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tell us the price of the painful uneasiness which a sense of insecurity engenders in society - of the selfish and vindictive feelings which are produced in the hearts of the persons injured—of the purely moral and religious detriment to the criminal himself ? Yet, are not these among the most serious items of the great account?
I am anxious to guard against this being considered an uncommon case : it is one of the most ordinary: there are thousands of Kellys. This example has been taken in preference to several others, because it is one of a large class. When the reader is made to feel how very costly crime really is, he will be better prepared to appreciate efforts made with a view to prevent the criminal who is disposed to repent and forsake the evil of his ways, from relapsing into crime on quitting the gaol..
In Manchester, as in many other places, it is the custom of the criminal class—especially of the boys -to attend at the gates of the prison to receive such of their acquaintances as have served out their time. They receive the discharged prisoners at the door, carry them off in triumph to their places of rendezvous, and make a day of it. But not for nothing. The day's extravagance must be provided for by the night's depredation. And, as the offender often leaves prison without a penny in the world—without a home where he dares to show himself—without a friend who will recognise him—without reputation, and without credit—what is there for him but the
companionship of his guilty prison associates ? Consider what they offer him. A life of idleness, of excitement, of gay pleasures. Do they not appeal at once to all the stronger passions of his uneducated nature ? And with no friend to counsel- no one to lend him a hand—to give him a crumb little wonder that he falls ! The “ once in gaol, always in gaol," need not surprise, however much it may pain us.
It is melancholy to think how systematically callous society is to the struggles which are before the discharged criminal. Yet, the perils which environ him in this stage of his career are the great sources of crime. Here, if anywhere, the dam must be found—the current be arrested. It will be to no purpose that we build model prisons, and change our ancient penal terms for phrases more polite—that
dungeons” become “workshops” and “ tories"-that our “prisons” become "hospitals"and “ transports” “exiles”-unless we find out more effectually what to do with our offenders after punishment.
It is in this good work that Thomas Wright, of Manchester, has made himself a name. He is not a man of theories ; he has not even a system. Like Howard, he is a simple-minded man, whose attention has been accidentally directed to the vices of the prison-world. He knows very little of the lore of his subject, and expresses no opinion on the merits of rival methods. He has wisely gone on, doing all the good in his power in a straightforward matter-of
fact way, just as if the theorists had not beset themselves with every kind of difficulty.
Thomas Wright is now a venerable-looking man of about sixty, but remarkably vigorous for his age. He is the father of a very large family-nineteen children, if I am not mistaken. He fills an humble but confidential situation in a large foundry. Of the way
in which his attention was attracted in the first instance to the prison-world, he gives, in substance, the following account: A man of a sailor-like appearance had got work at the foundry as a labourer; he was a steady and industrious workman, and soon obtained the favourable notice of his superiors. One day the common employer came and asked if he (Wright) was aware that they had a returned transport in the place. He had been told that the sailor was such. Mr. Wright was not aware ; he had no suspicion of the sort ; but desired to be allowed to speak with the man quietly, and ascertain the fact. Permission was given ; and during the day he took a casual opportunity-not to excite the suspicions of the other workmen of saying to the man, " My friend, where did
work last ? ” “ I've been abroad,” was the evasive reply. The man, at all events, was not a liar. Mr. Wright did not wish to hurt his feelings, but the duty he had taken upon himself compelled him to press the question home; and after some beating about the bush, the poor fellow confessed, with tears in his eyes, that he had been a convict. He said he was desirous of not falling again into evil courses, and had kept his secret to avoid being refused work if he told the truth. There was such an air of sincerity in his manner, and his behaviour had previously been so good, that Mr. Wright felt convinced he would act honestly in the future ; and repairing to their common employer, begged as a personal favour that the man might not be discharged. He even offered to become bound for his good conduct. This was ten years ago ; and the prejudice against persons who had ever broken the law was more intense then than it is now
There were grave objections to Mr. Wright's proposal ; and other partners had to be consulted in so delicate a matter. Great numbers of men were employed in the foundry; if the circumstance were overlooked, and the matter should ever come to their knowledge, it would have the appearance to them of encouraging crime. The partners were doubtful, and divided in opinion, as to what ought to be done. The discovery took place on the day of paying wages for the week. There was much discussion on the subject, and mercy at last triumphed. Before night Mr. Wright had the satisfaction of obtaining a promise that, on his responsibility, the convict should be kept. So far all was well.
The following day Mr. Wright went to look after his protégé,—he was gone. On inquiring, he found he had been paid off and discharged the previous night. It was a mistake. The first order for his dismissal had not been countermanded :-and gone
Interested in the case, and alarmed for the consequences, his new friend at once sent off a messenger to the man's lodging to bring him back to the foundry. He returned only to say—the poor fellow had left his lodgings at five o'clock in the morning, with a bundle, containing all his property, under his arm, saying he should go towards Bolton, and try to get work there. This was the only trace that was left of him. But Mr. Wright, still anxious to save the poor creature from destruction, sent another man off to the Bolton road, with orders to walk on rapidly and approach any sailor-like person he should overtake; and if he found him to be the same, to desire him to return, as it was all a mistake. This messenger also came back without him : further search was then useless ; and from that day to this, the poor fellow has never been seen or heard of by his generous friend. Let us hope he found another.
The unfortunate termination of this affair was well calculated to affect a humane mind. And, pondering much on the subject, Mr. Wright began to see that this case - so extraordinary and pitiable to him, because it had come home to his feelings—was only one of a mighty number, every one of which had an equally strong claim upon his sympathy and assist
He went to the New Bailey, and saw the prisoners ; he spoke with them, read to them, prayed for them. For a time his visits, which soon became regular on the Sabbath—his only day of rest—were not approved of by the chaplain and governor of the gaol. They were jealous of his interference : but by-and-by, they found out how useful he might be made, and this reconciled them to his gratuitous