Abbildungen der Seite

taken in Canada, where, since 1859, the Board of Inspectors of Asylums, Prisons, and Hospitals have been intrusted with the supervision of all such establishments in the Province. The Secretary of this Board, Mr. E. A. Meredith, has devoted much time and ability to the examination of prisons, and has more than once made special reports recommending improvements in the system in use. Mr. Meredith favors the Irish System, and, we believe, was the first official person on this side of the Atlantic to give it his hearty adhesion.

The prison inspection of Massachusetts and New York, though better than in most of the States, is much less efficient than that of Canada. In Massachusetts the Board of Charities, in New York the Prison Association, perform duties of inspection in addition to the regular Inspectors; but these bodies cannot make such frequent visits as a thorough inspection requires. The special investigation lately held by the Prison Association, however, is one of the most searching ever instituted in America. Provision should be made in every State for such examinations by an impartial inspector or commission, not chosen by political intrigue or local partiality, but bringing to the work a knowledge of the subject and a spirit of intelligent humanity.

[ocr errors]

We hazard nothing in predicting that the first recommendation of such inspectors would be a more strict separation and classification of prisoners, for that has always been the first result of careful examinations in congregate prisons. Probably they would next urge, as half the wardens in the country do, the importance of "commutation," or conditional remission, that is, the shortening of sentences for good behavior; and would insist on some effectual means of aiding discharged prisoners to find employment. They would then call for a better religious and secular instruction of the convicts while in prison, and a systematic organization of their labor. They would demand instruction in reading and writing for every prison in the land, and would cry out against that enforced idleness which is the curse of our jails. Along with these things, they would seek to regulate by wise rules and by frequent inspection the sanitary condition of the prisons. They would see that baths were regular, that the food was neither

too good nor too bad, that cleanliness was made a religion, that the wardrobe of the prisoners was sufficient and properly changed, and that they should have an occasional holiday. They would demand that the contractor should not stand between justice and the convict; and that neither the convict nor the public should be defrauded in the payment of wages. They would point out faults in the prison officers, and specify what qualities and what experience are needful in such establishments.

When these and the concomitant changes shall be effected in our prisons, we shall have all that is best in the Irish System, which is now the most successful in the world. Under it the prisons of Dublin have become in earnest what Charles Reade called the English prisons in bitter jest," adult schools of manners, morals, religion, grammar, writing, and cobbling." This system has by no means reached perfection, but it travels in the way of common sense and common humanity towards it, and, we believe, is destined to achieve its greatest success in some parts of the United States. In Vermont, for example, where a simple state of society and a profound desire for the good of men combine with the demand for labor to make the path of the reformed convict an easy one; in Massachusetts, where the union of numbers, and the profuse beneficence of a community accustomed to further its kindly purposes by large gifts, can be brought to the aid of the more unfortunate of the human race; and in many other States, the ideas of Maconochie and Crofton will find their more complete realization. But before this can happen, it is necessary that the public attention should be plainly directed to the defects, as well as the excellences, of our prisons, and in our judgment he is the best friend of all concerned who does this sharply and with sincerity.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ART. IV.-1. Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York. By D. T. VALENTINE. From 1841 to 1865. Prepared and published at the Expense of the City.

2. Documents of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York. From No. 45 to No. 64. McSpedon and Baker.


3. Annual Reports of the Comptroller, exhibiting the Receipts and Expenditures of the County Government. The New York Printing Company. 1864 and 1865.

4. Report of the Citizens' F. Nesbitt & Co. 1865.

5. Wholesale Corruption.

Association. New York: George

Sale of Situations in Fourth Ward Schools. Report of the Committee appointed by the Board of Education. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866.

6. One Job of the Conspirators who govern our City. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866. 7. Clean Streets for Three Hundred Thousand Dollars a Year. By D. D. BADGER. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York.


8. Work is King. A Word with Workingmen in Regard to their Interest in good City Government. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866.

9. Who pays for the Stealings? The Workingman! Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1864. 10. A few Questions for Workingmen to think of. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1865.

11. Improved Dwellings for the Industrial Classes. A Plea for the Wives and Mothers. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866.

12. City Finances. Items of Expenditure for Stationery and Printing. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866.

13. Items of Abuse in the Government of the City of New York. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866. 14. Report of the Executive Council to the Honorary Council of the Citizens' Association of New York. 1866.

15. Analysis of the proposed Tax Levy for the City and County

of New York for the Year 1866. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York.

16. Important Reform Measures passed by the Legislature of 1866. Published by the Citizens' Association of New York. 17. An Appeal by the Citizens' Association of New York against the Abuses of the Local Government, to the Legislature of the State of New York, and to the Public. 1866. 18. Communication to the Commissioners of the Central Park. By ANDREW H. GREEN, Comptroller of the Park. New York: Bryant & Co. 1866.

19. Petition to the Market Committees of the Boards of Aldermen and Councilmen of the City of New York. By THOMAS F. DE VOE, Butcher, No. 8 Jefferson Market. Published for the Author.


ON certain conditions, a very large proportion of the whole human race will steal. The opportunity must be good, of course, and the chance of detection small; the stealing must easily admit of being called by another name; and, above all, the theft must be of such a nature that the thief does not witness the pain which the loss of the stolen property occasions. On these conditions, almost all children and other immature persons, as well as a great number of average honest men and women, will steal. One proof of the civilizing power which the late Horace Mann exercised over the pupils of Antioch College in Ohio was, that no depredations were committed. by those raw lads upon the orchards and gardens of the neighborhood. Mrs. Mann is justified in mentioning this fact as one that does honor to the memory of her husband; for the boy who steals apples from an orchard usually has an excellent opportunity, and seldom has the slightest sense of doing an injury to the owner. He takes a handkerchief full from an unseen person, who has whole acres strewn with fruit and trees bending with the weight of it, and who will never know that particular loss. If the stolen property presented itself in its ultimate form, a piece of bread and butter going into the mouth of one of the farmer's little children, not one boy in ten thousand would steal a crumb of it; but so long as it is mere apples lying in an orchard, all boys will steal it without

[ocr errors]

compunction, unless they have been exceptionally well bred or taught.

Well-informed persons, who have been officially obliged to consider the matter, assure us that a majority of car-conductors, omnibus-drivers, and all other takers of unrecorded and untraceable money, are habitual thieves in all countries. It is the constant study of able managers to arrange a system that shall remove a temptation which experience has shown to be generally irresistible. Our fair readers, if we are so happy as to have any for so repulsive a subject, are acquainted with a class of active little mortals, the cash-boys of our large, drygoods stores. Cash-boys had never appeared on earth if clerks had never stolen. But we need not multiply examples. The self-knowledge of the most honest men suffices. Who has not observed the unwillingness of persons of tried and punctilious integrity to put themselves in the way of temptation? It is because those know most of the moral weakness of men who have converted that weakness into strength. How often have

we admired the exquisite modesty of Benjamin Franklin in that passage, written when he was an old man, in which he attributes the honesty of his early life to the fact that his trade brought him in such "plentiful supplies" of money, that he had little temptation to do wrong. This was not a confession in the "high-toned" style, but that is the way honest men feel who know themselves.

We have undertaken to write something about the government of the city of New York, and yet we have fallen into a discourse upon stealing. The reason is, that, after having spent several weeks in investigating our subject, we find that we have been employed in nothing else but discovering in how many ways, and under what a variety of names and pretexts, immature and greedy men steal from that fruitful and ill-fenced orchard, the city treasury.

That the government of the city of New York has had, for several years past, an exceedingly bad name in the world, is probably known to all our readers. It has fallen into complete contempt. It is a dishonor to belong to it. Persons of good repute do not willingly associate with the rulers of the city, unless they are known to be of the small number who hold their

« ZurückWeiter »