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REFORMATION OF JUVENILE DELINQUENTS.
One of the most valuable of the benevolent institutions in the city is the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents. This institution was established for the purpose of taking charge of the youthful criminals and vagrants taken up by the police in the streets and highways, and endeavouring to effect these three great objects: first, of reforming their bad habits, and giving them a moral, and, if possible, a religious character; next, of giving them some mental acquirements by education; and, thirdly, teaching them some honest trade or calling, by which they might obtain a subsistence. It has been in operation for twelve years, and has hitherto produced the best results.
The number of the boys in this institution is at present 145, and of girls 69. The two sexes are taught in different apartments, and exercised in different sections of the build. ing, and each is attended by teachers of its own sex only. The coloured are also separated from the white delinquents; for even among criminals this distinccíon of colour is rigidly observed.
We were struck with the testimony of the teachers and superintendent 'as to the large share which intemperance had in producing the crimes of which these very young persons were the victims, some of them not more than seven or eight years of age, and none above fifteen or sixteen; and this was so strongly impressed on the minds of the directors of the institution, that in their last annual report for 1837, they advert to it in the following terms :
“ In enumerating a few of the chief causes of crime in this country, as discovered ia the experience of the managers, we have, as usual, to commence with that hydra-headed monster, intemperance! Such is the general demand for labourers and mechanics in every branch of business, and so remunerating are the wages to be obtained by the industrious, that there would seem to be but little incentive to crime occasioned by want, as a person has only to be sober and industrious to obtaip the means of support. That morality and religion are practised and reverenced by thousands of the labouring classes, is a fact evident to every person of observation; that such might be the case much more extensively in every class, nobody will deny: what is done by some can be done by others in similar circumstances. But, alas! the neverfailing supply of ardent spirits, and at so cheap a price as to bring them within the compass of every man's purse, is so direct and constant a temptation, that it seems to require something more than human nature to withstand it. When once the first feelings of propriety are overcome, and the Rubicon passed, there is but little hope that any selfcontrol afterward will be exercised to expel the tempter from his new abode. The same indescribable fascination which binds the ambitious man in the pursuit of his favourite object, whatever it may be, exercises a similar or even a more potent influence over the drunkard. He first sacrifices himself, then his wife and children, until all are reduced to the lowest grade of human misery. Although, in most cases, we are ready to believe that the unfortunate wise will stem the torrent of affliction without contamination, and preserve her tender babes from the moral pollution which surrounds them, yet, alas! it sometimes happens that she too becomes the victim, corrupted by her husband's example, and, as a necessary consequence, the poor children, until then innocent, are forced into the paths of vice by their unnatural parents ! This is no 'fancy sketch ;' it is an every-day truth; and the records of the House of Refuge most distinctly prove that by far the greater pumber of its inmates have been brought to their unfortunate condition by the intemperance of a father or a mother, or both.
The book which contains the histories of the children who have been admitted into the house is a most instructive one to read, and should not be beneath the notice of a legislator. Its pages may almost be called a 'succinct account of the rise and progress of intemperance.' The philanthropist who peruses its simple and unpretending details, will exclaim when he finishes it, “Could we but abolish drunkenness, where would we find candidates for admission into our prisons ?'
"If the effects of this dreadful plague be such as we describe (and who can call our statement into question ?), is it not an act of duty on the part of the constiwited authorities, to whom power is given for the benefit of the whole community, to do all they can to lessen, if they cannot eradicate, this vice!
“ There is another evil, of serious magnitude in this city, which we think requires correction : we allude to those petty pawnbrokers' shops which are to be found in many of our most public streets. į "The facility with which mones can be obtained on any article, whether new or old, whether of grear or little value, holds out strong temptations to theft.
"A pawnbroker who would not knowingly receive stolen goods, is still very liable to be imposed upon, while one of a different character has numerous ways of encouraging thieves to continue their evil practices. Persons in distressed circumstances who are ashamed to beg, will thankfully take whatever sum, be it ever so small, they can obtain in the pawnbroker's shop, and submit to the loss of interest, or to the sale of their goods, if they cannot in time redeem them. Those who steal will also take whatever they can get advanced as a loan, because it is all clear gain to them. Many a thief would steal an article worth ten shillings, and pawn it for ten cents. Finding the case with which they succeed in obtaining money, one petty theft follows another, until they become more bold in their depredations, and rob on a larger scale.
" The system of loaning money to the poor can certainly be improved upon, and none calls more loudly for legislative interference. We have our chartered banks and insurance companies for the benefit of the community, as by these means accommodation and security can be furnished on better terms to the upper and middle classes of society, while for the poor and needy little provision has been made, so that they are left a prey to the arts of those who take advantage of their necessities.”
I have given these passages of the report in the hope that they will meet the eyes of some of our British legislators and philanthropists, having been myself for years past convinced that public houses for drinking, and pawnbrokers' shops for lending, are two of the greatest curses that afflict our coun. try; and that the entire extirpation of both would be the greatest blessing that could be conferred upon our land.
LEVITY OF THE PRESS.
Misery and Crime among the poorer Classes.-Levity of the public Journals in record.
ing this.-Bennett's slanderous Paper, the Morning Herald.-- Bodies of dead Negroes salted for Exportation.-Deaths from Want and Destitution.-American Importation of foreign Grain.-Reversion of the Order of Nature in this.-Causes which led to this singular State of Things.- Instances of Robbery, Murder, and Fraud. -Occupa. tions for the Members of the Law.-Highwaymen in the Suburbs of New York.-De. pravity of Morals in the Country:-Intemperance and Wretchedness in the Towns. Authentic Proofs of this from public Records.- Opinions as to the Causes of so much Depravity.- Exposition of the Progress of American Embarrassment.--Effects of these Causes on the general Condition of Society. - Party Misrepresentations of the public Press.-Caste of the populace for Shows and Sights.-Celebration of the An. niversary of Evacuation-day.- Description of this Festival from an American Pen.
NOTWITHSTANDING the number and efficiency of the benevolent institutions of New York, there is still a large amount of misery and crime, of destitution in its most abject state, and of intemperance in its most fearful forms, existing in that city. A very painful part of this picture is the indifference, and even levity, with which this subject is treated in the public papers, where facts that ought to thrill the heart with horror, or mel it with pity, are treated of with all the flippancy
of a jest, and their readers are thus habituated to see crime and wretchedness made subjects of amusement rather than of commiseration. The manner in which most of the police cases are treated (and the London papers have had their pernicious example too closely followed in this respect) is such as to take away all disgust at the crimes committed, and destroy all sympathy for its unhappy victims. Provi. ded a laugh can be excited by the air of the ludicrous with which the personages and their offences are invested, the object of the reporter appears to be answered; and if the sale of the paper is thereby increased, the gains of the editor are also promoted; but the healthy feeling of indignation against crime, and of sympathy for human suffering, is by this means daily and hourly vitiated and destroyed. I offer as examples of this two paragraphs out of fifty similar ones, at least, that fell under my eye during my stay in this city.
“ WELL FILLED. “ The Courier of this morning states that some police-officers had occasion to visit a house in Cross-street a few days since. They found that it was tenanted by seventy-two women, sixty-five men, and one hundred and thirty-five children, exclusive of the live-stock attendant upon such a family."
This paragraph, which was taken from the Commercial Advertiser in December, one of the leading Whig daily pa.
pers, was copied into nearly all the others, with the heading of “Well Filled” preserved in each; and in no instance did I perceive added to it the slightest expression of regret that this opulent city should contain within its bosom such a num. ber of unhappy beings huddled together in so confined a space, while hundreds were living in palaces, and could feed, by the surplus of their daily tables, the wretched inmates of these crowded dwellings. The terms “well filled" and “ live-stock” were the parts of the paragraph that excited a laugh, while the amount of suffering indicated by the ex. cessive numbers and limited space were passed over with. out comment or observation. The following is just as heartless in its way. It is taken from the New York Daily Whig:
“A HUSKING FROLIC IN KENTUCKY. “A fight came off at Maysville, Kentucky, on the 20th, in which a Mr. Coulster was stabbed in the side, and is dead; a Mr. Gibson was well hacked with a knife; a Mr. Farrs was dangerously wounded in the head, and another of the same name in the hip; a Mr. Shoemaker was severely beaten, and several others seriously hurt in various ways. This entertainment was the winding-up of a corn
husking frolic, when all, doubt. less, were right merry with good whiskey."
What must be the indifference to human life, the contempt of morals, and the indulgent estimate of drunkenness, in the mind of the editor who could pen such a paragraph as this (for this and its predecessor were printed in large open type, like the leading articles of the respective papers), may be easily inferred. How then is it possible, while such heartless and unfeeling guides and teachers regulate the public taste, and supply the public appetite with mental food, that the community should not have their taste corrupted, their moral perceptions deadened, and their horror of crime frittered away to indifference? Thus it is that announcements of the most revolting description are made with a coolness and nonchalance which is almost incredible. In the NewYork Transcript of January 14, 1838, the editor of which professes to be a religious man, the following astounding assertion is made, without note or comment; and whether the statement be true or false (and, for the reputation of the city named, I would hope for the latter), yet the heartlessness of the editor who could make such a statement without expressing the slightest mark of surprise or disapprobation, is the same.
It is as follows: “The business of supplying brothel-keepers with unsuspecting victims has been adopted by the Boston intelligence-office keepers in Boston,"
ABUSE OF THE PRESS.
The demoralizing effect which the daily perusal of such paragraphs as these must produce on the rising generation, is impossible to be calculated, from its familiarizing them with scenes of vice of which they would otherwise have remained ignorant; but still more from its making crime and wretchedness the subject of jest and ridicule, by which the understanding becomes blunted to the perception of evil, and the heart rendered callous to human suffering.
There is one daily newspaper in New York, however, which carries on such a trade of infamy in pandering to the public appetite for slander and obscenity, that it deserves to be held up to public reprobation by name. It is called the Morning Herald; it is written and published by its proprietor, James Gordon Bennett, a native of Scotland by birth, but long domiciled in New-York; it is published in three editions, a morning, an evening, and a weekly Herald ; the two former at a penny, and the latter at threepence each. Its practice is to employ persons to collect all the gossip and scandal of the town relating to private families and individuals, and upon a grain or two of truth to heap up a superstructure of falsehood, and then interlard this with expressions or allusions of the grossest obscenity, and send it forth for the gratification of the depraved. Private dinner-parties, balls, and social meetings are pretended to be reported in its pages, some of them having no existence, and others wholly misrepresented; and the only way of securing exemption from the attacks of his slanderous pen is to advertise largely in the paper, and pay most extravagant prices, or to send the editor presents in money or other direct bribes. Several individuals have had letters addressed to them from the office of this paper, saying that communications were in their possession which they would not like to see in print, but that the only way of preventing their appearance would be to pay the amount which had been offered for their insertion; and some timid persons have been thus awed into the payment of the “ hush-money” required, though others have resisted it. The following circumstance occurred to myself with this paper : On my arrival in New York, a gentleman whom I had known in England offered to allow his clerk to transact for me any business connected with advertising in the newspapers, to save me the trouble. I very gladly availed myself of this offer; and the clerk accordingly took round the first advertisement of my lectures to each of the papers of the city, as he was directed to have it inserted in all, without distinction of party. At the offices