Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

The solitude of the separate cell should be unbroken during that probationary period to which all prisoners should, in the first instance, be subjected. But we daily learn from experience, that that solitude cannot be prolonged, without fatal results to the prisoner's mental and physical health; and when we recollect how small a portion of the Chaplain's time can be devoted to each prisoner, the voluntary aid and assis tance of benevolent persons, who come forward to promote the great work of reformation, should gladly be taken advantage of. The inspectors of convict prisons have borne just testimony to the efforts of certain ladies who have devoted themselves to the instruction of female convicts at Millbank Penitentiary, and if their efforts in this labour of love have been attended with beneficial results in the particular instance referred to, why not extend the benefit elsewhere? We rejoice to know that there are many ladies and gentlemen ready to devote themselves to this sphere of usefulness if the opportunity were afforded. In the Hospital and Asylum, their exertions in administering comfort to the broken hearted, and communicating the Word of Life to many a degraded sinner, have been rewarded with success. Why not in the gaol? How gratifying to read the testimony of Lieut. Colonel Jebb, in the Report of the Directors of Convict Prisons for 1852, relative to the religious and general instruction of the female prisoners confined in Millbank Penitentiary :

"We cannot close this report without again expressing our deep sense of the benefits derived from the visits to these unfortunate women by the ladies, who, have now for several years devoted themselves to reading with, and instructing them, in their cells. This self imposed and generally painful duty can only be carried on under the influence of real philanthropy. It requires in an unusual degree the qualifications of patience, perseverance, and discretion, combined with religious knowledge and the power of imparting it clearly and kindly to those who, through early and long continued habits of sin and crime, through wilful reckless dispositions, through hearts hardened, perhaps, by the wrongs inflicted on thein by others at the out set of their vicious careers, are not always prepared to receive it. The lady visitors are constant and judicious in their endeavours to raise the female convicts from the depths of immorality to which many of them have sunk, and, by aiding the Chaplains, to plant religious principles and better feelings in their hearts, and otherwise to mitigate the rigours of imprisonment." *

In truth, to use the words of the King of Sweden,

• Report of the Directors of the Convict Prisons, 1852. p. 110.

"The

solitary cell ought to be inaccessible to the outer world, but not to the admonishing and instructive voice of the philanthropist. 'I was in prison and ye visited me,' say the scriptures; may this heavenly doctrine not be lost, but manifest itself in action!"

The observations we felt anxious to make upon the necessity of selecting gentlemen of high character to fill the responsible situations of Governors of Gaols conducted on improved principles, we must postpone to a future occasion; we find that we have already exceeded our limits, and have trespassed too far upon the forbearance of our readers. We have entered thus fully, perhaps in the opinion of some too fully, into a narration of the Past and Present condition of Prisons and Prison Discipline, and have followed the course of social amelioration through a most important period in the political history of these Kingdoms. And why? have we had no object in so doing? We have selected this course because some knowledge of the past is essential, to prepare us for the most important enquirywhat course must we adopt for the future? To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Great improvements have been effected, much remains for our future efforts. The past is matter of History, the future, of earnest speculation and benevolent activity. With this view we desire to attract and enlist public opinion in the cause of Prison Reform. It so happens that, except in the case of those whose engagements or duties lead them to the consideration of the subject, few, very few indeed, have well defined ideas upon the question. This result follows, we are persuaded, not so much from a want of interest in the subject itself, as from that want of popular information which so generally prevails with respect to it. We have conceived it to be our duty, to endeavour to supply this want, and to call on all, as they value the performance of their duty, and the interests and welfare of their county, to aid and assist the movement.

We must now conclude, once more impressing upon all, that a wide field of active benevolence lies before them. The path is a rugged one, and there are obstacles to be surmounted; but we hold in our hands a weapon which, when rightly used has ever proved invincible-a weapon against which ignorance, vice, and profligacy, have ever in vain arrayed themselves. That weapon is the Bible, armed with it we can enter the conflict without fears of the result, and in humble reverence, throwing down the gauntlet, go forth conquering and to conquer-and to all Christians this applies.

ART. V. THE DUBLIN HOSPITALS AND THE BLUNDERS OF THE CENSUS.

1. Report from the Select Committee on Dublin Hospitals; Together with the Proceedings of the Committee. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 29th June, 1854.

2. The Census of Ireland for the Year 1851. Part III Report on the Status of Disease. Presented, to Both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty. Dublin: Alexander Thom. 1854.

3. On Famine and Fever, as Cause and Effect in Ireland; With Observations on Hospital Location, and the Dispensation in Out-door Relief of Food and Medicine. By D. J. Corrigan, M.D., M.R.C.S.E. Dublin Fannin and Co., 1846.

4. Report of Commissioners Appointed to Inspect Charitable Institutions in Dublin, Receiving Grants from the Public Funds. 1842. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 16th June, 1842.

5. Report of the Commissioners of Health, Ireland, on the Epidemics of 1846 to 1850. Presented to Both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty. Dublin: Thom. 1852.

Amongst the many very important Reports which have been issued, by order of the House of Commons during the present Session, none more interesting to the people of Ireland, to the citizens of Dublin in particular, have appeared, than those which we have placed at the head of this paper.

The reader, who is acquainted with the legislative history of the past ten years is, doubtless, aware that projects for the centralization of Government offices, and repeated attempts to cast the great burthen of supporting the various useful institutions of this country upon the rate payers and the public, have been the distinguishing characteristics of active members of the Government party, aided, occasionally, by Irish Secretaries of that disposition to introduce changes, which has been designated "the hatching mind." The Dublin Hospitals have

lately become the subject upon which legislators of this class seem anxious to display their ability, and no more important and convincing proof of the correctness of the views entertained by the opponents of Government support to the Hospitals could be adduced than that furnished in the Census-if it were correct.

When Mrs Gore published, anonymously, her novel, Cecil, it was attributed to her and to Bulwer Lytton, but yet there were many points in the story unlike the style of either: at length Punch stated that he had solved the doubt, and suggested that the chapters were written, alternately, by the Baronet and the lady, that when written they were placed in a hat, well shaken, then drawn forth at random, and printed as drawn. Upon some such plan as this we presume the figures, and calculations in that portion of the Census before us, and relating to Dublin Hospital accommodation, were selected and made.

It is pitiable to find that a great national work should be thus rendered comparatively worthless. It is astounding to discover that these errors, palpable and patent, should have been left unexplained or uncorrected, by those most interested in the accuracy of the figures, and most implicated in their blundering stupidity-a line of conduct rendered the more strange by the fact, that every miscalculation was clearly exposed, and everyopportunity given, in enabling those in error to correct the mistakes of ignorance or of precipitation. But despite these great obstacles to the developement of truth, despite the whole might of argument furnished by the fanciful authority of the Census, the Dublin Hospitals are now more widely and plainly known and more generally approved than ever, and to Doctor Corrigan the chief merit of this fortunate result is due. We have read and heard much evidence given before Parliamentary Committees, but to this of Doctor Corrigan, in its reasoning and its accuracy, its plainness, and its good sense, we know few evidences equal, none superior.

The objects of the Committee were, to discover whether the Hospital accommodation of Dublin was more than sufficient for the requirement of the city; to find whether such accommodation as should be deemed requisite, could be secured by voluntary aid; to report upon the state of the Hospitals as Schools of Anatomy and Surgery-and to enquire into the conditions of these Hospitals generally. These were important questions, questions upon which great diversity of opinion might reasonably prevail, but so clear and and indisputable was the evidence

adduced in favor of the Hospital grants, that the Committee felt bound to recommend that a grant of £12,900, which was to have been proposed in the estimates, should be increased to £16,000 exclusive of a vote for the Hospital for Incurables.

To arrive at a full knowledge of the real and just merits of the question before the Committee, it may be well to sketch, as concisely as possible, the history of the various Hospitals of Dublin, which have received aid from Government, and indicate the various amounts of money, voted to their especial use, by the Legislature. During the ages of the Roman Catholic faith in this Kingdom, Hospitals were supported as a matter of religion rather than of public polity, and were chiefly appurtenant to Monastic houses. The principal institution of this class belonged to the priory of Saint John, and was founded about the close of the twelfth century, by Ailred le Palmer, who took upon himself the office of Prior. At the suppression of the Monasteries, the funds of this, and all religious houses affording hospital relief, were diverted to other purposes, and whilst the property of the two great Hospitals of LondonSt. Thomas's and St. Bartholomew's-were re-granted, Dublin was left to support its own sick, or to beg that aid, which confiscation had rendered necessary, from the Crown. The oldest of the Hospitals of Dublin is that called Steevens', and is another of these valuable institutions which prove the charity, and love of their professions, which have distinguished so many learned Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Richard Steevens, by his will made in the year 1710, bequeathed to his sisters a life interest in his estates, then worth about £600 per annum, and at their deaths he directed that the estate should vest in Trustees, for the purpose of building an Hospital for the maintaining and curing sick and wounded persons. An act of incorporation having been obtained, the Hospital was opened in 1733, and the first Government grant was made in 1805, since which period it has received annual grants, varying from £2,980 to £15,000. By the vote of present year it was contemplated to reduce this latter sum to £795, but the Committee consider an annual grant of £1,080, necessary for the support of the institution. The income of the Hospital last year was, exclusive of the grant, £4,498. In the year 1806, a grant of £500 was voted for the support of surgical beds; in 1812 this was increased to £1,424, at the suggestion of Lord

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »