Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

shop, and at labor abroad, has made drunkards of many lads, who would otherwise never have been disposed to drink ardent spirits. This custom is very far from being what it was. But there are those who still retain it; and a more effectual means could hardly be devised for the promotion of intemperance, and its concomitant sins. It is to this custom, more than to any other cause, that the intemperance of our country towns is to be ascribed. Boys, there, not only drink with those with whom they work in the fields, but they share the drink of those with whom they labor. And if this drink be rum, how can it be that they should not be lovers of rum? And there are those, too, in other, and as they think, in higher employments, to whom the screened Soda Shop is as fatal as the more undisguised tippling shop is to those who resort to it. To these allurements to iniquity, add the fascinations and the corruptions of the theatre, addressed as they are, to so great an extent, to the lowest passions of our nature; and, in these combined influences I think you will see very powerful excitements to dishonesty, intemperance, profligacy, and moral ruin.

I pray for a serious consideration of these circumstances of the moral exposure of the young. If pauperism and crime are to be effectually prevented or remedied, we must go to their sources. And if we have but a disposition, we have ample means beside, of checking and of overcoming these evils, to an extent to produce a change in society, which has never yet been wrought in it, and an enlargement of human happiness, which has never been experienced.

There is a spring of pauperism and crime, which presents itself in this connexion, at which I have not even glanced, only because I could not do any justice to my

3

VOL, V.NO

LIV.

views of it, in the cursory notice which is all that I could here take of it. I refer to the influence of the habits and the example of the more prospered classes, not only upon the young in those classes, but upon the dispositions and tastes and habits of the whole mass of society. This, I am aware, is a very delicate and difficult topic. It is, however, a plain matter of fact, that where, as with us, there is no law of entail, property seldom descends beyond the third generation of a family. And why? Obviously, in part, because the expectation of inheriting property indisposes and disqualifies the young for regular, self-denying, and persevering labor ; and, in part, from the consequent vanity, extravagance, and sensual indulgence, for which an ample inheritance for all the purposes of virtue, usefulness, and happiness, is found to be utterly inadequate. Let any one look about him, and ask, who were the grandfathers and the fathers of our rich men? and who were the fathers and grand parents of our paupers and criminals? and he will find, that it is not poverty alone which produces poverty. And let any one consider, till he understands, the descending influence of example, and then look at the tendency of much of the cxample which is continually wending its way from the high grounds to the very lowest depths of social life, and he will need no labored argument to convince him, that the rich are in truth accountable for much of the abject poverty of the world; and that right sentiments, christian sentiments of property, and of human relations and duties, among the rich, are to be among the most effectual of the means of salvation from pauperism and crime. - I cannot here enlarge upon this topic.

But I hope to be able to speak more freely of it on a future occasion.

But before I speak of measures, either remedial or preventive, let me add a few facts, to corroborate some of the statements I have here made. My means of information are not as large as I could wish upon these subjects. But the facts I have to offer will throw some light on the topic of which I have spoken.

First, then, let me adduce the testimony of the Super intendent of the House of Refuge in New York.

From the first of January, to the thirty first of December, 1830, the number of children received into that institution was one hundred and fortyfour. Of this number, seventyone could not read, and twenty of the seventyone did not know a letter. Thirtythree of the one hundred and fortyfour are all that know anything of arithmetic, and twentytwo of these thirtythree were in addition. The average age of these children was eleven years and six months; and of the one hundred and fortyfour, only sixty were of American parentage.

Of the children received into the Refuge since it was opened on the first of January, 1825, to the first of January, 1831, the whole number is eight hundred and thirtyfour. Of these children, fiftyseven had been in Bridewell once; twentysix had been there twice; three had been there four times; five, five times ; and one ten times. Thirteen had been in the Penitentiary six months; three had been there twelve months ; four eighteen months; one, thirty months; and two, thirtysix months. And four had been in the State Prison. The average age of the whole number was twelve years and two months.

Of the parents of these children, thirtyfive had been

in Bridewell ; sixteen in the Penitentiary, and two in the State Prison. Four hundred and fortysix were intemperate. Nine were keepers of houses of ill fame. Ten were allowed by their parents to steal. And the parents of eight received stolen goods from their child

ren.*

Again. In a note in my last report, I stated that of ninetythree children then in our House of Reformation, twenty five could not read when they were sent there, and fiftythree had been truants from our schools. I addonly a short extract from a note which I have recently received from Mr Wells, the Superintendent and Chaplain of that institution. I cannot call to mind one boy I have had with me over fifteen years old, and I have had thirty such, - who had nut, to more or less excess, been accustomed to drink ardent spirits ; and fivesixths of these may fairly be considered to have been intemperate. Of those between twelve and fifteen years

I think that three-fourths would have allowed themselves in the same indulgence, whenever they had an opportunity to do it; and that two-thirds of these were in the way to confirmed intemperance.'

Again. The House of Refuge in Philadelphia was opened for proper subjects of the Institution in May, 1828. The whole number who have been received into it, is two hundred and eightynine boys, and ninetythree girls. Total, three hundred and eightytwo. Of the two hundred and eightynine boys, I am told by the Superintendent, that one hundred and eightytwo could not read, and that only thirtyone knew anything of

of age,

* Sixth Annual Report of the Managers of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City and State of New York.

arithmetic. Their average age was near fifteen years. Seventy of these boys had previously been in prison. And,' adds the Superintendent in a letter I have received from him, 'I do not hesitate to say, that intemperance has supplied the Institution with two thirds of the above number, either by its influence directly upon themselves, or through their parents, or those who had the care of them.'

Again. Before the establishment of the House of Refuge in New York, more than five hundred young persons were annually committed in that State, either as criminals or vagrants; and we learn from the Superintendent of the Penitentiary at Bellevue, that of the children committed there, not more than one in eight could read and write at the time of committal. The commitments of this class of offenders have been fewer in our city. But I have seen boys under fifteen years old in our

common jail, because, having been convicted of a petty offence, they could not pay the fine of a doilar and the costs of court; and within six years, about a hundred, including colored boys, have been sent to our House of Correction. Such, also, have been the recommitments of these lads, after having been once sent to that school of sin, that seventeen of them represent sixty commitments. These lads were sent there for various offences. But a considerable number of them were sent specifically for intemperance; and it is a matter of notoriety, that far the largest number of them, whatever were the offences of which they were convicted, were accustomed to drink ardent spirits whenever they could obtain them. I have known lads in that prison, who were decidedly drunkards before they were twelve years old; and who have again and

3*

VOL. V.NO. LIV.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »