpasses in degradation and vice even that of the men he adds :
“Female selons are so bad, because, before a woman can become a felon at all, she must have fallen much lower, have unlearnt much more, have become much more lost and depraved than a man. Her difficulty of regaining her self-respect is proportionally greater. There is nothing to fall back upon--no one to look to. I believe that the experience of almost every parish priest in England would lead him to the conclusion that there are many cases in which in our village girls are kept straight, not so much by their own good principle, as by the check imposed upon them through the dread of shame, the fear of fathers, mothers, friends and relations. Let that check be once removed, and their future progress is rapidly downward. When they go out as convicts every thing is gone, every restraint is removed, they can fall no lower.”
An experienced temperance advocate has stated that, while the cases of drunken men who have become reformed and steady teetotalers have come very frequently before him, he has never known an instance of a woman, given to intorication, being really converted; this will probably be common experience. The records of the teacher's journal are quite in accordance with these painful facts.
* One little girl only, at all connected with our school, has been taken before the magistrates, while such occurrences among the boys are frequent. We have not, then, in the school, the criminal class of girls, and only in a few cases the sisters of the boys who have been convicted of theft; that many girls who are already known thieves, exist in Bristol, the weekly police reports sufficiently show; but these will not come to school. Nor will the low and degraded girls that infest the neighborhood; in the early period of the school several of these caine for a time, but have since discontinued. The girls who attend are rather the very poor and low, than the vicious. Their general appearance usually strikes strangers as superior to what would be expected in such a school ; this arises from the circumstance that giris are more easily able to improve their dress by their industral habits, and also that girls are more quickly susceptible of improvement than boys. Any effort, therefore, soon tells on them; but this very flexibility of nature, renders them more liable to fall when under bad influence. On the other hand it is far more difficult to call out their intellectual powers than those of the boys, and thus to interest them in their lessons ; this arises not only from the difference in their natures, but from the circumstance that while the boys have been sharpening their powers by roving the streets, the girls have been confined to their wretched home. The dullness and stupidity they manifest, united with great vulgarity, is a serious hindrance to their improvement, but persevering efforts has done much for them."
When we reflect that the early moulding of the young child's mind depends almost entirely on the mother, and that these neglected children, who are in great danger of joining the criminal class, if they have not done so, are to become the parents of the next generation, surely express provision should be made for their training and reformation. As yet they have been unprovided for by the government, and Parkhurst only exists for the boys.
Let us now endeavor to ascertain from public documents how far the juvenile pris. on at Parkhurst is fulfilling its mission. As confinement here is the only authorized mode of disposing of young transports, rather than subjecting them to the system adopted for adults, Sergeant Adams frequently sent juvenile offenders to it, before the rules of admission were defined, yet this is the opinion he expressed of the Institution before the Lords in 1847 :
"I was about three weeks ago at Parkhurst, in the Isle of Wight. They there act upon the principle of cooping up, and it seems to me a mistaken one. They have 40 solitary cells, and every child who is sent to Parkhurst is locked up in one of those cells for four months alier he goes. I call it solitary; perhaps the word ' separate is the term used, but it is solitary in this respect, that he is there for the whole twentyfour hours, with the exception of when he is in chapel, and two hours when he is at school, where he is in such a pen that he can see nobody but the minister. His sole employment is knitting, and reading good books. No good conduct can make him there less than four months, and if his conduct is not good, he is there until his conduct is good. At this time there are several boys who have been in those cells from six to twelve months. It seems to me that it can only make them sullen. When the prison was first established, the boys were allowed occasionally a game of play; that was entirely put an end to. Within the last three months they have been allowed occasionally to play at leap-frog, but no other game. Of course, if boys are allowed to play at leap-frog and no other game, leap-frog will be the only game at which they will not care to play. I asked what were the rewards held out for good conduct, and they told me the only rewards were permission to attend the evening school, and the privi. lege of going to the governor to get information of their friends. Why, one half of them have no friends to ask after, and as to the other half, the less they know of them the better. The privilege also of attending evening school, though a great and proper one, might be rendered more valuable if accompanied by the privilege of half a holiday, and a game of cricket. That they can behave ill in their solitary cell is quite clear, because otherwise a boy could not be there for twelve months ; but what that ill behavior is, or what the good behavior is, I did not ask, for I thought I ought not to pry into those questions.”
Such is the opinion of the prison expressed by a benevolent and experienced man. Let us turn for further particulars to the printed reports presented to both Houses of Parliament.
“ The number of prisoners, 79, sent back to Milbank for transportation in 1846, was, from peculiar circumstances, unusually great. A number of ill-disposed and discontented boys having been discovered, who inanisested no desire to avail themselves of the course of instruction and training pursued at Parkhurst, but mischievously employed themselves in unsettling and perverting others, it was deemed expedient to remove the greater portion of them in the month of April, and the salutary effect of that step has been very apparent since that time in the improved conduct of the re. maining prisoners. The other individuals returned for transportation were boys, who having repeatedly incurred minor punishments for misconduci, had been placed in the penal class, and while there, did not evince any real desire to amend."
It seems, then, that after some years of experience, sufficient moral power was not obtained to control as many as 79, who were therefore sent back to people another country. At Mettrai, the number of morally incurable was, even from the earliest times, only occasionally one or two. We see also that even this strict penal disci. pline cannot preserve the less vicious from moral contamination, from “ill-disposed and discontented boys.” The last report will show whether any great progress in moral influence has been made in five years. The Governor reports :
“The number of attempts to escape has been very large this last year, (1849,) 34 prisoners in all have run away, 30 of these while out at farm labor. All of them, however, were speedily re-captured. None of the boys who made these attempts had so far as I can ascertain, any hope or expectation that they would really be able to secure their liberty ; but having found that two boys who had run from the land, and had committed a robbery previous to their re-capture, were removed to Winchester Gaol, they determined to try to get relief by such a course of proceeding, from the restraint and discipline of Parkhurst, which they found 10 be intolerably irksome. Having no power of forethought or rational consideration, they yielded to the impulse of an unlounded notion, that any change from Parkhurst would be for the better."
When a youth who had twice attempted to escape from his former confinement, was asked why he did not make a similar effort at Mettrai, he replied, “because there are no talls ;" from that penal asylum there have been for many years no escapes; here there are "enclosures long believed to be impassable," sentinels with loaded guns, and a certainty that there is no possible escape from the island ? yet ihe inhabitants of the surrounding district are in constant fear of finding runaways in their houses, nor is the apprehension diminished hy the fact of two conflagrations having been kindled by the prisoners during the last year. Why does this state of feeling exist at Parkhurst ? The Visitors give in their report a sufficient clue to it.
" Among youths such as are confined at Parkhurst, who are precocious without experience, very restless and adventurous without being guided by reason, very excitable, credulous when one of themselves asserts a fact, or advances a proposal, yet sus. picious of all that may be stated or urged by their officers, even to an extent that could hardly be believed by those who did not continually watch the workings of their minds, it is most difficult to make them understand what is for their immediate, as well as their prospective benefit.”
What wonder is it. that with such a state of feeling, with nothing to exercise and give free vent to their “ restless and adventurous" spirit, with no “direct and sufficiently powerful stimulus in the way of remuneration for work efficiently done,” their pent up energies should break ont into frequent acts of disrespect to the officers, violence, wanton damage of property, and even theft, as well as disorder and prohibited
talking, for which an average of 445 boys incurred, in 1844, 4105 separate punishments, (among them 165 whippings,) making an average of above 10 per diem! If the governor is able to state in the last report, that the behavior of the majority " was generally quiet, orderly, and obedient; he feels obliged to add :
“That while there has been a general observance of outward regularity and attention to the prison rules among the greater portion of the boys, and serious breaches of order have been of comparatively rare occurrence, there has not been that evidence of a general and growing desire to improve in moral conduct and industrial energy, which I anxiously looked for, and the apparent absence of which causes ine much disappointment. Prisoners are generally indolent, boys especially."
Those who have accorded in the principles of reformatory action which were laid down in the first chapter, and have been our guide in the consideration of all the schools that have passed before us, will feel no surprise that the governor's hopes are unfulfilled, not, it may, be, through any fault of his own, but through the radical error of the whole system. It attempts to fashion children into machines, instead of self. acting beings, to make them obedient prisoners within certain iron limits, not men who have been taught how to use their liberty without abusing it ; without this knowledge, and the power of employing it, we have seen that the best instruction, the Word of God itself, but little avails its possessor. Such a system must fail ; for the boy whose heart has never been purified and softened by any good home influences, who has al. ways done “ what is right in his own eyes,” will never give a willing obedience where his powers can have no free exercise, where there is no sostening power of love to subdue him, where he can never hear from woman what should have been the entreating tones of a mother, where he regards with profound suspicion the appointed agents of his reformation. It is utterly vain to look for any real reformation where the heart is not touched, where the inner springs of action are not called into healthful exercise ; this can not possibly be done for children under the mechanical and military discipline of Parkhurst.
We have thus endeavored to scrutinize the system adopted in this establishment, and to point out its radical defects, because it is the only reformatory prison for boys existing under government direction, and is regarded by many as a model one. Of the details of its management it is unnecessary to speak; they appear, from the reports to be well planned, and carried out with due attention to the health of the boys, and their instruction in mental and industrial pursuits, while the expense is probably as moderate as is possible under the circumstances. There is only one other point to which we would draw attention. Parkhurst is especially intended for the training of boys, who at the end of two, or at most three years, will be prepared to go out as colonists, and the regulations now laid down, make 14 and upwards, the age of admission The governor has, in his report, stated his opinion :
" That the admission of youths of 18 and upwards, or of lads who have pursued a course of crime for several years, till they have become habituated to and hardened in it, is very much to be lamented, as it seriously impedes all efforts made for the reformation of our inmates. Such characters as those above described, having beer many times imprisoned, have lost all sense of degradation, have no desire to become respectable characters, and have no intention to earn their subsistence by honest means whenever they may regain their liberty. Abject slaves themselves to sensual appetites and propensities, the only voluntary activity they manifest is a continual effort, by persuasion, by threats, by false promises, or by ridicule, to make other prisoners pursue their vicious example in opposing all means which may be tried for their moral improvement.'
But at the end of the preceding year there were 393 out of 622, 18 years of age and upwards, some of them “convicted of atrocious crimes,” which, he justly feared, would “afford subject for eager investigation and debasing discourse among a certain class of the prisoners.” When young men have arrived at that degree of audacious depravity, can it be doubted that unless sufficient moral force is in action to neutralize their influence, they must be most unsafe companions for boys ? And if youihs have been allowed thus to go on in a career of crime until they have been “so many times imprisoned, that they have lost all sense of degradation," surely a school for boys is a most unfit place for them.
III. BIOGRAPHY OF ROGER ASCHAM,
We shall commence in our next number the publication of Roger Ascham's great work—“The Schoolmaster;" one of the earliest and most valuable contributions to the educational literature of our language. As an appropriate introduction, we give a sketch of the author's life drawn mainly from Hartley Coleridge's “Northern Worthies," and the “ Biographical Dictionary" commenced by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
Roger Ascham was the third son of John and Margaret Ascham, and was born in the year 1515, at Kirby Wiske, near Northallerton in Yorkshire, where his father resided as steward to the noble family of Scroope. His parents, who were highly esteemed in their station, after living together for forty-seven years, both died on the same day and nearly at the same hour. Their son Roger displayed from his childhood a taste for learning, and was received into the family of Sir Anthony Wingfield, who caused him to be educated with his own sons, under the care of their tutor, Mr. Robert Bond ;* and in the year 1530, placed him at St. John's College, Cambridge, then the most flourishingt in the University. Ascham applied himself particularly to the study of Greek, to which a great impulse had recently been given by the dispersion of the learned Greeks throughout Europe, in consequence of the taking of Constantinople. He made great proficiency in Greek as well as Latin, and he read Greek lectures, wbile yet a youth, to students still younger than himself. He took the degree of A. B. in February, 1534, and on the 23d of the next month was electedf fellow of his college, through the influence of
* “To conclude, let this, amongst other motives, make schoolmasters careful in their place, that the eminences of their scholars have commended their schoolmasters to posterity, which otherwise in obscurity had been altogether forgotten. Who had ever heard of R. Bond in Lancashire, but for the breeding of learned Roger Ascham, bis scholar ?" Fuller's Holy and Profane Stales-The Good Schoolmuster.
† Dr. Grant in his “ Oratio de vita et obitu Rogeri Ascham” thus compliments Sir John's College :-"Yea, surely, in that one college, which at that season, for number of most learned doctors, for multitude of erudite philosophers, for abundance of elegant orators, all in their kind superlative, might rival or outvie all mansions of literature on earth, were exceedingly many men, most excellent in all politer letters, and in knowledge of languages."
1" Dr. Nicholas Medcalf"-writes Ascham later in life, “ was a man meanly learned himself, but not meanly affectioned to set forth learning in others. He was partial to none, but indifferent to all; a master of the whole, a father to every one in that college. There was none so poor, if he had either will to goodness, or wit to learning, that could lack being there,